by Molly Noble Bull
Gatehaven by Molly Noble Bull is a Gothic Historical Novel with a strong Christian message and set in a scary mansion in the north of England. Scroll down to read the first six chapters in a new format.
Gatehaven was divided into ten parts. Each day for ten days one of the ten parts were to be posted on a different blog.
Below is the list of blogs so you will know exactly where to go each day to read Gatehaven. But if you miss a day, no problem. I will post each of the ten parts right here on my Writers Rest blog on the day after each posted date.
Writers Rest: http://writersrest.blogspot.com
. Daily Chapter Excerpt for Gatehaven can be found at:
March 5: #3 Barbara Derksen www.barbaraannderksen.com
March 6: #4 Cheryl Colwell www.inspiredfictionbooks.com
March 7: #5 Carol Brown www.connectwithcarolbrown.blogspot.com
March 10: #6 Laura Davis www.interviewsandreviews.com/book-of-the-week
March 11: #7 Emma Right emmaright.com/blog
March 12: #8 Kimberly Payne www.kimpayne.wordpress.com
March 13: #9 Martin Roth www.martinroth.com.au
March 14: #10 Molly Noble Bell writersrest.blogspot.com
Part Two of Ten
Luss, Scotland—four months later
“The Earl of Northon?” Shannon’s mother stared at her with a hint of mockery in her eyes. “When did he ask you to be his wife?”
“Last night, Mama, after the service at our church. You saw me talking to him in plain sight. And I promised to travel to England with him to meet his family.”
“No!” Her mother popped up from the couch, her hands trembling. “That is out of the question. I will not allow it.”
“Will not allow it?” Shannon couldn’t believe what she had just heard. What could have caused her mother to be so upset? “Why, Mama? I thought you and Papa liked the earl.”
“I said the English earl was handsome. But Ian Colquhoun is handsome, too.”
“Did you refuse to let me go to England because you want me to marry Ian? Is that the real reason?”
Her mother shook her head. “I cannot allow you to go to England because I cannot go along as your chaperone—even if the baby were not on the way. It is much too dangerous.”
“Now Rachel.” Her father reached out and took her mother’s hand. “What happened in England was a long time ago.” He gently pulled Mama back down to the settee. Then he put his arm around her. “I agree with your concerns. But England should be safe for any of us now.”
“Do not worry, my love. With the baby coming and all, it would not be good for your health.”
Mama crossed her arms over her chest. “I cannot stop worrying.”
Papa gazed at her mother with gentle, comforting eyes. “Have you forgotten that we are under the shadow of the Almighty and that one day we will enter the pearly gates of heaven?”
His voice sounded as kind as he was. But Shannon noted a wrinkle on his forehead above his dark eyebrows.
“We moved here because we thought Scotland was a safe place for Huguenots to live,” her father said. “But Scotland is not fit for Scots or Huguenots since the British took over. Were it not for the fighting across the sea, we would have moved to Charles Towne years ago—where your Uncle Henri lives today. Henri thinks we should emigrate now, and I want us to leave as soon as possible.”
But did anyone care what Shannon thought or wanted? She’d made it clear that she wished to marry the earl and move to his estate in England. But was anybody listening?
“In the colonies, we will practice our faith in peace.” Her father hesitated before going on. “I have known some good Englishmen and some who are bad. Now I also know the earl.
“With a few exceptions, I have no love for the British or the earl you say you love, Rachel Shannon. He talks to you before and after church meetings but seldom speaks to us. But even if I approved of him, I would never allow my only daughter to make such a journey without a chaperone.” He gazed down at her mother’s large belly. “Obviously, your mother cannot travel now. Your grandmother would not be of much help either since she speaks mostly French. Besides, as I said, we plan to sail to the colonies as soon as the baby is able to travel. We expect you to go along with us.”
“Papa, you know I would never consider going to England until after my baby brother or sister is born. I made that clear to the earl. His aunt, Miss Foster, lives with other members of his family at the earl’s hunting lodge near here, and she has promised to serve as my chaperone. Miss Foster is coming with the earl when he comes to ask for my hand, and I know you will like her. She and her personal maid will ride along in the carriage with us. So as you can see, everything has been arranged.”
“Why must you go to England?” her mother asked. “It seems to me that the proper thing would be for his family to come to Scotland—to meet us.”
“The earl said that there are some things his mother and grandmother want to teach me.”
“Teach you? You’ve had a wonderful education. What do they expect you to learn?”
“They want—” Shannon hesitated. “I think they hope to teach me the social graces.”
“Social graces?” Her mother looked at her father, and they both frowned. “Perhaps you better explain.”
“We are not rich and titled like the earl’s family is. I would have thought you and Papa would be pleased that I will be marrying a wealthy and titled man.”
Mrs. Rachel Aimee bit her bottom lip. “No doubt his mother and grandmother want to teach you the correct way to pour English tea into a cup. Is that not so?”
