The 1895-96 season promises to be an exceptional one for Amelia Peabody, her dashing Egyptologist husband Emerson, and their wild and precocious eight-year-old son Ramses. The much-coveted burial chamber of the Black Pyramid in Dahshoor is theirs for the digging.
But there is a great evil in the wind that roils the hot sands sweeping through the bustling streets and marketplace of Cairo. Amelia is alert to the likely presence of her arch nemesis the Master Criminal ' notorious looter of the living and the dead. But it is far more than ill-gotten riches that motivates the evil genius this time around. For now the most valuable and elusive prize of all is nearly in his grasp: the meddling lady archaeologist who has sworn to deliver him to justice ... Amelia Peabody!
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September 01, 1999
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Excerpt from Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters
My dear Peabody," said Emerson, "pray correct me if I am mistaken; but I sense a diminution of that restless ardor for living that is so noted a characteristic of yours, particularly upon occasions such as this. Since that happy day that saw us united, never a cloud has dimmed the beaming orb of matrimonial bliss; and that remarkable circumstance derives, I am certain, from the perfect communion that marks our union. Confide, I implore, in the fortunate man whose designated role is to support and shelter you, and whose greatest happiness is to share your own."
I felt certain Emerson must have worked this speech out in advance. No one talks like that in the course of ordinary conversation.
I knew, however, that the formality of his speech failed adequately to express the sincere devotion that had inspired it. My dear Emerson and I have been of one mind and one heart ever since the day we met inthe Egyptian Museum of Boulaq. (In actual fact, our first meeting was distinctly acrimonious. I was a mere tourist at that time, on my maiden visit to the land of the pharaohs; and yet, scarcely had I set foot on that fabled soil than the bright flame of Egyptological fervor was kindled in my bosom, a flame that soon became a roaring conflagration. Little did I suspect, that day in the museum, as I energetically defended myself against the unwarranted criticisms hurled at me by the fascinating stranger, that we would soon meet again, under even more romantic circumstances, in an abandoned tomb at El Amarna. The setting, at least, was romantic. Emerson, I confess, was not. However, a subtle instinct told me that beneath Emerson's caustic remarks and black scowls his heart beat only for me, and, as events proved, I was correct.)
His tender discernment was not at fault. A dark fore-boding did indeed shadow the joy that would normally have flooded my being at such a time. We stood on the deck of the vessel that had borne us swiftly across thebroad Mediterranean; the breeze of its passage across the blue waters ruffled our hair and tugged at our garments. Ahead we could see the Egyptian coast, where we would land before the day was over. We were about to enter upon another season of archaeological investigation, the most recent of many we had shared. Soon we would be exploring the stifling, bat-infested corridors of one pyramid and the muddy, flooded burial chamber of another-scenes that would under ordinary circumstances have inspired in me a shiver of rapturous anticipation. How many other women-particularly in that final decade of the nineteenth century-had somany reasons to rejoice?
Emerson-who prefers to be addressed by his surname, since he considers "Radcliffe" affected and effeminate (his very words)-had chosen me as his equal partner, not only in marriage, but in the profession we both have the honor to adorn. Emerson is the finest excavator of Egyptian antiquities the world has seen. I do not doubt his name will be revered as "The Father of Scientific Excavation" as long as civilization endures upon this troubled globe. And my name-the name of Amelia Peabody Emerson-will be enshrined alongside is.
Forgive my enthusiasm, dear Reader. The contemplation of Emerson's excellent qualities never fails to arouse emotion. Nor is his excellence restricted to his intellectual qualities. I feel no shame in confessing that his physical attributes were not the least of the elements at made me decide to accept his proposal of marriage. From the raven hair upon his broad brow to the dimple (which he prefers to call a cleft) in his chin, he is a model of masculine strength and good looks.