Published: April 4, 2015
After the demise of her grandfather, nineteen year old Lady Elena St John has spent the last three years running an impoverished barony. Orphaned and alone, she searches for a hidden family treasure while plagued by the ghost of Lady Katherine, the one who created the intricate clues, though the apparition refuses to relinquish any answers.
Retired spy, James Stewart, Earl of Richmond, seeks escape from the clutches of his matchmaking family. Intent on finding purpose in his new role, he dives headfirst into the running of the earldom ending up at a forgotten inherited barony. Obsessed with discovering the secret of the young lady in residence, he is convinced the recent series of accidents are anything but.
Frustration mounts as Elena, desperate to hide her family’s smuggling operation, deflects James’ curiosity with the legend of the hidden treasure. Can they put personal grievances aside and work together to unravel the clues to a more tangible treasure?
From the diary of Eloise St. John
Sept 17, 1715
Through perseverance, along with a detailed chronicle of my investigation, to perform a categorical search culminating in the discovery of the legendary Settrington jewels. I have armed myself with a copy of the poem which has passed down through many family generations. I shall begin by systematically inspecting the manor for hidden rooms, passageways, and compartments. My hope is that through these efforts I shall be led down the path to discovery, or at the very least, leave behind a detailed transcript of my journey that one of my descendants might be compelled to continue.
Near the sun I’ll always be
Residing there inside you’ll see
Burbling tears o’er the plinth course run
For which my work is ne'er done
To blend with all the scenery
Guarding true my family
Nov 21, 1715
Father says he has already disclosed the secrets of our home to my sister and me, but this does not mean that he knew of them all to begin with. Furthermore, I intend to inspect the portrait of Lady Katherine with the utmost detail and precision. My aim is to find another clue or piece to this puzzle hidden in the artwork either by design or construction. I am convinced that there must be more to follow. For surely there must be more to the short poem. Not to forget, the gifting of the portrait on the same day.
Father says he has already disclosed the secrets of our home to my sister and me, but this does
not mean that he knew of them all to begin with. Furthermore, I intend to inspect the portrait of
Lady Katherine with the utmost detail and precision. My aim is to find another clue or piece to
this puzzle hidden in the artwork either by design or construction. I am convinced that there must
be more to follow. For surely there must be more to the short poem. Not to forget, the gifting of
the portrait on the same day.
The echo of footsteps pulled Elena St. John from the memory of her greatest discovery, the day
she found Eloise’s journal in the attic. Looking down at the precious item, now resting on the
desk, she listened as the rhythmic sound continued to march through the halls in the house, trying
to distinguish the route. At this late hour no one else should have been up. Just as the tell-tale
tingle began to grow, she closed her eyes and focused on the sensation spiraling up from the base
of her spine, unwinding into her head.
Elena knew those steps and their path, had memorized it, just as she had followed the sounds
countless times over the years. They always started at the bottom of the main staircase then came
directly to the library, stopping near the gilded portrait above the fireplace.
Louder, the echoes of the footsteps rang on the stone floor as they neared her. Without opening
her eyes, she knew what would come next. Elena heard the unmistakable sound of the door
opening with a groan, then a whisper and soft click as it closed, though she knew it never moved.
“Hello, Katherine,” Elena said.
Click, click, click
The footsteps drew ever nearer, passing by where she sat at the desk, before stopping at the fireplace. When she opened her eyes, Elena could see the apparition of Lady Katherine St. John, mocking her once again. With a sigh of frustration, she ignored the buzzing in her brain and turned back to the journal on her desk. Why the women had to go through this she didn’t know. Katherine should have tired of this nightly charade decades before, but that was evidently not so.
Elena turned her attention back to the task at hand. Even though Eloise’s journal hadn’t contained any new clues to the whereabouts of the family treasure, it had been a very detailed outline of her aunt’s search. Not to mention full of her ruminations with regards to her own suspicions and theories. Not to mention a fount of knowledge for the other secrets of the manor.
Some things a young girl should not have known but found very exciting to explore. Rubbing her temples, she reflected on that evening with her grandfather so many years ago and was filled again with the sadness of his loss. They had never found the jewels, but had not given up the search either. Clearing her thoughts with a shake of the head she began massaging her temples in a vain attempt at relieving the pressure. Her long mahogany tresses were gathered into a tight knot at the back of her head and pulled, resulting in a slight headache, making it harder than usual to ignore the manifestation glaring at her from the fireplace.
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