Shannon didn’t answer because that probably was what the earl’s family had in mind. Maybe they didn’t approve of the match. Maybe her parents didn’t either. But Edward Wellesley, the Earl of Northon, said he loved her. And she loved him. Nothing else mattered.
She thought of the tender words of love that the earl had whispered in her ear at the ball and again after church on Sunday. She’d never been kissed by anyone but her parents. But one afternoon the earl pulled her into a shadowy area right there in the churchyard, and when nobody was looking, he kissed her. Her parents would be outraged if they knew. Still, she would never forget the thrill of it—the excitement. She would marry the earl if she had to run away to do it.
Her father stared at her for a moment. “It appears to me that the earl and his family do not think you are good enough.”
She blinked because she really hadn’t been listening.
“In return,” he went on, “I say that he is not good enough for you, and I intend to remind him of that when he comes here. Though we do not have a great deal of earthly wealth and do not even own the farm we live on, we are children of the King of the Universe, and we have a great deal of wealth stored where rust cannot change its value and thieves cannot steal it.”
“Please, Papa. Promise me that you will not say anything like that to the earl. And please refrain from speaking French in front of him.”
“And why not?”
Too late, Shannon realized that asking her father to make such a promise was not likely to soothe his ruffled feelings. He could feel insulted.
“Forgive me, Papa, for not showing you proper respect. But I wanted you to know that the earl and his family are acquainted with the French language but speak mostly English. They—they attend the Church of England every Lord’s Day—just like we attend our church.” Shannon wondered what to say next because the earl had implied that his family didn’t think God was as important as hers did. “Well, maybe they aren’t as devout as we are, but they do go to church. The earl has been attending our church since I met him at the ball, and he might take offense if we suggested that his family are not true believers.”
“Your mama and I have worried for some time that you are not as close to the Lord as we think you should be, Rachel Shannon.”
His words hit Shannon in the heart like a fiery dart. “Is it not true that I go to church every time you and Mama and Peter do?”
Her father slowly nodded.
“Yet you never once doubted that my brother is a good Christian. Only me.” Shannon’s voice quivered with hurt and embarrassment, and unless something was done, her watery eyes were sure to become encased in full-blown tears. “Why, Papa? Why is that so?”
“You must discover the answer to that question for yourself. In the meantime, your mother and I withhold our permission for you to go to England.”
Shannon felt drained—as if all hope had been surgically removed from her body. If she didn’t leave at once she might throw something across the room or disgrace herself in some other way.
“I have some thinking to do.” Shannon glanced toward the door. “May I be excused from this conversation? I would like to go for a walk.”
“Go. Your mother and I also have some thinking to do. But stay within the grounds of the farm. We would worry if you ventured out alone beyond the front gate.”
Shannon hurried outside. On the verge of exploding with pent-up anger, she kicked a rock with the toe of her brown leather shoe. It sailed through the air and landed on the grass a short distance away.
Her childhood friend, Ian Colquhoun, hit the trunk of a tree with both fists when he was angry. She’d also seen other Scottish men fighting trees and their demons in such a way. But her father was a gentle man. It was unlikely that he would do such a thing.
Shannon fisted her hands and stared at them. They looked fair and soft—unthreatening. Still, if a tree was nearby, she might wham it to discover for herself the advantage of giving in to primitive urges. The longer she stood there, the more she wanted to hit something.
She would find a way to go to England. She simply must.
Ian Colquhoun had heard some disturbing news. His sister, Kate, had said that Shannon Aimee planned to marry the Earl of Northon. Though Shannon begged Kate not to tell anyone, Kate told Ian the news right away.
He hurried down the road that led to the farm managed by Shannon’s father.
Ian had intended to marry Shannon as soon as he saved a bit more money. In fact, he’d planned to make Shannon his wife since they were children. It never occurred to him that she would fall in love with an arrogant snob like the earl. But now…
Oh, Shannon was a beauty, all right, with that long auburn hair and green eyes. It was not surprising that the earl would want her.
Ian’s father had said that Shannon looked exactly like her mother did on the day she and her father arrived in Luss, and that Mrs. Aimee was still a handsome woman. Ian agreed. Shannon’s mother was a very pretty lady. However, in his eyes, Mrs. Rachel Aimee could never compare in beauty and charm to Shannon, her lovely and exciting daughter.
True, Ian had never kissed Shannon or discussed topics like love and marriage, but he’d assumed she knew how he felt. Then he saw Shannon and the earl dancing together at a ball given by Ian’s rich uncle, and he’d wondered if his chances to win her were lost.
But why would an English earl marry a Scottish girl like Shannon?
She had no wealth, no title or connections, and her parents came from France. The earl could pick from any number of attractive young women of quality in his own country. If the earl’s intentions were less than honorable, Ian intended to prove it. In fact, he would stop this union before it took place. He just needed to figure out how to do it.