Special Things

Tuesday, December 7, 2021


Newest Gypsy Shadow Release, December 3, 2021

Black House by Elana Gomel

Leire always knew she was different. Her flaming red hair, her uncanny skill with the needle, and most or all, her curiosity, set her apart in the prison-city of Hiria, dominated by the mysterious Black House. But only when she is arrested does Leire learn just how different she is. A descendant of the cursed witchbrood that haunted the city’s nightmares for centuries, she is the only one capable of stopping the plague of monstrous Black Walkers destroying Hiria.

Embarking on a quest through the twisted corridors and uncounted gateways of the Black House, Leire must learn the shattering truth about the city and about her own origin if she is to save Hiria and to be reunited with the man she has reluctantly fallen in love with.

Word Count: 71414
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: 3.99

Friday, November 19, 2021

New Gypsy Shadow Releases for Fall, 2021

 Lady Killer by Stephen M. DeBock
When Miami drug lord Raul Rodriguez tires of his string of current mistresses, he knows he can’t afford to turn them loose; instead, he commissions his on-call assassin to eliminate them.

Assuming a false identity and affecting a disarming manner, the hit man earns the trust of his victims before terminating them. He relishes playing the chameleon.

But when he finds himself emotionally drawn to his latest target, a woman who says she could easily love him, the assassin faces a dilemma: will he run away with her, hoping to drop off Raul’s radar; or will he execute the very woman he envisions a future with?

Word Count: 12506
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Five New Print Books Uploaded at Gypsy Shadow Publishing


Piñata Belly And Other Tales of Later Love

Five Titles from the I'm Here series by Joe Novara

 I’m Here is a fast-moving tale about the slow-down of aging and the freedom of choosing where to sleep and with whom.

After 25,000 Masses: A 72-year old priest decides to leave more than his parish when he retires. A woman who admired him as her high school chaplain opens him to loving one person after a lifetime of loving everyone.

Pinata Belly has a retired black high school teacher and an ex-pat Southern Belle running a B/B in the Guatemala Highlands. The two never-marrieds are a parable of our times as Harry and Cobi, diversity-woke, racially open, represent the browning of America or conversely, America going off-white.

Vito’s Tale, is one immigrant’s version of the American Dream that saw this country as a means to make enough money to return to the ‘real world’ of his motherland while pushing one of his sons into upward mobility before pursuing late love in ‘the old country.’

Cagalupo Redux: Nick Finazzo, a roving freelance writer, spots Carol walking a Lake Michigan beach a long way and a lifetime from their early years in Detroit’s Eastside—their adolescent attraction, friends in common and now disparate life styles—her Lake Michigan mansion, his live-in van. Can they start over?



 Across the Faebridge by Shiloh Darke

Leanna is a widow who just wants to start over. She moves out into the country, where she feels an instant connection to the land with the little cobblestone cottage. She hopes the change of scenery and time by herself will help her take some much needed time to herself and find a way to heal.

One evening, deciding to explore a little, she crosses the cobblestone bridge that crosses the creek running across the property. One minute, she is crossing the bridge in the late evening. Next minute, she is nose to nose with a real, live dragon. In the middle of the day.

As if the dragon isn’t shocking enough, the Elf on his back has seriously got to be the sexiest man she’s ever seen. Vlameir is an Elf King who has all but given up on finding his soulmate. When Leanna stumbles through the Portal and into his life, he is shocked to feel an instant connection to the petite human female.

But there is always more to every story. Unfortunately, soulmates finally finding each other is only the beginning... 



The Godmother by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

 What if someone wished a fairy godmother would help the entire city of Seattle? An overworked, overstressed social worker named Rose Samson does just that when she makes an idle wish on a mustard seed. Felicity Fortune of “Godmothers Anonymous” shows up to help. Rose Samson is neither fashion model beautiful, nor a twit, and she happily joins forces with Felicity Fortune, a “Godmother” who demonstrates that Grimm’s fairy tales are still relevant in our humdrum modern world.*Fairy godmothers are on a magical budget, so every possible way they can get human beings or animals to assist one another, they will try, rather than using up their magical means.

Felicity encounters many strangely familiar situations: a pretty stablehand named Cindy Ellis is mistreated by her cruel stepsisters. A rock star’s daughter, scared of the supermodel her dad married, runs away from home and meets seven Vietnam veterans at an encounter session and retreat. One of them might be a big bad wolf, who knows?*In all their experiences, Rose and Felicity try to blend their magical aid with realistic human initiative and social responsibility. Scarborough’s fully realized settings, with the humor built into the mix of magical solutions and grim reality, make this work an entertaining and compelling read.



