A Shadow in the Past
Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages; powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.
Sarah blinked and stared at one of the ghostly trees lining the roadway. The trunk expanded and contracted before her eyes as if it were breathing. A gust of wind rasped through the branches and a sudden cry of a long-eared owl made her jump. Shivering, Sarah crossed her arms and rubbed, but pain shot all the way down to her fingertips, forcing her to stop.
At the narrow stone bridge, she stopped and rested. As she stood there trying to catch her breath, the bridge began to vibrate and black smoke filled the air. A shrill whistle pierced the silence, drowning out the ringing in her ears. Sarah wheeled around and gasped. Off in the distance she saw the tiny speck of a headlight. It grew larger and brighter as the train drew closer and thundered beneath the bridge. Sarah watched the disappearing train and tried to understand what she had seen. There was no railway line near her house, only a flat dirt trail leading to the village.
Soon the smell of freshly cut hay, manure, and farm animals replaced the lingering aroma of the train’s oily coal smoke. If the barn was this close, she was almost home. Drawing closer, she heard the sounds of hooves pawing at stall floors and horses snorting. Her parents did not own horses. Beef cattle, sheep, and a few barn cats were the only livestock on their farm.
Confused, Sarah stumbled away from the barn and turned to face a sprawling three-storey building. It looked like Weetshill but it couldn’t be. The Weetshill mansion Sarah knew had no roof, and trees grew within the confines of its crumbling walls. The slate roof of this building shone in the moonlight as if it had been installed yesterday, and glass sparkled in enormous windows that should have been gaping, dark holes.
Sarah touched the heavy oak door and jerked her hand back as though she’d burnt it. She reached for a thick cord hanging from a bell by the door, but her head began to spin and she lost consciousness.