We’re a little late in getting today’s advent calendar to you – we have been slightly distracted by the cricket and having to watch the highlights from the Ashes at Trent Bridge in 2005 to raise our spirits. Today is our last day in the office before the festive break so we are making sure that the rest of the advent calendar is set up and ready to go out so you don’t miss out.

With today being 19th day of Advent we’re going back to Victorian England and our new favourite place of Stickleback Hollow.

5th Day of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five gold rings

The sun was bright in the sky as Sarah awoke on Christmas morning. She could hear the sounds of the household bustling through the white marble corridors. She rolled over and closed her eyes. She waited until she heard the door to the room open and her ayah walk in.

“Still abed on Christmas morning?” ayah asked as she pulled back the sheets and Sarah buried her head under the pillow.

“It’s too early.” Sarah’s moan was muffled by the pillow.

“When you and your mother were little girls, both of you used to jump out of bed before most of the household had woken up to see if there were any gifts for you.” ayah said shaking her head and pulling the pillows off the bed.

“I’m not a little girl anymore, ayah.” Sarah whined and tried to grab the pillow back from her nanny.

“No, now you’re a young lady and should start acting like it. At your age, your mother was married to your father. Nearly all girls your age are married and expecting families.” ayah clucked as she disappeared into Sarah’s dressing room to get out her clothes for the day.

Sarah sighed and sprawled out on her bed before she rolled out of her bed and traipsed over to her dressing room. Ayah had taken out a white muslin dress and a long white lace shawl that was pinned over her shoulder. Sarah stood with her arms out as ayah washed and dressed her.

“You’ll do.” ayah said finally and Sarah left her room to go enjoy breakfast.

Her mother and father were both sat out on the veranda enjoying their breakfast whilst looking out at the Indian countryside that lay around their home.

“Merry Christmas.” Sarah said as she walked out onto the patio.

“Merry Christmas, my love.” Colonel Montgomery Baird said without looking up from the book he was reading.

“Merry Christmas, there are some visitors waiting to see you.” Lady Watson-Wentworth said and led Sarah away from the breakfast. Sarah glanced at the breakfast table with longing as she was led back into the house to a sitting room where five young men were waiting.

Each of them were dressed in the uniforms of lieutenants and all seemed to be very nervous. Sarah looked at her mother with a raised eyebrow as she saw the five lieutenants.

“Gentlemen, please place the rings on the table on your calling card and then address my daughter as my lady. When she is finished talking to you, you will be escorted out by the butler. An answer will be returned with your calling card. If she rejects your proposal, then the ring will also be returned with your card.” Lady Cynthia Watson-Wentworth said in a clear voice.

“Mother.” Sarah said in protest as her mother turned to leave the room.

“Good luck, dear.” Lady Cynthia said as she patted her daughter’s arm and kissed her cheek.

Sarah turned back to face the five lieutenants and looked down at the five gold rings that lay on the table on the velvet pillow that had the five calling cards on.

“This is not what I wanted for Christmas.” she said under her breath as the first lieutenant approached her.

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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