Home > Shadows of Swanford Abbey

Shadows of Swanford Abbey
Author: Julie Klassen

Books by Julie Klassen

 

FROM BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS

Lady of Milkweed Manor

The Apothecary’s Daughter

The Silent Governess

The Girl in the Gatehouse

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall

The Tutor’s Daughter

The Dancing Master

The Secret of Pembrooke Park

The Painter’s Daughter

The Bridge to Belle Island

A Castaway in Cornwall

Shadows of Swanford Abbey


TALES FROM IVY HILL

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage

The Bride of Ivy Green

An Ivy Hill Christmas: A TALES FROM IVY HILL Novella

 

 

© 2021 by Julie Klassen

Published by Bethany House Publishers

11400 Hampshire Avenue South

Minneapolis, Minnesota 55438

www.bethanyhouse.com

Bethany House Publishers is a division of

Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan

www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Ebook edition created 2021

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

ISBN 978-1-4934-3387-2

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.

Scripture quotations labeled NKJV are from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Cover design by Jennifer Parker

Cover photography by Todd Hafermann Photography, Inc.

Front cover background photograph is of the interior of the Cloister of Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire, UK © Alamy Images.

Author is represented by Books and Such Literary Agency.

Baker Publishing Group publications use paper produced from sustainable forestry practices and post-consumer waste whenever possible.

 

 

In Memory of Katy Banton,

whose smiles, prayers, and friendship

brightened the world

1986–2020

 

 

Contents


Cover

Half Title Page

Books by Julie Klassen

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Epigraph

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

Author’s Note

Discussion Questions

About the Author

Back Ads

Back Cover

 

 

The part of the abbey you inhabit

is undoubtedly haunted.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

 

The GENTLEMEN’S HOTEL in King-Street, Saint James’s Square

TAKES this opportunity of acquainting all Noblemen, Gentlemen, Foreigners,

and others, that they may be accommodated with genteel Lodgings for one night,

or as long as they think proper.

—Eighteenth-century London advertisement

 

A large party in an hotel ensured

a quick-changing, unsettled scene.

—Jane Austen, Persuasion

 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

—2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

 

 

1

 


MARCH 1820

WORCESTERSHIRE, ENGLAND

Miss Rebecca Lane quaked at the thought of returning to Swanford after more than a year’s absence, even though her heart had never really left.

Inside the jostling post chaise, she prayed, Please don’t let him do anything foolish before I get there.

Lines from their housekeeper’s recent letter echoed through her mind.

Your brother’s behavior has grown more alarming. I fear what he might do.

I could not in good conscience wait any longer to write. I pray I have not waited too long as it is.

Dread filled Rebecca again, as it had when she’d first read the words. Was John threatening to harm himself, or someone else, or what . . . ?

Rebecca sighed and leaned her throbbing temple against the vehicle’s smooth, cool window. Outside, the rolling countryside lay draped in March mist, its fields dotted with white sheep and new lambs.

Soon the tower of All Saints Church appeared above the treetops, and there, the tall chimney stacks of the Wickworth mansion.

Rebecca gestured out the window toward the village. “There it is. Swanford.”

Beside her, the French maid slept on, but Lady Fitzhoward, their employer, gazed out as directed. “Ah yes.” The older woman looked at her. “Are you glad to be home?”

Rebecca summoned the expected smile and nodded, though it was a weak effort. Inwardly, she thought, Where is home?

With her parents passed on, the vicarage, which was never actually theirs anyway, was occupied by the new vicar and his family. The underkeeper’s lodge where her brother lived belonged to the Wilford family estate. And except for a brief visit the Christmas before last, she had spent the previous two years living out of trunks and bandboxes in one inn or hotel after another as a lady’s companion. Perhaps in time, she could learn to be like Lady Fitzhoward and enjoy endless travel rather than longing for home. But she had not managed it yet.

The chaise turned off the main road and made its way past farmyards, cottages, and the village itself. Beyond it, imposing Swanford Abbey rose from the misty ground like an ancient headstone.

Before the sight of the old abbey-turned-hotel could rouse its customary trepidation, the chaise rumbled under an archway and into the adjacent stable courtyard.

A porter appeared to help them alight. Miss Joly, the lady’s maid, awoke and climbed out first to direct the care of their employer’s belongings. Lady Fitzhoward stepped down after her, leaning heavily on the porter’s hand until her cane reached the ground.

Following her out, Rebecca asked, “May I leave my trunk with you?”

The maid looked annoyed at the request, but Lady Fitzhoward agreed.

“Yes, of course. Joly shall have it stowed for you.”

An old man in coarse work clothes hobbled into the stable yard, spade in hand. He paused, faded blue eyes fixing on Lady Fitzhoward.

“Purty flower . . .” he murmured.

The porter shooed him away.

When he’d ambled off, Lady Fitzhoward turned to Rebecca. “If a week with your brother is not sufficient, let me know. If I am not here at the hotel, leave a message at the desk. As I mentioned, I hope to visit friends while I’m in the area.”

Rebecca nodded. “I shall, thank you. And thank you again for changing your plans to accompany me.”

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