Dear Readers, The letter below was dated 1294 and sent to us anonymously. We are investigating the authenticity of the letter as I write this week’s column. However, publishing this epistle quickly was an opportunity not to be missed, since the letter contains information that will shake the foundations of one of England’s oldest and most noble family’s.
Dear Friend, I’ve written to you before of the young girl who some years past came to the abbey injured, alone, and unable to speak. We treated her as well as possible, helping her to learn skills that would prove useful should the time ever come when she might need to leave the abbey.
Two days past, she recovered her speech. I was called immediately. The girl, she is a young lady now, confided in me the secret of her identity. ‘Tis a secret which could get her killed, because it would destroy the current Earl of Hawksedge and make a scandal of the title and his family.
I chose to keep this information secret from the Earl
despite his visit to witness the miracle of the young lady’s regained speech.
The Earl would not tolerate any threat to his title, and I therefore feared for
her life. Yet this young woman has done no wrong. Indeed much wrong has been done
to her. I helped her to flee from the abbey, to find a home safe from discovery,
and the means to earn a living.
But now I hear that the Earl has been found dead in a locked room, and the young woman, we’ll call her Larkin, was discovered wandering the keep shortly before the earl’s death was discovered.
Fortunately the man who found Larkin, Sir Talon Du Quereste, was once a herald for King Edward I, and is therefore completely trustworthy. He will discover the truth of the Earl’s death and whether or not poor Larkin was involved. There is more to the story, my dearest friend. But I dare not put the tale on ink and paper when Larkin’s life stands in the balance. ‘Twould be too easy for my words to be mis-interpreted. Then justice would never be done. I will write again when I can.
With love and affection,
Teresa Marie Clement, Abbess
Our Lady of Sorrows Abbey, Northumbria
Rue Allyn, is a Bluestocking Belle and award winning author of historical romances. You may find Rue on line via her website. Her newest release, The Herald’s Heart, is available for pre-order via this universal buy link or through Amazon. You may read an excerpt from The Herald’s Heart here.
Our devoted readers will no doubt find this clipping forwarded to The Teatime Tattler from The Headstone Gazette across the pond. Obviously, concerned citizens and devotion to proper behavior are not limited to here in London. — S. Clemens
Dear Ms. Decorum:
I’m penning this letter out of the utmost concern for the wellbeing and safety of our latest young debutante from Boston who arrived into Headstone yesterday. Lord have mercy, if the lovely Miss Daisy Danvers wasn’t thronged by a posse of train robbers the moment she set foot on the train platform! One witness claimed she fainted dead away and toppled straight over the side of the platform.
yet to verify the details, but another witness claims she was caught in the
arms of none other than Prescott Barra, the rough and ready local bull rider
who set a previously-unheard-of, 10-second record at our last rodeo. And you
know what they say about those Barra brothers? Nothing but trouble, that’s
worse about this report is the most unfortunate fact that Daisy hasn’t been
seen since Prescott rode off with her on his horse yesterday. The very notion
of them being lost in the desert — without a chaperone, no less — is giving me
the vapors right this second. Oh, where are my smelling salts?
did a little digging on my own and discovered that Daisy was sent to Headstone
by the reputable Boomtown Mail Order Brides Company in Boston, which can only
mean one thing: She is under contract as a mail-order bride to some gentleman
in our town. Our very town, dear citizens!
I’m not certain how reputable the name of this bridal agency will remain when
they discover one of their brides is missing. The poor gel could be anywhere.
Oh, the horrors! Is she safe? Is she alive? I can hardly bear to consider the
if Daisy Danvers is returned to town whole and in one piece — may the good Lord
let it be so! — I am distressed to be the one to point out that her reputation
will be in shreds. The way I see it, the lovely Miss Daisy will only have one
choice to salvage those shreds. Regardless of whom she is currently affianced
to (may the Lord comfort him and send him another, more suitable bridal
candidate), it is my Christian belief that Miss Daisy has been thoroughly
compromised by Prescott Barra. Alas, he is the man she must marry.
