On the fourth day of advent, we bring you the 2nd Day of Christmas from Stickleback Hollow.

The Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow is a new series from C.S. Woolley and the first book in the series is called A Thief in Stickleback Hollow. It is available in digital and paperback from a wide variety of retailers. We’ve put the links below the story so if you do enjoy it, consider taking a peak at the first book in the series.

2nd Day of Christmas

On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two turtle doves

George Webb-Kneelingroach looked out at the lands of his family estate. His family had spent generations on this land, back before the house of Grangeback had been designed and built. The family crypt was in the grounds of the chapel and held the Kneelingroach line as well as that of the Webbs.

He was sat in the rooms that had once belonged to his daughter, Lucy. She had been a bright girl, enjoyed her life in England and India in equal measure, and Christmas had always been her favourite time of year. She would roam the halls of Grangeback singing Christmas Carols until the whole household couldn’t stop singing them. It brought a great deal of joy to the manor and to Stickleback Hollow. There was hardly a person, from the Grangeback groundskeeper, to the village lamplighter, that wasn’t infected with a cheerful demeanour after Lucy had visited the village around Christmas.

She not only believed in sharing good cheer, but making sure that everyone in the village had all they needed. When the blacksmith burnt his hand and couldn’t use his forge, Lucy sent to Chester for an apprentice to work for him. When the vicar had a fever, Lucy nursed him back to health. There was nothing that was too much trouble for her.

George sat and looked at his beloved Grangeback and thought about the last Christmas that Lucy had spent there. She had been visiting the village three weeks before Christmas when she met a young man from London. He was a well-dressed individual that had no business being in Stickleback Hollow, at least as far as George could see. He was staying at the inn and told everyone that he was there to enjoy walking the countryside.

After Lucy met him, he started to join her walking around the village every day and after two weeks; he invited her to the theatre. It was a performance in Manchester and Lucy went without an escort in her finest clothes. George didn’t know what it was that they saw at the theatre; all he knew was that Lucy didn’t come home that night. It was two days before she returned to the house and declared that she was engaged. The young man hadn’t been to Grangeback or asked for George’s permission to marry his daughter before he had propositioned Lucy.

George had insisted that Lucy bring him to the house to meet the family before anything else was said on the subject of her engagement. The next day Lucy had gone down to the village, only to find the young man was gone. The innkeeper said that he had left the night before and had no intention of returning. Lucy returned to the house and burst into floods of tears.

She was taken ill, and even missed the village’s traditional Christmas dinner. She was in bed for a month and George grew very concerned and sent for the doctor. The doctor had come to visit and gave George the grave news – Lucy was pregnant. It was then that the young man’s intention had become clear and George sent for his solicitor. A search was made of each of the cities under the name that Lucy had been given, but the young man couldn’t be found.

The doctor suggested that Lucy and the family go to Scotland until the baby had been born and return to Stickleback Hollow with the babe in arms, a sibling to Lucy rather than her child. George agreed and had his wife, Helen and her lady’s maid, Emma, pack for the months that they would be absent for the manor. Bosworth was left in charge of Grangeback in their absence and was sworn to secrecy about the whole matter.

The journey to Scotland had begun in the New Year and had not been a comfortable one. The family estate in Scotland belonged to Helen Webb-Kneelingroach and was in the far flung highlands where the only people for miles were those who served the household, and their families had done so for several centuries.

Lucy understood the importance of the child being raised as her sibling and not as her child and seemed to be content enough with the arrangement that her father and the doctor had agreed upon. For months they enjoyed walking across the highlands. Her mother was happy to be at the place she had called home, and even happier that a new life should enter the world there.

But it was not to be. Before her nine months were up, Lucy woke in the night, screaming in pain. There was nothing that could be done to ease her distress or that of the baby. The women of the household did all that they could, the doctor in Stickleback Hollow was sent for, he arrived to find that Lucy had gone into labour two months before she should have. He worked tirelessly to save the mother and child, but he had arrived too late.

Helen shut herself in her rooms and refused to allow anyone in, not even her lady’s maid. The doctor made arrangements to have Lucy and the baby taken back to Stickleback where they could be buried in the family crypt, and George had been left to his misery. There had been no Christmas Carols sung in the halls of Grangeback since that day.

George sighed as he looked out of the windows and wondered what it was that drove young men to callously throw aside the virtue of young women, when he heard the sound of singing coming from the music room.

“Adeste Fideles laeti triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte, Regem Angelorum;

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine,
gestant puellae viscera.
Deum verum, genitum non factum;

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

Cantet nunc io chorus Angelorum
cantet nunc aula caelestium:
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

Ergo qui natus, die hodierna,
Jesu, tibi sit gloria.
Patris aeterni Verbum caro factum;

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

En grege relicto, Humiles ad cunas,
vocati pastores approperant.
Et nos ovanti gradu festinemus;

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

Aeterni Parentis splendorem aeternum,
velatum sub carne videbimus.
Deum infantem, pannis involutum;

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

Pro nobis egenum et foeno cubantem,
piis foveamus amplexibus.
Sic nos anamtem quis non redamaret?

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

Stella duce, Magi, Christum adorantes,
aurum, thus, et myrrham dant munera.”

It was Sarah; she was playing the piano and singing to herself. George rushed down the hall to find Alex was the one playing the piano whilst Sarah sang. Mrs. Bosworth, Bosworth, Cooky, the maids and other servants were all gathered around the doorway listening to the two of them perform. The pair were quite unaware that they had an audience.

“Oh brigadier, it’s been so long since there was music in the house. Doesn’t it feel like Christmas now?” Cooky whispered as she saw George approaching.

“Yes, Cooky, it certainly does.” George replied.

 

A Thief in Stickleback Hollow
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For those of you wondering what the carol is that Sarah and Alex are performing, it is O Come, All Ye Faithful in the original Latin.It wasn’t translated into English until the 1850s.

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