“This is the life,” Jackie commented as she settled down into a comfortable seat in a First-Class compartment aboard the most luxurious train planet Earth had ever known.

It was the Orient Express. It was May of 1937. As The Doctor had explained, that meant that Britain was settling down after the Abdication failed to bring the end of civilisation while Germany, Italy and Spain were gearing up to have a go at it, instead.

But on the Orient Express, especially in First-Class compartments, converted by night into bedrooms but by day into little private sitting rooms with big windows for watching the world go by, civilisation was in very little danger.

She was dressed as she had hardly dared to dream of being dressed in an early part of her life when the Orient Express was just a film she saw every so often on TV. The outfit for travelling by train was a silk dress, a wide brimmed hat, shoes and handbag and several pieces of diamond jewellery guaranteed to be envied when they went to dinner later. There was a smart coat as well, but that was on a hangar. The compartment was warm enough.

Jackie looked out of the window at a bustling platform of the Gare de Lyon in Paris. She felt impatient to be off and resisted the temptation to bounce on the seat like a child who thought she could make the train go by the action.

On the seat opposite, Rose was nonchalantly reading a book as if nothing about this was new and exciting to her. Not that the word ‘nonchalant' was one Jackie would use even in her own thoughts.

“What is the book?” she asked.

Rose tilted the hardcover book so that her mother could read the title.

“Murder on the Orient Express? Isn’t that a… what does The Doctor call it… a paradoxical…”

“No. It’s ok. It was published in 1934. This copy is autographed ‘To The Doctor, Love Agatha.’ I’m not even going to ask him about that, especially not the ‘love’ bit. It’ll be a long and probably boring story.”

“I hope he and Christopher get here, soon,” Jackie remarked, turning back to the window. “How long does it take to get the TARDIS into the goods van?”

Most of the bustle in her immediate view involved a woman in a purple dress and coat with a very wide brimmed hat in the same colour. A porter was hurrying along with her considerable weight of luggage on a carefully stacked trolley. She was obviously nagging at him as only an upper-class woman of the nineteen-thirties could nag at a working man who was doing his best.

The outfit made her look like a walking bruise, Jackie thought and put the woman out of her mind as she spotted Christopher and The Doctor coming along the platform to climb aboard. Soon they were sitting in the comfortable compartment with their wives and not long after that there was a sound of doors slamming all down the train and then a long whistle. There was a jerk and then smoother movement. Jackie felt the sort of excitement of starting a train journey that even a trip to Margate could engender. It was even more exciting remembering that this trip from Paris to Istanbul lasted three nights and crossed something like five international borders – Jackie wasn’t entirely sure what countries some of the cities on the time table were actually in, either in her own time after a couple of wars and civil wars altered those borders, or back in 1937, but they all sounded exciting and evocative in a way London to the Kent coast couldn’t quite manage.

“Why didn’t we do this years ago?” she asked. “I might have appreciated a Time Lord in the family more if we got to do things like this.”

The Doctor grinned and got ready to tip the steward who brought an afternoon tea on a silver tray into the compartment. Smoked salmon sandwiches of a quality never served on a British Rail train and delicate violet macaroon cakes went with a large pot of smoked, aromatic Lapsang Souchong and a smaller pot of Assam, because Jackie had never quite developed a taste for tea without milk and it would be sacrilege to add it to Lapsang.

Rose was halfway between her humble roots and her later sophistication by adding a little sugar to her black tea.

Jackie watched France passing by outside the window for much of the time. The city of Paris soon gave way to countryside with fields interspersed with clean looking villages.

As the sun started to set, a bell rang announcing dinner. They went to the restaurant car. Here, the luxury reputation of the Orient Express was fully justified. The crisp linen, the sparkling glassware, the polished cutlery bore no resemblance whatsoever to any railway catering anywhere else in the world. The food that was served was unusual to an English palate but gourmet standard.

There were only six other people dining. Unlike the one described in Rose’s bedtime reading this was a quiet trip. There were two men in smart silk suits who dined together, a woman who had the amazing figure and face of a black and white film star sat with a man who could have been a leading man in the same films. That left another man in a dark suit dining alone who spoke to the waiters in French with a heavy American accent, and the woman in purple, also at a table for one.

She was very obvious, even though she had left off the hat. Her hair was fastened up with purple feathers instead. She came into the restaurant with the air of royalty and the waiters were carefully obsequious towards her.

“The glamorous couple are Katherine Hepburn and Howard Hughes,” The Doctor said in answer to questions nobody had asked.

