Good Afternoon everyone,
I’m hoping to cheer you up and give you a reason to smile in the beginning of this week. As you all know I love North and South as much as I love Pride and Prejudice, and I’m always eager to find more North and South variations out there because compared to Pride and Prejudice variations they are very scarce, so I was very happy to know that Julia Daniels started working on another North and South novel called Milton’s Magistrate. This is still a work in progress but we thought that you would like to have a sneak peek at the first chapter, so we are sharing it today along with some wonderful news.
For those who don’t know this author yet, she has written several romances placed in very different timings and settings and two of them are North and South variations, Master of Her Heart which I’ve reviewed here at From Pemberley to Milton and Milton’s Mill Master which will be FREE for an entire week starting today! If you haven’t read it yet, this is your chance to grab a copy, this link will take you directly into Amazon.
Don’t know this author’s work yet? This is the perfect chance to get a glimpse at her writing as you’ll have an entire chapter to read 😉
“The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
-Sir Robert Peel
Dodging unopened packing crates as she entered the drawing room of their new home in the Crampton Precinct of Greater Milton, Margaret Hale was on a desperate mission to get this room put into some semblance of order by nightfall. Her father’s first pupil would visit that evening, and everything had to be in perfect order. The large room at the front of the rented townhouse in the Crampton district was to be a combination study area for her father’s visiting pupils and a place to relax together as a family in the evenings. The home was much smaller than they were all accustomed to, but for the price, it had been the finest place she and her father could find available in the industrial town.
Margaret, along with her mother and father had arrived in Milton, an industrial town in northeastern England, just five days earlier. This room had been consigned to the lowest priority for settlement. The kitchen and dining room had been unpacked first, followed by her mother’s room, and then her father’s. Although Margaret’s belongings were still crated, this room had to be taken care of that day as her father was hoping his first student would begin reading with him that evening.
She puffed out a heavy breath as she looked at the dozens of crates, most filled with books she needed to unload and place on the empty, built-in shelves. The furniture had been placed in the room, but the pieces still bore the white sheets that had kept them clean on the long railroad trip from the vicarage in Helstone. She decided she would unbind them first, which would allow her a clean place to sit as she sorted her father’s books.
She had forgotten the list her father created before departing the house that morning. She walked through the narrow pathway she’d created between crates and into the hallway that led to the dining room, where the list likely remained, still on the table where she’d sat for breakfast. As she walked, she tripped on the edge of the Oriental rug that ran the length of the hallway, catching the wall to keep from falling to the ground. The rug was lovely but badly worn in areas, especially the edges. It had come with the house, but it would have to be removed. As often as they would trot down this main hallway, and with her mother’s presently weakened state, it simply could not stay.
As Margaret bent over and began to roll up the runner, planning to store it in the crawlspace under the kitchen, a scream sounded from the back of the house. Margaret dropped the rug, jumped over what she had already rolled up, and rushed to see what the issue was. Dixon had probably seen another mouse, as they’d found several in the kitchen already, but Margaret needed to be certain.
Dressed for her planned excursion to the market, the housekeeper was staring out the back door of the home, clinging to the door jamb, her mouth hanging ajar as if in shock.
“Dixon? Whatever are you looking at?”
The maid didn’t respond.
“Dixon!” Margaret barked sharply. Frustrated, she moved closer to see what in the world the maid was viewing.
On the ground, just below the stairs, a burly man lay still, his neck bloodied from a gaping, horizontal slash across his throat. Margaret cringed and pulled away from the door, bile rising in her throat at the site of a dead man. She sat quickly on a chair and bent over, breathing deeply
Dixon slammed the door and joined Margaret at the small kitchen table.
“You must go find a watchman, Miss Margaret.” Dixon’s urgent voice was quiet, a reminder that Margaret’s mother was still asleep upstairs. It would not do to have her mother become aware of the lifeless body residing in their backyard.
