It's the 1920s and the height of the diamond trade. Christophe Beladore is a young man seeking work in beautiful Belgium. When the already-mysterious Leonaise Diamond goes missing once again, no suspicions are aroused until it fails to reappear for the last time. Suddenly there is turmoil all over Belgium and Christophe finds himself in the middle of it all.
The clouds bloomed into the sky that heavy weekend mid-afternoon. There was something rhythmical about the church bell chimes calling the way to weary travellers. Christophe Beladore was one such weary traveller, but his destination was not that of a church. He strolled against the flow, tucking his hands into his trouser pockets, and watched as the world rushed by. Person followed person in an unbeaten row. They forced themselves through the crowd, and Christophe strolled onwards, unconcerned by the speed of the flow. A jostle at his elbow led him to look up into the face of a young woman.
She was fiercely beautiful, and this was more than noticed by Christophe in the split second he had to lock his piercing blue eyes with her similarly-coloured ones. She wore a dress of plum-red, rather behind the times in its ankle-length, white gloves clutching at an equally-toned parasol.
Also as part of her wear was a not a frantic expression, but a puzzled one of a lady not used to the small walkways and diversity of climates that were present in Belgium. Too, the lady blushed when she realised that she had collided with a person. However, deep within her eyes was a hard glance.
“Excusez-moi…” she mumbled, leading herself around Christophe.
As he watched her running away, her rose hat unpinned, letting the lady’s night-coloured hair pour out. Taken along by the wind, the hat floated its way to Christophe. He could do all but stare as he caught the hat; the lady had hurried into the crowd of churchgoers, the chance of returning her property was slim.
Christophe shrugged to himself and continued his journey along the ridges of the town’s pathways. As the hill’s gradient increased, Christophe climbed, readying himself to meet the house there.
It was not long before he was out of the main stream of churchgoers and into a side street, standing at the door of a house that belonged to Georges Marrette, a friend of Christophe’s parents, and the man with which he intended to board.
The door of the jagged-roofed house swung opened the instant Christophe knocked and before him stood a balding gentleman, presumed to be in his forties. At first, he narrowed his eyes at the well-travelled stranger on the doorstop, and burbled at him in rapid Flemish. It was representative of a greeting, but not particular a pleasant one.
Christophe raised his eyebrows, startled.
“Pardon?” he said.
“Ah.” The man’s expression changed. “Tu parle francais… You must be Christophe!”
“That is correct.” Christophe bowed his head.
“I didn’t recognise you for a minute,” Georges Marrette continued to burble in Christophe’s own language this time. “Last time I saw you, you were just a boy, but now you have changed into a grand young man.
“Welcome to Belgium.”