The Missing and the Dead


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The heroine and her stepson, the Duke of Glenmoor, are looking for his half brother Gideon who may have been sent to their father’s mines  in Wales years before. They are horrified by the place.

***

They climbed up rickety stairs to the ramshackle wooden structure that passed for an office. The colliery manager, stunned to have an actual duke—his employer at that—standing in his presence sputtered and spat, but had little to offer. No Gideon Jessop worked in this operation. Brynn put a hand to Maddy’s back, fearful she would collapse, so obvious was her relief.

The wiry little man in a cheap suit had clean hands but he couldn’t get the coal dust out of his fingernails. The man—he called himself Fergal—had come up from the mines. He would likely know if they ever had a Jessop at Glynrhos. Still, he called in his payroll clerk, a weedy grey man so thin of body and hair he might have been anywhere between twenty and sixty, a man as weary and run down as the entire operation. No. There had never to his knowledge been anyone on payroll named Jessop.

A devil in Brynn spoke up. “Do you keep a roll of the invalided and the dead?”

Both Madelyn and His Grace paled at that. Glenmoor’s distress gratified Brynn. He makes his wealth here. He needs to know.

The grey clerk blinked, and Fergal chuckled. “Bless me no. No one has ever asked for it. What’s the point?”

Glenmoor, obviously pondering that audacious statement, peered at Gavin as if to plead for an explanation. “This is mine,” he said at last. “and yet— I need to see it all. Can you explain how it works, start to finish? At least a general overview?”

Brynn had underestimated the dandy in London. Madelyn, beaming at him, obviously knew his character better. Bravo, Your Grace! But what will you do with the knowledge once you have it?

“I dunno, Yer Grace,” Fergal sputtered. “Work can’t stop. We have quotas to meet.”

Glenmoor raised a ducal eyebrow, one of those inbred gestures the aristocracy wielded like a weapon. “I’m not asking you to stop the work, Fergal. I’m ordering you to show me my colliery. Perhaps you can begin by explaining quotas.”

Note: excerpts from works in progress may have not yet been edited, will likely undergo change, and may not even make it into the final work!

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