14 December 2017

Diamond Tales: The Empress Emerald by J.G. Harlond



London. 1918...


Excerpt from
The Empress Emerald 
by 
J.G. Harlond
Leo Kazan from Bombay is working as an ‘intelligencer’ for the British; he also deals secretly in precious gems. In this scene, he has escorted Davina Dymond back to his rented mews flat after a shooting incident in the West End, where she was badly shocked.


Chapter 15

“ . . . I’m a Dymond, you know. A white Dymond. My brother is a black Dymond. Celtic dark. Old Spanish blood they say.”
“What?” Leo looked at Davina huddled round her cup, mumbling.
“Nothing. Just that I’m a Dymond – with a ‘y’.”
“Is that your family name?”
“I told you at my brother’s party.”
“Oh, yes. Sorry.”
“Davina Dymond. It’s ridiculous. I’m a white Dymond. From my mother’s side. They aren’t Dymonds, of course, they’re Fulfords. They’re all very fair.”
“Diamonds aren’t white.”
“Aren’t they? What colour are they then?”
Leo looked at her: she was bunched up on the sofa, her knees tucked underneath her like a beaten animal. She was harmless, and very pretty. He liked the way her wavy gold hair seemed to move as she spoke. “What did you say?”
“Diamonds. What colour are they?”
Leo got to his feet. “Stay there a minute and I’ll show you.” He went into the kitchen.
Among the food Mrs Smithers assumed Leo needed, among the packets of biscuits and pots of potted meat, behind a tin of Oxo cubes and a packet of custard powder were two shabby old biscuit tins and three new Indian brass containers. One container contained rice; one contained marine salt crystals; the third contained brightly coloured boiled sweets. Leo had brought them all the way from Bombay in his trunk. He pushed the biscuit tins to the very back of the cupboard, took out the brass containers and unscrewed them. The one containing sweets he returned to the musty cupboard. He took the other two into the sitting room and put them on the small dining table.
Davina looked up, sleepily. “Are you going to do a conjuring trick to make me happy again?”
“Yes. Come and sit here.” Leo indicated a chair.
“Can’t move. Too sleepy.”
“Oh, no,” he pulled her up off the sofa, “you mustn’t go to sleep. Do you feel sick?”
“No, just sleepy. Why?”
“Basic first aid.”
Davina let herself be moved to the table. “You know the strangest things, Leo.”
“Yes, I do. Watch.” He took a small key from a jacket pocket and opened a nondescript bureau standing against a wall. From its inside shelves he pulled some sheets of heavy vellum writing paper and a small set of scales. He put them on the table in front of the girl. Then he put on the table a bedside lamp with no shade, three glass plates and a pair of tweezers. After that, he closed the sitting-room curtains, switched on the electric light and plugged in the shadeless lamp.
Davina shrugged off her coat and sat down. “All right, I’m ready for the show,” she said.
Opening the two brass containers, Leo said, “What do you see?”
“Don’t know.”
“Lick a finger and taste.” He demonstrated, licking a finger and putting it into the pot of rough, unrefined rice. A few grains stuck to his finger.
“Is it rice?” she said.
“Well done. Do you have rice in England?”
“Of course we do. Rice pudding. Children have to eat gallons of it. Didn’t your nanny or your mother ever make you eat rice pudding?”
“Yes. Now, what’s in this pot?”
“Salt?”
“Correct and incorrect.” Leo shook a small measure of rough salt onto a plate. With the tweezers he selected a large crystal. “Not salt, Davina, not salt.”
“Is that a diamond?”




