by Molly Noble Bull
Gatehaven, my Christian Gothic historical, was published in trade paperback and as an e-book on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, and the e-book version is on sale now for only $2.99 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com and other places. The sale ends at midnight on March 17th.
Click below for a chance to win a $100.00 Gift Certificate from Amazon as well as free books, including Gatehaven.
Win a $100.00 Amazon Gift Certificate and Free Books
I divided the first six chapters of Gatehaven (54 pages) into 10 parts.
, Part 4 of 10 is posted here at Writers Rest today. Scroll down to find it.
. Part 5 of 10 Parts of Gatehaven is posted at Carole Brown's blog on March 7, 2014.
Here is that address. http://www.connectwithcarolbrown.blogspot.com
But if you miss Carole’s blog today, come back to this blog tomorrow, and Part 5 will be posted here as well.
And if you want to read Parts 1 to 4, this is the place. Scroll down, down.
After reading these 10 Parts of Gatehaven, you should know whether or not you like Christian Gothic novels. You will also know whether or not you want to buy and read Gatehaven.
Click here if you already know. (grin)
Now for Part 4.
Part Four of Ten
Ian decided to visit his pastor at his home before turning in that evening. He hoped to learn Pastor Petit’s opinion as to whether or not he should accept the position Shannon mentioned—if indeed it was offered. Like Shannon’s father, his pastor, Rev. Isaac Petit, was a French Huguenot. Ian thought of him as a friend or family member—like a grandfather or a trusted uncle.
Pastor Petit and his wife settled in Scotland years before Ian was born. A widower now, the gentleman was getting on in years. Yet he won Ian’s respect and devotion because of his gentleness, his charitable works, and his excellent Bible teachings.
The pastor’s cottage was small but well kept, and located on a road not far from the church. Ian noticed a weak light glowing through a front window as he walked up. A light rain dotted his brown jacket as he stood on the stoop and knocked.
Ian waited. His pastor was hard of hearing. He knocked again.
The door opened. Pastor Petit held a lighted candle. “Mr. Colquhoun, it is good to see you this evening. Please, come in and sit by the fire. The spring season is still fairly young, and it’s damp—far too chilly for my old bones. I was about to have tea. I will pour a cup for you, and we shall have a cozy talk.”
Ian and his pastor met in the church office often, but he hadn’t visited his home in a long time. While the pastor went to pour the tea, Ian brushed off his shoes and stepped inside.
Oak bookcases crammed with books framed the stone fireplace in the sitting room. He was about to sit down when he noticed that an English Bible lay opened on a table by the pastor’s chair. The minister gave Ian an English Bible soon after he learned that Ian hoped to one day become a man of the cloth, and Ian loved and respected the old gentleman all the more for it.
He doubted that his pastor would advise him to become an assistant to a vicar in the English church. Still, he wanted to hear what he might say regarding the matter.
Pastor Petit handed Ian a cup of warmed tea and settled onto the high-backed armchair facing him. “You are well, I hope.”
“Oh, yes sir. I am well indeed.”
“And your family?”
“They are well, too.”
The minister smiled. “Good.” He took a sip of tea, setting his cup on the small table beside the Bible. “Did you know that we are told in the Holy Scriptures to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice? I was reading about it shortly before you came in.”
“No Pastor, I did not. But it sounds reasonable, considering all the Lord has done for us.”
“You are exactly right, and that scripture is found in the Book of Romans—chapter twelve and verse one.” He reached for his Bible, placing it on his lap. “I had a dream a night or two ago, Mr. Colquhoun, and in it, you were asking me questions—as you and other young people in the church often do. In the dream you said that when you give your body as a living sacrifice in prayer as Scripture says to do that a troubling thought often comes to your mind. You said that when you meant to say ‘I give my body as a living sacrifice,’ the words ‘I give my body to be burned’ comes to your mind instead.”
“Yes, I’ve had troubling dreams like that.” Ian leaned forward slightly in his chair. “How did you know?”
“So what is the meaning of your dream, sir?” Ian asked.
“Only God knows the meaning of dreams. But if we wish to pray or do as God tells us to do and something like a voice or voices tells us to say or do something contrary to the Scriptures, we must assume that the devil is attempting to somehow hinder our Christian walk.”
A shiver shot through him. “You mean Satan?”
“Yes. But don’t take my word for it. I could be wrong. Read the Bible for yourself.”
Ian gazed down at his cup without saying anything more. His pastor was a true man of God, and he’d given Ian something new and different to think about. But it might take time before the words took root in his mind. Pastor Petit had presented him with many deep teachings in the last year or so—teachings he’d never had the time to mediate on as he should. If he decided to go to England with Shannon and the earl, he would have many hours to think on these things during the long journey to the earl’s estate.
“Thank you for that teaching, sir. You can be sure that I will think on your words again.” Ian took a sip of tea, wondering if he should jump in with questions of his own or allow the minister to say more on the current topic. He’d allowed the old gentleman to control the conversation. Was it time to explain the reason for his visit?
After a moment, Ian said, “You know, Pastor, that I felt called to go into the ministry years before I told my family. And I wanted you to be the first to know that I might soon have the opportunity to travel to England and become the assistant to a minister there.”
