A great crowd was collected in Pall Mall and the neighbouring streets on Saturday evening; it seemed like a multitude of brokers permanently established around the Reform Club. Circulation was impeded, and everywhere disputes, discussions, and financial transactions were going on. The police had great difficulty in keeping back the crowd, and as the hour when Phileas Fogg was due approached, the excitement rose to its highest pitch.
The five antagonists of Phileas Fogg had met in the great saloon of the club. John Sullivan and Samuel Fallentin, the bankers, Andrew Stuart, the engineer, Gauthier Ralph, the director of the Bank of England, and Thomas Flanagan, the brewer, one and all waited anxiously.
The players took up their cards, but could not keep their eyes off the clock. Certainly, however secure they felt, minutes had never seemed so long to them!
“Seventeen minutes to nine,” said Thomas Flanagan, as he cut the cards which Ralph handed to him.
Then there was a moment of silence. The great saloon was perfectly quiet; but the murmurs of the crowd outside were heard, with now and then a shrill cry. The pendulum beat the seconds, which each player eagerly counted, as he listened, with mathematical regularity.
“Sixteen minutes to nine!” said John Sullivan, in a voice which betrayed his emotion.
One minute more, and the wager would be won. Andrew Stuart and his partners suspended their game. They left their cards, and counted the
At the fortieth second, nothing. At the fiftieth, still nothing.
At the fifty-fifth, a loud cry was heard in the street, followed by applause, hurrahs, and some fierce growls.
The players rose from their seats.
At the fifty-seventh second the door of the saloon opened; and the pendulum had not beat the sixtieth second when Phileas Fogg appeared, followed by an excited crowd who had forced their way through the club doors, and in his calm voice, said, “Here I am, gentlemen!”
~Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Phileas Fogg was due to make his appearance at the Reform Club in London on December 21, 1872 at a quarter before nine in the evening. That he made his trip around the world within the stipulated eighty days and collected on his bet with the gentlemen of the Reform Club was the result of a mistake and of true love. Phileas Fogg ended up “the happiest of men.”
“Truly, would you not for less than that make the tour around the world?”