All at once the shooting stopped. “What’s all this, boys?” a deep, resonant voice called out from nearby.
Now Silas raised his head. Three men lay sprawled in the street. One was writhing in pain, the other two were still. The combatants who were still standing had all lowered their guns and were looking at the Rusty Widow. Silas turned his head to follow their gaze. A tall man with a hearty build, handsome, pale face, and luxuriant black mustache was standing in front of the saloon. He wore a finely-fashioned black suit and black flat-brimmed hat, and had a lace-and-ruffle-bedecked house lady clinging to each arm.
Silas stood up, making sure his hat was still in place, and brushed dust from his long brown coat. He kept close to the wall, in the shadow of the overhang, curious about this man who had the power to stop a gunfight just by appearing.
“Dinsin an’ Winnard threatened me, Mr. Carden, sir,” Gobby said. “Me an’ the fellas was just defending ourselves.”
“Go back inside, my dears,” the black-suited man said to the house ladies. “No need to worry yourselves.” The ladies retreated into the saloon, and Carden stepped down from the wooden walkway into the street. He stopped in front of Gobby, shaking his head. “Don’t tell me you went into the Bootjack again, Gobby,” he said. “You know damn well that’s rancher territory. You’re stupid enough to keep going in there, you deserve whatever you get.” Though the words were harsh, the deep voice was genial. The crispness of a Granadaian accent underlaid his informal Wildings speech.
1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
My name is Arbrey Carden. It's a highly respected name among those who are privy to such knowledge.
2. How old are you?
I am 34, in the very prime of my life. I enjoy both the wisdom, experience, and sophistication of years, and the good looks and vigor of youth.
3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
They're quite prominent, of course, and quite respected among certain exclusive circles. I'm sure you probably wouldn't have heard of them.
4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
I believe it was Lorinda... Something. Her family had a townhouse and a seaside estate next to ours while I was growing up. She's long been married to someone else, but she did give me quite the taste for feminine companionship.
5. What is your occupation?
At present I am involved in overseeing the acquisition of a certain ore of unusual and interesting properties. I'm sure you'll understand if I say that my employers require the greatest discretion and I am not presently at liberty to reveal their identities.
6. What are your best and worst qualities?
Among other talents, I am a bold and savvy businessman, skilled in the management of money and labor. The fruits of my labors are of great benefit to whatever locale I'm presently working in. I'm also quite good at persuading people to do things that are in their best interests though they may not realize it at the time.
My worst qualities, well *fake self-deprecating laughter* I'm afraid I'm an adamantly confirmed bachelor. Although I suppose it's arguable as to whether that's bad or good.
7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
I like a woman who is elegant in appearance and manners and can pass as well-bred (though she might not be in reality), but who is also free of silly, over-nice inhibitions in matters of pleasure.
8. What is your favorite thing to do?
Well, aside from keeping company with the sort of women I described above, I enjoy making money, whether it's through an exciting new business venture or a well-played game of Dragon's Threes.
9. What is your greatest fear?
What could someone in my position, with my abilities and resources, possibly have to be afraid of?
10. What is your most treasured possession?
I value having the money, freedom, and position to make my way in the world independently, as well as belonging to that elevated circle of people who have the means and intelligence to enjoy the more refined and sophisticated pleasures of life.
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Read the first chapter here.