Wishing a very happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it. Can you believe it’s only a month to Christmas? (I can – am off the wall with excitement!) Sunday is the start of Advent, so we’ll be getting out a wreath and candles to start our preparation for the big day. Okay – that’s a lie. My preparations for Christmas start on December 26th.
It’s time for another Charlie freebie for the mailing list. This one was originally written for a Dorothy L Sayers Society ‘Death in the Cathedral’ competition and can be downloaded exclusively by newsletter subscribers for the next fortnight. The next freebie – the Cambridge Fellows/ Eleventh Hour crossover – will be out at the end of December, so if you want to sign up click the link on the right hand side of my website home page.
Wild Bells is now available for pre-order ahead of its release date of 1st December. This is my first foray into self-publishing (see, you can teach an old dog new tricks) and combines in on edition two previously published historical novellas, The Shade on a Fine Day and The Angel in the Window. Both of which have a winter theme. Here’s a smidge, in which Tom and Alexander from The Angel in the Window are on the way home from the Christmas Eve service.
They reached the house tingling with cold and welcoming the glasses of hot mulled wine thrust into their hands. The household and guests were still up enjoying drinks and a light supper, servants and all on this special day. Mr. Anderson—a wrinklier, balder version of his son—bounded over and embraced them both.
“About to set the dogs out to look for you. Stargazin’ and daydreamin’ again, was he?”
“No, but not for want of trying.” Alexander nodded, stray auburn wisps from his queue escaping onto his neck. “I’m amazed he hasn’t driven us all to grey hairs.”
“Why do you think I have so little of mine left?” Mr. Anderson, beaming, ran his hands through his thinning locks.
“What are you boys up to?” A deep, pleasant female voice announced the arrival of the Mrs. Anderson. “Talking about the sermon? Or was it Drury Lane?”
“Discussing my faults, mother.!” Tom kissed her cheek. “We could be here till Lammas.”
She grinned. “The next Lammas but one. Now, tomorrow. No hunting.”
“Oh, mother, surely…”
She stifled her son’s argument with a wave of her hand. “I’ve been keeping the local young ladies at bay for you, as you’d wish. Had to use the tactic ‘Injured in action, ship’s surgeon insists on complete rest’. What will they and their mothers think if they see you cavorting on a horse?”
“No ‘buts’. If you wish to chase the fox, you must risk being chased by the vixens and I’ll offer you no place to go to ground, my boy.” She narrowed her eyes. “And watch what you wear. If you’re done up like a spinsters’ delight, you’ll have to live with the consequences.”
“We should have you leading the fleet,” Alexander, emboldened by wine and warmth, bowed to his hostess. “Not even Sir Edward Pellew could show such dash.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Mr. Anderson said, raising his glass and proposing the first of many toasts.
After what seemed an age of “wives and sweethearts” and “confusion to Napoleon”, the post-church party dispersed, and everyone could creep away to bed. Although Alexander had the distinct, disquieting impression his host had said something like, “Those boys. Think of the quantity of feminine guile that will be wasted on them over the years,” as he and Tom had ascended the stairs.
And finally, talking of cathedrals…Winchester, en route for the Cathedral Christmas market last evening. Quite magical.