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It's 1688, in the midst of the Glorious Revolution, an English civil war between Protestants and Catholics which has international players interested from France, Ireland, and the Netherlands.
But, brown-skinned British courtier Rebecca DeLann DuMaurier has more personal cares; she is on the run from a forced marriage to an elderly earl; she returns home to her stormy ocean-tossed Cornwall, where pirates sail the high seas and stalk the many tiny coves of Cornwall's shores.
And where Cornwall's rocky, treacherous coast is but a stepping stone for lovely Becca, her soldier fiance and an intriguing Irish Catholic pirate Becca will soon meet just steps from her family home.
Historical Romantic Fiction
CHAPTER 1: BECCA, THE RUNAWAY - Southern England UK
Dark-haired Rebecca DeLann DuMaurier had been supposedly resting before starting upon her way to her wedding, in happy Hampshire at her betrothed’s “happy” estate.
However, the “Egyptian,” as some called her, had already escaped from crowded, maddening, and fear-drenched London. She had long since bypassed her betrothed’s County Hampshire, and continued west back to her own stormy, Atlantic tossed Cornwall coast; three hundred miles farther west than most snooty London Courtiers would ever fear to venture, on their own, without curtseying and trailing a high Royal’s footsteps to same.
You are an idiot, Becca kept repeating in her thoughts.
But, yet, she continued on her dangerous journey, through her country’s strife-torn land, because she also thoughtfully felt:
I will not be forced; I am not payment for someone else’s bloody debts. I am a woman grown, with legitimate business affairs of my own. I need no man’s hand on my neck to pull me hin and yon.
Women often pay for men’s debts, so most, neither male nor female would disagree with her there, but not with this. They’d say this was idiocy, yes, for it was madness for her to run, because her betrothed was a skillful man highly sought and well courted by the most highest nobles and royals of the Royal Court.
Her betrothed, John Eccleston, was not only an earl but a general of terrible skills, sought by other men both for his power and money, with his exquisite “happy” estate in the south and another, “less exquisite and quite formidable” in the windswept northern wilds of Yorkshire.
That estate was not happy, in the least, it was said. But most had never been to “the far away Yorkshire wilds” and didn’t actually know for certain.
Women, too, sought Eccleston’s power at Court, in life, and in bed, and also for that wealth of his, for it was said that despite his stern, dangerous look and commanding manner he was generous to his mistresses, including one, who had died—they had said—with a smile on her lovely face, whilst trying to bear Eccleston’s bastard.
That fantastic story Becca did not believe at all, the smile part not the bastard part, of course.
The rumors about the Earl General were constant enough to be true, he kept “his women in happy comfort and happy in bed”; but, it was also said that he had “of late, divested himself of all his mistresses, in a generous manner, including those impatiently waiting, in anticipation of his happy, felicitous, and joyous marriage.”
It was said that he had said, if one could truly believe accounts with that many “he saids” that he wanted “all to be certain that there is no doubt who my choice is. Most especially the lady of my choice.”
“Anticipation” of his marriage to, “the lady of” his choice, Becca, as all about him mattered not to her. However, what should have told her it was madness for her to run was that the whole world, her England, was in mad upheaval!
She had left London in such a state and now headed to the far west coast, where it was somewhat reliably rumored that pirates were actively raiding the rocky coasts where she had been born, killing those they overran, raping and stealing all they could possess; and there were many pirates, now, some for gain and pirates for their God, too.
Some being the same.
Most were the former but often professed the latter when caught, in hopes that dying, neck stretched for God would buy them a closer seat to the Crown of Heaven than the Eternal Liquid Fires of Hell.
Despite that, she was running, by hired private coach; having left her own coachman, grooms and maids behind. It was a somewhat disgraceful thing, traveling by commonly rented coach, not one she owned. However, her own people could never tell what they did not know, or be injured by her “crime,” if they did not participate in it.
Although several of them would be entirely miffed with her for taking such a long and dangerous journey in such a deadly time without their loyal protection.
“I am sorry, my dears.”
There was nothing for it. They were all too aggressive in trying to ensure her connection through her proposed and forced betrothal. She wasn’t a total fool; she’d hired a temporary ladies maid, for to travel without one would have brought more notice to her. Although a strange maid for hire might just slit her throat and run off with her money, clothes, and jewels.
“Marry me then, if you can, Johnny boy.”
“What, m’lady? I didna hear yah.”
“Nothing, Pru! Just murmuring my discontents to myself.”
The woman was half deaf, having served too close to the front with an officer’s wife and a shell had done her hearing in. Pru was sturdy for the most part, although gaseous and for the most part content to be a lump when not needed.
Becca never had to wonder where she was, Pru was always where she’d left her, and Pru also didn’t complain about the far-flung traveling.
