The four of them swayed in unison with the rocking motion of the train as they walked dejectedly to the dining area. They quietly took places at a booth.
Ruth noted quietly,
“It looks like we’re picking up speed.”
“Ja, I noticed that too,” agreed Wilhelm.
“It’s about time.” DeForest sighed.
For the last six days, the old Stephenson steam locomotive pulling the train had made frequent stops for water and fuel and although climbing steadily, had been slow to conquer the Atlas Mountains.
“I guess this means we’re finally going downhill.”
They all gazed out the window, each silently mulling their problem as the landscape slipped by.
“What are we going to do about this?” Ignatius asked. “It’s a waste of time to sit here when we know that we can’t get any farther once we reach Timbuktu!”
“I’m sorry,” Wilhelm looked down, defeated. “There are some odd phrases that make no sense.”
Ignatius took out the paper and unfolded it on the table. “This is worthless unless we can figure it out.”
Wilhelm ran his finger under the unknown phrases saying them aloud.
“Biegung im Fluss…Doppelzwillingsbaume…die Felswand hinter dem Wasserfall erclimmen…. Ach, it says to climb a waterfall but that doesn’t make any sense?!”
A young man sitting in the booth across from them stood and looked at Wilhelm. “Sorry to eavesdrop, but I think I can help you.”
He introduced himself. “I’m Vilas Belter.”
“Ok, Vilas, so how do you ‘climb a waterfall?” Ignatius jumped right into questioning him.
“You don’t. You climb a rock wall BEHIND the waterfall,” said Vilas triumphantly.
All four of them sat up straight. “Can you figure out any of the other phrases?” asked Ruth.
“I’d like to give it a try, sounds fun.” Vilas grinned.
“Would you give us a few minutes?” asked Ignatius.
“Certainly. I need to see if the bartender can mix this cocktail for me.” Vilas showed them a piece of paper with the directions for making a drink. “It’s something I discovered while traveling. Would you all like to try it?”
7 cubes of sugar
Thinly sliced ginger
Pulp and seeds from 10 Passion Fruits
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan.
Once the sugar has dissolved, add the passion fruit, ginger, and the lemon juice and zest and remove from the heat. Allow to cool.
Pour a little of the syrup into an old fashioned glass filled with ice then add 2oz light rum and fill up with soda water. Add the mint and lemon and serve.
After Vilas went to the bar, Ignatius spoke. “We need him. He seems to know the areas and can help decipher the directions for us. He has to join us! “
They all agreed. When Vilas returned with the cocktails, they told him about their quest and asked him to join their society.
“I’m actually here to study native trees but you know,” Vilas took a sip of his drink, “I’m also interested in gold.”