Yesterday's Promise by Linda Lee ChaikinYesterday's Promise by Linda Lee Chaikin

Yesterday's Promise

byLinda Lee Chaikin

Paperback | February 16, 2010

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He fought to seek his fortune.
Would he lose a greater treasure: the love he left behind?

As the son of the squire of Grimston Way, aristocrat Rogan Chantry has fought hard to win his independence from Sir Julien Bley and the British South Africa Company. Now, his pursuit of a mysterious deposit of gold, marked on a map willed to him by his murdered uncle, Henry Chantry, is challenged by a new complication: the impending British colonization of South Africa. Can Sir Rogan find the gold in the midst of escalating tensions among the native tribesmen, the missionaries sent to win them, and the new colonists?

Meanwhile, Evy Varley, the woman Rogan loves back in England, is headed for a brave yet dangerous confrontation with Henry’s killer–but at what price? With so much against Rogan and Evy, a reunion seems improbable, if not impossible. Can yesterday’s promise hold them faithful to the hope of future freedom and a victorious love?
Linda Lee Chaikin has written numerous best-selling and award-winning books and series, including the Silk series (Heart of India Trilogy), A Day to Remember series, The Empire Builders, Royal Pavilion Trilogy, Arabian Winds Trilogy, The Buccaneers Trilogy, and For Whom the Stars Shine, a finalist for the prestigious Christy Award. Cha...
Title:Yesterday's PromiseFormat:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 8.25 × 5.45 × 0.8 inPublished:February 16, 2010Publisher:The Crown Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:030745875X

