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It's 1688 AD, in the midst of the British "Glorious Revolution" and a Dutch invasion to take the throne, as wealthy widow Rebecca DuMaurier, an African British royal court favorite of King Charles II, runs from a forced marriage with a famous general, a white-haired English earl, and into a infamous pirate troubling and walking the shores of her Cornwall home.
Cornwall's rocky, treacherous coast is but a stepping stone for lively Becca, her tenacious soldier fiancé, and her intriguing, brown-skinned, Irish Catholic pirate of many faces.
Historical Romantic Adventure Fiction
Tyburn, London, England
1 July 1681
Draft, Chapter: BECCA WITNESSES ENGLISH JUSTICE
The unrelenting stench struck her nose, along with the cacophony of voices, which swelled and ebbed, and shrieked.
This must be what Death’s Wake smells like.
The jostling, unwashed crowd was too coarse, too vulgar, and too loud with its maggot-like teeming of thousands of grubby bodies. They had come for their cruel entertainment, their victory over Rome, and it sickened Becca. The very emotional feel of the crowd made her scowl in upset discontent, despite her elevation above them — all the better to see, and be seen.
“Compose your face, Lady DuMaurier; you represent me,” he spoke gently for her ears alone, but it was still a command. Becca glanced up at him, so tall above her and mirrored Her King’s own bland expression. She’d become so upset with all around her that it must’ve shown upon her visage, all her displeasure and disconcerting fear for her People’s Souls; so much so that she’d forgotten where she was — by the side of her Uncle Charles — and who she was — a reflection of him.
The King had come to witness, as they all had; from the most common of men to His Most Royal Majesty.
Marcus was away, again, on the king’s affairs, traveling with Eccleston to discuss important matters with their allies of the moment, and to implement growth changes in her husband’s intelligence network. Allies changed, constantly; both abroad and at home; plus, true information gathered swiftly was always a premium product.
Lady DuMaurier felt nauseous and earnestly wanted to express to His Majesty that she wished to, no, needed to leave; but knew he would not let her. He had requested her presence, in particular, not his queen’s, not any of his mistresses’, or any of his children, not even his eldest, the bastard Monmouth, who so desired to be king, and never could be.
The entire place smelled of offal, rot, and death; a mixed offense to nose and taste and eardrum, as this pathetic farce passed as a holiday for stony-hearted apprentices away from work and amusing themselves as the lives of the unfortunate condemned were extinguished through capital punishment, weekly. The condemned’s chance to have the crowd stop their death trundle and let them “fall off the wagon” for a final pint of ale with their audience, before getting “back on the wagon” was a condemned prisoner’s second to last privilege.
Their final privilege was to speak their Final Words.
This tainted place was the Place of Punishment, at the crossroads—Tyburn. Criminals and traitors, and the occasional martyr voiced their final farewells and exited here; sometimes quietly with insouciance, sometimes with heartrending screams, but never prettily.
Sometimes even a ripened corpse, like that of the late Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell himself, was disinterred to be posthumously “executed” by a Traitor’s Hanging in Chains for his Treasonous Crimes, by order of King Charles II; Cromwell’s head was yet on display on a pole before Westminster Abbey’s Parliament. His was a belated humiliation for successfully usurping and “murdering” by humiliating public beheading England’s lawful king with Divine Right as Ordained by God, Charles I, before Cromwell ascended his own type of throne; a commoner ascended to mock king, but usurper king just the same.
But that this was 1681, in the tangled ends of the confused and convoluted debacle of The Popish Plot; both the lie it was, the lives it was destroying, and the souls it stained and ruined.
“There were things One does not want to do, and appearances One has to make. For them. For the People,” Her King had said.
Things one did for the continuation and security of the established hierarchy. All Traitors to it, whether royal, noble, or common, suffered and died, publicly, because Treachery was an Insult to every Soul in the State.
“We watch with neutral faces as Witnesses of Justice, Witnesses of this Wheel that cannot be stopped, and that We cannot change, though We struggle against it and pray for Divine Intervention and Human Clarity and yet are undermined by our own true and loyal councillors and allies,” Uncle Charles had bitterly concluded.
