The shriek of the steam engine as it thundered across the English country side at fully fifty miles an hour quite set her nerves on edge. The First Class carriage rocked perceptibly from side to side and it felt as if the train were certain to leap off of the steel tracks at any minute.
The Train from Liverpool to Bath
She reassured herself that Isambard Brunel had been a very clever fellow and that she was quite safe. After all, trains all over England were making journeys like this one several times a day, knitting the countryside together into a much smaller place than it had ever been. Even in her lifetime, this journey, which would have taken several days by carriage when she was a girl, had been shortened to a few hours. Suddenly Bath and Bristol were effectively as close to London as Surrey and Sussex. It would be possible nowadays to live in the country and work in the city, she thought. And immediately began to work the idea into one of the gossamer plot threads that spun through her active imagination like dandelion seeds gusted on the breeze.
Outside her window the wide sweep of the Thames Valley gave way to the rolling hills of Surrey and then Hampshire. The train stopped for several minutes at Basingstoke as carriages were disconnected to be shunted to another line, and an enterprising vendor strolled up and down the platform offering newspapers, chocolates and cigarettes for sale.
The rain in Liverpool had given way to watery sunlight as she headed south and west. Nevertheless, she was glad of her warm coat and fine Italian leather gloves. The heat in the carriage was iffy at best, enough to keep your fingers and toes from falling off, but not much more. From time to time, the conductor came by, offering tea service at two shillings for a pot of tea and a plate of rather soggy looking biscuits. Seeing her disappointed look at his wares, he informed her that the train had a dining car, two carriages forward, and that she might sit at a table and order from the menu, if she wished.
I knew accepting my dear friends offer to join her and her husband for the Holiday was a great decision. I was alone in my small country home outside of Liverpool. The life of a writer is actually rather boring. There are long hours alone at your typewriter trying to make your deadline. The first book was fun. No pressure. The second had demanding deadlines, but the success of the first secured myself enough money for a lifetime. The second allows me the pleasure to share some of the profits with friends and sample the finer things in life. This book has not taken shape as to its direction, plot or setting. I’ve bounced a few ideas around, but the major theme escapes me. Im hoping that this trip to visit my friend will prove inspiring and life changing.
I sit alone on this train trying to read the days news, but find it ever so boring. Im dressed in a fine silk gown, scarf which provides little warmth. My trench coat and leather gloves are a godsend. The other passangers smile at me and the gentlemen tip their hats, but no one dares start a conversation with me. Must I initiate everything? I see a gentleman sitting a bit ahead of me on the car. I walk past him getting out a cigarette. I pretend to look for a light infront of him, but he does not take the hint and looks away out the window. I dislike smoking, but often find it socially appropriate.
I stare out the large window next to me as the English countryside passes by. I forget how beautiful this country is once you get outside of Liverpool. Oh how I hate that city. It’s dirty, loud and smelly. I couldnt wait to buy my first place out in the country.
I decide to purchase dinner for myself in the dinner. Im not quite hungry, but it will help pass the time. I check on my suitcase that is stowed above my seat and my leather satchel bag with contains my sketch pad, writing notebook, some cash, make up and my handgun. I decide to take the mauser out and put it into my small purse. I take the purse and my sketch pad with me. No one would suspect that I would be carrying gun. You never know when a girl will need it.
I enjoy a wonderful dinner of baked duck, a green salad and a glass of wine before unfolding my sketch book and begin to pencil in an image of an older couple sitting across the car from me.