10 Pages in 10 Days – Waltz in the Wilderness – Day 8

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Chapter 1 – page 10

“Your…daughter?” He stared at her, eyes wide.

She drug her fingers through her chopped curls. So her hair was short and she was wearing trousers. So what? Did he have to stare like she’d just sprouted wings and flown about the hall?

He finally blinked. “Eliza?”

A click sounded down the hall. All three turned toward the noise as the most beautiful woman Eli had ever seen emerged from a dark room. She looked to have stepped straight off the fashion-plate pages the miners sometimes carried around in their pockets to stare at when they were lonely. The woman’s rich brown silk dress glided across the floor as if her feet floated somewhere above the carpet. Blond hair hung in perfect ringlets on either side of her pale face. Her pink lips curled in a smile.

But it didn’t quite reach her brilliant blue eyes.

The woman scrutinized Eli and Pa in a head-to-toe glance so swift Eli almost missed it. The tiniest lift of her chin said they’d been found wanting.

Eli scowled.

The woman paused beside Uncle Henry, laying a hand on his shoulder. “Henry dear, I can handle this.”

Uncle Henry opened his mouth, but the woman had already spun to face Eli and Pa.

“I’m sorry. There seems to have been some misunderstanding with The Society. We are fully staffed.” The woman lifted a hand toward the door, signaling they should leave.

Pa frowned. “But—”

“I’m terribly sorry for your inconvenience, but truthfully, were we in need of services, I’m afraid you would not do.” The woman stepped around them toward the front door.

Eli clenched her fists. This wasn’t the first time they’d been treated rudely, but she’d be hanged if she was going to stand here and take it from this slicked-up ninny. “We—”

“While we are sympathetic to your plight, we must insist on a certain level of personal cleanliness and pride in appearance.”

“Why, you…!” Eli stepped forward, ready to plant a sockdollager on the ninny’s smeller, but Pa caught her shoulders.


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