The Godmother's Apprentice

“Dear Rosie,
Being an apprentice fairy godmother is complicated. Not only do I have to go out and find good deeds to do, but for a sidekick I have that hit man that Felicity changed into a toad. I wanted to take the cat but she seems to have had a big funeral to attend. Felicity isn’t around much. She keeps disappearing through a door in the guestroom that opens on the side of a hill. The swimming pool is weird too, and I could have sworn I saw someone dancing on the bottom. I am enjoying riding the flying horse and helping a boy who plays squeezebox and talks to swans though, so things are—you should pardon the expression—looking up.”

“SIMPLY ENCHANTING.” Publisher’s Weekly


“CHARMING. . .Scarborough mixes folklore, adventure, atmosphere, psychology, and whimsy into a thoroughly absorbing plot.” Booklist

“AN ENCHANTING BOOK.” Affaire de Coeur 



The Godmother's Web

Cindy Ellis knows about fairy godmothers.  Her almost-stepdaughter is studying to be one and she is a close personal friend of Felicity Fortune, an Irish godmother. But she didn’t suspect when she picks up Grandma Webster that the elderly, seemingly lost American Indian woman in traditional dress was a magical godmother too. When a self-serving skinwalker/witch inflames tensions between neighbors and pits sisters against each other in the best fairy tale fashion, Grandma enlists Cindy’s help, along with that of a Navajo doctor, a Hopi rancher, and an unlikely champion, a dude who is related to coyotes and dreams of a home shopping network empire. Together they must defeat the evil that is threatening to destroy their world forever.

“Characterization, pacing, and folkloric expertise are all up to the series’ high standards, so Godmother-followers and others should greet this book joyfully.”—Booklist


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Gypsy Shadow Releases for January-May, 2021

New GSP Releases, January-May, 2021

Many New Releases!

The Perfect Man by Violetta Antcliff

What is the perfect man? Is there such a person? Faith would have said no, would have argued that even a saint has flaws, defects. She has given up hope of ever finding a man that can live up to her expectations. That is until James and his namesake come into her life. One is perfection personified, too good to be true. The other has all the weaknesses of the common man. Does she want a robotic yes man who agrees with everything she says, or one who is anything but perfect? Can a simple kiss be the answer to this confusing conundrum? That is the question, but what is the answer?

Word Count: 10300
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon

Philip and the Boy Who Said, “Huh?” by John Paulits

Philip’s new friend Eugene has some strange ways about him, especially the way he sometimes ignores people. Philip decides to investigate, and when he finally figures out Eugene’s secret, it upends not only Eugene’s life, but also Philip’s own.

Word Count: 13400
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon

Across the Faebridge by Shiloh Darke

Leanna is a widow who just wants to start over. She moves out into the country, where she feels an instant connection to the land with the little cobblestone cottage. She hopes the change of scenery and time by herself will help her take some much needed time to herself and find a way to heal.

One evening, deciding to explore a little, she crosses the cobblestone bridge that crosses the creek running across the property. One minute, she is crossing the bridge in the late evening. Next minute, she is nose to nose with a real, live dragon. In the middle of the day.

As if the dragon isn’t shocking enough, the Elf on his back has seriously got to be the sexiest man she’s ever seen. Vlameir is an Elf King who has all but given up on finding his soulmate. When Leanna stumbles through the Portal and into his life, he is shocked to feel an instant connection to the petite human female.

But there is always more to every story. Unfortunately, soulmates finally finding each other is only the beginning…

Word Count: 78231
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon

Piñata Belly by Joe Novara

Harry, a retired African American high school history teacher turned D.C. tour guide, decides to explore guiding opportunities in Guatemala. On an outing to Mayan ruins, the life-long bachelor with a rapport with teens, connects with Bryn and through her, with her ex-pat grandmother, Cobi. Surprised by love, so late in life, in a cultural setting that views him as a “darker wave in a sea of brown,” he links up with Cobi as she unravels her tangled, exiled, Southern past.

