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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Extract from Chapter 4 of Mine to Avenge

They departed within an hour of receiving the note, and turned the cart to the south in the direction of Athens, as a dusky twilight fell over the village. Alcandor stopped the cart for comfort as the children needed, but didn’t stop to sleep until it was nearly midnight.
Caterina noticed that Alcandor was alternately pale, then flushed, and occasionally he muttered to himself. Many times he looked back over his shoulder and asked the children if anyone was following the cart. The children spoke only to Caterina, if they needed to speak at all, for their father’s strange behaviour frightened them, along with the notion that someone might be following them.
All the way to Athens, Alcandor was nervous and jumpy. Caterina wondered if the threat of the children being evacuated was greater than she realised, and she began to feel nervous too. She remained vigilant, particularly at night, and fought against sleep, not wanting to close her eyes, because then she wouldn’t be able to watch over her children.
They arrived in Athens to learn of a mass exodus of people to foreign lands, and Alcandor quickly decided that his family was to be part of it. He wasn’t sure where to go at first. People were heading to many different far-flung corners of the globe, but as he listened to conversation, one place began to settle in his mind above all others. He heard of a sun-drenched land of opportunity, far away from the ravages of post war Europe. He told Caterina that he had decided they would go to Australia.
During the next few weeks in the city, while waiting for passage, Alcandor continued to drift in and out of some strange fear. Occasionally, Caterina heard him muttering about changing their names. She hoped that things would improve once they were on board the boat, but she wondered whether the years of war and his sickness had taken their toll on her husband. She had heard many stories of men who had lost their minds and wondered if this was happening to Alcandor.
For the first two days on board ship, Alcandor nervously observed the other passengers and wanted to know where the children were at all times. However, after the first two days he began to relax. He slept for most of the third day and was himself again when he awoke later in the afternoon. He remained settled for the remaining month-and-a-half of the voyage and became his old self once again, sharing the excitement with his wife and children at the prospect of the new life ahead of them.”

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