Posts Tagged ‘Victorian England’

C.S. Woolley here, As it is #VictoriaDay on Monday in #Canada (which should totally be a bank holiday here too, but I digress) and the Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow books are set during Victoria’s reign, I have put something special together (and #exclusive) for our Canadian cousins.

Ribe Title PageSnotingas Title Page

Every book bought from the Mightier Than the Sword UK eBay listings that is being delivered to an address in Canada will not only get free international shipping, each book signed and personalised by the author, but also get either a free book poster (for the Children of Ribe, Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren and Chronicles of Celadmore series) or three book postcards.

Siren Cover pageChronicles Tile Page

All you need to do to take advantage of this offer is to visit and complete the purchase of one book with the shipping address in Canada!

Stickleback Cover page

Happy long weekend and happy Victoria Day!



The Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow – historical fiction set in Victorian Cheshire. Steeped in local history, the series starts in the same year that Queen Victoria ascended the throne. Following Lady Sarah as she arrives in England for the first time in her life, these books not only mention local events, but global ones that shaped the world we live in today.

Stickleback HollowTitles

From the formation of the police force to the Opium wars, the Victorian age is one that makes for an interesting backdrop to this mystery series that holds the influences of Jane Austen and Agatha Christie at the heart of it.


Each book in the series is priced at £5.99 (signed) direct from the online store (£7.99 from Amazon) plus delivery.



Book 1: A Thief in Stickleback Hollow –


Book 2: All Hallows Eve in Stickleback Hollow –


Book 3 : Mr. Daniel Cooper of Stickleback Hollow –


Book 4: The Day the Circus came to Stickleback Hollow –

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Book 5: A Bonfire Surprise in Stickleback Hollow –

Tinker Card

Book 6: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Die –

12 Days of Christmas promo 1

Charity Special – 12 Days of Christmas in Stickleback Hollow (£3.99 plus delivery) –

Stickleback Hollow Gift Set –

It’s only 7 days until the charity book for the year is released, yes, the 12 Days of Stickleback Hollow is coming out on 30th September and all the royalties are going to charity!

12 Days of Christmas promo 1“The whole concept of the book started out as simply being 12 blogs that I could do in the run up to Christmas,” said C.S. Woolley, “I got through 8 of the 12 days and ran out of time with all the other Christmas stories I was doing for the other book series. So when it came to deciding what I was going to do as my charity book for the year, finishing this collection off seemed the logical choice.”

If you haven’t read any of the Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow yet (or even if you have), you might not know that most of the characters in the series are named after cricketers.

“I love cricket and as well as following the national side, I am also a member of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club. Trent Bridge really is my Disneyland and I spend as much time as I can there. I’ve done some fundraising over the last year for their charity, the Trent Bridge Community Sports Trust, and I thought it was only fitting that the book benefit them in some way.”

But then why the Broad Appeal?

“The Broad Appeal is a charity that was set up by Chris Broad (former cricketer), Stuart Broad (current cricketer and publican) and Gemma Broad (who used to work for the England Cricket Board). As I was fundraising for the TBCST it seemed a good idea to include the Broad Appeal as well – especially considering how much time I spend writing in Stuart’s pub.”

Stickleback HollowTitlesThe 12 Days of Christmas in Stickleback Hollow is based on the song, the 12 Days of Christmas and features 12 short stories that are each set around the 12 verses of the song in some way, shape or form. There are different characters followed in the different stories, it doesn’t keep to a strict timeline and the stories slot in at different points in the series narrative but you don’t need to have read the series to enjoy them. C.S. Woolley has also written them so that they avoid as many spoilers as possible, so you can read them without worrying that you’re going to discover any major plot points.

The 12 Days of Christmas in Stickleback Hollow is currently available for pre-order for £1.99 from Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo and Nook in digital format and will be available in paperback from 30th September.


Below is some more information about the two charities that the book is supporting. To find out more, please follow the links.

The Trent Bridge Community Sports Trust:

Chaired by Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club Chief Executive Lisa Pursehouse, the Trent Bridge Community Trust delivers projects that have a profound and meaningful impact on communities across our county.

This impact is highlighted by statistics, but equally by the personal stories of young people who have prospered having been given the one thing they need, a sporting chance.

The Trust is the charitable arm of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and our fortunes are intrinsically linked. All Trust staff are directly employed by the Club, allowing commercial partners and grant aiding bodies to have confidence that every penny they provide has an impact on frontline community initiatives.

The Broad Appeal for the MND Association:

Few disorders are as devastating as motor neurone disease (MND). Imagine a healthy and alert mind trapped inside a body that can’t move, that’s the devastating reality of MND.

