We’ve only got twelve days left until Christmas! If you haven’t finished shopping yet, time is running out! Today we are back in Victorian England for another of the 12 Days of Christmas in Stickleback Hollow.

4th Day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four colly birds

Doctor Jack Hales sat in his house sipping on a glass of sherry in front of a large fire. The doctor had done well in his life. He lived in a village that was an interesting place to live and was much more pleasant than any city he had ever visited.

He had spent the day visiting the Manchester Royal Infirmary to help the doctors with an influx of people suffering from chest infections.There had been so many this year that the doctors had been struggling to cope before Jack had arrived.

“Father, you’re back.” his son, Richard said as he walked into the library where the doctor sat.

“Yes, it didn’t take as long as I thought it would.” the doctor yawned and took another sip from his glass.

“Well, that’s very nice, but we weren’t expecting you back until tomorrow.” Richard said looking furtive.

“What are you up to?” the doctor frowned at his oldest son.

“Nothing.” Richard said, trying to sound off-hand.

“Where is your brother?” the doctor asked as he put down his sherry and leaned forward on his knees.

“Nowhere.” Richard replied too quickly.

“You always were a terrible liar.” the doctor tutted.

“Please, don’t ruin things, father. Promise me you won’t ask any questions and that you will stay here until we come and get you.” Richard begged.

“Fine, but if whatever the two of you are up to gets Constable Evans coming to visit us again, your lives won’t be worth living.” the doctor warned.

Richard disappeared from the room quickly and the doctor picked up his sherry again. He loved his sons dearly. He had raised them alone as his wife had died giving birth to his youngest son, Gordon. Richard was almost thirty in age and was training to be a doctor. He had tried a few different career paths before deciding to follow in his father’s footsteps. Gordon was in his mid-twenties and training to be a lawyer. Both boys had applied themselves to their studies and the doctor was proud of them, though he rarely expressed such emotion.

The two boys, though studious, also had a knack for getting into trouble. They often argued over the same girls, and though neither seemed inclined to marry, they were in and out of love as often as the moon changed.

In the next room, the doctor could hear shuffling and the odd expletive being uttered as his two sons worked on whatever surprise it was that they had in store. The doctor had an uneasy feeling about it all, but he was a man of his word, so he waited patiently until Gordon and Richard came to fetch him.

The two boys were grinning as they led their father into the next room where there was a coup of four blackbirds sat by the windows.

“What is this?” the doctor asked.

“Well, you said that you always waiting birds to send messages with to the hospital to save on sending messengers from the village. So we went into Chester and found these.” Gordon smiled.

“We thought they’d be less likely to be shot at that pigeons. Not many people like colly bird pie round here.” Richard grinned.

A Thief in Stickleback Hollow

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can read more about the characters in Stickleback Hollow in the first book the series of The Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow. Digital copies from £1.80 and paperback copies from £6.99.
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