From Tyrian Dreams, by Notty Bumbo:

From "Dreams of Contentment"

Abrahim found himself welcomed in Monferrato, in the Jewish quarter, by a distant cousin, Shiram, and his large family. He was given a spacious room in their large and grand home, the size and splendor of which he knew no similar kind. “Cousin,” he said to Shiram, with undisguised amazement, “how is it that a Jew can own such a palace?” Shiram laughed.


“This, dear Abrahim, is not Jerusalem, it is Italia, and here Jews are welcome and generously so by those of other faiths, nearly as equals. Of course, it does not make sense to antagonize the Christians, but one may engage in commerce on equal terms, if not always the same way in personal matters. You will see, given a few weeks, just how different Monferrato can be from the sad conditions you knew in the Jerusalem of your childhood.” And his word proved true for Abrahim, who within a very short time was welcomed into the synagogue, secured a good location for his business, and within seven months of his arrival, found himself married to a good wife, Laena. And within a year of his marriage, he was the proud father of his first son.


Abrahim’s business grew steadily. His dyes proved popular with the silk makers and the linen makers alike, especially his reds and purples that were acclaimed as unlike any the weavers had previously found. His Tyrian purple, especially, found favor among the royalty, some as far away as Rome itself. His fortunes grew steadily, and within three years, he had begun a second business along the Mediteranean for the harvest of the snails and the gathering of their secretions, and the accumulation of other foundation materials for his wonderful dyes. When he wrote to his father that things went well, he received in reply congratulations, but cautions, as well. “Always remember, my son, we Jews are like a goat that bleats softly in the morning, but whose cries in the night issue from the brambles. Always have a route open should sudden travel be forced upon you. The horses of fear are as real as those ridden by Mamluks.” Abrahim found himself disturbed greatly by his father’s choice of words, and wondered how his father could not see that here, in green and generous Italy, life was very different for Jews, and there was nothing to fear in this wonderful place, not at all like Canaan. Here, wine was sweeter, people more generous, and the sun warmed but did not burn. He would raise his family in peace and prosperity, and perhaps entice his father and brother to come and leave behind the old world for the new.

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 From "Dreams of  Memory"

“Sylvie, tell me about the letter, from Mr. Jacquard, wasn’t it? He is the man who we found, wasn’t he?” She kept looking at Sylvie, and gave a momentary glance at her partner, but he seemed content to let Albright take the lead.


Without raising her head, Sylvie Godtshalk spoke. “Our true name was Levinstein. My father changed it to Godtshalk, because it was German, although there were also Godtshalks in France, Poland, many places. There were many spellings, I don’t know why my father chose that one, but they all mean the same thing – God’s servant. After we left Germany, before the war actually began, my father and his brothers knew things were getting bad for our people, and the entire family of the Levinstein’s fled Germany. We did not know then the horror of what was to come would follow us. My uncles took their families to England and Switzerland. They could rebuild their businesses there. My father hoped to build a branch of the family business in Lyon, as it was a big center for textiles, especially tapestries.” She picked up her head, looking at Albright again. She picked up the glass of water, and took a long swallow. “He used to travel down to the Mediterranean, once a month, to bring back the Murex, the snails for the dye.”


Albright, now thoroughly confused, interrupted Sylvie, “I’m sorry, dye? Snails?”


Sylvie seemed to almost smile for a moment. She continued, her accent sharpening as she moved deeper into her story. “The Murex, the sea snail, its gland was used to make the Tyrian purple, the color of royalty. It was a very difficult dye to make, and my father and his brothers had been handed down the secrets of it’s creation from their grandfather, and he from his own grandfather. There were more modern dyes, made with chemicals, which our family had been very involved with inventing, but this color was unique, ancient, from the old and long dead  city of Tyre, of Phoenicia, and maybe older. My father said the Minoan people also had something like it, and modern chemicals could not duplicate it. It was expensive to make, and expensive to wear. Its formula was the most important thing my father owned.”  She paused for a moment, breathing slowly as the recollections gathered in her mind. “There was no real need for the color any longer, but he felt, I think, the knowledge could be lost if it was not exercised. He was unable to make large amounts, as the numbers of Murex had diminished over many centuries. But he had a few customers…” Here she cast her eyes down toward the table. “My mother told me many years later he provided the fabrics he dyed with the Tyrian purple to synagogues, always in secret. She said he was ashamed to have to hide who he was, who we were, but survival of his family was the most important thing.”


Albright understood, now, about the box. “The box, with the scrolls, and the bottle. That was from your father, wasn’t it?”


Sylvie nodded. “Somehow, that man learned about it, I do not understand how he could have. My step-father shipped the box to me and it arrived two days before the letter from that – man.” She closed her eyes again, shaking her head back and forth for a few moments. “My step-father had included only a small note to explain what the box contained, that my mother had brought it with her when we’d fled France, but I have no memory of seeing it before it arrived here. And he said to keep it hidden, that someone was trying to find it. So when the letter from this man arrived, I knew I had to prevent him from getting my father’s formula. I took out the original parchment and what it contained, and hid them in my closet. I had some old writing paper I tore from a pad my mother carried with her from France. It looked very old, and I used a fountain pen to write a false formula for the dye that had most of the correct ingredients, but all in wrong proportions. I folded the paper and rubbed it until it looked old and well-traveled, then put it into the box.” She sat up a little straighter in her chair.  Albright smiled inwardly. There had been no departure from the norm for Sylvie – her every act was done with intention, as focused as she was habitual in her daily endeavors. Albright realized she’d need to be more careful about jumping to conclusions as easily in the future.


“I knew, however, from what he had written in the letter, especially from the picture and what he’d drawn over it, that he was very dangerous, that it might not be enough for him to take the secret. To see that picture of the Murex shell, with the yellow Star of David drawn over the top of the picture, it was horrible. That night, after the letter arrived, I became very frightened, and I apparently cried loudly as I slept. Mr. Sommers must have heard the sound. He stays in the shed in that yard back there, behind my house. He came to my door, and knocked until I woke and came to answer. I found myself telling him about the letter, and why I was afraid. I do not know what made me tell him these things, but I think I was very afraid for my life. Mr. Sommers told me to not worry, that he would keep an eye on me.” She suddenly started to cough, and took a few minutes to recover. She brushed her hair back from her face, then smoothed her hands across her lap, as though preparing for the start of the day. She looked as though she had aged another twenty years in one night.


Now, both detectives were focused completely on Sylvie Godtshalk. “I decided I needed an insurance policy, do you understand what that is?” She looked at Albright, then at Edwards. “I went to the liquor store and bought a bottle of dark rum. I emptied some out, then took a small amount of the Tyrian dye and mixed it into the rum. I tasted it to make sure it was not obvious. The taste was both bitter and sweet, but enough sweet that the bitter would disappear quickly. I knew it would make anyone sick, if they drank a small glassful. I hoped I would not have to use it, but I knew this man wanted revenge, for what he believed his father had suffered.”


Albright again interrupted Sylvie. “What about his father? Why would he want revenge?”

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