’Swounds! I swear this train is riding on the ties instead of the rails!” Colonel Warburton exclaimed as a particularly violent sway of the jostling carriage caused him to spill his tea.
“Language, David,” his plain-faced, honey-haired fiancée chided the Colonel. She was seated beside him at the table in the train’s dining car. She kept her eyes averted as she added, “Dr Watson will think us barbarians.”
“Not to fear, Miss Carson,” I said as I attempted to steady my own cup, “I am inclined to agree with the Colonel; I do not recall the Swansea Line being so rugged on my journey outward from London.”
Our car was rattling along in the midst of a howling storm that was raking the windows with hail. It was just past dinner hour and the car of the overnight train was now only half full. I was sitting at a table opposite the Colonel, Miss Carson, and her younger brother, Gerald.
Seated beside me was my good friend, Sherlock Holmes, whom I had persuaded to accompany me to Wales while I tended to an old Afghan campaign comrade. Holmes had been uncharacteristically enthusiastic for the trip till I discovered he had plans to gather local flora for a monograph. Fortunately, he was between cases and feeling particularly confined in our Baker Street residence.
Holmes was sipping contentedly on some soda water from the gasogene at the bar while distractedly studying our dinner companions. I must admit that crowded conditions when we entered for dinner had forced us all to sit together, rather than choice.