The Ropewalk series #2
Beacon Hill, Boston. 1832.
“You are innocent. You are loved. You are mine.”
After surviving the brutal attack and barely escaping death at Lancaster Castle, Beatrice Mason attempts to build a new life with her husband Joshua across the Atlantic in Beacon Hill. But, as Beatrice struggles to cope with the pregnancy and vivid nightmares, she questions whether she is worthy of redemption.
Determined to put the past behind her after the birth of her daughter Grace, Bea embraces her newfound roles of motherhood and being a wife. Nevertheless, when she meets Sarah Bateman, their friendship draws Bea towards the underground railroad and the hidden abolitionist movement, despite the dangerous secrets it poses. Whilst concealed in the shadows, Captain Victor Hanley returns, obsessed with revenge and the desire to lay claim to what is his, exposes deceptions and doubts as he threatens their newly established happiness.
Now, Beatrice must find the strength to fight once more and save Grace, even if it costs her life.
May 1832, Beacon Hill, Boston
Bea stood in the kitchen, picking herbs from the small clay pots dotted along the windowsill. How she wished they had a small garden, enough space to grow a few vegetables and flowers. The back of the house had a little yard, with two clotheslines for their servant Sarah to use next to the washhouse, but the walls were too high for any sun to last more than an hour, and the plants she had tried to grow lay dead in the larger clay tubs dotted around the hard ground.
You could have fitted the ground floor of her family home into this kitchen as it stretched half the length of the house. There was a backdoor which lead to the yard, and cupboards filled with pans, tins and umpteen dinner sets to host endless dinner parties. In the centre was a large, beaten-up wooden table with four chairs pushed neatly underneath. Bea loved the table, and cooking dinner off it reminded her of her Granda’s one in her family home in England. She chopped up some carrots and onions, and laid them roughly on the bottom of the roasting pan, then stuffed the mixture of fat, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, sage, thyme and a few sprigs of rosemary into the small chicken and placed it jauntily on top. Finally, she rubbed a small nob of butter across the skin and finished with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. The spices and seasonings were such a luxury to her. She never became tired of lifting the lids of each small but precious pot and daintily spooning out a pinch of the magic substances for every meal.
Across the table, Sarah leaned against a wooden stool in her simple tailored dress of golden yellow, the same as the colour of the flowers on the gorge bush, with an apron wrapped around her waist. Sown together from the remains of an old dress and a bunch of white Dogwood embroiled in the corner stood peeling the potatoes over a small tin bucket. Her head was wrapped in an astonishing. colourful scarf, to the likes Bea had never seen before, tied with a knot on top. Sarah’s foot tapped the stone slabs in time to the humming tune and got lost in her tasks. Bea listened to her low tunes as she worked; this one was a melody she hadn’t heard before. She would sometimes ask what the song was about, but: “Jus’ an old work song, Mistress,” would be all she received, and then silence. The baby that afternoon was full of excitement, shifting around in her belly, annoyed with the lack of space it now had to endure. It was less than two months until the birth, and Bea still wasn’t ready to welcome it into the world. She had been putting off preparing the nursery, falling in love with the tiny wriggling person inside her, but painfully afraid to look into its face and see Hanley staring back.
Across the kitchen, Sarah knocked over the tin pail as she turned to fetch more potatoes, and a loud crash bounced off the walls. Bea instinctively grabbed the chopping knife again and crouched low to the floor behind the nearest leg of the table, turning pale, her breathing rapid.
“Mistress – mistress – ‘was only me; I knocked the pale to the ground. Mistress?” Sarah crouched down next to her and teased the knife out of her shaking hand, placing it on the table. “Mistress, let’s get you to a seat, hmm?” Sarah helped Bea to rise and guided her to a chair by the warm stove. She picked up a small glass tumbler and poured some water out of the jug, and handing it to her carefully. Bea sat in silence as the colour slowly returned to her cheeks. She rubbed the wiggling bump, repeating the usual soothing series of words in her head.
“Thank you, Sarah, I’ll be alright now. It just took me by surprise, that’s all.” She put the glass down on the table and twisted and spun the piece of lace wrapped around her left wrist.
Red and white lines embedded into her skin came through the delicate tiny flowers and leaves, fraying at the edges.