“Should you not go, Dixon?” Margaret took a deep breath and looked up. “You had planned to go to the market. If Mama wakes and finds me gone, she’d think it strange.” Margaret shook her head, eyes wide. “She cannot know about this.”
Maria Hale’s health and spirits had deteriorated rapidly since their arrival. Barely fifty, Mother seemed to have aged a decade overnight. At present, she refused to leave her room except for meals. She refused trips to the market and shops, and while there had been few opportunities to socialize with people of their ilk, she had showed no interest in meeting any people in their new town. Margaret would try to convince her mother to attend church this upcoming Sunday, but she was not holding out hope.
“You should go,” Dixon sputtered. Her gaze remained fixed on the door, a fearful look upon her face.
Dixon often forgot she was a servant. She had been lady’s maid to Margaret’s mother for nearly forty years. As such, they behaved more like sisters and confidantes, than employer and employee. This gruesome task of reporting a murder was not something a young woman of good breeding should be forced to complete. Indeed, her Aunt Shaw would faint dead away at the very prospect of it, but if Dixon would not go, then Margaret must.
Margaret frowned when Dixon finally looked her way. “While I am gone, please finish rolling up the rug in the hallway so Mama will not trip on it should she come to eat lunch.” Margaret stood and replaced her chair under the table. “Lock the main door after me, and do not open the back door again, no matter who comes to call. Perhaps you ought to place a chair under the door knob to block any entrance.”
Margaret marched out of the kitchen. Where in the world would she go to find a watchman in this part of Milton? She was shaking inside, scared what else she might encounter outside her front door. In London, especially on Harley Street where Aunt Shaw resided, it would be quite easy to find a lawman, but here…well, Margaret hadn’t had time to become familiar with the area. She grabbed her hat off the table in the front hallway and exited the house, certain to close the door firmly behind her. Dixon had better heed Margaret’s advice and lock the door.
She paused on the porch and looked in both directions. Which way…? Suddenly, she had a thought. Mrs. Williams. Surely, their new neighbor could guide Margaret toward the closest police station. She descended the steps, turned right out of the gate, then walked along Fulbright, the town’s main road. A few moments later, she stopped at the very last house on the row. Mrs. Williams was the only person she could think of who could help, and as Margaret climbed the stairs, she hoped the older woman was willing to render assistance. With Mr. Bell gone and her father Lord only knew where, she had nowhere else to turn.
Just earlier that week, after they first arrived, Cecilia Williams had stopped to welcome them with a pie. She had lived in this last house on the row for nearly twenty years and would surely know where Margaret could go for help. The woman quickly answered Margaret’s knock.
“Well good day, Miss Hale!”
“Oh Mrs. Williams it is not a good day!” Margaret cried. “Not a’tall!”
“Whatever is the matter, child?” She took Margaret’s hand and tried to pull her inside the home. “Do come in!”
“I cannot.” Margaret shook her head. “I fear I have no time to waste. A man lies dead, Mrs. Williams!”
“Oh heaven’s no!” Margaret continued to shake her head, and then took a deep, steadying breath so she might more calmly explain. “There is a stranger dead on my back porch. I must find a watchman to report it.”
“A dead man? In Crampton?” Mrs. Williams made a clicking noise with her tongue. “What on earth is this world coming to? Allow me to fetch my coat and gloves and I will take you to the police station.”
Margaret stayed on the upper step of the house while Mrs. Williams went to collect her garb. She glanced around the neighborhood, wondering if the killer was still there, just lying in wait. She shivered at the thought. Had the man been chosen or had it been a random act?
Mrs. Williams was quick to rejoin her and after locking her door, she Together, they rushed through the blustery gray day toward New Street, where Mrs. Williams explained, the nearest police station was located.
“Mrs. Williams, could you slow down a bit, please?” Margaret was struggling to keep up with the much older, spry woman. “I fear I am not as good of a walker as you appear to be.”
