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Morgan's Runby Colleen Mccullough
August of 1775
October of 1784
"We are at war!" cried Mr. James Thiftlethwaite.
Every head save Richard Morgan's lifted and turned toward the door, where a bulky figure stood brandishing a sheet of flimsy. For a moment a pin might have been heard dropping, then a confused babble of exclamations erupted at every table in the tavern except for Richard Morgan's. Richard had paid the stirring announcement scant heed: what did war with the thirteen American colonies matter, compared to the fate of the child he held on his lap? Cousin James-the-druggist had inoculated the little fellow against the smallpox four days ago, and now Richard Morgan waited, agonized, to see if the inoculation would take.
"Come in, Jem, read it to us," said Dick Morgan, Mine Host and Richard's father, from behind his counter.
Though the noonday sun shone outside and light did diffuse through the bullioned panes of Crown glass in the windows of the Cooper's Arms, the large room was dim. So Mr. James Thistlethwaite strolled over to the counter and the rays of an oil lamp, the butt of a horse pistol protruding from each greatcoat pocket. Spectacles perched upon the end of his nose, he started to read aloud, voice rising and falling in dramatic cadences.
Some of what he said did penetrate the fog of Richard Morgan's worry — snatches, phrases only: "'in open and avowed rebellion...the utmost endeavors to suppress such rebellion, and bring the traitors to justice...'"
Feeling the contempt in his father's gaze, Richard genuinely tried to concentrate. But surely the fever was beginning? Was it? If so, then the inoculation was definitely taking. And if it did take, would William Henry be one of those who suffered the full disease anyway? Died anyway? Dear God, no!
Mr. James Thistlethwaite was arriving at his peroration. "'The die is now cast! The colonies must either submit or triumph!'" he thundered.
"What an odd way for the King to put it," said Mine Host.
"It sounds as if the King deems a colonial triumph possible."
"Oh, I doubt that very much, Dick. His speech writer — some scurvy undersecretary to his bum boy Lord Bute, I hazard a guess — is fascinated with the balances of rhetoric — ah?" This last word was accompanied by a gesture, forefinger pointing to mouth.
Mine Host grinned and ran a measure of rum into a small pewter mug, then turned to chalk a slash on the slate fixed to his wall.
"Dick, Dick! My news merits one on the house!"
"No it does not. We would have heard sooner or later." Mine Host leaned his elbows on his counter in the place where they had worn two slight depressions and stared at the armed and greatcoated Mr. Thistlethwaite — mad as a March hare! The summer's day was sweltering. "Seriously, Jem, it is not exactly a bolt from the blue, but these are shocking tidings all the same."
No other voice attempted to participate in their conversation; Dick Morgan stood well with his patrons, and Jem Thistlethwaite had long enjoyed a reputation as one of Bristol's more eccentric intellectuals. The patrons were quite content to listen as they imbibed the tipple of their choice — rum, gin, beer, Bristol milk.
The two Morgan wives were there to move about, pick up the empties and return them to Dick for refilling — and more slashes on the slate. It was nearly dinner time; the smell of new bread Peg Morgan had just brought in from Jenkins the baker was stealing through the other odors natural to a tavern adjacent to the Bristol quays at low tide. Most of the mixture of men, women and children present would remain to avail themselves of that same new bread, a pat of butter, a hunk of Somerset cheese, a steaming pewter platter of beef and potatoes swimming in rich gravy.
His father was glaring at him. Miserably aware that Dick despised him for a milksop, Richard searched for something to say. "I suppose we hoped," he said vaguely, "that none of the other colonies would stand by Massachusetts, having warned it that it was going too far. And did they truly think that the King would stoop to read their letter? Or, even if he had, yield to their demands? They are Englishmen! The King is their king too."