“Yes, Mistress.” Sarah stood to walk back to the spilt potatoes and picked up the handful of skins darted across the floor. She paused. “Mistress, may I speak freely?”
“Of course, you can.”
“Since workin’ for you and Mr Mason, there has been a shadow hangin’ over you. I have watched you take many a wicked spell, turnin’ white as a ghost, wid’ your body shakin’. There is what we call a demon – tormentin’ you. I do not ask to know whad’ that demon is, it is not my place. But I do fear for you mistress – I fear that if you do not find yo’ peace and expel this demon from yo’ mind – learn to live wid’ what has happened to you, then I fear one day it might consume you – and the baby.”
“I thank you for your words, Sarah, but… we- well, we all have demons from our past we do not wish to talk about, do we not?” Bea twisted the lace wrapped around her left wrist until it became a rope coursing against her pearly white line. Her heart slowed to a steady beat, the thread between her fingers.
Bea gazed at Sarah’s dark honey-toned skin, knowing that her own journey in life would most likely have been less than simple, and wondered, just for a moment, how she came to Boston. It was possible she had been born a free woman, but equally likely that she hailed from somewhere else, and had faced hardship to find her place at this table. She guessed the woman in front of her would have her own demons to face, and yet they didn’t seem to bring her down to her knees. She, on the other hand, crumbled in seconds over a fallen tin pail. She felt like a coward, brimming with guilt, unable to control herself.
Sarah nodded. “We do, mistress.” Then she carried on with the potatoes calmly, as though nothing had happened, tapping her foot to a rhythm.
Bea felt the heat off the flames and sipped at her water, repeating the familiar lines in her head and stroked the protruding shape of the baby’s bottom.
“Sarah, would you mind finishing the rest of the dinner? I want to lie down before Joshua comes home. This little one had me up again at all hours last night.”
“Of course, mistress.”
“Thank you, Sarah.”
Bea slowly raised herself from the chair and waddled out of the kitchen into the tall hallway. They painted the walls in an elegant off-white colour that stretched up to the high ceiling, covered in strangers, and places she has never been to, rented images which had come with the house. She made her way to the stairs and climbed slowly. The simple task of walking upstairs became more difficult with each passing day as the baby grew. The scant breath became harder as the baby pressed up against her lungs. She felt as though she were back home, climbing the fells, instead of a couple flights of stairs up to her own bedroom. Relieved to get to the top, she made her way through the door and towards a small wooden chest. She lifted the lid and was greeted by a ruby red cushion and long pearly white threads with bobbins at the ends. After a month of unfamiliarity in Boston, Joshua had sourced out a little haberdashery shop and brought her enough supplies to start her lace-making again. He had meant it as a helpful distraction, but it only reminded her of what she had lost through the naivety and wilfulness of her own actions. She hid it out of sight and out of mind. But then, as she slowly bonded with her unborn baby, she had developed a notion to create some tiny pieces of lace that she could attach to the baby’s clothing. A simple gift from mother to baby; at least some small token of love. Her fingers started moving in and out as though they had never stopped, and in a few days, she needed more supplies.
Copyright: H D Coulter
Saving Grace: Deception. Obsession. Redemption.
Thank you, H D Coulter and The Coffee Pot Book Club
About the Author
Hayley was born and raised in the lake district and across Cumbria. From a young age, Hayley loved learning about history, visiting castles and discovering local stories from the past. Hayley and her partner lived in Ulverston for three years and spent her weekends walking along the Ropewalk and down by the old harbour. She became inspired by the spirit of the area and stories that had taken place along the historic streets.
As a teacher, Hayley had loved the art of storytelling by studying drama and theatre. The power of the written word, how it can transport the reader to another world or even another time in history. But it wasn’t until living in Ulverston did she discover a story worth telling. From that point, the characters became alive and she fell in love with the story.
Sign up to Hayley’s newsletter between now and May 30th to be placed into a giveaway raffle for a personalised BookBox, including a signed copy of Ropewalk and Saving Grace.
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08YWBZRQY
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08YWBZRQY
Universal Link to other bookshops: https://books2read.com/u/38QrBV
Book #1 Ropewalk; Rebellion. Love. Survival on promotion during the tour at 0.99
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08MKZW4S5
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08MKZW4S5
Universal Link to other bookshops: https://books2read.com/u/bxjlQd