“You will have to become accustomed to walking, Miss Hale. Nothing is close to Crampton, and if you do not have means to hire or maintain a carriage, your feet will be your sole transportation!”
She was correct. That had been one of Margaret’s main concerns in settling so far from the town’s center. Although she had walked plenty in London, she’d done so strictly for pleasure, not out of necessity. Aunt Shaw had never allowed Margaret to walk too far and never without an appointed chaperone. Milton was completely different. Women here wandered freely with no need for a chaperone, and most women her age worked in one of the dozens of mills in town, giving the girls far more freedom and independence than Margaret would ever have in London, or perhaps even here. And now, of course, with her father’s reduced circumstances, there would be no carriages—hired or otherwise.
After a hurried, thirty-minute walk, they reached a building at the corner of New Street and Mills, upon which hung a simple, weather-worn wooden sign that read, Police. Mrs. Williams pushed opened the heavy wooden door and breathlessly, Margaret followed her inside.
A navy-blue uniformed man with a trimmed beard sat at a desk right inside the door. He stood quickly as they neared his desk.
“Ladies?” His voice was very high-pitched. “Have you a problem?”
“Yes!” Margaret cried. Still a bit out of breath, she continued. “There is a dead man lying upon the stairs outside the back door of my home!” She tried to remain calm in her explanation, but the shock was too much.
“A dead man?” The official’s eyes had narrowed, and his tone sounded skeptical, but he resumed his seat, reached for a clean sheet of paper, and inked his quill. Looking up, he studied her. “How can you be certain he is not just asleep?”
She uttered an unladylike snort. “Sir, his throat was cut, and there is blood all over his shirt. My maid was on her way to the market and found him when she opened the door!”
As she spoke, the man wrote out the information she gave him, his penmanship careful and neat. When he looked up, he turned to look at Mrs. Williams.
“You are her maid?” he asked.
“Heavens, no.” Mrs. Williams shook her head, affronted. “I am her neighbor. We live in Crampton, sir, in Fulbright Street.”
His face lit up. “Mr. Bell’s properties?”
“Yes.” Margaret nodded quickly, relieved he finally showed some interest. “Adam Bell is my godfather, sir.”
His voice fairly trembled with excitement, and she half-expected him to leap over his desk at any moment and race out the door. He called out to two other men, both of whom wore similar uniforms but their woolen suits had fewer fancy details. The sergeant, who Margaret learned was called Hubert Snipe, quickly explained the situation to the new arrivals, both constables, and soon Margaret and Mrs. Williams followed the three men down a dark, narrow hall and out a back door.
“How did you get here, Miss…?”
“Hale. I am Margaret Hale,” she answered Sergeant Snipe. “Mrs. Williams and I walked.”
His eyes widened. “You walked all the way here from Crampton?”
“Yes.” She nodded. “It cannot have been more than two miles?”
“It is nearly four, Miss Hale,” he told her. “Please, come along with me in the carriage. Boys, bring the wagon.”
He helped her climb into the rig and then turned to help Mrs. Williams. The older woman slid in next to Margaret.
“I shall ride up on top with the driver,” he said before closing the door.
As soon as she heard him climb aboard, the horses pulled them away.
“How glad I am not to have to walk back. I did not realize just how far we had traveled.” Mrs. Williams chuckled, but relief showed clearly on the older woman’s face. “My husband works at Marlborough Mills and walks this twice every day!”
Milton was a mill town. Mr. Bell had said that over eighty percent of the population of Milton relied on the cotton mills for their daily wage. As long as the mills did well and the price of cotton stayed strong, so did Milton and its residents.
“What does he do at the mill, Mrs. Williams?”
Except for the initial meeting when Mrs. Williams brought the pie to Margaret’s family, they had not shared an extended conversation. Instead, they had waved to each other in passing and talked only once, for a short time, when Margaret ran into her at the market two days earlier.
