Read an Excerpt
A Shadow of TreasonA NOVEL
By Tricia Goyer
MOODY PUBLISHERSCopyright © 2007 Tricia Goyer
All right reserved.
Chapter OneNo one told the rescuers not to talk, yet instinctively they sifted through the bits of brick and shards of glass as quietly as possible, alert for the slightest sound of human life beneath the rubble of the tailor shop.
Deion Clay paused for a minute and wiped his brow with a soot-blackened handkerchief. He refused to look at the other buildings surrounding him, reduced to heaps. The sight caused a deep ache in his gut. All he knew was underneath this pile a few families had taken refuge in the basement.
Deion had been walking through the streets sometime in the night, offering help to the injured, when he heard the cries for help. And although they had fallen silent for the past few hours, he clung to the faintest hope. It was all he had.
Though hundreds of rescuers had swarmed the area last night, fighting the flames, most citizens from Guernica had since bundled up every meager possession they could scrounge and headed out of town with oxcarts carrying the children and old women. Perhaps twenty still worked alongside Deion, their skin made even blacker by soot than his natural color. They continued to dig, refusing to give up hope for the missing wife, son, or brother.
The attack had been devastating. Bombers had filled the skies in two waves that lasted nearly an hour each. Smoke continued to sting his eyes, and he again wiped away the tears. What the bombs hadn't destroyed, the fire had. Yet Deion understood why the handful of workers stayed, and he vowed to stay with them. How could one walk away from his whole existence without knowing that every last stone was overturned? He knew they'd give their all in hope of one more person being pulled from the rubble alive.
As Deion sifted through the debris, he sifted his motives as well. To find life under the wreckage meant he'd come for a purpose. To save a life would prove Spain hadn't been a mistake after all.
He sucked in a deep breath of recommitment and surveyed the rubble for the line of least resistance. So far they had excavated several feet of a narrow hallway leading to the basement. They were on the right track. They had to be.
"Here, amigo." An older Spanish man handed him a shovel.
Digging in, Deion worked to dislodge the powdered plaster and brick. He scooped a pile and dumped it into a dented pail on the ground behind him. Without a word, the Spanish man passed it back down the line, where another man dumped it into the street.
The men around him scurried around as one, not needing words. The ragged line moved like the black ants Deion had watched as a boy. Working in unison under the intense Mississippi sun, they had quietly moved mounds of dirt thousands of times their own weight. These men seemed to be doing the same. Their wide eyes showed their emotions fluctuating between fear, disbelief, and weariness. Just yesterday, before the German planes swept over the small Spanish town, they'd been bankers, farmers, and schoolteachers. Now that world no longer existed.
Just as America no longer seemed to exist to Deion. The land of freedom, of opportunity. The land where men walked the street without ears pricked for the slightest sound of enemy bombers. Such peace seemed like something from a child's storybook.
Sure, things had been tough back home, with the recent economic depression and all, but it was nothing like this. And, he hoped, it never would be. Deion shook his head, unable to imagine New York City or Chicago under attack with bankers and businessmen sifting rubble caused by enemy bombs. If he did his job well-if all the volunteers for liberty did-America would stay safe.
Deion turned to see some men coming toward him carrying wooden beams, broken and splintered. One man worked the beams into place between the ground and the top of ceiling to support the slow advance of those digging.
The tension in the pit of his stomach tightened with each strike of the shovel's tip. One wrong move could cause the whole thing to collapse onto the people still trapped underneath, crumbling like a tower of playing cards.
One man's soft moan grabbed Deion's attention. He reached under a brick near Deion's feet and pulled out a soggy brown paper package. With trembling fingers he untied the blackened string, revealing a gray suit coat. He said something in Spanish that Deion didn't understand. Had the coat belonged to a brother, a friend?
A choking sob issued from the man's throat. With a louder sob, he pressed his face into the lapel of the jacket as his trembling, clawlike fingers gripped the fabric.
The gray suit coat reminded Deion of one his friend Jeb had often worn while collecting money for Spain in the subways of New York. Some gave to the Communist cause, nickels and dimes mostly. But they wasted much more playing craps or buying drinks at the corner bar. And what difference would it have made if all those who talked of Spain had actually come? Would fifty, a hundred, five hundred more men have made the difference? Could scenes like this have been prevented?
A moaning wind rocked the branches of a scarred tree next to the shop and swept down into the rubble, caressing Deion's sweat-covered face. He pushed his shovel in deeper, then paused. He held up a hand, stilling the others.
A voice blended with the wind's moaning. It cried again for help. Yes, it was a woman's voice, joined by a baby's cry.
