Journal of Virginia Hyde

24th April

En route to Trieste to hunt for Saxifrage species in the mountains to the North and East of the city. One of my Travelling Companions on this stage of the journey is a Mr. Luke Williams, a quiet young man of few words. The Journey, which had proceeded smoothly so far, was interrupted by an unfortunate Accident. Our carriage lost a wheel close to a small village in the Veneto. The stupid coachman did not comprehend my instructions on how to fix it and just made things worse. We were likely to be delayed by a whole day had not Lady Hester Marchmain, travelling on the same road in her own coach, kindly taken us on board and conveyed Mr.Williams and myself to Trieste where we all took rooms at the Pension Suisse. I intend to stay here for a few days while gathering maps of the locality and engaging a guide.

25th April

We are all invited by M.Pierre la Rochelle, the French consul, to a lunchtime Reception. Probably a complete waste of my time but Lady Hester is most insistent that I accompany her there in her carriage so I suppose I shall go. ....

The Reception was not without Interest. I met an Italian, Count Carrera, who has an Airship and was pressing with his invitation that I call to see it. As the location mentioned is on my intended route, I shall humour him. The Italian consul, Sr.Avalone, was most helpful in suggesting where I might find two local guides.

26th April

Since Lady Hester and Mr.Williams have also been invited by Count Carrera, we are to go ahead in her carriage, with servants to follow, and my local guides to meet me with horses beyond the Count's house. It is all arranged and I foresee no difficulties.

27th April

Ghastly business at the Count's; poor man had been taken captive by his ambitious and jealous twin Brother. Said Brother took us all in as the two look so alike. It was not until we were aboard his Airship that we discovered that we had been made Fools and Captives by the dreadful Guiseppe. He had a mysterious Girl with him, no Lady certainly, who had been introduced as a French singer, Mllle.Lumiere, at the luncheon Reception but now presented herself as an Englishwoman, Charlotte Saunders. There were also some Italian Ruffians, three who were left in the house and one of whom came to stand guard over us.

We were held in a compartment above the Engine, the Bandit outside the door, while the airship flew South. Guiseppe intended to take us Hostage to prevent interference by the British Government in his plot to rule Southern Italy. He had supporters in the Balkans who would hold us and modify the airship with Explosive Devices for him. Lady Hester produced some Violet Cachoos from her Reticule which we powdered and put inside the Engine. It was not long before the Engine began to splutter. We anticipated Guiseppe coming to investigate. The bandit opened the door and Lady Hester shot him. He slumped and I took his gun. We went towards the forward compartment where we found Guiseppe, somewhat Distraught and clutching a paper. It was a Letter from the Dreadful Woman who had, apparently, left the Airship after affixing an Explosive Device to it in the hope of killing us all. With Commendable Bravery, Mr. Williams crawled over the outside of the Airship and located the Device in time to disarm it.

The Engine had failed and we were drifting. We came down somewhere amongst the islands off the Dalmatian Coast. Guiseppe was able to attract the attention of some local fisherman who ferried him away, abandoning us, who did not speak the local language.

An interesting aside: whilst approaching the Count's home I met a strange creature who seemed to be the Spirit of an Acacia. She and I spoke at great length about the life and culture of the plant. We did not agree on all points as any hint of Pruning upset the creature immensely but it was a most fascinating experience. Mr.Williams met the Acacia too and seemed to be spellbound by it until I dragged him away. Most odd.