“Howard Hughes, the billionaire who owned… well nearly everything in this time? Rose questioned with the certainty of regular time traveling experience. “I wouldn’t have thought he’d go anywhere by train… not even the Orient Express. Not unless he bought it, first.”

“Maybe he’s trying to be incognito,” Jackie suggested.

“He’s Howard Hughes,” Rose countered. “He couldn’t do incognito if he tried. The whole world knows him at this time. He’s more famous than Richard Branson.”

The Doctor smiled at her comparison and continued his monologue.

“Interestingly, the man dining on his own over there is Spenser Tracy, later to make blockbuster films and have a secret relationship with Katherine Hepburn. Their first film is still five years away and they probably only know each other slightly, if at all.”

Rose and Jackie both found that interesting. Christopher, who had never grasped the human interest in ‘celebrity’ at any point in history was just puzzled.

“The two men dining together are directors of the Wagons-Lit company,” The Doctor added. “Straight out of Rose’s reading matter, though without Monsieur Poirot. One is an Italian called Antonio Toto. the other is a Frenchman by name of Marcel Neuf.”

“Nerf?” Rose queried. “Like the toy guns?”

“Neuf,” The Doctor corrected her. “French for New, though that’s not his fault.”

“Like Frank Neuf who used to be the adjudicator on the Eurovision Song Contest,” Jackie suggested. “What about the big bruise woman? Is she anyone special? She looks as if she thinks she is.”

The Doctor frowned.

“She’s a puzzle,” he admitted. “She has the poise of a European aristocrat, but I can’t sense anything about her. She’s so single-minded she’s a closed book.”

“Is that… sinister?” Jackie asked, a little disappointed that The Doctor couldn’t tell her anything about the woman who had caught her attention twice, now.

“Single-minded people are impossible to read without physical contact,” The Doctor explained. “Katherine and Howard are full of each other right now, even though the relationship is going to flounder in a year or two. It comes off them in waves. Spenser is thinking about his next film. He’s almost schizophrenic in the way he’s thinking of himself in the role one minute and as himself the next. Signor Toto of the Compagnie des Wagons-Lit is worried about how German expansionist ideas might affect business. Monsieur Neuf is Jewish and pretty much knows that luxury train travel is going to be the least of anyone’s troubles pretty soon. But that lady… she doesn’t let a single unguarded thought escape. She’s so buttoned down you’d think she understood about telepathy.”

“Is she human?” Christopher asked. He looked at her as surreptitiously as possible, but it was impossible to make any guess at this distance. Should he have any opportunity to shale her hand it might be enough, but not remotely.

“If she isn’t… she’s no different to us,” Rose pointed out. “I mean… me and mum are human, but we’re time travellers. And you two are alien. Why shouldn’t she be? She’s not dangerous, is she?”

“No way of telling,” The Doctor admitted.

“We should give her the benefit of doubt,” Christopher said. “As Rose has pointed out, we are hardly in a position to judge.”

“Pot calling the kettle,” Jackie agreed. She wondered, herself, why she had felt compelled to notice the woman. Aside from an obsession with a not terribly flattering colour there was nothing about her to cause concern.

She turned her attention to the two film stars, thinking about the many ‘golden oldies’ she had seen them in and thinking how amazing it was to be in their presence before any of those films were even made. Knowing a Time Lord really was something special.

While the passengers dined, the wagon-lit conductors performed their tasks, converting the day salons into sleeping accommodation by folding down top bunks, turning sofas into beds, spreading out mattresses and plumping up feather pillows before putting on crisp linen and warm blankets. By instruction, one of the cabins reserved for the party of four was made up ready for the ladies while one was kept as a sitting area. There was no club car attached until the train reached Milan tomorrow afternoon, so this first night the passengers spent their time in their own quarters.

Rose and Jackie did go to bed much sooner than their men. Rose took the top bunk because Jackie was a little worried about being travel sick in the night and wanted easy access to the sink in the worst case. She lay with the main light off while Rose intended to read for a little longer with a small nightlight above her bunk.

“What do you think they do on their own when neither of them smoke or play cards?” Rose wondered aloud. “That’s what all the men do on the train in this book. Well, apart from the two talking about the Indian situation, and I’m sure The Doctor and Christopher aren’t interested in that.”

“Deep, meaningful Time Lord things, I suppose,” Jackie considered. “I don’t know about you, but I think I only know a tiny bit about what their world was like.”

