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Soldier of Discontent

Richard Quarry

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2012 by Richard Quarry

Soldier of Discontent

By the time I jounced out to Charles Farnham’s marshalling yard on Icicle Creek, fearing for the surrey’s axles at each pothole, the fire had died down to ash and embers.

Slump shouldered, smoke blackened men patrolled the yard with shovels and water buckets. At intervals I heard a hiss and a plume of steam spurted up as another hotspot was doused. A donkey engine pumped water up from the creek. The engine shook and rattled, rickity-rickity-clack like a man with bad lungs. The air reeked of burned wood, with an undercurrent of pitch.

I saw no sign of the dead man.

Charles Farnham had built a showy two story bungalow replete with pink and blue fishscale siding and gingerbread trim on a small rise above Icicle Creek. The front of the house faced not the water and the lush green woods beyond, but the bare dirt yard, so that Farnham could sit on the porch of an evening and watch his wealth accumulate log by log.

Now he stood hang-dog at the end of the verandah, clad in a quilted smoking jacket and slippers, whiskey glass in hand as he conferred with Sheriff McKinnon.

Hopping down from the surrey I hitched Winsome to a post, bracing myself for what I expected to be a rancorous exchange. Back before the 19th Amendment not too many women served as mayor. And not too many mayors anywhere in the Olympic Penninsula dared stand up to the timbermen. During the election Farnham had repeatedly stated that I was trying to ride my husband’s coattails into office, when what was needed was a hard headed man who understood business. Having placed the flowers on Bill’s grave only five months before, I had not yet forgiven him, nor made any plans to.

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