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First pages

Prologue

The small, stone chamber flickered with firelight and vibrated with excitement. It was late in the night, as discretion required, but all members were in attendance. An altar lay in the middle of the space with large bowls of flame on either side of it. Egyptian hieroglyphics, some painted, some chiseled into the stone, adorned the room and told of the old ways.

 

The heat from the fire could be seen on the face of the man standing behind the altar as sweat beaded on his forehead. This man, adorned in the robes of an ancient Egyptian priest, looked down on a group of gathered devotees, dressed in simple white linen, all on their knees with their faces to the sandy floor. The men respected the priest, but were not prostrating themselves for him, but in worship to their deity.

 

“Followers of Osiris!” called out the priest. “Raise your heads and hear the words of our leader.”

 

The group rose up in unison to a position of sitting on their knees. Their large, eager eyes flickered in the torch light while the anticipation on their faces was barely contained.

 

The priest continued, “The Order has waited in mournful silence for many long years. Our fathers before us, and their fathers before them, going back millenniums, have paved our course. But our silence is nearing its end.”

 

He paused to let his words digest. Then, raising his voice, “Our mourning for the lost old ways will soon be turned to joy! Our enemies will cower and run!”

 

Even louder, with arms raised, “The reawakening is upon us!”

 

The gathered men stood up in spontaneous celebration, some cheering, some silent and tearful at this emotional decree. The priest watched silently, a satisfied smile on his lips.

 

When the exuberance died down, the priest raised his arms once again and the followers returned to their knees. The quiet that ensued was allowed for several seconds. Outside of the crackling of the fire, no sound was made, and an air of solemnity grew. The priest looked over the men, reading their faces, and saw the needed dedication.

 

“Brothers,” said the priest, “our numbers are growing and will soon swell like the Nile after a spring rain.”

 

Nods were given among the listeners.

 

The priest continued, “Tonight we add one more. A special privilege of being interred prior to the reawakening, prior to the influx of those that lack the understanding or the courage to step forward without the undeniable sign. We will welcome them, but those that believe now are of a superior class. You are the refined ones.”

 

There was no celebration at this comment. The importance of what was said was received in respectful silence.

 

“Come forward!” commanded the priest.

 

Among the gathered men, one rose to his feet and approached the altar. As he got close, the priest said, “Give me your right hand.”

 

The man obeyed and stretched out his arm over the altar. From his robes, the priest removed a silver ring and placed in on the man’s little finger. With a loud voice, he said, “This physical symbol bears witness to all that you belong to Osiris. Welcome, brother!”

 

The man looked at the ring and examined it closely. He had seen it before, for each member had their own ring, but this one was his. The silver ring had a small square flat section that held the sign of their order, a crook and flail – the symbols of Osiris. With a swelling of pride, the man knew that he was now completely devoted to The Order.

 

Some time later, with the ceremony over and the conversations dwindling, the men changed their apparel and left at staggered intervals so as not to draw any undue attention to their gathering. Exiting their place of ritual, an electric street-lamp and a cobblestoned road met them on that warm night in England’s heart, London.

1.

Basil Addams stepped out of his tent, his thin face quite brown for an Englishman, and gazed at the barren horizon of the Egyptian desert outside of Giza. His dark hair was simply styled, straight back, not that it mattered, as he generally wore a pith helmet to give some protection from the relentless Egyptian sun. The smell of smoke from cooking fires was pleasant and made his stomach grumble. The morning was new but was already very warm, which meant it would be another scorcher of a day. Basil could not have been more pleased.

 

It was not that he enjoyed the oppressive temperatures, no, but the experience of being back on an archeological expedition, once again, was most welcomed. It had been a few years since his last dig due to medical reasons. Although he was not completely over his ailment, it was manageable. The night-terrors that Basil experienced, that had landed him in Bedlam Insane Asylum, were no longer the horrible mystery that they once were. Knowing that others had had the same experience went a long way to satiate his sanity.

