Gifts and a New Aquaintance

Dear Reader, in my excitement and exhaustion yesterday, I forgot to mention the wonderful gifts which Miss P___ and Father D___ gave to me!

I do not know which is better, the talbotype from Miss P___ or the watch from Father D___. As I cannot capture the talbotype itself using the talbotype, I shall here insert a captured image of the watch:


I think it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever owned! And I cannot think what it cost, especially to man who must make but a pittance, serving as reverend to a girls’ orphanage (as well as the boy’s orphanage down the road, which is where he lives). My only guess is that he bought it used, which is just as well since nearly everything else I own is used also! But it is in excellent condition and keeps perfect time, needing winding only once per day. (I do hope I shall not forget to wind it, for I hate asking strangers for the time! It seems so menial.)

The talbotype was most certainly pre-owned, but is still in working condition. It is not very pretty, bearing many scratches and a layer of grime which I am doing my best to remove with my oldest handkerchief, and it is one of the earliest models still available. Thankfully it takes the same paper and cloths as the newer models, and Miss P___ also gifted me with a package of both.

Here is how it works: the papers are loaded into the back of the device which is then closed up. Upon pushing the shutter button, a miniscule hole in the lens in the front opens for a brief second, then is closed again. Somehow that is enough for the image--whatever the device is pointing at--to be captured onto the paper. The paper then slides out through the bottom of the device, whereupon it must be wiped thoroughly with a cloth which has been soaked in some sort of chemical solution. (It is very smelly, so much so that when I developed the image of the watch just now, the old gentleman next to me very nearly woke from yet another nap. Also, one may use the solution-soaked cloths up to three times, if they are stored in an airtight container so they do not dry out. Mine came in a little glass jar with a screw-on lid.) The paper is then lain in the light for a few minutes, and once the solution is fully dried, the image appears on the paper! Isn’t that delightful? I must restrain myself from wasting the paper by taking captures of everything in sight, and only use them for things which are important to retain for ever.

I see the girl with the food cart coming now, and as I have only some dried fruit and a few rolls left from what Cook sent with me, I shall order something from her for my lunch.


What a lovely girl she was! The food cart girl, I mean. She is rather quiet, but very pretty, in the almost-too-thin way of some popular actresses. She has light brown hair with lovely golden highlights, and wide brown eyes. The scattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks is most charming, and she moves with such easy grace on this wildly-rocking train, when I can hardly go two steps without holding onto the back of a chair or steadying myself against a wall. She says it is because she has lived all her life on this train, and only disembarks but once or twice a year. Can you imagine! She even said that when the train is stopped at a station, she feels oddly, as if she is rocking. Very strange.

Oh yes, and her name is Adelaide Kynton. Her father is the conductor of the Arabella Genevieve, and all the rest of her family lives on this train, too. Apparently it is usual for train conductors to carry their families with them back and forth and back and forth across the country. They occupy two cars at the rear of the train, and there they sleep, eat, bathe, and live all their lives when they are not working on the train.

A boy named Arthur lives there too, sharing a little room with the Kynton boys, and he is Mr. Kynton’s apprentice. The eldest son, Samuel, will apparently inherit the train and the work from his father when Mr. Kynton becomes too feeble to conduct, but as he is but fourteen now, Arthur does most of the heavier work. Two other permanent fixtures reside on the train as well: a cook, and a general maidservant who assists the cook and keeps the train clean and neat.

Adelaide has two or three sisters, and another brother besides Samuel, but I cannot remember their names or ages just now. Five or six children! My goodness. I imagine their little cars at the rear of the train must be very crowded indeed.

It is Adelaide’s duty to roll the food cart up and down the train three times a day, offering simple meals and snacks to its occupants who cannot afford to take their meals in the formal dining car (i.e. me). The cook makes little pies and sandwiches, and Adelaide’s mother bakes various pastries. Tea and coffee are available by the cup, and everything is served on charming little plates or lovely little mugs, much chipped and scratched due I'm sure to many years of use. (I also observed that not all of the dishes match exactly; the vine pattern circling the edges varies slightly between items.) Once she has traveled the length of the train once, she returns to the rear to pick up the empty dishes car by car, then goes back to the rear of the train to take them to the little kitchen, where they are washed. It is no matter that she cannot take outside exercise as normal people do, as she gets plenty just doing her job!

(Concerning the washing of dishes: I wonder how the matter of plumbing is handled on a moving vehicle. I have made use of the water closet in the next car, of course, but the logistics of it never occurred to me before now. Perhaps I shall ask Adelaide when next I see her.)

Writing all of that has taken some considerable time, even though I was able to make use of the fold-up table Adelaide was kind enough to demonstrate to me. It is attached to the back of the seat ahead of me by a hinge, and is held up by a single leg which telescopes down from the bottom of it to rest on the floor between my feet. It is a very small table, but provides a much sturdier writing surface than my lap, as well as a place to put the tea I ordered. Ah, here she comes again with her cart.

We chatted a moment more, and she agreed to show me her family's cars after her chores for the evening are done. I suppose I shall amuse myself until then by reading one of the periodicals made available to travelers for free, though they are several weeks out of date.

1 comment:

Making Megan said...

Bravo Heater! Already your character has so much personality. YAY!

All content appearing on this blog belongs solely to Heather Layne, 2008.