Skagway, Alaska seems the perfect place for Ginny to do more than scrape out a living. Her hopes for independence begin to come true and though she has given hardly a thought to God's place in her life, she meets a young native man who captures her heart. As a believer, he encourages Ginny to place her trust in the Lord. Gradually, she discovers God has a plan for her life and places her trust in him.
May 10, 1898
The Excelsior arrived in San Francisco with $400,000 in gold from the Klondike, exciting anyone with any imagination. On July 18th, the Portland docked in Seattle with $700,000 in Klondike gold. Newspapers spread the news rapidly across the country. The gold rush to the Klondike began.
Ginny clutched the deck rail as the steamer pulled into port. They had been days on the trip from San Francisco to Skagway, Alaska. Ginny hoped the life she was embracing would prove better than the life she left behind.
They anchored with a thump that jarred her bones. As she scanned the vista in front of her, she realized the frozen waste she’d expected held unbelievable beauty. The mountain peaks rose, majestic and white, to touch a clear blue sky. Though she knew she was facing hardship, she was no stranger to hard work.
Moving with the sway of the ship, she clutched her valise as she trod the gangplank to disembark. She looked forward to walking on land again. She longed for a bedroom in a house instead of on a ship and a view of anything except water.
She stepped from the gangplank onto solid ground and felt her legs wobble. Was this what the sailors called “getting your land legs”? Her knees gave way and she lurched forward.
A passerby, a young native with the blackest, most intriguing eyes she’d ever seen reached to steady her. His hands felt strong and warm on her arms.
“I’m sorry. Thank you.”
He smiled before he walked away
Ginny stared after him. Perhaps he didn’t speak English? She crossed the street, if it could be called such. Rain had turned the road into deep sucking mud. She picked her way through, holding tightly to her valise as she made her way to the roadhouse.
Though it was early in the evening, the sun would be hours from setting. Still, the roiling clouds gave the appearance of dusk and a lantern shone in the window.
Entering the hotel, she let down her skirts and wiped her boots on the mat. From the looks of the floor, many muddy feet had crossed this threshold. She wondered in what state she would find her room.
A short man with gray hair answered the desk bell. He revealed missing teeth when he smiled. “What do we have here?” he asked admiringly.
“My name is Ginny Ray. I need a room.”
“I think I can find something for a pretty lady like you. It just happens I had a party leave this morning. How long you think you’ll stay?”
“I’m not sure. I want to open a boarding house. I worked at one for several years before I came here”
The man raised his brows. “Once you get settled, I think we should talk.”
“About what you know about running this boarding house. I been wantin’ to go to the gold field and try my hand before I get too old. This here place does good business. You won’t get as rich as finding gold, but you could do good for yourself.”
Ginny’s eyes filled with happy tears. Coming here had been a good choice if the first thing that happened was finding the location for her business. “I’d love to talk after I get settled.”
The man stuck out his thick hand. “Name’s Pete. I’ll fix us dinner in the kitchen when you’re ready.”
Pete gave her a key and pointed up the stairs. “Room numbers are on the doors.”
Ginny turned for the stairs, eager to freshen up. She followed the threadbare runner down the deserted hall. Room five was on the right. She turned they key in the lock and stepped into the room.
A rose embossed washbowl and matching pitcher invited her to refresh herself. A simple bed held a thick, but worn yellow coverlet. A wooden dresser and a wardrobe were storage for clothes. A small wooden desk and chair sat below the window, a lantern atop the desk. A fire place along the side wall had been stoked, awaiting a match to light it.
She washed up, pleased to find a towel which appeared to be mostly clean. She dug into her bag and changed into an unsullied dress and stockings. Her legs no longer felt like rubber. She wiped the muddy shoes and checked her appearance in the cracked floor length mirror. Her dress was patched and recently mended. From what she’d glimpsed of the town, she wouldn’t be out of place.
It was time to meet Pete and hear more about his offer.