The Angry Tide is the seventh novel in Winston Graham's classic Poldark saga, the major TV series from Masterpiece on PBS.
Cornwall, towards the end of the 18th century. Ross Poldark sits for the borough of Truro as Member of Parliament - his time divided between London and Cornwall, his heart divided about his wife, Demelza.
His old feud with George Warleggan still flares - as does the illicit love between Morwenna and Drake, Demelza's brother.
Before the new century dawns, George and Ross will be drawn together by a loss greater than their rivalry - and Morwenna and Drake by a tragedy that brings them hope . . . .
And with the new century, comes much change in the shocking seventh book of Winston Graham's Poldark series, The Angry Tide.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
It was windy. The pale afternoon sky was shredded with clouds, the road, grown dustier and more uneven in the last hour, was scattered with blown and rustling leaves.
There were five people in the coach; a thin clerkly man with a pinched face and a shiny suit, his thinner wife, their half-grown daughter, and two other passengers: one a tall gaunt distinguished-looking man in his late thirties, the other a stoutly built clergyman a few years younger. The tall man wore a brown velvet jacket with brass buttons, mostly undone to show the clean shirt and the shabby yellow waistcoat beneath, tight buff trousers and riding boots. The clergyman, except for his collar, might have passed for a dandy, with his green silk patterned suit all to match, his silk cloak, his scarlet stockings and black buckle shoes.
The clerkly man and his wife, a little over-awed by the company they were in, made only whispered asides to each other as the coach lurched and clattered over the potholes. Although silence obtained now, there had been conversation, and they were aware of the nature of the company they kept. The tall man was Captain Poldark, a man recently come to eminence in the county and a member of Parliament for the borough of Truro. The clergyman was the Reverend Osborne Whitworth, vicar of St Margaret's, Truro, and absentee Vicar of St Sawle-with-Grambler on the north coast.
There had been conversation but it had lapsed into a none too friendly silence; indeed, the interchange from the beginning had had an edge on it. Captain Poldark had joined the coach at St Blazey and Mr Whitworth shortly afterwards at St Austell and at once had said:
'Ho, Poldark, so you're back; well, well, I expect you'll be glad to be home again. How was Westminster? Pitt and Fox, and all that. My uncle tells me it's a regular gossip shop.'
'It's what you make it,' said Captain Poldark. 'Like so many other things.'
'Ha! Yes. So my cousin-in-law George said when he was up there. Bitter blow you struck him then, you know, depriving him of his seat. Whetted his appetite, it had, those twelve months as a member. Very down in the mouth for a while, was George.'
Captain Poldark did not speak. The coach smelled of dust and stale breath.
Mr Whitworth eased his tight trousers inelegantly. 'Mind you, Mr Warleggan is no laggard in furthering his own affairs. I have no doubt you'll be hearing more of him before the year is much older.'
'I shall wait with interest,' said Poldark, looking down his strong nose.
'We need all the able men we can muster,' said Whitworth. 'Now more than ever, sir. Domestic discontent, Jacobin clubs, naval mutiny with red flags hoisted, bankruptcies everywhere, and now this Irish rebellion. Have you any news that it has been put down?'
'The disgraceful atrocities of the Catholics must be duly punished. The stories one hears match the worst excesses of the French revolt.'
'All atrocities are duly punished – or at least avenged. One never knows who begins them – only that they set off a train of consequences that never end.'
Mr Whitworth stared out of the window at the lurching greenery of the countryside. 'I know of course that your Mr Pitt favours Catholic emancipation. Happily there is little chance of its going through Parliament.'
'I think you're right. But whether it's something to be happy about I rather question. Do we not all worship the same God?'
Mr Whitworth's nose was a different shape from Captain Poldark's, but he had no difficulty in looking down it – at the presumption of a man prepared to question his judgment on his home ground – and there for a time the conversation lapsed. However, the young cleric was not one to be discouraged by small rebuffs, and after the coach had been stopped for five minutes while the coachman and some of the outside passengers moved a fallen bough, Whitworth said:
'I have been spending two nights with the Carlyons. Do you know them?'
'Tregrehan is a very comfortable and spacious residence. My father and mother knew the Carlyons and I have kept up the acquaintance. They have a very fine cook, a treasure indeed.'
Captain Poldark looked at Mr Whitworth's swelling stomach but made no comment.
'Their spring lamb – exceptional tender ... with, of course, asparagus and roasted calf's heart. It is the conjunction of dishes which makes the table. Upon my word, though, I don't know whether that was better than the boiled fillet of veal with some sweet sauce of their own devising, and a sage and rosemary stufffing. Constantly I tell my wife, it is not the ingredients, it is the way those ingredients are put together.'
'I hope your wife is well.' Here at least was common ground.
