Read A Sample: The Scarab Heart

— CHAPTER 1 —

PORT SAID

‘LIZZIE, HAVE YOU had any news of Albert?’
Boats drifted slowly out to the starboard side of our ship—small fishing vessels that from the stern of the Prometheus looked no bigger than walnut-shells.
‘I got a letter from him a couple of days before we set sail from London.’
Miss Otis smiled. ‘And how is the young man?’
‘He says Mrs Thorne is keeping him busy setting up the orphanage.’
‘And your sister?’
‘He says Mary’s improving all the time thanks to the good food and the clean mountain air.’ I caught the smell of salt on the breeze. ‘Oh! Look—’
‘What is it, Lizzie?’
‘A huge fish! Oh! And there’s another…leaping right out of the water!’ I steered my blind friend towards the railing and began to describe what I could see. ‘Lord, I think they’ve hooked one: they’re pulling it in now.’ The poor creature was thrashing about wildly as they hauled it on deck. ‘Why, it’s enormous…almost as big as the boat itself!’
‘Tunny fish,’ the old lady chuckled. ‘A common sight throughout the Mediterranean. Not only do they grow to the size of cows, but their flesh apparently tastes like beef. They’re considered quite a delicacy in these parts.’
‘How strange! Fish that tastes of beef…I don’t think I’d fancy that.’ As I watched, the fish in question grew weaker and weaker until all it could manage was the occasional jerk.
‘Are you worried, Lizzie?’
‘Worried?’