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image from the book The Brittle Sea

The Days Grow Longer.

Four weeks on from the departure of the Lady Jane and Maggie had grown a little accustomed to her new daily routine without Richard. There was little to keep her occupied, so she made almost daily trips to a small library where she would sit engrossed in stories of Greek Heroes and exotic adventures in the far-flung British Empire and classic American and British fiction. Her thirst for knowledge was insatiable and not simply grounded in fiction, she also studied business practices and accounting. It was almost as if she were an empty vessel and her soul cried out for the vessel to be filled with knowledge.

It was late morning, not long after she had arrived at the library during one of these almost day long trips, that Maggie felt a little overcome with sickness. She was lost in the time of Achilles and the Trojan war while she ate an early lunch of a hard-boiled egg and some sliced cold meat. A sudden bloating of her stomach and a queasy sickness made her gasp and put the book she was reading to one side.

The kindly old lady librarian she had befriended had a look of concern on her face as she passed Maggie with a handful of books. “Are you well, my dear?”

Maggie nodded as the feeling quickly passed. “I think I was eating to fast?” Maggie said with a smile. She stifled a yawn and decided too much of Homer’s Iliad in one day was not good for digestion.

The walk home was punctuated with small bouts of the same queasy feeling and it was all Maggie to do to make it safely back to the apartment without stopping.

That night, Maggie dreamed of a farm where she lived with a small boy and an old man and woman. She knew them, but they couldn’t see her. She shouted to them, but nothing came out of her mouth. Maggie screamed for attention, but they went about their daily lives without seeing her. Maggie awoke in a cold sweat shouting in a strange language. As she came fully awake and the dawn was creeping through the heavy curtains, Maggie sat up in bed and fumbled for the glass of water on her bedside table. Taking a long drinking, Maggie suddenly gagged, and bile welled up into her mouth. Struggling out of the bed and into the kitchen she only just managing to grasp the sink before she lost the contents of her stomach.


Blackmore had provided Maggie with more than enough money to survive for over three months, so she was trying to lower her food intake, but if anything, she was beginning to eat a little more than usual. It was during her next visit to the library a few days later that the sickness welled up and Maggie swayed a little but managed to make her way to the public bathroom. There she doused her face with cold water and leaned against the cold white porcelain sink, waiting for the sickness to pass. Maggie stood erect, gathered her things and made her way out of the library into the chilly late afternoon’s weak sunshine.

Back at home, she made tea and hoped her queasiness was the result of some passing bug. But the more she dwelled on the subject, the more she feared something else was the cause of her discomfort.

It was two days later, when Mary James had called to take Maggie for afternoon tea in the local tea-toom, the same queasiness overcame her. Maggie suddenly blanched and let out an almost inaudible, “Oh no. Not again.”

Mary looked at her friend with grave concern as “What’s the matter? You look as white as a sheet.”

“I feel a little sickly. This is the third time in as many days. I do hope I’m not sickening for something.”

Mary placed her teacup on the saucer and sat back in her chair. The tea-room was mostly empty, and nobody was within earshot of them. “How long has Richard been away?”

“Richard? Why, nearly a month now,” Maggie said, dabbing at the perspiration on her forehead with a handkerchief. “Why do you ask?”

“And how long since your last…” Mary left the questions end slip away into the ether, instead giving Maggie a raised eyebrow and a you know stare.

At first Maggie didn’t understand and then the penny dropped. “Oh, I see. Well, since my ordeal I haven’t had anything like that… you know. Doctor Henderson, that is Richard’s Doctor, tells me it will be awhile before I start again. Why do you ask… oh, dear? You don’t think. No, it can’t be we…”

The silence between the two women was palpable.

“Did you and Richard…”

Maggie nodded, her face suddenly going from pale white to a deep red flush. “Yes.”

“Just once?”

Maggie nodded, then shook her head.

“More than once?”

Maggie nodded. “Yes… a lot more.”

“Oh, dear God, Maggie. Are you pregnant?”

Copyright Tom Kane © 2018

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MARCH 15, 1931

APRIL 15, 1912



















This is a first draft, so please forgive spelling & grammatical errors. Context and characters may change between now and the final publication date.

When published as an eBook and paperback at the end of 2018, this book will be the first in a trilogy: The Brittle Sea, The Brittle Land and The Brittle Sky.

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

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Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

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