'She has a mopish temperament. Dr Behenna believes it now to be a disorder of the spleen. My son, I'm glad to say, is in fine fettle. Never have I seen a stronger two-year-old. Barely two-year-old yet. A handsome, beautiful boy ...' Mr Whitworth scratched himself. 'Very different from the poor overlooked nashed little creature the Enyses have produced. Thin and weakly of body, they say, with a head far too big, and it dribbles from its mouth all the day long ... I'll swear this coach is full of fleas. I have a delicate skin, peculiarly susceptible of fleas, and come up the size of a guinea at the least bite.'
'You should try Dr Leach's Fumigatory Powder, sir,' said the clerk, greatly daring. 'It is used in the noblest houses.'
Whitworth stared the clerk down. 'I'm obliged to you, sir. I had heard of it.'
The coach lurched on.
Ross thought: my life seems to run in repetitive patterns.
Long years ago – I forget how many – I came back from Bristol in just such a coach, a young man, limping and scarred from the American war, and had just such company. A clerkly sort of man and his wife, but then they had a baby to hold, not a thin pock-marked girl. But I shared that coach too with a clergyman. Halse – an old man now – whom I disliked almost as much as I do this one. And we sparred in talk and got out disgruntled with each other. The time of year was different, October then; yet today the leaves are lying about from yesterday's storm as if it were autumn already. And the only major difference perhaps is that then I was poor – and to be shocked when I reached home to discover how poor I really was – and now I am prosperous. And then I was about to receive the even greater shock of finding that the girl I loved was going to marry my cousin. And now I have a wife ... Well, yes, I have a wife ...
But then I was young and full of astonishing vigour. Now I am thirtyeight, and not so young. And not perhaps so resilient.
And all my life seems to run down similar avenues – just as it is doing now. Twice in my rash impulsiveness I have raided prisons and taken prisoners out – once in England, for which I was bitterly attacked by my own class, once in France, for which I have received equally unmerited praise and admiration. Apart from the odd adventure here and there I have loved only two women in my life and they have both turned to other men. I have opened two mines. I have two children. The catalogue could go on and on.
Perhaps it is the natural outcome of getting older, he thought, this sense that life is repeating itself. Perhaps this sensation occurs to everyone if they live long enough. Indeed, if one considers the routine and uneventfulness of most people's lives, it may be I ought to consider myself fortunate that my life has been one of such variety.
But that's not quite the point. You're blunting the point of your own argument —
'What?' Whitworth had asked him something. 'Oh, no, the House will not rise for six or seven weeks yet.'
'Then you're returning early?'
'Business affairs,' said Ross. 'I have been away long enough.'
'Ah, yes, business affairs.' This struck a responding chord in Osborne Whitworth's heart. 'By the by, now that you know Viscount Falmouth so well ...'
He paused, but Ross did not acknowledge or deny the fact.
'... now that you must know Viscount Falmouth so well, as you sit in his pocket – or in his pocket borough anyway – perhaps you would care to use your good offices with him on my behalf, since I am seeking the living of Luxulyan, and, although the living is not in his gift, he is sure to be well in with the patron; and merely his name on a letter would carry weight.'
'I'm sorry to hear you are leaving Truro,' said Ross maliciously.
'Oh, but I'm not,' Ossie Whitworth assured him. 'The recently deceased vicar of Luxulyan seldom lived there. I wish to augment my sparse income, which barely, you'll understand, suffices for day to day living and providing subsistence for my wife and growing family. Ministers of the church have stipends quite out of keeping with the demands that are put upon them. It is really – if unfortunately – essential for a man in holy orders to possess two or more livings in order to survive.'
'You already,' Ross pointed out, 'have two livings. That in my own parish of Sawle became yours two years ago.'
'Yes, but it's a miserably poor one. The expenses incurred in maintaining it almost eat up the increment. Luxulyan is richer, and the landowners and gentlemen far more generous. The south coast, you know, is always better found than the north.'
There were some cries of protest from the outside passengers as the coach passed under low-hanging trees. One branch scraped the near-side window. The clerk and his wife had exchanged glances at the turn of the conversation, which Mr Whitworth had had no hesitation in introducing before them, as if they did not exist. But Captain Poldark, apparently, was saying no more on the subject. The clerk could not help but feel that the Rev Mr Whitworth might have couched his request in more tactful terms.
Ossie peered out of the window. 'Well, I am nearly home, thanks be to God. All this lurching and ducking is enough to turn a man's bile. I swear I was at sea only once but it was no worse than this. That rascal Harry had better be waiting to take my bag. Ah, yes, there he is.' Ossie raised his stick and gave three loud knocks on the roof of the carriage.
They came to a stop, the wheels crunching on the soft ground, every iron bar and leather trace protesting as the motion ceased. The coachman jumped down and opened the door, taking his hat off as he did so, hoping for a tip.
Ossie was in no great haste to descend. He scratched again and began to button his coat. 'Mind you, I might at some time be able to do you a favour, Poldark. You may not know that my uncle, Conan Godolphin, is a close personal friend of the Prince of Wales; and sometimes a friend at court – literally at court – can be of signal advantage to a man in the Commons. Especially a distant country member without title or social connections, such as yourself. Uncle Conan knows all the great Whig families and many influential noblemen, so there could be such a thing as a quid pro quo in all this.'