“It all seems pretty deep and mystical,” Rose agreed. “At least they can talk to each other. It was hard for The Doctor when he was on his own. The two of them can talk about the old days without getting morbid about it.”

Later they heard the bell next door and the conductor came to make up the other beds. The Doctor and Christopher must have been among the last to settle. A kind of night-time peace settled on the train after they turned out their lights. Lulled by the regular sound of the wheels on the tracks sleep came easy in narrow but comfortable bunks as the train continued down through France.

Jackie woke once while it was still dark. The train had stopped at a station. Out of the window she saw that it was Dijon. Apart from the mustard, she thought she knew something more about Dijon. It was the capital of…. Yes, Burgundy. She knew, not just because even on the old Powell Estate people had heard of Burgundy wine, but because it was mentioned in another old black and white film - Passport to Pimlico.

She felt proud to have made all those connections. The Doctor said it didn’t matter where knowledge came from. The important thing was to have the knowledge. And she at least knew SOMETHING about Dijon.

She went back to sleep thinking about wine and mustard and Ealing films.

When she woke again it was daylight, but still early. The landscape had become more urban and presently the train halted at Lausanne, one of the scheduled stops that meant they were in Switzerland and if they were on time, it was five-thirty in the morning. Jackie watched and noted that nobody got on or off the train at all in the fifteen minutes they were in the station. She was hardly surprised. How miserable would it be to get off a nice warm train at the crack of dawn without breakfast? Nearly as bad as having to get to a station at this time to catch one, she decided. Anyway, the train moved on no heavier or lighter than before and there were spectacular views of Lake Geneva as the line snaked around its edge and followed the Rhône Valley before starting to climb towards the Simplon Pass. Jackie didn’t know any of that geography by name, but it didn’t spoil her enjoyment of it all.

What did get in the way of her appreciation of Switzerland’s ever-changing scenery was an urgent need to find a bathroom. With space limited on the train, even First-Class travel didn’t include en-suite facilities. She had to put on slippers and a dressing gown and head to the front end of the carriage before the connecting door to the Second-Class sleeping car.

On the way back from the toilet, the train rocked slightly as it went around a sharp Swiss bend and she stumbled against a compartment door. The door swung inwards, and Jackie stifled a scream as she saw a body crumpled up awkwardly on the narrow floor space by the window.

She started to step inside the cabin, then changed her mind. Instead, she hurried back to where Rose was sleeping. Having roused her daughter Jackie went through the communicating door to Christopher and The Doctor. Both of them woke at once and listened to her story.

“You didn’t dream it?” Christopher asked. “I mean… Murder on….”

“Rose was reading the book, not me,” Jackie protested. “Please… come and see.”

“All right,” The Doctor said. “We’re coming. Rose… run and find the conductor. He has a little cubicle just before the door to the dining car.”

Rose ran that way while The Doctor and Christopher escorted Jackie back to the cabin where she had made her gruesome discovery.

“But….” She stared at the empty space.

There was no body.

“But… she was right there!”

Rose and the conductor came running as Jackie continued to look hard at a piece of floor by the window with no body in it. The Doctor stepped into the cabin and looked under the bed and inside the very slender fitted wardrobe, the only possible places a body could be hidden.

“Monsieur… Madame….” the conductor began hesitantly. “The Mademoiselle said there was a dead body….”

“There WAS a body,” Jackie insisted. “It… it’s gone, now.”

“Madame,” the conductor looked at her suspiciously. “Ever since that book was printed there have been people imagining that there are dead bodies aboard this train. The joke has… as you English say… worn thin.”

“This is no joke,” Jackie responded. “There WAS a body here in this cabin. A woman, dressed in purple with a big, stupid hat. She was wearing the hat yesterday when we all came on board in Paris and she was wearing it when I saw her lying dead in there a few minutes ago.”

“There WAS a Lady of that description who travelled yesterday. But she must have left the train at Lausanne.”

“No, she did not. Lausanne was more than half an hour ago. She was DEAD five minutes ago. I SAW her. Maybe the killer pushed her out of the train. The body could be somewhere on the line.”


“My wife does not imagine dead bodies,” Christopher insisted with an autocratic air that silenced any more denials from the conductor. “If she says there was a body in here, then there WAS a body. I suggest you start looking for it. If nothing is found before the next scheduled station, then you had better alert the police and have the line searched. Meanwhile, we are going back to our compartments to dress for breakfast.”

He took Jackie’s hand gently but firmly and escorted her away. The Doctor looked around the empty cabin again and then he and Rose followed them.