 

Turning his gaze from the southern horizon, Basil looked to the north and nearly gasped at the site he beheld. It did not matter how many times he saw them, the pyramids were simply awe inspiring. The expedition site was not much more than a mile from these ancient and grand monuments, which afforded an incredible view. Basil marveled as he took in the pyramid of Menkaure, the pyramid of Khafre, and the largest of the three great structures, the pyramid of Khufu, as they stood proudly in the morning light. Even with the city of Giza on its doorstep, no structure came close to challenging their grandeur. Nearly one hundred and fifty feel taller than London’s Big Ben, it was always an immediate wonder how those ancient people created such colossal monuments. Even with modern steam-powered engines, it would be a remarkable feat.

 

Removing a handkerchief from his pocket, Basil dabbed at the perspiration on his forehead and down his generous nose. With his thoughts on the ancients, he was surprised by the voice behind him that said, “Rather boring, wouldn’t you say?”

 

It was the expedition leader, and Basil’s good friend, Piers Thompson. The man’s thick greying mustache partially hid his smile, but Basil was familiar with his dry humor – and welcomed it.

 

“Hmm, quite,” said Basil. “So monotone. It seems hardly worth all the effort.” He smiled as he looked over at his friend and workmate. This was the third expedition that they had been on together, the previous one being the expedition that Basil had to leave due to his illness. He was extremely grateful that Piers, not only fully trusted him, but actually made him the second in command. Always a hard worker, Basil was as determined as ever to give his very best out of appreciation and respect for Piers.

 

With sarcasm aside, Piers face grew contemplative, which, along with his deepening wrinkles and his mostly grey thick hair, made him look wise. He asked, “Do you think Egypt has any more significant mysteries to be uncovered?”

 

There was hardly a pause before Basil answered, “Yes. I am certain of it. Why? Are you a doubter now?”

 

“No. I would not go so far as to say that. But our time here has resulted in very little. Our most significant discovery was the tomb of a commoner that had only a few glyphs and provided fewer answers as to the history we seek. I guess I let apathy get the better of me sometimes.”

 

The history of Egypt was where Basil and Piers understood each other best. They both wanted to know, were eager to truly understand, the past of this once great civilization. Many came to Egypt with the thought of digging up treasures or gaining fame. They were hardly better than the grave robbers that ravaged this land over the millenniums.

 

“Ustaaza! Ustaaza!” a voice called out from behind them. Turning around, they saw a young Egyptian man coming towards them and yelling the Egyptian equivalent of ‘Professor’. The young man, Maarku, was around sixteen years old, slim build, and had one leg. His left leg, from just above the knee, was missing and in its place was a metal substitute with gears and springs. Basil found the boy to be a hard worker and a likeable chap. It was somewhat ironic, Basil often thought, that Maarku had become the main ‘runner’ for the expedition.

 

“Ustaaza,” he said again as he got near. “I have a message for you. It is from Lord Northrop.”

 

The two men looked at each other and rolled their eyes. Lord Northrop was the man who was funding the expedition, and although they both were happy to have someone pay the bills, Northrop’s involvement had shown the man to be less than patient.

 

“Good morning Maarku,” said Piers as he reached his hand out to retrieve the telegram. The young man gave it to him and smiled as he caught his breath.

 

“Maarku,” said Basil, “did you run all the way from the telegraph office?”

 

“Yes, Ustaaza. All the way.”

 

Basil looked at Piers and then back to Maarku. The telegraph office was in the city, Giza, well over a mile away. He smiled and said to the young man, “These messages, although important, are not so critical that you need to run them to us. But thank you for your eagerness.”

 

Maarku nodded and smiled again. “Okay.” Turning around, he hurried off towards the staging area where it would not be too much longer before all the workers arrived for the day. Being that the expedition was so close to Giza, it provided the benefit of all the men to stay at their own homes. It was a short trip from the city to the work site.

 

“So,” said Basil, “what does our Lordship request today?”

 

Piers looked up from the paper and answered, “The usual. An incredible and unprecedented find to justify his investment and make him famous.”