I’ll be joining a group of God-fearing women who will be holding vigil on the steps of the General Store this afternoon. It is my hope and prayer they will have an update on this brewing scandal. Be assured I will report back with anything new I hear.
Sincerely, A Concerned Citizen Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous
About the Book
Dare-Devil Daisy: Mail Order Brides Rescue #5
To the world, Daisy Danvers is a spoiled young debutante from
Boston who always gets what she wants. But she has secrets — big, festering
secrets she doesn’t want her best friend, Meg Nicholson, to find out. All she
needs from Meg is a promise to help her find the perfect husband the moment she
steps off the train in Headstone, Arizona. Her very life might depend upon it.
She never dreamed her troubles would follow her out West, and a
whole posse of armed robbers would be waiting for her when she disembarked. She
also never dreamed a cocky cowboy would sweep her away to safety on his horse.
It’s way too bad the devilishly handsome Prescott Barra claims
he’s already affianced to another woman, because he’s everything she’s been
looking for in a husband. He’s brave and fearless with a streak of adventure as
wide as the canyons they’re riding. When she discovers he has a secret or two
of his own, she begins to hope that maybe — just maybe — their secrets will
lead them to each other.
The storm swirling across Meg’s features cleared. She stood and
held out both hands to him. “You dear, dear man! I am so happy you’ve agreed to
That made one of them. He was fairly certain pretending to be
engaged to Meg’s dearest friend was the most foolish thing he’d ever been asked
“I’ll be sure to tell Shad how kind you were to me in his
He was only doing this to help out a man he respected. Or at least the friend
of the wife of a man he respected… Which was the same thing, wasn’t it? His
brain hurt just thinking about it.
“What is her name?” he asked abruptly. He at least deserved to know
the name of the chit he was going to be saddled with for a few days.
“Daisy.” Meg beamed at him. “Daisy Danvers, though some folks like
to call her Dare-Devil Daisy.”
Blast it all! Helping Daisy sounded like a pack of trouble. Then
again, he was a Barra brother. Trouble followed him everywhere he went. Trouble
was his middle name.
About the Author
Jo Grafford writes sweet historical and contemporary romance stories — with humor, sass, and happily ever afters.
A typical day finds her with her laptop balanced on her knees, a fizzy beverage within reach, and a cat snoozing on her knees. He takes credit for most of what she does.
When Jo’s not writing stories, she’s reading them. She adores dashing gentlemen, resilient heroines with a sense of adventure, humorous sidekicks, dusty cowboys, bounty hunters, mail order brides…you get the idea.
Many of Society’s finest will recognise the Redepenning boys, the three fine young sons of one of the Nation’s Heroes. Captain Richard Redepenning, second son of that well-beloved patriarch known to us all as Lord Henry, is deservedly renowned his courage and dashing.
His lovely wife, daughter of another Naval hero, was seen yesterday in Hyde Park with her three sons, accompanied by her sister-in-law, Mrs Julius Redepenning.
The fourth son of Lord Henry also serves his country as Captain in His Majesty’s Royal Navy. We regret to remind our readers that this gentleman’s reputation is not as sterling as that of his close male relatives.
You may recall his close brush with a court martial less than ten years ago, his hasty marriage in scandalous circumstances seven years ago, and his immediate departure to flee his brand new bride to the other side of the world, to return to his mistress and children.
This is old news, you may say, but this newspaper regrets to say that the man’s effrontery has no equal. We have it on good authority that the dusky complexioned boy and two little girls playing with Captain Richard Redepenning’s children were, in fact, the son and daughters of the very mistress for whom Captain Julius Redepenning left his unfortunate bride.
What pressure was brought to bear on Mrs Julius to force her to not only acknowledge these offspring of a kept woman — and a coloured kept woman, at that — but to take them into her care? This newspaper shudders to think!
