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Married and with child, Viola is stunned when her husband, Roger, abandons her without a backward glance. The rent is due, and there is no money in her purse. Her father can no longer care for her since his accident, but Viola vows she will not end up in the streets, or become a charity ward of the Parish. She will make her way in the world without a man. She will do it alone, and she will remain an honorable woman.
Horatio, a man bitter from betrayal. Not knowing who he is, and as she is thrown more and more in his company, Viola suspects Horatio is Roger’s brother, whom he hates and believes dead. But Roger is not dead. He is alive, and a bigamist. Together Viola and Horatio set out to destroy him through Ecclesiastical courts for bigamy, a criminal offense that could give him the death penalty.
They rushed down stream far enough so the deep shadow of the Bridge was behind them, the sun marking their way. Clustered ships with tall masts bobbed and pushed together. Water swooshed between the hulls as rigging creaked, decks moaned, and bells clanged. Rubbish sped by, some banging against the wherry and the sides of the ships to veer off and rush away, again.
Viola narrowed her eyes in an attempt to find her papa amongst the swirling water and debris.
As the sun dipped lower and the Bridge shadow moved down river, water and flotsam turned dark. It was hard to distinguish what was what. Everything looked the same, forcing Viola to close her eyes and listen to the sounds above the crashing water and creaking ships.
And then she heard it, her papa’s cry.
Opening her eyes, she turned in its direction, searching for him. Viola leaned against the edge of the boat, concentrating on the sound.
Pall asked, “What do you see?”
Viola waved her sister away. “Shhh. I think I hear him.”
Pall went quiet, and then with a shout, she pointed. “Oiy, over there. I see something against the rear of that ship.”
Viola squinted and tried to see what Pall saw. It was getting dark. Rubbish bobbed in an eddy near the aft of a ship, making it near impossible to pick out her papa.
“Over here,” he cried. “I’m drowning.”
Pall leapt to her feet and hollered, “Do you still have the dead head?”
Standing up, Viola swatted her sister. “Blast it, not now.”
The wherriman slapped the water with an oar, sending a cascade into the boat. “You’re vexing me straight to the gut, you are. Sit down the both of you. Do you want to be tossed overboard?”
In unison, they pointed and cried, “He’s over there. Quick, now.”
“Hang me, not afore the both of you sit the bloody hell down. I ain’t about to toss us overboard while you’re a raving and pitching us about like lunatics. I’ve got a reputation to keep. I ain’t drowned no one yet, and I ain’t about to, you ken?”
Viola grabbed her sister’s wrist, and forced her down as she sank to the seat, praying the man would hurry to their papa before he disappeared in the dark waters. The sun was sinking fast on the other side of the Bridge. Once down, it would cast all into pitch night, and her papa’s voice sounded dim.
The boatman pulled hard right, his strength turning the wherry around, and he rowed up stream toward the ship. A piece of rigging had snapped from one of the ships, snagging under the ship next to it, and trapping anything that coursed too close.
Their papa held tight to the rope with one hand, the dead head in the other. He gasped and spat water as debris bobbed around him. Both Viola and her sister leaned over the edge of the wherry as they drew near, their arms outstretched to grasp him before he went under.
The wherriman sucked in his breath. “By God I shall forsake you both if you don’t get back in this here boat. As I do all right imaginable in saving the damned blockhead, I shall not have the two of you pitch us into the drink.”
Viola clamped her mouth shut, and squeezed Pall’s wrist to keep her quiet.
The wherriman grunted and rowed against the tide to the aft of the ship. Viola and her sister stretched their arms over the side, Pall grabbing hold of the snagged cable while Viola swept aside the rubbish with her hands.
The water was very cold.
The wherry edged toward the ship, the boatman heaving from the effort. “Pox on it, grab him afore I lose hold and we spin away.”
Katherine Pym divides her time between Seattle and Houston with her husband and puppy-dog. She is an avid reader of 17th century England, particularly of London.
"Viola, A Woeful Tale of Marriage immerses you in the culture of 17th century London. A great historical read that makes you feel as if you know what “real life” was like to those that lived through the religious strife and plague of that time. It’s certainly not the puritanical “real life” we imagine or that’s portrayed in the history books of that period, but a much more exciting one instead…"
"A great read! Pym brings 17th century London back to life!"--
Lesley Hager, Author of Coincidence, to be published by Wings-ePress in November 2010
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 335
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