These are short stories put up each Friday that you can read for free. By the next Friday the post will be taken down and a new one will go up.
William Brock sat at the desk in his command tent and looked out the open front onto the wide plain below, a river in the distance. Brock had brown hair with a tinge of red in it, a straight nose, kind mouth, and keen eyes. His brows were thick and arched upward in a perpetual look of invitation, curiosity, and adventure. It was the latter that Brock owed much of his entrepreneurial success to, and the reason he’d come this far south, into American lands.
This area of the Upper Missouri had proven quite the coup for the company men, the trappers that brought in the furs that Brock in turn sold to traders heading west. It was a lucrative arrangement, one that’d just started up recently. Typically furs would go east to Montreal and then onward further to ships on the coast.
From there it’d be across the Atlantic to London or Paris or Madrid…depending on which nations weren’t fighting and could therefore trade. Lately that arrangement had changed, though. Now, with more British military in the area, Hudson’s Bay Company men, North West Company men, as well as the independent explorers, new routes were opening up, and new markets with them. Already the Russian, Dutch, and Swedish were trading on the Pacific, the Russian especially.
The Americans were just started to get there as well, though they had to take their ships all the way around the tip of South America, coming back up the 13,000 miles in an arduous, 26,000-long journey. All of that was taking place because of one nation – the Chinese. They were the hardest traders there were and getting their tea from them was always a difficult task. Furs and pelts and other fashionable fineries did that, however, and Brock hoped to capitalize on that. He needed to capitalize on it, as the latest letter from his younger brother back East had made abundantly clear.
Brock frowned as he picked up the letter from his brother Isaac. The younger Brock was a Brigadier General in the King’s Army, had been for the past four years. He’d come by that rank – as well as that of lieutenant, captain and colonel – because William had purchased them for him. He’d been able to do that at the time because his ship-trading business in the North Sea, Baltic, and across the Channel had been doing so well. War and weather changed that, however, and it’d changed the Brock family finances as well.
From financial princes to penniless paupers nearly overnight. Brock had escaped the worst of his creditors by fleeing overseas, to Upper Canada, the same area his brother Isaac was rising to command in. If he wanted to rise further, or keep the favor of his commissions, the elder Brock knew that he’d have to raise his finances once again. Isaac’s military pay wasn’t enough to cover the lavish excesses that were expected of him, and being in America, there was only one real way to come to money quickly, and that was furs.
William stared out at the wide open plain, looked at that river in the distance. The North West Company men he had working for him were doing well bringing in the furs, but it still wasn’t enough. Just the year before he’d needed to come up with £3,000 and fast. That’d been when he was still along the Souris River, still in good communication lines.
He’d missed that deadline, missed it by moving south into American territory. There was supposed to be good trapping, and there was, but there’d been danger as well. His Iroquois allies had suffered dearly, and Brock had lost much of their trust because of it. He figured they were even, as they’d lost him face and credit back East. The £3,000 payment missed, the sum had quickly ballooned to £5,000, what with Isaac’s expenses, his own, and the cost of getting the furs to market. Brock needed money, therefore, he needed it badly.