MND attacks the nerve cells (motor neurones) that send messages from the brain to the muscles. As these motor neurones gradually die, the muscles stop working. If affects people in different ways, so no two people will have exactly the same symptoms or experience of MND.

In the majority of cases MND is a rapidly progressive, fatal disease that can affect any adult at any time. The cause of MND is unknown and with NO cure half die within 14 months of diagnosis.

It is impossible to convey in words the overwhelming and devastating nature of a disease which in as little as a year can turn a potent, able parent, partner and employee into someone totally dependent on others for the simplest and most private actions we all take for granted.


As promised, here is the second short story from Stickleback Hollow, the 8th Day of Christmas.

8th Day of Christmas

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight maids a milking

Christmas was always a busy time to be an innkeeper. Lots of people came to Stickleback Hollow to visit relatives in the nearby city of Chester and also in the village itself. Some people chose to stay in the inn that Wilson ran because his wife’s cooking was known far and wide as the best in the area. Some people didn’t like staying in the city as it was too busy and full of bustle.

Whatever the reasons that people came to the inn, Wilson and Emma were both every busy. Unlike the staff at the house and many others in the village, they didn’t close, not even on Christmas Day. They went to the house for Christmas dinner after going to church, but they were always the first to leave as they had to get back to the inn. They made sure that all their guests knew that the doors of the inn would be locked from when they went to church until after Christmas dinner had finished, but this never seemed to be a problem as all their guests had prior plans for Christmas Day.

But on Boxing Day things were back to normal. In fact, the inn was often busier on Boxing Day than any other day of the year as people like the blacksmith and Miss Baker were not at work, and so came to the inn to talk and swap seasonal greetings – though they had all seen each other the day before.

Wilson liked running the inn, especially around Christmas. He didn’t really need time off to put his feet up. There was nothing to do when he stopped working, and often found the days when the inn had to be closed to be rather boring. Emma preferred to be busy and even when the kitchen wasn’t open, she could be seen bustling around the inn, making sure that everything was running smoothly.

One of the problems that faced the inn during the busy time of Christmas was the risk of running out of milk. Every day during Christmas, Wilson woke up early to walk out to one of the local dairy farms to get the farmer to buy more milk. When he walked down the path to the dairy farmer’s house, he could hear the milkmaids singing in the small field that lay next to the house. The milkmaids were the daughters of farmers in the local area, but not all of them were the daughters of the dairy farmer. There were eight of them in all and all of them enjoyed singing, though not one of them could carry a tune.

Wilson waved to them as he passed and went about his business with the farmer.

“It’s a sad thing, but today is the last day you’ll see those milkmaids.” the farmer said as the two men walked outside to fetch the pails of milk for the inn.

“Why is that?” Wilson asked.

“They’re all to be married, can’t stay milkmaids forever. There are a bunch of young farmers coming later on today to meet them, then the dates for the weddings  will be set and the girls will be gone.” the farmer sighed.

“Who is going to milk you cows?” Wilson asked.

“Oh, there are more girls coming to do that, the cows won’t mind at all, but you might want to say your goodbyes. My two are going to be going down to Kent, only God knows where the others will end up.” the farmer shrugged.

“Will they be well provided for?” Wilson asked.

“They will. I know all the boys that are coming to meet the girls, some haven’t bought holdings yet, others will be going back to their father’s farms. I’ll miss them, but it’s better than them winding up as old maids.” the farmer shrugged.

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.

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

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.

Today we are giving you two short stories for the price of one as our New Year gift to you. Yes, we have two short stories from Stickleback Hollow just for you that fall on 7th and 8th day of Christmas. So to begin with here is the 7th day of Christmas.

7th Day of Christmas

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven swans a swimming

“Are you ready?” Lee asked his brother. The two of them had waited until their mother had gone out to her shop for the day before they made their plans. The two boys had been adopted by Miss Baker when they had been found on the doorstep of her seamstress shop.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Stanley asked as he followed Lee out of the small house that stood on the edge of the village of Stickleback Hollow.

“Of course! We need to go get our boat back.” Lee smiled at him. Both of the boys knew that Miss Baker wasn’t their real mother, but their family was closer than most that were related by blood. Stanley worked as the boy for the butcher and Lee was the boy for the baker. Both boys started working long before their mother rose to go to her shop, but the boys always came back for breakfast before she left.

Christmas was always a quiet and enjoyable affair for the family. They spent Christmas Day at Grangeback and then on Boxing Day they went for a walk around the woods. It had been on Boxing Day that Lee had begun to plan rescuing their boat from the frozen lake. Stanley hadn’t wanted to go back to the lake ever again, but his brother was far more convincing than Stanley liked.