The man next to Deion called to her. Even though Deion couldn't understand all the words, he assumed the man was telling her to save her energy. No doubt they all realized it was possible the limited air supply could be used up before those trapped were reached. The baby's cries continued. A few minutes later they finally stilled, and Deion hoped the mother had comforted the infant in her arms. He refused to consider the alternative.
They pressed on to what Deion assumed was the door to the basement. Though it was still in its frame, it was twisted and crushed. Cautiously he pushed against it, gaining mere fractions of an inch with each groaning effort. When he could finally see past it, four faces peered up at him. Two women, a young girl, and a baby blinked at him, as if trying to focus. Deion didn't know if their wrinkled brows were due to the sunlight or the color of his skin. They'd most likely never expected a colored man to rescue them, especially after hearing the horrible tales of the Moors from Africa who fought with the Nationalists.
The woman studied Deion's face for a moment, then slowly blinked her eyes and handed him the baby. He snuggled the child to his chest, and a warmth surged through his frame. He'd never felt more alive.
But before he had a chance to hand the baby over, a loud rumbling in the distance filled his ears. Enemy ground forces. They could advance into the town by tomorrow. Or maybe sooner.
"Come." Deion reached his hand toward the woman, and though she didn't understand his English words, she reached for his hand and climbed out. The other woman and child followed-out of the darkness and into the light.
Chapter TwoSophie Grace lifted the thick blackout curtain, made from cloth once bought for nuns' habits, and allowed the red-tinted sunlight into the supply room. A recurring image filled her mind-the picture of the small child lying limp in her mother's arms. But it wasn't a nightmare. It was yesterday's memory, and one she couldn't shake.
Even from her grade-school days, Sophie had dreamt of being a mother. In her neighborhood she had called together the younger children and organized their play. Patiently, she'd read to them from her storybooks under the shade of the oak tree in front of her brick home in Boston. But the events of the last few days caused her to reconsider her dream.
Raising children wasn't only about showering love and attention, but about facing the hard things of this world. She'd seen parents trying to protect their little ones during bombing raids in Madrid. She witnessed the poverty of the Spanish countryside, where no one was protected from lack of food and supplies. And then there were the mothers and fathers weeping over babies lost in yesterday's bombing. She could see the shocked face of a young woman holding her dead child, crying his name over and over. Wouldn't it be better never to have known and loved a child than to lose one? Lose one in a war such as this?
With thoughts of motherhood came unwanted memories of Maria Donita. Sophie refused to let one thought linger on the beautiful young Spanish woman who carried Michael's child. Michael, the man she herself would have married by now. The child she should carry.
Even though she had new hope in a relationship with Philip, the pain of betrayal stung. Somehow it was easier to remember the Spanish mother's tormented expression than to think of those estranged images-the faces of Michael and Maria. The thought of them together.
Sophie wiped her eyes that brimmed with tears. Her gut ached, and she knew if she hurt this much for a child she didn't even know, she'd never survive the hardship and tragedy Spanish mothers faced daily.
It was something she was learning about herself-she didn't handle loss well. First she'd lost Michael to a sniper's bullet; then even her memories of their love were destroyed by the knowledge of his betrayal. Then her friend José was injured when they took a wrong turn and found themselves on the front lines. A brave American had rescued them and transported José to a hospital, never to be seen by her again. She'd heard he had recovered and traveled to Guernica, where he married his fiancée, Ramona. But now Sophie was here as well, and when she asked around, no one seemed to know him.
Throughout the war, Sophie discovered she was stronger in some ways but weaker in others than she had thought. Losing those she cared about always punched a gaping chasm in her soul.
In less hectic days she'd dealt with horrifying images, such as the mother and child, by taking up her sketchbook and pencil, or easel and paints. The only way to wash them from her memory and work them through her emotions was to commit them to paper.
Now the war had robbed her of an abundance of time to paint, to process. The convent overflowed with injured people, and the wounded continued to stagger in, due to the continued efforts of the few dozen rescuers who remained in town.
Flies covered the faces of the crying, injured children. They'd screamed for parents lost, but at least they lived. And thinking of them and their future made Sophie more determined to use her art to tell the story of the people's fight. If her paintings could make even the slightest difference ...
She realized the importance of getting her photographs and paintings of the bombing of Guernica to the press. The sooner the world knew the truth, the sooner others would fight for the cause of the Spanish people. But Sophie knew she would have to wait her turn. Survivors fought to get out-by cart, by vehicle, by rail.
