Peter Ho Davies is the author of the novel The Welsh Girl and the story collections The Ugliest House in the World and Equal Love. His work has appeared in Harpers, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Paris Review, among others, and his short fiction has been anthologized in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and Best American Short Stories. In 2003 Granta magazine named him among its "Best of Young British Novelists," and he was a 2008 recipient of the Pen/Malamud Prize for excellence in the short story. Born in Britain to Welsh and Chinese parents, Davies now lives in the U.S. and teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Michigan.
It was like riding in a treasure chest, Ling thought. Or one of the mistress's velvet jewel cases. The glinting brasswork, the twinkling, tinkling chandelier dangling like a teardrop from the inlaid walnut ceiling, the etched glass and flocked wallpaper and pendulous silk. And the jewel at the center of the box—Charles Crocker Esquire, Mister Charley, biggest of the Big Four barons of the Central Pacific Railroad—resting on the plump brocaded upholstery, massive as a Buddha, snoring in time to the panting, puffing engine hauling them up hill.
It was two years since the end of the war, and the shooting of the president—the skinny one, with the whiskery, wizened face of a wise ape—who had first decreed the overland railroad. His body had been carried home in a palace car much like this, Ling had heard Crocker boast (albeit the Central Pacific's was typically put to more jocund use as an excursion train for dignitaries and investors). Ling pictured one long thin box laid inside another, the dead man's tall black hat perched atop it like a funnel. People had lined the tracks bareheaded even in the rain, it was said, torches held aloft in the night. Like joss sticks, he reflected.
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