03 October 2007
The Steamed Eagle
Botter and I stood silently on the platform, awaiting the train that would take us to Disaster, and no doubt onto further astonishing adventures.
“The ruddy train is late,” I said, breaking the silence.
“I only make it thirty seconds late, milord,” Botter replied, observing a clock on the wall behind us.
“Late is late, Botter.” I snapped. “I do so hate being kept waiting. It is the height of bad manners, and jolly bad form all round.”
Right on cue, as if it had heard my complaint, the train pulled into the station. It was a large, powerful-looking machine, resplendent in it’s jet-black paint and red trim. It drew up beside us, and came to a gradual stop, before a small, bearded man in a train-driver’s uniform descended from it and hurried over to us.
“Good day, folks! You here to ride aboard The Steamed Eagle?” he exclaimed, picking up my suitcase.
“No, I am here to ride the train,” I replied.
“Why, that is the train, sir! We call her The Steamed Eagle,” he exclaimed, waving towards the engine with a proud flourish. “She’s entirely at your service!”
“Well, she could do with being rather more prompt,” I snorted. “You do realise that you are fifty-three seconds late, don’t you?”
“Well, don’t you worry, sir! Your destination ain’t gonna be going anywhere!”
“And neither will you, with two broken legs.”
“I haven’t got two broken legs, sir!”
“Not yet, you haven’t. Now, here are my tickets – which one is the First Class carriage?”
“Right over there, sir,” the man indicated to a fine-looking carriage behind him. “Just you two, is it?”
“Well, I shall be travelling first class, certainly. My man-servant here will be travelling with the luggage, after all he is pretty much just a bag on legs,” I said, ignoring Botter’s silent protests.
“But you paid for two first class tickets, right?” The man asked, scratching his head.
“I did, that is true. One for me, and one for my Lord Palmerston. He is a first class passenger, make no mistake.”
“Where is this Lord Palmerston, then, sir?” the man enquired, looking around the station.
“In my trousers, you utter ignoramus.”
“In your trousers?”
“‘Lord Palmerston’ is the nickname I have given to my gentleman’s organ, my good man. He is of such a substantial size and importance that I feel obliged to purchase a ticket for him, so he may ride in comfort. Now, are there any further questions, or would you like me to display my Lord Palmerston to you, so that you might check his bags?”
“Uh, no, sir. That won’t be necessary. You go ahead, and have a pleasant journey. The, uh, both of you. And you, sir,” he said, turning to the despondent form of my man-servant. “The luggage compartment is the last carriage, down there.”
Botter took my case from the man, and shuffled off to his designated carriage, while I clambered aboard my first-class compartment. It was certainly first-class, of that there could be no doubt, with large, comfortable seats, fine furnishings, a drinks cabinet, a large fish-tank and a small orchestra playing beautiful music in the corner. I smiled a big, contented smile, took a bottle of whisky from the drinks cabinet and sat down in one of the seats, which I found to be extremely comfortable indeed. So comfortable, in fact, that I soon found myself drifting off to sleep as the train slowly pulled out of the station.
I do not know how long I had been asleep for, or how far we had travelled before I was rudely awoken by a cry from outside the train. I sat bolt upright, spilling some of my whisky, and looked out of the window. We were stationary, and the short man with a beard who I had been talking to earlier was lying dead on the grass beside us, a large arrow sticking out of his chest. Then another man, dressed in uniform, ran at full pelt past my window, stopping only to fire a few shots from a pistol at some unseen assailants. He turned to run, catching a quick glance in my direction as he did.
“Injuns!” he cried to me, pointing towards the front of the train. “Injuns! Save yourself! Ruuuun!”
I sat back in my extremely comfortable seat, trying to decipher exactly what it was the man had said. Engines? In gins? On Genes? What in the name of French cockery was he trying to say? I leant forward again, to see the man still running at full speed, until another arrow sailed through the air and found it’s home in his back. He fell to the floor, managing to squeeze off one more shot from his pistol, firing it aimlessly into the air.
I leant back again, and took a swig of whisky, thoughts racing through my lordly head.
Indians, I thought. He meant Indians.
I took another swig.
Shit, I thought. Indians.
- Lord Likely.
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