Yet she wasn't really eager to leave, for two reasons. First, because every extra set of hands was needed to care for the sick and injured. Second, her time with Philip was short. Before long he'd return to the front lines, and who knew when she'd see him again? Yet another impending loss ...
The children had been some of the first to be evacuated by train to Bilbao, a coastal city just a few hours' drive west of Guernica, and hundreds more of the injured who were lucky enough followed them. Behind the "Iron Ring," a vast fortification of bunkers and trenches, they hoped to find safety.
Hospital workers struggled to care for those who remained, with no water, little light, few medications, and too few staff. Sophie mindlessly carried soiled bandages to a back room where a team of nuns worked diligently warming water on a woodstove. With solemn faces they scrubbed the bandages clean. Sophie handed them to Sister Josefina and was rewarded by a weary smile.
Like the nuns, Sophie had worked day and night with hardly any rest. And like them, Sophie had a clear view of the destruction from the convent's second-story window-the heaps of debris, people lying on mattresses outside the hospital, and others walking through the torn-up streets looking for missing family members.
Yet that was not the only view that troubled those who worked in the convent. Anyone who walked to the other side of the building and looked out the window could gaze upon the green slopes of Guernica leading to Lumo. The wealthy lived in that area. Their fine white homes still dotted the hills. And their churches and convents remained untouched.
Sophie had heard that the Astra-Unceta pistol, machine gun, and bomb factory remained untouched, as well as the stone bridge over the Mundaka and the two army barracks. Either the German bombers had completely missed their targets, or there was another reason they'd hit the center of this town-a reason that didn't make sense.
As yesterday was the customary market day, the town had been full of people. And when the church bell announced approaching planes, even those who found refuge in basements and dugouts were not safe.
First the bombs shattered the buildings. Then the firebombs burned them. Then came the fighter planes that machine-gunned those who ran from the fire.
She'd heard from one of the nurses that, in addition to the buildings, houses, and market, the small hospital in town had also been hit. All forty-two wounded militiamen who were being cared for there were killed. And on the outskirts of town, victims lined the fields waiting for burial. They had been killed in a variety of ways, mostly by fire. Though firefighters had battled the edges of the blaze that dominated the town, it had been impossible to penetrate farther inside the city center where the majority of people were taking shelter.
Yet the finest areas of the town and the richest among them had missed destruction. Why?
Sophie returned to the supply room, and with gloved hands removed the surgical instruments from the sterilizer and laid them on a tray. From the open window she saw a cold, thin rain falling straight from the dismal sky. The gray clouds looked like she felt.
Suddenly a pleading cry interrupted her thoughts, and she hurried toward the surgical room, wondering if she could help.
A young man's face was turned away, staring at a wall, refusing to look at the nurse. "Please, no, it will hurt!" he cried again.
"Try to relax. I am just going to look at it." The nurse's voice was calm but firm.
The young man winced as gloved hands probed his arm. Sophie could tell from his pale face that he was fighting nausea as his face faded to a pasty white.
A young girl-a sister or friend perhaps-sat on the hard wooden chair next to his bed, shivering.
Sophie hurried to their side and placed a hand on the girl's shoulder. Then she reached for the boy's free hand. "You're doing beautifully. It is almost over. Just a minute more. Oh, you have pretty hair, amiga. So curly."
The girl turned her attention away from the nurse and the blood on the boy's injured arm. She lifted a hand to her hair. "It's like my mother's hair."
The boy winced, and Sophie wasn't sure if it was because of the nurse's probing fingers or the mention of their mother.
"Do you have someplace to go after this?" Sophie asked. "Are you leaving town?"
The boy refused to meet Sophie's gaze. "Our home-it was not hit," he mumbled. "We were just in the market-that is how we were injured."
"Everyone else in our family is fine." The girl shrugged gracefully. "We are lucky, I suppose." She seemed embarrassed.
And even though Sophie didn't mean to, she looked at the two differently, wondering if their parents were pro-Franco. Is that why the homes of the wealthy were not hit? She was struggling for something to say when she heard footsteps behind her. She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned, looking into Philip's face and light blue eyes.
"You haven't gotten much sleep, Sophie," he said. "I think you should rest. I've asked one of the sisters to make up a room in the back."
"And what about you?" Sophie rose and squeezed his hand. "You've been as busy as I have." She gave one parting glance back to the boy and girl and blew out a sigh of relief, thankful for the distraction.
"There is a group of soldiers in the garden. I'm staying with them." Philip's tone made it clear he wanted no special treatment.
Excerpted from A Shadow of Treason by Tricia Goyer Copyright © 2007 by Tricia Goyer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.