ISBN - 13:9780307458759

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CHAPTER ONEGrimston Way, England31 October 1898On the perimeter of the village green, a thick stand of ancient trees withhalf-clad branches trembled in the rising wind. Dark clouds obscuredthe cheerful face of the sun, and like a harbinger of events to come, athunderhead cloaked the afternoon sky.The first smattering of rain dribbled down branches to a crisp carpetof burnt-orange leaves. Though the countryside seemed draped witha fall gloominess, laughter still danced on the wind from children whojoined hands and skipped in a large circle while singing “London BridgeIs Falling Down” and giggling as they dropped to the damp grass.A tall white cross graced the village green near the twelfth-centuryrectory of St. Graves Parish. Below the cross some of the village girlswere adding last-minute touches to the outdoor fall decorations. Chainsof red pomegranates, yellow gourds, and dried cornhusks, plus bundlesof tied grasses and bunched leaves gave a warm touch of color to the festivegathering. This was October 31, Allhallows Eve, the yearly celebrationrecalling brave Christian heroes and heroines of the past who hadfaithfully labored for Christ. The outdoor activities in Grimston Waywould end at eventide with the lighting of candles, a chapel service, anda friendly supper inside the parish hall.Evy Varley, who had grown up as the niece of the now deceased Vicar Edmund Havering and his wife, Grace, emerged from the ancientgnarled oak trees, where she had been gathering dried lacy moss hangingfrom ghostly branches. She was quite accustomed to the church holidays,spring fetes, and summer bake sales, for she’d been reared tobecome a vicar’s wife, but Providence, so it seemed to her, had intervened,and she’d been blessed to study music. She had recently graduatedfrom Parkridge Music Academy in London and, by means of a loanfrom Rogan Chantry, had opened a small music school here in herhome village.As she paused to take in the view of the village green, however, shenow felt strangely alienated, as though she were an outsider lookingthrough a window at a nostalgic scene. Had she been affected by the suddengloominess? Perhaps it was the odd restive spirit she had sensed forthe past few days that seemed hidden in the shadow of her subconscious.The sensation intensified to the point that Evy turned away fromthe singing children and looked toward the fast darkening GrimstonWoods. She suddenly remembered an incident in her girlhood—theday when a stranger had stood watching her from these very trees. Theman had appeared kindly back then, even sad when he spoke to her, butshe now experienced less benign emotions as the dark memory cloudedher mind. There was nothing she could describe as out of the ordinary,yet she remained conscious of an inexplicable unease.She turned away and quickened her steps back toward the villagegreen, seeking the children’s laughter and their innocent faces as theyprepared for the evening’s festivities. Perhaps her wary mood was due tothe season. September had been unseasonably warm and cheery, but theinevitable cold October weather had finally arrived.Ahead, Evy heard grave voices coming from behind some old hemlockbushes. She recognized the voices of the twin Hooper sisters, Maryand Beth, who were students in her piano class. The two schoolgirlsemerged from the bushes carrying wicker baskets filled with driedlavender and lemon grass, and their pretty blue calico skirts flared in thechilling breeze that sent leaves scattering about their feet.They both wore spectacles and had corn-colored hair that wasbraided and looped. The only noticeable difference between them wasthat Mary wore a red-and-white polka-dot ribbon.With them was Wally, son of the village carpenter, a tall boy withlong arms and big hands, which he had shoved into his too-short, fadedbreeches. He was listening to the girls with his head bent, his longishbrown hair ruffling beneath a floppy hat.The three huddled together like guilty accomplices, with Mary’ssolemn voice taking the lead, as usual. She seemed to be trying to convinceWally of something.“…it’s got to do with murder.”Evy’s fingers tightened around her basket as a chill breeze reachedthe back of her neck.“Murder runs in family blood, you know,” Mary stated matter-offactly.“Science says so.”“Poppycock,” Wally scoffed.“Science is never wrong.” Beth nodded in grave agreement, adjustingthe spectacles on her snub nose. “And Mary is always right.”“We both are,” Mary agreed with a polite nod to her twin.Evy remained still so the brittle leaves beneath her shoes would notannounce her presence and embarrass them.“Science ain’t always godlike, and murder don’t run in the blood,’cept if you’re talking about sin. And sin be in the human nature of usall. Even the dowager, old lady Elosia Chantry. A more stuffy aristocratyou never seen than her.”“That’s what I mean, Wally. Lady Elosia’s heard how Miss Varleywas born out of wedlock.”“You be meaning the wrong side of the blanket?”“That is quite what Mary means.” Beth nodded knowingly.“Lady Elosia wants Master Rogan to marry a lord’s daughter, LadyPatricia Bancroft. That’s why Lady Patricia’s sailing to Capetown in thespring to marry Rogan. And there’s plenty the Chantrys wish to hushup about their family history. Henry Chantry was Miss Varley’s father.He brought her back from Capetown and gave her away to VicarHavering.”“So then, Miss Varley is Miss Chantry.”“No, Wally!”