Word Count: 22164
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon

Vito’s Tale by Joe Novara

Vito’s Tale is a piece of creative non-fiction (or historical fiction) about my grandfather who came to this country from Sicily ahead of his wife and children, sent my father to college, worked heavy construction labor all the while longing to return to the ‘home’ he left behind. Finally, as a widower, he did go back, married again and welcomed the grandson who came full cycle to live with him for a summer.

Word Count: 19200
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon

Ruby Crab by Nathan Gemmell

Bored, dreaming of a different life with adventure, success and family… Well, that’s just around the corner, but the path to our dreams is never straightforward.

Nat lives a mundane and solitary life. Day after day, nothing changes; he wakes up, goes to work, eats, then sleeps—and it all starts again the following morning. Always he dreams of a better life and to find someone to care for and to love.

Then, one day, he finds Ruby Crab. She is a beautiful childlike creature made of pure ruby. She has been abandoned! A refugee, Ruby Crab exists in a society in which she does not belong.

After spending a lot of time together, they develop a loving father-daughter bond. Will the world continue to reject her existence? Will society accept their connection? Will their love for each other prevail in this world—or in another?

Word Count: 10200
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon

Psychopaths and UFOs by Violetta Antcliff

G. Baxter & Flint, Private Investigators, are two of the best who seldom turn away clients who come to them for help. But when Georgina Baxter takes on a psychopath as a client, she gets more than she bargained for and ends up fighting for her life.

Joseph Flint, her partner in the firm, is persuaded to take on a client who he thinks is delusional, a man seeing aliens and flying saucers every time there’s a full moon.

Flint doesn’t believe in UFOs but he investigates regardless, and what he finds out is mind boggling, unbelievable.

Word Count: 10850
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon

Remembering Sunny by Dawn Colclasure

Jeanie and Mara are two cousins who grow up together and share a dream of opening their own animal shelter one day. But that dream is put on hold when, at 18, Mara announces she is pregnant and that she’s going to marry her boyfriend, Drake Preston. Jeanie knows Drake is bad news, but supports her cousin all the same. After Sunny is born, Mara can’t imagine her life without her. Then tragedy strikes and the family pulls together in mourning. It is in her grief that Mara learns how to turn tragedy into triumph and bring hope to her life again.

Word Count: 10750
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon

Cagalupo Redux by Joe Novara

Nick Finazzo, a roving freelance writer, spots Carol walking a Lake Michigan beach a long way and a lifetime from their early years in Detroit’s Eastside—their adolescent attraction, friends in common and now disparate life styles—her Lake Michigan mansion, his live-in van. Can they start over?

Word Count: 5700
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon

Eltava: A Sword for All Ages by Nyki Blatchley

A swordswoman with a love of wandering, Eltava lives a nomadic life in a world of island kingdoms and mainland empires, sometimes on her own, sometimes with her immortal companion, known as the Traveller. These eleven stories chronicle her life and adventures from an adventure-obsessed 14-year-old to an 84-year-old who still has a move or two up her sleeve.

From acting as bodyguard for princesses to defending peaceful communities from aggression, Eltava battles bandits and tyrants, demons and unearthly creatures. But her greatest battle is with herself, as she becomes more aware that she’s growing old, while her companion doesn’t age. A search for eternal life ultimately teaches her that life itself is a victory, however long or short—and Eltava’s going to enjoy every minute of hers.

Word Count: 78585
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon


Friday, October 2, 2020

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month~~October


On the Wings of Pink Angels by Dawn Colclasure



 "You have cancer." These are words people dread hearing. But when worse comes to worst, push comes to shove, something wonderful happens. More people come together for support and encouragement. More people participate in "Race for the Cure" events, and more people discover an inner strength within themselves that they never knew they had before. On the Wings of Pink Angels offers a gentle hand through this difficult time, sharing stories that inspire hope, strength, gratitude and courage during a time when someone must fight for his or her life against breast cancer.

Word Count: 32000
Pages to Print: 133  

Buy it at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon 

Also available at many online vendors worldwide. 




Dawn Colclasure

Dawn Colclasure is a writer who lives in Oregon. Her articles, essays, poems and short stories have appeared in several newspapers, anthologies, magazines and E-zines. She is the author and co-author of over two dozen books, among them Burning the Midnight Oil: How We Survive as Writing Parents; 365 Tips for Writers: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat the Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity; Love is Like a Rainbow: Poems of Love and Devotion; On the Wings of Pink Angels: Triumph, Struggle and Courage Against Breast Cancer; A Ghost on Every Corner; The Yellow Rose and her latest novels, Faded Reflection and Imprint.



