Gold Fever

Gold Fever by Vicki Delany Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Gold Fever by Vicki Delany Read Free Book Online
Authors: Vicki Delany
Tags: Historical, Mystery
Euila Forester. Of all people. Here in Dawson, Yukon Territory, Canada.
    Men ran from all over. So many eager hands reached out to help Euila to her feet, she was in danger of being trampled. Angus crouched beside her, unsure of what to do. Mr. Mann kept a wary eye on his property, and Euila’s companion, a formidable lady of more advanced years, stood out of the way and scribbled in her notebook.
    â€œGive her some air. Stand back, you fools!” Graham Donohue pushed his way to the front of the crowd. “Angus, unbutton the lady’s collar,” he ordered.
    Angus gasped. “I couldn’t!” I looked around the crowd, hoping to find a female amongst the onlookers. None but Miss Witherspoon, still writing furiously. “For goodness sake, I’ll do it.” I knelt beside Euila, cursing the dust as it settled into my skirts. At least it hadn’t rained in a few days, nor had a horse recently left evidence of its passing.
    Euila’s dress was done up to her chin by a formidable row of tiny mother-of-pearl buttons. My fingers fumbled, and after seemingly endless effort, I managed to release one. Throwing propriety to the winds, I grabbed either side of the fabric and pulled. Mother-of-pearl flew in all directions. Euila moaned, and her eyes flickered.
    â€œShe’s coming around,” a man shouted. “Fiona saved her.”
    â€œFiona?” Euila whispered.
    Someone placed a cup of water in my hand, and I lifted Euila’s head to help her take a cautious sip. She sat up, grabbed my hand and drained the cup.
    She seemed to be in no danger of collapsing again, so I got to my feet. “Graham, Angus, help her up,” I ordered. The front of my dress was an absolute mess—streaked with dust and spotted with mud and I-hated-to-think-what from knee to hem. I made a few feeble swipes, hoping to wipe it all off, to no effect.
    While I examined my garment, Angus and Graham each grabbed Euila by one arm. As she began to stagger upright, two other men got behind her and pushed, and the four of them managed to get the poor thing to her feet with about as much dignity as if they were unloading a reluctant cow from the belly of a steamship.
    â€œThree cheers for Fee!” someone shouted. I smiled at no one in particular and waved my right hand as the crowd took up the cry. I hadn’t done anything, but I never miss the opportunity to be the centre of attention.
    â€œWhat should we do with her, Ma?” Angus asked.
    â€œDon’t call me that,” I said, automatically. “You know I hate it.” One of the too-eager helpers had a firm hold on Euila’s bottom. I whacked his arm, and he sheepishly released his grip. “I don’t know,” I said. “Take her to lie down, I guess.”
    â€œWhere are you staying, miss?” Graham asked. Euila blinked at him. I will admit that she looked even worse than I. The back of her dress was filthy; the neckline was torn almost to the top of the breastbone; one of the unfortunate birds on her hat (what could she possibly have been thinking when she purchased that hat!) tilted precariously, and a good deal of her hair had escaped its pins. Her hands and face were covered in dust.
    â€œMiss?” Graham repeated. “Can we take you to your hotel?”
    Miss Witherspoon dropped her pencil and notebook into her cavernous bag. “We have reserved rooms at the Richmond,” she announced. “Take her there.”
    â€œAre you well enough to walk, miss?” Graham asked.
    Euila blinked again. “I think so.” She gave Graham a rather sickly smile. He tucked her arm under one of his. Angus did the same on the other side.
    â€œAngus,” I said. “Get back to work.”
    â€œZee boy help,” Mr. Mann said.
    â€œBut, Ma… Mother…”
    â€œNo buts. Back to work. You.” I pointed to one of the helpers, the one who hadn’t taken advantage of

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