“You just said Master Henry was her father.”“He and her mum weren’t married.”“So? He’d still be her father, you silly goose.” Wally’s voice becamewearied.“Well, that may be, but the vicar and his wife took Evy in out ofkindness.”“Everyone knows that. They had Christian hearts.”“But…Henry Chantry died before his time!”“Uds lud!” Wally said. “Everybody in Grimston Way has heard thatold tale. He done kilt himself in his study on the third floor atRookswood. Room’s haunted.”“He was murdered,” Mary repeated. “And Miss Varley’s mum fromCapetown is the murderess. Vengeance was the motive, because hebetrayed her.”“How could she have done it if she was dead already?” Wally mocked.“Her ghost came and did the dark deed.”The twins nodded sagely at each other and then at Wally.“Even I know that’s impossible,” Wally scoffed. “Uds! Look, Twins,it’s your mum. She’s beckoning.”“If she learns we’ve been playing Scotland Yard again, she’ll takeaway our science books. Hurry, Beth.”They ran across the green toward the rectory. Wally turned andheaded for the road, as though he knew the twins’ mum did notapprove of them being close friends with the carpenter’s boy.An icy gust of wind took Evy’s breath away and sent the hem of herdark hooded cloak billowing around her ankles. She looked after them,a little amused by the absurdity of their reasoning, yet disturbed as wellabout Lady Patricia Bancroft.Was it true? Was she voyaging in the spring to Capetown to becomeRogan’s bride?The dry leaves rattled through the overhead branches, while a witheringblast of wind swept through her lonely heart, leaving desolation inits wake. Rain, like cold, wet fingers, spread across her face and neck.Drawing up her shoulders in a little shiver, she lifted the hood of hercloak over her thick, tawny hair.Any interest she’d had earlier in the candlelight supper at St. Gravesparish hall was now extinguished. She must get away. She must thinkthings through. Little else would solace her spirits except retreating toher beloved piano to play her favorite pieces. She could lose herself inMozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, and her heart would stir with adesire to worship.Evy hurried toward the road, keeping close to the hickory trees so asnot to be noticed. It was to her advantage that most of the folks haddeserted the green in order to congregate in the warm parish hall.Questions beat like the wings of a trapped rook against her restless soul.Yes, secrets and suspicions abounded around the Chantry family.The theft of the famous Kimberly Black Diamond still remainedunsolved after all these years. And then there was Henry’s mysteriousdeath at Rookwood. The authorities had ruled it a suicide, but evenRogan believed his uncle had been murdered.The wind and cold rain drove against Evy as she slowly made herway up the dirt road that ascended to Rookswood Estate. She was soonsoaked to the skin, her cloak billowing and whipping with each gust.The wind filled her ears as it rushed through the great trees that loomedoverhead like sentinels guarding the only entrance that led to the ancestralhome of the Chantrys.She neared her rented cottage, which stood well back from the road,tucked among the trees, with Rookswood Estate as her nearest neighbor.The bungalow’s isolation, however, did not trouble Evy. The cottage wasperfect for her music classes, with room in the large parlor for her grandpiano. In fact, the term cottage was rather misleading, since it containedsix ample rooms and an attic.She looked again toward the tall trees of Grimston Woods, nowencroaching on the side of the meandering road and growing darker bythe minute. She could imagine Rogan Chantry emerging from thosetrees riding his fine black horse, just as he had on the day she first methim, back when he’d been a spoiled, arrogant boy, determined to lord hisstation in life over her. She could see him now as that youth, his glossydark hair waving past his forehead, his flashing brown eyes and tauntingsmile that insisted she would be his one day whether she liked it or not.As Rogan grew up, however, he had matured and mellowed andhad been much kinder to her. He had gone so far as to arrange a loan soshe could complete her final year at the music academy. He had evengiven money through Vicar Osgood to start her own music school,enabling her to live independently.Will I ever see him again? she wondered. And if not, will it matter tohim as much as it does to me?A creaking sound broke her reverie, and as Evy approached the cottage,she noticed the front wicket gate was open. The wind must haveloosened the latch after she left for the rectory. The gate was swinging sohard that if it had a mind of its own, it should be quite dizzy. Her ownfeelings were being buffeted in much the same way. Wisdom arguedwith folly, and she knew wisdom should easily win, but when it came toher will, it was not so easy to yield her desires to the Lord. She must prayabout that harder.Despite the rain, she paused by her gate. From here she could lookstraight up the dirt road to the forbidding Rookswood Estate. The toweringstone gate, weathered by generations of time and decorated withleering faces of medieval gargoyles, was bolted shut against her, servingas a stern reminder that Rogan Chantry was not only gone from Rookswoodbut also from her life—perhaps forever, if the Hooper twins wereright.The rain continued to descend in torrents, bouncing off thosehideous stone creatures of man’s twisted imagination. Hee, hee, theyseemed