 

“And I was worried that he would be unreasonable. He is getting almost as bad as Theodore Davis.”

 

“At least Northrop stays in London. Could you imagine him here, on site, like Davis is with his digs?”

 

Basil gave a wry smile. “I guess it is true what they say: things could always be worse. Here is an idea, do you think we could claim one of the pyramids and buy a little breathing room?”

 

Piers laughed, “I am afraid not. But Northrops’s insistence is starting to alarm me. I am not sure that we want the source of our funds to become too frustrated with our results – or lack thereof.”

 

“He can hardly blame us for lack of results,” Basil said with frustration. “It was his team of researchers that gave us this location. Blaming us would make no more sense than blaming a shovel, for all the good our expertise is being used for.”

 

“Quite right,” Piers agreed. “But I do hope something happens soon. I have been working up a proposal to give to Northrop about moving our location south, closer to The Valley of Kings. But, as you know, he is quite stubborn when it comes to his business decisions and I am sure that it would be an unpleasant conversation.”

 

Basil could not agree more with Piers alternate plan. The Valley of Kings had provided discovery upon discovery and it was unfathomable that there was nothing left to find.

 

Interrupting Basil’s thoughts, and evidently tiried of talking about Lord Northrop again, Piers asked, “So, what do you think of our young Maarku?”

 

“Amazing fellow, what with his leg and all.”

 

“Quite. I would take several like him in an instant. Did he ever tell you how he lost it?”

 

“The leg? Yes, he told me that a Nile crocodile bit it off when he was very young. That boy is very fortunate to be alive.”

 

To Basil’s surprise, Piers started to laugh. Basil could not find the humor in what he had just said and was about to protest when Piers put up his hands and said, “I am sorry, old man. It is just that he told me he was bit by a cobra and that the doctors had to amputate his leg to keep the poison from spreading to his heart.”

 

“Well, that cheeky bugger!”

 

“And,” Piers continued, “he told Kadir that the leg was crushed by a boulder during a cave-in.”

 

“Hmm. Well, it makes me think that the real reason must be mundane – likely born that way. I guess he has earned the right to an exciting story.”

 

“I reckon that that is fair,” smiled Piers.

 

“Not that it matters, but I wonder if anyone knows what the real cause was.” Before he could speculate further, the faint sound of song could be heard, which signaled the arrival of the work crew.

 

Looking to the east, towards the city of Giza, the band of men could be seen; some on foot, some on camels, and a large number on the Sand-ant.

 

The Sand-ant was a steam powered machine that had six legs attached to a tubular body – which gave it the distinctive look of an ant. Each leg was no less than ten feet tall before they curved into the body, which was at least thirty feet long. The top of the body had a flat platform that held supplies and several workers. The ‘eyes’ of the machine was a cabin that the driver rode in and completed the look of some sort of insect. Out of the back of the machine smoke bellowed into the sky as it lumbered across the desert.

 

Basil determined that the song being sung by the approaching workers was a happy one, or at least a happy sounding song. This was a good sign, for sometimes, after a particularly festive night, the men sang quiet slow songs, or none at all.

 

Basil and Piers met the men at the staging area, which was a location just outside of the tents. Here, the men unloaded the Sand-ant and gathered their tools for the day. Kadir, the foreman of the group, was giving orders as the two Englishmen approached.

 

“Good day, Kadir,” Piers said amiably to the dark skinned man with abnormal light brown-eyes. “The men seem to be in a fair mood this morning.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Kadir responded, with excellent English. “Madu’s wife gave birth to their first son. There is much happiness.”

 

“That is a good sign, Piers,” Basil said with a smile.

 

Kadir went back to organizing the men, which he did effortlessly and quickly. He was a very smart man and well respected among the workers. Within ten minutes, the whole crew was at the newest dig site.

 

In five weeks, four sites had already been eliminated, which left four more. If those proved unsuccessful, then Lord Northrop would have to work with the Egyptian government to be permitted a larger area. Basil was pleased in the fact that they were working with the government and not trying to circumvent it. It was, after all, their history.