Bold Becca kept herself hidden behind the coach drapery, as she traveled through her land, torn by civil unrest, and saw the too clear and foul rotting evidence of neighbor killing neighbor, for “God and Right,” for Catholic God and Protestant God, and whether the sacraments were to be given in the fast dying and near incomprehensible language of ancient Latin or in the living and thriving, easily understood language of English.
England had survived the impossible, the severing its ties to the Roman Church a hundred years past and England had even endured the treacherous betrayal and beheading of their lawful King by the Protestant Extremists lead by Cromwell and his ever picky and prodding Puritans.
It was absurd, that they all could not co-exist and share, peacefully, and Becca had spoken so and amused many in long discussions. And those, who had thought her clever would think her utterly foolish and willful to the point of stupidity just now. This wasn’t the confusing madness of trying to remain a Protestant state, betrayed by your new Catholic-professing King and surrounded by more knee-benders to the Roman State.
No. Becca’s madness was another matter, a simple matter for most.
“To be courted by one so noble; so magnificent and beloved by Their Majesties. He has royal blood, you do know that? And it is said, one day he will be restored in full. He will be a duke, as he always should have been, as his noble blood demands.”
“Yes, I know. However, thank you, so much for reminding me; lest I forget what is truly important.”
Becca had utterly not cared and, from that point on, had found his stern face and ever watchful gaze upon her all the more unbearable, now, with no loving king, husband, nor children to no longer play shield between them. Plus, his irksome manner of late seemed to be designed to do nothing but court her father more than he courted her.
Not that she wanted courting but she was a woman grown, and he’d played a game, no, a war with her father on the losing side, believing they were playing just a game, with Becca the Earl General’s goal, in order to skirt around her protestations.
A warrior’s “flanking action,” no doubt.
Pru was snorting her sleep. Other than that, though, traveling in the coach alone with said hired maid left her to her silent thoughts and the occasional and laughable out loud thoughts, left the runaway noble much time to muse on the entire matter of the past few months.
John Eccleston. Noble earl and general.
In true admission, at one long time ago, or two, she had considered him, in passing amusement, as a bit of academic adultery, which she had told Marcus about, when he’d caught her giggling to herself—they always told each other of their mental musings, laughing fully in loyal delight with each other, wondering how others could be so … easily fickle.
Whilst some had thought them amazing together or otherwise quite absurd for their pure loyalty and singular dedication to each other.
“Why him?” Marcus had softly queried, as they had lain on their tummies, shoulder to shoulder, in their dressing gowns, upon their carpeted floor of their private quarters in Whitehall.
She had pulled a face, as she’d given the most intimate matter of her flitting phantasms of lust, or, minor interest a bit of serious thought.
“Oh. I do not know. Um. He does have a lean attractiveness of body and its athletic movement, and an unusual but pleasant humor, on rare occasion. Besides, dear Uncles Charles instructed me to perhaps consider taking the earl as my lover.”
Her young husband had been entirely incensed and had bolted upright to his feet in order to make himself understood with clear precision.
“I think not! King or not. You are my wife. And I forbid it.”
Which was a statement and tone that amused her clearly, since Marcus never could rule her; she heeded him, obeyed him when she saw fit to do so. When it amused her to do so; which amused him. He loved her independent willfulness. Besides, he could never make her do anything; except love him enough to indulge him.
“Marcus, my dearest, you never could forbid me anything. And I told His Majesty that. I tell everyone that. And why would you even think, he could usurp…?” And yet…. She stood up, too, in order to look at him with directness.
“Y-Yes.” He was nervously suspicious of her directness.
“Do any suggest you take a mistress beyond me?”
He pulled a face himself this time, and then took a deep breath and looked her in her remarkable eyes, which were wide and worried.
“More than one has mentioned that it is ‘odd’ that I have not, then, however, they say ‘but your bride is Becca,’ as if that explains it all. Which of course it does, my little mattress jumper. For you are a rare, Heavenly Gift; you are both Sacred Wife and Illicit Lover.”
He winked at her, tickled her and while kissing together they put aside and forgot all the gossip, unwanted wet dreams, and supposed wise and prudent advice, as they slipped out of there clothes and into each other’s arms and there was not thought or sensation for anything but each other, as they enjoyed true intimacy, true love, and … the most beautiful of lust for you love mat one could imagine, or experience.
What she has said was true, King Charles had told her he thought well of this particular, white haired soldier at His Court, this soldier who eyed her so often, despite her being another man’s bride, a mother of two children, and beloved—even if by a discreet distance and to his own resigned discontent in the matter—by their king.
But, then again, the king was old, as some complained, for he’d been over forty when Becca’d arrived at his court.
If she had sought the king’s affections through his bed, it would not have been a rarity. Most men near his rank, and the king especially, were used to young women seeking older men for jewels, influential liaisons and powerful social advancement. After all, there could be much good power and favor found in being a king’s mistress or a high noble’s.
It was also why young males, not yet fully established in their connections, or wealth, or position sought older court matrons, whether widowed or yet wedded.
