It was arduous, but Sadie finally managed to talk her Aunt into letting her go. Luckily enough Zul al Zan was her guide in Australia for some of her trip. Her Aunt Evelyn felt better knowing she had a professional guide traveling with her. Always supportive of Sadie's grades, Evelyn recognized it would be a wonderful cultural experience, and extra credit. Sadie took note to remember to write up a research paper about this experience.
A letter addressed to Sadie came six days after she arrived home, from Zul. The unlikely duo was scheduled to leave in three days time. Her ticket for the south bound train lay inside. Zul had gotten her a sleeping cabin. This was a relief to her. She did not like the idea of traveling all that time with no place to unwind, or get away from Zul for that matter.
Not wanting to cause unneeded worry or questioning from Felix, Sadie took a taxi from her Aunt's apartment to the train station. She paused at the door; this was always the worst part of traveling, the crowds of people going to and from all their destinations. Give her a cramped tomb any day, but a crowded train station she could do without. Sadie inhaled deeply and pushed through the door into the mass. She made her way across the station to the line to check in her luggage and verify her ticket.
"I was not sure you would come." A voice came from behind her.
Sadie looked behind her and what she saw caught her off guard. Wearing a cream colored suit with double-breasted lapels over a wine colored dress shirt, and two tone lace up Brogues. Dressed to the nines stood The Pirate of the Sand Seas. Sadie could do nothing but stare at him.
"Well someone cleans up nice." Sadie smiled.
For the briefest second, and she had almost missed it, Zul was embarrassed. He recovered almost instantly. A smirk made it's was across his face and she realized she was staring so she turned away.
On board the train she checked herself in her sleeper. Zul was across the hall. Sadie did not particularly want to spend time with him, so the first day of their trip she spent in her room reading up on some reference materials about the Spanish people of Puerto Rico.
Such a diverse culture made up of Natives called Tainos, Africans, and Spanish. I wonder if we will come across any relics of the Tainos? 'It is believed that the Tainos were Arawaks who migrated northward from South America and had been living in Boriquen for nearly 1,000 years when the Spaniards arrived.'
Finally feeling peckish, Sadie made her way to the dining car. She was running a little late so it was nearly full. She looked at the door and saw Zul sitting at a table by the window. He was reading a book presumably waiting on his food.
Rather ill mannered of him. Sadie thought.
A few of the other tables shot him glances and whispered, but if it bothered him he did not show it. Knowing full well she could not avoid him forever she went and sat down across from him. Only then did he close his book and set it down.
"I was wondering if you would come out of hiding." He smiled.
"I was doing no such thing, I was busy researching. You probably would have probably thought to do if you still were still a goo-"
It was at that moment her eyes glanced down at the book he was reading. It was the same book she had been reading earlier, only written in Spanish. She felt her cheeks flush.
"You may borrow it if you like. It is the latest printing." Zul said.
"No. I apologize for jumping to conclusions." Sadie looked toward the waiter who approached.
They ordered their meals, and ate in silence. Finally the quiet was too much for Sadie.
"Do you like to play cards?"
This question took him by surprise.
"Yes. What do you have in mind?"
They found an open car and began playing cards. After a few hands Sadie began to relax a little. It appeared as Zul began to do the same.
"So this is what Scheherazade does with her spare time between college, parties, and digging in the dirt. She fleeces the unsuspecting of all of their cash."
"Aw are you still upset I did not fall for your bluff?" She dealt them another hand.
"Actually if you want to be fleeced, play against Anna. I swear she is spending her weekends in Atlanta."
They both laughed. The night rolled on and soon Sadie caught herself yawning.
"Goodness what time is it?"
Zul pulled out a pocket watch. It looked really smart.
"Quite late, we should head back."
Zul stifled a yawn himself. They stood outside their perspective rooms.
"Goodnight Miss Sadie"
"Goodnight to you to. Zul al Zan."
I think I should make fewer presumptions about Zul it will likely help me live longer.
Sadie changed and went to sleep.
The next morning Sadie awoke to commotion outside her door. There were men arguing. She threw on her clothing and entered the hall. She could not believe what she saw. In the hall stood several men and they had Zul in handcuffs.
"What is the meaning of this?!" Sadie spoke without thinking. Everyone turned to face her.
"Madam this does not concern you. Please return to your room, everything is under control." A tall man in an officer uniform said.
"I will do no such thing! Why do you have him in handcuffs?"
Sadie looked to Zul al Zan. He had a passive look on his face. But his eyes seemed to scream for blood.
"Do you know this man?" The officer asked.
"Uh… Yes. What seems to be the problem?"
Another guy spoke up. He reminded Sadie of what a rat would look like had it become human and had a pencil mustache.
"This Carpet Rider stole my pocket watch!"
Several women gasped at the language.
"Sir please take care your language in the presence of ladies."
Sadie looked to Zul hoping for an explanation, but got none. So fearing things could get out of hand as she did the only thing she could think of.
"The only pocket watch he has is the one I gave him on his birthday last year. He is a good man and you have no right treating him as otherwise."
She was beginning to get caught up in her lie and got angry at the nerve of these men. She began to describe the watch in every minute detail right down to the jeweler she purchased it from even the place she planned on having it engraved. Zul's eyes became like saucers as he listen to everything he was hearing. The officer who had Zul in cuffs blanched and turned his attention to the miniscule man who made the accusation.
"But..but..bu…" He stammered.
"This man is obviously trying to start an international incident. I want to speak to the Engineer and I want this man.
She pointed to the rat man.
"...removed from this train immediately! I shall of course contact my lawyer; Phileas Carter who has been a long time family friend of The Frayser-Hydes."
A woman squeaked and reached forwarded and grabbed the accuser by the arm. He turned to her and she shook her head desperately. He quickly looked back to Sadie.
"Ma'am, it was a mistake. I do apologize for any trouble my husband has caused. Please officer we are not pressing any charges. Please release the gentlemen." The woman spoke up.
The rat man looked from Sadie to the officer and nodded.
"Yes I was sorely mistaken."
He reached into his wife's clutch.
"Oh look here. Here is my watch. Sorry dear, I must have misplaced it."
Sadie secretly breathed a sigh of relief. Zul was innocent after all. The officer turned back to Zul al Zan who still wore a neutral expression and released him from the handcuffs. The officer then tipped his hat first to Sadie and then to Zul apologizing for the disturbance.
"Miss…Sir. Enjoy your trip."
The crowd dispersed and the officer went back to his duties. Sadie sagged against the door to her room. She then turned and walked inside. Before the door had shut, she heard the unexpected.
"Thank you Scheherazade…but what would you have done had I been the thief?"
"I would have simply bought a return ticket and gone home. I also would have never spoken to you again."
With that she shut the door behind her, and Zul stood in the hall left staring at her door. A pained expression appeared on his face and he returned his room.
The rest of the trip to Miami was mildly uneventful. With the exception of now Sadie was constantly bombarded with greetings and visits by what must have been every lady and dandy onboard the train. Zul only chuckled at the exasperated look Sadie had taken to wearing most of the time now.
"Laugh it up Zul. I assure you, you will pay me back."
Zul took on a look that was all too serious for Sadie to be comfortable with.
"Yes. I am in your debt."