At a midnight hour, In the year 1844, A reporter stopped his carriage as the moon behind cast eerie beams on scattered wisps of fog to reveal a castle-like tower with a lighted window. He knew the story of the exclusive recluse, and penned an article christening Elizabeth, "The mad lady of shallott (who has a lovely face, God lend her grace)."
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About the Author
Jeanne Marie Peters holds a BFA in theatre and a minor in creative writing from Southern Oregon College (now a university) in Ashland, Oregon, plus acting certificates from the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York. She has published short stories and poems and acted in community theatre, including repertoire. The oil painting of Elizabeth Wells on the front cover is by her.
Theresa Austin is a graduate of the Arden Wood Christian Science Nurse Training program in San Francisco and served as director of Christian Science Nursing four years at a facility in New York, where she also engaged in fund-raising activities; she worked many years as a private-duty Christian Science Nurse. Theresa has designed and crafted jewelry through the years, and selections of jewelry for the three books of this series, including Elizabeth's brooch on the cover of Volume I (the Twelfth of Never Collection) are under her trademark.
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Legend of the Mermaid's Tear
History of the Wells Family
By Theresa Austin, Jeanne Marie Peters
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2014 Theresa Austin & Jeanne Marie Peters
All rights reserved.
A GOWN OF REDDEST RED
The year is 1834:
Jordan Arlington and Molly Malloy were in the nursery; she was holding baby Victor on her lap while he was giggling and playing pat-a-cake with his father. The door burst open and Margaret stood at the entrance posing in a red velvet gown. "What do you think?" she asked.
When Victor spied his mother he cried out in eager delight and stretched his small pudgy arms toward her, grasping his fingers in anticipation. Molly immediately carried him toward Margaret, but she held out the flat palms of her hands and gasped, "No, not while I'm wearing my new gown!"
Victor began to cry and Molly, cuddling him in her arms, moved back toward his crib. Jordan quickly joined his wife at the door and closed it behind them. "Your gown is stunning," he said, "what's the occasion?"
He followed Margaret toward her bedroom and once inside she pulled her long brown hair away from the nape of her neck and asked him to unclasp the hooks on her gown. "These hooks are well-disguised," he said, as he fumbled to unclasp them.
Margaret moved behind a screen to change and called out excitedly, "Sir Alphonse Blakeley has invited us to join him this Saturday evening at a royal ball in the palace, when he and his wife, Patricia, will be presented to King William!"
Jordan noticed an envelope on her dresser and picked it up. "Is this the invitation?" He pulled out the contents and exclaimed, "Why it's a letter from Aunt Sophia—and she's arriving this week! You didn't tell me anything about it."
"Oh, that. Yes, well, father said he would pick her up at the London St. Catherine Docks when she arrives on Wednesday."
"By no means will that happen. I'll fetch her myself."
"Of all the times for her to decide to come—and on such short notice."
Jordan glanced at the date on the letter, 3 September 1834, and said, "Why you've had this letter for over two weeks. You didn't think it important enough to let me know?"
"Oh, it was addressed to us both ... I was so happy about our invitation and got all caught up in things ... sorry." She emerged from behind the screen wearing a soft-blue dress and, smiling broadly, said, "You'll be pleased to know I've hired a lady's maid for myself and a valet for you; he's a relative of the Blakeley's, whose family has fallen on hard times, and he's due to arrive shortly."
Jordan frowned and spoke tersely, "I'm not pleased to know ... you're perfectly aware I haven't the slightest interest in a valet...."
She interrupted, "Well at least be pleasant to him. And think, for once, about our position in society—it diminishes your image when you don't have a valet."
"Having my image diminished in front of your popinjay friends is a compliment," he remarked in exasperation as he quickly left her room and in curiosity headed for his late mother's, bedroom. Inside he gazed on a portrait of her—a gift from his Aunt Sophia—and soon determined that his wife's new gown was an exact replica of the one his mother, Vittoria Lamas Arlington, as a beautiful young girl, was wearing in the portrait. He left there and headed for his study where shortly there was a knock on the door and the unwanted valet was ushered in.
He was a small rather homely appearing light-brown haired man whose upper lip was adorned with a scrawny mustache. His name was Reginald Walker; he was also young, eager, and somewhat shy and awkward. Jordan indicated a seat and asked, "What else do you like to do?"