Christopher had not waited for a conductor. He had, himself, folded up the top bunk in Rose and Jackie's compartment and turned the bottom bunk back into a sofa. He and Rose sat either side of Jackie while The Doctor sat in an easy chair by the window and looked at her pale, shocked face solemnly.

“It wasn’t a dream,” he concluded. “Or any sort of hallucination. That’s not you, Jackie. You see what’s really there. So, what did you see?”

“The woman in purple, dead on the floor, by the window.”

“How did the body look? What position was it in?”

“Sort of... Folded in half... Backwards... As if her spine had been broken at the waist. And her head was twisted around the other way.”

“Ugggh!” Rose commented with a shudder.

“It was... a whole body?” The Doctor asked carefully. “With bones in it... Not....”

“Not a skinsuit like the Slitheen?” Jackie answered him. “No. I know what those look like. She had all her bones. Besides, she was too thin for one of those. “

“It was a long shot,” The Doctor admitted. “I’m trying to work out how a body was moved in the very short time before you alerted us. There was no ion trace from a transmat or anything like that, and the window doesn’t open wide enough to push a body through. Nobody could have gone up the carriage without our conductor seeing and if they’d gone down past the toilets the conductor in the Second-Class carriage beyond there would have been alerted.”

Rose went to the window and opened it. There was a small device known in houses as a ‘burglar screw' preventing it opening more than six inches, enough to satisfy a fresh air aficionado but not to dispose of an adult woman's body.

“In the book, the dead bloke's window is wide open and they think the killer got away into the snow that way.”

“Just out of interest, do you know if the sainted Agatha actually travelled by the Orient Express,” The Doctor asked. “Or did she write the book with a rail timetable and a Baedeker to hand? Would she know if the windows opened wide or not?”

Rose didn’t know, but she pointed out that Agatha Christie published her much filmed work in 1934. In the three years since then the Compagnie des Wagons-Lit could have introduced safety measures or even bought new carriages with different windows.

“Its a moot point, anyway,” The Doctor conceded. “Jackie, we believe you. We’re not going to waste time disbelieving you. But right now, I can’t work out how it was done.”

That shocked everyone nearly as much as a dead woman on the Orient Express.

The Doctor was stumped.

“I’m not settling for that,” he assured his wife, son and mother/daughter-in-law as they stared at him in surprise. He tapped his forehead. “THESE little grey cells beat a fictional Belgian any day. Let's get dressed and have breakfast while I think things through.”

Ten minutes later, as the powerful locomotive at the front of the Orient Express strained against the steep Alpine inclines that brought it to the Simplon Pass, the First-Class passengers were settling at their tables and pouring fresh, fragrant coffee for themselves while the stewards took their breakfast orders for fresh orange juice, continental croissants, English toast, eggs and bacon or kidney and kedgeree. Jackie looked around nervously, wondering if her story of a dead woman was known to everyone. She didn’t want to be the subject of ridicule and gossip over a film star’s breakfast. It was too much of a reverse of her own appraisal of film stars in Hello magazine over her morning’s instant coffee.

None of the Hollywood people seemed aware of it, but as they drank a second pot of coffee at the end of the meal Monsieur Neuf of the Compagnie des Wagons-Lit came to sit with them.

“Madame,” he said politely to Jackie. “I have spoken with the conductors and examined the passenger lists. The lady you believed to have been killed alighted from the train at Lausanne.”

“No,” Jackie insisted. “She didn’t. I’m sure she didn’t. And… I’m sure of what I saw.”

“Madame,” Monsieur Neuf continued. “I am afraid it is possible you were the victim of an absurd practical joke. It has happened before… the literary connection with this train… More than once our staff have been alerted to mannequins with knives in their backs….”

“Oh.” Jackie grasped the possibility of a hoax with something like relief. “Do you think it COULD have been that? But… then how did they make it vanish?”

“This I do not know. Perhaps through the Second-Class carriage. If the conductor was busy, the ‘joker’ might have gone that way.”

“He could do that?” Rose asked. “The door was unlocked?”

“Mais oui, mademoiselle,” Monsieur Neuf answered. “Despite what THAT book says, we don’t lock the door between the First and Second-Class carriages. Besides fire regulations, many of our wealthy travellers have maids and valets who sleep in Second-Class but may be required during the night by their employers. I suspect Madame Christie put that detail into her novel in order to limit the field of suspects to the First-Class wagon-lit.”

