Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Today’s purple post is brought to you by the following excerpt from Darcy’s Bodie Mine:
Over the course of the next two weeks, Will twice more took her out to eat: once at the exclusive Maison Doree Restaurant and once at the Delmonico. Each time they were together, Lizzy saw something more in Will that she liked.
The night they went to Delmonico’s, Will picked her up early, taking her for a drive around Bodie. In the Chinatown area, they saw a tiny, elderly lady bent under the weight of a large bag of laundry. As they watched her progress down the street, a group of boys from the other side of town ran past her, pushing her out of their way and causing her to drop her bag. The laundry spilled out of the top of the bag and all over the dusty wooden sidewalk. Will immediately stopped the buggy, leaping over the side to help the lady pick up the mess. Though he spoke no Chinese and she spoke no English, both his concern for her and her appreciation for his assistance were obvious to observers, including Lizzy, who had climbed down and scurried across the street to assist. Her heart swelled at the respect Will had shown the woman. Not many men would have done as he did for a woman whose nationality was looked at with contempt by so many.
Something similar happened when he took her to Maison Doree, but this time it was the respect that Will received that impressed her. It wasn’t just the staff that was deferential to him; the other patrons were, as well. More times than she could count, Will’s advice was solicited by businessmen who were also dining. He was thanked by several for investment recommendations he had given on previous occasions. To see so many who admired Will gave Lizzy a greater understanding of his character. She was discovering that there was much to like about the quiet, often too-serious, mine owner.
Will also dropped by the saloon several times to watch Lizzy perform. He always bought her a drink—usually coffee—and they always chatted a few minutes when she came down after a set of songs. Will never propositioned her like the other men did who came to the saloon. He often stared at her and scowled at the men who approached her, but she no longer wondered why he looked at her so intently and so often, and she was amused by the jealousy he appeared to be displaying.
The other girls began to give Lizzy a hard time about her suitor, teasing that she took in stride, always finding a way to pick on them in return.
In truth, Lizzy had not felt as wanted as she had since she met Will Darcy. Their conversations, both at supper and at the saloon, were as varied as the winds howling around the mountain tops. They discussed books, the theater, current events, and history. No topic was off limits. The more time she spent with the man, the better she liked him.
Will was equally enamored. Lizzy was uniformly cheerful, and had an ability to fend off unwanted attention that he greatly admired. While he was fighting the impulse to rip the arms off the miners who flirted with her at the saloon, Lizzy was brushing them off with skill and tact. She never let on that any of them really bothered her. If one didn’t know that she disliked the attention, they would simply call her friendly but a little standoffish at times and leave it at that. Lizzy was witty and kind, and, he discovered, generous with a soft heart. He witnessed her give most of her pay to another girl at the saloon who was down on her luck, and he drove her to another woman’s house to deliver medicine for a sick child. He also learned that Lizzy had no intentions of working in a saloon the rest of her life.
“I have ordered a sewing machine. It was an expensive purchase, but I believe I can make that money back rather quickly. I’ve looked around, and while there are several laundries and places in Chinatown that do alterations and other sewing, there are few in the other areas of town. I’ve already begun taking in some small jobs—hemming a skirt here or remaking a gown there—but I should like to do more. I believe I could support myself once I have the machine, and a steady stream of clients.”
“Did you learn to sew back home?”
“Yes, though to be honest, Mama preferred that we confine ourselves to embroidery. I was taught to use a sewing machine in school, though, and greatly enjoyed it. I’m not as good with the machine, but skill will come with practice, just as it did when I was learning to play the piano.”
“My Aunt Catherine is fond of saying that.” Will chuckled. “This is the one who wishes for you to marry her step-daughter?”
“Yes, Catherine de Bourgh Wilson. Her step-daughter is Anne. We have never liked each other much; Anne is just as demanding as Aunt Catherine. However, I have no doubt that if I were to propose, she’d accept. The older she gets and the more aware she becomes of my annual income, the more enamored she becomes of me.”
“Poor Will, chased after by his cousin.” Lizzy could not let pass that opening for a tease.
Will laughed. “Poor me, indeed!”
“Is she beautiful? Perhaps that might make up for her … deficits?”
“She’s pretty; I understand she’s the image of her mother, though I never met that lady. However, Anne is sickly and weak. She always has been, but I’m not certain that it isn’t due to her step-mother’s coddling. Anne has never had to do anything she did not wish to. She has had no schooling beyond basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. She doesn’t play, doesn’t sing, doesn’t sew. Aunt Catherine insists that had she learned, Anne would be greatly proficient, but that’s the point: Anne didn’t practice. On top of it all, she’s hard on the staff. My aunt’s housekeeper has managed to overlook Anne’s behavior, but they go through maids quickly.” Will shook his head. “I don’t want to live with that the rest of my life. I know there is better.” He looked deep into Lizzy’s eyes, trying to convey his growing feelings for her.
Lizzy was mesmerized by Will’s intense stare. Her heart leaped in her chest at that look. She sighed to herself, and then forced her eyes from his.
Will, seeing Lizzy’s silent signal to move on, took the hint and returned to an earlier topic of conversation. “Do you know when your machine is due to arrive?”
