I met Mademoiselle Saint Léger during one of my visits to the ravishing and charming Doneraile Court in Ireland. She was a descendant of the former owners and belonged to one of the oldest Norman families who had come to England with William the Conqueror. One of her most famous ancestors, an extremely handsome man, was a close friend of the Prince Regent, who had him painted by Gainsborough. The beautiful portrait still hangs in Buckingham Palace.
Mademoiselle Saint Léger was like so many of the Irish, full of charm and eccentricity. Was she herself, or a friend, the heroine of this strange story.
She had been invited to spend the weekend with friends in another part of Ireland. To get there from Doneraile, there was only a single daily train. Unfortunately, she overslept and ran to the station only to find that the train had already left. Sad at the idea of missing out on a promising weekend, she sat on her suitcase in the middle of the platform and fell into a deep melancholy. She was still sitting there when another train entered the station. To her surprise, she read the name of her destination on the label of the train. She must have been misinformed. Clearly there was more than one train per day. She jumped on the first car. She was alone in the compartment. She moved around the wagon and noticed that she was the only passenger. Overcome with joy at the surprise solution, she wasn’t shocked.
She exited the train at the station where she had been expected many hours earlier and took a taxi to her friend’s home. They were stupefied when they saw her enter the room. How did she get here?
“I took the train.”
Her friends assured her there was only one train, the one which left in the morning. She, of course, disagreed. How else did she arrive?
Intrigued, they went back to the station and found the station chief. They questioned him.
“Is there another train from Doneriale to this station?”
The station chief though for a moment. “Not that I know of, but there was a train that used to come later in the day, but it hasn’t operated for 30 years.”