This Scottish Historical Novel is based on well known historical events and the author's personal experiences.
The novel's main characters include three unrelated native born Scots. Tracy, a lady Royal Navy fighter pilot operating from her ship, H.M.S. Ark Royal, above the South China seas off Hong Kong; Alan, a Royal Bank of Scotland manager employed in the bank's Hong Kong office also acting as a volunteer Auxiliary Marine Police Inspector operating in Hong Kong waters: and Grant, an almost destitute professional golfer playing his last sponsored professional golf tournament in China. These three characters, albeit during unusual circumstances, each receive separate "signs"in the form of mysteriously engraved coins or tokens. These "tokens", when compared with similar "tokens" found after worldwide searches by Archeology Professor Angus Ogilvy, bring all five characters together in a common cause. This cause, namely finding the much sought after ancient Scottish artifact; the "Stone of Destiny" also known as "Jacob's Pillow", creates the intriguing theme of this novel.
Since the year 847 AD, thirty one Scottish kings were crowned sitting upon the ancient "Stone of Destiny" it having originated in the Holy Land and brought to Scotland during the fourth century. In the year 1296 AD, King Edward 1st of England, more commonly known as "Longshanks" of the film Braveheart fame , plundered Scotland, took the "Stone of Destiny" to London and had it placed under the English monarchy coronation throne in Westminster Abbey. There it remained almost continuously for over seven hundred years. In 1951, four Scottish University students successfully heisted that Stone and returned with it to Scotland. However, after being hidden for four months it was found in Arbroath Abbey, and shortly after returned to Westminster Abbey and replaced under the English coronation chair.
Recently Scotland has regained Independence from England and the first crowning of a Scottish monarch is soon due, that monarch being directly descended from King Robert the Bruce, the real "Braveheart" who reigned from 1306 - 1329. The"Stone" , recently returned to Scotland shortly after the tragic death of Princess Diana, will be used again during the forthcoming coronation. However the returned "Stone" presently on display in Edinburgh Castle alongside the ancient Scottish Crown Jewels, has been proved a fake through geological testing. Now with much added incentive, the ages old hunt is on again to find the genuine "Stone"
Retired Archeology Professor Angus Ogilvy, has spent a lifetime studying the mystery of the "Stone of Destiny", regrettably without much success. Now, with the help of Tracy, Alan and Grant, his enthusiasm and interest is greatly renewed. The Professor's life long search continues, involving the interpretation of ancient Christian Chapel carvings, Scottish rite Masonic insignia, the exhumation of an ancient king's tomb, and visits to Hong Kong, a Buddha Temple and nearby monasteries. These investigations all help to unravel the secrets of ancient codes and cyphers, which if solved will hopefully reveal the whereabouts of the ancient and original "Stone of Destiny". This original "Stone" if found and used in the upcoming coronation, would for Scottish people greatly enhance the validity and accuracy of their revered ages-old ceremony.
With the help of a World War Two code breaking expert, specialised programming of a modern day cypher computer and meticulous inspection of ancient maps and manuscripts, the hopes of Angus and his helpers often rise and fall - but hope always springs eternal.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.44(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Search for Jacob's PillowA Scottish Historical Novel
By H. David Brown
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 H. David Brown
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHREE PECULIAR TOKENS
Lieutenant Tracy Dunbar, (P) Royal Navy
Situation: 3,000 feet above the South China Sea
Few young children ever achieve their high ambitions and unrealistic dreams, but that was not the case for Tracy Dunbar. Born and raised as a single child in the central highlands of Scotland, she had far exceeded her own ambitions and expectations. She had completed four years mechanical engineering training at the Royal Navy's engineering school and a further year of on-the-job training at sea as a mechanical engineer. A fine career lay ahead in the weapons and weapon control system specialization, certainly more than twenty-two years pension qualifying service, but her ambition to become a military pilot had remained foremost in her mind. This she had achieved some four years ago, thanks to a change in naval training policy.
That change, namely accepting suitably qualified women into the Royal Navy's fixed-wing pilot training program, was considered quite revolutionary by many old seadogs, even though some WRENS (Women's Royal Navy Service) had been serving at sea for some time.
"Flying is different," the older pilots insisted, but they could not quantify the reasons for that view. It seemed to them, just "not quite the correct thing" to do.
Tracy had grasped what she considered a heaven-sent opportunity with both hands. She had successfully completed training against high odds and much male skepticism and now found herself at three thousand feet above the South China Sea. She anxiously awaited recovery back on board the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal as it ploughed through the darkening seas far below.
