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The Jewels of Sofia Tate

The Jewels of Sofia Tate

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The Jewels of Sofia Tate

valutazioni:
3/5 (1 valutazione)
Lunghezza:
218 pagine
3 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
May 4, 2009
ISBN:
9781554886487
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Fifteen-year-old Garnet Walcott is lonely and has a hard time making new friends when she moves to Kitchener, Ontario. Her mother, already preoccupied with work, has begun a search for a father she never knew. By chance, Garnet meets and befriends Elizabeth Tate, an elderly widow who tells Garnet that a priceless set of heirloom jewels dating back to Russian nobility may be hidden in her Victorian home. Elizabeth shows Garnet an intriguing portrait of her late mother-in-law, Sofia Tate, wearing sapphires and diamonds.

Garnet is introduced to Dan Peters, one of the most popular boys at school, and when Elizabeth suffers a heart attack, Garnet persuades him to help her find the jewels for Elizabeth. Do the jewels really exist? Garnet believes they do, and drawing on that faith, she follows the clues left by Elizabeth's late eccentric, religious father-in-law and discovers much more than she bargained for.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
May 4, 2009
ISBN:
9781554886487
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Doris Etienne received her bachelor of arts in German and French from Sir Wilfrid Laurier University. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario.

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Anteprima del libro

The Jewels of Sofia Tate - Doris Etienne

wouldn’t.

1

Missing Jewels

Kitchener, May 2000

The scent of lilacs, heavy in the late afternoon heat, drifted over to the front porch step of the townhouse where Garnet sat. She took a sip of her cool, pink lemonade and watched as the stooped figure of a plump, elderly woman in a flowered dress sluggishly made her way along the sidewalk with her wooden cane.

Though the street itself was a quiet oasis, the honking of horns and occasional sirens on the surrounding downtown Kitchener streets irritated Garnet more than usual today.

It was Friday, the start of the Victoria Day weekend, and everyone seemed to have somewhere to go and something to do. Everyone except her. Not that this was entirely unexpected, she supposed, living in a new city.

She hadn’t wanted to move. In fact, she had fought tooth and nail against the idea, and now that she and her mother were here, her nightmare had been realized. Cameron Heights was the worst high school on earth. Everyone there was so unfriendly.

The woman was closer now, almost in front of Garnet, and seemed to be slowing down. She stopped to mop her brow with a white handkerchief before taking a few more unsteady steps. Suddenly, she stumbled, her cane flying to one side and her purse to the other. She landed on the grass, her legs sprawled before her.

Oh! Garnet cried. Her cup rattled as she set it down on the step, and she stood up, puzzled for a moment, wondering what to do. Should she go help the woman or would she get up by herself? But the woman sat as though she were in a daze. Garnet hopped down the step and hurried to her side. Are you okay? she asked.

The woman’s pale blue eyes fluttered behind her gold-rimmed glasses. Y-yes, I think so, she replied breathlessly. I don’t know what happened. It-it must be this heat. She put a hand to her chest and said, My pills. They’re in my purse.

Garnet reached for the cream leather purse and unzipped it. Her eyes bulged as she spotted an unsealed envelope with a bundle of brown hundred-dollar bills jutting out of the end. She pushed the envelope aside and pulled out a blue prescription bottle.

These? she asked, holding up the bottle.

The woman nodded. Garnet fumbled with the security cap and, with shaking fingers, placed a tiny, white pill into the palm of the woman’s hand. She popped it into her mouth and allowed it to dissolve under her tongue while Garnet sat down on the grass beside her, wondering whether she should be calling an ambulance.

I’m feeling better now, the woman announced after several minutes. I think I’ll be on my way. Thank you, dear. She reached for her purse and, with a trembling arm, placed the tip of her cane onto the sidewalk, pinching her eyes closed as she mustered the strength to pull herself up into a standing position. But no sooner was she up than she sank back down again onto the grass, defeated by her own uncooperative body.

Do you want me to call someone to come pick you up? Garnet asked.

The woman shook her head. No, no, that won’t be necessary. I’ll be better in a few minutes. I just need to wait a little longer.

Wait a little longer. Now what? Garnet thought. Should she go back to the house and leave the woman here on the grass to regain her strength? She noted the woman’s flushed face. We have air conditioning, she offered. Do you want to come inside and cool down?

The woman didn’t reply right away. Instead, she looked at Garnet as though summing up her appearance, her eyes fixed on her hair. Without thinking, Garnet put her fingers up to her ponytail of red curls. Was there something wrong with her hair? Why didn’t the woman just answer?

So, do you want to come in or not? Garnet asked again, trying to keep the impatience out of her voice.

The woman blinked. You ... I ... uh, yes, she stammered, frowning.

Garnet bit her generous lower lip. So, is that a yes?

The woman nodded. Yes, she said, and she tried to get up again.

