Excerpt: 1857 Dust of Ages Vol II

‘There is a way that does not relinquish hope, turns in the right corridor,

Goes down into the darkness to the old, lost things…’

‘Corridor on the right.’ Ruth looked from the small door of the zenana to the stairway. ‘Leads into darkness.’

‘Literally, it would be to climbs down into the darkness,’ Shiv puzzled over the words.

‘Climbs down,’ Ruth looked at the staircase.

‘But the stairs lead up, not down.’ Shiv tried to follow Ruth’s mind.   At the base of the stairs was a small platform made of marble slabs, same as the stairs.  After ten steps, the narrow stairway curved at a dangerous angle and ended on the upper storey.

Ruth went down on her knees and began tapping the platform excitedly. The enclosure echoed with the dull thud of the stone. ‘I am sure there is something here,’ Ruth whispered.

‘Of course, the zenana. Full of intrigues…’ Shiv muttered as he too went down and began examining the stone slabs closely. The stonework on the floor was solid. After a few minutes, he gave up. ‘I think this is too fanciful.’ Shiv shook his head and gave up.  He put his hand against the wall another latticed window to rise. The metal strap of the wrist watch struck against the wall. Ruth and Shiv froze as the metallic twang resounded through the silence. They froze at the sound.

‘This isn’t stone,’ Shiv whispered in shock. ‘This is… metal.’

Excitedly Ruth rushed to kneel beside Shiv and began tapping the wall trying to mark out the part of the wall that emitted the metallic clang. Shiv followed suit; and in a few minutes, they had marked the section, almost fifty inches high, that was emitting metallic sounds. A clever coat of colouring camouflaged the section with the rest of the wall. The latticed window with a view of the township, the stairway leading to the upper storey – these were enough to distract attention.

‘What a woman! What a clever, clever woman!’ Ruth muttered.



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