“This is a polished diamond. Big enough for a solitaire ring or it could be cut into smaller stones.”
“Gosh. So what’s in the rice?”
“Diamonds as well. Look.” He sprinkled some of the rice he had brought from Bombay onto the second plate and selected a tiny pebble. “This is a stone from the ground. Rice has to be washed, there’s always grit and stones in it. But this,” he held a fragment of what looked like dusty quartz up to the light, “this is a very precious bit of grit.”
Davina squinted at the object in the lamplight.
“You see,” Leo said, “true diamonds do not start life as white. Let me show you. First you have to find them, and they are dirty and dusty, then, before you clean them or cut them, you have to see if they are flawed and how much they weigh.”
He selected one tiny stone with his tweezers and weighed it. “Diamonds are measured in carats, which I am sure you know. A carat is one-fifth of a gram.” He held the stone up to the light again. “This is one is octahedral.” He placed it on the third glass plate and held the plate over the lamp. “This helps to judge the clarity, even the tiny ones have to be examined for impurities. As with all things of value: purity is the essence.”
Leo selected another stone and held it over a sheet of white paper. “This is what is called glace. You see the colour almost matches the paper. But it’s only white because it’s on white, if I move it next to your eyes it will become blue.” He held the gem up to her eyes then put it back on the paper and picked out a much bigger stone. It was an irregular lump of dirty grey. He weighed it.
“Thirty grams: quite a whopper – but inferior. In Africa this is called mackbar. I like the name, mackbar – it sounds like what it is – inferior. Now, come round here and look at these three stones. They are quite different in size and value and yet all three are magic. They can only be damaged by each other; it takes a diamond to scratch a diamond. Did you know that? These are the truest elements of our Earth. They were formed below the deepest layers of the Earth’s crust, maybe a hundred million years ago. It has taken volcanic eruptions to bring them to the surface and perhaps millions of years of rain to wash them out into the common dirt. And now here they are in London, ready and waiting to be shaped and polished to make women prettier and men richer – or poorer, of course.”
Leo smiled at the lovely blonde girl at his side and slowly put an arm round her waist. “Can you see their beauty? I think they are truly marvellous, even in their natural state.” He watched the girl closely. The stones had no effect on her. 
“Davina, Davina,” he whispered into her hair, “look at them. This is as close as you may ever come to the stars.”


© J.G. Harlond


about the author

Originally from the south west of England, J.G Harlond (Jane) studied and worked in various different countries before finally settling down with her husband, a retired Spanish naval captain, in rural Andalucía, Spain. Despite being ‘rubbish’ at history at school because she wanted to turn everything into a story, she survived the History element of her B.A. and went on to get an M.A. in Social and Political Thought. Her historical fiction, set in the 17th century and the first half of the 20th century, features many of the places Jane has visited – along with flawed rogues, wicked crimes, and the more serious issues of being an outsider. Apart from fiction, Jane also writes school text books under her married name. Her favourite reading is along the Dorothy Dunnett lines: well-researched stories with compelling plots and complex characters.


Jane is currently writing about the theft and fate of the Crown Jewels during the English Civil War for the third in her Ludo da Portovenere trilogy.

Find J.G. Harlond on:
The Empress Emerald,
Buy the book

Other books by J.G. Harlond 

The Chosen Man, 
Local Resistance,
read our Review
Dark Night, Black Horse
The Doomsong Sword



Follow the Tales…and Discover some Diamonds

3rd December     Richard Tearle Diamonds

4th December     Helen Hollick  When ex-lovers have their uses

5th December    Antoine Vanner  Britannia’s Diamonds

6th December    Nicky Galliers  Diamond Windows

7th December    Denise Barnes  The Lost Diamond

8th December    Elizabeth Jane Corbett A Soul Above Diamonds

9th December    Lucienne Boyce Murder In Silks

10th December    Julia Brannan The Curious Case of the Disappearing Diamond

11th December    Pauline Barclay Sometimes It Happens

12th December    Annie Whitehead Hearts, Home and a Precious Stone

13th December    Inge H. Borg  Edward, Con Extraordinaire

14th December    J.G. Harlond The Empress Emerald

15th December    Charlene Newcomb Diamonds in the Desert

16th December     Susan Grossey  A Suitable  Gift

17th December     Alison  Morton Three Thousand Years to Saturnalia

18th December      Nancy Jardine   Illicit Familial Diamonds

19th December      Elizabeth St John The Stolen Diamonds

20th December      Barbara Gaskell Denvil Discovering the Diamond

21st December       Anna Belfrage   Diamonds in the Mud

22nd December       Cryssa Bazos    The Diamonds of Sint-Nicholaas

23rd December        Diamonds … In Sound & Song  


A thank you to Dorothy Dunnett by J.G. Harlond

13 December 2017

Diamond Tales: Edward, Con Extraordinaire by Inge H. Borg


Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend...