Flying her sleek, powerful twin-engine jet fighter in a holding circuit ahead of the ship, Tracy could not help but notice the threatening dark clouds laced with lightning lurking close by. Dusk had passed, day had quickly become night, and shortly a demanding night deck landing loomed ahead. Tracy Dunbar tried to settle again, calm her racing mind, and concentrate once more on the ever-increasing demand of the intimidating task ahead. She felt herself as being part of the twin-engine jet fighter strapped to her shoulders, waist, and thighs and took comfort from the knowledge that she was sitting on one of Martin Baker's most modern, safe, and reliable ejection seats.
She had already made two approaches to the angled deck of HMS Ark Royal within the past twenty minutes, but each approach had been waved off before Tracy could complete the final descent starting one mile astern of the ship. Tracy reasoned some non-communicated complication during the recovery phase of the two aircraft ahead was presumably the reason for the two wave-offs; not an unusual event.
Now, having been airborne at a low level and burning fuel at an extraordinary rate for many more minutes than expected from the mission plan, the aircraft was too low on fuel to divert safely ashore to the nearest airfield. Passing time was quickly burning up the Sea Vixen's remaining usable fuel, already at an alarmingly low level. To return safely on board, it was imperative for Tracy to make an accurate and steady approach, taking the arrestor hook of her sleek Sea Vixen into the waiting aircraft arrestor wires at precisely the calculated hook-on speed, 148 knots, nothing much more and certainly nothing less. Failing to hook on could mean climbing ahead, leveling off ahead of the ship at two thousand feet, and carrying out an ordered and premeditated twin ejection. Everything depended on the aircraft fuel situation.
The ejection, if required, would be done in tandem with her navigator, Kenny "Jock" Adams. Kenny's seat was only a few feet away but slightly below and to Tracy's right. He sat facing the weapons system attack and intercept radar screen, his rugged features lit by the screen's fluorescent glow. Kenny's crew position, commonly called the "coal hole," offered no forward vision other than a view of Tracy's legs working the aircraft rudders and part of the main blind flying instrument panel. A ten-inch-square window above and to his right gave some limited vision of the darkening tropical sky.
Lieutenant Tracy Elizabeth Dunbar had been making quite a name for herself in recent years. Tracy had, through great perseverance, skill, and dogged determination, become the Royal Navy's second-ever female fighter pilot, qualified for both day and night deck landings. She was currently attached to 892 Fleet Arm Squadron, operating from the aging aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal presently completing her last Far East detachment operating in the South China Sea, some two hundred miles southeast of Hong Kong.
Thus qualified, Tracy had joined an exclusive "aviation club." She had achieved qualifications most aviators worldwide, military and civil, recognized as the pinnacle of piloting excellence. Most pilots viewed attainment of this standard with justified awe and envy. Tracy not only flew one of the Fleet Air Arm's most potent—yet potentially most unforgiving—jet fighters, the twin-jet Sea Vixen MK 2; she also carried the hopes and aspirations of many female pilots. All wished to emulate her spectacular success in a historically exclusive male order of excellence.
Many Fleet Air Arm pilots, especially those "old and bold" naval aviators of years gone by, were very much against female intrusion into their traditional dynasty. However, the younger, more modern pilots were certainly mindful of the ever-rising clamor for acceptance of gender equality. This equality, not only in remuneration and qualification, was seen to open up opportunity for women to achieve these very highest of qualifications previously only open to male navy pilots. The younger pilots openly supported Tracy and her aspiring followers.
The support from these younger navy pilots was very much against the stated views of the old and sometimes "not so bold" brigade and encouraged every opportunity be given to the "fairer sex." They were prepared to wait and watch. They made sure equal standards were applied to all aspects of training, regardless of gender, and so generally supported the female cause. If women could reach the highest standards of piloting, their answer was, Why not? However, underlying these thoughts of acceptance was always a sense of insecurity accompanying the threat of a competing new life order. Those barely out-of-their-teens pilots, however, seemed to take the view of an old adage; the proof of the pudding should be in the eating—and hopefully no one would get hurt in demonstrating so.