“What a wonderful opportunity for a young man like you, Mr. Colquhoun. Going to England will not only broaden your horizons, it will help you develop as a man of God. What is the name of the clergy you will be working under? It is possible I might have heard of him.”
“I doubt you would have.” Ian hesitated, sending up a quick prayer for the courage to continue. “You see, if I choose to take this assignment, I will be serving under a vicar in the British church.”
“The British church? I am indeed surprised. How did this come to be? And you a loyal Scotsman.”
“Miss Shannon Aimee hopes to pay a visit to the home of the Earl of Northon—well chaperoned of course, but I dare not trust the earl. Miss Aimee told of the possible opportunity for me to become the assistant to the earl’s confessor, and I—”
“Say no more. I think I understand your motive here.” The pastor lifted his cup to his lips and took a sip of tea. “You wish to protect Miss Aimee from what could be a dangerous situation.”
“That is my hope. Otherwise, I would never consider traveling all the way to Gatehaven.”
The pastor’s eyes widened. “Gatehaven, did you say?”
“Yes. That is the name of the earl’s estate.”
The pastor grew pale. Before Ian could make a comment, the old man pulled a white cloth from the belt of his dark clothing and wiped his brow.
Ian rushed to his side. “Are you all right, sir?”
“I will be. Give me a moment.”
Ian reached for his tea, pressing it to the pastor’s lips. “Here, sir, drink this.”
Pastor Petit swallowed a mouthful of tea. Then he closed his eyes and pressed his head against the back of his chair.
“Should I go for a physician?”
“No. I am not ill. Merely surprised.” The pastor opened his eyes. “But this is all so peculiar.”
“Peculiar? How is that so, sir?”
The pastor’s smile looked weak. “Sometimes the Lord answers prayer in unusual ways.” He shook his head as if he couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. “My cousin was murdered in England some years ago.”
“Yes. Her name was Magdalena Petit, and she was thirty-five years of age when she died. It was tragic for my late wife and me because Magdalena was always very special to us. We never had any children of our own, and when Magdalena’s parents died, she lived with us for several years. Magdalena was also a Huguenot, and during her eighteenth year, she moved back to England to live with an older sister. However, we corresponded often. My wife and I were devastated to learn of her death—doubly so because her murderer was never found.”
“Sure and that is a tragedy, Pastor Petit.”
“Indeed. I’d been praying that the person who killed Magdalena would come to justice. Three years ago, I started corresponding with a vicar in England whose parish is near Gatehaven—the very estate you mentioned. I think the vicar there might know more about my cousin’s death than he is willing to say in a letter. Perhaps he fears the letter might fall into unfriendly hands. The vicar has suggested several times that I journey to England and pay him a visit so we can discuss this crime face-to-face. However, I cannot leave my flock here in Scotland. I will soon leave the village for good and retire to the country in my old age. However, you could go as my ambassador, Mr. Colquhoun, if the position is offered to you and you go to England partly on my behalf.”
“I am not a member of the Church in England, sir,” Ian explained. “As you well know, I am a member of the Reformed Church. Of what benefit would becoming the assistant to an English vicar be to me?”
The pastor leaned forward. Ian noted that a bit of color had returned to his cheeks.
“Much good could come of this, Mr. Colquhoun. Not only would you be protecting a young woman’s honor, you might also bring a criminal to justice, and you should gain much from working under my friend, the vicar. He is a true man of God, and he reads his Bible daily.” The pastor motioned toward a desk by the door leading to the other room. “I have received many letters since the vicar penned a letter to me the first time, and I have kept them all. I keep them in the drawer of my desk, and I want you to have them.”
“I cannot take your letters, sir.”
“It would be a gift to you from me and my late cousin.”
“But I am not sure I will be given the position in England that I mentioned.”
“Take the letters and read them even if you are not selected. I beg you. You will please an old man if you do.”
Ian opened the drawer that his pastor mentioned and found a stack of letters tied with a black ribbon and arranged by date. He felt a little uncomfortable taking them to his house and reading them, but at the same time, the idea intrigued him.
That night, Ian opened the first one.
Dear Pastor Petit,
My named is Mr. E.G. Steen, and I am a vicar serving at a parish in England near Gatehaven—an estate owned by the Earl of Northon. While on holiday in London recently, I met the son of another English earl at a church, and he told me about a terrible injustice. He said that a Frenchwoman living in England by the name of Magdalena Petit was murdered twenty years ago. Her house was burned to the ground, and her murderer was never found.
After I returned home, I could not forget what the gentleman told me—as if it had been nailed to my mind. A few days after that, I read a list of pastors living in Scotland in a post I received from a friend from another village. When I read your name on that list I thought of Magdalena Petit. I cannot help but wonder if you might be related to her.
It would be advantageous to both of us if we could discuss this mystery in more detail. But in any case, I hope to hear from you soon.
E.G. Steen, Rector
Saint Thomas Church
Seated at his father’s desk in the small sitting room of his family home, Ian put the letter back on the stack. To think that God might use him to help bring a murderer to justice was more than he ever thought possible. He would need to pray now and read the Bible to learn God’s will for his life. It seemed incredible that the Lord might use him in this way. And Shannon could be in great danger. Regardless of her feelings for the earl, the fact that he might also be able to protect her made going to England sound very appealing.
Return tomorrow for Part 5 of 10 Parts.