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Overheard at the Silverpines Inn

By A Concerned Citizen Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

My lands! As if our dear little town of Silverpines, Oregon hasn’t endured enough calamities in the past year — earthquakes, a mud slide, and a fire that consumed nearly everything in its path between 3rd Avenue and Chinatown! It is salt in the proverbial wound to now be forced to endure the scandal brewing across town at the old Kingsley mansion.

If it weren’t for a certain postmistress taking her dinner at the Silverpines Inn yesterday afternoon, we might never have learned the truth. Sadly, it appears the headmistress of the new Silverpines Finishing School for Young Ladies, Rachel West, is stringing along not one but two beaus. Indeed, it is a sad state of affairs to witness an instructor of social graces carrying on so, but I fear the evidence against her is overwhelming.

For one thing, she was overheard having a somewhat heated conversation with the dashing Mr. Finneas Banfield, who I’m delighted to report was wearing the latest in fashion from Boston. Ah, but our small town could use more of his charming Old World manners and British accent. In short, the orphan-widow appeared to be rebuffing the man’s adoring attentions. How heartbreaking!

An hour later, the same young instructor in deportment was seen driving her new, outlandish automobile to the train depot. There she proceeded (without a proper chaperone) to greet a perfect stranger and chauffeur him across town to her finishing school. I wish that was the worst of my news. Alas, there is more.

No one in town has ever laid eyes on the man. I asked around to be certain, and it was confirmed by no less than two other reputable townswomen: Never before has a Black man so much as paid a visit to Silverpines.

Upon further investigation, I learned that Mrs. West posted a letter a few weeks ago for a mail-order groom. And not just any groom! Rumor has it Mr. Boone Cassidy is a bounty hunter. A bounty hunter! I shudder to contemplate the reasons anyone would require the services of such a dark and brooding gunslinger. I can only pray he completes whatever mission he’s been called upon to perform with haste, before the rumors about his budding romance with Mrs. West spin completely beyond my control.

As one of the senior matriarchs in our town, I’ve tried everything within reason to quell the gossip. I truly have. But even a God-fearing, upright citizen like myself cannot easily explain away a public embrace like the one Mrs. West apparently shared this morning with Mr. Cassidy. Be assured, I will keep my ear bent to the ground for more details and report back the moment I can confirm this latest distressing report.

About the Book

Silverpines

Orphan and widow Rachel West is returning home to Oregon after eight years of living with her guardian on the East Coast. Thanks to a lavish inheritance from her great-aunt, she now has the funds to realize her dream of opening the Silverpines Finishing School for Young Ladies.

Unfortunately, a former co-instructor from Boston follows her to Silverpines, claiming a deathbed promise to look after her. Highly suspicious of his intentions, she sends off for a mail-order husband to provide a buffer between them; but she makes it clear in her letter she wishes to court first and only marry if they develop feelings for each other and the “good Lord wills it.”

As a bounty hunter by trade, Boone Cassidy is accustomed to far more dangerous tasks than ridding spoiled debutantes of their unwanted suitors. He fully expects the uppity Mrs. West to send him packing the moment she realizes a Black man has been sent to her aid. After laying eyes on her at the train station, however, he realizes he’s made a great many incorrect assumptions about the lovely headmistress. All of a sudden, thwarting the attentions of her dandified, self-proclaimed beau from Boston becomes a task worthy of his most gallant efforts!

Available in eBook on Amazon + FREE in Kindle Unlimited at
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RKW915S
Coming soon to paperback!

Two Short Excerpts~

RACHEL WEST’S STORY:

November, 1900 — Silverpines, Oregon

Rachel West shivered as she stepped onto the train platform. It wasn’t the chill of the late autumn breeze so much as the feeling of stepping on ghosts that shook her up on the inside. For a moment, she fought the urge to spin around in her designer boots, sprint back to her private cabin on the train, and keep on riding.

She’d been away for eight long years from the one town in the world that felt like home. Or should have…

Squinting against the glare of the morning sun, she turned in a full circle, trying to find one familiar structure or one familiar face from her treasure trove of memories.

And utterly failed.

A spurt of panic gurgled through her mid-section at the sight of the new-looking cafe facing her. A freshly painted butcher’s storefront rested to the left of it, and a post office was located just across a side street from it. They had to be new, because the paint was so bright and un-peeling, and none of their roofs boasted the usual slight ripple of unevenness that so many buildings take on once they’ve had the chance to settle.

Her head swiveled. There was also a book store she didn’t remember standing next to the post office. It was an inviting little building with a big, cheery picture window crowded with books. Normally, she would have tossed all her earthly cares to the winds and made a beeline for the cozy nook for book lovers, but she was too busy pondering the notion that she might have made a horrible mistake at disembarking.
Why, even the depot building squatting behind her looked new! Had she misunderstood the announcement and gotten off at the wrong stop altogether?

