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Authors: Johanna Lindsey

Silver Angel

BOOK: Silver Angel
12.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Johanna Lindsey
Silver Angel


In Memory of My Father,
Edwin Dennis Howard


Chapter One

On the Street of the Jewelers, the pearl merchant, Abdul…

Chapter Two

Ellen Burke lowered the letter to her lap and rubbed…

Chapter Three

They had locked her in her room, but Chantelle wasn’t…

Chapter Four

“There’s a chap here to see you, my lord, waiting…

Chapter Five

Beneath the woolen blanket, Chantelle lay shivering. It was a…

Chapter Six

Caroline Douglas reined in the high-stepping mare and waited for…

Chapter Seven

Derek didn’t wait until the next day to speak to…

Chapter Eight

“Come, lalla, you must eat something.”

Chapter Nine

The days passed with alarming speed for Chantelle. Hakeem became…

Chapter Ten

Rahmet Zadeh heard the Englishwoman. He had been sent down…

Chapter Eleven

The next morning, Omar Hassan met the Dey in the…

Chapter Twelve

Early in the afternoon four days later, the Grand Vizier…

Chapter Thirteen

Derek Sinclair, Earl of Mulbury and future Marquis of Hunstable,…

Chapter Fourteen

Jeanne Mauriac glanced curiously around the large room into which…

Chapter Fifteen

Chantelle couldn’t nap that afternoon with the rest of the…

Chapter Sixteen

The hidden chamber was not unique by any means. One…

Chapter Seventeen

Chantelle had made a bad mistake, but she didn’t realize…

Chapter Eighteen

“Well?” Omar asked when the last girl was led away…

Chapter Nineteen

Chantelle sat with her knees tucked under her, her hands…

Chapter Twenty

The girl waited patiently, her knees tucked under her, a…

Chapter Twenty-one

“I don’t believe it!” Rahine exploded.

Chapter Twenty-two

“Well, what do you think?” Adamma asked.

Chapter Twenty-three

The moment Derek entered his new bedchamber, he tossed off…

Chapter Twenty-four

Magic words, “do or die.” Until Chantelle could determine if…

Chapter Twenty-five

Across the corridor from Jamil’s rooms, a eunuch was waiting…

Chapter Twenty-six

The other slaves didn’t know what to make of Chantelle’s…

Chapter Twenty-seven

“I’m not sure I want to invite you in with…

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chantelle had to be guided down the entire length of…

Chapter Twenty-nine

Derek came awake slowly to a tickling on his chest…

Chapter Thirty

Chantelle couldn’t work up much interest in her new “prison…

Chapter Thirty-one

It wasn’t long before word ran through the harem that…

Chapter Thirty-two

If Chantelle didn’t know better, she would swear she was…

Chapter Thirty-three

Chantelle had drifted into a wondrous limbo where no thoughts…

Chapter Thirty-four

“Do you mind if I join you?”

Chapter Thirty-five

Chantelle was blurry-eyed when she entered the baths the next…

Chapter Thirty-six

Chantelle was the one pacing now. She was still in…

Chapter Thirty-seven

If Derek had stopped to think, that would have been…

Chapter Thirty-eight

“Did you have him hung from the palace gate?” Derek…

Chapter Thirty-nine

Derek finally noticed her when he turned at the physicians’…

Chapter Forty

“Are you feeling better now?”

Chapter Forty-one

Derek gently cradled the infant in his arms. It was…

Chapter Forty-two

A chair arrived along with today’s summons. Chantelle found that…

Chapter Forty-three

Weeks passed, but Chantelle had no luck in hearing that…

Chapter Forty-four

The day of the shadow play rolled around only three…

Chapter Forty-five

“Now that the money source is gone, the informants are…

Chapter Forty-six

“Shahar, you are to pack your things. You are sailing…

Chapter Forty-seven

Chantelle lasted several weeks before the boredom got to her.

Chapter Forty-eight

Dawn was slowly creeping through the porthole when Derek finally…

Chapter Forty-nine

In the end, Chantelle did let Derek take her to…

Chapter Fifty

Chantelle was just about to extinguish the last lamp in…

Barikah, the Barbary Coast, 1796

n the Street of the Jewelers, the pearl merchant, Abdul ibn-Mesih, closed his shop in anticipation of the singsong chant of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. Abdul had at least ten minutes to spare, but he was getting old, his bones prone to aches that slowed him down, so he needed to leave early each day. As long as he was able, he would walk to the nearest mosque rather than use the prayer rug he kept in the back of his tiny shop, unlike some of his less pious neighbors. So he was the only one on the street at this time, which was why he was the only one to witness the murder.

