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Ready to Read
Historical Novels -Bobi Andrews

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

IS THERE ANYTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN?


As many of my readers know, I write from a base 
of history following ancestors making footprints 
not too different from those of many families with 
similar backgrounds.  In my research for "The Sotweed 
Smuggler" I discovered English folklore, superstitions, 
and events for  the family of William Sherewell (Sherrill family
in America).  I've learned that this type of persecution
probably originated in Egypt and with a stretch of 
imaginative time travel, perhaps a precursor for America's
current controversial water-boarding. 

Someone has said, "There is not much new under the 
sun."  True? You decide.

From The Sotweed Smuggler:

The following is a quote from  Will's trek to Scotland 
to discover his father's fate.  His ship, the "Kings Dick" 
passes by Tenby where Quaker persecutions are taking 
place for the followers of George Fox, the founder of the 
sect that became the Society of Friends. 


When landfall appeared two days later, we mistook Swansea Bay for Carmarthen Bay and spent two additional days backtracking across the bay toward Pembrokeshire.  When we reached Tenby on the western shore of Carmarthen Bay opposite Caldy Island, Llewellyn rushed to my side.  “Better get the boys below deck.  There is what’s ahead they shouldn’t see.”

          I looked to the bow. Dew and Sion focused their glasses on the shoreline and Dew called to me to look toward the southern Welsh coast.  “Brud, what’s over there?”

          At the base of the inland hills, I saw a few bullocks grazing. I turned my glass closer to the shore and saw stakes placed part way into the sea much like scarecrows in gardens at home.

         Llewellyn shuddered. “Too late, the boys spotted them.”

Aghast, I looked again.  “Are those men, women, and children on those stakes?”

“Aye, they’re the condemned followers of Fox—Quakers, you know.”

         One mother held a baby and several children had rags covering their eyes. Blood flowed from the men’s brows. My voice quivered. “But why?”

         “The Royals tie them alive to the stakes and wait for the tide to come in. They’ll drown when tonight’s tide washes over them.”

I expected my sleep to be more exhaustive than if I were awake. I didn’t have to hear the screams and cants to see in my mind’s eye the bloated bodies that would flood the shore with the incoming and outgoing of the tide. I hadn’t forgotten the dead bodies at Mothercombe after the storm, but this was human cruelty—torture beyond reason. I had to prepare an explanation for the boys. Dew would understand religious persecution, he knew about Christ dying on the Cross.


Currently, I am researching another limb of the proverbial ancestor
tree, this time for a story from the Welsh Owens' family.  I find their 
geography has roots in many of the same areas of England, Wales, 
and Scotland as the Sherewells.  

Guess what  Boy Owen (Owen ap Owen) sees?

From "The Tidewatchers" -- 


Northern Wales 1720.  Low Tide  7:00 morning, High Tide half 6:00 evening.

The morning sun shattered the horizon.  Stark posts stood erect, spaced evenly beyond the wild fervor of the spillway formed from the confluence of the River Clwyd and North Atlantic Ocean. Much like totem poles, or perhaps jagged posts from a washed out quay the wind had torn apart, the scene was not unusual.   Peering from tall weeds on the hill side of the confluence, a boy’s imagination might think the dark appendages fastened to the distant posts were primeval carvings, or perhaps more simply, gathered slags of boards and seaweed.   Eleven-year-old Boy Owen knew the darkened silhouettes half hidden in the mists were neither.

The previous day, women of Rhyl, the northern seaport of Denbighshire were agog with excitement for the opportunity to hear Elder Rowland Ellis who was on his way from Merioneth to tour the area he sentimentally remembered from his youth.  Recently arrived from America, the Elder, advancing in age and fearing the onset of debilitating infirmities, had crossed the Atlantic one last time bent on making a nostalgic visit to Bryn Mawr, the homestead of his youth. Persuaded by memories to extend his tour, he wanted once again to see the wild ocean waters pounding to the shores of North Wales. At each stopping point, news of his entourage brought an avalanche of pleas for him to converse and share his message of enlightenment. With his scholarly presence and low resonating voice, he humbly accommodated fervent believers of the Society of Friends flocking to his side to worship. “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I shall be also.”  

Early on this August morning, while men toiled in the fields and boys herded small stints of cattle on the common pastures, the women, clandestine followers of George Fox and risking possessions and life itself, emerged from huts hidden in the folds of the hilly moorlands and graying rustic cottages rimming the confluence.  First one, then others followed—a winding trail of gray and white against craggy outcroppings of bleached limestone rock and low green and burnished brown hills their images disturbing the narrow flatland leading to the pastoral southern estates of Wales. 

Like the gathering of listeners sitting on the hilly ledges outside Jerusalem rapt to Jesus’ words, a small group of women and children, spread on reed-woven mats, had improvised this Vale of Clwyd for their Meeting. Boy Owen sat with his mother, who brought him and her arm-held baby to listen to the famed Elder set afire, with amazing oratory, the blaze of Inner Light residing in every Friend’s soul.  As was custom, women were silent, but this morning after the Elder’s words expired, one after another rose in testimony of the spirit of God reaching their hearts.  An aura of peaceful reverence permeated the hillside. 
            
Mother Owen was the first to see riders, led by the vicar with his crimson cloak flying and squared tasseled hat bobbing, thunder through the woods on steeds not unlike the hated hooves of horsemen of the Border clans of yore.  She grabbed her son, pointed frantically to the ridged, higher hills beyond the confluence.

 “Anglicans.  Run, Boy Owen, run!”
*****
Reaching the first ledge, Boy Owen looked back.  Instead of his mother following with his brother, she and the other women remained quietly seated on their mats while the agents of the vicar’s power, gaggled their mouths and brutally roped one to another.  He saw the white long hair and submissively bent figure of the Elder tied on a horse and pulled into the woods.  Before him, was a vivid picture of violence versus nonviolence, one Boy Owen would never understand nor forget.

Soon, mule-drawn drays approached loaded with sharpened posts and men in rough-sewn waders ready to follow the vicar’s commands to unload the posts onto waiting flat skiffs. Three at a time, the women and children were unleashed and pushed into the two accompanying boats.  At regular points in the low-tide shallows of the confluence, the small boats stopped, floated a post, waiting momentarily while waders jumped into the water and anchored the shaft into the soft bottom. 

With Vicar’s workmen safely back in the boat, they moved on to the next.  Boy Owen saw his mother holding his baby brother taken from the second boat and strapped to a post, her white prayer-capped head flopped to her chest, her gray skirt billowing from her waist with the upsurge of water.  Within an hour six bodies, attached to posts, suffered unprotected in the blazing sun amid shouts from the shore from a multitude of idle tide watchers gathered to witness the popular event.

Upon the waders completing their horrific task, the vicar, lounging comfortably in his buggy and reveling with the citizens, sat along the shore guarding against any kin fool enough to attempt rescue of their women and children. 
   
The hours grew long, the sun refusing to abate its heat. When Boy Owen felt he could watch no longer, the sky turned to dusk.  In the approaching darkness and the rim of the moon appearing on the horizon, the high tide of death rolled in submerging everything in its path.

“Why?  Why?” Boy Owens, filled with equal measures of hopeless despair and a new burning hatred for the Anglicans, asked of God, “Why? We weren’t doing anything to hurt anyone.”  He had no answer, save hatred from those who ruled their lives. With the bodies of his mother and brother washed into the depths of the sea, Boy Owen knew when he returned home, he’d find no life at all.
####




1 comment:

  1. Love the new picture. Always enjoy your posting, great reading.

    ReplyDelete