Some senior officers voiced their opinion those junior pilots were being naive, and this attitude had been tragically reinforced by a recent disastrous accident. Only three weeks before, operating from the sister aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, the navy's first female fighter pilot, Lieutenant Jane Randolph Smith, and her observer had both perished during a day approach, stalling into the sea just short of touchdown. Regrettably, the film of her approach and the taped communications pointed to the cause of the accident being Jane's fixation to land on board at all costs after two missed landings, what navy pilots called "bolters." Her fatal final approach was too tight, too slow, and too far below the required three-degree glide path that even the application of full power was insufficient to prevent the self-initiated super-stall situation. No ejection sequence was initiated, and all perished in the ensuing fireball as she, her crew, and the Sea Vixen slammed into the ship's churning wake.
A few anxious minutes passed, allowing the gravity of Tracy and Kenny's increasingly tenuous situation to sink into both of their minds.
"Not quite what we've been training for these past few months!" said Kenny over the aircraft's internal intercom.
"Not quite, Kenny, but we can do this. Just keep a close eye on my instruments. Tonight's weather is perfect for disorientation. Jab my right leg if things seem to be going haywire."
Kenny, sitting below in the coal hole, had a good view of the pilot's instrument panel. As a former pilot of some 350 hours' experience, he knew all about the disorientation problems even the finest pilots experienced and dreaded, especially at night.
"Go through your ejection procedure now," Tracy added. "We just might be out of here in a hurry somewhere down the line."
"Roger that," was Kenny's laconic reply.
"Vixen three," crackled the radio, "this is approach control. Call ready for recovery and vectoring to final talk down."
"Vixen three ready, now heading north," Tracy replied.
"Roger, Vixen three. Turn right heading east and descend to two thousand feet. Call level."
Throttling back, turning right, and commencing the standard-rate descent, Tracy soon called, "Vixen three leveling two thousand, heading east."
"Roger, Vixen three," answered the controller. "Turn onto one hundred eighty-five degrees, slow to final approach speed, and carry out landing actions—call complete."
Tracy now felt more comfortable. She had maneuvered the aircraft with skill and accuracy to this point, and all was standard and going well. However, the red light blinking next to the fuel gauges constantly reminded her of the urgency of the situation. She tried to ignore the warning light, leaving it out of her visual scan of the instruments, but it was always there. She thought about covering the flashing warning light up with tape, but that would take time and possibly break her concentration.
I can deal with this, she thought to herself.
Tracy reasoned that hundreds of thousands of pounds had been spent on getting her trained to deal with situations such as this, and at the moment the problem was really quite minor. However, the situation would dramatically change for the worse if there was yet another delay.
"Airbrakes in, undercarriage down, arrestor hook down, canopy locked and closed. Sufficient fuel! No instrument warnings ..." These memorized checks and a few others Tracy called out to herself. No time to worry about fuel now, she thought and transmitted, "Vixen three approach checks complete; four green lights." (Green lights indicate the three wheels and the arrestor hook are down and locked.)
"Roger, Vixen three. Continue heading one hundred eighty-eight degrees and stand by for final controller."
Tracy acknowledged and took a last brief look ahead into the pitch-black night. There were no aircraft carrier lights in sight, but there were many fishing boats' lights that could be confused with low rising stars just appearing above the horizon.
Tracy took a deep breath, trying to control her mild hyperventilation but still hearing her fast-beating heart. "You okay, Kenny?" she asked. "Here we go."
"Just fine, Trace," was the calm and reassuring reply. "Hang in there; we've got this landing cracked. This will be easy after that wardroom rugby game the other night. What a bummer losing to those yobs from Eagle!"
Tracy summoned a wry smile inside the tightly clamped oxygen mask that covered all but her light blue eyes. She was fortunate to have Kenny by her side, bringing confidence, optimism, and some frivolity to the situation.
"Vixen three, this is your final controller; acknowledge."
Tracy knew that distinctive voice, and her confidence soared and then called, "Vixen three loud and clear. Is that you, Don?"
"Yup, Tracy, you can't run away tonight."
Tracy exhaled a short sigh of relief. "What's the trouble on board?" she inquired.
"Bits and pieces, bits and pieces," came back the melodious reply, sung to the tune of the popular Dave Clark Five hit song of the time.
Tracy smiled again, her spirits lifting some more.
"That's a good one," remarked Kenny.
"I wonder how long Don's been waiting for the opportunity to project his 'dull wit' on us poor, innocent, trusting aviators. He owes us a few beers later tonight."