...but a string of exquisite pearls is equally enticing
(especially to a conman like Edward)

Excerpts from
Edward, Con Extraordinaire,
and (after sightings in Cairo) from
Sirocco, Storm over Land and Sea,
both by
 Inge H. Borg

La Jolla, California: Topographically breathtaking. Financially bountiful.
On that brilliant day in early May, Edward parked his gleaming Jaguar on Silverado Street and strolled down to the Museum of Modern Art, where he zeroed in on a short, sixty-something matron. He doggedly followed the earnest, shape-wear-strapped docent reciting memorized details of bizarre paintings and angular sculptures to sun-seeking Canadians and corn-fed Mid-Westerners secretly longing for lunch and a cold beer on the museum’s outdoor patio. At the end of the tour, Edward smiled his thanks and went out to the terrace with its spectacular view of the craggy Pacific coast. He leaned his tall frame against the balustrade to admire a huge gravity-defying metal sculpture that seemingly sprouted from an upper retaining wall, and waited.
Pleasure Point, by Nancy Rubins,” a slightly fatigued voice behind him said.
He turned, smiling broadly: “I really enjoyed your lecture,” and then placed his long-fingered hand upon his heart: “As an avid collector of antiquities, I am completely ignorant about modern art. I only wish you had the time to tell me more about this wonderful place.”
“You are English,” she said, as expected, and he introduced himself: “Edward Guernsey-Crock, Antiquities and European Estate Jewelry, at your service.”
She thought for a moment: “Any relations to Ray?” Betsy kept herself carefully informed about the upper crust of La Jolla and Rancho Santa Fe, dead or alive.
”Ray?” Edward’s mind drew a rare blank.
“Ray Kroc! You know? McDonald’s!”
“Oh, good old Ray!” Hamburgers! An American affliction. Quick to grasp a proffered straw though, he whispered in a conspiratorial tone: “You have heard of Guernsey cows. Where do you think all that ground meat comes from?” His voice trailed off as if embarrassed to flaunt his meaty connection to the beef-patty mogul. He doubted the woman knew where and what Guernsey was. To her credit, she put up a stolid front and dropped further inquisition.
“I am Betsy. Betsy Bunting. Well, actually, Mrs. Joseph Bunting.”
After that defining tidbit, he invited her to lunch. With its breathtaking superior view to the museum café, George’s was an infinitely more elegant restaurant where one overlooked the round cliffs of La Jolla Cove from linen-topped window tables. Edward apologized that his car had just been towed to British Motors downtown—a temperamental Jaguar XJ6, if you please—and that he had walked down to the museum from the Village. As expected, she offered to drive the ten blocks north saving him the parking fee, or possibly a ticket on tightly-packed Prospect Avenue.
The burgundy late-model Lexus convertible fitted her as little as did her exquisite too-tight blush-pink St. Johns knit. Edward could at least be sincere to admire the strand of Golden South Sea pearls buried in her short neck. While he complimented her on the pearls, his appreciative eye immediately spied the large yellow diamond in the clasp. Something he did not comment on in case the woman grew suspicious.
She beamed. Her hubby, when he was still well enough to travel, bless him, had bought the earls for her in Tahiti.
“Twelve millimeter. Matched. They cost almost as much as this car,” she sighed, and the ever-astute Edward gathered the Buntings’ to be new-garnered wealth.