“We have no such convenience,” Christopher noted. “If this is a prank, then please try to identify the prankster. My wife was very distressed by the incident, and as I have no wish to blame the Compagnie des Wagons-Lit for it, I should like to press charges against the true culprit. Meanwhile, we shall retire to our compartment.”

They had threaded their way along the carriage to the pair of compartments, now both converted for day use. As they sat down together the train came into a station. Jackie looked out, ready to spot anyone taking off a body-sized piece of luggage.

“Why aren’t we next to a platform?” she asked, noticing that the train was actually far forward from the station itself.

“This is Brig,” The Doctor explained to her. “Passengers don’t usually alight here. We’ve only stopped to change the steam locomotive for an electric one.”

“We’ve time warped into the electric age?” Rose asked.

“No. The Simplon Tunnel was always electrified ever since it was built in 1906. It is twelve miles long. Passengers on a steam train would be choked to death. The locomotive switches back to steam at Domodossola because electrifying the whole network isn’t cost effective, yet.”

Jackie and Rose both went out of the compartment to watch the French steam locomotive being shunted back along the line and a snub-nosed electric one with Italian insignia on it coming to take over. There were the usual noises and bumps as the new locomotive was attached and then the train moved on again, briefly speeding through bright, crisp, Swiss mountain air before being swallowed by the tunnel.

“I don’t want to worry anyone,” Christopher said as they all sat again in the light of electric lamps that came on as the tunnel enclosed them in its darkness. “But I don’t believe the story about a mannequin and a prank.”

“Nor do I,” The Doctor agreed. “Monsieur Neuf was trying to reassure us, because he really doesn’t want a murder on his train. Apart from life imitating art too closely, it would be a real nuisance when we get to the Italian border. But, sorry, Jackie. I think you really did see a dead body.”

“That’s ok. I’ve come to terms with that. But then WHY does the conductor insist that she got out at Lausanne, which I know she didn’t, because I was looking out of the window, and nobody that conspicuous gets off a train, with all the luggage she had with her, without being seen.”

“Luggage….” The Doctor said. “That’s a thought. Jackie… when you saw the body… was there luggage in the compartment?”

“I….” Jackie frowned as she tried to remember anything other than the dead body. “I don’t know. I think… there might have been a… a… hatbox. Yes… one of those round boxes. It was on the shelf next to the wash basin.”

“There was no hatbox when we got there,” Rose confirmed. “No luggage of any sort. The compartment was empty… as if it had never been occupied.”

“Not so much Murder on the Orient Express as The Lady Vanishes,” Jackie said. Rose agreed.

“How do you two know so many classic films?” The Doctor asked.

“I couldn’t afford Sky when Rose was little and I couldn’t work,” Jackie answered. “Old films on BBC2 was all we had on wet weekends. But it really IS like that film. Everybody denies the woman was here. At least, the conductor says she was here last night, but she got off the train. Except I know she didn’t.”

“So, is he lying or mistaken?” Christopher asked. “And where is the lady? Even with transmat beams there is somewhere to vanish to as well as from.”

“I’m coming to that,” The Doctor said. “Let the grey cells work…. Rose… get me a pen and a bit of paper…. I’ve got an idea.”

Rose found a pen and paper. The Doctor drew a diagram that started simple but got more complicated as he filled in detail.

“This is a plan of the First-Class wagon-lit,” he said, revealing his artwork as the train passed unnoticed across the Swiss-Italian border midway through the tunnel. “Ten compartments in all, arranged in pairs. I glimpsed the passenger list on his clipboard when the conductor was insisting that the lady had left the train, so I know who is in which compartment….”

“You GLIMPSED the list and now you know where everyone is?” Rose grinned widely. For whole days at a time she could forget she married a man with superhuman powers. Then he went and did something like that.

“Number one is occupied by the two directors – Monsieur Neuf and Signor Toto,” he continued. “Conducting Compagnie business as they go. Two is Spenser Tracy, travelling alone. Then here’s us – three and four, with our connecting door left unlocked and open between us. Five is Katherine Hepburn and six is Howard Hughes, also using the connecting door, I presume. Then the purple lady was in number eight. Compartment seven was empty. So were the two end compartments – nine and ten. I suppose nobody wants to be next to the toilets.”

“Yes… but.…” Rose looked at the diagram, then she stood and walked into the other compartment, looked at it critically, then came back again. “We need to look at the scene of the crime, again.”

The Doctor grinned widely.

