The train leaves on time, and joining Fogg and Passepartout in their compartment is a man named Sir Francis Cromarty, who Fogg played whist with on the Mongolia, and who lives in India, traveling to England only rarely. Phileas Fogg’s odd mission and odd personality generally intrigue Sir Francis, and he wonders what he is really like beneath his cold exterior. He believes that Fogg's wager is useless, since he would leave the world without having done any good for himself or someone else.
Sir Francis tells Fogg that five years ago on this train, he would have encountered a delay that would have lost him his bet, since the railway lines were not connected and had to cross the mountains on ponies to get to where the train restarted on the other side. He also tells Fogg that he might be delayed because of what Passepartout did at the pagoda, since the government is very strict about violations of the religious customs of the Indians. Fogg insists that nothing would delay him.
Passepartout is in awe of where they are, astonished by the wildness of the Indian villages and jungles that they pass through. He realizes he has experienced a change in mindset; when before he wished their journey would end, he is now fully vested in the wager and believes in what Mr. Fogg is doing. He is worried by the prospect of delays, and since he is not as cool-headed as Fogg, gets more worked up at the prospect of anything holding them up.
Suddenly one evening the train stops; apparently the papers were mistaken when they said that the railway had been finished, and there are fifty miles for passengers to traverse before they can pick up the train again. Passengers must find a means of getting between the two train lines themselves. Fogg is not fazed, insisting that he has two days gained to make up the time.
They search the village in which they have stopped for a means of conveyance, and Passepartout finds a man with an elephant. Fogg tries to bribe the man, who at first does not budge; eventually, the man lets Fogg purchase the elephant for the hefty sum of two thousand pounds. They acquire a young Parsee (a member of a particular religious group in India) to serve as their guide.
They begin their fifty-mile journey on the elephant, whose name is Kiouni. The area they travel through is wild and full of Indian tribes (whom they call ‘Hindoos’, an archaic spelling of the Indian religious group ‘Hindus’) who are described as being ferocious. They camp for the night and begin the trip again in the morning, hoping to make it by the following evening. However, they are interrupted on their trek by a procession of Indians, who, according to Sir Francis, are on their way to make a human sacrifice of a widow whose husband, a prince, has died.
Fogg calls the practice barbarous, wondering how the English have not put a stop to such things yet, and Passepartout is astounded. Sir Francis says often this sacrifice is voluntary, but the Parsee guide interrupts and says that everyone who lives in this area knows that this particular sacrifice is not voluntary.
Fogg makes the daring suggestion that they attempt to save the woman in the twelve hours he has to spare. The Parsee tells them about the woman, who is a celebrated beauty of the Parsee race named Aouda who had been educated in English as the daughter of a wealthy Bombay merchant. But she was married against her will to this old rajah.
That night they wait for the guards to fall asleep and then try to make a hole in the wall of the pagoda in which the woman has been imprisoned. The guards hear, though, and they realize they cannot continue like this. They wait out the night, hoping that an opportunity to save her will arise, and suddenly Passepartout gets an idea. He disguises himself as the body of the dead rajah, then leaps up and grabs the woman who is about to be sacrificed. The group escapes before the Indians can chase them.
Passepartout is praised for his genius, and they continue on, making it to the start of the train with enough time to travel to Calcutta and catch the necessary steamer to Hong Kong. Passepartout goes to buy clothes and necessary items for Aouda, who will be coming with them to Hong Kong, where she says one of her Parsee relations lives. They are all quite taken with Aouda, who is incredibly beautiful, and who is extremely refined because of her upbringing. When she comes fully to her senses once again, they explain to her exactly what happened.
As payment for his services, Fogg gives the Parsee the elephant he purchased. Sir Francis leaves them on the train journey at a different city that is his destination. They travel along the Ganges River and arrive in Calcutta exactly on schedule, having lost the two days they had previously gained.
As soon as they leave the train in Calcutta, however, they are detained as prisoners and told they need to appear before a judge. Passepartout is appalled and worried, but Fogg insists that it will not delay their trip. There are priests there, accusing them of violating a consecrated religious place. Passepartout and Fogg believe they are talking about what happened with saving Aouda, but it turns out this is about Passepartout entering the sacred pagoda in Bombay without shoes. Fix the detective had reported it in order to delay them so he could arrest Fogg.
Passepartout is condemned to fifteen days in prison and a fine, and Fogg gets a sentence as well, since he should be held responsible for the acts of his servant. Fogg instead pays a large sum of money in bail for both of them, spending two thousand pounds on it, and Fix is extremely angry that Fogg has gotten away again.
It makes sense that on a journey around the world, Fogg and Passepartout would meet all sorts of different people. Verne does an excellent job of giving us snapshots into the very real, complex lives of these people they spend only short amounts of time with, and this is evidenced in these few chapters in which Sir Francis travels with them. Verne tells us quite a bit about Sir Francis's life and knowledge of India, and even in a few short chapters we learn a lot about Sir Francis's character in the attempt to save Aouda. This goes to show how important characterization is, even for minor characters. For the world Passepartout and Fogg traverse to feel fully real, every single character needs a story.
The journey has already produced a change in mindset for Passepartout, who begins to trust his master's decision a lot more and aligns himself fully with the mission of their quest around the world. Passepartout's fortunes have become bound with Mr. Fogg's, and the two truly have a shared goal for the first time. This newly cemented loyalty to his master is important as Passepartout continues to be tested by Fix in an attempt to get to Fogg.
Passepartout also proves his worth with his brilliant idea to save Aouda, and this is the first time that he is legitimately recognized for doing something good. At the same time, though, Mr. Fogg still gets more of the attention for being so willing to save her in the first place, showing the typical power imbalance between servant and master.
These chapters in India are the first time readers are getting insight into an entirely different culture in this journey around the world. Verne clearly did extensive research and displays a great amount of knowledge on India, knowledge that makes the setting feel all the more real. However, as modern readers, it is important to recognize the bias in his descriptions of this place. He speaks from an extremely Western perspective, during a time period in which colonization is the norm and the British Empire is at its height. He clearly believes in the superiority of British influence, which is certainly not unusual at this point in history.
This does, however, contort his depiction of India, its culture, and particularly its people. Their Indian guide is never actually given a name, while all the other characters are; he is simply called ‘the parsee’, defined by the exotic religious group he belongs to. Further, cultural clashes between the westerners and the Indians begin when Indian customs are depicted as "barbarous," and the Englishmen feel that their role is to swoop in and save them from themselves.
Additionally, Aouda is distanced from the barbarians because of her English upbringing, and even given a real name when her fellow Parsee is not. But she is also the very first female character to make an appearance in this novel, and has not yet been allowed very much voice. Although this extreme Western, patriarchal bias may seem surprising, this book was published in the 1870s, and perspectives like this were extremely common. Looking closely at these facets of literature can help modern-day readers understand more about what the world was like back then.
At first glance, Fogg still appears to have changed very little over the course of the story, but a closer look confirms that he has indeed begun to display acts of kindness that give insight to a more compassionate heart within that cold exterior. Yes, many of these are simply done in the interest of furthering his journey—like giving the Parsee the elephant as a gift, for instance—but with others, this is not the case. Even though saving Aouda had the potential to severely delay his trip, he was still adamant about trying to save her from a fate she had not chosen, proving that he has a softer side.