It turned out that Joe Bunting had put down hard-earned monkey-wrench cash on an all-inclusive tour of Cairo and environments. Pyramids, camel rides, Western-style hotel with bottled water, shopping at the Khan Al-Khalili Bazaar, that sort of thing. Then, Southern California’s reigning plumbing contractor had fallen too ill for their planned ‘third-world junket.’ Though he insisted that his wife go and have a good time.
That week, Edward read several guide-books on Egypt and during another sun-drenched lunch with Betsy at an ocean-front in-place called Charley’s, he confided how much he envied her. Oh, how he wished to return to Egypt one more time. If only he could join her group. That way he would have her delightful company, and she a solicitous and knowledgeable companion. 
"I just love Cairo and the Giza Plateau," he raved implying familiarity with the sprawling metropolis. “It’s where I got this scar. Fell off a camel, if you can imagine,” he smiled. Then he sighed. How disappointing that his remittance from Lloyd’s of London was held up due to silly exchange-rate fluctuations. “I would love to go back there and show that beast who’s boss.”
After sipping a bit more of her heady Napa Chardonnay, the smitten Mrs. Bunting hit upon a brilliant idea. Would he be willing to take her ill husband’s place on their non-refundable prepaid Egypt tour? In a strictly platonic sense, of course.
That afternoon, the dapper Edward Guernsey-Crock, Esquire, bought a tour guide to Egypt and a pith helmet.

© Inge H. Borg


What will lure him more? The woman? Her lovely eyes and slender neck? Or those pearls with the diamond clasp?

HURRY! FREE e-book until Dec16th
Amazon US
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More About the author
Devil Winds Blog

http://ingehborg.blogspot.com/

Follow on Twitter:


Born and raised in Austria, I left home at eighteen to study languages in London, Paris and Moscow. A job transfer from Vienna to Chicago led to becoming a US citizen. In 1980, I moved to San Diego.
I now live in a quiet lake community in Arkansas where I devotes most of my time to writing.

As a staunch supporter of her Indie-writer colleagues, I frequently highlight their books on my two blogs: devilwinds.blogspot.com, and (for those with pets) on ingehborg.blogspot.com. Check them out for announcements and other musings.


After his dubiously lucrative escapades in and around San Diego, Edward becomes my  protagonists’ nemesis in the present-day action/adventure Books
 2-5 of the Legends of The Winged Scarab
now also available as a 4-Book Box Set - at a ridiculously reduced price.

Follow the Tales…and Discover some Diamonds

3rd December     Richard Tearle Diamonds

4th December     Helen Hollick  When ex-lovers have their uses

5th December    Antoine Vanner  Britannia’s Diamonds

6th December    Nicky Galliers  Diamond Windows

7th December    Denise Barnes  The Lost Diamond

8th December    Elizabeth Jane Corbett A Soul Above Diamonds

9th December    Lucienne Boyce Murder In Silks

10th December    Julia Brannan The Curious Case of the Disappearing Diamond

11th December    Pauline Barclay Sometimes It Happens

12th December    Annie Whitehead Hearts, Home and a Precious Stone

13th December    Inge H. Borg  Edward, Con Extraordinaire

14th December    J.G. Harlond The Empress Emerald

15th December    Charlene Newcomb Diamonds in the Desert

16th December     Susan Grossey  A Suitable  Gift

17th December     Alison  Morton Three Thousand Years to Saturnalia

18th December      Nancy Jardine   Illicit Familial Diamonds

19th December      Elizabeth St John The Stolen Diamonds

20th December      Barbara Gaskell Denvil Discovering the Diamond

21st December       Anna Belfrage   Diamonds in the Mud

22nd December       Cryssa Bazos    The Diamonds of Sint-Nicholaas

23rd December        Diamonds … In Sound & Song 

12 December 2017

Diamond Tales: Hearts, Home and a Precious Stone by Annie Whitehead

Saxon England - when the wars between the kingdoms were fierce, and the struggle to survive was even fiercer...
Hearts, Home, and a Precious Stone
by
Annie Whitehead