'Indeed,' said Ross after a minute. 'A quid pro quo, eh?'
'Yes. That's what I would suggest.'
'I'm not sure what it is you do suggest.'
'Oh, come, Poldark, I think I have made my meaning clear.'
Ross said: 'You have a curate-in-charge at Sawle. Odgers is a hardworking little man. When you were appointed to the living you increased his stipend from £40 a year to £45 a year.'
'Yes, that's so. It was a generous gesture and in keeping with the times. Though, living as he does off the land, almost, and with scarcely any expenses, I conceit it difficult to imagine what he does with the money.'
'Well, I can assure you he does not live well. He grows vegetables to sell in the local market. His wife scrimps and saves and patches, and cuts down garments from older children to younger, and the children themselves lack any refinements of dress or education such as a clerk of the church would reasonably hope they might have. You have told me it is hard for a clergyman to subsist. Well, on £45 a year he lives scarcely better than a farrier or a smith.'
'Then I can only say he must mismanage his affairs disgracefully! I have long thought him an incompetent little man.'
Ross eyed the speaker without favour. 'The quid pro quo I might envisage, Whitworth, would occur if you were to increase Mr Odgers's stipend to £100 a year. I should not require your uncle's good offices, but would be quite willing on those terms to ask Lord Falmouth to intercede on your behalf.'
'A hundred pounds a year!' Mr Whitworth began to swell, an ability he had when angry. It was more often a characteristic of certain animals and birds, but Ossie was peculiarly capable of it. 'Do you realize that the total stipend from Sawle is £200? How could you expect me to remain vicar if I paid half of it to an uneducated curate!'
'Well,' Ross pointed out, 'he does all the work.'
Ossie Whitworth picked up his hat. His manservant, Harry, had now taken down the valise and was waiting beside the coachman with a foolish grin of welcome. 'That is what an uninformed person would suppose.'
'It is what I suppose, since I am a close neighbour of your church.'
'God's my life, I'll wish you good afternoon, Captain Poldark.'
Ossie climbed out of the coach, brushing the lapels of his coat with his free hand, as if dismissing not merely the material fleas that plagued him but the unjustifiable suggestion advanced. He did not glance back into the coach, nor did he tip the coachman, but walked off down the narrow lane towards St Margaret's vicarage and the arms of his unwelcoming wife. Harry brought up the rear, tall and bowlegged behind the stocky stride of his master. A glint of river showed between the stooping trees.
The coachman climbed back on to his seat, clucked to his horses, flicked the whip, and the coach creaked and lumbered forward on the last mile of its journey to Truro.
Demelza Poldark had been entertaining Rosina Hoblyn to tea. Rosina, who only limped a little since Dr Enys had cured her lipsy leg, was still unmarried after the tragedy of her near marriage to Charlie Kempthorne, though now twenty-five, and charming in a sweet and gentle way. Her younger sister, Parthesia, was wed to a farm hand and a mother already. Rosina had always been the quiet one of the family; perhaps it was an attitude of mind imposed on her early by her lameness; and she still lived at home with her mother and father and made something for herself out of millinery work.
Demelza had discovered her only a few months ago, and with her usual zest for friendship now put all the work she could in her way. She found the girl companionable as well as industrious. So Rosina had been making sun bonnets and caps for the children and had walked over from Sawle with them to see if they suited. While she was there they had taken tea and Demelza had ordered a straw hat for herself. Then she had walked a little way back with Rosina in the glimmering evening light, noting everywhere the ravages of yesterday's storm.
At Wheal Maiden she stopped and said goodbye but did not at once return; instead stood watching the girl's retreating figure as she plodded off across the bleak moor in the direction of Sawle Church. A waste of a nice woman, she thought, pretty, industrious, with surprising taste and manner considering who had fathered her – the glowering Jacka. Heaven knew, she ought to have a fellow feeling, considering that her own father would have made Jacka seem by comparison a gentle, reasonable man. They had that much in common, she and Rosina, they were 'sports', untypical of their parents, somehow 'better', if better meant having ideas and tastes above their station.
Though, again, Heaven knew how much of this would ever have surfaced in herself – or had any opportunity to surface – if it had not been for a chance meeting with Ross at Redruth Fair so many years ago. But for that encounter, what possible hope would she have had? – a drudge, terrorized by a drunken father and smothered by a clutch of younger brothers, for all of whom she had had to act the mother at fourteen. Perhaps her father's conversion to Methodism would have taken place anyhow, perhaps she would have been able to make some niche for herself in the poverty-ridden, grindingly hard world of the miners. But nothing, nothing compared to what she had – even if the most important part of what she now had she was no longer sure she wholly retained.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Angry Tide"
Copyright © 1977 Winston Graham.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read the whole book in one night I couldn't put it down
Cant wait to see how the TV show adapts this