Eliza’s life continues in Skagway.
She enjoys the friendship of Pearly despite the differences between the two women. This part of the story deals with Eliza’s romantic notions. First, she feels attracted to Dr Phillips. Actually, Eliza goes to the doctor after a conversation with Pearly, who tells her that the doctor sold her some kind of vibrator to fight female hysteria. I find this part a bit strange and adds some humour to the story. Eliza lets the good doctor to see to her physical needs with the new technology of the time.
Then she makes herself believe that Dr Phillips could be interested in her. So she makes an effort to dress more nicely, and she gets her hopes up when the doctor drops by her café every day. However, she is disappointed when she learns that actually Dr Phillips is interested in Rose, one of Pearly’s prostitutes. Rose is now working for Eliza temporarily when she fell pregnant. So she was the reason why Dr Phillips visited the café. Eliza can’t understand how the doctor could prefer Rose, who is a prostitute and pregnant with someone else’s baby when Eliza herself is available and keen. So what she does is be glad for her friend. Rose has her baby, and Dr Phillips and she end up married.
It is because of the marriage that Dr Phillips calls a friend, who is a Judge of the Peace. It is Joseph Burns, who from the first shows real interest in Eliza. He asks her to walk together with him, and they also spend time together at the party Pearly throws for Christmas. After the party, Eliza knows she wants this man, and she invites her to her home. They kiss and for the first time in her life Eliza feels like a woman, desired and loved. It is a shame that Joseph has to return to Seattle the next day. In the last chapter I read, Rose gives Eliza a letter that Joseph has left for her. I hope that this could be the beginning of something beautiful for Eliza. She deserves to be loved, and I think Joseph is a good man, who appreciates her. Maybe he could send for her and marry her. We know that Joseph is a widower like Eliza.
Apart from that, Steiner turns up in Skagway. Eliza sees him a few times around town, but he tries to keep a low profile. Even when he comes into her café, he hardly looks at her, and Eliza realises that he hasn’t recognised her as she has changed very much from the person she used to be on Orcas Island. I wonder what happened with the woman he was supposedly courting. Did she realise the kind of man he was and she eventually left him? Or maybe he was the one to leave her?
When Eliza thinks that Steiner is gone, Shorty comes all bruised, and he tells her and Pearly about Steiner starting a fight in the saloon. Steiner has been arrested for disrupting the order. When Pearly hears the name, she is shocked as she knows this is the man she used to be madly in love with. Eliza is a bit apprehensive because she has never told Pearly that she knew Steiner and there was something between them. Eliza is worried Pearly might take offence, and this secret might spoil their friendship. I hope that doesn’t happen. I am, though, quite curious to learn why Steiner is in Alaska and what prompted him to leave the island.