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Ancestral Legacy

Ancestral Legacy

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Ancestral Legacy

229 pages
3 hours
Aug 24, 2012


Jack Clements bought his villa and its vineyard eight years ago as ruins in the beautiful area known as the Costa Verde Northern Portugal. Now it is a magnificent villa which produces good wine. his nearest neighbour Maria whom he has never met, is to all intents and purposes a recluse and it is only when her quinta mysteriously catches fire and they are thrown together that things start to happen. As they try to adapt to sharing life at Jack’s villa, the good times of the grape harvest and feast and a typical Portuguese wedding are over shadowed by sinister events. They have no idea that they are being watched and this is only the start of events that are spiralling out of control. Things begin to fall in place when one of Maria’s students decides to look into Maria’s family history after seeing the words carved in stone above the door to the old mansion. the information she uncovers links Maria to Queen Maria the first of Portugal and her father confessor as well as Napoleon. But a chance reading of an article in the Telegraph on line, leads Jack to think that the things that are happening at Maria’s quinta may not be accidental. It will lead to danger and death but Jack's inquisitive mind unfolds even more of what her quinta has to offer.

Aug 24, 2012

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Ancestral Legacy - Graham Walker


Published by Graham Walker

At Smashwords

Copyright 2012 Graham Walker

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.

This book may not be resold or given away to other people.

If you would like to share this book with another person

Please purchase an additional copy for each recipient.

All characters in this book are fictional

Chapter 1

Crack! The business end of the whip was getting closer, he was running as fast as he could but he was getting nowhere, they were gaining. He knew he would soon feel the lash of the whip biting his flesh. Crack! He put on a spurt then tripped oh God! I can not recover from this he thought, as he rolled over to see how close they were, but his eyes would not open, his movements desperately slow and restricted, he was fighting, but fighting with himself. Crack! The noise was so loud his eyes eventually flew open, and he half sat up.

Now, wide awake from the nightmare, he was sweating and his heart was racing, he flopped back into the bed. Crack; Crack; Crack. He heard it again, but he was awake, how could this be, he thought, his mind was in turmoil. In order to focus on the sound, his ears tuned in but he closed his eyes again.

Crack He heard it again it was faint not the ear splitting crack of his nightmare, but it was definitely there, now his eyes were open again and he was up on one elbow. His room was always very dark, and although he did not look at the clock, he thought it was near daybreak, as there was a warmish glow from around the edges of the shutters on the windows. Jack was wide awake now and up from his bed. He looked at the clock, forcing his eyes to focus, it was 2:12. The turmoil in his mind tried to re-compute another factor that did not add up. He stood there shaking his head, trying to make some sense out of this nonsense. Although his body was awake his mind was still slow, at this time in the morning there should no light from out side, where he lived in the hills of Gondar, Northern Portugal, and there was no light pollution, as there were no street lights, well not out here in the sticks as he called it. He moved towards the window and the shutters. Opening the wooden shutters, he cursed his mind again for being so slow. He was struggling to comprehend the vision that his eyes were seeing, his body was working on reflex now, he was putting on some clothes from the chair in the corner of the room before his mind told him what his eyes had already seen, the nearest farm to his, his neighbour’s home, was on fire.

Jack raced through his house like a man possessed. This area was not like England, the fire fighters could take hours before they reached these backwaters, if they came at all, he knew he had to help. Outside he threw the petrol driven pump and its hoses in the back of the pickup, and raced down the track that skirted his vines towards the lane at the far end of his property. He thought the noise would wake Carolina, but she was in no danger where she was. The vines although vulnerable to fire were not on his mind at all, he was trying to save property and possibly life. These two things belonged to a neighbour, one he had never spoken to, they lived at the end of the lane, the wrong end, and no one ever passed this property, as the lane ended here. Even if you were at the property boundary there were still hundreds of meters of dirt track, before you would reach the buildings.

Swerving left onto the lane without stopping, the pump in the back, slid from side to side noisily. It took less than 2 minutes to reach the gateway to her land from his, and another couple of minutes of bumping over dips and potholes in the lane, before he slithered to a halt in the yard, leaving his pickup some distance from the burning buildings. The cracking sound of the timbers splitting in the flames was much louder now, it was worse than he thought, several of the outbuildings were now just shells, but what appeared to be the main house was just starting to blaze, the fingers of orange flame shooting skywards, possibly a secondary fire started by the burning debris thrown into the air, like roman candle projectiles on bonfire night, and taken anywhere they pleased on the wind, a wind generated itself by the fire. Fire out here is vicious, everything is tinder dry and spreads rapidly on winds, caused by hot air rising from the flames and cooler air rushing in to take its place.

Jack could see some one in the yard, but he had no idea who it was, who formed a black silhouette, against the yellow orange glow of the fire. One good thing was, at least they were moving, erratic movements yes, almost as if they were drunk, staggering and dazed. Whoever it was appeared oblivious to the fire, and appeared not to know, where to go or what to do next. He rushed over and in his version of Portuguese, asked if there was anyone in the house.