East Anglia – 616
She stared up at him. Her hands were wet from clutching the washing and for a moment she was only aware of the drip trickling through her fingers and the ragged breathing sounds. His, not hers. For it seemed like she had been holding her breath since he pulled up in front of her, his boots half-sinking as the sucking mud tried to claim them.
He had no war-gear, nor scars on his face, but he didn’t seem to be a trader either. His fingers were clenched and he was pumping his fist.
Why was he anxious? She was no threat. He wouldn’t know that she was a Mercian princess married to a Northumbrian prince, a guest here and paying her way by doing her share of the chores.
All he would see was a woman washing clothes in the estuary where traders came and went and the court of King Redwald welcomed strangers.
A shout rose from where the boats bobbed in gentle resistance against their moorings. The sails that usually billowed had been caught and tied; they looked naked, Carinna always thought, when they were thus subdued. A man came running along the bank, a rich man, she thought, for he had a belly which spoke of plentiful rations, and there were no shiny patches on his breeches. He shouted as he ran, spittle flecking across his beard as he voiced his anger.
“Come back you little shit! Thief! I’ll flay your skin from your back, slave-boy!
The youth glanced at his pursuer, and took two squelching steps towards Carinna. She woke from her torpor, dropped the washing, and stood up. The young man shrugged, as if deciding that he had nothing to lose, and planted a kiss on her lips. As he did so, he pressed something into her hand. He ran off, the older man in noisy pursuit. Carinna watched them go, their feet making boot-prints which instantly vanished as they filled back up with water.
She caught the shouts as they carried on the wind.
“Give it back! Without it, I’ll never get home.  And neither will you!”
“No, I won’t, but I’ll be free!”
The young man had not been nervously pumping his fingers; he’d been holding something. Now that object was in her hand. It was cold, hard, like a pebble. Was this what he had stolen? Why would this mean that they couldn’t go home?
Carinna knew the pain of that, what it felt like to be far from home. She glanced down at the object in her hand.
It was not a pebble, but a clear stone. When she held it up to look more closely, she could see right through it. It glittered when the sun’s rays caught it.
Carinna’s father was the King of Mercia. Her husband would one day be a king; he was sure of it, and so, then, she must believe it. But she was no more at liberty than this boy. Let him run, let him be free.
“Lady?” Aylsa had come to fetch Carinna to the hall. “You seem far away?”
I am far away, thought Carinna. Far from my homeland, at any rate. Just like that young man. She opened her fist again and looked at the shiny object.
Aylsa’s eyes grew wide. “Oh, that is so pretty!”
“Have it.” She didn’t want it. Whenever she looked at it, it would remind her of pebbles washed from lands far away to end up on distant shores.


The harvest was in and the East Anglians would not go hungry over the winter. Many of the women would, however, be spending those dark cold months on their own, newly widowed or bereaved. King Redwald’s army was huge, but there would inevitably be casualties. Aylsa knew that Armund could be one of them.
Last night they had crept from the feast. Away from the braziers keeping the enclosed yard lit and safe, there were dark corners where couples could go. This morning she could not get close for more than a moment. The men were gathering outside the hall, more were outside the gates, and she had to stick her elbows out to barge through the throng of warriors, their women, and skittering children.
In the dark night his flesh had burned upon hers, his kisses soft, breath warming her body in mists as he spoke gentle words of love.
This morning only a brief caress was possible, and in that moment, she took the deepest inhalation, stealing the scent of his skin, hoping it would see her through the winter, holding her cheek against the pulsing vein in his neck, praying the goddess would keep it beating, and that he would not, in a few days, be lying cold on the distant battleground. Down from her tiptoes, and preparing to let go, she said, “Take this. May it bring you safe through the fight.”
Last night he had loved her, today…Was it bravery in cold light, or had the promises in the dark been whispers on the wind, to carry, clear at first, but then vanish?
He took the transparent stone from her, and his brows drew together. For a moment it seemed he might refuse, but he smiled, and said, “If it brings you peace, I will take it.”
Aylsa waited, that long, cold winter. They won the battle, she heard. But Armund never returned.



