Hanging out in the club car, bound for Venice. Notice another American amongst the passengers by his speech, slight southern accent. Schuyler approaches him introducing himself “Long way from the Confederacy my good man, what are you doing here? You writing about your travels across Europe.” “Yes sir. Particularly upon the Orient, here. My name is Dr. Tom Wilberforce. I’m recorded by impressions of the nations, people and the train. Sort of a travel log of my experiences.” “Did you come from London?” “No, I boarded at Calais. I wanted to go to England first and come through the new tunnel.” Schuyler “YOu should have, it was explosive.” “Yes I heard. I heard there were a bunch of anarchists evidently that tried to take over the tunnel. Anyway, I’m looking for a good story, really for another novel.” Schuyler “What are you a doctor of?” “Philosophy. Words, Man, are my life?” Schuyler says we were on the train at the time of the anarchist attack, and introduces Tom to the Boys. Says “Jeremy will tell you the story better than anyone else.” Tom is extremely interested, so Jeremy lays the cover story on thick.
Tom “So Paul, you’re the brains of this outfit?” Paul “Jolly right, of course!”
Tom turns out to be very nice, but very naive. He believes he lives in the world he writes about. Heroes are always totally heroic and villains are total villains, English are all supporters of the Empire and all Frenchmen are cowards…. WE LOVE HIM!! No wonder we later trust him with the absolute truth. Talks about knowing of Mike “Mad Dog” Kelly, and the killer and outlaw Jake Washington.
A rather snobbish Frenchmen comments “Looks like they’ll let anyone in first class these days. The Orient Express is not what it used to be” remarking on Tom’s attire, then tell us all “none of you know how to dress properly.” Paul, wearing his many military medals, laughs at a Frenchman’s placing such little value on such things, which reinforces Tom’s thoughts on the French. Tom answers “Yeah you may be right that I am not dressed as you nobles are, but I am her to observe you. You don’t have to observe me. As far as money, I could have either gone first class or bought a suit. So, I figured I would see more of what I wished to here in first class.”
A female passenger begins talking to the Frenchman in Italian, something pretty rotten as she pokes her finger at him. “Mademoiselle, stop that and leave me alone” he replies as he is backing up. Conductor separates them. Apologizes to us for the way she was acting, but she thought she had to come to the defense of the American. We invite her over, speaks broken English and kind of gushes over Tom for being a writer, wears a black dress. Explains she is Maria Stagliani she lived in Milan with her aunt, but dad recently died. Now going back to Venice for funeral, and to stay. While there she hopes to see her suitor, someday she hopes her fiance, Georgio. She really loves him. “He is so handsome, so passionate about the people.” Paul aside to Geste “So he’s a liberal.” Schuyler “What does he do?” “He’s a neighborhood organizer. So passionate!” She is totally smitten by him obviously. “He fights the fasconistas.” She speaks of his campaigns against the 14hour days and child labor in the steam-factoeiesShe calls over her maid and introduces her. Tom has been frantically taking notes on her story, and really hopes to meet her fiance. Red Cloud to the maid “What did her dad do?” “A merchant, importer/exporter.” Maria shows us a pic of dad Giovanni in her locket. Simon “A fine looking man” Schuyler, “Looks an upstanding gentleman”, Red Cloud “How did he die?” He was mugged and murdered in the streets. Maria begins to cry after she tells us where we should stay while in Venice, cries for her dad “papa, papa…” We tell her we are willing to help, and Tom starts scribbling more notes. Ask her if she has heard of Alvi de Gramanci? She says no, but that is a common last name.