In 1908, Phileas Fogg, the man who went around the world in eighty days, died of pneumonia. Jean Passepartout, his assistant, had inherited everything Fogg owned, and so became a nobleman himself. One day a few months afterward, Passepartout wagered £500 with his fellow members at the Reform Club that he could do something even more impossible than his benefactor's feat of octogesimadiurnal circumnavigation.

"A month from now," stated Passepartout, "I will attempt to drive a horse carriage from London to Paris and then to Berlin within the span of three days. If I successfully make the trip, you shall pay me five hundred pounds. If I fail, so shall I give the same to you."

"Preposterous," said his friends. "A horse can barely run one hundred miles a day in a single burst, and to go from London to Berlin alone without the detour to Paris is already seven hundred miles. We will not take you up on this insulting bet!" For his friends felt that it would be degrading of their honour to take a bet that they had no chance of losing.

"Not only will I do it within three days," said Passepartout, "but I will keep the horse at a regular pace of thirty miles per day."

A month later, he won the bet. How did he do it?

  • $\begingroup$ If his friends refused to take the bet, how could he 'win the bet'? $\endgroup$ – Mark N Apr 29 '15 at 18:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MarkN Didn't Fogg's friends refuse to take his bet initially too? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Apr 29 '15 at 18:43

It's important that the bet happened a month later, because he took a month to get to the place where he carried out the bet:

He traveled to the province of Ontario, in Canada, where there are three cities in close proximity named London, Paris, and Berlin.

Here, he could travel the three cities in less than 90 miles, and probably could even use the roadways. But if not, then his buggy gets to do a little work.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yep, he went to Ontario. That's why he had to take a month to carry out the bet. :P $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Apr 29 '15 at 18:50
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Also, a historical note - Berlin was renamed Kitchener after the First World War, and nowadays would be part of the Kitchener-Waterloo region; that's why this story takes place in 1908 when it was still called Berlin. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Apr 29 '15 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ Ahh, very nice. Google maps still knows it as Berlin well enough. $\endgroup$ – Aggie Kidd Apr 29 '15 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeZ. I was going to comment on the timing. You never state that it happens in 1908, just that it happens some time after Fogg's death which you state was in 1908. Technicality! Jean just had to make the trip some time before before the name change in 1916. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast Apr 29 '15 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ I meant to imply that it did take place in 1908, but I suppose I could be clearer about the timeframe. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Apr 29 '15 at 20:36

Option 1:

He loaded the horse carriage on to a zeppelin. The horse walked around a track encircling the thing as it flew the path. Google maps says it's 848 miles in approximately straight lines and the LZ 2 (debuted in 1906) had a top speed of 25mph with a range of 680 miles. It would have to refuel in Paris but it could still make the trip in less than 36 hours.

Option 2:

He said he would drive the horse carriage but didn't say that a horse would be pulling it. He hooked it up to an engine and let the horse stay home.

Option 3:

The horse is on a treadmill system with gearing to produce 10x higher rotational velocity of the wheels on the carriage compared to the wheels on the treadmill. The horse walks 30 miles per day but the carriage travels 300 per day.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 for creativity as well, even if none of these solutions are quite plausible. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Apr 29 '15 at 19:53


set up villages named Paris and Berlin, the first 45 miles from London and the second 45 miles from the first.

Well, it is tagged lateral-thinking! This answer certainly works.

  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, setting up a village in a single month seems a bit farfetched. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Apr 29 '15 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ However, your idea is right that the places being called "Paris" and "Berlin" are in fact within 90 miles of London. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Apr 29 '15 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeZ. Of London London, or of the place being called "London"? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Apr 29 '15 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ The place being called London is in fact London, but as you've probably deduced by now it's not London, England. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Apr 29 '15 at 18:49

I think the important factor of the bet is:

That he said "I will attempt...", so regardless of whether he actually travels the distance in 3 days or not, he should have successfully attempted to travel winning the bet.

  • $\begingroup$ "If I managed to do so" means "If I successfully make the trip". $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Apr 29 '15 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeZ. Which he did so in 1 months time. $\endgroup$ – Mark N Apr 29 '15 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ No, he did it in three days, as specified. You're reading into the problem too much. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Apr 29 '15 at 18:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.