Read here: HISTORICAL STORIES of EXILE
Join thirteen authors as we travel around the blogosphere with The Coffee Pot Book Club celebrating the launch of our anthology, Historical Tales of Exile! Some are hopeful, some sad, some romantic, some tragic, but all explore the indomitable spirit of resolute, unforgettable characters. My story – a young Englishwoman who fights intolerance and seeks freedom in the new world, knowing she may never return. Yes, I discovered another intriguing St.John woman in the family archive.
Historical Stories of Exile
Cryssa Bazos, Anna Belfrage, Elizabeth Chadwick, Cathie Dunn, J G Harlond, Helen Hollick, Loretta Livingstone, Amy Maroney Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, Elizabeth St.John, Marian L. Thorpe, Annie Whitehead.
With an introduction by Deborah Swift.
Exile: a risky defiance, a perilous journey, a family’s tragic choice – or an individual’s final gamble to live. Exile: voluntary or enforced, a falling-out between friends, a lost first love, a prejudiced betrayal – or the only way to survive persecution?
In this historical fiction anthology, thirteen authors (they are not superstitious!) have written exclusive short stories on the theme of exile. Some are based on true history, others are speculative fiction. All mine the depths of human emotions: fear, hope, love, and the fortitude to survive.
Join an inspiring Anglo-Saxon queen of Wales, a courageous Norwegian falconer, and a family fleeing back in time to escape the prospect of a ruthless future. Oppose the law with the legendary Doones of Exmoor, or defy the odds with two brave WWII exiles. Meet a Roman apprehensively planning exile to preserve the ‘old ways’, and a real Swedish prince forcibly expelled in heart-wrenching circumstances. Thrill to a story based on the legend of Robin Hood, sail with a queen of Cyprus determined to regain her rightful throne; escape religious persecution, discover the heart-rending truth behind the settlement of Massachusetts and experience the early years that would, eventually, lead to the founding of Normandy. Experience the stirring of first love, and as an exclusive treat special guest author, Elizabeth Chadwick, reveals a tale about the 12th-century’s heiress, Isabelle de Clare, and the Greatest Knight of all time – William Marshal.
With an introduction by multi-award-winning author Deborah Swift, enjoy these tales of exile across the ages. Some are hopeful, some sad, some romantic, some tragic, but all explore the indomitable spirit of resolute, unforgettable characters.
Here’s a brief excerpt from my story, “Into the Light”, set in Boston, England, in 1634:
The rhythmic thump of an axe splitting wood echoed from behind the rectory as Elizabeth hurried home. Her pace was also driven by another layer of anger—this time fuelled by the infuriating conversation with the schoolmaster. As she had anticipated, he was completely opposed to girls receiving any formal education other than learning to sew or cook and knowing their letters so they could sign their name. When she had laid before him her dream of a school for young women, equipping them with an education far beyond that of copying the alphabet into their hornbooks, he had shrunk away from her. If he could have had the courage to lift his fingers in the old sign to stave off witches, he would have.
What an ignorant and petty man.
Pulling the ribbons on her bonnet, she ripped it off as soon as she ran through the gate, letting it dangle from her fingers, not caring that it caught on the rosemary hedge that lined the path. She tugged the pins from her hair and gingerly shook it loose, relieving the pain that the combined aggravations of Boston’s citizens had induced. Between the welt on her forehead and the injury to her pride, Elizabeth was eager to leave the morning behind.
Her husband was in his sleeves, his cream linen shirt clinging to his chest as he swung the axe on the stump of the old apple tree he was felling. His leather britches moulded to his muscular thighs, and his shoulder-length dark hair was tied back from his face—except for one thick lock that fell over his brow.
Samuel looked, she thought, like a young lord of the manor, with his fine features and athletic body. No one would have guessed he was a book-learned preacher who shared her passion for rhetoric and logic, Latin and Greek. When she had fallen in love with him, his sharp intellect and his devotion to God had been as attractive as his physicality. What had her brother Oliver said? “You have a man’s mind in a woman’s body, Lizzie. Use it well, and do not let it be lost in the mires of convention and society.”
“Elizabeth.” Samuel smiled as he stopped and leaned on the axe hilt, drawing his forearm across his forehead. “You look flustered, my love. Here, come and let me kiss you better.”
She stood a quarter turn away for a moment, seeking her calm, for she did not want to upset him with her injured head. His first reaction was always to fight for what was right, and if she presented her indignation as anger, he would respond with further fuel. Elizabeth did not need her beloved, hot-headed husband creating more havoc amongst his congregation. She stepped into his arms and relaxed as he closed them around her in a reassuring embrace. They stood together for several minutes until she felt the anxiety run from her and lifted her head to kiss him deeply.
“That’s better.” Samuel grinned as he smoothed the hair from her forehead, and then gasped. “What happened here?”
Elizabeth took a deep breath. It was important she kept composed. “A misunderstanding,” she replied. “I stood in the way of a stone that was perhaps intended only to frighten me, not hit me.”
“You were stoned?” Samuel’s eyes narrowed. “Where? By whom?”
“No, not stoned. It was one flint that hit me by mistake. It made more of a cut than expected.” She took a deep breath. “In Boston market.”
“By whom?” he demanded again.
Elizabeth remained silent. Sharing this news would indicate a different path in life than that which they had planned. She knew that Samuel had encountered resistance from his congregations before they were married. He had been ousted from Lynn for preaching a nonconformist text. But they believed themselves safe in Boston, their living in Skirbeck protected by centuries of family ties with the ancient borough. Today’s incident in the market proved different.
“Elizabeth. You must tell me, or I shall find out for myself.” Samuel was already reaching for the jacket he’d tossed across the hedge.
“Some women. From our congregation—”
Elizabeth nodded and committed to the truth. “Samuel, they threatened to force you from town. They said your sermons contravene the word of God.”
“And that was the reason they threw stones at you?” He pushed his arm into his jacket, struggling because his hand was clenched as a fist and caught in the fabric of his cuff. Impatiently, he tugged at it, almost tore the cloth. “This is completely intolerable.”
“Just one stone,” Elizabeth repeated. “And I don’t think she intended it to hit me. Please, my love, don’t make the situation worse.”
“So you will just accept this?” Samuel was buttoning his jacket, searching for his hat, which Elizabeth could see was hanging from the branch of another tree in the budding orchard. Beneath the gnarled trees, the daffodils’ green spikes pushed from rich loamy soil, and a robin hopped along a branch, searching for insects. How peaceful this scene, how disturbing their conversation. Elizabeth struggled to equate the two.
“We need to talk,” she said quietly. “I fear this foretells of something much deeper than just one arrowhead or confrontation.”
He paused then, quirked his head to one side. “What do you mean?”
Elizabeth put her hands on his shoulders, drew close to him so he could see the serious intent in her eyes. “Your sermons are no longer acceptable to the small-minded people in Skirbeck.”
“I will not change,” Samuel said abruptly. “I will not preach a different message.”
“Then, my love,” she responded, “we may need to find a different congregation.”
What she didn’t know was where. Or how. For the worry of being ousted was one that had been hidden so deep in her heart that she didn’t realise it until just now.