“Rachel? Is it really you?”

She jolted at the soft, lilting alto wafting across the train platform. Nothing around her looked familiar, but she’d recognize that voice anywhere.

“Penelope Wallace!” she cried joyfully, whirling to face her childhood friend. She was in the right town after all, even if it didn’t look right.

“It’s Cooper now. Penelope Cooper.”

They threw themselves in each other’s arms with squeals of sheer delight, and Rachel experienced a pang of remorse at the knowledge it had been more than two years since they’d last exchanged letters, maybe three. Good heavens, how the time had flown!

To avoid making any awkward excuses for her lack of correspondence, Rachel fell back on her good manners and well of natural charm. “Eight years hasn’t changed you one bit. You don’t look a day older than sixteen.” The moment the words sailed from her mouth, she regretted them; because it was painfully clear that Penelope had indeed changed.

She still looked young and girlish, but the sparkle that had always lurked in her wide, innocent eyes — despite how hard her temperamental, overly controlling mama had tried to extinguish it — was entirely gone. It its place was bone-weariness and the bruising shadows born of hard times. A recent tragedy, if Rachel were to venture a guess.

They were the same kind of shadows she witnessed in her own eyes every time she stood in front of a mirror.

Silverpines


BOONE CASSIDY’S STORY:

…Thank you kindly for your assistance in this unbelievably stressful matter. If you send me a trustworthy bounty hunter, I will be forever grateful.
Yours truly,
Rachel West 

When a knock sounded on the door of his train car, Boone hastily wadded the letter and stuffed it back in his pocket. “Yes?”

A sandy-haired attendant with a mop of flyaway curls popped his head inside and looked surprised to find a Black man in a pin-striped travel suit lounging in the luxury cabin. “I, ah…” He swallowed. “I’m looking for a Mr. Cassidy?”

“Present and accounted for,” Boone answered dryly, wondering if the man would refuse to serve him like the last one had. In anticipation of such discriminatory treatment, he’d brought along a decent sized stash of non-perishable foods and bottled beverages.

“Very well.” The waiter swallowed again and stepped inside the car, looking nervous. “W-would you care to order any dinner?”

“I would.” Boone was afraid to get his hopes up, but his traitorous mouth started to water at the thought of a warm meal. It had been a full two days since his last one. “What’s on the menu?”

“Roasted ham and chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed asparagus, and a fruit salad.”

“Sounds good to me.” More like heaven, actually. He was already imagining himself biting into the steamy, succulent meat entrees.

“What would you like to drink? There’s tea and lemonade, coffee and…never mind. I don’t believe I’m allowed to serve wine and spirits to your kind.”

As a God-fearing Christian the past twenty-eight years, Boone wasn’t all that interested in ordering wine and spirits, but he couldn’t help resenting the jab about his kind. He knew without asking that the man was referring to his rich-as-molasses color, thanks to his half-Nigerian and half-Hispanic roots. “Tea and coffee would be marvelous,” he assured with a wink, hoping to settle the young man’s jumpiness.

He only looked more nervous. His glazed-over gray eyes dropped to the twin holsters slung around Boone’s hips.

Boone held his gaze steadily. “I’m a bounty hunter, heading up to Silverpines, Oregon to help rescue a little schoolmarm from a conman.”

A faint smile tugged at the edges of the waiter’s mouth, and his shoulders relaxed a fraction. “That sounds like quite an adventure.”

Boone shrugged. “Most of what I do is dangerous work, but it pays well.” Come to think of it, he was probably the wealthiest Black man in the Midwest. In the country, for that matter! Another thought struck him, making him shoot a sly glance up at the waiter. “The sooner you arrive back with my dinner, the bigger your tip will be, son.”

The young man gulped and took off so quickly he stumbled over his own feet on his way out the door.

Boone chuckled at his expense and returned to the wildly un-exciting task of pondering the best way to rid the uppity Mrs. West of her unwanted suitor.

About the Author

Jo 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.

She loves to visit with readers in her Cuppa Jo Readers group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CuppaJoReaders/.

To receive a personal email about each book she publishes, join her New Release Email List at JoGrafford.com or follow her on BookBub at https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jo-grafford.

Plus you can read free chapters of many of her books on http://Wattpad.com/user/JoGrafford.

Will Love Run True?

Dear Teatime Tattler Readers,

I am delighted to inform you that everything is proceeding on schedule in my brother’s courtship of my best friend, Constance Drake. How Samuel fretted when Constance’s father put an end to his suit, but Mr. Drake has seen the error of his ways and now gives permission for Samuel to chart a course toward wedded bliss.

