The “bettors” place to be in 1909, Nome, is at the Board of Trade Saloon on Front Street; with a shot of whiskey in one hand while the other safe-guards your hard-earned gold dust. The Bank of Nome holds your bet but you hold the cards. A good hand or a poor one? Time will tell. You strain to keep a close eye on the large chalkboard, to follow your sled dog team and driver. On which team did you bet? Surely not on the interloping “Siberian rats” and their unknown driver, but on native Alaskan huskies and well-known dog drivers like Scotty Allan!
You relax a little, despite the crowded, smoke-filled, noisy saloon. You’ve made the best bet, putting your money on Allan. The odds are 100 to 1, in your favor. You pour another shot of whiskey and plan to enjoy the Nome Sweepstakes in the comfort of the Board of Trade. The telegraph will keep you posted on how the race is run. You will have up-t0-the-minute reports. The 1909 race, you know, follows the telegraph lines that link camps, villages, and gold mining settlements on the Seward Peninsula. The race will start and end in Nome, with Candle the mid-point of the 408 mile race.
You are familiar with the terrain out of Nome. The mental and physical hardships will be many over mountains, rivers, tundra, glaciers, timber and just about everything else Alaska can throw at a body! Only the best driver and team can finish such an enduring race. Some could die but you don’t want to think about that.
The buzz in the Board of Trade picks up. An unexpected blizzard has hit! Already some of the racers have dropped out. You push your way to the chalkboard to see which ones. The hand in your gold pocket is sweaty with fear over your bet. Your eye turns for a moment to Albert Fink’s table; to the president of the Nome Kennel Club which presides over the sweepstakes. Is he nervous, you wonder? You see his hand go to his gun and your throat tightens. He expects trouble in the Board of Trade. So do you.
Watch the chalkboard. Put down your whiskey but keep a hand on your gold dust. You don’t want to part with it, or your life. Plant your boots square on the plank floor. With the blizzard suddenly come up, all bets are off!
The Arctic Storm brewed will wreak havoc on the 4-day, 408 mile race. The Board of Trade Saloon is about to become a part of sled-dog racing history, and so are you.
. . . . .
This story plays out in Watch Eyes Trilogy:
Arctic Storm, Book 1
Arctic Shadow, Book 2
Arctic Will, Book 3