She tipped up her chin. “He is Mr. Thornton’s overseer. He manages the whole of the mill.” Pride underlined her words.
“And which mill is that again?”
Margaret had tried to pay attention earlier when Mrs. William told her, but still in shock, she could not remember the name. Through gossip Dixon had picked up at the market, Margaret had learned some of the mills were run better than others.
“Marlborough Mills. It’s the largest one in Milton. Mr. Bell owns those buildings, too, you know. The machinery and business, however, solely belongs to Mr. Thornton.”
“That sounds like a taxing job, Mrs. Williams. The largest in Milton! My goodness, I should like to see inside one day, just to have a peek at how such a facility is operated. I have come to understand the mills run very long hours.” The whistles that blew through town early and late each day were testament to that.
“Indeed, child. My George leaves well before dawn and is home barely before nine each evening. With our children grown and gone, my days are quite long and lonely.”
She looked out the window as she admitted the last, and Margaret’s heart went out to her.
“You must come and visit us whenever you wish,” Margaret offered, grabbing the older woman’s hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. “My mother is undergoing a rather…difficult adjustment to Milton. Perhaps if she had someone familiar with the town to learn from, she might become more comfortable?” A thought suddenly crossed her mind. “Has this happened before, Mrs. Williams? Is Crampton so dangerous that we will find dead bodies wherever we go?”
Mrs. Williams snorted. “No, indeed! Why I have never heard of a murder in this neighborhood! This is an anomaly, Miss Hale. A horrible, horrible, rare instance. I would not have lived here as long as we have were it a dangerous area. Furthermore, Mr. Bell would not allow such behavior to occur in and around his properties.”
“That is a relief.” Margaret’s hand rested heavy against her chest. “But Mr. Bell is in Oxford so much; how can he possibly be aware of the condition of his properties in Milton?”
“Oh! I suppose being so new here, you would not know. You see, Mr. Thornton manages all of Mr. Bell’s properties within Milton, which includes his mill and our Crampton homes. There may be other places, as well, but those are the ones I am certain of.”
“This Mr. Thornton sounds like a rather important fellow in Milton,” Margaret commented.
“Oh, he is! He is a very fine man. He started with nothing and grew to become an extraordinarily powerful, respected gentleman. Especially for someone so young. I expect he is not yet thirty-five.”
The coach came to a halt just on the corner of Fulbright. An instant later, Sergeant Snipes popped open the carriage door. The wagon pulled to a halt directly next to them, the constables waiting, no doubt, for Snipes to give them their orders on how to proceed.
“Miss Hale, would you be so kind as to lead me to your residence?” he asked her.
Margaret stepped out of the carriage and waited until Mrs. Williams was also on the ground before she pointed Snipes to her house at the very end of the row.
“I shall leave you here, Miss Hale,” Mrs. Williams said. “I have no stomach to deal with a dead man.”
“Of course.” Margaret gave her a quick, impulsive hug. “Thank you so much for your assistance today. I do not believe I could have done this without your support.”
Mrs. Williams tipped up Margaret’s chin in a motherly way. “You are a strong young woman, not like the other soft ones who have come up from the south. Yet, I vow, you are as fine as any lady I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.”
“That is kind of you to say.” Mr. Bell would be glad to know Margaret made a fine first impression with her new neighbors, his tenants.
“Miss Hale!” Snipes barked, “Let us be on our way, if you please.” His men in the parked wagon shifted on the bench, while their horses pawed at the ground.
“Yes, sir. I am sorry.” Margaret turned to Mrs. Williams. “Come along. Let me walk you to your door.”
They climbed the steps, and Mrs. Williams paused on her front stoop.
“Please, do come to visit us. You will always be welcome for tea or otherwise,” Margaret told her.
“I shall, Miss Hale. Once you have fully settled, do let me know, and I will visit at once.”
