But he determined to chaff Fix, when he had the chance, with mysterious allusions, which, however, need not betray his real suspicions.
During the afternoon of Wednesday, 30th October, the Rangoon entered the Strait of Malacca, which separates the peninsula of that name from Sumatra. The mountainous and craggy islets intercepted the beauties of this noble island from the view of the travelers. The Rangoon weighed anchor at Singapore the next day at four A.M., to receive coal, having gained half a day on the prescribed time of her arrival. Phileas Fogg noted this gain in his journal, and then, accompanied by Aouda, who betrayed a desire for a walk on shore, disembarked.
Fix, who suspected Mr. Fogg's every movement, followed them cautiously, without being himself perceived; while Passepartout, laughing in his sleeve at Fix's maneuvers, went about his usual errands.
The island of Singapore is not imposing in aspect, for there are no mountains; yet its appearance is not without attractions. It is a park checkered by pleasant highways and avenues. A handsome carriage, drawn by a sleek pair of New Holland horses, carried Phileas Fogg and Aouda into the midst of rows of palms with brilliant foliage, and of clover-trees, whereof the cloves form the head of a half-open flower. Pepper plants replaced the prickly hedges of European fields. Sago-bushes, large ferns with gorgeous branches, varied the aspect of this tropical clime. Nutmeg trees in full foliage filled the air with a penetrating perfume. Agile and grinning bands of monkeys skipped about in the trees, nor were tigers wanting in the jungles.
After a drive of two hours through the country, Aouda and Mr. Fogg returned to the town, which is a vast collection of heavy-looking, irregular houses, surrounded by charming gardens rich in tropical fruits and plants. At ten o'clock they re-embarked, closely followed by the detective, who had kept them constantly in sight.
Passepartout, who had been purchasing several dozen mangoes - a fruit as large as good-sized apples, of a dark brown color outside and a bright red within, and whose white pulp, melting in the mouth, affords gourmands a delicious sensation - was waiting for them on deck. He was only too glad to offer some mangoes to Aouda, who thanked him very gracefully for them.
At eleven o'clock the Rangoon rode out of Singapore harbor, and in a few hours the high mountains of Malacca, with their forests, inhabited by the most beautifully furred tigers in the world, were lost to view. Singapore is distant some thirteen hundred miles from the island of Hong Kong, which is a little English colony near the Chinese coast. Phileas Fogg hoped to accomplish the journey in six days, so as to be in time for the steamer which would leave on the 6th of November for Yokohama, the principal Japanese port.
The Rangoon had a large quota of passengers, many of whom disembarked at Singapore, among them a number of Indians, Ceylonese, Chinamen, Malays and Portuguese, mostly second-class travelers.
The weather, which had hitherto been fine, changed with the last quarter of the moon. The sea rolled heavily, and the wind at intervals rose almost to a storm, but happily blew from the southwest, and thus aided the steamer's progress. The captain as often as possible put up his sails, and under the double action of steam and sail the vessel made rapid progress along the coast of Anam and Cochin China. Owing to the defective construction of the Rangoon, however, unusual precautions became necessary in unfavorable weather; but the loss of time which resulted from this cause, while it nearly drove Passepartout out of his senses, did not seem to affect his master in the least. Passepartout blamed the captain, the engineer and the crew, and consigned all who were connected with the ship to the land where the pepper grows. Perhaps the thought of the gas, which was remorselessly burning at his expense in Saville Row, had something to do with his hot impatience.
"You are in a great hurry, then," said Fix to him one day, "to reach Hong Kong?"
"A very great hurry!"