 

 

A few hours later, the heat had become tremendous. Basil made sure that abundant water was supplied to the men, bringing it to them himself at times. It was a good crew. Basil respected them and treated them well. He also made sure that his own efforts on the dig rivaled those of the hired men. He liked to lead by example first and then word.

 

Stepping away, he met Piers on a small dune that overlooked their current dig location. After taking a large swallow from a canteen, Basil surveyed the group of men and then said to Piers, “The going is good. Really good, in fact, and, for better or worse, we should be able to eliminate this site within a day or two.”

 

Piers nodded and said, “Very well. Keep up the excellent work. I think I will go and continue to refine my proposal to Northrop.”

 

“Ustaaza! Ustaaza!” the sound of Maarku could be heard calling out over the workers and shovels.

 

With a sigh, Piers said, “Not another bloody telegram!”

 

Basil looked for the young man and spotted him running from among the crew. “I do not think it is a telegram this time.”

 

When some of the workers started to show excitement at a particular area, Basil said, “By Jove! I think they have found something!”

2.

Basil and Piers followed Maarku down the dune and up another rise to a depression in the earth that the workers had dug up. Men were huddled around something, talking excitedly, but blocking the view as Basil and Piers approached. They made their way through the gathered group of workers until they were at the epicenter of all the attention.

 

“There! There!” said Maarku excitedly while pointing to something in the ground. Kadir was on his knees examining the item closely, but stood to the side to give the expedition leads full purview.

 

Basil and Piers bent down and looked at the object. It was a large stone rectangle, roughly three feet deep by ten feet long – not a shape to form naturally. “These corners and edges are very fine. Definitely man made, would you not agree?” asked Basil.

 

Piers studied the object for a moment, while stroking his massive mustache, and then answered, “Yes. Most certainly. What do you make of it?”

 

“I am not sure. Perhaps part of a structure? A discarded building block?”

 

Piers nodded in agreement. Another option would be the beginning of a stairwell. After a few more seconds, he stood upright and stepped close to the dig foreman, Kadir, and said, “This is the new focal point of our dig. Everything we do revolves around this location. I want to spread this depression wider before we go much deeper.”

 

Kadir, his light eyes especially bright with excitement, nodded and said, “Very well. Would you like to bring in the boundary ropes or dig to this level for the entire site?”

 

“No, rope off a smaller area,” said Piers, “We will keep the focus within a ten yard radius of this spot.”

 

Another nod from Kadir who then turned and started giving commands to the men.

 

As the crew reorganized their efforts and resumed their digging, Piers and Basil stepped aside. “Should we telegraph Lord Northrop?” Basil asked.

 

“Not yet. But very possibly soon.”

 

Basil noticed excitement in his friend’s eyes. The apathy from earlier was far gone and, although it was too early to celebrate, Basil could not help but give his friend a hearty handshake. They had found something!

 

While the diggers worked near the found object, both Piers and Basil focused on the stone itself. Carefully, with hand-trowels and brushes, they dug around the edges. On one of the long sides, they hit rock, organic in shape and impenetrable without heavier equipment or explosives. As they dug on the opposite side, they continued in relatively soft earth. About three feet down, they found the underside of the rectangle. This was both interesting and a touch disappointing – if this was the first step of a stairwell, then they should have hit the next step.

 

As they went a little deeper, they realized that they needed to move away from the trowels and bring in proper shovels. Calling Kadir over, the three of them started digging in earnest. It was Piers who made the next discovery. Not only were they digging deeper, they were also expanding the hole and, near one edge of the rectangle, Piers started to uncover a circular shaped stone. A little deeper and a hieroglyph was exposed.

 

“Basil! Kadir! Look! A hieroglyph! I think this might be a support column for the stone rectangle. By Jove! This may be the beginning of an entrance!”