She would always remember his voice, the sadness in it, the exhaustion from both the Frustration and … the Outrage; knowing he was surrounded by those “barren of Faith and Rightness” forcing him to be “too impotent to defend and protect a true Saint of Innocence.”
Becca’s face remained apparently aloof to all the vicious mockings, the pleading tears, and the disgusting cajolings and exhortations for and against. The entire “ceremony” was an affront to God, man, woman, and King, as she stood close enough to him for he to feel her and he her; that was their only comfort in this trial.
The horrible day had finally gone, the harrowing night to come with its feverish nightmares in disjointed dreams embellishing the day’s workings. His Majesty had asked for her and she stood by him still in the Banqueting Hall of White Hall overlooking the balcony where his father had died; Murdered, by ignominious public execution on the order signed by the usurper Cromwell.
No candles were lit in the Hall, and no fire was in its hearths. King and Courtier were covered in Darkness, hiding in its obscurity.
“This was a bad thing, Becca, my little dear.”
“I am no monarch this day and night. Perhaps on the morrow; but not this sad Day of Evil Done.”
“Yes, Uncle Charles.”
She had hugged him, tightly; and cried for her own soul and for his. And he had held her, tightly, taking innocent physical and emotional comfort in a young soul who loved him utterly. Her Loyal Ardent Love made him smile a little, but she did not see it for her eyes were closed and she listened to the strong heart of her Monarch and was glad she knew what others did not—for their blindness, deafness, or Uncle Charlie’s consummate verisimilitudes.
She hadn’t known in full as a child, but as a woman, now, she’d had time to ... reconsider, and love even more with perfect perspicacity a man who was flawed. Charles Stuart was a good man in most extraordinary circumstances, a tall man who could see far, but was always blinded and hobbled by those grasping at his heels, and his own ineptitudes.
He had often told her his truths, though she had been only a child, but a discreet counsel, she, more so, in her adulthood; oftimes it was just a look, unguarded, just for her to see his true thoughts and feelings, which she reported back to Her Majesty in those times when their Queen was not healthy enough to accompany him, or living in separation.
The execution pamphlets were out, more being printed and the severed pieces of the famous now infamously deceased scattered as a lesson in criminality or to be cherished and suredly used in sacred blessings to cure most things incurable; from scabies to impotence to God only knew what.
“This day, Britain had created a saint,” His Majesty bemoaned, in sorrow for a priest accused of “high treason” and “for promoting the Roman faith,” by no less than the Chief Justice of all England.
“That blackguard Titus Oates’ fictitious conspiracy, his ‘Popish Plot’ has betrayed and murdered the last innocent in my name and those of my Great Britain, made by my grandfather’s own hands. Three years of this anti-Catholic hysteria and arguments of the ‘true religion.’
“Where was this man’s bitter tongue when true assassins were sent from the pope to murder Elizabeth. Or when no man could save my great grandmother, Mary, of the Scots.
“This unfortunate ... ‘Traitor’ makes twenty-two by my reckoning, whilst others try to codify in law the religious exclusion of my brother as my heir presumptive because he is an avowed Roman Catholic.”
“It is a thing most hideous, Uncle Charles; but you spoke numerous pleas for Christian Mercy, for most of them, who came before, and most especially for this man.”
Charles stepped forward nearly to stepping out upon the balcony, where his father had breathed his last, wearing an extra shirt so he would not tremble in the winter cold and others believe it was his Fear.
It was a long while before Charles spoke.
“ ‘Mercy’. Words too few and too late, lost to deaf hearts and cold souls. This religious intolerance will beggar this nation’s Spirit, arguing to the death what is the one true and only path to God’s Loving Grace. And whether a Scottish tongue or English tongue, or even Irish tongue is the way to….”
He sighed greatly, and spoke his true heart to Becca.
“Why is there such hate for the Innocence of Spirit, for a different view of worshipping God? We English are so ... terrified that any neighbors’ different Faith, whether Quaker, Puritan, and especially Catholic will drag us all inexorably to Hell or, worse, back into Rome’s Catholic embrace, half a continent away? My English People’s fear is so palpable that I am too fearful that this man’s life is too politically dangerous to spare his life with a Royal Pardon. That they man come for my brother—.