"Nonsense, Richard!" said Mr. Thistlethwaite sharply. "This obsessive concern for your child is fast addling your thinking apparatus! The King and his sycophantic ministers are bent on plunging our sceptered isle into disaster! Eight thousand tons of Bristol shipping sent back unloaded from the thirteen colonies in less than a year! That serge manufactory in Redcliff gone out of business and the four hundred souls it employed thrown upon the parish! Not to mention that place near the Port Wall which makes painted canvas carpets for Carolina and Georgia! The pipe makers, the soap makers, the bottle makers, the sugar and rum makers — for God's sake, man! Most of our trade is across the Western Ocean, and no mean part of that with the thirteen colonies! To go to war against the thirteen colonies is commercial suicide!"
"I see," said Mine Host, picking up the sheet of flimsy to squint at it, "that Lord North has issued a — a 'Proclamation for Suppressing Armed Rebellion.'"
"It is a war we cannot win," said Mr. Thistlethwaite, holding out his empty mug to Mag Morgan, hovering.
Richard tried again. "Come now, Jem! We have beaten France after seven years of war — we are the greatest and bravest country in the world! The King of England does not lose his wars."
"Because he fights them in close proximity to England, or against heathens, or against ignorant savages whose own rulers sell them. But the men of the thirteen colonies are, as ye rightly said, Englishmen. They are civilized and conversant with our ways. They are of our blood." Mr. Thistlethwaite leaned back, sighed, wrinkled the nobly grog-blossomed contours of his bulbous nose. "They deem themselves held light, Richard. Put upon, spat upon, looked down upon. Englishmen, yes, yet never quite the bona fide article. And they are a very long way away, which is a nettle the King and his ministers have grasped in utter ignorance. You might say that our navy wins our wars — how long is it since we stood or fell by a land army outside our own isles? Yet how can we win a sea war against a foe who has no ships? We will have to fight on land. Thirteen different bits of land, scarcely interconnected. And against a foe not organized to conduct himself in proper military mode."
"Ye've just shot down your own argument, Jem," said Mine Host, smiling but not reaching for his chalk as he handed a fresh mug of rum to Mag. "Our armies are first rate. The colonists will not be able to stand against them."
"I agree, I agree!" cried Jem, lifting his gratis rum in a toast to the landlord, who was rarely generous. "The colonists probably will never win a battle. But they do not need to win battles, Dick. All they need to do is to endure. For it is their land we will be fighting in, and it is not England." His hand went to the left pocket of his greatcoat; out came the massive pistol, down it went on the table with a crash, while the tavern's other occupants squealed and shrieked in terror — and Richard, his infant son on his lap, pushed its muzzle sideways so quickly that no one saw him move. The pistol, as everybody knew, was loaded. Oblivious to the consternation he had caused, Mr. Thistlethwaite burrowed into the depths of the pocket and produced some folded pieces of flimsy paper. These he examined one by one, his spectacles enlarging his pale blue and bloodshot eyes, his dark and curling hair escaping from the ribbon with which he had carelessly tied it back — no wigs or queues for Mr. James Thistlethwaite.
"Ah!" he exclaimed finally, flourishing a London news sheet. "Seven and a half months ago, ladies and gentlemen of the Cooper's Arms, there was a great debate in the House of Lords, during which that grand old man, William Pitt the Earl of Chatham, gave what is said to be his greatest oration. In defense of the colonists. But it is not Chatham's words thrill me," continued Mr. Thistlethwaite, "it is the Duke of Richmond's, and I quote: 'You may spread fire and desolation, but that will not be government!' How true, how very true! Now comes the bit I judge one of the great philosophical truths, though the Lords snored as he said it: 'No people can ever be made to submit to a form of government they say they will not receive.'"