“By Jove, I think she’s got it,” he said. “I’m not the only one around here with little grey cells.”

“Shut up,” Rose answered. “I MIGHT be wrong. But I don’t think I am. Come on.”

Again, they traipsed down the carriage in single file. Katherine Hepburn looked out as they passed her compartment and asked if they had seen the conductor.

“I’ve rung three times. I wanted another bottle of Evian water. Where IS the man? Answering bells from passengers is his JOB after all.”

“Funny, but he DOES seem to be absent,” Christopher noted as Katherine shut her door again. “Though probably just as well for our purposes.”

The door to compartment eight was locked, but The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver made short work of that. They stood at the open door and looked in.

“Point number one, here,” he said. “Jackie, I don’t imagine you even noticed the door number when you were focussed on a body?”

“No… not really.”

“Did you look at the number when we came back together? Did anyone?”

Nobody had. The door opened inwards and the little brass number wouldn’t be noticeable even in ordinary circumstances.

“Jackie,” The Doctor said. “Stand here at the door. Close your eyes and think about when you stood at the open door the first time.”

Jackie did as he asked. She had long ago learnt to trust anything The Doctor said even if it seemed daft.

“Now… think carefully. Still with your eyes closed. And point to where the hatbox was. The one you remembered seeing when you saw the dead woman.”

Jackie raised her hand and pointed. Beside her, Rose whistled softly and triumphantly.

“I was right,” she whispered.

“Right about what?” Jackie asked. With her arm still pointing she opened her eyes and exclaimed in surprise.

She was pointing towards the bunk, not the washbasin stand.


“Don’t you see, mum,” Rose said to her. “The compartments are in pairs, opposite pairs… everything the same except reversed. Which means that this isn’t the compartment where the murder took place.”

“Then where… and how… Ohhhhh!”

Jackie was known in more than one time for being slow on the uptake, but she got there, now.

“I fell against the open door and saw the body. The killer… oh my gawd… He must have been behind the door or something…. He locked the door, then went through and opened the other door… and when we all got back… the body had gone.”

She looked at Rose, then at The Doctor and Christopher and had a moment of self-doubt.

“Or am I talking daft?”

“No, you’re not,” The Doctor answered. “And to prove it….”

He opened the communicating door and stood back as the conductor flew towards him with murder in his eyes. There wasn’t much room in the compartment for spectacular unarmed combat methods, but The Doctor and Christopher between them subdued the man and tied him up with the cords from the luxury curtains.

“Mum… don’t look at that again,” Rose said as Jackie stood at the communicating door. “Go and get help… Tell Monsieur Neuf there really IS a body.”

“Get Signor Toti, too,” The Doctor suggested. “We’ll be on Italian soil when this train stops at Domodossola. He’s the best one to deal with the authorities.”

Jackie went, quickly. Rose looked in at the compartment with purple matching luggage strewn around and a body ‘folded’ as her mum had described.

The Doctor examined the body with a professional eye.

“Oh, hell,” he sighed. He looked at Rose with a sombre expression. “I thought… given the lo-tech way this was done… it was an ordinary human murder.”

“It isn’t?”

“The lady there is a Formonian. One of their deposed aristocrats… pursued all over the galaxy by the Junta who took over.”

“Why? If they’re deposed… why not just let them be?”

“Because of this….” The Doctor held up a blood red gem as big as his fist that the woman was concealing in her clothing. “The legendary Formonian Crown Jewels… worth half a galaxy between them. The Junta were rather upset that the jewels disappeared along with a lot of the aristocrats.”

“That’s not very revolutionary of them. More like just greed. So, the conductor was one of them?”

“I expect there’s a dead wagon-lit conductor somewhere in Paris,” The Doctor said. “Which makes it a Human crime after all. The Italian fascist regime will probably just have him shot. Kinder than the punishment an intergalactic War Crimes Tribunal would have in store for him.”

“Why? What’s nastier than being shot?” Rose asked.

“Many things,” The Doctor replied. “Go and take your mum and Christopher to the dining car for a pot of tea. I’ll sort all this out. Here… take this.”

He handed her the jewel. She was surprised.

“Its too valuable to get into the hands of the Italian government at this time in human history. It could make Mussolini more powerful than Hitler and we don’t want that. There are some Formonian exiles in the Hydra quadrant. I’ll deliver it back to them some time.”

“Not if mum sees it first,” Rose answered, tucking a jewel men would kill for into her pocket and grinning with relief at being able to joke after the morning it had been so far.