"Ah ... else?" He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, exposing well-worn shoes, "What do you mean?"
"Besides being a valet: what other interests do you have; what books do you read; how do you spend your free time?"
Reginald looked about as though eager to escape the room, in obvious wonderment as to why this man was putting him on the spot. He coughed and said, "Huh-huh-horticulture ... trees ... I, ah, study them, ah, have always had a keen interest there ... in that, ah, subject."
Jordan clapped his hands together and stood up. "Fine, you can report here at say, 8:00 a.m., tomorrow morning, we'll chat a bit and then you can determine what type of fruit trees you think might do well on this land and we'll go from there. Bring along some outdoor clothing. And if all that takes your fancy, there's a neighbor nearby who can offer some excellent advice—a Mr. Flynn O'Flannigan.
He smiled and escorted the bewildered Reginald out the door.
Later that day Jordan rode over to Lord Winston Darling's estate and asked Winston if it were possible for him to escort his Aunt Sophia to the ball. He said, "I'm presuming you have an invitation?"
"Ah, I should be delighted; yes, I have an invitation. My father, Lord Richard Darling, was a confidant of King George III, and often brought me along when he had audience with the king—who took a great interest in me (even once commenting he wished I were a member of the royal family),—and now his son, King William IV, keeps me on the palace guest list."
* * *
The next day, Tuesday, when Jordan went into the nursery he was surprised by a girl who said her name was Jayne Macintosh and that she had just been hired by Mrs. Arlington as nanny for Victor. He eyed her in disfavor and asked, "What experience do you have?"
"Caring for my two younger brothers, Ned and Norman, and helping my mother in their care; she's a very capable woman—and so am I," the girl responded, with a sense of confidence and dignity seldom found in one so young.
Jordan nodded, left the room, and headed for Mrs. Malloy's cottage where he was informed that his wife had dismissed Molly as the regular nanny for baby Victor, but she would fill in on weekends when Jayne went home to help her mother. Molly said, "Mrs. Arlington was right, I never should have tried to hand her the baby when she was wearing her beautiful dress—it was just that she so seldom visits the nursery."
"The functions of the nursery should belong to the mother; I trust you won't mind returning to the head housekeeper position ... but that girl's so young, how can I trust her with my son?"
"I was scarce more than Jayne's age when I first took care of you ... she seems a sensible girl—she said Mr. Arthur Wells had sent her over."
Jordan sat down, placed his head in his hands, and moaned, "Good Lord! Will I ever be free from having that wretched man interfering in my life?"
Later that day he encountered the girl sitting on a bench, with Victor asleep in his carriage, while she was sketching the collie dog, which was on a leash held by Molly's husband, Frank, who remarked, "Misty's taken a great liking to our new young nanny."
Jordan examined Jayne's drawing and was astonished at the detail and perfection of the girl's work, utilizing nothing more than a stub of a pencil, and asked if he might have the drawing when she finished. She blushed with pleasure and nodded shyly, without speaking.
The following day, Wednesday, Jordan met his aunt at the London St. Catherine docks, brought her to Springfield Hall, and settled her into a room near the one his late mother (her older sister) had occupied. She smiled wryly observing that the painting of her sister hanging in the room next to hers was thus kept out of sight and mused that this was a decision made by Jordan's wife, the envious Margaret. Jordan explained that Lord Darling would be escorting her to the palace ball on Saturday evening. She demurred noting she had brought nothing all that fancy to wear. He said, "Winston has kept all his late mother's gowns in memory of her and declared he would be delighted to loan one that pleases you. Would you be comfortable to spend Friday and Saturday night at his estate? It's in Kingston Abby, not far from here."
Well into Friday Margaret had not once made eye contact or spoken a welcoming word to Sophia, which rendered her glad for a chance to escape the winter of the woman's discontent. So in the late afternoon Sophia settled into Jordan's carriage. He hitched his horse to the back of it, explaining to his aunt that he and Winston planned to ride awhile, once she was settled.
On his part Winston was immediately enchanted with Jordan's aunt and had Sophia installed in a sumptuous wing at Richfield Hall. He then escorted her to his late mother's quarters and opened her wardrobes. Sophia was enthralled with multiple choices in gowns of silk, satin, lace and other exquisite fabrics; however, it was soon ascertained Lady Constance Darling had been a larger woman than Sophia Lamas, but Winston had his seamstress fetched and left the women to decide the best gown to alter.