Northumbria - 634
He was home. And he was King. Oswald had pursued and cornered his enemy, and slain him with no more thought than if he’d despatched a diseased hound. Now was the time to assess the damage to his army, to give orders for Christian burial, and send the wounded to the monks for care.
Where the fighting had been most intense, the ground was slimy. The grass had been churned to mud with the pushing of the shield wall, and now that mud was wet with blood. On his back, eyes open to the sky, a young thegn lay, one leg twisted underneath his body, arms spread as if in supplication, one fist closed. A wound split his head from temple to neck. The blood had ceased to pump, and the open gash was a garish blend of pink flesh and white bone.
Oswald’s steward, Manfrid, came to stand beside his lord. “Beric, son of Armund. A good man.”
“I don’t recall…”
“You did not know him, Lord. His father fought with your uncle’s hearth-troop and came north from East Anglia with King Redwald’s army. He settled here, and his son grew up thinking himself Northumbrian. He fought well for you this day.”
Oswald was humbled. So many good men had fought and died for him. “What was he holding; perhaps his foe’s hair?”
Manfrid uncurled the youth’s fingers to reveal a blood-smeared stone. “It’s naught, Lord.”
“Let me see?”
The stone, once wiped, revealed itself to be clear, like glass, yet more transparent. A talisman? If so, it had served the boy ill. God’s purpose was obviously greater.
“I heard tell,” said Manfrid, “That his father carried a stone which he said had brought him freedom because he lived through all his battles. He must have passed it to his son.”
“Don’t bury him with this. It’s a pagan thing.”
Oswald thought he might throw the stone away. But Manfrid began talking to him, they spoke of arrangements, and he found himself turning the stone over and over in his palm.

Mercia - 909
The Lady Æthelflæd looked across the gaming board table at Earl Alhelm. He marvelled that she and he were sitting together still, when the stories of their lives were all but written. Alhelm returned her wry smile as the monks walked solemnly across the hall. The moving of Saint Oswald’s bones had been both an expedient and a shrewd move, ensuring their safety, and the Lady’s reputation as protector of people, and of faith.
Brother Cenred came forward and bowed low. “My lady, we have translated the bones but there is something else. I am not sure…” He handed her a carved box.
She took the reliquary from him. “Should this not be in the minster also?” She lifted the lid and said, “Ah, I understand. What is this?” The leather pouch had a drawstring closure, and she loosened it. Upturning the pouch, she revealed not a relic, but a clear, shiny stone.
Alhelm let out a low, almost inaudible whistle. “A pretty thing, indeed.”
The monk cleared his throat. “It has been in Bardney Abbey since King Oswald’s remains were placed there, so the tale is told. Tradition holds that the saint kept it by his side from the moment of his triumph in battle, mayhap in the next too, when he was slain. But the abbot denounced it as pagan, and would not have it buried with the bones.”
The Lady seemed lost among her thoughts, stroking the stone with her thumb. She looked up at Alhelm and gave a little shake of her head. She pushed the stone towards him and said, “You have served me faithfully.”
“Not always in the way you wished.”
She shrugged. “Even so, take it.” Her smile was not broad, yet still it reached her eyes.

Elvira tried to slide into the shadows behind the wooden pillar, but he’d seen her, watching him. Watching them. Her jealousy would eat her soul, he thought.
Caught out, she snatched the stone from his grasp. “The Lady gave you this?” Her lips pinched shut, drawn together in anger, but also, perhaps, to guard against further pain.
He would never admire her more than in the moment she forced light to shine from her eyes and, swallowing all hurt, said, “She must have meant for me to have it. What a gift. I’ll keep it safe; perhaps one day our sons or daughters may pass it to theirs.”

