A cold day in New York City. At Pennsylvania Station, our three heroes are boarding the train to Brattleboro, Vermont. As yet, they do not know each other.
On the way up, they talk to a good few people in their carriage, including an old woman with strange jewellery, a widowed businessman and his young daughter, two skiers, a city official and his wife and two Bright Young Things husband-hunting.
They arrive at Brattleboro station to be met by the bus that will take them to the Majestic Hotel, about ten miles outside the town, nestling in the forested Green Mountains.
The bus takes them up snow-covered roads, a hair-raising and unsettling ride.
At the hotel, they are met with hot drinks; the hotel manager greets them personally and hopes that they have a good stay.
About half an hour before dinner, our heroes join the other guests in the lounge where they mingle and chatter. Julia Somersby meets Dwight Albert, whose family knows her family. It is clear that he is quite taken by this thoroughly modern miss.
Solomon meets Terry Fletcher, a New York longshoreman, and Chester Allen, who has met an Irish antiques dealer, Dennis O’Mahony. He has some antiquities that he thinks the professor might like to buy.
Alessandro finds himself talking to Daniel Quigley, a bohemian and saturnine artist with a rather decadent outlook on life. He invites Quigley to join them on their table, where Dwight is also seated.
Dwight ensures, with the aid of his wallet, that his table has the best of everything but that does not extend to pleasant conversation as Quigley seems intent on goading what he sees as Dwight’s bourgeois pretensions.
After dinner and dancing, Quigley invites our heroes up to his room to see his latest artwork. The pictures in question have been influenced either by Quigley’s use of absinthe, his opium habit or something else…
As they leave Quigley’s room after he has passed out, Julia and Alessandro are met by Dwight, who was concerned about them visiting the artist’s rooms. Julia declines Dwight’s offer of an escort to her room and instead goes there with Alessandro.