Courtship

It seems the original misunderstanding has been corrected. Since Samuel is an ardent abolitionist and travels frequently on lecture tours, Constance’s father believed that his daughter would risk being widowed. We in the Ohio Abolitionist Society all know the dangers abolitionists face. We have dodged thrown eggs and tomatoes in more than one town. But we are determined to do what we believe is right.

Constance and Samuel will make a wonderful couple!


After seminary, Samuel hopes to be placed at a church in Ohio. His reputation grows with every speaking engagement, so I’m sure he will find the perfect church in which to continue his abolitionist mission.

The only fly in the ointment is Micah Spencer. He and Samuel used to be the best of friends when they attended seminary together, but Micah made some poor choices for his life. He once told me how much he admired Constance, but when Samuel started courting her, Micah bowed out. To make matters worse, Micah turned to slave catching as a way to earn money. Can you imagine?  Micah works directly against Constance. Surely he doesn’t think he has a chance with her now.

I cannot imagine a more perfect union than that of my brother and my best friend. My mother often quotes Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “The course of true love never did run true.”  But surely the way is set for my brother. Micah may pine for Constance, but how could she possibly choose him over Samuel?

About the Book

Ohio promises freedom. Kentucky threatens bondage. Only one thing would entice an escaped slave to take the risk

In 1838, escaping slaves know Ripley, Ohio is a good place to cross into freedom. But slave catchers know it as well. Micah Spencer spends a frozen night silently waiting for runaways, unaware that the next escaping slave will change his life.

Runaway slave Opal knows she’s risking her life and that of her infant by leaving Kentucky and making a desperate journey north. If she is to make it, she’ll have to trust the one person she’s learned to fear.


Constance Drake admires the heroic abolitionists of Ripley but wonders if she has the courage of her convictions. When she’s asked to cross into enemy territory, she’ll have to rely on her faith and every ounce of bravery she has.

Read free with Kindle Unlimited or Buy now!

An excerpt from Freedom River

Constance had been high-spirited during their school days together. Since becoming an adult, she’d adopted a more restrained manner, but that daring spirit still twinkled in her eyes.

The warm memory of their one and only dance made Micah smile. During his last year in college, the town had put on a spring dance. Every maiden in the county had shown up in their best frocks, but Constance had outshone them all.

Micah couldn’t dance worth a lick, but he wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass him by. When the musicians had struck up Annie Laurie, he’d approached Constance from behind and slipped his hand into hers. She’d spun around, obviously surprised, but then she’d smiled.

Oh, that smile. With one daring grin, she’d accepted his invitation and branded his heart.

With his heart pounding and his skin on fire, he’d led her to the edge of the dance floor, set his palm on her waist, and lifted her other hand.

Despite her lacy white glove, her hand on his shoulder felt like a hot coal. She’d followed his dubious lead, all the while smiling into his eyes. At that moment, Micah knew what the hawk felt when it soared above treetops. He would win the girl and make her his own. He would marry her, love her, and care for her until he died.

But his best friend loved her too. Samuel had kept him awake half the night, sighing over Constance. A few weeks later, Samuel began calling on her every Sunday afternoon. Micah had watched and waited, unwilling to surrender his hopes and unable to intervene.

That had been the beginning of the rift between he and Samuel. Samuel Lynton had absorbed every word of Reverend Rankin’s abolitionist teaching. In those days he’d been a zealot for the cause, debating with his fellow students and writing articles for various abolitionist newspapers. He’d risen rapidly in Reverend Rankin’s organization, and he was undoubtedly the teacher’s favorite.

But Micah’s school days hadn’t been so ideal. When his father had learned of Reverend Rankin’s message, Micah’s tuition had disappeared. Samuel’s father owned one of the largest shipbuilding companies in the state, a legacy Samuel would one day inherit, but Micah’s options were few. He could either return to his family’s farm or find another way to support himself. How could Micah ever hope to compete with Samuel?  Then he’d seen the notices in the Ripley paper. Rewards for the return of runaway slaves would be easy money.

About the Author

Claire Sanders is an award-winning author of inspirational novels. Her attention is always drawn to stories about someone fighting for what’s right in the face of overwhelming resistance. That, and a life-long interest in history, led to an appreciation for the abolitionists who dared to break mankind’s law in order to uphold God’s law.

Claire writes about Christians in conflict. Never one to preach, Claire lets the plot reveal how the characters’ faith sustains them through the struggle.

To find out more about Claire, see an complete list of her novels, and sign up for her newsletter, visit her website –

       www.clairesandersbooks.com.

email:  claire@clairesandersbooks.com

Twitter:  @booksbyclaire

Facebook:  Claire Sanders News

Bookbub:  Claire Sanders

Deception and family honor

Welcome to this special lecture presentation of The Teatime Tattler. I am your host and moderator, Samuel Clemens. In our continuing effort to bring you information about the people involved in The Stelton Legacy, we’ve been able to pull off a real coup. Family honor is at stake.