Jordan sent his carriage back to Springfield Hall and he and Winston mounted their horses; Winston planned to ride along for about half the distance of Jordan's return home, because it had become difficult for Jordan to be away from his increasingly possessive wife for any length of time.
Before them on the road was a white horse drawing a small wagon which held a girl and man, who appeared to be in an argument; the man was seen lifting his right hand as though to strike her, whereupon the girl jumped down from the wagon and started running. The man yelled after her and leaped from the wagon, whip in hand. Winston quickly rode his horse in front of the man just as he was about to bring down the whip, whereupon the enraged man struck Winston's horse on its hindquarters, causing the animal to rear and twist toward him, striking his chest with its hooves; the man fell back against the left front wheel of the wagon, cracking his head as he dropped to the ground. The girl cried out and ran back to the man, who was now unconscious. "Is he dead?" she asked.
Winston and Jordan quickly dismounted and approaching the girl, Jordan exclaimed, "Why it's Jayne, our new nanny! And who is this man?"
"He's my father ... my stepfather."
"And why was he angry with you?"
"I ... I can't say."
Winston stooped to examine the still form and said, "I've seen him before—he's the same man who followed me and Elizabeth Wells one time when we rode out." He knelt beside him, put his ear to the man's chest, and said, "His breathing is shallow, and the back of his head is bleeding; we'd better take him to hospital."
It was agreed that Jayne would ride Jordan's mount and he would drive the wagon wherein they had loaded her stricken stepfather. They felt fortunate that Jordan's friend, Dr. Matthew Fox, was at hospital; his examination concluded the man had suffered a concussion.
Dr. Fox said, "Let him sleep it off in hospital tonight; his vital signs are good and he'll probably recover by morning—but we'll keep a watch on him."
Jordan was anxious to return home lest Margaret become upset by his long absence and asked Jayne if she could manage the wagon by herself, but she fell into such trembling and weeping that it was decided he would drive the wagon under her directions, hitching his horse onto the back. Winston would follow along. As they were riding Jordan said, "Jayne, you must tell me what this was all about, we'll probably have to report everything to the constable."
Jayne was crying as she responded, "He'll take it out on my mother when he wakes up; he always does."
"How will he do that ... take it out on your mother?"
"He'll knock her down—he wanted me to spy on you, to tell him everything you said and did, but ... you were so kind to me about my drawing ...," her voice trailed off.
"Why would he care about what I do? What's his name ... your stepfather?"
"Brisbane, Norman Brisbane."
"Oh, well, that solves the mystery! He works for Arthur Wells, my father-in-law."
Winston, riding beside them, and listening, remarked, "Norman Brisbane! ... why that's the name of the fellow who tried to run Elizabeth off the road."
Both men had pictured Jayne's mother as ignorant and common, for who else would have such a scoundrel for a husband? So their surprise was genuine when Jayne introduced them to her mother, Mrs. Anjulie Brisbane, who was a woman of uncommon dignity and poise. Her marred face was somewhat square, framed by wisps of curly blonde hair drawn back into a bun; her large blue eyes were both wary and friendly; high scarred cheekbones and an aquiline nose were compensated by a full mouth and unusually white and even teeth. All told she was a plain woman wearing a plain gray dress who spoke with a slight Scottish brogue.
She invited them into a small neat cottage where two young boys stood stock still while gazing wide-eyed at them. Jayne explained the circumstances of her encounter with the men, who, in turn, revealed the other times they had crossed paths with her husband. Jordan finished his comments by questioning why an obviously intelligent woman as herself had ever married such a wretch. Under these disturbing circumstances Anjulie felt obliged to tell them her story:
She and her first husband, Edward Macintosh, were originally from Scotland; her namesake was her maternal grandmother, a Frenchwoman who had emigrated during the Revolution. Her husband, affectionately called Scotty, had been schoolmaster at a private institution. He was offered a similar position at another more prestigious school and, having signed a contract for a considerable increase in wages, had put their savings down on a new home within the parish where they would soon move, but on the very day they were planning to do so, Lord Charnley, who had offered the position, decided instead to give it to a rather worthless nephew, on the grounds that although her husband had signed the contract, he, Lord Charnley, had not. Anjulie had just delivered their second child, a son they named Ned, when her husband suddenly passed on. At first the trustees at the school were kind, but after Edward's burial she was informed that a new schoolmaster had already been hired and she must vacate their cottage. She, of course, could not afford to move into the new house and the owner refused to return the down payment.
