"What are you doing, sweetheart?"
I glanced up. Junius stood there, hatless, his salted hair blowing into his face, one hand shielding his eyes.
"Look, Junius," I said breathlessly. "Look at what I've found. The bank broke away there was a heron and I found this. It's a basket, but I've never seen its like. I think"
He jumped down, sliding on the mud, splashing. His rawboned hands ran along the coils. "Damn right it's a basket. Biggest one I've ever seen." He shouted, "Tom! Lord Tom, come here!"
Lord Tom hurried over, peering over the bank. "What?"
Junius grabbed the shovel from my hand. Tom grabbed the pick and joined Junius, and there was nothing for me to do but watch impatiently as they dug it out. The two of them had the basket mostly clear in the time it had taken me to dig an inch.
Junius threw the shovel aside and rocked it as I had tried to do, and Lord Tom grabbed the other side and shoved, and between the two of them, they had it lifted from its clay bed and shouldered onto the bank. It was half as tall as Lord Tom, coming to Junius's hips. Clay still clung to it in clumps. Junius brushed it away, revealing a beautiful, intricate pattern of geometric lines and figures, a combination I'd never seen, black against what had once no doubt been a creamy pale, but which was now discolored where the clay had leached into it.
Junius glanced at me. "Well, what do you think's inside?"
I pushed him gently aside. I took hold of the looped handle and rocked the lid a little. I had to force myself to go slowly. Finally the mud crumbled; the lid loosened. I lifted it away just as the sun came from behind a passing cloud, illuminating the contents.
"Oh dear God," I breathed.
It was a body, crouched in a fetal position, brown hair that looked almost reddish in the light.
Excerpted from Bone River by Megan Chance. Copyright © 2012 by Megan Chance. Excerpted by permission of Amazon Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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