National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was founded in 1985 by a variety of health and medical organizations promoting the message of breast cancer awareness.

You can visit the site here: http://www.nbcam.org/

And here is the Wiki page:


Since its inception, businesses and charities across the globe have stepped up to do their part in the fight against breast cancer. Major corporations such as ValPak, Walmart and Lands End have participated in NBCAM in some form or another. They have distributed flyers and informational documents about breast cancer among employees and customers, created support groups to help those with breast cancer and created an in-house breast cancer screening program. Even the government has done its part in participating in NBCAM, by including a message about breast cancer on government employee pay stubs during the month of October.

Over the years, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been a month of challenges, inspiration, support—as well as controversy. A local breast imaging center in Eugene, Oregon started a “Make Time for the Girls” campaign during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2010. The idea of calling breasts “the girls” was met with a public outcry, spurring many residents to complain to their local newspaper about such insensitivity. Still, the campaign persevered. Another year when NBCAM rolled around, many people on Facebook shared a status update saying, “Let’s find a cure for ALL cancers, not just breast cancer.” The purpose of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to promote awareness and support for anyone fighting for their life against breast cancer. Yes, we do want an end to ALL cancers one day, but let us remember that this special month was not created to slight the other cancers, or even to dismiss the struggles of those afflicted with other cancers. Let us march forward with our pink ribbons spreading the message that the fight against breast cancer, and indeed all cancers worldwide, must continue to go strong.

Beating Time At Its Own Game: Life Begins With Cancer

by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

The day after my biopsy, my husband and I drove to Las Vegas on a business trip, never thinking about possibilities. We stopped at the state line for a ride on the giant Ferris wheel. We shelled giant prawns for lunch at the Stardust buffet. We slid quarters into a slot machine—the old fashioned kind I like with spinning cherries that will surely triple my money and spill the winnings into a silver trough.

That was not a bad approach at the time. There is no reason to assume the worst, to project abject possibilities that may never come to pass onto the present. Denial is sometimes very useful. On the other hand, it often keeps one from examining one’s own behavior, one’s own motivations. I share this anecdote because it illustrates how thoroughly denial had become entrenched in my life.

I was raised in times that were not easy for women. Most of the barriers I faced were ones that couldn’t be seen nor acknowledged because I didn’t know they were there. They crept up silently on padded feet and, if I sensed them at all, I chose not to turn and face them.

This faculty for denial was intact and very healthy when I was diagnosed with cancer. By 3 p.m. that day, the picture was not so jolly. We had to return home so I could begin autogenous blood donations. The risk of AIDS in the blood supply was still high; my doctor believed that we should have my own blood on hand in case it was needed.

My first reaction was true to pattern. I reassured myself that everything was going to be just fine, that I wasn’t nervous, that cancer was not a terrifying word. Unfortunately, my doctor had not sounded especially positive when he demanded that we set a surgery date in that moment, over the phone.

My husband was also up to the task. “We won’t work today. We’ll just take off, have some fun and drive back tonight.” We were two peas in a pod. We’d both try anything other than just saying, “Gee, I’m scared.”

I almost went along with that plan. Instead, I used the time on the open road to meditate. In that time, I realized—sort of knew at a cellular level—that I had to do more than donate blood to myself and that cancer doesn’t just happen.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020


Newest GSP Release, September 30, 2020

The Prodigal by Violetta Antcliff

About the book:

Poppy Berisford has everything going for her: a loving family, more pocket money than the average teenager and much more than her fair share of good looks. So why does she give it all up to go on the run with a boy who has nothing to offer her but toil, sweat and tears? A boy who hasn’t even started to shave and like Poppy is under the impression money grows on trees.

Is this a story of true love between two teenagers, or just a case of juveniles playing at being grown ups, willing to get their fingers burnt? Only time will tell.

Word Count: 10600
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $3.99


Chapter 1

It was coming up to midnight when Poppy crept out of the house; both her parents were fast asleep in bed. She knew this because when she tiptoed past their bedroom door, she’d heard her father snoring.

Kyle had texted her earlier to say he would be waiting for her at the street corner. He reminded her to bring whatever money she could scrape together, at such short notice, with her.

Being extra cautious, not wanting to wake anybody, Poppy switched off the burglar alarm before opening the front door, then closed it quietly behind her and slipped the key through the letterbox.