He stared about, nodding. "That is why I say that all the battles we will win can be of no use and can have little effect upon the outcome of the war. If the colonists endure, they must win." His eyes twinkled as he folded the paper, shoved the quire or so back into his pocket, and jammed the horse pistol on top of them. "You know too much about guns, Richard, that is your trouble. The child was not endangered, nor any of the other folk here." A rumble commenced in his throat and vibrated through his pursed lips. "I have lived in this stinking cesspool called Bristol for all of my life, and I have alleviated the monotony by making some of our festering Tory sores in government the object of my lampoons, from Quaker to Shaker to Kingmaker." He waved his battered tricorn hat at his audience and closed his eyes. "If the colonists endure, they must win," he repeated. "Anybody who lives in Bristol has made the acquaintance of a thousand colonists — they flit about the place like bats in the last light. The death of Empire, Dick! It is the first rattle in our English throats. I have come to know the colonists, and I say they will win."
A strange and ominous sound began to percolate in from outside, a sound of many angry voices; the distorted shapes of passersby flickering unhurriedly across the windows suddenly became blurs moving at a run.
"Rioters!" Richard was getting to his feet even as he handed the child to his wife. "Peg, straight upstairs with William Henry! Mum, go with them." He looked at Mr. Thistlethwaite. "Jem, do you intend to fire with one in either hand, or will you give me the second pistol?"
"Leave be, leave be!" Dick emerged from behind his counter to reveal himself a close physical counterpart to Richard, taller than most, muscular in build. "This end of Broad Street does not see rioters, even when the colliers came in from Kingswood and snatched old man Brickdale. Nor does it when the sailors go on the rampage. Whatever is going on, it is not a riot." He crossed to the door. "However, I am of a mind to see what is afoot," he said, and disappeared into the running throng. The occupants of the Cooper's Arms followed him, including Richard and Jem Thistlethwaite, his horse pistols still snug in his greatcoat pockets.
People were boiling everywhere at street level, people leaned from every penthouse with necks craning; not a stone of the flagged road could be seen, nor a single slab of the new pedestrian pavement down either side of Broad Street. The three men pushed into the crush and moved with it toward the junction of Wine and Corn Streets — no, these were not rioters. These were affluent, extremely angry gentlemen who carried no women or children with them.
On the opposite side of Broad Street and somewhat closer to the hub of commerce around the Council House and the Exchange stood the White Lion Inn, headquarters of the Steadfast Society. This was the Tory club, source of much encouragement to His Britannic Majesty King George III, whose men they were to the death. The center of the disturbance was the American Coffee House next door, its sign the red-and-white flag of many stripes most American colonists used as a general banner when the flag of Connecticut or Virginia or some other colony was not appropriate.
"I believe," said Dick Morgan, on fruitless tiptoe, "that we would do better to go back to the Cooper's Arms and watch from the penthouse."
So back they went, up the shaky crumbling stairs at the inner end of the counter and thus eventually to the casement windows which leaned perilously far out over Broad Street below. In the back room little William Henry was crying, his mother and grandmother bent over his cot cooing and clucking; the hubbub outside held no interest for Peg or Mag while William Henry displayed such terrible grief. Nor did the hubbub tempt Richard, joining the women.
"Richard, he will not perish in the next few minutes!" snapped Dick from the front room. "Come here and see, damn ye!"
Richard came, but reluctantly, to lean out the gaping window and gasp in amazement. "Yankeys, Father! Christ, what are they doing to the things?"
"Things" they certainly were: two rag effigies stuffed quite professionally with straw, tarred all over with pitch still smoking, and encrusted with feathers. Except for their heads, upon which sat the insignia of colonists — their abysmally unfashionable but very sensible hats, brim turned down all the way around so that the low round crown sat like the yolk blister in the middle of a fried egg.
"Holloa!" bellowed Jem Thistlethwaite, spying a well-known face belonging to a well-known, expensively suited body, the whole perched upon a geehoe sledge loaded with tall barrels. "Master Harford, what goes?"
"The Steadfast Society saith it hangeth John Hancock and John Adams!" the Quaker plutocrat called back.
"What, because General Gage refused to extend his pardon to them after Concord?"
