05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Thursday, August 28, 2014


I don’t have a story to tell about my travels on trains, planes or automobiles, because nothing out of the ordinary has ever happened to me. I am certainly glad I didn’t need to travel on public transport last century. It would have been a very slow, uncomfortable journey, with no air-conditioning in summer, although you could open the windows to catch a breeze. In winter, the only heating they would have had were feet warmers (tin containers filled with hot water or hot coals).

I write historical romance, so there is quite a lot of train travel (of the steam train variety) in my novels. I thought I might set up a few train scenes from three of my novels set during the 1st World War.

Allison’s War
1914 -The door leading from the carriage slid open and, even with the swaying of the train, Phillip started moving down the narrow passageway, glancing out the window as he did so. They would reach Dixon’s Siding in ten minutes. The conductor had assured him of this a few moments ago, but he was taking no chances of being carried on. If he missed his stop, God alone knew where he might end up.

“Damnation.” The train shuddered and slammed him against a window. As he straightened up, he watched without much interest as two horsemen broke out of the forest. No, it was called bush in Australia, he reminded himself. One must get the colloquialisms right, more advice from Tony. Young fools were racing the train.

Daring Masquerade
1916 - Harry and Ross caught a midday train home. The seats in the first class carriage were upholstered in black leather, the walls decorated with cedar panels, beveled mirrors and pictures of Victorian tourist attractions. Harry wanted to hang her head out the window as they steamed away from Melbourne, but couldn’t risk getting a cinder in her eye.


1917 - When they got out of the car at the station Gilbert toddled around squealing with delight as he chased the stationmaster’s cat. The blast of a whistle in the distance and a trail of smoke drifting skywards, had Harry straining her eyes to catch her first glimpse of the train bringing Ross home to Devil’s Ridge.

Lauren’s Dilemma
1914 - They were late. The train, already pulled in at the station, belched out clouds of black smoke. Laurie dashed onto the platform, almost colliding with a signalman who waited with his lamp.

Groups of well-wishers made their farewells to loved ones through the carriage windows. Her hasty glance confirmed the train was full of young men from further up the line, all heading for the army camp in Melbourne. She ignored a wolf whistle from one young man as she rushed from carriage to carriage searching for Danny. I have to find him. It would be awful if he thought she couldn’t be bothered seeing him off.

In desperation, she used their childhood secret emergency signal. Putting two fingers into her mouth, she emitted three loud whistles.

“Laurie?” He poked his head through the carriage window. “Thank God you made it on time.” He gave a relieved grin.

“I wanted to see you off.” Her voice wobbled as she fought to keep it under control. There would be plenty of time for tears later, in the privacy of her room. She wanted him to carry away happy thoughts of her, memories that would sustain him even in his darkest hour. “Good luck.” She forced a smile, vowing to keep it pinned to her mouth no matter what the cost.

“Thanks.” He squeezed her hand. “Remember, you'll always be my best girl.”

“Good luck, Danny.” Matthew Cunningham strolled up to them.

“Thanks, Mr. Cunningham. Look after yourself, Laurie, and don’t forget what I said.” He gave her a quick kiss on the mouth.

The whistle blew several times in quick succession. There was a hiss of steam, black smoke belched from the engine, and then with a loud groan the train started to move. Laurie ran along beside the carriage for a short way clinging to Danny’s hand until the engine picked up speed, forcing her to let go. “Write to me.”

His reply got blown away by the draft from the train, but he waved enthusiastically until the train took a bend in the line. He was gone.

Special 3 in 1 Centenary edition -  A three novel collection, depicting the tragedy and triumph of three different women during World War 1. Allison's War, Daring Masquerade and Lauren's Dilemma.

A hundred years ago, from the far flung corners of the British Empire, young men rushed to fight for Mother England in what was to be known as the Great War, or as we, in more modern times called it, the 1st World War. They left their wives and sweethearts behind. Many of these brave women waited in vain for their men folk to return. How did they cope with the loss and heartache? Could they ever hope to find happiness with another man?


 Margaret Tanner writes historical romance. Her favorite period is the 1st World War and she has thoroughly researched the era. She has had access to diaries of family members who served in this terrible conflict, and has also visited the battlefields in France and Belgium.



Sarah Raplee said...

Your descriptions are so evocative, your writing so emotion-filled, Margaret. I was drawn into the scenes immediately.

Great idea for a wonderful post!

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Margaret, I really like the Centenary bundle of three of your WWI stories. Your description of train travel is so accurate. I've been on some short trips (a few hours) on steam trains and they are not the most comfortable modes of traveling even if the scenery is spectacular.

Margaret Tanner said...

Thank you. I am an emotional type of writer I have to confess. I cry sometimes as I write my stories.



Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Judith,
Can't say I have ever travelled on a steam train, but I have travelled on some very old country trains as a child, and they had the foot warmers.