Today's Reading

CHAPTER ONE
Scottish Highlands
January, 1869

Connor McCraight was half tempted to stop the carriage, release one of the horses, and ride bareback to Bealadair.

He'd rather be on horseback for twelve hours than just sitting here doing nothing. He refused to allow himself to consult his father's watch tucked into the inner pocket of his vest. He didn't want to know how many hours he'd wasted so far today.

At home, the setting sun—an explosion of orange and red in the direction of the Western Division—was accompanied by a feeling that he'd accomplished something. Either he'd ridden the fences, met with some of his foremen, inspected the newest outbuildings, or even sat himself down at his desk and forced himself to handle the never-ending paperwork.

Here? The end of the day didn't mean a damn thing other than that he couldn't see any more snow.

It snowed in Texas. It snowed a lot in certain parts of Texas, but there was something about a winter day in Scotland that buffaloed him. It was a colder kind of cold, seeping past his coat and into his bones. If he hadn't been trapped in this carriage, he could have moved around and pushed past the discomfort.

He was used to being out in near-blizzard conditions, the ice freezing his eyebrows and lashes, his cheeks feeling so stiff they'd never thaw. But this Scottish wind came out of the north like a newly stropped razor. The Scottish snow was glaringly white and almost angry looking as it clung to vertical shapes and scraggly trees.

Why did one place have to have so damn many hills? They weren't called hills, either. They called them Ben something or other, each name more unpronounceable. They weren't like the mountains in West Texas. They didn't soar majestically into the sky, making a man think of the Creator and other weighty subjects. No, they stuck out of the ground like fat black thorns with jagged edges now covered in ice and snow.

"It's flat," his father had often said, staring out over their land. "You can almost see from one side to another."

That wouldn't have been possible, but he now understood why there'd been a sense of wonder in Graham McCraight's voice. Here you couldn't see past the next snowflake for some damn hill or deep gorge.

He hoped this Bealadair place had enough fireplaces to heat him through. By the time they reached their destination—he'd been promised it would be soon, that word bandied about a little too often lately—he would probably be frozen from his boots to his hat.

When he'd said something about the weather to Augustine Glassey, the solicitor had only given Connor that thin-lipped smile of his. He didn't know if the man was just naturally bilious or so damn cautious that each word was weighed and measured and weighed again before he uttered it.

Most of the time Glassey sat in the corner of a room like a crow, watching the proceedings with beady eyes.

At least he wasn't in the carriage now.

Sam, wedged into the corner on the opposite side of the vehicle, opened one eye, closed it, and finally spoke in a tired voice.

"We're almost there. Might as well hold on for a little longer."

"I've been holding on for a damn sight too long," Connor said. "I feel like I'm in a coffin." A cold coffin. The heater down by his feet might keep the side of one booted foot warm, but that was about it.

"It's better than the train," Sam said, keeping his eyes shut.

He didn't have any argument with that. The journey from London had been an orchestrated disaster. They'd had to change trains twice, moving all their possessions from one railroad company to another. What genius had decided to make different gauge tracks in the same country?

Glassey had made a point of telling him that they'd be traveling first class from London. He hadn't been impressed then and he wasn't now. The windows in the back of the car hadn't closed all the way. But at least the cold of the snow had been offset by the warm soot from the engine.
...

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Today's Reading

CHAPTER ONE
Scottish Highlands
January, 1869

Connor McCraight was half tempted to stop the carriage, release one of the horses, and ride bareback to Bealadair.

He'd rather be on horseback for twelve hours than just sitting here doing nothing. He refused to allow himself to consult his father's watch tucked into the inner pocket of his vest. He didn't want to know how many hours he'd wasted so far today.

At home, the setting sun—an explosion of orange and red in the direction of the Western Division—was accompanied by a feeling that he'd accomplished something. Either he'd ridden the fences, met with some of his foremen, inspected the newest outbuildings, or even sat himself down at his desk and forced himself to handle the never-ending paperwork.

Here? The end of the day didn't mean a damn thing other than that he couldn't see any more snow.

It snowed in Texas. It snowed a lot in certain parts of Texas, but there was something about a winter day in Scotland that buffaloed him. It was a colder kind of cold, seeping past his coat and into his bones. If he hadn't been trapped in this carriage, he could have moved around and pushed past the discomfort.

He was used to being out in near-blizzard conditions, the ice freezing his eyebrows and lashes, his cheeks feeling so stiff they'd never thaw. But this Scottish wind came out of the north like a newly stropped razor. The Scottish snow was glaringly white and almost angry looking as it clung to vertical shapes and scraggly trees.

Why did one place have to have so damn many hills? They weren't called hills, either. They called them Ben something or other, each name more unpronounceable. They weren't like the mountains in West Texas. They didn't soar majestically into the sky, making a man think of the Creator and other weighty subjects. No, they stuck out of the ground like fat black thorns with jagged edges now covered in ice and snow.

"It's flat," his father had often said, staring out over their land. "You can almost see from one side to another."

That wouldn't have been possible, but he now understood why there'd been a sense of wonder in Graham McCraight's voice. Here you couldn't see past the next snowflake for some damn hill or deep gorge.

He hoped this Bealadair place had enough fireplaces to heat him through. By the time they reached their destination—he'd been promised it would be soon, that word bandied about a little too often lately—he would probably be frozen from his boots to his hat.

When he'd said something about the weather to Augustine Glassey, the solicitor had only given Connor that thin-lipped smile of his. He didn't know if the man was just naturally bilious or so damn cautious that each word was weighed and measured and weighed again before he uttered it.

Most of the time Glassey sat in the corner of a room like a crow, watching the proceedings with beady eyes.

At least he wasn't in the carriage now.

Sam, wedged into the corner on the opposite side of the vehicle, opened one eye, closed it, and finally spoke in a tired voice.

"We're almost there. Might as well hold on for a little longer."

"I've been holding on for a damn sight too long," Connor said. "I feel like I'm in a coffin." A cold coffin. The heater down by his feet might keep the side of one booted foot warm, but that was about it.

"It's better than the train," Sam said, keeping his eyes shut.

He didn't have any argument with that. The journey from London had been an orchestrated disaster. They'd had to change trains twice, moving all their possessions from one railroad company to another. What genius had decided to make different gauge tracks in the same country?

Glassey had made a point of telling him that they'd be traveling first class from London. He hadn't been impressed then and he wasn't now. The windows in the back of the car hadn't closed all the way. But at least the cold of the snow had been offset by the warm soot from the engine.
...

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