Tracy had a fleeting memory of recent nights spent with Don in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Penang. They were somewhat hazy memories—memories dimmed by a few strong alcoholic drinks after sharing a full bottle of Tracy's favorite Merlot during dinner before retiring to bed in a local hotel. She resisted her own desires at first, but then the urge and pent-up passion of neglected hormones could not be restrained. They exhausted themselves with what seemed like hours of passionate lovemaking, but in reality those "hours" were more likely measurable in minutes. However, nobody else knew, and they often exchanged covert smiles in passing at the bar or dining table in the wardroom, the officers' dining and recreation area.
"Vixen three, you are approaching the glide slope ... Now on the glide slope. Commence descent to maintain a three-degree glide slope approach. Acknowledge."
"Vixen three roger," acknowledged Tracy.
"Roger, Vixen three," was Don's professional, clear, and reassuring reply. "Do not acknowledge further instructions. You are now three miles from touchdown; you should be passing nine hundred feet.... Slightly left of the center line; correct three degrees right, steer one hundred ninety-one degrees.... Good steady approach, slightly above the glide slope; increase your rate of descent.... Now at two miles; you should be passing six hundred feet. The aircraft ahead is just about to touch down. Wind over the deck is twenty-six knots.... You are clear to land; acknowledge."
"Vixen three cleared to land," Tracy replied confidently.
"On the center line, one and a half miles from touchdown," Don continued. "Passing one mile and though three hundred feet, look ahead, call on sight, and acknowledge."
Tracy looked up and with relief, called, "Vixen 3, on sight."
She had made it. From here on it would be only seconds before she would feel the restraining jolt of the arrestor wire and the consequent need to throttle back from the full power setting she would apply upon feeling the violent jolt of landing.
Suddenly there was a blinding fireball only half a mile ahead. Large pieces of aircraft floated upward above the illuminated deck. Urgent calls flooded the radio, with screams of, "Crash on deck! Crash on deck! Power, power, over-shoot!" Bright red wave-off lights flashed, and a red rocket soared upward from beside the port projector sight into the confused sky. Tracy froze for a second.
"Power, power, add power," came Kenny's voice. When she did not respond, he bellowed, "Put the bloody power on!"
Tracy abruptly snapped out of her trance and responded with application of full power, pitched the aircraft up into a climb, and passed slightly above and to the left of the dying fireball. What had happened? Had Vixen 2 experienced a catastrophic ramp strike? Surely not, but in her heart Tracy knew that was the case. Had she lost yet another two friends on the same night that she would fight for her own and Kenny's life? Things were certainly not as expected, and oblivion might still lie ahead.
"Vixen three, I see you have overshot your approach. Climb straight ahead, clean up, and enter a left-hand hold two miles ahead," came Don's instructions. Somehow Don's steady voice calmed the situation, and Tracy responded.
"Vixen three roger," she answered, turning the aircraft toward the assigned waiting position.
Time seemed to stand still; even the silence seemed loud, and then an unfamiliar voice came over the radio.
"Vixen three, this is flight control." Tracy realized the ship's senior flying control officer had been brought in. "What is your fuel state?"
"Very low, five hundred pounds each side at the very most," replied Tracy. She knew the little remaining fuel was being gobbled up far too quickly even with the aircraft throttles backed off to barely maintain flying speed. Only three to four minutes remained before one or both jet engines flamed out.
"Didn't expect to make a Martin Baker let-down tonight," quipped Kenny, referring to the ejector seats both he and Tracy were strapped into.
Excerpted from The Search for Jacob's Pillow by H. David Brown Copyright © 2011 by H. David Brown. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. 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
ContentsChapter 1 THREE PECULIAR TOKENS....................1
Chapter 2 THE BRAVEST HEART....................37
Chapter 3 A CHINESE CONNECTION....................46
Chapter 4 THE BRUCE ASSERTION....................57
Chapter 5 A TOMB'S SECRET....................72
Chapter 6 CORROBORATION....................84
Chapter 7 COMING TOGETHER....................89
Chapter 8 A MARK REVEALED....................98
Chapter 9 THE FACE OF BRUCE....................107
Chapter 10 ANOTHER MASK....................117
Chapter 11 RING OF FAITH....................136
Chapter 12 COLOSSUS AND BERTHA....................143
Chapter 13 BERTHA'S RESPONSE....................150
Chapter 14 REVEALED MEMORIES....................159
Chapter 15 ANCIENT MAPS AND A WELCOME SIGN....................164
Chapter 16 AFFIRMATION....................182