The young Turk and the large, black-robed man who was chasing him ran right past Abdul, not giving the pearl merchant the slightest notice. If only they had turned the corner and passed out of his sight, he wouldn’t have had nightmares that night. Instead, the larger man caught his prey at the end of the street and nearly cleaved him in two with the scimitar he wielded. A quick search of the body produced a paper of some sort, and then the assailant was gone, slipping away without a backward glance, the body of the Turk left lying where it fell, blood running in rivulets down the steep cobbled street in an invitation to the flies to come and feast.

Abdul ibn-Mesih decided he wouldn’t walk to the mosque for afternoon prayers today after all. As the muezzins called from the heights of the many minarets in the city, the pearl merchant was kneeling on his prayer rug in the back of his shop and thinking it had been too long since he had seen his daughter in the country. She was due a visit—perhaps a lengthy one.


Later that afternoon, two more of Jamil Reshid’s secret couriers were killed before they could leave Barikah. One was poisoned in a coffee house. The other was found in an alley with his throat cut, the bowstring wire used to strangle him left embedded in his neck.

That night, four camels raced west toward Algiers. The man in the lead was yet another luckless palace courier. The three assassins following him slowly closed the distance and finally overtook him. He died quickly, as had all the others.

The one who had felled him was a Greek Muslim, used to this type of work. The two accomplices riding with him were Arabs, brothers from an old family known for their loyalty to the Deys of Barikah, so it was natural the brothers should feel some guilt for their involvement in this night’s work. They hadn’t killed this courier, but the older brother had killed another one earlier that week.

They were as guilty as the Greek, as guilty as all the other assassins, and would be sent to the executioner’s block if they were found out. To lose their heads for a purse of gold, to risk their family’s disgrace, was perhaps the height of foolishness. But the price of corruption had been too tempting—it was a heavy purse of gold. So they accepted the risk. Still,
there was the guilt, but not enough guilt to make them give up their newfound wealth.

Lysander, the Greek, removed the message from the body and opened it. He had to strain to read it in the dim light of the moon, but finally he made a sound of disgust, the urge strong to throw the letter down and grind it into the dust. Of course, he didn’t.

“It is the same,” Lysander said, passing the letter to the older of the two brothers.

“Did you think it would not be?” the younger brother asked.

“I had hoped,” was Lysander’s terse reply. “There is another purse for the one who finds the true message. I mean to be that one.”

“So do we all,” the older brother commented. “But he will still want to see this.” And he carefully put the letter inside his robe. “He wants every message, regardless if it is the same as the others.”

There was no need to say who “he” was. They each knew. Not that they could have named him, for none of them knew his name. Nor had they ever gotten a good look at him. They didn’t even know if he was the one who wanted Jamil Reshid’s death, or if he was just a go-between for someone else. But he was the one who paid them so handsomely and collected each letter the palace couriers had carried.

It was discouraging, however. The Dey had an endless supply of loyal men to send out as decoys, all with the same letter, a note actually, written in Turkish, just three short sentences:
I offer greetings. Need I say more? You are remembered

The notes were not addressed. They were never signed. They could be from anyone in the palace to anyone in the world. They were more likely meant as a subtle threat for the assassins who read them, a
reminder of the Dey’s long arm of revenge. There might not even be a true message trying to leave Barikah in the midst of all these decoys. The couriers could simply be a ruse to confuse the assassins and delay them from making any more attempts on the Dey’s life.

The first courier who had been captured had sworn before he died that he was to deliver his letter to an Englishman named Derek Sinclair. Even if that were true, if the Dey actually knew an Englishman by that name, which was unlikely, what could be the point of such a letter to him? Why waste the lives of so many men to have such a message delivered? But the assassins couldn’t take the chance that there might be another message, the one they had yet to discover, perhaps to the Dey of Algiers or the Bey of Tunis, or even to the Sultan himself across the sea in Istanbul: a letter asking for help. Though what could any of those allies do when no one knew who was behind the assassination attempts?

Lysander remounted his camel but spared a glance for the man he had just killed. “I suppose this one is to be food for the carrion? I am not used to leaving evidence behind, much less the bodies. There are too many ways to dispose—”

“It doesn’t matter what you are used to. He wants the Dey to know his couriers are failing in their mission. How else will he know unless the bodies are easily found?”

“It’s a waste of time, if you ask me,” Lysander shot back, no longer trying to contain his disgust. “I think I will try and work my way into the palace. Who knows? I may get lucky and find a way to earn the largest purse of all, the one for Jamil Reshid’s head.”