“But I care not anymore! My heart and soul are aggrieved with this weighted stain.” He paused, breathing heavily, until he was more contained. “Becca…?”
“If you or Marcus should ever come to have to make a decision of who dies and who does not; if there is any question as to innocence against guilt, Vote for Innocence. But if the Evil is clear, be Ruthless, Becca dear, and rejoice in clean work under the unflinching gaze of God and His Judges. For this was not ... clean.
“Perhaps it is time I let you return to your little children, they must be eager for your hugs and kisses, and have missed you this....”
He didn’t finish and looked exhausted.
“What will you do, now, Uncle?” He didn’t answer her and now how he looked even more than exhausted; he looked … old, fragile, and weary.
He finally kissed her forehead and cheek with gentle affection, then retired from the dark-filled room for Somerset House and his sweet Queen’s gentle comfort; comfort of a different kind than he had with his many mistresses, a comfort only his Queen Catarina could give. Charles was many things; but he was also loyal to this woman who had produced no heir for his throne, and nearly died in her failure.
And unlike Henry Tudor, the eighth of that name, Charles Stuart, the second of his name, never petitioned for divorcement or annulment, even whilst knowing he was a confirmed and strong sire of children.
Left alone, in the dark, with Marcus far from her and her small ones fast asleep, Becca’s emotions went back to the day, whilst composing a letter to her faraway love.
“How do you say a man ‘dies well’ when he is Betrayed, Vilely Abused, and Displayed; his body and mind, if not his very heart and soul were ripped apart, Marcus.”
_continues in the novel "Becca DuMaurier"
A brown-skinned girl of African English descent and common birth amongst the landed middle class has been raised to the nobility ranks of Britain by personality, good heart, and wit. And the love of a young noble and their King.
Now a titled noblewoman with the highest connections and wealth, Becca is more than a petulant runaway bride, because the powerful men and women interwoven through her life are changing Great Britain into a modern power.
Plus, who’s to say a Lady cannot be dangerous?
A well-loved general and high peer of Britain, who has lost his only heir and has watched Becca grow to maturity, without realizing his true feelings for her.
He is awake now to his feelings about his friend Marcus' wife; and Lord Jon has waited long enough and has the reach and the will to have her captured and returned to his side and bed no matter how far she runs, whether on land or sea.
A notorious Irish Catholic pirate with conflicting reports about his skin's color and even his gender. Gentleman pirate Aidan O'Rourke is in personal revolt and revenge against all that is Great Britain has taken from him.
But, an unexpected British gift comes to him in the shape of lively, irresistible Becca.
But, can he claim and keep hold of her?
A young nobleman and only male heir to his family's highest title, fortune, and hopes. In a family doomed with short-lived males, his stubborn choice for love is a brown-skinned, vivacious commoner, Becca.
As a child, Lord Marcus will introduce little Mistress Becca as his future bride to their king, Charles II; changing the lives and fortunes of many.
The legendary "Merry Monarch" of Britain's Restoration of the King to the Throne is best known for his numerous mistresses and royal bastards than for ushering all English-speaking people into modern concerns and failures, like: news tabloids, shopping malls, women actresses, industrialized African slavery, and more.
Oh, and present Brit Royals are his bastards' descendants. How's that for relevance.
BECCA DuMAURIER is the expanded and much extended full novel built from:BECCA, a swashbuckling pirate story, as short story chapters* formerly online at Romantic4ever.com* [now offline / defunct]!
* 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
Sneak Peek: VIDEO SHORT STORY Film / BOOK TRAILER
An extended book trailer / film short of two chapters of the following novel. Film was done as a film class thesis project. Submitted to Cleveland Film Festival.
"BECCA GETS HER SEA LEGS" [13:55"] from the expanded original short stories of Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of:
BECCA, a swashbuckling pirate story* formerly online at Romantic4ever.com* [now offline / defunct]!
* Chapter 2: Becca Escapes to Sea
* Chapter 3: Becca Gets Her Sea Legs
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 2020 Neale Sourna
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