No there is no one in the house, I am on my own. The voice was that of a woman, a voice of indeterminable age, her face and clothes black, from the smoke her hair wet and matted, as if she had doused herself with water to stop the fire burning her hair. The heat radiating from the fire was almost unbearable.

Where is your well? He shouted against the roar of the fire.

A shaking arm pointed over to the corner of the yard. Jack ran back to the pickup, collected the equipment, and within a couple of minutes had the hoses connected, with the suction hose in the well. Fortunately, the petrol engine fired up first pull, and he could direct a spray of water onto the burning building. What he could make out in the flickering flame light, was near total ruins, walls but no windows, and no roofs on most of the building. Training the jet onto the untouched part of the roof, on the last building that had a roof, it did not take long for the flames to be brought under control, and Jack could concentrate on the pockets of fire left. When these were extinguished he moved the spray away from the main house, and used the hose to spray on the rest of the buildings, or what was left of them.

The sun was just starting to rise as Jack stopped the pump engine, all the flames were gone, and he dragged anything with a wisp of smoke out into the yard. Half the house was gone, The owner, if that was who she was, just sat on the floor her knees bent, with her legs underneath her, her arms draped onto the floor, and a vacant look on her face.

He walked up to her and just looked, there was a lot of black on her face from the fire. As he spoke she wiped her tears away with the back of her hand, smearing the soot across her cheeks.

It seems to be out, have you somewhere else you can stay?

She stared past him into the burnt out house, he asked again.

No, no!! She said shaking her head from side to side.


He lifted her up to her feet, and opening the passenger door he gently placed her on the seat. There was no protest from her at all, any fight she had in her was dying like the embers of the fire.

The petrol engine and the pump were now silent, the hoses deflated and now lying limp on the damp ground, he took one more look around, and then slid into the driver’s seat, and drove back to his villa. She, just leaned back in the seat with her head to one side, staring out of the window, not a word was spoken. He had been working on the fire for 3 hours, and not another soul had turned up, this was not because they did not care, but rather, that they did not know. It was two kilometres to the nearest property from his home, and that property, was derelict so it is not surprising no one came and hers was further away.

His home was as he left it, lights still blazing, and the doors to the kitchen still open. Although he did not make a habit of leaving the door open, out here it did not really matter. He assumed she was suffering from mild shock, there appeared to be no injuries, he half carried, half dragged her to the one of the spare bedrooms which was habitable. What they both needed now was sleep. He stood her up on the floor of the bedroom and went to find something for her to wear in bed. Returning with an old silk shirt, he ran the shower for her, and asked her to place her dirty clothes outside the bathroom door. Trying to make her understand was not easy, her body was here but she was not with him, he suspected she was still back at her house, with the fire. Eventually, she showed some signs of recognition, and went into the shower room. Jack left the bedroom with the door open, and went downstairs, through the courtyard to close the outside door of the kitchen. Returning to the spare bedroom that she was using, he collected the clothes she had left outside the door. He could hear the shower running and before leaving the room, he folded down the edge of the bed covers.

Her clothes filled every room with the smell of smoke. He dragged himself back down stairs, and through the kitchen into the utility room, he threw the clothes straight into the washing machine. Stripping off his own smoke soiled clothes, they went in too. He was in no mood for modesty, as he left a note for Carolina, on the large table in the kitchen. Returning back upstairs, he went straight to his room, glancing towards the now occupied room, next to his, satisfied that all seemed quiet, he entered his room and climbed in the shower. Hardly dry, he climbed in the soft welcoming bed, with all that had gone on tonight, he thought he would be unable to sleep. However, he had not taken into account that he had been running on pure adrenalin for the last few hours, and now he was completely drained, he was asleep before his head hit the pillows.