 

Basil and Kadir both kneeled close to the exposed part of the column and looked at the etched-in characters of Egyptian writing. The markings were ancient, even by Egyptian standards. Touching them lightly and brushing away some loose dirt, Basil said, “These look to be Old Kingdom. This writing style has not been used in over four-thousand years.”

 

Kadir looked up at Piers and said, “If true, then this stone is from the time of the pyramids.”

 

“Can you make it out?” Piers asked.

 

After giving it another close look, Basil answered, “There is a reference to Set, but not much else. We need to dig deeper and see if there is more.”

 

Kadir called over two additional workers and the five of them continued digging. The heat, sweat, and fatigue became a non-event, as anticipation overcame all other feelings. Within a few minutes, the beginning of another support column, opposite the first one, was exposed. Piers and Basil locked eyes for a moment and shared a look of pure excitement and joy. They may have just found a tomb as old as the pyramids – nearly a thousand years older than anything in the Valley of the Kings.

 

Coming near to the point of pure exhaustion, both Piers and Basil finally took a break while some of the crew took their place. The progress slowed some as the pit went deeper because the dirt needed to be hauled out by hand. A chain of men was set in place and they passed baskets of debris from one to the next to a dirt pile outside of the cordoned-off area.

 

Sitting on the edge of the expanding hole, the entirety of what they were uncovering started to come into focus. The stone rectangle was supported by two heavy columns forming some sort of entryway. But an entrance to what? The temptation to dig between the columns and see where this possible doorway went was great, but had to be repressed. Without knowing the underlying support for the pillars, it was too dangerous. There may be nothing more than sand holding the whole thing up. A collapse could be deadly.

 

At around ten feet down, the shovels started to hit rock. Clearing the area around the columns, their bases were finally revealed – stone squares, one foot thick, under each one. Now that they had the perceived floor of the entrance, the crew started expanding the cleared area and soon came across stairs that led up and away from the entrance, perpendicular to the large stone rectangle.

 

Basil was back in the hole and examining the pillars along with their bases. With a shovel, he tested the ground around them and found it to be solid rock. He said to Piers, “The foundation is strong. I think we are safe to dig into the entrance.”

 

Piers was a cautious man, but could not argue against what Basil was saying or for what he was seeing. “Alright. Proceed carefully.”

 

Immediately turning to the entrance, Basil jabbed at the dirt with a shovel like it was a spear. Dirt started to crumble and before long, the shovel hit a solid object. Digging more feverishly, his energy coming from excitement, he was able to reveal a large stone block. More digging revealed more stone blocks that made up the protection of the entrance. A simple, but effective, deterrent for grave robbers was to place an impossibly heavy door at the entry way – which the wall before Basil looked to be.

 

Despite his spirit, Basil’s energy was giving out; that mixed with extreme thirst caused him to once again sit to the side while drinking water. As exquisite as the refreshment was, he would give anything to keep digging non-stop. This was the dream of every Egyptologist – a possible new tomb! And an incredibly old one at that.

 

Piers was down in the hole, not with a shovel, but with a hand brush, cleaning the pillars. The hieroglyphs ran in four lines along each one. Basil had read Set on the top of the right pillar, but now there was much more to decipher. “What do you make of it?” Basil called out.

 

“There are multiple references to Set,” responded Piers. “He must have been the patron deity of this tomb – assuming it is a tomb. Besides the older glyphs, there are also references to Ra, but none to Amun-Ra. That supports your timeline of this being of the Old Kingdom. It was not until the New Kingdom, around 1500 BC, that Ra and Amun started to be combined.”

 

“Right. So what do the glyphs say?”

 

“Still too covered with dirt to make them all out. Need some more time. They look to be excellently preserved. A true museum piece.”

 

Despite his weary body, Basil jumped back into the hole and started to help Piers with the cleaning. Using a hand brush was a slow process, but it kept the possibility of damaging anything to a minimum. After a couple hours, both columns were relatively clean. The first thing they noticed was that each one had identical hieroglyphs. As they deciphered the carved writing, they saw a familiar story unfold - the conflict between Set and Osiris.