This time, Mrs. Williams hugged Margaret before walking inside her home. Margaret caught a glimpse of the entry hall over the woman’s shoulder before the door closed. Was the house identical in design to the one in which she and her parents lived, or, seeing as the building had been erected on a corner lot, was the Williams’s place larger? Of course, she didn’t have time to dwell on such matters. Not with Sergeant Snipes waiting for her to lead him and his men down the road to her home.
Please, let Mother still be in her bedchamber, Margaret prayed. She could never explain the presence of these men without causing her mother alarm. Perhaps they would have no need to come inside the house? Surely, Margaret could answer their questions in the alleyway just as easily as she could in their front parlor. She could see no need to disrupt the entire household with this matter.
“This is our house.” She stopped at the base of the stairs. “If you go through the alley over there”—she pointed not thirty feet away—“you will find him at the back door.”
Snipes nodded to his constables, and immediately, they went down the path through the alley. Margaret trailed behind, looking over shoulder, hoping the neighbors were all away from home, at work, and not at home, peeking out their windows and watching her with the uniformed men. It was hardly a good impression for a newcomer to make.
She prayed the body was gone, that it had been a horrible, sick joke. But no, the man was still dead, lying on her back porch. The two constables began looking around the area, studying the ground, searching for evidence, she supposed.
“How long have you lived her, Miss Hale?” Snipes asked.
“We arrived on Sunday afternoon. This is our fifth day now, sir.”
Snipes walked forward, circled the body the best he could without moving him. He bent closer, studying the gaping hole in the man’s throat. She pulled a handkerchief from her sleeve and covered her mouth and nose. Was that the odor of rotting flesh or some other foul smell? She had no idea what the smell was, only that it twisted her stomach. Could the body have begun to decompose already?
“I know this may be difficult for you, Miss Hale, but I need you to take a close look at this man and tell me if he is known to you.” Snipes looked to his constables. “Cover the wound with the sheet you brought. It would not do for her to see such a thing.”
“I saw him before coming to you. At least, I looked quickly.” Still holding her linen cloth over her face, she moved forward and stopped beside the sergeant.
“Miss Hale?” Snipes asked.
She shook her head and moved back. “As far as I know, I have never seen this man.”
“Very well. Boys, load him up. Miss Hale, may I come inside your home and talk with you, please?”
“Yes, of course.” She nodded. “Shall we go to the front?”
He nodded and followed behind her, his leather boots crunching the gravel as they walked. When they reached the door, she found it locked, just as she had asked Dixon to do. She knocked quietly, hoping the maid, and not her mother, would hear them.
Dixon came to answer, cracking open the door.
“It’s me,” Margaret told her.
Dixon pulled the door wide and stepped back. “Oh, miss! You are here. I saw the policemen in the back but did not see you with them.”
Margaret walked inside. She invited Snipes to enter, then closed the door. “Dixon, this is Sergeant Snipes. Dixon is our maid.” Margaret addressed the woman in question. “Would you bring tea, please?”
“Yes, miss.” Dixon looked closely, almost fearfully toward Snipes but left to fulfill Margaret’s request.
Margaret removed her gloves and hat and set them on the table by the door. She held out her hand to accept Snipes’ hat but instead, he held onto it.
“We can go into the drawing room.” She pointed to the door on the right. “We have yet to unpack in there, but I shall remove the coverings on the furniture, and we should be rather comfortable.”
She was nervous suddenly. She had nothing to worry about. She did not know the dead man, had no idea how he had come to land on her stairs. That was truly all she knew, all she could tell the sergeant.
She pulled the white sheets off her father’s favorite chair and the matching one next to it where her mother often sat when the furniture had filled the parlor in their vicarage home. “Please, do sit, sir.”
He sat as soon as she did.
“I assume the maid who answered the door is the one who discovered the body this morning?” he asked.
