This or that
Mission: Chapter 10: Brakes on a Train
It had been easy for Katherine to get out of the Peacock suite; the crew members were so infatuated with their new surroundings that they weren’t paying her any mind. She had learned lots about some of their fellow passengers too -- Mrs. Getz from Prussia, recently widowed. Mr. Huxley from Columbus City, recently engaged. Sister Mary Agnes, the Way missionary…
So lost was she in her own thoughts that she ran smack into someone headed in the opposite direction, completely bowling him over.
“Oh goodness! I am so sorry!” she exclaimed, helping the young man to his feet.
“Oh! No! It's alright. I was just rushing to the--", Laure started, but was intelligent enough not to blurt it. He wasn't sure himself what exactly he was going to the Peacock carriage for, and anyone could tell he wasn't a first-class passenger.
"Anyhow, were you going to someplace particular, if I may ask? You see, I have worked on this train, I can guide you to most places, if you want", Laure said smiling genuinely, swinging his hand once to the direction where Katherine was originally going. After all, he couldn't ignore a seemingly nice acquaintance even if he was starving.
"Nowhere in particular,” Katherine lied. She couldn’t very well say that she was going to the Peacock carriage; she was already on shaky ground with the captain, and she certainly didn’t want to be the one to invoke the crew’s wrath if any of the rail marshals found out about them. She should have just let him go on his way...but curiosity got the better of her. She’d not yet interviewed someone who worked on the train. A rail worker would be perfect for her Great Western Novel.
“So what’s it like to work on a train?” Katherine asked as she tried to steer the boy in the opposite direction. “I mean, it must be nice to see new places all the time,” she added wistfully.
Laure gritted his teeth. He couldn't possibly say what had happened to him, but he wasn't going to lie either. "Well...yes. This train is very fascinating. Although I was only a cook's assistant " Laure said, hesitating a little. "Also, the chief didn't like me very much. There was something about me that he couldn't stand..." Laure continued.
The boy noticed that Katherine must have somewhat read him between the lines. She looked pensive.
"Oh, but I did get a place to say and something to eat! That's the most important thing to me right now. I'm a bit of a stray at the moment," Laure said, touching his neck in embarrassment.
Katherine desperately wanted to ask why Laure’s chief didn’t like him, but she’d guessed that that was a touchy subject, and she had the good sense not to pry.
“Ahh,” she replied carefully. She paused for a moment, and then added, “Well, you could say I’m something of a stray too.” And it was true, too. She still felt like she didn’t quite fit in with the pirates. She wondered if she ever really would.
"So you quit your job?" she couldn't resist asking.
Laure gulped. This woman was curious.
"Err...yes, I did. But the circumstances weren't in my favor. I had to leave straight away.." Laure said, trying to keep a poker face. He figured however that the woman was going to ask him everything she could think of, so Laure went a bit closer to her and whispered "That is, he didn't give me a ticket."
Noticing that he had told the woman way too much about himself, Laure tried to think of a way out of the situation. "Which reminds me that I was looking for Brem. He said he would help me,"Laure said, thinking of continuing on his way and glad about the fact that he hadn't told her his name.
"Brem?!" Katherine exclaimed, and regretted it instantly. It was possible that there was more than one Brem aboard the train of course, but she doubted it. With all the inquiries she had made, she would have remembered a detail like that.
"I mean...I've seen him around," she continued, formulating lies in her head. "Tall fellow, bald. And very rich," she added for good measure.
Laure now assumed that Brem was someone that everybody knew by name. He surely didn't look rich but he had said to Laure to look for him in the Peacock carriage after all. Laure felt a little bad to have judged a book by its cover.
"I'm going to look for him now. It was very nice talking to you, Miss..." Laure started, but remembered again that they hadn't introduced themselves to each other.
"Have a good day!" Laure wished hastily and proceeded in the way of the Peacock carriage.
Katherine smiled to herself as she watched his retreating back and then, when she was sure he wasn't looking, she began to follow. This was worth investigating.