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It's 1688 AD, in the midst of the Glorious Revolution, a British civil war between Protestants and Catholics which has international players interested from France, Ireland, Spain, and the Netherlands, while the English king is absent from his throne, a huge invading force of sails and swords fills the Channel.
However, royal favorite of Charles II's Restoration reign, the brown-skinned British courtier Lady Rebecca, has more personal cares; on the run from a forced marriage to a famous white-haired earl, she’s running home to the very edge of England, to her stormy Atlantic-tossed Cornwall, where pirates are stalking the tiny coves, villages, and homes of Cornwall's shores.
And where Cornwall's rocky, treacherous coast is but a stepping stone for lively Becca, her ever persistent soldier fiancé, and an intriguing Irish Catholic pirate of many faces.
Historical Romantic Adventure Fiction
Tyburn, London, England
1 July 1681
Draft, Chapter: BECCA WITNESSES ENGLISH JUSTICE
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 and it sickened Becca. The very 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, Countess of Darlington; you represent me,” he spoke gently for her ears alone, but it was still a command. Becca looked up at him, so tall above her and mirrored his own bland expression. She’d been so upset with all around her that it must’ve shown upon her visage, all her displeasure and disconcerting fear; 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 on Uncle Charlie’s affairs, traveling with Eccleston to discuss important matters with their allies of the moment. Allies changed, constantly; both abroad and at home.
She 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.
The entire place smelled of offal and rot, of death. This must be what Death’s Wake smelled like, as it passed as a holiday for stony-hearted apprentices, whilst extinguishing the lives of the unfortunate condemned through capital punishment , weekly. The chance to stop their death trundle and “fall off the wagon” for a final pint of ale with your audience, before getting “back on the wagon” was a condemned prisoner’s second to last privilege.
Their final one was a last chance to speak their final words.
This was the Place of Punishment, at the crossroads—Tyburn. Criminals and traitors, and the occasional martyr voiced their final farewells and exited; sometimes quietly with insouciance, sometimes with heartrending screams, but never prettily.
Sometimes even a ripened corpse, such as that of the late Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell himself, was disinterred and hanged, posthumously. Cromwell’s was belated humiliation for successfully “murdering” by humiliating and completely unjust public beheading of England’s lawful king, Charles I, before ascending to his own type of throne; a commoner ascended to mock king, but king just the same.
The late Charles Stuart the First was this, her beloved king’s father. And 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 destroyed, 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 to secure the established hierarchy. All Traitors to it, whether royal, noble, or common, suffered and died, publicly, for Treachery was an Insult to everyone in the State.
“And We watch with neutral faces as Witnesses of Justice, Witnesses of things that must be, and that We cannot change, though We struggle and pray and are undermined by our own true and loyal councils and allies,” Uncle Charles had 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 Saint of Innocence.”
Becca’s face had remained neutral to the sounds and smells, the mockings and tears and the disgusting cajolings and exhortations for and against God, man, woman, and King.
The horrible day had gone, the harrowing night to come with its nightmares in dream relived and embellished of the day’s workings. His Majesty had asked for her and she stood by him in this, the Banqueting Hall of White Hall overlooking the balcony where his father had died, no, been Murdered, by ignominious public execution.
No candles were lit, and no fire was in the hearth. They were covered in Darkness, hiding in its obscurity unafraid of Heaven, unafraid of Hell, maybe.
“This was a bad thing, Becca, my little dear.”
“I am no monarch this night. Perhaps on the morrow; but not this sad night of this 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, taking innocent physical and emotional comfort. It 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 she’d had time to ... reconsider, and love even more a man who was flawed. Charles Stuart had been a good man in most extraordinary circumstances, a tall man who could see far, but was always 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, more so, in her adulthood; sometimes 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.
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 used in sacred blessings to cure most things incurable.
This day, England had created a saint; accused of “high treason” and “for promoting the Roman faith,” by no less than the Chief Justice of all England.