“Yes. We have just one servant at present.” She swallowed. “I had just finished breakfast and was getting ready to unbox my father’s books.” She gestured toward all the sealed crates. “Dixon screamed. I thought she saw another mouse, as we’ve had half a dozen or so since we moved in. But when I arrived in the kitchen, she was staring out the door. I went to stand beside her, and that when I saw…” Margaret shook her head and shuddered.
“Did you touch the body?”
“No!” Margaret said. “I did not even approach it—him. I saw the blood at his neck and had to turn away. I went to sit at the kitchen table to gather my wits. I have never seen a dead body before, sir.”
“I imagine not.” He chuckled. “Fortunately, you will likely never see another.”
Dixon rapped softly on the door before entering with the tea service.
“Could I speak with your maid, Miss Hale?”
Margaret nodded. “Of course.”
“Perhaps you could step out of the room while we talk?” he asked Margaret. “I wish to hear her experience since she was the first to see the man.”
“Yes, I can understand that. Dixon, please do answer his questions, and fetch me when you are finished.” Margaret stood. “Serve him some tea as well. It is a rather grim day.”
Margaret stepped out of the room and closed the door behind her. Thank goodness her mother was still above stairs! Most of the time, Margaret would have preferred her mother to be amongst the family, but for the moment, Margaret prayed Mama would stay abed.
She walked to the back of the house to look out the kitchen window and see if the constables had left. As she’d hoped, they, along with the dead man, were gone. No evidence remained of the blood that had dripped from the dead man’s neck to cover his shirt and shoulders. His left leg had hung at an odd angle, appearing to be broken or twisted. How the poor soul had suffered! Would she ever know who he was or why he’d been killed? Or most importantly, why someone had dumped him on their doorstep?
She poured herself a cup of tea from the pot on the stove and sank onto a hard-backed chair, waiting for the sergeant to complete his discussion with Dixon. She took a sip of the tea, wondering where her father had gone that morning and when he would be home. At breakfast, he had told her he had a meeting with a new student to establish a learning schedule. She had been distracted, reading a letter from her cousin, Edith Lennox, so he very well may have explained further, but she could not recall any other details. She just hoped he would come home before the sergeant left.
Margaret had drank all but the last dregs of her tea when Dixon came looking for her. The pasty-faced maid stopped in the kitchen doorway, a faraway look in her eyes.
“Miss Margaret, the sergeant wishes to see you,” she murmured.
“Are you well?” Margaret asked, standing. “You are so pale.”
“I am well. It was just difficult to explain what I saw. To remember…” Dixon sat heavily and rested her head in hands, rubbing her eyes with the heels of her palms.
“Yes, I am certain that was difficult. It was painful for me, also.” Margaret rested her hand on Dixon’s shoulder. She, too, felt as if the vivid images of the dead man were burned into her mind. “Have some tea, or perhaps something stronger if it will help. Just keep Mama out of the drawing room until Sergeant Snipes leaves.”
“Yes, Miss Margaret. I best go check on her right now, or I might just start tipping the bottle.”
Margaret leaned forward with a grin. “I would not blame you. What a fright!”
She left the room, shaking her head. Just as she reached the drawing room, the front door opened, admitting her thin, gray-haired father.
“Oh, thank goodness you are home.” She rushed forward to greet him.
He opened his arms, and she threw herself into his embrace.
“Oh, Papa! A horrible thing has happened.” She squeezed him and then pulled back. “There is a police sergeant in the drawing room.”
“A police sergeant!” he cried. “Whatever happened?”
“Shhh, you will distress Mama. Come along.” She took his hand and led him into the drawing room. She closed the door behind them.
“Sergeant Snipes, this is my father, Mr. Richard Hale.”
The two men wordlessly shook hands.
“To what does your visit pertain?” her father asked.
“Please, have a seat, Mr. Hale. Perhaps Miss Hale will explain?” Snipes suggested. He sat as soon as she was settled.
“Papa, Dixon was going to the market this morning. Just after you left us, she walked out the back door and found a dead man!”
