|Candles in the Storm|
|Hachette UK (2010)|
|Tags:||Romance, Sagas, Historical, Fiction|
The storm that's raging when fisherman's daughter Daisy Appleby is born in a village just north of Sunderland could be taken as a warning of a turbulent life ahead. It's during another storm fifteen years later that her father and brothers are lost and Daisy rescues William, heir of a wealthy Southwick family, with whom she falls in love. Soon, as her reward for saving him, Daisy is working for William's irascible aunt, while local lad Alf continues to court her. Warned off by Daisy's grandmother, William denies his own feelings and so it will be many years later, after much hardship and turmoil, that Daisy finds the happiness she deserves, amidst the drama of the Great War.
Candles in the Storm
Copyright © 2003 Rita Bradshaw
The right of Rita Bradshaw to be identified as the Author of
the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted
in any form or by any means without the prior written
permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated
in any form of binding or cover other than that in which
it is published and without a similar condition being
imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
First published as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2010
All characters in this publication are fictitious
and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead,
is purely coincidental.
eISBN : 978 0 7553 7588 2
This Ebook produced by Jouve Digitalisation des Informations
HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
An Hachette UK Company
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH
Table of Contents
Rita Bradshaw was born in Northamptonshire, where she still lives today. At the age of sixteen she met her husband - whom she considers her soulmate - and they have two daughters and a son, and a young grandson.
Much to her delight, Rita’s first attempt at a novel was accepted for publication, and she went on to write many more successful novels under a pseudonym before writing for Headline using her own name.
As a committed Christian and passionate animal-lover - her two ‘furry babies’ can always be found snoring gently at her feet as she writes - Rita’s life is a full and busy one, but her writing continues to be a consuming pleasure that she never tires of. In any spare moments she loves reading, walking her dogs, eating out and visiting the cinema and theatre, as well as being involved in her local church and animal welfare.
Rita’s earlier sagas, ALONE BENEATH THE HEAVEN, REACH FOR TOMORROW, RAGAMUFFIN ANGEL, THE STONY PATH and THE URCHIN’S SONG, are also available from Headline.
I dedicate this book to our friend Tony Haighway at Wolf Watch UK, with many thanks for the marvellous breaks Clive and I have enjoyed at the sanctuary, and the times we’ve gone to sleep listening to the wolves howling to the moon. Magic!
And dear Ayla, who totally disproved the ‘Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf’ tale the first time I was introduced to her, when she rolled over for her tummy to be rubbed. She was an animal in a million, and I know Tony will miss her greatly.
Very special thanks go to Jake - Tony’s magnificent black German Shepherd, who was twice as imposing as any wolf - for being such a wonderful companion when we visited the sanctuary and taking us so completely under his wing. He was a truly gentle giant and we’ll remember the walks he took us on for ever. Long may his tail continue to wag in doggy heaven.
When the idea of a book built round the almost completely devastated small fishing communities of bygone days came to me, I didn’t realise how hard the research was going to be.
I delved and dug in various ancient manuals, collecting a little gem of information here and there, but one book which was of enormous help and deserves special mention is
The Last of the Hunters, Life with the Fishermen of North Shields
by Peter Mortimer.
A Northern Fisherman’s Lament
Come wives and canny bodies all,
Giv-ower thou chuntering and toil.
See yonder storm clouds bodeth ill,
’Tis time to wreak their fickle will
On us poor souls upon the sea,
Bonny owld laddies still we be.
So light the putting candles bright
To guide yon boats through tempest night.
‘Mam, I don’t think I can take much more. The others weren’t like this.’
‘Oh, aye, they were, lass, they were. It’s just that you forget the pain in between times. If the Good Lord hadn’t made it that way the human race would have died out afore it got started, that’s for sure.’
‘Oh, no, another one’s comin’.’
‘It won’t be long, Mary, not now. It’s always worse just afore you want to push, you know that. A little while an’ it’ll be born, lass.’
But would it? Nellie Shaw’s back was breaking, bent as she was over the writhing form on the low platform bed, but she didn’t straighten up. Her daughter had been experiencing birthing pains for the last eighteen hours but they were worsening now, causing Mary to start crying out.
As the contraction gathered strength and her daughter’s nails bit into the flesh of Nellie’s hand the older woman murmured words of encouragement even as she thought, The lass is nigh on spent, a blind man could see it, but what can be done?
It was twenty seconds or more before Mary’s knees, raised involuntarily with the last pain, slid down again into the rumpled damp covers. ‘Mam, this storm . . . it’s not normal. Hark at it. An’ there’s George an’ the lads out in it. I . . . I shouldn’t have wished this bairn away at the beginnin’. This is God’s judgement, His punishment for me wicked thoughts. He’s goin’ to take my man an’ the lads.’
‘Now don’t you start talkin’ like that, Mary Appleby.’
‘It’s true, I know it is. I wished the bairn away an’ now--’
‘I said, that’s enough.’ And then, as if realising her tone had been over-sharp, Nellie stretched out her hand, gently mopping the perspiring forehead of her daughter with a piece of cloth as she added, her voice softer, ‘Speak it out an’ it’ll come to pass, lass. You know that as well as I do, now then. George an’ the lads’ll be all right. He’s a canny man, your George, an’ there’s not a fisherman alive who knows the sea like him.’
The woman on the bed made no answer, and as the wind rattled the windows with renewed fury, lashing against the glass with enough force to make Nellie wince, she tried not to let the fear show on her face. Mary was right, this storm wasn’t normal. Dear God, dear Lord Jesus, have mercy on us all . . .
The labour pains were coming with relentless regularity every couple of minutes but, nevertheless, Mary was so exhausted she was sleeping in the few seconds’ grace before each onslaught.
Nellie continued to stare down at her daughter, pleading with the Almighty in her mind as her panic grew.
You know my Mary isn’t a bad lass, Lord, and she didn’t try to get rid of the bairn like some I could name. But falling like she did for this one when she thought her child-bearing days were over . . . it was a shock. That’s what it was, a shock. Seven bairns she’s borne in her time, and without complaint. Five of them surviving, and right bonny lads too. She’s been a good wife and mother and none knows it better than You. Dear God, have mercy on her. On us all, Lord.
A fusillade of hail pellets brought Nellie’s head up again, and she looked towards the windowsill where a flickering tallow candle was burning. The storm was in full voice, howling and moaning, and Nellie shivered as she muttered, ‘The candle’ll bring ’em home sure enough, it’s not failed yet. Aye, there’s bin nights as bad as this afore.’ Although not many, she had to admit, since she had first come to this cottage on the outskirts of Whitburn nigh on forty-five years ago. ’Course, in them days there’d only been a track on Sea Lane to Bent Cottages overlooking the seashore, and no way along the coast to Sunderland. She’d lived here twenty-five years before there was a road over the sand dunes to Fulwell. Then the pit’d been sunk, and along with the new miners’ cottages had come a school and chapel and shop. Nellie frowned. She had no truck with the ‘newcomers’.
What would her life have been like if Abe’s boat hadn’t been blown a few miles off course and sought temporary sanctuary in Marsden Bay all those years ago? Likely she’d have gone through with her betrothal to Frank Hammond, one of the Marsden fishermen from her home village who had also been her cousin.
Mary’s knees came up and she let out another agonised groan. For the next minute or so Nellie’s mind was focused on her daughter, and then Mary sank into the temporary opiate of slumber once more and Nellie found herself wandering back in time. It had been love at first sight, her and Abe. She shook her grey head at the fancifulness of the thought which she would never have dreamt of verbalising, but which she knew to be the truth nevertheless.