And such a “favorite,” whether female or occasionally, for some nobles, and kings, a male, if one were solidly established as the great man, or woman’s “friend,” one could also seek out a true lover for the heart and a more delightfully fit and youthful body, too, later. Some had both of these, plus their spouse, too, of course.
Duplicity or triplicity.
Becca didn’t want two nor three men—a husband, an older lover, and a younger one. She didn’t want an old man old enough for her mother, because such a thing seemed utterly silly to her, nor a child lover who laughed at her behind her back with his own even younger, child mistress of his heart.
Becca had what she wanted and that was an equal, of good heart and mind and body; she would have the same in a lover, if she wanted anyone else, except her Marcus; but, she had had perfection in him and had never wanted anyone else; not then, not yet, maybe not ever.
“Never” was much closer now.
She had had the best of what she wanted in a man; she was absolutely in no hurry to fill her late Marcus’ slippers, as yet still, beside her half empty bed.
She played with the marriage ring that marked her as his, as yet upon her finger; she smiled, recalling when she had purchased it herself, as was the custom. Becca toyed with her ring and sighed, she was not a woman of affairs and casual liaisons, though she’d received much advice on the matter.
Just because many men, from young to older, and dowager ladies, too, and a few of the younger ones, thought so well of her that they’d give her many unseen strings of power, which she little abused. They often said their many gifts of advice to seek a lover were just to hear her laugh, or smile and call them “good friend,” “dearest aunt,” or “favored uncle” in return, for having been so kind to guide her.
She sighed; she’d been doing that a lot these past trying months.
She had been told, too many times now, that she had “been a widow long enough. It would give me joy to see you well married again, dear Becca.” And then they’d introduce her to the ugly, the handsome, the stupid, and the brilliant. The wealthy. The well connected. The … whatever they felt was important or would be fortunate for her, and them.
She was yet a king’s favorite, dead king or fleeing king, and a favorite of a favored general. If she did not want the earl, perhaps she’d marry their cousin, their opportunist friend, or … whomever.
But, she had no use for a husband of a lover, just now, and was exhausted with the pressure of unsolicited advice; despite the long, fearsomely lonely nights which far too many, of all ilks, offered to fill.
True Mourning for a Beloved Lost has its own time; she would not force it, and even if it also held back the final acceptance and commitment to advantageous marital or concubinage....
She now recalled her past interactions or sightings of the Earl in her vicinity.
But, as for Becca, befitting her rather honest nature, she had rebuffed any and all approaches to her, including and most especially this clear front runner’s, once it’d become clear to her the true heat of his intentions, and that he had most obviously staked a claim on her possible future by running off the weaker and more easily intimidated males; whether bold or shy, rich merchant or politically savvy noble.
She had been both honest and clear and evasive and devious, whatever each occasion of his interest had required of her at that moment.
In good truth, clever Becca had truly thought she could not be corralled, or caught; but, now, she had been feeling the touch of bindings about her fine ankles, wrists, waist and throat; tightening and dragging her closer to “clearly the right man for her.”
Of his own choice.
“It is your own fault, Becca,” some wistful lady, generous in her humble lust for the man, would remark. “He cannot help himself. Would if he had felt for me as he does for you, and I should be his already, begetting him his heirs.”
Damnation and bull bollocks, Becca had thought, and thought again, whilst wishing that each and every loquacious lady, who was so enamored of the man, would just lay down, take him, so he would leave her be.
But, it was her fault, in a certain manner, if you will.
Becca’s healthy loveliness, her clear-minded cleverness, and her strong personal name, as the Countess Darlington, as the beloved Baroness Tintagel-Trevena, had drawn the man to her, to be besieged by the aggressive, silver haired, “Warrior Earl,” whose grown heir had rather abruptly died when her Marcus was yet living; but, now he wanted and was determined to have another heir, borne of her.
“Unlucky Becca,” that is what some Courtiers and servants called her behind her back, or “the unfortunate beauty.” Not because of the earl’s attentions; no, because all felt his avid interest was a return to good fortune’s sweet bosom for her.
Perhaps, they were utterly in their hopes for “Becca, the Ill-Fated.”
END OF CHAPTER 1
BECCA DuMAURIER is the expanded and much extended full novel built from:BECCA, a swashbuckling pirate story, as short story chapters*!
* Chapter 1: Becca in the Woods
* Chapter 2: Becca Escapes to Sea
* Chapter 3: Becca Gets Her Sea Legs
* Chapter 4: Becca's Faux Honeymoon
* Chapter 5: Becca Comes Ashore
* Chapter 6: Becca Outlaw's Sea Battle
* more "Becca DuMaurier" and Becca.Neale-Sourna.com
Cuyahoga Community College Media Arts and filmmaking marketing photo taken on stage during student film shoot of "Becca Gets Her Sea Legs" by Neale Sourna
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Copyright 2018 Neale Sourna
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