Tonight we meet Lady Darla Maxwell, a young woman for whom her father Graeme Maxwell and close friend, Lord Ewan MacDougall sought a suitable husband. Lady Darla has a … magical background which, as a young woman would, she sought to deny. I hope we can find out more about how her magic influenced the outcome of her story.

Lord Wesley Reynolds, the son of the well-known silk merchant William Reynolds has a most interesting background that I hope he’ll elaborate on today. It’s what made him the man trusted by the King of England as well as the Guardians of Scotland.

One moment, please. I’m getting instructions from our stage manager. (leans over the stage). Ladies and gentlemen. Our stage manager has just informed me our guests have arrived at the studio.

Ah. The lights have dimmed. A hush has come over the theatre. I can see into the wings. Yes. The door has opened. The anticipation in the room is palpable. Wait. I see them. They’re walking toward us. They have a stately and commanding appearance, and they’re holding hands. It is very tender and touching.

(Clemens rises from his chair as his guests’ approach.)

Clemens: Lord Wesley, Lady Darla. It’s good to meet you.

(Chairs scrape the floor, feet shuffle as everyone takes their seats.)

Clemens: Lady Darla please sit here next to Lord Wesley.

(Darla and Wesley hold hands. Wesley eases back in his chair and crosses his legs in a relaxed position.)

Clemens: Thank you for granting us an interview. Everyone here at Inside Scoop is excited you’re with us.

Lord Wesley: Lady Darla and I are happy to be with you today.

Justin: Our time is short so unless you have any questions I’d like to get right to the questions.

Wesley: I have no questions at the moment. Please begin.

Clemens:: (Papers rustle as Clemens gets settled.) Lord Wesley, you have a very interesting personal history with several twists and turns. Please explain how your background made you the man you are today.

Wesley: As a young man I followed in my father’s footsteps. He was both an excellent silk merchant and business man. He taught me the silk business from cultivating the silk worms, to making the final bolts of cloth, to selling and shipping the bolts. I learned by traveling with him and observing him at his work. He was a well-respected merchant and excellent negotiator. When he passed away, I was ready to take over although I will never be able to take his place.

(Darla squeezes Wesley’s hand, her face full of encouragement.)

Justin: I understand you sailed out of the Cinque Ports in southern Europe, in the service of the King of England. Some say you were a privateer.

(Wesley lets go of Darla’s hand and moves to the edge of his seat.)

Wesley: Why do you ask?

Darla: Wesley. (She touches her husband’s arm.)

Wesley: My Love, it still pains me to think of those days much less speak about them.

(Darla gives her husband an encouraging smile. Wesley turns back to Justin and lets out a slow breath.)

Wesley: I provided the king with the silks he wanted, as I did with many monarchs across Europe. Because of my connections I was a good sounding board for him. I had my own ships and one thing led to another. I had no love for the Spanish. They thought I was a charity, taking my goods without paying for them. So, I simply took from their ships to repay their debt. All in all, a good transaction.

Darla: When Wesley’s father took ill he went to help him.

Wesley: There were certain family incidents that happened. Over the years, my brother told me what happened and why. I believed Darla’s father and Lord Ewan, my father’s closest friends plotted against him and my family. I thought they ruined his business and took his property, circumstances that led to his death.

Justin: You said you thought they conspired against your father. I surmise you don’t believe that now. What made you believe it in the first place and why did you have a change of heart?

Wesley: Simply said, I put my trust in someone close and was deceived.

Clemens: Did this have anything to do with the pirate king, MacAlpin?

(Wesley chuckles.)

Wesley: I understand why you ask. The MacAlpin has the reputation of being a ruthless savage pirate. But, in all my dealings with him he proved to be fair and trustworthy. He was instrumental is seeing justice was served. It was difficult after years of believing something so strongly that it became your essence, to have the truth uncovered and recognize you’d been lied to for a very long time.

Justin: I’m sure it is. I understand Lady Darla was at your side.Darla: From the first moment we met on the docks by my father’s ship and I mistook him for Lord Ewan’s son-in-law, Magnus I was drawn to Wesley. I was relieved to learn he wasn’t Magnus. Very pleased indeed.

Wesley: Darla’s father, Lord Graeme Maxwell–

Clemens: The renowned gem and jewelry merchant?

(Darla beamed with pride.)

Wesley: Yes. Maxwell and Lord Ewan were nothing like I expected. After my father’s death I was told again of their thievery, had it stamped into my brain. I didn’t question it. You see, from an early age I was fostered to the Highland Maxwells. When I came back and worked with my father he had already moved the family from our home on Lord Ewan’s island, forced out I was told. I accepted it as truth and when my father died I vowed to take revenge for all the injustices Graeme Maxwell and Ewan MacDougall did to my father and family.

Darla: Wesley thought to use me as a pawn in his effort to hurt my father.

