Good Narrative Principles

Boom or Bust


IMG_6265Albert arrived in America with his fine degree in Chemistry, an address of a distant relative and a bad head cold. Over the course of the next fifteen years, he acquired a wife, beautiful but a bit distant, a cast iron factory and a raging allergy to the ocean, which is what the head cold turned out to be. The cast iron he produced in his factory was rumored to be the strongest and was purchased by bridge builders, railway and shipping magnets. Soon Albert was a wealthy man.

He was proud of all he had accomplished. His beautiful wife spent her days with other equally wealthy women sipping tea and petting their Pekingese dogs just like Queen Victoria. As the heat of summer descended on the city, Albert’s wife ordered her husband to buy a “camp” up in the Adirondacks, as was the fashion at that time. He hesitated before closing the deal, but his wife’s eyebrows furrowed as his pen hovered above the contract and so he signed despite his misgivings.

She assured him that he would never regret this purchase. At first he had to admit his wife was right. He enjoyed himself beyond measure. He took up canoeing, fishing and a new sport they called tennis. At night, Albert and his wife visited other camps where he closed extravagant deals. All was perfect save for the fact that at night his beautiful wife rebuffed his advances.

His new friends, his neighbors up in the Adirondacks, seemed fond of Albert and for a while he almost believed he had found his place in the world. After Christmas, he and his new friends headed back to the mountains to hunt for game. Albert discovered that he had a talent for shooting guns. But on December 28th he heard news of a terrible accident involving a cast iron bridge in Scotland and knew instantly that his life was ruined. He bade a hasty goodbye, made his way back to the city where he signed over his now failing business to his wife. On New Year’s he set sail for England where rumor had it an engineer had cracked the code for steel.

Despite a roaring head cold, which he now knew was actually allergies, Albert reflected on his time in America. His wealth, his wife, his new taste for guns seemed to slip into a void as the harbor faded from view. With little in his pocket, Albert mood swung between panic and excitement. The only thing he knew for certain was that boredom wouldn’t be one of the challenges he’d be facing in the next few years.

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