Here, I’ll help you. Garnet sprang to her feet and slipped an arm around the woman’s cushiony middle. She was taller and heavier than Garnet had expected, and as she strained to lift the woman, Garnet hoped that she didn’t fall back on top of her own slight frame. Garnet took her arm, and couldn’t help but notice how the reflection of the sun sparkled brightly across the huge blue sapphire, encircled by diamonds, in the woman’s ring.

Garnet pushed open the door of the townhouse and guided the woman to the black leather couch in the living room. Would you like a glass of lemonade or water or something?

Water would be wonderful, dear. The woman leaned back on the couch, pulling the skirt of her dress over her round knees and straightening out the gold locket necklace in front of her. She patted her short, white curls and appeared more comfortable in the coolness of the air-conditioned room.

Garnet returned to her side a few moments later and handed her a glass.

She took it and sipped gratefully. Ah, much better. Thank you. And I do believe I’ve forgotten my manners. My name is Elizabeth Tate.

I’m Garnet Walcott. Nice to meet you, Mrs. Tate.

It’s very nice to meet you, too, Garnet, but please, call me Elizabeth. So many people have called me Mrs. Tate in my lifetime that sometimes I like to be reminded of my first name.

Garnet smiled. There was something she liked about this woman. Okay, Elizabeth, she said, taking a seat in the armchair across from her. But when she looked up, she noticed the woman’s eyes on her again, causing her to shift uneasily in the chair. Garnet felt relieved when Elizabeth began to speak.

I’m sorry to have bothered you. An old body like mine just doesn’t work the same as a lovely young one like yours. And lovely you are. Please forgive me for staring, but I’ve not seen a copper head of hair as beautiful as yours in quite a long time.

Thanks, Garnet said, and she felt her face flush as it did when any compliment came her way. My mother was actually going to call me Angela if I was a girl — I mean, before I was born — but when she saw my hair, she decided on Garnet instead. You know, like the jewel. Guess it’s better than Ruby, she said, rolling her eyes.

Elizabeth chuckled. It’s a very good name and your mother was right. It does suit you. She took another sip of her drink, then pointed to the chair Garnet was sitting in. That chair. I have a pair of them nearly like that, only they’re looking more worn. Yours looks wonderful.

Oh, thanks, Garnet said, pleased that she had noticed it amongst their eclectic mix of furniture. Mom and I picked it up dirt cheap a couple of years ago at a yard sale outside of Owen Sound, where we used to live. The seat was ripped out and the wooden arms were all scratched up, but Mom — she loves this stuff — said, ’Let’s get that chair. It’ll be beautiful when we’re done with it.’ So we took it home and refinished it. We’re going to work on an antique dining room table next — that is, when my mother finds the time.

If she ever finds the time. But Garnet didn’t say that. The thing was, Garnet didn’t see any point in refinishing any more furniture, as long as they lived in this place. The antique furniture had been perfect in their Victorian house in Owen Sound, but here, it looked out of place with the modern architecture.

Very lovely, Elizabeth said. So, how long have you lived in Kitchener?

Only a few weeks, Garnet replied. Five weeks to the day, to be exact.

And how do you like it?

Garnet shrugged. I miss my friends.

Of course. Elizabeth nodded with understanding. Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Garnet shook her head. No. It’s just me and my mom. My parents got divorced when I was seven and my dad travels all over the world for his job. I don’t see him much.

I see, Elizabeth replied. So, I suppose you miss him a little, too?

Garnet shrugged. Hardly. He calls sometimes and I saw him last year when he was in Toronto. But it’s really not that much different from when I was a kid. He was never around much then, either.

Elizabeth’s eyes narrowed. How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?

I’ll be sixteen in September.

Somehow you seem older than your years. Elizabeth set the empty glass down on the coffee table, then pursed her lips as she glanced at her watch. Well, I’d best be going home. She stood up and leaned on her cane to steady herself. Thank you for the water.

Would you like me to walk with you? Garnet asked.

Oh, I couldn’t trouble you, dear. I’ll be fine.

It would be no trouble. I’d like to go with you, Garnet found herself insisting, surprising even herself with her interest in this woman. What was the matter with her? Why did she care? This woman was a total stranger in a city she had so far found to be only unfriendly. And yet she felt inexplicably drawn to her.

Elizabeth tilted her head. All right then. If you’d like to, let’s go.

Garnet matched the woman’s snail-like pace as they walked under the shade of the tall oaks and maples that lined the streets in this part of the city. The houses were at least a hundred years old, each one unique and different from the one next to it. Her mother told her that houses like this once stood where Garnet’s townhouse was, until a developer knocked them down a few years ago and built a modern condominium complex in their place.

This is it, Elizabeth said when they reached one of the houses in a quiet cul-de-sac just a few doors away from Victoria Park.

Garnet looked up at the facade that greeted them. You live here?

I do, Elizabeth panted as she strained to make it up the four wide steps of the stone verandah that wrapped around the left side of the house. It’s been my home since 1940, but that still hasn’t been enough time to — never mind, she finished, suddenly tight-lipped.