“England has created a saint this July day,” His Majesty bemoaned. That blackguard Titus Oates’ fictitious conspiracy, his ‘Popish Plot’ has betrayed and murdered the last innocent in my name and of that of my England and Scotland. 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 man 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 gave numerous pleas for Mercy, 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 his Fear.
“ ‘Mercy’. Words too few and too late, lost to deaf hearts and cold souls. This intolerance will beggar this nation’s Spirit, arguing to the death what is the one true and only path to God’s Grace. And whether Scottish tongue or English tongue, or even Irish tongue….”
He sighed greatly, and spoke his true heart.
“Why is there such hate for innocence, for a different view of worshipping God? Because it we will drag us inexorably back into Rome’s embrace, a half a continent away? My English People’s fear is so palpable that I have feared these three years, until today, that it was too politically dangerous to spare this ... new saint.
“But I care not anymore! My heart and soul are aggrieved with this weighted stain. 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, Niece, and rejoice in clean work under the unflinching gaze of God. For this was not.”
“What will you do, now, Uncle?” He didn’t answer and how he looked … old, frightened her—.
He had finally kissed her forehead with gentle affection and 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. He was many things; but he was also loyal to this woman who had produced no heir for his throne, and had 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.
Left alone, in the dark, with Marcus far from her and her small ones fast asleep, Becca’s emotions went back to the day, composing a letter to her faraway love.
“How do you say a man ‘dies well’ when he is Betrayed and Abused and Displayed; his body and mind, if not his very heart and soul, ripped apart.”
“Your England is a harsh, barbaric place,” the wife of the present French ambassador once said to her. Becca had been loyally incensed at the time; but now, this day, she knew that these moments would forever be a stain on her King and her Country, and on her own spirit….
Common criminals, murderers and thieves often had friends or relatives who would run forth from the crowd of thousands at Tyburn and leap upon the hanging man or woman’s feet, weighting them down all the more; so, they would “die quicker, and not suffer.”
Such was not available to this or any treasonous wretch on his slow, painful path to martyrdom; for who would rush forward to stay the executioner’s skilled hands, whilst they accomplished retribution for the highest of crimes to the entire state of England?
The Countess of Darlington’s limbs had trembled, even after the King had taken her gloved hand in his own gloved hand; but her face had remained as neutral as her King’s; a witness of this criminal’s endurance and sufferance, and her Heart and Soul had suffered with that Innocent.
That was some time ago, Becca yet endured and suffered. Or would, again.
History’s coolly worded statements on the matter of this criminal’s death would not have the intense, suffering pain and tragic loss of this lone participant and his many witnesses; especially those who understood it all, as the accused, Oliver Plunkett, the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, was given the full measure of High Treason’s Punishment from Parliament “for promoting the Roman faith,” as he was ritually hanged high by his neck with a coarse rope which tore his skin until he choked nearly to death.
Then he was revived, to be drawn — fully emasculated, disembowelled, beheaded; and then finally quartered — his corpse hacked into four pieces to be sent for display of his crimes throughout the realm.
It was ritual and art; the disembowelment was not … messy, the Professional Executioner expertly trimmed out the entire sac containing the living man’s innards, in their neat package of flesh, and pulled them forth for all to see, including Oliver Plunkett; before the Executioner also cut out his Heart.
The crowd roared: for and against.
* * * *
Archbishop Plunkett died ignominiously but in Condemned Innocence at Tyburn, 1 July 1681, the last Roman Catholic martyr to die in England.
An Irish Saint.
[More in "Becca DuMaurier"]
A brown-skinned girl of common birth amongst the landed middle class has been raised to the nobility 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, 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*!
* 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, a swashbuckling pirate story*!
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
Our hardcore main line
[sensuality is R, NC17, X, XXX]
medium and hard erotica / sensual romance / romantic erotica
Our softcore line
[sensuality is PG13, Soft R]
soft erotica / sensual romance / romantic erotica and general fiction
Our nonfiction line
[PG13, R, NC17, X, XXX]
Other projects Neale Sourna has written and have been published beyond PIE.
Copyright 2019 Neale Sourna
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