Norman Brisbane had done odd jobs for the school and some gardening at their cottage. He came to her in a most humble and self-effacing manner and offered marriage and the care of her two children, Jayne and the new baby, Ned. She had no family to turn to and felt completely vulnerable as to her ability to provide for her children; she reasoned that it would be better to be honorably married to this uneducated man than beg for charity at her parish, which wasn't known for generosity.
The result had been seven years of utter misery and captivity. Brisbane allowed her no friends and often would tell her he was leaving for the day, then sneak back to spy on her. He hadn't started beating her until about two years into their marriage—some months after their son, Norman, had been born. He was good to both the boys, but unkind to her daughter, Jayne. He resented that she and her mother could read and write, but displayed no interest in learning. When she asked why he had married her rather than an uneducated woman he told her he saw that she was a sturdy woman who had already delivered a healthy baby boy and he was in want of having a son. No affection had been offered and none was ever displayed. Yes, she knew he did work for Arthur Wells and she feared that he was involved in dishonorable pursuits.
After listening to Anjulie's recitation of her life with Brisbane, Winston offered her asylum at his estate. "I have had to let a number of servants retire since my mother, Lady Darling, passed on, and there is a large empty cottage where you and your family can live as long as you like; further, there are several positions that you can fill there to provide income."
She said, "If I were to leave with you, Norman would find me, and then, I'm afraid, my children would end up motherless."
It took a while for her statement to sink in before Winston said, "You have nothing to fear from this man. He will be arrested when he awakens."
"Mr. Wells paid his fines once before and he may be able to get him off again. I was raised to accept this as the curse on woman: that she must submit to her husband and that he has the rule over her. I cannot in good conscience leave him, no matter what."
Jordan and Winston excused themselves to step outside and there decided that Winston should ride home, get his coach, and fetch Elizabeth to talk with the woman. Winston said, "It'll take a good hour or so for me to accomplish that; hope you can keep them all entertained that long."
"I'll try my best," said Jordan.
Winston left immediately at a gallop and Jordan explained what they were about; the woman was agreeable. Her sons shyly began displaying some of their meager toys and Jordan responded to them with eager interest. He commented on Jayne's extraordinary drawing talent. Anjulie said, "If Norman finds out that she's been drawing he'll punish her."
Elizabeth had accompanied Winston without question and as they rode along he explained the situation at hand and his desire to help a worthy woman and her family. "I admire your willingness to put yourself in harm's way, it's very brave of you, considering what we know about Norman Brisbane," she said.
Excerpted from Legend of the Mermaid's Tear by Theresa Austin, Jeanne Marie Peters. Copyright © 2014 Theresa Austin & Jeanne Marie Peters. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PROLOGUE: THE KIDNAPPING OF JOHN LAW, xvii,
PROLOGUE: IRISH EYES, xxv,
CHAPTER 1: A GOWN OF REDDEST RED, 1,
CHAPTER 2: THE ABANDONMENT OF THOMAS, 30,
CHAPTER 3: LONELY ARE THE BRAVE, 52,
CHAPTER 4: I'LL FLY AWAY, 75,
CHAPTER 5: JASON, THE HEALER, 84,
CHAPTER 6: LORD DARLING TO THE RESCUE, 99,
CHAPTER 7: ARTHUR, A KING FOREVER, 118,
CHAPTER 8: THE CAPTURE OF ROBERT THE BEAUTIFUL, 138,
CHAPTER 9: JASON SAILS ARTHUR HOME TO SWANSEA, 170,
CHAPTER 10: LEGEND OF THE MERMAID'S TEAR, 186,
CHAPTER 11: WHY DOESN'T GOD KEEP THE ONES HE'S GOT?, 214,
CHAPTER 12: SHE HAS A LOVELY FACE, GOD LEND HER GRACE, 231,
CHAPTER 13: LADY OF SHALOTT, 241,
CHAPTER 14: SLUMBER HOLD ME TIGHTLY, 244,
CHAPTER 15: A GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED, 253,
CHAPTER 16: WIDOW'S WEEDS, 270,
CHAPTER 17: ELIZABETH AND THE MERMAID'S TEAR, 285,