It had taken three days for Lee to talk his brother into his scheme and a day to gather the items that they would need in order to get their boat back. Lee had borrowed some pikes from the blacksmith without the old man knowing; promising Stanley that he would return them once the boat was safely back ashore.

The two boys set out from the house and went around the edge of the village, making sure that no one saw them as they went. They ran as quickly as they could until they reached the safety of the tree line. The two boys paused in the trees to catch their breath before they walked to the edge of the lake.

The snow was still thick on the ground and the lake was frozen solid. The two boys walked gingerly across the ice until they reached their boat and climbed over the side of it. When they were both settled in the bottom of the boat Lee handed Stanley one of the iron pikes he had stolen from the blacksmith. The two boys hit the ice around the boat until the boat was freed from the ice. Stanley took up the oars and started to manoeuvre the boat back towards the shore. Lee leaned over the side of the boat and kept breaking the ice in front of the boat until they reached the bank.

It was hard and slow work, but by the time they had finished, both of the boys felt proud of what they had accomplished.

“You know that if your mother finds out about this, you’ll not be able to sit down for a week.” Alex said. The two boys froze in the boat as they looked up at the hunter who stood on the shore, leaning against one of the trees.

“You’re not going to tell her, are you?” Stanley asked as Lee jumped out of the boat and started to pull it onto the bank. Stanley followed his brother to help him get the boat out of the water.

“I won’t need to; did you even think about what you are going to tell her when she sees that the boat isn’t stuck in the lake anymore?” Alex asked with amusement.

“No.” Lee said slowly.

“You told me that you’d thought of everything!” Stanley cried.

“I wouldn’t worry about it too much.” Alex smiled at the two boys.

“Why not?” Lee frowned.

“Leave the boat here and I’ll tell her I got it out for you.” Alex said with a shrug.

“Why would you do that?” Stanley asked.

“Because you’re going to need to put those pikes back before the blacksmith notices they are missing and because you haven’t noticed what breaking the ice did for the lake.” Alex grinned.

“What are you talking about?” Lee asked.

“Just look at the water.” Alex said. Lee and Stanley both turned around and looked out at the lake. A group of seven swans had come out of the forest and was moving across the ice to the open water. The two boys watched as the swans slipped into the cold water and started swimming around.

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.

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

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.

Having had a few days of extracts from our fantasy books, we’re now heading back to our short stories with a little offering from Victorian England and Stickleback Hollow.

6th Day of Christmas

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six geese a laying

Mrs. Bosworth was not a woman that liked to do very much, aside from work. She hated to sit down and waste time; after all there was always something better that she could be doing, especially around Christmas. Mr. and Mrs. Bosworth had no children of their own, three had been born and all died before they had reached the age of five.

For Mrs. Bosworth, it made Christmas a rather difficult time of year. Mr. Bosworth had borne the loss of two sons and a daughter with remarkable fortitude, and had buried himself in his duties at Grangeback. Mrs. Bosworth had looked on Lucy Kneelingroach as a surrogate daughter, satisfying her maternal instincts by mothering the young lady. When she had died, it had caused Mrs. Bosworth to become even more fastidious than she had been before.

Every Boxing Day, when she and Mr. Bosworth were not working, Mrs. Bosworth would sink into a quiet depression. She didn’t speak a word to Mr. Bosworth for the whole day, but sat in their room, holding an armful of old knitted geese. When Mrs. Bosworth was pregnant she spent her evenings knitting things for the baby she was expecting. She wasn’t very adept at knitting, but had skill enough to create blankets and toy geese. Each pregnancy she had done the same thing – knitted two blankets and two geese. The blankets had been put to good use when Lucy had been a baby, but Mrs. Bosworth couldn’t bring herself to give the geese to the young lady of the house. Instead she kept them for herself, a reminder of the children she had once had and the short time she had to cradle them before they were taken from her.

Mr. Bosworth never tried to take the geese from his wife, nor did he offer any word of comfort. He knew that there was nothing that he could say that would make the loss of their children any better. When their daughter had died, Mrs. Bosworth had told her husband that she couldn’t take losing another child and the two had agreed that there would be no more children. Mr. Bosworth was a man that kept his feelings to himself, he had his own pain over the loss of his children, but he didn’t want to burden his wife when he knew of the pain she was suffering. He consoled himself every year by watching his wife as she cuddled the six geese and gazed out of the window at the lake.

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.

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

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.

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.

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

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.

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.

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

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.


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

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

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus

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

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus

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

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus

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

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus

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

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus

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

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus

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.

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

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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