From Anchorage to the Chilkoot Pass, from the Klondike gold rush to the present day, this one-of-a-kind collection of original mystery stories has a little bit of everything Alaskan. With mysteries as icy as the rugged landscape, Alaskan authors and Alaska lovers give readers a glimpse into what makes this place so alluring-and mysterious....
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August 10, 2003
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Excerpt from The Golden Feather by Amanda McCabe
"Am I dead, then " Justin Seward leaned back against the cushions of the jolting carriage and reached an unsteady hand up to touch the aching hole in his shoulder. His fingers came away a sticky red.
"Don't be ridiculous, man!" his friend the Honorable Freddie Reed said heartily. "It's barely a scratch. Old Holmes could never shoot worth a farthing. We'll have you home in a trice."
James Burne-Jones, who sat across from them, snickered. "You may not be dead, Justin," he said, "but you'll surely wish you were once your father hears of this. Remember how he shouted the last time!"
Justin groaned again and closed his eyes tightly. Oh, yes. His father, the grand Earl of Lyndon, was sure to ring a mighty peal over him for this, Justin's third duel in a year. After the second one, the earl had threatened any number of dire consequences if he ever heard of his son causing any more such scandals. The very walls had shaken with his wrath.
Justin almost asked his friends to turn back around so that he could ask Holmes to finish what he started. Death was preferable to whatever awaited him at Seward House.
He tried to stay out of trouble, truly he did. For months he had avoided all his usual haunts: the gaming hells, the clubs, the racetrack. How was he to know that Pamela Holmes, who had been sending him provocative, violet-scented letters, had a jealous husband who would be waiting when Justin showed up for their rendezvous -- and who would call him out
Truly, trouble just seemed to seek him out, and had ever since he left Cambridge two years ago.
Unlike his perfect older brother, Edward, Viscount Keir, who never took a step wrong.
The carriage lurched to a halt outside Seward House. It looked quiet, as though all were asleep in the pale early-morning light, but Justin knew better. He knew that divine retribution awaited him in those dignified walls. He had slid neatly out of trouble a dozen times before. This time was different. This time he had used up his last, and probably best, chance.
A deep shame washed over him, burying even the pain in his shoulder and the hot rush of temper he had felt at Holmes's challenge. Shame was a rare emotion for Justin; it was so easy to shrug off his parents' anger, to hurry on to the next adventure. Now he was drowning in it, in the weight of his parents' destroyed expectations, of his own disappointment in himself.
He had gone too far this time, and he knew it. He also knew that not even another horse race, another fight, another woman could ever take away the bitter taste of the ashes of dreams. His parents had expected so much of him, and he had let them down over and over again.
"Here we are now, old man!" said Freddie. "Home again."
Richards, the butler, emerged from the house and hurried down the steps to open the carriage door. "Mr. Seward!" he cried, his eyes widening at the sight of blood. "Oh, Mr. Seward, are you badly injured, then I shall send for the doctor at once!"
Freddie and James seized Justin between them and lowered him to the ground. His legs buckled, and he would have fallen to the pavement if they had not hauled him upright.
"No need for a doctor, Richards," he managed to gasp. "It is nothing at all. . . ."
His voice trailed away as he looked up the steps to the open door. His mother stood there, leaning heavily against the door frame.
Amelia, the Countess of Lyndon, had not been well for some time. Her face was pale and faded above the neck frill of her dark blue dress, and she looked as if a strong wind could carry her away at any moment. She pressed a handkerchief to her mouth.