As promised, Kyle was stood there waiting for her. He greeted her with, “Did you remember to bring the money with you?”

Poppy tapped her handbag “Yes, it’s all in here,” she said.

“How much?”

“Thirty pounds. Every penny I’ve got. How much have you brought?”

“Fifty—the money I’d saved for the school trip to France. Won’t be going now will it?” he said with a shrug of the shoulders.

“So what’s the plan, or haven’t you come up with one yet?”

“Of course I have. First we make our way to the railway station. It’s a bit of a walk I know, but we’ve got plenty of time.”

“And then what?” Poppy wanted all the details.

“We make our way to Skegness, find someplace to stay and then I’ll get a job. Shouldn’t be any problem this time of the year.”

“Finding someplace to stay could be expensive, and don’t forget we’ve got to eat.” Poppy was being practical, which was unusual for her.

“When I said we would find a place to stay, I was thinking of a caravan, not a big posh family one, just a two birth.”

“And what will I be doing while you are out at work all day?”

“You could get yourself a job as a waitress, you look older than sixteen so you should have no problems.”

“I won’t be sixteen for another three weeks and working as a waitress in some greasy spoon café—” Poppy threw her arms in the air. “Well, there goes my plan for training as a brain surgeon, doesn’t it?”

Kyle laughed. He was one year older than Poppy, although at times he seemed much younger. “And there goes mine as an airline pilot,” he said. “Come on, let’s get a move on or we’ll miss the train.”

The train was on time and they had no trouble finding a seat because at that time of night it was half empty.

Dawn was breaking when they pulled in at the station in Skegness. Poppy, who had slept for most of the journey, was now wide awake and alert, ready for whatever the day ahead held for them.

“Well, we’ve arrived, so what do we do now? Most of the shops will be closed this time of the day,” she reminded.

“There’ll be a shop open somewhere, where we can get a bite to eat,” returned Kyle optimistically.

He was right; more than a couple were already open and ready for business on the seafront. “Look we’re spoilt for choice,” he said choosing one advertising All Day Breakfasts.

The food was good and reasonably priced. The owner of the café, a rotund man, who looked to be in his late sixties, walked over to their table when they had finished eating and stood arms folded, looking down at them.

“You kids here on holiday?” he asked, “or just on a day trip?”

“Working holiday,” said Kyle jumping in before Poppy had time to say anything.

“Where are you staying?” Was his next question.

“Haven’t decided yet,” returned Kyle. “Was thinking of finding a caravan camping site, asking if they had any two-berth vans to let for the season.”

The older man stood, stroking his chin and thinking. “And you say you are looking for work?
Kyle nodded.

“Well, I think I might be able to help you. I have a two-berth caravan parked out back, and if this young lady,” he nodded toward Poppy, “isn’t afraid of a bit of hard work, I would let you have it rent free.”

Poppy was all ears. “What sort of hard work?” she asked.

“The wife’s been looking for some extra help for over the lunch time period, it gets very busy at the height of the season,” he said. “A few of hours a day, let’s say from eleven thirty to two thirty in exchange for living rent free in my old van. What do you say?” He held his hand out, and Poppy took it.

About the Author:

Violetta Antcliff has been a member of the Nottingham Writers’ Club for the best part of twenty years. A winner of numerous short story competitions, her work was area short listed in Waterstone’s Wow Factor story competition. Took first prize in Nottingham County Council short story competition with a story called “Irish Mouse Tales,” which was published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing as an eBook in July of 2012. “A Shot in the Dark” is Violetta’s 37th eBook with Gypsy Shadow since 2009 and follows “The Left Hander,” “A Silent Scream,” “The Rough Sleeper,” “The Odd Claims of Lizzy Croft,” “A Shot in the Dark,” and the latest installment in the Jason Foster Series, “Jason’s Teen Years.” She has had her poetry and short stories read on local radio.

Find her on FACEBOOK

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

New Release September 21, 2020


The Lady in the Loch by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. Also available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and dozens of other online vendors.

Basically the same story with a brand new look, Cover Art by Karen Gillmore.


Skillfully cross-stitching history, mystery and old-time urban legend… tension mounts steadily . … an artful work. —Publisher's Weekly The Lady in the Loch by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

When a woman’s bones are found in the icy dregs of the noxious Nor’ Loch, newly appointed sheriff of Edinburgh, Walter Scott, is called upon. Are these the remains of a drowned witch or religious heretic, or are they perhaps linked to something more recent and sinister? For although Edinburgh is known to be the center of literature, science, and medicine, it is also the haunt of body snatchers who prey upon the living and the dead alike, selling their victims for study by the student physicians at the medical school.

