Train rides, Victorian Style




Sanguine’s Ride

Richard Trevithick

“I welcome you all, fair ladies and gentleman!” Galavant exclaimed, ecstatically looking between each of his masqueraded guests. While dressed in the most unusual, and elegant, of ballroom attire, only the elite of elite had been permitted to board the christening departure of the English National Railway.

Stepping forward, Galavant, garbed in the most eccentric of suits, raised his wine-brimmed glass. “My colleagues! My cohorts! I am both blesséd and humbled to stand here before the most revered and elect members of London society. It is at this time we may reflect upon our actions and see all the good that wealth, in the right hands, can do. It is at this time, when we, too auspicious to dwell amongst the smokestacks, may contemplate our most diverse upbringings.”

There was a repose, and then:

“Here, here!” Said one of the train-goers, raising his glass as well. The other patrons mimicked, eager to partake in the revelry. Shortly after this impromptu toast, the blare of a steam whistle could be heard. The steady chug of a locomotive being brought to life promptly followed this.

“Rejoice, friends! The ride begins!” One declared jubilantly; the burgundy liquid in the passenger’s glasses tilted forward every so slightly.

“Rejoice!” Another resounded.

However, while the guests made merry, Galavant, by himself, pensively swished the bubbly, effervescent liquor in his glass.

“Galavant!” Someone despaired. “Why have you fallen morose? Your iron horse has made its first trot! Come forth and watch it step into this brave, new world! Be gay! Be exalted!”

“Be glad! Be sprite!” Another cheered.

“Ah, but this momentous occasion comes with a great penance. The foundry of this steelwork- the foundry of the veins my stallion charges upon- is built upon the necropolis of my bride!” With those heavy words, the room fell silent. With remorse for his unsettling sermon, Galavant spoke: “Forgive me, dear friends. I did not mean to remit your spirits.”

“Nonsense, Galavant, you shall speak your peace if it does so please you.”

“Then perhaps I shall.” The car was perfectly soundless, readily anticipating Galavant’s next words. “Twelvemonth ago, I was wed; no feeling of bliss or rapture compared. However, in the subsequent winter, my wife, as verdant and laughing as the spring itself, fell ill and passed away.

She battled sickness for many months- but resolve alone was not enough. With these events prior to the acquisition of my wealth, I could not afford to transport my belovéd from the countryside to London for treatment. I reached to the silvery threads of every noble family near and far of Cambridge for help; I was denied at every crook and turn.” His audience paled.

“In truth,” He continued, “I called you here for the same reason.” Galavant reached into his vestment, withdrawing a gleaming revolver. “I shall distribute a mortality to each of you. While you may plea and beg for my forgiveness, I shall leave you in the gutters of Westminster- just as you had left my wife.”


4 thoughts on “Train rides, Victorian Style

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    Ah, sad revenge upon the greedy and non-charitable. A train ride as a steel trap served cold over a “necropolis”. Love lost to cruel circumstances and cruelty served as karma. Westminster Cathedral you are bringing down the guttersnipes with a peeling for the belle of bliss and rapture. This is a nice slow build to a dramatic flash point. I could hear the screams above the roar of the train.

  2. Parisianne Modert says:

    I am curious as to the use of “Cambridge” which is hardly the countryside nor unsophisticated even in the 19th century and over 60 miles north of “Westminster Abbey” in the center of London proper. The connection between leaving the train travelers in the gutters of Westminster puzzles me, because Galavant’s wife died nowhere near this location. The verb usage in the last sentence of “had” felt very ackward to me which is troublesome, because the first and last sentence are so essential in flash fiction. I would have used, “just as mercilessly as you forsook my wife.”

  3. Michael Stang says:

    May the gutters of Westminster over flo. Excellent cadence through and through; the period talk just enough. A creative, thoughtful flash.

  4. Diane Cresswell says:

    What a trip this was. Revenge carried out in style. Liked the imagery of the story – carried well to the end. And then my imagination took over. Well written.

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