“I have no set date, but the station manager assured me he would send a message when it does.”
“You let me know when, and I’ll grab a wagon from the mine and fetch the machine for you.”
“You’d do that?”
Will smiled. “For you, anything.”
At the end of that second week, a stranger entered the Sawdust Corner Saloon while Will and Lizzy were speaking. They did not see him, but he spent a long time watching them.
George Wickham had known Will Darcy for years. George was a gambler and a swindler, a flashy dresser known for his skill at cards and his ability to make friends. Though he was not a violent man and hated getting dirty, he carried a fancy Colt pistol in a tooled leather holster. He was often heard to say that in the day and age in which they lived, only a fool went about unarmed.
George had met Will when they were young boys, and George’s father had begun working for Will’s father. John Wickham had been a hard worker and risen quickly in the company, ending up as second in command to James Darcy. The two men became friends as well as employer and employee, and James Darcy had taken a liking to young George, paying for the boy’s schooling right alongside that of his son, as a way of thanking John for his hard work and loyalty. In his will, James had left George a business, thinking such a gift would make the young man very wealthy if managed well. George had not wanted it, and Will had paid him a handsome sum in lieu of giving him the business. Last year, unhappy because he felt he had been swindled by Will, George tried to kidnap Will’s younger sister. The attempt had failed. Not only did Will refuse to pay him, his hiding place was discovered and Georgiana Darcy recovered. The detectives who tracked him and Georgiana down had not been kind when they found him. George had barely escaped with his life.
Having been on the run for nearly a year, George Wickham was careful to observe the goings on in a new town before becoming too comfortable. It would not do for Will Darcy to find him now, for he knew he’d likely not get away twice. Therefore, as he entered Bodie’s Sawdust Corner Saloon and ordered a drink at the bar, he tried to blend in as much as his brightly embroidered waistcoat and flashy rig would allow. Keeping his coat hanging over the gun and holster would help, and so he refrained from his usual habit of pulling it back and draping it over the butt of the gun.
George took in everything about the bar, from the decorations around the long mirror to the tables and chairs that filled the space. He noted the stage, with its upright piano, typical of such a place, and the lady’s shawl that graced the stool. The saloon was filled with people, mostly men, but a few girls serving drinks, as well. Suddenly, his eyes stopped, and his body went rigid.
There, in the back of the room and talking to a well-dressed young woman, was the man he both hated and feared: Will Darcy. George turned, showing his back to the room, but keeping an eye on the couple as they spoke. After a few more minutes, the lady moved away, and Will left the building. George relaxed at that point, not recognizing anyone else. He leaned against the bar, listening to the woman sing. I’ll have to do some investigating, he thought. I’ll lay low a while and find out who this singer is and what her relationship to Darcy is. Perhaps I might find some revenge and get him off my back permanently.
So, George Wickham, our antagonist, has shown up and, like many men in the Old West, he carries a Colt pistol. I, myself, am a gun owner. My pistol is an M&P Shield 9mm. I’m hoping to take a couple safety classes and get my concealed carry permit at some point, but for now, it decorates my office. LOL
I wanted a purple gun when my friend and I went looking a couple years ago, but none would fit my hand. I was disappointed, though I hear that at some point in the future, it will be possible to get a purple cover kind of thing for the handgrip. I’m looking forward to that! LOL
I’ve seen purple guns, obviously, and they have gotten more popular lately, so I knew my friend Google would give me some good search results, and it did.
The first place I looked at was the Sportsman’s Outdoor Superstore website. They have a bunch of purple guns, which is very exciting! I decided to limit myself to the first page of results, because I get overwhelmed with choices. LOL Most of what’s on the page is Ruger brand guns, but they have a couple other brands represented, as well. The Ruger ones are mostly in the same shade of lilac. Most are reasonably priced, though more than I paid for my M&P Shield, but a couple special edition ones are well over a thousand dollars. There are two Walther brand pistols on the page and those are my favorites. From there, it was difficult to narrow myself down to one. They’re similar in size and weight, and the descriptions of each say they’re great for concealed carry. That being the case, I decided to go with the cheaper gun. It’s a different caliper than the one I have, but that’s okay, especially since this is one of those wish-list items. LOL
The next link I clicked was to Bass Pro Shop’s website. They have exactly one purple handgun listed. LOL This is it. It’s a Ruger with that same lilac color as was on the guns on the other site. It costs about what I paid for my gun at a gun show here in Ohio. It’s okay. Not anything I would choose for myself, but only because I think the color is weak. Stupid reason but there you have it. 😉
The last site I looked at is GunBroker.com. They have a plethora of purple handguns in lots of interesting shades. This looks like an auction site, so prices may be more or less than you’d pay at other places. I chose this dark purple Taurus as my favorite, simply for the color.
I don’t think for a minute that George Wickham would choose to carry a purple pistol. Of course, they didn’t have purple guns in the Old West (or in the Regency, either!) But, even a modern Wickham would want something more manly looking, I should think. Lydia, on the other hand …
What do you think? Feel free to tell me in the comments! <3