The Jewel by Joanie Spiegel by Joanie Spiegel - Read Online

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The Jewel - Joanie Spiegel

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Chapter 1

Bell Lane

The early morning was just appearing over the horizon as a mixture of orange and yellow lights crept into a small room of No 3 Bell Lane. On the windowsill, a small bird with a glorious orange-red breast began tapping away at the windowpane.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, it got louder and louder. Slowly, the bird started to make a high-pitched warbling noise at the window being suddenly opened; a young hand reached out for the little bird, the bird hopped on the small outstretched finger.

Good morning, Mr Robin and how are you today? Asked the young voice. The face of the pale, thin-looking boy by the window looked down at the bird.

The boy’s face seemed to light up on seeing the robin reaching inside the room. He eagerly placed some food on the windowsill and watched the small bird, with his hand folded under the chin, as it pecked away at the seeds. Sadness filled the boy’s eyes as he gazed out at the clear sky that was slowly changing colour before him and began to cry.

Jack was twelve years old and lived with his father in a small village in the heart of lovely Worcestershire countryside. He had lived here all of his life and the view from his window was of rolling hills with sheep and cows that looked like tiny spots on a landscape. A lovely place for a boy of his age. The school was at least half an hour by bus and there was only one more boy living in his lane.

Jack’s mum had died about a year ago while she had been walking down the lane one morning returning from local shops. A large lorry came hurtling around the sharp bend; losing control, it tried to avoid her but it was too late. Since her death, Jack felt like someone had switched off the light and he belonged in the dark. Jack’s father had to work such long hours and tried to be a father as well as a mother to him. They never talked about his mum; the pain was too great.

Jack gazed out through his tears over the early morning sky, it felt quite cold even though it was the start of summer.

Mum! Are you out there? Where have you gone to? I miss you so much, his small voice echoed around him as more tears filled his eyes. The small robin had suddenly stopped eating and was looking straight at him. Jack looked down at the bird and their eyes met; it felt like the bird was trying to say something to him with its tiny black eyes. A swift wave of stillness took over Jack, he felt oddly safe with his feathered friend, as if his mum had put her arms around him and held him close; he couldn’t explain it. Jack put his hands on his wet face and held them there until the tears began to ease.

A short way down the lane sat a very old, broken-down cottage which had been empty for years. On its roof, there was a funny-shaped chimney pot, it looked like it was ready to fall at any moment. Perched on the chimney was an enormous black bird. This crow had eyes that were inky black as they flashed from the reflection of the morning sun. The eyes were watching Jack intently. It never moved; its pointy bill was sharp as a razor and gave the bird the look as if it was grinning – this was an extraordinary crow… the air suddenly began to change – Jack had stopped crying and slowly took his hands away from his face. The robin had gone but there appeared to be an awful smell. A gust of cold wind blew across his face; he shivered. Jack closed his window, a sickness welled in his stomach. He really felt quite odd!

As he sat on his bed for a while hoping it would pass, he slowly and gradually began to feel more himself and started to get dressed. He brushed his teeth and looked in the mirror. The face that looked back at him was thin and sickly-looking, his eyes were bright red from crying – oh he missed his mum so much, it hurt his chest. He had such an ache inside – when would it stop??

Jack made his way downstairs and heaved a great sigh. It was the beginning of summer holidays and he had no one to hang out with; the sickness welled up inside again. How was he going to get through the long, lonely days with his father always at work? Unknown to Jack, something was about to change his life forever.

Meanwhile, outside the front garden, the robin was perched on a nearby hedge. His little button eyes watched the crow who had spread his magnificent wings and was about to take flight. A deep, raspy voice floated across the air towards the robin, You had better do something soon Erithacus, or else he is mine! Suddenly and without warning, the crow swooped down towards the robin, his wings spread wide. The sky had gone very dark; the robin did not move as the hedge it was perched on began to shake violently. The crow flew so very close but then swooped away towards the large oak trees on the hill.

It went quiet and still, then a bright light flashed by the hedge where the robin had been, a tall figure stepped out from the hedge and gazed up at Jack’s window. The figure had hair that lay like a gold and white gown that shimmered, reflecting amazing colours of the rainbow. He was an angel, a messenger from heaven and a guardian to Jack. The time was running out; he would have to act quickly before the crow returned, but was Jack ready? With another flash of light, the tall figure had changed back into the robin