 

“Well,” said Piers, “this person was certainly a devout follower of Set. A priest, perhaps?”

 

Basil had numerous speculations, but wanted to keep his thoughts reigned in. The hope is always that of uncovering the tomb of a pharaoh, but a priest would be interesting too. “Perhaps. But, as you said, a devout follower for a certainty.”

 

While Piers continued to examine the columns, Basil turned his attention to the entrance. Still using the brush, he cleared away the dirt and sand to expose more of the blocks. Each one was about two feet tall and three feet wide. Probably another two feet thick, which would give it a weight of near one ton for each block.

 

The surrounding noise of the workers digging became a soothing sound as Basil continued his careful cleaning. The crew had cleared the stairwell and was now outlying the site and exposing the rock that it was built into.

 

The top of the entrance wall was barely in Basil’s reach, but he was too impatient and stubborn to go and get a stool of some sort. Also, with daylight starting to fade, he did not have a lot of time, so he stood on his tip toes in order to clear the uppermost part. His calves were burning, and he was just about to stop, when a large piece of dirt fell and debris landed on his face. Cursing, he bent over, coughed, and wiped at his eyes. After a few seconds, the dirt was out of his mouth and he could breathe clearly. A few more seconds of rapid blinking and his eyes stopped watering. Looking back up to the area he was cleaning, he quickly forgot about his breathing, his eyes, everything. Under that piece of dirt were more hieroglyphs.

 

“Piers!” Basil exclaimed, “More glyphs!”

 

“Good show! What do they say?”

 

“Too soon to tell.” Basil immediately set to clearing the dirt and exposing the entire message. His legs ached and threatened to cramp as he continued without a stool, but soon he had the whole section cleared enough to make out the writing. On top of the blocks was a single stone that ran the length of the doorway and on it were two lines of hieroglyphs.

 

Basil took a step back to get a better view. After scrutinizing the symbols for several moments in the fading Egyptian sun, he turned to Piers and said, “I do believe it is a curse.”

3.

“Oh, please, mother!” Sarah said in a most earnest voice. “Please!”

 

Sigmund Shaw sat on his sister’s couch, near the front windows of her home, and watched as his niece pleaded with her mother. Summer in London was in full bloom which made the light breeze that floated through the open window very much appreciated.

 

The fresh air was also helpful in keeping the stress level in the room to a minimum. Alexis, Sigmund’s sister, had listened to the arguments that her daughter was making and paced the living room nervously in reluctant consideration. Saturday’s with Sigmund’s family, especially on a beautiful sunny day, were usually very lighthearted and joyous, but a difficult decision needed to be made.

 

Sigmund knew from the start that the idea would be difficult to sell, but he held out hope. Next to him, on the couch, was Charlotte Merrihail, the lady that he had been courting for the last several months. Her Scottish background was easy to see in her red hair and pale skin that were highlighted by the light pouring in through the window behind them and he wondered how such a beautiful – and intelligent – woman was interested in him. Charlotte was a reporter for The Strand Magazine and had written many excellent and award winning articles. It was because of her employer that she had received a most exciting assignment: A mutual friend of theirs, Basil Addams, had discovered a new tomb in Egypt and wanted Charlotte to be on the scene to record the initial opening for The Strand. She had accepted the assignment, and now wanted to bring Sigmund’s niece, Sarah, along with her.

 

Sarah was a very smart young woman, and an aspiring writer. At fifteen years old, she was broaching the age of independence, and desperately wanted permission to travel with Charlotte to Egypt. However, three obstacles were against her. The first one was her mother. Alexis, like any good mother, loved her daughter with all her heart. She easily understood her daughter’s desire, but allowing her only child to go to a foreign country was quite a large step that was difficult to take.

 

The second obstacle was the timing. The opening of the tomb was scheduled to happen in only four days, which meant that Charlotte, and anyone coming with her, would have to leave tomorrow morning. It was a dreadfully short amount of time for any kind of trip, but especially one so grand. The small amount of preparation that would be allowed for the journey would only add to Alexis’ anxiety.