Wesley: (He turns to Darla) That wasn’t one of my shining moments. The more time we spent together and the more I got to know you, your father, and Lord Ewan, the more I knew I had it all wrong, but evil kept buzzing in my ear, pushing me to carry out the plans.

Darla: You found the truth. It’s all over now.

(Wesley holds Darla’s hand and looks into her eyes.)

Wesley: I’m a very lucky man.

(Clemens coughs to remind them they aren’t alone. They both turn toward Clemens.)

Clemens: Lady Darla, I understand you have unique insight—

Wesley: Come Darla. (Wesley gets to his feet.) It’s time to leave.

(Clemens, astonished by Lord Wesley’s action looks at Wesley. Darla remains calm and seated.)

Clemens: M’lord. I apologize if I have offended you or your lady.

Darla: No, Mr. Clemens. My husband is very protective. (Darla stands next to her husband.) I do have a unique ability. I have second sight. I see things before they happen. Some people—

Wesley: Unintelligent, witless ones–

Darla: Mr. Clemens gets your meaning. Some people believe it witchcraft. They say and do foolish things. It is why I kept to myself while growing up. Why I never allowed myself to become attached to a gentleman. How could I get someone I loved tangled in that rat’s nest. Some may see my gift as a blessing, but I assure you it is not. Imagine knowing something terrible is going to happen and you’re not able to influence it at all. I thought I would never marry. I was satisfied with being alone the rest of my life. I was wrong. I had no idea that I waited for the right person, my soul mate. I never saw that coming until I met Wesley. So much for my second sight. When I found him I knew I would never let him go. He is my love, my life.

(Wesley takes his wife in his arms. Clemens stands.)

Wesley: As you are mine. (He turns to Clemens.) Deception and family honor were at stake.

Darla: So was my heart.

Wesley: Do you have any other questions?

Clemens: No, Lord Wesley. Thank you both for speaking to us. (He turns to the audience.) Thank you for coming today. Lady Darla hasn’t told us much about her second sight, but I understand it is quite interesting. You can find out more about Lady Darla’s magic and Lord Wesley in The Pirate’s Jewel. Until next time.

The Pirate’s Jewel

Deception and family honor are at stake – so is her heart.

Wesley Reynolds will do anything to avenge his family’s banishment from Dundhragon Castle even throw in with the notorious pirate, MacAlpin. His plan, ruin Lord Ewan’s trading network. He has a more devious plan for his father’s ‘best friend,’ the man who abandoned them at the eleventh hour. He’ll ruin the man’s most precious jewel, his daughter Darla. Wesley’s so close to ruining the trade network and succeeding he can almost taste it, but revenge is not nearly as sweet as Darla’s kisses.

Darla Maxwell, beloved by her parents has no prospects of marriage. Her father and Lord Ewan search to find her the right husband. Darla’s special gifts are frightening to many. She has visions that often come true. The murky image of a man haunts her, she’s sure it’s Lord Ewan’s soon-to-be son-in-law, but the vision morphs when she meets Wesley. The meaning couldn’t be any clearer to her, her destiny lies with Wesley.

When revelations surface indicating Wesley has been deceived and his revenge misplaced. Will he find the truth of what really happened to his family in time to stop the pirates? Will Darla ever forgive him? Will he ever forgive himself?

Buy Link: Kindle Unlimited https://amzn.to/2Cyrbev

About the Author

Storyteller | Blogger | Creative Thinker | Dreamer | Good Sport | Teammate

Hi – I’m Ruth A. Casie and I write historical and contemporary romance. You might be wondering what I’m about. Sit back and let me tell you.

I’m happiest when I’m telling stories either chatting in a group or writing them down. I love to put my hero and heroine in tough situations and dare them to work it out—together, always together. They haven’t disappointed.  Oh, they complain but in the end their love and relationships are stronger than ever.

Here are five things you probably don’t know about me.

1.  I filled my passport up in one year.

2.  I have three series.  The Druid Knight stories are a historical time travel series. The Stelton Legacy is historical fantasy about the seven sons of a seventh son. Havenport Romances are stories set in a small coast Rhode Island town.  I also write stories in the connected world the Pirates of Britannia.

3.  I did a rap to “How Many Trucks Can a Tow Truck Tow If a Tow Truck Could Tow Trucks.”

4.  When I cook I dance.

5.  My Sudoku book is in the bathroom. I’m not saying anything else about that.

My stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. Their stories will keep you turning the pages until the end. I hope my stories become your favorite adventures.

I’m a USA Today bestselling author.