As usual for this part of the world, the sun was blazing when Maria Rodrigues woke, she laid still for a few moments, her mind working overtime trying to figure out where she was, was it a dream? Then it hit her, she leapt out of bed and went straight for the closed shutters, flinging them open she searched the landscape for where she was, any point she could recognise, then she searched for her property out in the fields. She could just make out the half burnt roof of her house in the distance. It was only her hands resting on the wall each side of the window that kept her from falling. Her head and heart sank, as she turned from the window. She looked for her clothes in the bedroom, but they had gone, opening the bedroom door she found the missing clothes from last night, they had been washed ironed and folded, and neatly stacked in a pile. There were no underclothes; she hardly had time to put anything on when the fire started. She dressed and pulled the sheets back over the bed, she did not even look in the mirror before leaving the room. The bedroom door was on the opposite wall from the shuttered window, it opened onto a balcony, where she had found her clothes. The balcony surrounded a courtyard, the beauty of which brought out the artists eye in her, and for a moment, she forgot about her troubles. The roof of the courtyard was open to the elements, allowing sunlight to flood in and cast shadows on the walls and floor, from the leaves of the trees, which were growing up from circles left in the tiled floor of the courtyard. She looked for the stairs and followed the smell of fresh bread and coffee. At the bottom of the stairs she stopped and looked about her, the balcony she had just come down from was supported on a palisade of white plastered columns all joined together at the top with Moorish arches painted in the typical black and white segmented pattern. The tiled courtyard was also Moorish in its design of diagonally placed, terracotta coloured tiles, separated by bands of smaller tiles, in a deep blue and white chequered effect. The whole room was spectacular on a grand scale. There were two trees in opposite corners, one was a Eucalyptus and the other was an olive tree. Over to one corner near the Eucalyptus tree, the tiling stopped and the original stone floor, was still in place under an archway, leading to the two large arch topped doors. She could see from where she was, that the stone floor still had the grooves in it, from the steel rimmed wheels on wagons, which must have used this entrance for years. All the doors around the perimeter of the room were made from teak, and there were several soft cushioned settees, each placed under the balcony walkway. Every where she looked, she saw elegance and serenity, there were also two cast, painted metal tables with tiled tops, both had matching sets of four chairs and bright coloured cushions, tied on at the back. In the centre of the courtyard, was a large fountain, approximately three metres across and almost hexagonal in shape. It was not a perfect hexagonal base, as it incorporated a very deep looking well, safely covered with a large steel grill, about a foot below the tiled surface. It looked as if the water was pumped up from the well, to the top of the fountain, where it cascaded down over the ever larger hexagonal tiers, until it drained back into the well. The cooling effect was very noticeable, as was the soothing sound of the splashing of the cascading water.

Turning round with her back to the two large arched doors she could see twin arches, each supported on pairs of two smaller columns, leading through to where Jack was seated, he sat there with his hands behind his head and feet up on a chair at the large table in the huge kitchen. The whole of the outside wall was open, allowing the large terrace, pool area and the kitchen to be one. Maria noticed that the floor tile decoration continued throughout the ground floor of the house, and out onto the terrace area. Jack did not see or hear her come into the kitchen.

Bom Dia she said softly, waiting for him to turn round.

I think I have you to thank for this? She said moving her hand down her body without touching, in an effort to indicate the clean clothes.

Well I am afraid you were a bit of a mess last night, so I took the liberty, he clenched his teeth together waiting for a backlash.

I hope you don’t mind?

No, thank you, I am very grateful. Her words were spoken slowly and softly.

Please sit down and have something to eat, he said standing and pointing with an open palm, to a chair. She felt a little uncomfortable, being as she was normally reclusive, not mixing with neighbours and yet here she was, after spending the night in the house, of a near total stranger, and exchanging pleasantries in his kitchen. When the panic had subsided, she could fail to notice how fresh he looked, his clothes were clean and comfy looking. He was dressed in linen slacks, a short sleeved, nicely ironed white cotton shirt, with leather flip flops on his feet, and a gold band on his wedding finger. His hair was short cropped mostly brown, with some flecks of grey and he was clean shaven. She started to relax a little, this was something that Maria was always in favour of, a clean shaven man, and one thing she did not like, was stubble on a face. As she approached the table she inhaled the faint aroma of his aftershave, which caused her nostrils to flair.

My name is Maria Rodrigues. she held out her hand. He took it in his.

Jack Clements, pleased to meet you, and welcome to my home! Jack poured her some coffee and she helped herself to the fresh bread on the table. He could not fail to notice her beautiful olive complexion, now the soot had gone, and her slim figure, the clothes certainly looked better today than yesterday, and her short light brown hair was clean and trim, she wore no jewellery, except for a delicate gold crucifix around her neck.

Even though we have never met, I do know who you are Jack Clements, you are possibly the most talked about man in Gondar! Jack, for once was shocked into silence, he never thought that he would be the talking point of the village. She had regained her demeanour, gone was the empty defeated woman of last night. Finishing the last mouthful of coffee she rose from the table.

Thanks for that, but I need to get back to my home, to see what can be done. That’s fine, I will take you, It wasn’t said as a suggestion, more a statement of fact. Do you have any idea how it could have started?

I have no idea! She sighed slightly before carrying on.

It looked as if it started in the artist block, just the other side of the old house. I woke in a smoke filled bedroom, and panicked. I ran down stairs and the artist block was almost gone, and my roof was on fire.

Jack looked at her quizzically. Artist block?

Sorry, I run art courses, I take in up to six student artists at a time, for about a month, mostly from English art colleges, and no, there was no one there at the time the fire started.

Ok Maria, if you’re ready we can go. Jack got up from the table and they left the kitchen together leaving everything on the table where it was.

It took a little longer than last night to drive to her house, but there again, the urgency had gone.

Have you lived here long? Jack asked as they drove back to hers.

Without looking at

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