 

The third obstacle for her mother’s permission was Sarah herself. Since birth, her legs did not work and she had been bound to a wheeled-chair for most of her life. That alone would make the trip to Egypt nearly, if not completely, impossible, but thanks to a brilliant friend of the family, Sarah had a pair of mechanical legs that allowed her to move about with some normalcy. They were a poor replacement for the vast freedom of health, but were far superior to her wheeled-chair.

 

Thus far, Sigmund had remained silent throughout the conversation. He was ready with encouragement for Alexis to agree to the proposition, but did not want to jump in too early and overwhelm his sister. Sarah was sitting in an overstuffed chair, her hands gripping its arms tightly and her body leaning forward with involuntary earnestness. Her long blond hair was pulled back in a simple ponytail and her brown eyes were fixed anxiously on her mother.

 

The other person in the room was Alexis’ husband, Jamison. He had remained mostly quiet, adding a simple question here and there as to some of the particulars. Jamison, like everyone else in the room, knew that Alexis’ decision would be the final one. Sigmund felt for Jamison as this had to be a difficult situation for him. He was not Sarah’s true father. Sarah’s birth father turned out to be a pathetic man who ran away from the family at the birth of his crippled daughter. He was found dead not too long after that – likely the result of gambling debts, drink, and poor choice in friends.

 

Jamison came on the scene a while later and fell in love with Alexis. He did not care that she was a widow nor that she had a young daughter. Alexis returned his love and they were married. This union had proven to be a wonderful blessing for Alexis and Sarah, and they have been truly happy since. Sigmund tried not to be jealous, and mostly succeeded, but still found it hard at times to face the fact that he was no longer the protector of his sister and niece.

 

Through the years, since their father’s death, Sigmund took on the role of family provider. Their mother was devastated at the loss of her husband and was unable to give much help. Sigmund silently claimed the responsibility and did his best to help his mother and younger sister. Unfortunately, that led him to crime. For many years of his life, Sigmund stole from the rich to provide for his poor family. The thought of Robin Hood was sometimes present, but Sigmund knew that stealing was not as honorable as that story would have one believe. Simply put, he knew that what he did was wrong. His conscience bothered him regularly and, even now, years beyond his days of thieving, he had serious regrets.

 

Sigmund’s jealousy for Jamison, therefore, was not just that he took over the role of provider, but that he had done it with honest work. In the end, Sigmund was very happy for Alexis and Sarah, and grateful to Jamison for the life he had provided them. Jealousy was a small price he paid for the happiness of his dear sister and niece.

 

However, Jamison not being the actual father of Sarah, made certain decisions, like the one they were facing, a delicate proposition. He loved Sarah as if she was his own, but he understood that Alexis’ love was of a different sort – a bond between actual mother and child. Alexis had never spoken of, nor alluded to, him being any less of a father than the birth father of Sarah, but somehow everyone knew that there was a subtle, though real, distinction.

 

“Our books,” Alexis said to Sarah, “don’t they contain adventures? Don’t they make our hearts race with excitement? Could they not be enough?”

 

Sarah was an avid reader. Adventures, mysteries, classics – she had read them all. But Sigmund knew that the argument was doomed to failure. No book, no matter how good, can make up for true life.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Mark King is an easy-going writer with a talent for finding enjoyment in most any situation. He’s a lifelong reader whose literary interests include science fiction, adventure, thriller, and mysteries. When not working or writing, he can be found watching movies, kayaking, associating with friends, and of course reading.

Q. This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
A.
Each book in the Sigmund Shaw Series is a stand-alone story set in the Victorian Age. The first one (Sigmund Shaw: A Steampunk Adventure) is a fun action story with some twists. The second one (Whispers of Bedlam Asylum) is a mysterious thriller that takes place in an insane asylum.

Next in:
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
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Family life is murder.
Status Rises
The game too dangerous to stop playing!
Blood Match
There's a fine line between ambition and evil