“What? A dead man? Outside our home? Is that what you are you saying, Margaret?” His face turned stark white.
“Yes, Papa. The man was lying on our back steps. I went to fetch Mrs. Williams—you know, the lady at the end of our row who brought us that pie? She agree to take me to the police station.”
“Do we know the man, Margaret?”
“No, Papa.” Margaret shook her head. “I have never before seen him.”
“Mr. Hale, I spoke with your Miss Dixon at length. She said she did not recognize the fellow, either. She did say you left just before she had planned to depart for the market. Did you leave by the front or rear door?”
“Why, the front of course.”
“Of course,” the sergeant said. “Did you see anything odd or out of the ordinary?”
Her father wrinkled his brow. “You must understand, sir, everything is new here for us.” He smiled softly at Margaret. “We have never lived in such a place. But from what I have seen the past few days, no, nothing seemed amiss.”
“Do you own a knife, Mr. Hale?”
“A knife?” he whispered. “Is that how he was killed?”
Snipes nodded curtly.
Margaret shook he head. “No, Papa. Someone cut his throat.”
She stared at her hands, uncomfortable to be discussing such a thing. How could this happen to them! Five days in their new town and trouble had already found them!
“I—that is, yes, we have knives in the kitchen, I suppose, but I do not carry a knife or have anything aside from food cutlery,” her father said.
“I believe you, Mr. Hale.” Snipes stared at her father for several minutes in silence, perhaps pondering what else to ask? “Would you please tell me where you went this morning?”
Her father nodded quickly and sat up straighter in his chair. “Yes, of course. I came to Milton to be a private tutor. One of my new students had requested I meet him during his mid-morning break so we might develop a teaching schedule. I have to work around his mill responsibilities, you see.”
“And where was this visit?” Snipes asked.
“It was at Marlborough Mills.”
The mill where Mr. Williams worked and one of the buildings Mr. Bell owned!
Snipes grunted. “You will be tutoring one of the hands from Marlborough Mills?”
“Gracious, no, not a laborer. I met with the master himself! Mr. John Thornton has requested my assistance in finishing his learning of Latin and Greek. I am an instructor of the classics, Sergeant Snipes.”
“Do you know, Papa, Mr. Thornton oversees these properties for Mr. Bell?”
“I do, Margaret.” Her father nodded slowly. “That is precisely how I was first introduced to Mr. Thornton, through Mr. Bell, first through letters. When you were at the station on Monday, waiting for our furnishings to arrive, Mr. Thornton came here to introduce himself and to offer his services should they be needed. He and Bell are close associates.”
Snipes stood. “I think I have all the information I need at present.”
“What is to happen next?” Margaret asked.
“We will attempt to learn the man’s identity and question people in the neighborhood. It is shame you’ve undergone such an experience, especially having only arrived here, Miss Hale.” He smiled gently. “Please, do be assured the town is not unsafe for ladies such as yourself, or gentlemen, for that matter. I will place a watchman here in Crampton for several days. Also, if it pleases you, I will send a man here to install some sliding panels on your door, for further protection?”
“How kind of you, Sergeant Snipes. That would be very agreeable,” her father said, nodding.
Margaret stood next to her father, and together, they showed Snipes to the front entry. Her father opened the door for him and stepped aside. Before he walked through the door, Snipes turned back to face them, a small grin upon his face.
“I am unsure if you are aware, but in addition to running Marlborough Mills, Mr. Thornton is also Milton’s Magistrate.”
Julia lives in Nebraska with her husband and two kids. In addition to writing, she designs counted cross-stitch patterns, sews, gardens and cares for an odd menagerie of animals, including chickens and goats.
So far she has published the following romances:
North & South Variations and Regency:
1910-20’s & Contemporary Romances:
.Julia Daniels would like to offer one ebook copy of any of her books to my readers. All you need to do is comment on this post and let us know which book you would like and why. The giveaway is international and it is open until the 17th of November.
Good luck everyone!