Monday, 7 January 2019

Lady of the Tower

My words have taken flight with dark deeds of human nature, its envy, its jealousy, its lustful desires, unforgiving in its brutality;

my mind is bruised, tears welled, and yet, and yet, one moment of happiness eases the pain of yesteryears;

the going back through the words of others, those who saw, those who died before the ink dried, and those who loved and again returned,

none could forget, some couldn't forgive, thus they rallied,

and avowed to avenge the one a king had put to death.

BOOK RELEASE DAY - Finally finished after two years of searching for every scrap of evidence I could dig up in avoidance of bullshit "Victor" propaganda, which so many historians and authors who take words as writ by others as proof of past events. Not so, John Childs author/prof/biographer of Percy Kirke. Nor I who never takes anything for granted where history is concerned, instead I think, puzzle, and question the motives of the movers and shakers of their day. I investigate, dig deep into archives, pit one person's words against another's, look for discrepancies, look for the hidden clues and follow your nose as a bloodhound on fresh scent of its prey.

Back cover blurb:

In the aftermath of Rebellion and the Duke of Monmouth’s defeat, Thomasina Thornton rides to the battlefield wearing her dead brother’s clothes. Desperately searching for her brother-in-law, a Dutch officer, she’s aware of the dangers of posing as a curious lad. Fear and dread of capture materialises in stark reality with the arrival of a new officer and detachment of cavalry. As innocent bystanders and robbers of the dead are herded together, her freedom is at an end. Never had she envisaged the man who had momentarily held her gaze within the splendour of Axebury Hall would now hold her life in his hands. Nor can she perceive love and romance could or would blossom between them in that moment when threat of death, and worse, floods her thoughts.

This isn't a romance set against a historical backdrop, it's all about the raw reality of rebellion against a monarch by a king's natural son (a long debated point). Romance does blossom when least expected, but harbouring the enemy is always a dangerous business. more so when that man is a spy in the king's camp.


Sedgemoor – Somerset 1685: July 7th
Thomasina had left the inn not long after dawn, the stench of death now all about her, and where to begin her search she knew not, but at least no one had attempted to stop her from riding near to the battlefield. People were coming and going; the whole scene was a hive of activity as bodies with waterlogged clothing were hauled from rhynes and left for the death carts. Lifeless uniformed royalist soldiers slain on the surrounding fields had been hefted to wagons, and now moving away for burial. There were women amidst the dead searching and sorting rebel belongings from royalists, and all around little groups of people were given to tears on finding rebel soldiers who were known to them. Some begged to take their loved ones away, others had found friends. When finally granted permission to remove bodies, sense of great reverence befell the gathered, and all whilst under the watchful eye of royalist soldiers of foot.
A strange air of calm prevailed, perhaps part fear on the side of the civilians, and part respect on the part of the soldiers. Whether the soldiers were under orders to refrain from engaging insults and scornful reproach, it was impossible to determine. Nearby were two mounted soldiers, thankfully patrolling the far side of the bank and farther forward than she. Twice retching had befallen her, and a supposed boy retching might attract unwanted attention. But the sight of horse carcasses part floating was wholly incongruous in what had once been an idyllic haven for a majestic flotilla of swans now heading upstream, the appearance of the birds drawing the attention of the two riders.
Far from being the only civilian, she was a solitary figure on horseback whilst searching through the devastation of mangled and bloodied men. She had intentionally kept her distance and ridden the banks of the lesser Bussex rhyne and now edged Bramble toward the greater rhyne, the Langmoor Rhyne; where it was said the Dutch soldiers had perished. After all, a rebel runaway soldier killed near the King’s Head Inn declared he had witnessed the Dutch soldiers tumbling into the water; and looking down at the number of drowned horses and bodies tangled in weeds she feared the worst. As yet she had seen no fair hair, so fair it was the colour of cream off the milk. There was golden, brown and black hair of dead men floating, and lifeless eyes peering heavenward.
So engrossed in peering into reed and rush beds was she, the sudden sound of many horses on approach along the highway set her heart thudding. Barely had she gained her wits than a cavalry troop entered into the field. They soon split into detachments of four men, and were clearly intent on clearing the field of civilians. No. They were detaining them, herding them together as though they were but cattle. Fearing the worst, she cast her eyes along the rhyne to where she had seen the two riders in the far field, one a royalist officer of the Oxford Blues, if she was not mistaken. They too had noticed the new arrivals and duly crossed over the rhyne at a wooden plungeon and cantered across the field to join with their compatriots, or so she thought, until raised voices denoted a dispute had arisen between the officer in blue, and the newcomer wearing red.
To turn about and ride past the assembled would be somewhat foolhardy so she rode on toward the crossing point in hope no one would notice. When the plungeon was reached Bramble faltered. He was totally unwilling to tread the flooded and muddied crossing point. His behaviour much the same as when he had resisted her attempt to keep him close to the bank whilst keeping her eyes to the waters below. He could smell death all around, and even he could not be immune to the sight of dead horses.

Someone shouted “Hey, you there. What are you about, lad?”