to mock with bulging eyes as the rainwater came gushing fromtheir open mouths and over their protruding tongues. My own imaginationis perhaps as wild, she thought. Even as a girl, in the company ofRogan, she had not appreciated those gargoyles; nor did she now. Sheglared at them, then turned away and entered her yard, securing the gatelatch against the tugging wind.The sturdy cottage, with its white walls and green shutters, withstoodthe storm as bravely as it had for generations, but she noticed anopen shutter on the high window near the peaked roof. The dark panestared back, looking opaque and silent as the rain slashed against it.She came up the walk past whipping vines that reached their tentaclestoward her and shaking bushes now devoid of autumn’s goldenflowers.Rogan… Her feelings, unlike the twins who seemed to agree oneverything, argued between desire and anger, but when it came to RoganChantry, it seemed neither emotion won. Hadn’t it always been so—even when she was a girl? There were times when her frustration over hisfailure to write made her angry enough to throw things, but she had beenbrought up too well for such childish displays of unbridled anger. Onmore frequent occasions it was not anger, but a deep longing she felt, akeen desire for Rogan’s company. Denied this, she at times wilted underan intense sadness that often reached the level of pain. One day she lovedhim and remembered in detail his fiery kiss good-bye, then she loathedhim the next when the post delivery continually passed her by.“No mail today, Miss Evy,” old Jeffords would call out when hecame by in his pony-trap to deliver the post and saw her on the porchbusily pretending to care for a potted flower. She was sure the newsspread around Grimston Way how Miss Varley waited for an envelopepostmarked from South Africa.The barbed words of Mary and Beth claiming that Lady Patriciawould leave in the spring to marry Rogan left her more distraught thanangry. What if it were true?Evy ran up to the front door and found her key in its usual place inthe pot where one of Aunt Grace’s favorite geraniums grew, transplantedfrom the rectory. She steeled her emotions. I won’t think about Rogan.But she knew she would; she usually did.For some reason her door key always needed to move about in thelock until it finally clicked open. Battered by the wind and cold rain, sheat last unlocked the door and rushed into the dry, comfortable cottagewith a sigh and quickly closed the door behind her. Safety at last.She hastened to remove her drenched cloak and sopping shoes, leavingthem to drip on the rain cloth spread beneath the hat tree. Shewould put water on to boil, then change into some dry clothes. By thetime she returned to the kitchen, the water would be just right to addthe robust dark tea leaves. A nice hot cup with bread and butter wouldmake her feel alive again, ready to enjoy a crackling fire and her music!Remember that delightful evening at the Chantry Townhouse in Londonwhen Rogan played the violin just for you?The memory made her pause for a moment, causing a small twingeof regret, then Evy shook her head and padded off to the kitchen pantry.The kettle was where Mrs. Croft had left it. Enough water remained, soEvy struck a match and lit the burner.She set her jaw. If only she could come up with the money to payRogan’s loan back. That would let him know she did not need him, thatshe was not mooning about, forlorn and wan, waiting for his crumbs ofattention!With the water on to boil, she went straight to her bedroom to dryherself and put on fresh stockings and a warm woolen dress. Shebrushed and pinned up her wavy, sometimes unruly, tawny-coloredhair. Her amber eyes with flecks of green looked back at her from themirror. In all honesty, she had no cause to deny that God had made herfair to look upon. It wasn’t wise, but she went ahead and compared herselfto Lady Patricia, certain it wasn’t her own lack of charm that haddetoured Rogan’s feelings.Thunder muttered overhead. She hastened back to the kitchen andpoured the boiling water into the pot. While the tea steeped she went tothe parlor, where her precious piano awaited her. Here she would relievesome tension by playing her favorite pieces.It was not to be, for a rush of wind invaded the parlor, scatteringsheets of music across the piano and down to the floor. An open window?Evy turned to see ballooning brocade draperies reaching toensnare her.She remembered now. The morning had been deceptively sunny,and she had opened it a few inches to let in some fresh air. Oh dear, shethought, by now the rain will have blown in and wet the rug.She hurried to close the window and was startled by a streak ofwhite that flashed across the black sky, followed by a thunderous boom,then rumblings through the darkened woods of Grimston Way. Morerain followed, pounding the pane with fists like mystical goblins ridingon the fall wind.She wondered that her fingers shook, that she reacted so emotionally.What is the matter with me? I’ve lived through hundreds of storms.The wind swept over the cottage, howling, repeating the word sheleast wanted to remember at this moment. Murder.Evy had been a small child when Henry Chantry’s life was taken.The murderer, who’d managed to get away, still had Henry’s blood ontheir hands. Had the murderer located the Kimberly Black Diamondand escaped with it? The very thought rankled her because her motherhad been blamed for its theft so many years ago. By now the perpetratorwould be