The grand red-brick house was three storeys tall, including the attic space. White paint was beginning to flake on the balcony over the verandah and on the gingerbread trim decorating the gables, but overall, the house appeared to be in fairly good shape. The upper panes of the windows still held the original stained glass. A brass lion knocker adorned the heavy oak front door.

Elizabeth opened her purse and pushed aside the bulky envelope with the wad of hundred-dollar notes. Here we are, she said, pulling out her keys. No sooner had she unlocked the door than a yellow-brown cat appeared in the hall to greet her with a low meow and nudged at Elizabeth’s ankles with affection. Hello, Ginger. How’s my pet? She’s the first loyal cat I’ve ever owned, Elizabeth confided.

Do you think you’ll be all right? Garnet asked, noticing how flushed the woman’s face had become again just from the walk home.

I’ll be fine. There’s nothing to worry about. Now that I’m home, I’ll put my feet up and have a rest. I’ll be as good as new.

Garnet wasn’t so convinced and found herself saying, Why don’t I leave you my number? You can call me if you don’t feel well. Do you have any paper? She could hardly believe her own ears. What in the world was wrong with her? She hadn’t made any friends in five weeks at school and here she was, offering her phone number to an old lady she had only just met. Had she become that desperate for a friend?

I do. Just a moment, Elizabeth said. She rummaged through her purse, pulling up several dogeared receipts. The bulky envelope, which had pushed itself up, unexpectedly jumped out and fell at Garnet’s feet. She bent down and handed it back to Elizabeth.

Oh, thank you, dear, Elizabeth said, frowning at it before she shoved it back into her purse.

The question was on the tip of Garnet’s tongue: why was Elizabeth carrying around so much cash? She was dying to ask her, but she supposed it was really none of her business.

Elizabeth handed her a pen and one of the old receipts. Garnet quickly scribbled her name and phone number before handing them back to her.

Now, if you’re not feeling good, call me. I’ll drop by sometime tomorrow and see how you’re doing, Garnet said.

Elizabeth’s face brightened. Well, I’d enjoy that very much. But don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. Thank you for taking care of me and seeing that I arrived home safely. Not many people nowadays would take the time.

Garnet said goodbye and headed home. She was still worried about Elizabeth.

A ray of morning sunshine streamed between the slats and into Garnet’s eyes. Stupid blinds, she muttered. They had ruined a perfectly good Saturday morning sleep-in. She turned her head and squinted at the clock on her night stand. Nine o’clock. She yawned and stretched before she rolled out of bed.

Downstairs, her mother was already up, sitting in her bathrobe, pecking away at the computer on the desk in the dining room. An empty space occupied the middle of the room where a table should have been.

Good morning, Garnet, her mother said. Her eyes, the same shade of violet as Garnet’s, looked over the top of the dark-framed glasses that she wore for reading and working on the computer. Her hair, unlike Garnet’s, was straight and cut short. It used to be brown before she started dying it auburn to cover the grey.

Morning, Mom. Garnet sat down in the chair beside her and looked at the screen. Still searching for that skeleton in your closet?

Oh, Garnet! Why do you say it that way? Garnet’s mother had recently discovered that her father, whom she had never known and thought to be dead, could still be alive. Using his name, she had begun an Internet search to seek any information she might find about him.

Garnet giggled. You know I’m just kidding.

Her mother clucked her tongue and rose from the chair. Do you want to use the computer while I go make some breakfast?

Sure.

What would you like?

French toast.

Okay.

Garnet took her mother’s seat and clicked on her email. She hoped there would be one today and silently cheered when she saw there was. It was from Amy, her best friend. They had been sending emails every day since Garnet had moved. Well, almost every day. It was more like every two to three days now. In fact, Garnet calculated, it had actually been a week since she had last received one. She had sent Amy two in the meantime. She wondered what kept Amy so busy that she didn’t reply sooner. The emails were her only link left to any friendships at all. Especially since she had not yet made any new friends at school.

Garnet noted the time this last email had been sent. Last night at midnight. When Garnet had already been in bed for two hours.

Hey, Garnet!

What’s up? How’s life out in Kitchener? Any better? Things are awesome here! I can’t wait til this weekend. Jody’s sleeping over tonight and tomorrow night we’re hitting one of the coolest parties! Kurt Henderson’s!! Ahh! I’m so psyched! Parent-free and the coolest people will be there!!! I wish you were here. We’d have so much fun! Party time! Hehe. The only thing is, my parents would totally freak if they found out, so they think I’m sleeping over at Jody’s. It’s going to be such funness!! Anyways, talk to you later.

Lotsa luv

A.

Garnet sat back in the chair, slightly dazed. Kurt Henderson! He was the most popular guy at their high school and was known for partying. Not that Garnet or Amy had ever gone to any of the parties he’d been at — they had only heard about them. Their mothers would never have allowed them to go.

And Jody! Jody was in Grade 11, a year ahead of Garnet and Amy. She lived down the

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  • (3/5)
    fun to read but not a great novel, interesting because it's local (Kitchener), pretty predictable plot, characters not very well developed, Christianity & church attendance treated as normal, good portrayal of relationships