The story took on an even more dire aspect when we learned that the boy who was being treated every bit as if he were the equal of Captain Richard’s sons has no Redepenning blood at all! Indeed, he is a child of a previous lover, whom Captain Julius permitted, undoubtedly motivated by lust, to remain with the seductress who drew him from his marriage vows.
We register our protest, as all right-thinking people must, at the probable contamination of three such fine young men as the Redepenning boys by the casual offspring of a harlot. May the Redepenning family come to their senses before too much harm is done.
Naval captain Jules
Redepenning has spent his adult life away from England, and at war. He rarely
thinks of the bride he married for her own protection, and if he does, he
remembers the child he left after their wedding seven years ago. He doesn’t
expect to find her in his Cape Town home, a woman grown and a lovely one, too.
Mia Redepenning sails to Cape
Town to nurse her husband’s dying mistress and adopt his children. She hopes to
negotiate a comfortable married life with the man while she’s there. Falling in
love is not on her to-do list.
Before they can do more than glimpse a possible future together, their duties force them apart. At home in England, Mia must fight for the safety of Jules’s children. Imprisoned in France, Jules must battle for his self-respect and his life. Only by vanquishing their foes can they start to make their dreams come true.
This letter appeared in my upper desk door this week by means I can’t explain. One continues to be astounded at how much jealousy, gossip, and spite is by nature the same in every era.
Amiens, France, March 4, 1918
Oh why do I write this? By the time it arrives I may already be in Marseilles! You will have heard the news that the Russians have made peace with the Huns, the traitorous animals. Now the German war machine will pour its entire might into northern France while the worthless Yanks drag their feet rather than deploy their troops. Amiens will be destroyed—leveled even as Arras has been or the villages along the Somme.
Dear Edgar insists I come to you and Aunt Adele and remove myself from the path of the Hun army. Lucille, our maid of all work, is packing as I write this.
I was astonished that you would ask after Rosemarie when you well know I no longer speak to the hussy. Believe me, my brother’s widow has not improved her behavior in the past year, for all she now parades on the arm of a Canadian soldier—as if that would erase the taint of collaboration with a German. Rauol himself told me what she did before he died. Just wait. She will get what she deserves when the war is over.
The boy looks better fed this year, but of course decent women wonder what the trollop does to manage that miracle. The stupid English, now that she sews in one of their workshops, treat her as the would any decent woman. It is almost more than I can bear.
I will never understand why God blessed her with a son while cursing me with none. Abbé Desjardin, that wrong-headed priest, takes her side. Well, let him protect her when the German war machine rolls into Amiens. She can suffer as she deserves. and she certainly isn’t coming with me. I just wish I could take her son south with me. Life is not fair.
Your loving cousin,
About the Book
When it is finally over will their love be enough?
After two years at the mercy of the Canadian Expeditionary
force and the German war machine, Harry ran out of metaphors for death,
synonyms for brown, and images of darkness. When he encounters color among the
floating islands of Amiens and life in the form a widow and her little son,
hope ensnares him. Through three more long years of war and its aftermath, the
hope she brings keeps Harry alive.
Rosemarie Legrand’s husband left her a tiny son, no money, and a savaged reputation when he died. She struggles to simply feed the boy and has little to offer a lonely soldier, but Harry’s devotion lifts her up. The war demands all her strength and resilience, will the hope of peace and the promise of Harry’s love keep her going?
I trust that you remember me from
your visit to Hadrian’s Wall last summer. You expressed much interest in the
diggings, and despite the severe cold you caught (t’was but a summer squall)
invited me to share updates on the excavations. I do so with great delight, we
have uncovered many items that in combination, allow us to paint a vivid
picture of a time lost to us for two thousand years.
The site of Vindolanda is a
treasure of ancient artefacts. The site conditions can at times be grim – there
is no winter season, and the Summer season is brief and intense. The colder
months are devoted to cleaning and recording our finds.
The fort itself was manned from
around 85AD to 370AD, thus spanning much of the early days of Roman occupation.