far from Grimston Way—there’d be no reason to stay.Even so, her skin prickled at the thought. Nor could she keep the twins’unlikely words that Henry was her father from churning in her mind.What if he was? She paused, letting the implication flutter around in hermind before rejecting it. It couldn’t be true—that would make Rogan ablood relative.Regardless of the silly talk about her mother coming to Rookswoodto take revenge on Henry, someone may have done just that, but notKatie—she had died along with Dr. Clyde and Junia Varley at Rorke’sDrift mission station on the day of the Zulu attack in 1879. No onecould possibly have survived that onslaught.Overhead, a floorboard creaked, bringing her back to the moment.Her gaze lifted to the attic. It’s just the dampness, is all, she told herself.She remembered what Rogan said before sailing for the Cape. Inspite of the authorities’ conclusion that Henry Chantry had taken hisown life, he suspected otherwise, believing that someone in theextended diamond family may have killed him for more than the BlackDiamond. Why more? What could be more than that rare diamondfrom the Kimberly fields? The map? Ah yes, there was that. The preciousmap that Henry Chantry had left in his will to Rogan, promisinggold on the Zambezi.From Evy’s limited knowledge of the diamond dynasty family, theshareholders and inheritors consisted of Bleys, Brewsters, and Chantrys.Never was there any mention of her mother’s family, the van Burens.Evidently, Katie, under Sir Julien’s guardianship, had not been left aninheritance, which meant, of course, there’d been nothing left to Evy.Not that she expected otherwise. Dreaming of diamonds had neverbeen one of her weaknesses. However, she did care deeply about Katie’sreputation—and her own.According to Rogan, who hadn’t explained how he knew, somemembers of each family were in England on the night of Henry’suntimely death. All seemed capable of the short trip from London toGrimston Way to meet with Henry…and murder him?The floorboard creaked again.Evy snapped from her thoughts and turned toward the ceiling.Rats? Ugh… Maybe, but this was a heavier creak. Footsteps? Now shewas really allowing her emotions to run wild! Her musings about Henrywere unsettling her nerves.She rubbed her arms and glanced around her in the dimness.Maybe she should have stayed for supper in the parish hall after all. A bitof company on a stormy evening would have restrained her imagination,but she set aside any notion of returning to the rectory in weatherlike this. By the time she arrived, she would be soaked once again, andthere’d be plenty of explaining to do, especially to Mrs. Croft, whotreated her as if she were her own granddaughter.Evy squared her shoulders. There was only one way to handle heredginess. If the Hooper twins and Wally could play Scotland Yard, well,so could she.She walked to the kitchen, where the tea was ready to pour, butinstead of enjoying a cupful as she had intended, she went to the pantry.A small table held the oil lamp. There were no windows, only a smallvent for the warm months. She struck a match and lit the wick. A flightof steep steps beside the wall led to the attic. Holding the flickeringlamp, she forced her spirit to bravery, lifted her chin, and climbed.The wavering lamplight revealed yellow daisies on the fading wallpaper,which appeared comfortably familiar in a moment like this.Rain continued to lash the cottage walls. She could imagine a giantstanding outdoors with booted legs apart, whip in hand, trying to bringthe house down.It was really quite silly to allow her nerves to imagine footsteps fromjust a few creaks in the attic floor! After all, who would wish to look upthere? There was absolutely nothing of value—just some personalbelongings from Uncle Edmund and Aunt Grace—certainly not theKimberly Black Diamond!The wind plowed against the cottage, threatening to penetrate theweathered planks. The steps creaked beneath her feet, yet she was certainno one could hear her approaching over the noise of the storm.She reached the final step and lifted the lamp. Standing near thedoor, she paused to rouse her courage again before stepping up to thesmall landing. The door whipped open, and she gasped.A figure, apparently draped in a dark sheet, rushed at her withhands extended. A violent force shoved her and caused her to lose herbalance. As she started to fall backward, she reached in vain for a railthat wasn’t there. The lamp crashed down the steep steps, and her headstruck something hard.

Editorial Reviews

“Prepare for adventure, romance, and intrigue in nineteenth-century South Africa. Linda Lee Chaikin has done her homework, exploring the world of diamonds and goldmines in the land that would become Victorian Rhodesia. A page-turner of a story told by a veteran novelist.”–Liz Curtis Higgs, best-selling author of Thorn in My Heart“Linda Lee Chaikin never fails to deliver a dynamite story! In Yesterday’s Promise she weaves the complications of love and history into a storyline that is a sheer joy to read. I can’t wait for book three of the East of the Sun series!” –Diane Noble, award-winning author of Phoebe“I love, love, love this series by Linda Lee Chaikin! It has everything I’m looking for right now in a good read–memorable characters, intrigue, believable romance, fascinating history. If the third in the series was out, I wouldn’t be writing this...I’d be squirreled away, reading!”–Lisa Tawn Bergren, best-selling author of Christmas Every Morning