He laughed as he rode away, and the two brothers exchanged a look. Of one mind, they doubted they would ever see the Greek alive again if he did manage to find a way into the palace. After four assassination attempts already, Jamil Reshid, Dey of Barikah, was more protected now than ever. Whoever next tried to take his life would be signing away his own. And if that unfortunate one was tortured before he was executed, he would give names. Not the name of him who was unknown, but the names of the men he had ridden with tonight.

Lysander didn’t return to Barikah that night after all. The Greek had been right. There were many ways to dispose of dead bodies, including his own.


“Do you realize the risk?”

Ali ben-Khalil nodded in answer. He was in awe of the man sitting across from him. When Ali had slipped his note to the palace eunuch in the bazaar, he had expected the same man to meet him, or perhaps another servant from the palace. But not the Grand Vizier, Jamil Reshid’s chief minister. Allah preserve him, what had he gotten himself into? What was so important about this message that so many men were dying over, that he himself had volunteered to carry, that would bring Omar Hassan, the Grand Vizier, here to question Ali himself?

Omar Hassan had come in disguise, in a burnoose of the type the Berbers wore in the desert, but then he would have to; few men in the city wouldn’t recognize the second most important man in Barikah. And he had questioned Ali thoroughly about why he had volunteered, which had been extremely embarrassing, for what man wanted to admit he was willing to risk his life for a woman? But there it was, his
foolish reason. He was a poor man in love with a slave whose owner was willing to sell her, but only for a high price. What other way could he earn that price without stealing it, except in service to the Dey?

But he didn’t intend to die in that service, or he would never have volunteered for this particular job. He truly felt he could succeed where so many others had failed, the simple reason being that he was not a servant of the Dey’s, nor was he associated with the palace in any way. He was just a poor sherbet seller. Who would suspect him of being one of the palace couriers?

And that was why Ali had not gone to the palace to volunteer his services, why he had insisted on meeting in a house of dancing girls, why he had hidden himself there for two days before the meeting and would not leave for another two days. It was more than likely that Omar Hassan had been followed here, regardless of his disguise, and any men who left this house tonight would likewise be followed.

The Grand Vizier was undecided. He liked Ali ben-Khalil’s plan, but the man was so obviously frightened, yet trying so hard to conceal it. Ali was young, perhaps twenty-two. Brown hair and eyes attested to the Berber-Arab ancestry he claimed, with perhaps a few fair-skinned slaves somewhere in his background to allow for the olive complexion and more delicate features. The fact that he had no experience for such a job was all to the good. But still…


A week ago Omar wouldn’t have hesitated in handing over the letter he carried. But just yesterday Jamil had cornered him to demand, “How many have we sent out now?” What could Omar say? The truth? That there were so many the number was an embar
rassment to mention? Jamil would have exploded. He had had to be argued into sending the letter in the first place. It had been Omar’s idea, and a good one, he thought. But now he wondered. So many deaths, and for what? By the time the letter bore results, the entire affair could be over, the one behind the assassination attempts discovered and dealt with.

Allah preserve them, it had better be over soon. Jamil was not a man to suffer restraints gracefully. The constant vigil, the frustration of not knowing who his enemy was, were already telling on him. If he were older, perhaps he would have more patience. But the Dey was only twenty-nine. He had ruled Barikah only these past seven years, having come to the throne on the death of his older half brother, who had been disrespectfully known as “the tyrant.”

But Jamil’s rule had been good for Barikah. His outstanding political wisdom, his spirit of honor and justice, his concern for the welfare of his people, had endeared him to every Barikahian and brought prosperity to the city. Omar would do everything in his power to see Jamil’s life protected, even if it meant the sacrifice of hundreds of loyal men, or the sacrifice of this naive young man sitting before him. Why had he hesitated at all?

Omar Hassan tossed a purse onto the table and allowed a slight smile to curve his lips when the heavy sound of it caused Ali’s eyes to grow wide. “That is for your expenses,” he explained. “There is enough there to buy a ship and crew outright, but you shouldn’t have to go to that extreme. A small xebec for speed, rented for your exclusive use, should do you well.” Another purse, just as heavy, landed next to the first. “This is for your service. There will be another one like it if you succeed.” Omar’s smile
widened for a moment as Ali’s eyes rounded even more, but then his expression turned serious again. “Just remember, if you do succeed, you are not to return to Barikah for at least six months.”

This was the only thing Ali didn’t understand about his mission, but he was loath to question the Grand Vizier for the reason. “Yes, my lord.”

“Good. And don’t worry about your woman in your absence. I will personally see that she isn’t sold to another and that she is well taken care of. If you don’t return, I will continue to see to her welfare.”

“Thank you, my lord!”

There was nothing else to say. Omar Hassan handed over the letter.

BOOK: Silver Angel
12.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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