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Master of Dryford [Secure eReader]
eBook by Helen Magee

eBook Category: Historical Fiction/Suspense/Thriller
eBook Description: Felicia found the strength to escape from her evil stepfather. But, without money or position, how could a single girl win the struggle to be independent in Victorian England? Then, a chance meeting with the debonair Charles brings Felicia to Dryford as governess. But the ancient family home is overshadowed by mystery, and she has to earn the trust of her new family before dramatic events reveal to her the whole truth--and her love for the Master of Dryford.

eBook Publisher: Pollinger in Print/Pollinger in Print
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2007

It was in the last rays of the setting sun that I first saw the keep from which Keep Dryford takes its name and I treasure the memory for I will never see it again. It was oddly comforting though a little frightening looming black and solid against the sky which flamed blood-red behind it and I felt at once a sense of peace at its timelessness and a thrill of fear at the violence it had seen in its time. I was running away, escaping my past, and beside me stood the man who had made it possible. Behind me was fear but I did not think of that as I watched the sun slide from the sky and the dark outline of the Keep soften and merge into the dusk, or the gloaming as it is known here in Scotland. All I thought was that here was a new beginning, here I would be safe from threats and terror and fear but I could not have known how wrong I was. For me the fears were only just beginning. And perhaps that?s where I should start ? right at the very beginning . . . My childhood was a happy one. My parents, though not wealthy, were not poor either and I remember with affection the small Queen Anne house on the outskirts of London with its lawns sweeping down to the river. It was a long time before I was able to connect that much-loved stretch of water at the bottom of our garden with the majestic expanse of the Thames that I gazed at in awe on our infrequent visits to the great city. I remember the excitement of those visits. The great shops of Bond Street lit by gas jets and so splendid that they seemed like palaces to me, the stalls in the streets where in winter you could buy a bag of roasted chestnuts which warmed your hands as well as tasting strange and delicious. The flower-sellers in summer from whom Father would always buy a posy for Mother. The hiss of steam and the smell of the great railway station, the noise and clamour as the train pulled in seeming to my childish eyes like a huge dragon; and the journey home again, half-asleep with the wonder of it all and always, at the journey?s end home, never changing, safe and comforting. It seemed to me then that nothing could ever change. There seemed always to be laughter in my life, my mother?s sparkling like the river on a sunny day, my father?s full-throated and deep like the dark river pools. I don?t remember my father so very clearly now, only strong brown hands and laughing eyes as he swung me up in his arms and I seemed to touch the clouds or held me close to him when a childish nightmare disturbed my dreams. They called me Felicia which means happiness, and they taught me by their lives the meaning of the word. My mother was devastated when he died. I remember she seemed to shrink a little as if without his energy and strength she somehow became less of a person. I was ten at the time and for the next year I watched as the mother I had known became more fragile, more vulnerable. Even the pretty colour seemed to drain out of her cheeks and it was not just that she was wearing black. It was more than that. Father had been her strength and she was quite simply lost without him. But even I did not realise the extent of her grief, not until a year after Father?s death when she came out of mourning.

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