Cheshire - 980
King Edward had been buried with full honours. Uncle Alvar had seen to that. The new king was crowned, Siferth’s baby was gurgling in his crib, and all was right with the world. That’s what he’d thought this morning.
Now, with approaching dark, Siferth was still waiting. How far inland had the Vikings come after they landed at Chester?
At dusk, he had his answer.
Beotric came running, smelling of smoke even though he’d been away all day and nowhere near a hearth. Panting, all he could say was, “They’re coming.”
Inside, Eadyth was standing over the cradle. She turned, and he saw that she knew.
“I’ll fight.” His words rang hollow. Why would they not? There was no substance to them. He had no men, beyond Beotric. He could not protect his family.
She stepped forward, reaching for his hand. Lifting it to her breast and closing her other hand around it, she said, “It was not your fault. You did an honourable thing, and no man could have foreseen what would happen. Your uncle thought he did right by having you hide out here, living quietly.”
He stared over her head to the crib. She followed his gaze. “Is your mother’s little boat still moored on the river?”
“Yes, but it’s not big enough for the open sea. And I don’t know how to…”
She released his hand and went to the corner of the room, opening a wooden chest. Showing him the shiny stone she said, “Alvar had this from his mother. He gave it to yours and she gave it to me. We’ll use it to pay a boatman.”

Guthred’s earliest memories were of leaning against his father’s chest, feeling the beating rise and fall, listening to Father’s tales of how he’d settled in Cheshire. Guthred was proud of his Danish heritage, and thought that was why he was drawn to making a living as a boatman. When this young couple came to him, desperate, and tried to pay him, he couldn’t believe their luck.
Holding the stone to the cloudy sky, nevertheless he watched as the sun’s rays poured through it and warmed his hand. He said to his female passenger, “How came you by this?”
“It was passed down by my husband’s kin. My mother-by-law told me the legend; that it would bring freedom to all who carried it, but there would always be a price to pay.”
Guthred nodded. “Aye, true, if it’s kept too long on land. ’Tis what my kinfolk call a Sunstone. With this, I can guide this boat across the wider sea, as far as you wish me to take you.”
The swell lifted the boat up and down and the birds swooped low before darting away, screeching. The wind slapped salty water against her cheeks, and Eadyth hugged the baby close to her breast.
Siferth said, “We will never get home now.”
“No,” she said, “but we’ll be free.”



Notes: Carinna, Oswald, Manfrid, Æthelflæd, Alhelm, Elvira, Siferth & Eadyth appear in my novels, and their circumstances here relate to certain events in the books. Of course, the Anglo-Saxons wouldn’t have known about diamonds, and we don’t know for sure when the ‘Vikings’ began using sunstones for navigation either, but fiction is a wonderful device for dealing with uncertainties!

© Annie Whitehead



About Annie Whitehead
Annie Whitehead is an author and historian, and a member of the Royal Historical Society. Her first two novels are set in tenth-century Mercia, chronicling the lives of Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, who ruled a country in all but name, and Earl Alvar, who served King Edgar and his son Æthelred the Unready who were both embroiled in murderous scandals. Her third novel, also set in Mercia, tells the story of seventh-century King Penda and his feud with the Northumbrian kings. She is currently working on a history of Mercia for Amberley Publishing, to be released in 2018.

Find out more
Buy the books on Amazon



Read our Review
Read our Review


Follow the Tales…and Discover some Diamonds

3rd December     Richard Tearle Diamonds

4th December     Helen Hollick  When ex-lovers have their uses

5th December    Antoine Vanner  Britannia’s Diamonds

6th December    Nicky Galliers  Diamond Windows

7th December    Denise Barnes  The Lost Diamond

8th December    Elizabeth Jane Corbett A Soul Above Diamonds

9th December    Lucienne Boyce Murder In Silks

10th December    Julia Brannan The Curious Case of the Disappearing Diamond

11th December    Pauline Barclay Sometimes It Happens

12th December    Annie Whitehead Hearts, Home and a Precious Stone

13th December    Inge H. Borg  Edward, Con Extraordinaire

14th December    J.G. Harlond The Empress Emerald

15th December    Charlene Newcomb Diamonds in the Desert

16th December     Susan Grossey  A Suitable  Gift

17th December     Alison  Morton Three Thousand Years to Saturnalia

18th December      Nancy Jardine   Illicit Familial Diamonds

19th December      Elizabeth St John The Stolen Diamonds

20th December      Barbara Gaskell Denvil Discovering the Diamond

21st December       Anna Belfrage   Diamonds in the Mud

22nd December       Cryssa Bazos    The Diamonds of Sint-Nicholaas

23rd December        Diamonds … In Sound & Song