"I know not, Master Thistlethwaite." Clearly terrified that he too would be lampooned in some highly uncomplimentary way, Joseph Harford descended from his vantage point and melted into the crowd.
"Hypocrite!" said Mr. Thistlethwaite under his breath.
"Samuel Adams, not John Adams," said Richard, his interest now fairly caught. "Surely it would be Samuel Adams?"
"If the richest merchants in Boston are whom the Steadfast Society mean to hang, then yes, it ought to be Samuel. But John writes and speaks more," said Mr. Thistlethwaite.
In a nautically oriented city, the production of two ropes efficiently tied into hangman's knots did not present a difficulty; two such magically appeared, and the stark, bristly, man-sized dolls were hoisted by their necks to the signpost of the American Coffee House, there to turn lazily and smolder sluggishly. Rage spent, the throng of Steadfast Society men vanished through the welcoming, Tory-blue doors of the White Lion Inn.
"Tory pricks!" said Mr. Thistlethwaite, descending the stairs with a nice mug of rum uppermost in his mind.
"Out, Jem!" said Mine Host, bolting the door until he could be sure the disturbance was definitely over.
Richard had not followed his father downstairs, though duty said he ought; his name was now joined to Dick's in the official Corporation books. Richard Morgan, victualler, had paid the fine and become an accredited Free Man, a vote-empowered citizen of a city which was in itself a county distinct from Gloucestershire and Somersetshire surrounding it, a citizen of a city which was the second-largest in all of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Of the 50,000 souls jammed within its bounds, only some 7,000 were vote-empowered Free Men.
"Is it taking?" Richard asked his wife, and leaning over the cot; William Henry had quietened, seemed to doze uneasily.
"Yes, my love." Peg's soft brown eyes suddenly filled with tears, her lips trembling. "Now is the time to pray, Richard, that he does not suffer the full pox. Though he does not burn the way Mary did." She gave her husband a gentle push. "Go for a good long walk. You may pray and walk. Go on! Please, Richard. If you stay, Father will growl."
A peculiar lethargy had descended upon Broad Street as a result of the panic which seemed to wing citywide in minutes whenever riots threatened. Passing the American Coffee House, Richard stopped for a moment to contemplate the dangling effigies of John Hancock and John/Samuel Adams, his ears assailed by the fitful roars of laughter and spleen originating among the dining ranks of the Steadfast Society inside the White Lion. His lips curled in faint contempt; the Morgans were staunch Whigs whose votes had contributed to the success of Edmund Burke and Henry Cruger at the elections last year — what a circus they had been! And how miffed Lord Clare had been when he polled hardly a vote!
Walking swiftly now, Richard strode along Corn Street past John Weeks's fabulous Bush Inn, headquarters of the Whig Union Club. From there he cut north up Small Street and emerged onto the Key at the Stone Bridge. The vista spread southward was extraordinary. It looked as if a very wide street had been filled with ships in skeletal rigging, just masts and yards and stays and shrouds above their beamy oaken bellies. Of the river Froom wherein they actually sat, nothing could be seen because of those ships in their multitudes, patiently waiting out the days of their twenty weeks' turnaround.
The tide had reached its ebb and was beginning to flood in again at a startling rate: the level of the water in both the Froom and the Avon rose thirty feet in around six and a half hours, then fell thirty. At the ebb the ships lay upon the foetid mud, which sloped steeply and tipped them sideways on their beams; at the flood, the ships rode afloat, as ships were built to do. Many a keel had hogged and buckled at the strain of lying sideways on Bristol mud.
Richard's mind, once over its instinctive reaction to that wide avenue of ships, returned to its rut.
Lord God, hear my prayer! Keep my son safe. Do not take my son from me and from his mother...
