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  • I was delighted to find, when I was doing reseach for The Pitchford Chronicles, that Princess Victoria of Kent (Queen Victoria) had stayed in Pitchford Hall several times, the first time being Autumn 1832. I was even more interested when I found that her visit was during Halloween week.My imagination ran riot, and it was at this point that the outline for my books began to take shape.
    Here are some snippets from the book. In the first snippet, Princess Victoria is 13 and on her way to Pitchford to visit her "Uncle Liverpool"and his daughters.


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    CHAPTER TWO "DRINA" (Princess Victoria of Kent Friday 19th October 1832 (first page)

    I should like to run to the top of a mountain, like a goat, jumping over streams and rocks. I would turn and look down at the fields far, far below disappearing in the mist. I would feel alive and I would have not a care.



    I should like to feel the sand under my feet, cold and soft. I would call with all my voice to my friends as we jump, time and time again over the crashing waves. But this will not be so, for I am to be good, and to act with dignity and respect at all times. I may not run or jump or call out with all my voice, for that would be vulgar and rude. For, I live by the Kensington System, a system enforced by three people, my mother, the Duchess of Kent; my dear governess, Baroness Lehzen, and my mother’s comptroller, Sir John Conroy, whom I cannot tolerate. The system is like a cage that prevents me from escape, and others from entering. I am never alone, never left to discover what children should about the world and the joy and the grief therein. And what, you may ask, whatmust I have done to deserve such a lonely and melancholy life? Why should it be that I have to spend my young life constantly watched and surveyed? Why should it be that I have to be educated alone, without the fun and companionship of other children? I found out when I was eleven years old, two years ago...



    In this snippet, Princess Victoria (Drina) and her entourage have just arrived at Pitchford Hall. Everyone has been warned to be on their best behaviour, and to heed all traditional etiquette. The hall is full of dignataries, Lords and Ladies.


    CHAPTER 4 LOUISA, Saturday, 27th October 1832
    Papa was in good spirits, and introduced us to Drina and Lehzen, her governess. “Louisa, Mary. Drina would like to spend some time in the library before dinner. Could you please entertain her, and Lehzen of course?” He looked at me very seriously. “Of course, Papa” I smiled, nervously. I was so worried that I would say or do something that was somehow incorrect, and he must have known that Mary could not be trusted to act with decorum.I led the way, to the end of the Great Hall, slowly and carefully. When I pushed the drawing room door open, Darcy jumped up, bent on escape. I realised he must have become locked inside in all the hurry and business of the day. “Darcy, Darcy!” I shouted impatiently and, no doubt, too loudly. I did not want him to charge into the Great Hall like a bull, and slobber and lick all the dignitaries. He loved the challenge of new and interesting smells. Alas I was too late. He had been cooped up, and was all for fun. He headed straight into the Great Hall, and charged and bumped into Lords and Ladies, therein, and there was instant pandemonium.


    “Darcy come here at once...Darcy!” I shouted in a most unladylike fashion. Of course, he paid no heed. In all the noise, I forgot Drina and her governess and stuck my fingers in my mouth and whistled as Joseph had taught me. I quickly turned around and burnt red with embarrassment as I saw the look of shock on their faces. He bounced back, into the drawing room with a fur hat hanging from his mouth. No doubt he had thought he had been clever and caught a wild animal. “No Darcy, no...sit!” I grabbed the hat from his mouth and shook it. Then I remembered where I had seen the hat, and turned, to look back to the Great Hall, which was in great disarray. “I am so sorry...I... I…” I said, and turned back to Drina and Lehzen Drina and Mary were bent over laughing, and Lehzen had her back turned, but I could see her shoulders shaking. “I do believe that belongs to my Mamma,” Drina laughed.



    “ ...I…Darcy …you…you…dratted…animal!” I hissed at him. In reply he nudged the hat out of my hand and seized it again. We fought for it back and forth and the hat became quite wet with slobber. “I am so....so....sorry” I had not made a good start at being sensible and responsible. Whatever would Papa say? So much for the “new Louisa” At last, Lehzen took the hat, cautiously in her gloved hand and gave it to a passing servant. “Could you make sure this finds its way to Lady Catherine Jenkinson?” she said. I noticed her voice had a slight quiver... I was defeated.


    In this snippet, Noah, a Kale Gypsy has travelled back to Pitchford to try and reclaim his family's trinkets that Ned, the gamekeeper, has stolen. He intend offering him money for the trinkets back.They are worthless to Ned, but are priceless to Noah's family.

    CHAPTER 19 NOAH Friday 2nd November 1832
    Slowly, out of the dense covering in the copse, not more than a few yards away, appeared a pair of young long haired fallow deer, less than a year old. Their coats, speckled with the creamiest smooth spots which shone in the pale light. They bent their heads slowly and gracefully eating the, grass and sniffing out the acorns from under the leaves, their spindly legs as white as newly poured milk. Cobweb sighed softly and I could not resist wanting to make contact with these magnificent animals.I stepped slowly out into the clearing, holding my hand behind my back, creeping step by step. Slowly I inched forwards, stopping, hardly breathing until I could have reached out and touched them. One of the deer turned around and looked me in the face, her huge black eyes suddenly afraid. “Do not be afraid,” I whispered, “I mean no...” I felt a shiver run down my spine, as if something evil had breathed down my neck. I started to turn slowly to look behind, curious but wary, when I heard the click of a rifle.


    I walked towards Ned, and Cobweb sat at my heels when we met in the middle of the clearing. “You’ve just cost me two deer, two deer. I should shoot yer on the spot.” He fiddled with his rifle. Cobweb edged forward and started to bark. “Shut that hound up, shut it up before I do...” he slurred. “Sssh Cobweb... down…sleep,” I said. Every part of my body was frozen and I could not think to put more than two words together. Suddenly Ned lunged towards me with his fist and caught me on the side of my head. Cobweb unable to stop herself, dug her teeth into his lower leg, and he gave out a cry that bounced around the stars. He scrambled to his feet, and reached for his rifle. “No...no...” I cried, “do not shoot her, for the love of God, she was only protecting me.” Ned spat on the floor and aimed his rifle at Cobweb’s nose, as she sat, whimpering at my feet. “Please...I have money...gold coins...you can have it...take it all, but don’t kill my dog.”


    Ned put his head to one side, as if considering. I felt sick, and my head was throbbing from where Ned had punched me. For one moment I thought I heard a footstep behind me, and Cobweb turned to look. Suddenly she ran off into the copse her head and tail up as if she had seen something of great importance. Ned swayed, pointing the rifle and took aim into the copse. “And why should I save the hound eh? She is a savage beast, who should be killed.” “But she was only...” I could feel the tears welling in my eyes, and wondered why she had deserted me; she had never done that before. “Take the money,” I begged, and reached into my pocket. ”Take the money, and I will go. You will never see or hear from me again. I had come here to find you and talk to you to ...” Ned walked towards me and put his face into mine. “And why would I want to talk to you, yer filthy tinker?” “I was going to ask for our possessions back, and give you the money in exchange. Our things are worth little to you, but to us they hold memories and...” Ned pushed me away and fired his rifle into the copse. “And who could stop me from just killing yer right now, and yer mangy dog, and keeping all yer coins, tell me that, me lad” I looked up to God for help, and the stars seemed to swim in the sky. “I will.” .The words echoed clear and confident into the blackness. I span around and saw the figure of a girl, or a young woman, appear from the copse.


    I hope you have enjoyed reading these selections from The Curse of Lecia. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook below, and also follow the renovation of Pitchford Hall on Twitter here...




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