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Tour: The Rabbit's Foot (Hartford Manor #3) by Marcia Clayton

Book details:

Book Title: The Rabbit’s Foot

Series: The Hartford Manor Series: Book Three

Author: Marcia Clayton

Publication Date: 18 November 2021

Publisher: Sunhillow Publishing

Page Length: 352

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1885 North Devon, England

Mr Edward Snell was more than a little curious when Robert Fellwood, the heir to Hartford Manor, and Lady Margery, his elderly aunt, begged an audience on a Saturday morning. However, being such valued clients, the solicitor was happy to oblige. As his clerk showed the visitors in, he was intrigued to see them followed by an old man who, though respectably dressed, had something of a vagrant about him. The crisp suit in which he was attired could not disguise his weather-beaten face or his missing teeth.

Robert introduced his Uncle Sam and explained he had come to claim his inheritance. The solicitor was old enough to remember the extensive search for Thomas Fellwood when his father, Ephraim, died in 1840. However, that was some forty-five years ago, and the young man had never been found. Yet here was Sam, who claimed to be Thomas Fellwood’s son, and even more surprising, was the fact that the Fellwood family appeared to have accepted him as such.

“The Rabbit’s Foot” is an intriguing and compelling novel with many unexpected twists and turns. Set in the small seaside village of Hartford, it tells the tale of how an old man, who has spent his life with barely a penny to his name, suddenly finds himself rich beyond his wildest dreams. However, there is only one thing that Sam Fellwood truly wants, and that is to be reunited with his son, Marrok, whom he abandoned at the age of five. Will Sam find the happiness that has eluded him for so many lonely years?

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Theresa grabbed wildly as a vicious gust of wind seized her hat. Abe made a lunge for it, almost losing one of the oars and upsetting the boat, but he missed, and the wind tossed the hat around until it blew over the bridge and out of sight.

“Oh no, what a nuisance. That was my new hat, and I was so proud of it.”

“Yes, it is a shame. Never mind, I’ll buy you another one sometime. Anyway, we’d better turn back now and return the boat, or I’ll be charged double.”

“Yes, all right. I enjoyed our trip on the river, but it’s quite chilly. I won’t be sorry to get off and warm up.”

Abe skilfully secured the boat and helped Theresa to disembark. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll take you for a walk around the town, and then we’ll call in at my mum’s house for a cup of tea, and we can get warm. She’s been wanting to meet you because I’ve told her all about you. She’ll be disappointed if you don’t come, and I think she’s even baked a cake, especially for you.”

“I’m not sure. It’s gone half-past three now and I mustn’t be late getting back.”

“Come on, it’s not far, and I promise I’ll have you home by five o’clock.”

Abe took her arm and led her through the park. When they came to a deserted copse of trees, he pulled her to him and covered her mouth with his, running his hands all over her body. Trying to resist the temptation to enjoy his attention, she pushed him away.

“Abe, no. You mustn’t do that, especially here where we are alone.”

“You can’t tell me you didn’t enjoy that. Your body told me a different tale, and we could hardly do that where there are people.” He reached for her again, but she pulled away.

“It makes no difference whether I enjoyed it or not, it’s not right. Let’s walk on, or I’m going home.”

Seeing she was determined; the man took her arm, and they headed towards a part of the town Theresa had not visited before. The farther they walked, the more anxious she became, for the relatively respectable area she was familiar with, gave way to dark alleyways where barefoot children, dressed in rags, ran through the filth.

“Abe, take me home, please. I don’t like this part of town. Surely, this is not where you live?”

“Oh, sorry, this area is a bit run-down, but in a few minutes, we’ll come into a more prosperous street. I shouldn’t have brought you this way because it isn’t exactly pleasant. I wasn’t thinking. Mind out.”

Abe pulled her to one side as a man pushing a barrow trundled past, shouting, “four pennies for a watch and chain, just four pennies for a watch and chain. Fill your children’s bellies, four pennies for a watch and chain.”

Looking at the offal on the barrel and the many flies swarming all over it, Theresa felt sick.

“What on earth is he talking about a watch and chain for? All he’s got is some disgusting rotting meat.”

“It’s easy to tell you’re not from around here. A watch and chain are the lights, liver, heart, and kidneys of a sheep; it makes a tasty meal when you have nothing else. Come on, not far now.”

They rounded a corner and safely negotiated their way around a brawl that was taking place in the street.

“Here we are; The Tucker’s Arms. This is where I live. Come in, and say hello to my mum.”

Theresa glanced around her in horror, for this area was no better than where they had been walking for the last half an hour or more.

“No, I’ll come another day, Abe. It’s time I was getting home, or Francis will be worried. Tell your mum I’ll see her next time. Now please take me home.”

“Look, I promised her she would see you today because I’ve been telling her all about you. We won’t stay long, and I’ll take you back a different way which will be quicker. Come on.”

Taking her hand, he pulled her across the street and into a yard. A tired, emaciated donkey was tethered in one corner, and there was a strong smell from the pigsty which ran the length of the yard.

“Hello, Mum, I’ve brought Theresa to meet you like I promised.”

The room they entered was dingy and none too clean, but Theresa had little time to survey her surroundings before she was hugged by a large fat woman. The stench of stale sweat emanating from the woman made Theresa all but gag, as she struggled to free herself from the embrace.

“I’m pleased to meet you, ma’am, but I was just telling Abe, I must get home. My brother will be worried.”

“Now, you sit yourself down and have a quick cup of tea. Your hands are frozen. What are you thinking of Abe, keeping the young lady out in the cold for so long?”

The kettle was already boiling on the hearth, so Theresa decided it would be easier to accept the tea and then leave as soon as possible.

“I took Theresa out in a rowing boat on the River Taw, Mum. That’s how we got so cold, and then her hat blew away.”

“Oh dear, that is a pity. Well, you get that hot cup of tea down you, my dear, and then Abe will see you home. We can’t have your brother worrying, or he won’t let you come to see me again. Would you like a piece of cake?”

“No, the tea is fine, thank you.”

“Just as you like. Abe tells me your brother has opened a shop in the town. Is it doing well?”

“Yes, we’ve been busy, thank you. Perhaps you would like to visit it sometime.”

“Yes, I must do that. I don’t venture to that side of town often, but I could do with a few new clothes.”

Theresa hurriedly drank the hot liquid, not enjoying the taste, but wanting to leave the house as soon as possible. Suddenly, she felt faint, and the room began to spin.

“Abe, I don’t feel too good.”

All the books in The Hartford Manor Series can be ordered from any bookshop.

Marcia Clayton was born in North Devon, a rural and picturesque area in the far South West of England. She is a farmer's daughter and often helped to milk the cows and clean out the shippens in her younger days.

When Marcia left school she worked in a bank for several years until she married her husband, Bryan, and then stayed at home for a few years to care for her three sons, Stuart, Paul, and David. As the children grew older, Marcia worked as a Marie Curie nurse caring for the terminally ill, and later for the local authority managing school transport.

Now a grandmother, Marcia enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She’s a keen researcher of her family history, and it was this hobby that inspired some of the characters in her books. A keen gardener, Marcia grows many of her own vegetables. She is also an avid reader and mainly enjoys historical fiction, romance and crime books.

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