He was not his father's only son, though he was the elder; his brother, William, was a sawyer with his own business down along the St. Philip's bank of the Avon near Cuckold's Pill and the glasshouses, and he had three sisters all satisfactorily married to Free Men. There were nests of Morgans in several parts of the city, but the Morgans of Richard's clan — perhaps emigrants from Wales in long ago times — had been resident for enough generations to have gained some standing; indeed, clan luminaries like Cousin James-the-druggist headed significant enterprises, belonged to the Merchant Venturers and the Corporation, gave hefty donations to the poorhouses, and hoped one day to be Mayor.
Richard's father was not a clan luminary. Nor was he a clan disgrace. After some elementary schooling he had served his time as an apprentice victualler, then, certificated and a Free Man who had paid his fine, he struggled toward the goal of keeping his own tavern. A socially acceptable marriage had been arranged for him; Margaret Biggs came from good farming stock near Bedminster and enjoyed the cachet of being able to read, though she could not write. The children, commencing with a girl, came along at intervals too frequent to render the grief of losing an occasional child truly unbearable. When Dick learned sufficient control to withdraw before ejaculating, the children ceased at two living sons, three living daughters. A good brood, small enough to make providing for them feasible. Dick wanted at least one fully literate son, and centered his hopes on Richard when it became apparent that William, two years younger, was no scholar.
So when Richard turned seven he was enrolled at Colston's School for Boys and donned the famous blue coat which informed Bristolians that his father was poor but respectable, staunchly Church of England. And over the course of the next five years literacy and numeracy were drummed into him. He learned to write a fair hand, do sums in his head, plod through Caesar's Gallic War, Cicero's speeches, and Ovid's Metamorphoses, stimulated by the acid sting of the caneand the caustic bite of the master's comments. Since he was a good though not shining scholar and owned into the bargain a quiet attractiveness, he survived the late Mr. Colston's philanthropic institution better than most, and got more out of it.
At twelve, it was time to leave and espouse a trade or craft in keeping with his education. Much to the surprise of his relations, he went in a different direction than any Morgan thus far. Among his chief assets was a talent for things mechanical, for putting together the pieces of a puzzle; and allied to that was a patience truly remarkable in one so young. Of his own choice, he was apprenticed to Senhor Tomas Habitas the gunsmith.
This decision secretly pleased his father, who liked the idea of the Morgans' producing an artisan rather than a tradesman. Besides which, war was a part of life, and guns a part of war. A man who could make and mend them was unlikely to become cannon fodder on a battlefield.
For Richard, the seven years of his apprenticeship were a joy when it came to the work and the learning, even if a trifle on the cheerless side when it came to physical comfort. Like all apprentices, he was not paid, lived in his master's house, waited on him at his table, dined off the scraps, and slept on the floor. Luckily Senhor Tomas Habitas was a kind master and a superb gunsmith. Though he could make gorgeous dueling pistols and sporting guns, he was shrewd enough to realize that in order to prosper in those areas he must needs be a Manton, and a Manton he could not be outside of London. So he had settled for making the military musket known affectionately to every soldier and marine as "Brown Bess," all 46 inches of her — be they wood of stock or steel of barrel — brown as a nut.
At nineteen Richard was certificated and moved out of the Habitas household, though not out of the Habitas workshop. There he continued, a master craftsman now, to make Brown Bess. And he married, something he was not allowed to do while an apprentice. His wife was the child of his mother's brother and therefore his own first cousin, but as the Church of England had no objection to that, he wed his bride in St. James's church under the auspices of Cousin James-of-the-clergy. Though arranged, it had been a love match, and the couple had only fallen more deeply in love as the years rolled on. Not without some difficulties of nomenclature, for Richard Morgan, son of Richard Morgan and Margaret Biggs, had taken another Margaret Biggs to wife.
While the Habitas gunsmithy had thrived that had not been so awkward, for the young pair lived in a two-roomed rented apartment on Temple Street across the Avon, just around the corner from the Habitas workshop and the Jewish synagogue.