My hobbies:

* counted cross stitch

* ballroom dancing – not just between the fridge and stove

* reading almost anything

* Sudoko – I’m still staying quiet about that

 Social Media Links:

Website: https://ruthacasie.com/

Email:  mailto:ruth@ruthacasie.com

Personal Blog:  http://www.ruthacasie.blogspot.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/RuthACasie

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/RuthACasie/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ruth-A.-Casie/e/B005V0YEVU/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ruth-a-casie

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ruth-seitelman/6/6b7/964

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ruthacasie/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4792909.Ruth_A_Casie

YouTube:  http://bit.ly/RuthACasieYouTube

Ruth’s Newsletter Signup:  http://ruthacasie.com/contact.html#newsletter

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/ruthacasie/

AllAuthor: http://ruthacasie.allauthor.com

A Widow at the Lighthouse!

Lighthouse

It has come to our attention here at the Teatime Tattler that in a certain town in Maine, there is a widow in charge of the lighthouse. Perhaps the population there is so sparse that they must press ladies into occupations better suited to gentlemen?


We have investigated this untoward circumstance thoroughly, to see if there is some suitable explanation. Perhaps she holds domestic sway while a son does the more — muscular, dare we say, — duties? While there is a son, he is to attend medical school, leaving the widow to attend the lighthouse, her home, and take care of the raising of two younger girls.

Those in town report the widow has taken the duties of lighthouse keeper upon herself. We can only imagine her grief at the loss of her husband has rendered her incapable of understanding her feminine limitations. Why, much mechanical work must be done to keep the lens in order. And much courage is needed to keep the light burning during stormsy weather. Reading the list of instructions for a lighthouse keeper, it becomes clear that only a man is up to the task.


You may suggest that we, who do not live in this town, have no business reporting on their lighthouse keeper. But you forget that the lighthouse is all that prevents ships from foundering in the dark, in the fog, and in stormy seas, where Mother Nature wreaks her bad temper on unlucky sailors. Do we want our sailors coming near a lighthouse where a widow is in charge? We think not.
It has been reported, but we can scarcely credit it ourselves, that the widow had attended the lighthouse well, in all her duties and the town wishes her to remain in place.
If so, we have a suggestion for them: please find that widow a husband, forthwith.

An excerpt…

The sight of her new home stole Betsy’s breath away. The lighthouse perched like an ancient warrior goddess atop the throne of rocks that acted as a bulwark against the relentless surf. The sound and scent and feel of the water permeated through everything, enfolding her in its powerful embrace. She breathed in, closed her eyes—then opened them and carefully picked her path up toward the entrance. 

The front door was constructed of heavy, unpolished wood, as though it had been salvaged directly from the waves. Its austere beauty reminded her of the duke’s ancient manor home, stalwart and secure. The cracks and peels in the dirty white paint around the base of the massive structure became clear as she approached, but they only added to the picture of a home that would stand through a storm and show little damage for it. 

She frowned slightly, looking around. Not that a woman’s hand wasn’t needed here, she was relieved to see. What scrubby grass had managed to pry its way through the stones was left untended. A child’s faded toy ball sat lonely in the center of the footpath, half-deflated. She would make her mark on her new home. Her husband would see that she was a worthwhile addition to his life. 

Betsy paused. She gazed at the sun-bleached, wind-worn outer walls, at the two crumbling steps leading up to a bare stoop. The light above the doorway was clouded with grime. She glanced over her shoulder, but the driver was long gone. All she had left by way of companionship was the lighthouse and the sea. Where was her new family? Why had they not come outside to greet her yet.

She sighed, hoping that this lonely doorstep wasn’t the beginning of a huge mistake. Then she steeled herself once more, climbed the stairs, and knocked. It was cool in the shadow of the building; she felt a chill run through her. The crazy notion of running away, simply turning and bolting down the long ocean road, flashed through her mind—but right behind it was something Kate had said to her as they parted — the only impossibility is the possibility you fail to see.

The door began to open. In moments, it would be too late to flee.

Betsy squared her shoulders and plastered a smile on her face. Emile Laverdiere was a possibility she must see before she let fear chase her away.

 A wraith of a man stood just inside the threshold, his pale eyes huge in the gaunt frame of his face. Betsy bit her tongue just in time to keep a gasp of surprise from escaping her lips. Though she had not chosen to follow the healer path her mother had taken, with her herbs and potions, she knew this man was gravely ill.

“Betsy Lawton?” he asked in a voice that matched the rest of him—thin, frail, reedy.

“Emile Laverdiere?” She looked into his eyes and saw that he had registered her dismay. No doubt he had been expecting it.

 He smiled, and his cheekbones stood out like mountain ridges underneath his sunken eyes. There was humor there, despite the ravage of illness. “The one and only. We have been counting the minutes until your arrival. Though it may be impolite, we must ask what you think of your new home?” 

