The Journey: Illustrated Edition (An Anna Kronberg Thriller)

BOOK: The Journey: Illustrated Edition (An Anna Kronberg Thriller)
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Contents

Title

Copyright

Dedication

Other Books

Eastbourne

Sussex

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Credits

Acknowledgements

The Journey

Illustrated Edition

by

Annelie Wendeberg

The Journey

Annelie Wendeberg

Copyright 2014 by Annelie Wendeberg

Amazon Edition

This is a work of fiction. Yet, I tried to write it as close to the truth as possible. Any resemblance to anyone alive is pure coincidence.

Mr Sherlock Holmes, Dr John Watson, and Mrs Hudson are characters by Sir A. C. Doyle. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of my imagination, or lived/happened/occurred a very long time ago. I herewith apologise to all the (now dead) people I used in my novel. I also apologise to all Sherlock Holmes fans should they feel their Holmes got abused by me, too.

The photograph for the cover is a courtesy of Magnus Wendeberg, copyright by Magnus Wendeberg,
www.magnuswendeberg.com

To Phyl Manning (

February 9, 2014) — for offering your friendship.

Books by this author:

The Devil’s Grin
(An Anna Kronberg Thriller, Book 1)

The Fall
(An Anna Kronberg Thriller, Book 2)

The Journey
(An Anna Kronberg Thriller, Book 3)

In the Making:

The Lion’s Courtship
(A Prequel to
The Devil’s Grin
)

Find out more at:

www.anneliewendeberg.com

Beachy Head, Eastbourne, Sussex Downs, 1890s. (1)

Sussex, 1820s (2)

— one —

Hear my soul speak.
 

Of the very instant that I saw you,
 

Did my heart fly at your service.

W. Shakespeare

May 1891

H
unger, exhaustion, and cold stiffened my every move. We had been walking for three days and our provisions were reduced to two handfuls of salted meat and a sliver of stale bread. A curtain of drizzle surrounded us. The dripping of water from above merged with the
squish-squish
of two pairs of feet — mine and the ones of the man walking a yard ahead of me. The broad rim of his hat drooped, feeding streams of rain down on his shoulders, one of which was still drooping. He had dislocated it while throwing my former husband off a cliff.

With my gaze attached to his calves, I placed one foot in front of the other, imagining him pulling me along on an invisible string, forward and ever forward. Without his pull, I wouldn’t go anywhere. My knees would simply buckle.

Holmes led the two of us with stoicism. His trousers were rolled up to his knees, the bare skin splattered with mud and his feet covered in it. He avoided the coast, with all its roads and people. We walked through the heath without cover from view and weather, then continued through moorlands without our boots on. Water had stood ankle high in our footwear. Sickly white feet emerged, toes wrinkled like dead raisins, heels raw from friction and wetness.

When the day drifted towards a darker grey, I saw him growing tired. The slight sway of his hips became stiffer and his gait lacked the usual spring. Within the hour, he steered us to a suitable place to set up the tent and protect our few dry belongings. One frigid night after the other — a series of dark and restless hours, all lacking a warming fire, all lacking enough food to fill our stomachs. There was nothing to be done about it.
 

‘Over there,’ he called, his hand waving towards a group of trees. I was hugging myself so hard now, I felt like a compacted piece of bone and skin. He took the rope from his bag and strung it low between two crooked firs, then flung the oilskin off my backpack and over the rope, securing it with rocks at its ends. While hunching over the rucksack to protect it from rain, I watched him, knowing precisely which move preceded the next, as though my eyes had seen it a hundred times and his hands had done it equally often. As soon as the oilskin was in place, I stepped underneath, pulled out another piece of oilskin and spread it out on the ground.

I extracted our blankets, anxiously probing for moisture with fingers so numb that they felt little but the needling cold. As exhausted as we were, wet blankets would bring pneumonia overnight. Brighton, the closest town large enough for a chemist and a physician, was a six-hour walk from here. No one would find us but foxes and ravens.

During our first day on the run, we had established a firm evening routine. One might call it effective. And it was indeed so. But I, for my part, didn’t care too much about how quickly we got out of the rain as long as I could shut off the world and the struggle. The peaceful minutes between closing my eyes and beginning to dream were all I looked forward to.

Within less than three minutes, we shed our soggy clothes, let the rain wash the stink and dirt off our skin, and hung shirts, trousers, skirt, and undergarments out into the rain, for they wouldn’t dry in our makeshift tent anyway. We squeezed the water out of our hair and dove under the blankets. Holmes opened my rucksack and extracted each one’s only set of dry clothes. We stuck our trembling limbs into our clothing and then clung to one another, sharing our blankets and the little heat that was left in our bodies.
 

While necessity demanded close proximity, we avoided each other’s eyes, as we avoided talking. Attached to Holmes, I felt like a foreign object with my flesh about to wilt off my bones. He had to spend an hour each evening attached to the woman who had bedded his arch enemy. How uncomfortable he must feel, I could only guess. But I tried not to.

Holmes shot his wiry arm out into the cold and retrieved the meat from his bag. He cut off a large slice and gave it to me, then cut off a smaller bit for himself. This was the only hint of chivalry I allowed. The day we had left our cottage, he had insisted on carrying my rucksack. I told him I’d have none of it and walked away. After that, we no longer discussed our differences in muscle power and durability. But I sensed his alertness, ready to run to the aid of the damsel in distress should the need arise. His chivalrous reflexes annoyed me greatly.

We chewed in silence, the food dampening the clatter of teeth. Gradually, warmth returned. First to my chest, then to my abdomen. As soon as the shivering subsided, we retreated into one’s own solitude of blanket wrapper. And only then did we dare talk.

‘How do you feel?’

I nodded, taking another bite. ‘Warm. Good. Thank you. How is your eye?’ I had seen him rubbing his right eye repeatedly.
 

‘Not worth mentioning.’ He gazed out into the rain, as though the weather might be worth conversing about. ‘We need to replenish our provisions,’ he said, and added softly, ‘We have two possible destinations to choose from, with one city large enough for a skilled surgeon.’

‘It’s too late. Choose what place you judge best for your needs.’

‘Too late?’ Again, that soft voice as though the words could break me.

‘Five months now. The child is as large as a hand. It cannot be extracted without killing the… mother.’

He lowered his head in acknowledgement. The topic needed no further discussion. ‘We have to talk about Moran.’

I didn’t want to talk about that man. All I wanted was Moran dead.

‘Tell me what you learned about him,’ he pressed.

‘I know nothing that you wouldn’t know.’

‘Anna!’ He made my name sound like a synonym for pigheadedness.

‘Damn it, Holmes. I tried avoiding that man whenever possible. All I can provide is what you already know: best heavy-game shot of the British Empire, free of moral baggage, in the possession of a silent air rifle, and very angry while out to avenge his best friend and employer, James Moriarty.’
 

I stuck my hand out into the rain where the oilskin collected the water into a thick stream, filled my cup, and washed the salty meat down my throat.

‘You lived in Moriarty’s house. I didn’t. It follows that you must know more about Moran than I.’

‘If he cannot find us, he’ll set up a trap. It was
you
who said that he once used a small child as tiger bait.’ I coughed and rubbed my tired eyes.

‘Precisely. Now, what trap would he arrange for us? I cannot use information of his behaviour in India ten years ago and extrapolate it to the near future. How does this man’s mind work? You
must
have observed something of importance!’

BOOK: The Journey: Illustrated Edition (An Anna Kronberg Thriller)
11.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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