The marriage had taken place in 1767, three years after the Seven Years' War against France had been concluded by an unpopular peace; heavily in debt despite victory, England had to increase her revenues by additional taxes and decrease the cost of her army and navy by massive retrenchments. Guns were no longer necessary. So one by one the Habitas artisans and apprentices disappeared until the establishment consisted of Richard and Senhor Tomas Habitas himself. Then finally, just after the birth of little Mary in 1770, Habitas was reluctantly obliged to let Richard go.
"Come and work for me," Dick Morgan had said cordially. "Guns may come and go, but rum is absolutely eternal."
It had answered very well, despite the problem with names. Richard's mother had always been known as Mag and Richard's wife as Peg, two diminutives for Margaret. The real trouble was that save for quirky Protestant Dissenters who christened their male progeny "Cranfield" or "Onesiphorus," almost every male in England was John, William, Henry, Richard, James or Thomas, and almost every female was Ann, Catherine, Margaret, Elizabeth or Mary. One of the few customs which embraced every class from highest to lowest.
Peg, deliciously cuddly and willing Peg, turned out not to conceive easily. Mary was her first pregnancy, nearly three years after she had married, and it was not for want of trying. Naturally both parents had hoped for a son, so it was a disappointment when they had to find a girl's name. Richard's fancy lighted upon Mary, not common in the clan and (as his father said frankly) a name with a papist taint to it. No matter. From the moment in which he took his newborn daughter into his arms and gazed down on her in awe, Richard Morgan discovered in himself an ocean of love as yet unexplored. Perhaps because of his patience, he had always liked and gotten on famously with children, but this had not prepared him for what he felt when he beheld little Mary. Blood of his blood, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh.
Thus his new trade of victualler suited Richard far more than gunsmithing now that he had a child; a tavern was a family business, a place wherein he could constantly be with his daughter, see her with her mother, watch the miracle of Peg's beautiful breast serve as a cushion for the babe's head while the tiny mouth worked at getting milk. Nor did Peg stint her milk, terrified of the day when Mary would have to be weaned from the breast on to small beer. No water for a Bristol child, any more than for a London one! There was not much intoxicant in small beer, but it did have some. Those babes put to it too young, said Peg the farmer's daughter (echoed by Mag), always grew up to be drunkards. Though not prone to espouse women's ideas, Dick Morgan, veteran of forty years in the tavern business, heartily concurred. Little Mary was over two years old before Peg commenced to wean her.
They had run the Bell then, Dick's first tavern of his own. It was in Bell Lane and part of the tortuous complex of tenements, warehouses and underground chambers in control of Cousin James-the-druggist, who shared the south side of the narrow alley with the equally rambling premises of the American woolbrokering firm of LewsleyandCo. It must be added that Cousin James-the-druggist had a splendid shop for local retail on Corn Street; he made most of his money, however, in manufacturing and exporting drugs and chemical compounds from corrosive sublimate of mercury (used to treat syphilitic chancres) to laudanum and other opiates.
When the license of the Cooper's Arms around the corner on Broad Street had come up last year, Dick Morgan had leaped at it. A tavern on Broad Street! Why, even after paying the Corporation £21 a year in rent, the proprietor of a tavern on Broad Street could not help but see a profit of £100 a year! It had answered well, as the Morgan family was not afraid of hard work, Dick Morgan never watered down his rum and gin, and the food available at dinner time (around noon) and supper time (around six) was excellent. Mag was a splendid cook of plain food, and all the petty regulations dating from the time of Good Queen Bess which hedged a Bristol tavern-keeper around — no bread to be baked on the premises, no animals killed to avoid buying from a butcher — were, thought Dick Morgan, actually benefits. If a man paid his bills on time, he could always get special terms from his wholesalers. Even when things were hard.
I wish, God, said Richard to that invisible Being, that Thou wert not so cruel. For Thy wrath so often seems to fall upon those who have not offended Thee. Preserve my son, I pray...
