Darcy Le Stille surveyed the men, like ants in their industry. He tipped his stovepipe hat, letting air cool his brow. The lock would soon be finished before the canal filled.
His gaze lifted to the far side of the coffer-dam that held the still water, waiting like a caged beast to tumult into the channel once the lining was complete.
On the surface a swan circled, nurturing its brood. That’s all he’d wanted, to provide. Not as they said, not to aggrandise. Not to massage his ego. Those charlatans, they had no vision. They hadn’t understood how his idea would bring wealth and hope to many. And yes, it would incidentally have made him rich, if only they’d been patient.
‘You have tried many men’s patience.’ Pompous oaf, that judge. Taking away his business. His liberty. ‘You will attend the Fleet where you will be incarcerated until you have paid your debts.’
They had smirked, those vultures. Taking his idea, his child.
He sighed and climbed the bank alongside the nearly finished earthworks. Joining the swan in watching the future unfold, stretching out towards London, bringing food, and materials to the capital. He wouldn’t give them their satisfaction.
Bending, he kicked at the earth, freeing the rocks. He’d dug the first rocks with his own hands, watched by Emily, heavy with their first child. He stifled a sob. She deserved better. Better than him. If he couldn’t keep those raptors from his business how could he protect her.
Weighing his pockets, he took off his hat, brushed dust off the silk and placed it on the top of the bank before sliding into the water. At least, when they broke the dam and filled the canal he’d be there, part of his creation, not jailed in ignominy.
This flash piece was written in response to Microcosms latest prompt