Betsy somehow kept her smile in place as she took his offered hand and stepped into the lighthouse. Her soon-to-be-husband’s fingers were cold and bony against hers; she feared that if she squeezed at all, his hand would break. “You have a magnificent landscape at your command,” she answered honestly. He had said nothing of illness in his letters. Nor had those who had attested to his honest character and true desire to wed. Could it be recent? Or had she been duped?

His air of acute attention told her he waited for more. There was an air of patient acceptance in his waiting eyes, as if she could tell him the truth. That she did not want to wed a dying man. Did not know if she truly wanted to immure herself on an isolated jut of rock like Rapunzel in one of the duchess’s favorite fairytales.

But she had come all this way, she would not be her practical mother’s daughter to throw everything away without discovering all she could about this place. Her eyes roamed the interior of the lighthouse’s living space, and she found it plain but comfortable. The rounded room was cozy, softly lit, warmed by a small stone hearth. A spiral staircase formed its centerpiece, climbing up and up through the ceiling. Her eyes could not help following it upward into the unknown. She could hear a slight scraping sound, some rustling, a whispered exchange so low she could almost dismiss it as the sound of the wind.

She looked at her soon-to-be-husband. “What is up there?’ Her eyes swept back upward, toward the sound.

He seemed to approve of her question. “Take a look for yourself, if you like.” He gestured upward. “But forgive me for not accompanying you. I will only slow a young woman like you down. It takes me a while to climb up and down, thought I do it three times a day.”

Of course, Betsy thought. That was why he had not been down to greet her quickly. He had come from the top of the lighthouse. She felt a sympathetic ache in her own healthy joints at what he must endure to do his duty three times a day.

She looked upward, walked to the iron railing, and grasped the cold metal. She began to ascend. On the first landing, she paused at what sounded like sudden whispers, but she saw nothing, so she continued upward.

At the very top, she found her answer. The view that had seemed magnificent when she first arrived, had become almost godlike here, above the sea. She could see for miles. She could pick out the people in the village going about their business, but also the sea life in the ocean. Her breath caught. She leaned closer to look. A whale. She could see a whale in the distance, breaching repeatedly like a child at play.

She was careful not to touch any of the instruments that controlled the light. Emile would teach her to use them, she was certain. She had always been an apt pupil. Living in a duke’s household had exposed her to many lessons not always provided to a governess’s daughter. Living with the Fenster siblings had provided her with lessons that went beyond what was possible even in a duke’s household. She had seen one Fenster sister start a business making beautiful high fashion buttons with a cottager, another become an artist of repute, and one a card sharp that others admired. Kate, her best friend and youngest Fenster sister, had won prizes for the roses she created in her greenhouse.

The gleaming brass of the instruments called to her, but she did not touch, except for one, loving stroke. If she accepted the dying man downstairs as husband, this could be hers.

About the Book: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Bride

At long last, Book 8 in the Once Upon a Wedding series has arrived

Lighthouse Keeper

Raised almost as a sister in a duke’s household, Betsy Lawton has let the duchess’ love of fairytale endings lead her to believe she has a chance at true love with a man far above her station.

Betsy Lawton, the governess’ daughter, dares to give her heart to an earl. When he crushes it under his heel to marry according to his family’s expectations, she turns her back on England and departs for America, where rank and station are no impediment to her dreams. Not that Betsy desires true love any longer. Instead she will be the mail order bride of a lighthouse keeper. It is the lighthouse she will love, she vows.


Matthew Thigpen, Earl of Battingston, had always regretted not fighting hard enough to marry the woman he loved, despite her lack of rank and family. But now he needs to find her. The woman he jilted is the only woman who will understand his predicament and keep his daughter safe.

Now a widow, Betsy must marry again to keep her job at her beloved lighthouse. Matthew offers her a devil’s bargain that will allow her to keep her job at the lighthouse she loves and keep his daughter safe as well. But is his bargain worth the lighthouse, if he breaks her heart all over again?

Find buy links here: https://kellymcclymerbooks.com/book/lighthouse-keepers-bride/

About the Author

Kelly McClymer fell in love with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White as a child. Her most prized possession is her copy of The Complete Tales of the Brothers Grimm. These are the stories which gripped our ancestors as they huddled around the fire at night, which taught countless children to persevere through hardship and succeed against the odds. Her favorite fairytale remains “The Six Swans” — where a young sister must not speak a word for six years in order to save her brothers from their stepmother’s evil spell.

An Invitation to Holiday Revels

An invitation addressed to His Grace, the Duke of Harlowe, has found its way into our newsroom. It appears that Gertrude Marsden, Countess of Marsden may have sent several letters of this ilk regarding revels at her country house.  The lady, if we may call her that, is quite bold in her expression in this one. We at the Teatime Tattler believe it will be of interest to our readers, who may wish to be warned about the countess’s nature before they accept.

December 1, 1815

Your Grace~

Now that we’ve sent that rascal Bony to the far reaches of St. Helena, I’m ready for festivities for the Season! I hope you are also.

