Welcome back to Austen Promises!
I realized at 11:38 on Wednesday night that tomorrow is Thursday, and, since I promised a reader I’d have something for Thursday’s 300, this is it. This may be the only excerpt from this book. I’ll be starting a Regency in a few days, and I’ll probably share it instead of this one.
This is a very rough draft, and comes from my NaNo story. There are missing names all over the place. Please forgive me. I promise it will be prettier when I post on darcyandlizzy.com and when I publish it. 🙂
Did you know that for a monthly pledge of $1 at Patreon, you can have early access to all my blog posts, including a full chapter my Thursday ones, instead of the excerpts you get here?
Bodie, California Late Spring 1878
The train pulled into the station right on time, billowing smoke and screeching its brakes. Passengers, who had just moments ago been dozing in their seats, or reading, or playing cards, gathered their belongings and began to disembark. Some had family members or friends there to greet them and assist them with their bags. Others did not, opting instead to hire someone to haul their extra baggage for them. In any case, they scattered quickly. All except one man.
Fitzwilliam Darcy, Will to his family and friends, stood alone on the platform, surveying the station and the town beyond. His view was blocked behind him by the train, and on the end to his right by the growing pile of supplies emptied out of the rail cars positioned behind the passenger cars. To the left, in the distance, he could see the town, dusty and bustling, sprawled over the tundra. He couldn’t see the mine, but he could hear it as the mill stamped the rock to extract the gold.
Turning toward the back of the train, Will paced the length of the platform, stopping when he got to the railcar that held his horse, Apollo, his tack, and his carriage. He had filled two of the large boxes, the one with his animal and vehicle, and the other with a few household items and his personal effects. He would have to hire a housekeeper to take arrange his house, but for now, Will only needed the basics: his horse and saddle to get him up to the mine and the trunks containing his clothing and hygiene items.
He spoke to the young man handling the animal to assess his condition after the long trip.
“How does he look?”
“He appears to have made the trip well, sir. I’ve never seen a stallion so calm at the end of a train ride. I’ll turn him into the corral and make sure he eats. Will you be picking him up?”
“I’m staying at the U. S. Hotel for a few days; I’ll leave him here until I get my house in order. I’m not sure there’s even a stable for him up there. I might have to hire one built. Can you make certain he is exercised this afternoon?”
“Yes, sir, I’ll do it myself. He’s a fine animal; I’d be proud to be seen on his back.”
Darcy grinned at the compliment. “Thank you.” He nodded to the boy and let him get on with his business.
After observing that Apollo had been unloaded and was well, Will walked into the station to inquire about hiring a driver to deliver his trunks to his lodgings. He would not begin his residence at the house that came with the mine purchase until he had found a housekeeper to set it up.
Will had come to Bodie to inspect his latest acquisition, the gold mine that was the lifeblood of this town. The mill was producing well; the vein of precious metals found in this area high up the Sierra Nevada was second only to that in Virginia City, one hundred miles or more to the north. Will had won this mine in a poker game in Aurora, Nevada. Though he rarely gambled, Will had found himself drawn into the game one evening at the home of an acquaintance and fellow businessman. The gentleman had invited several others for dinner and cards. At the end of the night, at which the whiskey had flowed like water, the rest of the players had folded, except for Will and ___, a fellow mine owner.
One of the things his father had taught Will was to keep his wits about him at all times. He was not prone to excessive drinking, and had limited himself to two drinks, sipping them slowly over the course of the game. His opponent, however, had tossed the high quality spirits back as fast as they had been poured. His perceptions skewed by the alcohol, he didn’t realize that the other players had bowed out because they suspected Will had a winning hand.
Stubbornly, ____ refused to give in as hand after hand was played. In the end, the only thing he had left to put in the pot was the deed to his gold mine. Knowing the strike there was rumored to be a rich one, Will and the other men had tried to talk him out of using that as his stake in the game, but ____ refused. When the cards were shown and Will had the higher hand, ____ sat and stared for a few minutes, his liquor-soaked brain not understanding the magnitude of his loss. He stood, swaying, before his eyes rolled in his head and he dropped, passed out cold. His host draped a blanket over him and left him to sleep it off.
Will had every intention of returning the deed to his opponent. He never got the chance, because ____ was dead by morning, the result of far too much alcohol in too short a time period. Though he looked for the man’s heirs, with the thought of giving it to them, so they would have something to live on, he was unable to find them. _____ had never married, and investigations on both coasts had turned up nothing. After months of searching, Will gave up. The mine was his, no matter how comfortable, or not, he was with the manner in which it came into his possession.
I’d love to hear what you think! Please consider leaving me a comment! 🙂