When a band of Travelling People is forced to winter near the city, two young women are taken, one from her bed while she sleeps near her family. Justice from the settled people is rarely accorded to gypsies and the Travellers fear they will be murdered one by one by the ghouls stalking their people.

A young gypsy named Midge Margret is sure that Scott will care. He befriended her family before and once more he promises to help find the murderer who prowls the snowy forest in a black coach. When a patchwork woman with supernatural strength begins hunting the streets as well, Scott and Midge Margret know the crimes are rooted in bloody dark magic. In order to catch the killer, the butchered victims themselves must testify.


Elizabeth Ann Scarborough was born in Kansas City, KS. She served as a nurse in the U.S. Army for five years, including a year in Viet Nam. Her interests include weaving and spinning, beading and playing the guitar and dulcimer.

Scarborough is the author of more than 24 solo fantasy and science fiction novels, including the 1989 Nebula award winning Healer’s War, loosely based on her service as an Army Nurse in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. She collaborated on 16 novels with Anne McCaffrey, six in the bestselling Petaybee series and eight in the YA bestselling Acorna series, and most recently, the Tales of the Barque Cat series, Catalyst and Catacombs (from Del Rey). Recently she has converted all of her previously published solo novels to eBooks with the assistance of Gypsy Shadow Publishing, under her own Fortune imprint. Spam Vs. the Vampire was her first exclusive novel for eBook and print on demand publication, followed by Father Christmas (a Spam the Cat Christmas novella) and The Tour Bus of Doom.


Available soon in PRINT!

The mother of the corpse wore solid black as she danced round and round the room to the lamenting coronach of the pipes. With her danced the father of the corpse, also in black. The attire of both showed signs of having been recently, hastily dyed for the occasion. Phantoms of the plaid fabric swam beneath the dye of the mother's gown. The mother wept as she danced and the father scowled. The corpse lay in the middle of the room, her claes deid, her funeral garments, concealing the thirty stab wounds in her chest and the dishonor her killer had subjected her body to before she died. All around the coffin, her brothers and sisters-in-law, her sisters and brothers-in-law, her fiance and her grandmother, all of them weeping, shuffled in their own awkward dancing. The neighbors danced and wept as well. And close by the coffin, the bound and gagged tinkler man was weeping too, less for the murdered lassie than for himself, he who was the accused.

The time was one minute until midnight by the grand-father clock standing in the candle-cast shadows draping the walls, festooning the ceiling and carpeting the floors. The flickering of these same candles lent astonishing expressions to the corpse's face and deepened the dread on the faces of the other celebrants, dancing, singing, eating, drinking, and weeping for the dead lass.

A danse macabre if ever there was one, Walter Scott mused from his chair in the center of the room, close to the girl's open coffin. Scott was excused from the dancing both because of his semi-official status in the investigation and because of his lame leg. In a way, it was quite thrilling, this lyke-wake, for it was the first he had attended. Lowlanders and Borderers such as himself, people raised in the strictness of the Kirk, did not practice such rituals, but the girl's family, the MacRitchies, were transplanted Highlanders. So on the one hand, this gave Scott a wonderful opportunity to observe a ritual of which he had previously only read. But on the other hand, there was the girl in the coffin, and though he had never known her, never heard her name, she was touchingly young, younger even than his own eighteen years. She should have been beautiful too, an Ophelia, a Lily Lady of Shalot, but she was actually rather ordinary-looking, robust even in death, the freckles standing out like blemishes on the waxiness of her skin, her eyes, at present, closed with coins, her red hair too festive for her own funeral.

The sheriff-depute of Selkirk, Scott's old friend Adam Plummer, stood beside him, both of them shivering, for the room was chill for more common reasons than the eldritch atmosphere that gripped it. The fireplace was cold, as it must be until the body was removed, and the door was still wide open for the moment.

As the clock gonged the first of its twelve notes for midnight, the dancing wound to a shuffling halt and the piped lament died a wheezing death. Plummer crossed the makeshift dance floor in two long strides and closed the door so that it was barely ajar. The mourners hushed, except for one man who continued, unheeding, to gnaw on the drumstick of a goose. As Plummer returned to the corpse's side, the clock struck its second gong. The mother, Mrs. MacRitchie, let loose with her eerie keening cry, the hullulu, as the Irish so accurately termed it, for that was the way it sounded, a long mourning-dove yell.