To marry off my darling nieces, I’ve invited my fondest friends to my Christmas house party on the North Steyne in Brighton from December 21 through December 28. Twenty-six will lodge in the house. More than one hundred also have responded they’ll attend my annual ball Christmas night. At least half of them are eligible men. And should you accept my invitation—which of course this is—you will be numbered among them.

I do hope you will attend us here for the duration! I’ve planned the usual diversions. Greenery gathering, though we do not wish to prick our fingers! Cards and dice, though I will ensure my darling Marjorie does not pick your pocket too deeply! Charades. Do plan to partner me in that game as—perhaps—Romeo and Juliet? Elizabeth and Darcy?

I know it has been five long months since we “played” at anything together. However, I do presume to invite you to join me during this gathering. I need a partner. You.

Yes. You see I am quite frank!

Why?

First and foremost, my step-son, Colonel Lord Marsden, remains with Wellington in Paris. While I wish for his return—especially to do what his heart commands and woo my niece Marjorie—I have no final word from him that the Duke will permit him leave of absence.

Secondly, but not less important, I must declare once and for all, Your Grace, I need you here with me. For Christmas, I wish you close.

I can imagine your marvelous blue eyes wide, your grey brows arched high, with surprise at my declaration of desire. But I am compelled. Driven. Indeed, needy, Your Grace. Needy!

No, I have not written you since I left you in that quaint little hotel room that afternoon in Margate in August. I wished to contemplate what we did there. And I’ve concluded that what I felt then for you, Your Grace, was a passion as hot, an affection as radiant as the summer sun. I feel it still each time I recall us as we lounged like libertines on the terrace naked while the sea crashed upon the shore and took our breaths in such raptures.

I do confess that since I left you that afternoon I’ve been atwitter, hoping against hope you might favor me by calling upon me. Alas, you have not. But I excuse you readily. Of course I do. I put your reluctance down to your desire to conclude your year of mourning for your wife. That formal period ended last week.

After much thought on the matter, I can understand other reasons why you’ve not approached me. You were shocked by your quick affections. I was surprised by my own. After all, it had been five years since last we met…and enjoyed the varied rewards of our mutual affections. Five years ago, those were of conversation and the recognition of like minds. Our Margate encounter was the rekindling of those sparks which previously we dared not fan. Yet I will declare our interlude was a unique rapture. If my heart palpitated with exquisite delights that afternoon we spent in the throes of madness, my mind since then has relived a thousand times the ecstasy we shared.

Might you not come to my party? Might we not rekindle the flames of a glorious afternoon rolling as God made us upon those downy linen sheets?

Yes, you may call me bold. Yes, you may refuse me a response.

But I ask you, Your Grace, is not life for the living?

My husband has long since departed this world.

Your wife, gone less time, but nonetheless not of this world.

My step-son is grown. A man about to take a wife. My other responsibilities of my dearly departed sister’s three daughters will soon cease as they go to their own marriage beds. My days spread before me and I wish for another marvelous taste of true love before I grow too mature to revel in its physical pleasures…and its ethereal rewards.

Won’t you join me and my guests for Christmas?

Let us hail Christmas with reverence. Hail my nieces’ and my step-son’s engagements with joy. And ring in the New Year, just you and I alone in a cocoon of our mutual desires for romance, love and conjugal unity.

Darling Winston, let us not to the marriage of true minds find impediments. We are too old to worry that children may object. Would yours dare? They married for love. We two are also free, unburdened by family responsibilities. Your three are married and prospering. Mine soon will be, too. We both are too established among the ton to care that you are a duke, widowered, and I, a widowed countess who has slept alone for more years than I care to recall.

May we not, my dear, revel in the Season and in each other?

I long to kiss you and invite you to cavort with me!

Let this be a happy Christmas! Come to my party! We’ve much to enjoy!

                                             Yours affectionately,
                                                      Gertrude

About the Books

The Countess of Marsden invites you to her house party! Seven nights and days of frolic, gossip, dancing…and match-making for her three nieces.
Sad, isn’t it, that none of the Craymore sisters wishes to wed?
Exciting, isn’t it, that three war heroes arrive who know precisely what they want for Christmas?
Wonderful, isn’t it, that each might gain the most precious Christmas gift of all?

Find them here:

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0089DS2N2

 About the Author

Cerise DeLand loves to cook, hates to dust, lives to travel, read and write!

She pens #1 Bestselling Regencies and Victorians known for their spice, historical accuracy and eloquence! With awards on her shelves for more than 60 romances, she’s written for Pocket, St. Martin’s and Kensington. She likes awards…and wine at 5 p.m.

Find Cerise:

Cerise DeLand’s Website www.cerisedeland.com

Cerise DeLand’s Delicious Doings Blog: http://cerisedeland.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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