Around him on its heights and marshes the city of Bristol swam in a sea of gritty smoke, the spires of its many churches wellnigh hidden. The summer had been an unusually hot and dry one, and this August ending had seen no relief. The leaves of the elms and limes on College Green to the west and Queen Square to the south looked tired and faded, stripped of gloss and glitter. Chimneys gouted black plumes everywhere — the foundries in the Friers and Castle Green, the sugar houses around Lewin's Mead, Fry's chocolate works, the tall cones of the glasshouses and the squatter lime kilns. If the wind were not in the west, this atmospheric inferno received additional fugs from Kingswood, a place no Bristolian voluntarily went. The coal-fields and the massive metalworks upon them bred a half-savage people quick to anger and possessed of an abiding hatred for Bristol. No wonder, given the hideous fumes and wretched damps of Kingswood.
He was moving now into real ship's territory: Tombs's dry dock, another dry dock, the reek of hot pitch, the unwaled ships abuilding looking like the rib cages of gargantuan animals. In Canon's Marsh he took the rope walk through the marsh rather than the soggy footpath which meandered along the Avon's bank, nodding to the ropemakers as they walked their third-of-a-mile inexorably twisting the hempen or linen strands, already twisted at least once, into whatever was the order of the day — cables, hawsers, lines. Their arms and shoulders were as corded as the rope they wound, their hands so hardened that all feeling had left them — how could they find pleasure in a woman's skin?
Past the single glasshouse at the foot of Back Lane, past a cluster of lime kilns, and so to the beginnings of Clifton. The stark bulk of Brandon Hill rose in the background, and before him in a steep tumble of wooded hills going down to the Avon was the place of which he dreamed. Clifton, where the air was clear and the dells and downs rippled shivers as the wind ruffled maidenhair and eyebright, heath in purple flower, marjoram and wild geraniums. The trees sparkled, ungrimed, and there were glimpses of the huge mansions which stood in their little parks high up — Manilla House, Goldney House, Cornwallis House, Clifton Hill House...
He wanted desperately to live in Clifton. Clifton folk were not consumptive, did not sicken of the flux or the malignant quinsy, the fever or the smallpox. That was as true of the humble folk in the cottages and rude shelters along the Hotwells road at the bottom of the hills as it was of the haughty folk who strolled outside the pillared majesty of their palaces aloft. Be he a sailor, a ropemaker, a shipwright's journeyman or a lord of the manor, Clifton folk did not sicken and die untimely. Here one might keep one's children.
Mary, who used to be the light of his life. She had, they said, his grey-blue eyes and waving blackish hair, her mother's nicely shaped nose, and the flawless tan skin both her parents owned. The best of both worlds, Richard used to say, laughing, the little creature cuddled to his chest with her eyes — his eyes — upturned to his face in adoration. Mary was her dadda's girl, no doubt of it; she could not get enough of him, nor he of her. Two people glued together, was how the faintly disapproving Dick Morgan had put it. Though busy Peg had simply smiled and let it happen, never voicing to her beloved Richard her knowledge that he had usurped a part of the child's affections due to her, the mother. After all, did it matter from whom the love came, provided there was love? Not every man was a good father, and most were too quick to administer a beating. Richard never lifted a hand.
The news of a second pregnancy had thrilled both parents: a three-year gap was a worry. Now they would have that boy!
"It is a boy," said Peg positively as her belly swelled. "I am carrying this one differently."
The smallpox broke out. Time out of mind, every generation had lived with it; like the plague, its mortality rate had slowly waned, so that only the most severe epidemics killed many. The faces one saw in the streets often bore the disfiguring craters of pock marks — a shame, but at least the life had been spared. Dick Morgan's face was slightly pock marked, but Mag and Peg had had the cowpox as girls, and never succumbed. Country superstition said that the cowpox meant no smallpox. So as soon as Richard had turned five, Mag
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