Saxon England – when the wars between the kingdoms were fierce, and the struggle to survive was even fiercer…

The Discovering Diamonds Review Blog Site is running a series of stories under the heading, Diamond Tales, throughout December. My story, Hearts, Home, and a Precious Stone, tells the tale of generations of displaced Anglo-Saxons, and how one precious stone links them all…

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?

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