Posts Tagged ‘Mystery Story’

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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Available from Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Createspace, our Etsy Store and other good retailers.

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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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To celebrate the start of another new series for C.S. Woolley and the release of the first book in that series, we are spending some time this festive season posting 12 short stories that she has penned that take place in her new book world.

The series is called the Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow and the first book 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.

1st Day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Mr. Alexander Hunter crept silently through the woods that bordered the Grangeback Estate and the village of Stickleback Hollow. There was snow covering the ground and the lake that lay beyond the trees had frozen a few weeks ago. There was a fishing boat that was stuck in the ice, which showed no signs of thawing. Lee and Stanley Baker had gone out fishing during the night and fallen asleep in the boat. When the sun had risen, the two boys had screamed when they discovered that they were stranded in the ice.

Alex had heard the two boys and wandered into Stickleback to fetch their mother, Miss Baker, and Constable Arwen Evans. Constable Evans and Mr. Hunter had walked out onto the ice and carried the boys back to the shore, where Miss Baker dragged the boys home by their ears, giving them the greatest tongue lashing of their life.

The two boys hadn’t been back to the woods or the lake since then. During the winter months, the people of Stickleback Hollow didn’t venture into the forest, except on Christmas morning. There was a tradition in the village that called for everyone to wake up early on Christmas morning and walk through the trees on their way to the chapel that lay in the grounds of the Grangeback Estate. There was a church in the village but the Christmas service was held in the chapel and then everyone was invited to eat Christmas dinner at the Manor.

This tradition went back 400 years, since the Kneelingroach family had first taken possession of the Estate. Before the brigadier retired from the army and returned to England from India, it had been in the hands of his older brother, who had also upheld the tradition.

It was one of Alex’s favourite parts of Christmas, especially as he was responsible for bring the gift to the house this year. Every year, the village gave a gift to the Manor as a thank you for Christmas dinner. The table was always full of food that included geese that were reared on the Estate especially for the dinner. The gift was always something that the household could use, something that was useful, rather than simply decorative. Miss Baker had made gloves, hats and scarves for all the members of the household the year before as the gift from the village, and the year before that, the blacksmith, Mr. James Fletcher, had presented Brigadier Webb-Kneelingroach with new horseshoes for all the horses on the estate.

However, this year, Alex wanted to do something different. He was stalking through the trees an hour before the village of Stickleback Hollow would be stirring in search of the perfect present to take. He checked the traps that he had set in the forest and found that all but one was empty. But the trap that was full, that had exactly what he needed in it.

He stole back to the lodge that he lived in to prepare the gift and then took it up to the house and placed it in the corner of the dining room under a heavy cloth, so that no one would see it until the Christmas dinner began. Grangeback was full of the smell of food already. Cooky had been up all night preparing the feast for the next day. It was ready and placed in the serving dishes before she left for Church so that it stayed hot. The dining room was set the night before by Bosworth and Mrs. Bosworth. The table was covered with fine china, silver, crystal goblets, decanters of wine and space down the centre of the table for the serving dishes. The fireplace had a fire built in it that was ready to light when they came back from church.

Everything was ready, so Alex walked down to the village to be part of the procession to the church. The sound of snow crunching under foot was a welcome sound in the woods, it made them seem almost alive as the people of Stickleback Hollow filed into the chapel. The brigadier greeted everyone at the door and the Reverend Percy Butterfield held the service.

The hymns were sung, the lesson was read and the story of the birth of Jesus Christ was told. It was the same service that was held every year and once it was over, the people of Stickleback Hollow filed out of the chapel and walked towards Grangeback.

The fire was lit in the dining room, the wine was poured, the food was brought to the table and the happy sound of friends enjoying Christmas together echoed throughout the corridors of the Manor house. Once the pudding had been eaten, the table cleared and all the plates washed, everyone waited with baited breath to see what the gift to the household would be.

Alex stood and walked to the corner of the room. He stood next to the cloth that covered the gift and took a deep breath. In a single, smooth motion he pulled the cloth to the side to reveal a large gilded cage that had inside it a tree with a bird sat asleep on one of the branches.

“My dear boy, what is it?” the brigadier asked.

“George, this year the village of Stickleback Hollow is honoured to present you, and the household of Grangeback, with a partridge in a pear tree.” Alex smiled.

A Thief in Stickleback Hollow
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When her parents die from fever, Lady Sarah Montgomery Baird Watson-Wentworth has to leave India, a land she was born and raised in, and travel to England for the first time.

Finding it almost impossible to adjust to London society, Sarah flees to the county of Cheshire and the country estate of Grangeback that borders the village of Stickleback Hollow.

A place filled with oddballs, eccentrics and more suspicious characters than you can shake a stick at, Sarah feels more at home in the sleepy little village than she ever did in the big city, however, even sleepy little villages have mysteries that must be solved.

A break-in at Grangeback, the assault on Bosworth the butler, the theft of Sarah’s jewellery and rifling through the possessions of her late father lead Sarah to believe that there is more to the crime than an interrupted burglary and that there is something more nefarious afoot.

The newly formed police force is still finding its feet, so Sarah must investigate on her own to find out what is going on in this new place she might call home.

Available from Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Createspace, our Etsy Store and other good retailers.

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