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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Double Crossing Excerpt

I appreciate the chance to join the LASR 4th Anniversary Celebration! Don't forget to comment after you read my excerpt. Every one adds to your chances for the big PRIZES. WOOT!!

Excerpt from Double Crossing, Meg Mims… Astraea Press, August 2011

Evanston, Illinois: 1869
I burst into the house. Keeping the flimsy telegram envelope, I dumped half a dozen packages into the maid’s waiting arms. “Where’s Father? I need to speak to him.”
“He’s in the library, Miss Lily. With Mr. Todaro.”
Oh, bother. I didn’t have time to deal with Emil Todaro, my father’s lawyer. He was the last person I wanted to see—but that couldn’t be helped. Thanking Etta, I raced down the hall. Father turned from his roll-top desk, spectacles perched on his thin nose and hands full of rustling papers. Todaro rose from an armchair with a courteous bow. His silver waistcoat buttons strained over his belly and his balding head shone in the sunlight. I forced myself to nod in his direction and then planted a quick kiss on Father’s leathery cheek. The familiar scents of pipe tobacco and bay rum soothed my nervous energy.
“I didn’t expect you back so early, Lily. What is it?”
With an uneasy glance at Todaro, I slipped him the envelope. “The telegraph messenger boy caught me on my way home.” My voice dropped. “It’s from Uncle Harrison.”
Father poked up his wire rims while he pored over the brief message. His shoulders slumped. “I’ll speak plainly, Lily, because Mr. Todaro and I were discussing this earlier. My brother sent word that George Hearst intends to claim the Early Bird mine in a Sacramento court. Harrison believes his partner never filed the deed. He needs to prove our ownership.”
“Hearst holds an interest in the Comstock Lode, Colonel.” Todaro had perked up, his long knobby fingers forming a steeple. The lawyer resembled an amphibian, along with his deep croak of a voice. “His lawyers are just as ambitious and ruthless in court.”
Father peered over his spectacles. “Yes, but I have the original deed. I didn’t plan to visit California until next month, but we’ll have to move up our trip.”
“Oh!” I clasped my hands, a thrill racing through me. “I’m dying to visit all the shops out there, especially in San Francisco. When do we leave?”
“We? I meant myself and Mr. Todaro.”
I stared at the lawyer, who didn’t conceal a sly smirk. “You cannot leave me behind, Father. I promised to visit Uncle Harrison, and what if I decide to go to China?”
“Lily, I refuse to discuss the matter. This trip is anything but a lark.”
“It’s a grueling two thousand miles on the railroad, Miss Granville. Conditions out west are far too dangerous for a young lady,” Todaro said. “Even with an escort.”
“The new transcontinental line has been operating all summer. Plenty of women have traveled to California. I’ve read the newspaper reports.”
“I’m afraid the Union and Central Pacific cars are not at all as luxurious as the reports say. You have no idea. The way stations are abominable, for one thing.”
I flashed a smile at him. “I’m ready for adventure. That’s why I’ve considered joining the missionary team with Mr. Mason.”
Father scowled. “You are not leaving Evanston until I give my approval.”
“You mean until you dissuade me from ‘such a ridiculous notion.’”
“Need I remind you of the fourth commandment, Lily?”
“No, Father. I agree we ought to discuss it later.”
Red-faced, annoyed by being reprimanded in front of Todaro, I ignored the rest of the conversation. I’d always wanted to see the open prairie and perhaps a buffalo herd chased by Indians, the majestic Rocky Mountains and California. California, with its mining camps, lush green meadows and warm sunshine, the cities of Sacramento and San Francisco that had to be as exhilarating as downtown Chicago. I’d pored over the grainy pen-and-ink drawings in the Chicago Times. Uncle Harrison, who’d gone west several years ago to make a fortune and succeeded, for the most part, would welcome me with open arms. I plopped down on an armchair and fingered the ridges of the brass floor lamp beside me.
Somehow I had to persuade Father to let me tag along on this trip.

12 comments:

Stacie said...

What a great heroine. I like that she is up for an adventure of her own.

User1123 AT comcast DOT net

Meg said...

Thanks, Stacie! Check out the entire chapter on my website: http://www.double-crossing.com

Meg

Dawn said...

Set in Evanston IL...one of my favorite towns...I visit there often!!

staniszeski3824@comcast.net

shiderly77 said...

Interesting! I don't usually read much historical, but I liked the excerpt. Think I'll mosey on over to your website for a chapter.

shiderly77@yahoo.com

Robin said...

Looks like a great story!

Robin D
robindpdx (at) yahoo (dot) com

Teresa said...

Sounds like a great read. Can't wait to read it. I think I know someonw living in Evanston...lol. Small world. Thanks!

teresajb@swbell.net

Meg said...

Thanks, Dawn - I loved the huge trees and the wonderful old houses. Back in 1869, it was in the boonies, not a 'burb of Chicago! LOL ... Thanks for stopping by, Robin and Shiderly77... I think historicals are the BOMB and love weaving in those little details that give a boost to the story's "reality." :-)

Na said...

I really like how the excerpt takes me back in time and in such a subtle way. The mention of the telegram to the dialogue and the train stations all create a setting I would imagine in the past.

JohnF said...

The last spike was driven to complete the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869...and conditions were dangerous, especially in the winter. I'd be nervous too, if I were her father! Great start to the story!

Meg said...

Cool, Teresa! Small world indeed. Na, I agree... the telegram was like a telephone back then, quicker than letters. And John, I tried hard to capture the possible dangers in traveling. Hope I succeeded!

GladysMP said...

I love historical stories. Look forward to reading all of this one.

lisagkendall said...

ok, I know Lily is going to get her way and have a big adventure going west. Can't wait to pick up this book. Thanks for the excerpt. lisagk(at)yahoo(dot)com