Thursday, August 16

I never did like the dining car.

He said something complimentary in a language she didn't understand and then continued delicately mincing his way through what appeared to be an ordinary trifle.

"And how did you like Paris?" He said it condescendingly, with the self-assured air of a smart traveller.

"Umm. It was interesting."

Considering that she had spent all but her first stormy day inside her hotel room curled up in foetal position over a case of food poisoning, she thought her judgement of the city a generous one. Fortunately her companion only pursed his lips and raised his eyebrows, nodding thoughtfully. Maybe he thought she hadn't words for the wonder that was Paris, or perhaps he thought her a rather postmodern female Tobias Smollett.

Outside the train, a tangled countryside was rattling away from them. She thought it would rain, soon.

She folded up her napkin and made as many signs as she could to indicate her imminent departure. After a few tense moments of social excuses during which she had the impression she ought to have been rescued by a concerned materteral relation--or someone dashing with a cane and implausible moustache--she escaped by way of a coughing fit.

Three cars down, a gypsy and two crying children later she fell into her own compartment. Thunder rolled and cracked outside, echoing the sound of the sliding door and its cheery click, and she felt a sudden rush of gratitude for the thermos of tea she'd packed in the side compartment of her rucksack. Five more hours!

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