The MacRitchies' large, pleasant stone farmhouse was wrapped in the boughs of the Ettrick Forest, and both forest and farmhouse kitchen could be entered from the kitchen door. The house was not too far from that of Scott's old friend James Hogg, and his mother. Hogg had been with the search party that discovered the lass's poor body and also with the party that had flushed the tinklers from their camp in the woods and chased the young man through the trees. The murdered girl's fiance and her brothers had assumed, as had all the neighbors, that the tinkler lad, since he was in the area, was of course the perpetrator of the crime. Had it been left only to them, the young man would by now be hanged. But Hogg, who had some connections with and sympathy for the tinklers, told the accusers that if they proceeded, the current laws of this district would call them murderers as well, that it was best to send for the sheriff-depute and allow him to conduct a proper investigation. Recalcitrant as the younger laddies were, the elder MacRitchies prevailed and allowed Hogg to send a servant with a message to the home of Scott's aunt Janet in Sandy Knowe. Scott was visiting his aunt and uncle for the summer, far away from his studies at the university in Edinburgh. He and Plummer had been whiling away the early afternoon playing chess when the MacRitchies' servant knocked on Aunt Janet's door and told him of the lass's death (never calling her by name. One never called the deceased by name unless in court or kirk or on one other occasion, as the sheriff was soon to demonstrate). Plummer evidently was acquainted with the family, however, and had some idea that the lyke-wake was in order. He told Scott that this might prove a more interesting experience than most and urged the younger man to accompany him.

Riding hard, they had reached the farmhouse shortly after sunset, when the forest shadows gave way to the mist rising from the creeks and ponds, and that was joined by the smoke from the kitchen chimney, blowing a solemn ring around the house.

Plummer questioned Mrs. MacRitchie, who had laid her daughter out, about the girl's wounds. Scott was relieved his friend had felt no need to remove the funeral linens to see the wounds for himself, but he wondered why. Plummer questioned the tinkler lad as well, but the man refused to say anything except that he had done nothing wrong, and to shake his head stubbornly. The brothers and the girl's fiance, one Robert Douglas, the son of an even more successful farmer than the girl's father, wanted to "bate the truth oot o' the knacker," and in fact, it looked as if they had already made progress toward that goal before Plummer and Scott arrived. Hogg too bore a couple of visible bruises, although no apparent malice toward those who had inflicted them.

The clock gonged for the fourth time. Plummer began, "By the power vested in me by the Sheriff of Selkirk and through him the King, I will noo commence interrogatin' the victim of this heinous crime."

"What does he mean, interrogate the victim?" Scott asked Hogg, who had drawn near.

Hogg shrugged. "Used to be done whenever there was foul play, according to Mither," he whispered back. "Nowadays nane but the law know the way."

"Why's that?" Scott asked, but just then, one of the men screamed.

"No! Let her rest in peace! We hae Ma—my bride-to-be's murderer there. We should hang him and be done wi' it!"

"Haud yer tongue, man," Plummer commanded. "Let nane speak but her whose foremost business it is, the last witness to this crime. In the pursuit of this investigation, once more I invoke thy name, Mary MacRitchie," he said, in appropriately sonorous tones. "Rise up, lass, and accuse thy slayer."

Though he had never seen such a thing before, Scott had read of the dead accusing their slayers, but had thought it only superstition. He, with the other occupants of the room, held his breath, waiting, to see what would happen, what, if the victim indeed rose up, she would say.

Even the gnawer of the goose bone had finished all the flesh and, putting away his bone, realized that the room was now completely still except for his ever-more-cautious chewing and the echo of Plummer's invocation, and the heartbeats and expirations of all of those who were not now allowed to speak. The first sound other than those was a slight slipping, like jewels against a lady's velvet dress, and then a hollow clink as the coins fell from the girl's eyes and dropped into her coffin as if it were a wishing well.

Even the tinkler was still, as with a sussuration of the claes deid and a long, pain-wracked groan, the body raised itself, hands still bound across its chest, to a sitting position.

With the raising, Scott caught the stench of corruption emanating from her, washed and freshly dressed as she was. On such a warm summer day as this had been, her body had already begun to decay.