The fort was manned by a troop from Gaul. The site so far consists of a
bathhouse, many layers of wooden structures, the stone buildings of the fort
and a larger town to the west, where many native Britons would have lived, and
the families of the garrisoned soldiers.
The site is fascinating. It is
buried deep in rank muds, but that is its glory. The mud is low in oxygen,
which is the enemy of preservation of objects. So many things have emerged from
this mud that it staggers the imagination. There would be few sites indeed that
allow us to get a glimpse into the day to day lives of people two thousand
The town itself would have been a
hive of activity, perhaps typical for the towns along the Wall, close to the
forts – where the money and markets were. We have uncovered spinning whorls in
great quantity, a business important for textile manufacture. The town – or
vicus – as it is known in latin, also had an animal butchery, with excellent
drainage. We know that the soldiers consumed vast quantities of bacon, sheep
and used goat hides for their tents. There is also a bathhouse, which would
have been heated, and used by locals and soldiers.
But the finds are what has made
Vindolanda famous. Hundreds of leather sandals have been uncovered, and of all
sizes – from children shoes, to the dainty lattice patterned ladies sandals,
and rugged soldiers foot wear. Other leather goods include goathide tents, the neat
lines of stiches joining the hides still intact.
Wooden objects such as combs, and
many pieces of horse harness, game pieces, weaponry, arrowheads, and textile
fragments are also well preserved. You will pardon the personal nature of the
following, but we also found the first known wooden toilet seat, its design
similar to the ones in use today.
The most fascinating of all has
been the Vindolanda tablets. Written on thin sheets of oak, and a similar size
to a modern postcard, many tablets have been uncovered, and to our joy, the
writing (in a blackish mix of ink gall) is still readable. While many are like
a modern shopping list one might give a servant, some are letters home from
soldiers complaining about the weather, and one is a party invitation from a
I will finish up, Mr Clemens, in
the hopes that you will find this of sufficient interest to publish in your
newspaper. We trust that should you visit England again, you will pay us a
visit, and perhaps participate in the diggings yourself.
I have taken the liberty of
enclosing some photographs of the finds.
About the Druid’s Portal Series
The Druid’s Portal series is a
genre blend of action, adventure, romance, time travel and magical historical
fantasy. Set in Roman Britain in the Hadrian’s Wall and Northumberland region.
On the First Journey, travel back
in time with modern day archaeologist Janet and meet Roman soldier Trajan.
Described as the book the writers of Indiana Jones wanted to write, and a
runner up in the Raven awards for dark fantasy.
The Second Journey is now out on
Amazon. Join Ethan, son of Janet and Trajan as he follows his heart into danger
and an alternate history that will lead him from Hadrian’s Wall to the dark
past of Stonehenge.
A love that can never be.
Ethan—latest guardian of the Arwen pendant—finds
his heritage of time travel a burden he can scarcely endure. Rowena—last of the
line of Daman—is a soldier in the Celtic army, forced to perform deeds that
haunt her. Both tormented by visions of the other, separated by barriers of
A time that should not exist.
Rowena flees the catastrophic end of her time
but is trapped by an ancient family pact with an evil goddess. Desperate to
save her, Ethan crosses over into her timeline, where his parents never met,
and Daman—their greatest enemy—rules.
The past is ruled by a man who knows the future.
Thirty days to stop a goddess taking over her
body. Thirty days to save his timeline. Together they will fight their way
through an altered history to the dark past of Stonehenge.
running out – for everyone.
An excerpt from Druid’s
Portal: The Second Journey
Then a sound… soft laughter… and
he gazed at the woman with hair the colour of moonlight and eyes as dark as the
night. Coloured mist wrapped around her, tight woven as destiny. Dark threads
of death and red banners of danger – all centred around and surrounding the
She filled a hole in his heart he
had always known was there, but had never known the shape of it was her. The
sense of completeness hit him like a blow.
“I will find you… ” he shouted
as she faded. “I will protect you, always… ”
But she was gone, leaving nothing
but a ghostly fragrance of flowers, and he was alone once more.