06 August 2015
Excerpt Thursday: MARY DYER: FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS by Christy K. Robinson
This week, we're pleased to welcome author CHRISTY K. ROBINSON with her latest novel, Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This, the second in two volumes about the Dyers. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. The author will offer one autographed paperback edition to a US postal address, or one Kindle version to US and other countries. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's post or Sunday's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.
In the second of two volumes, Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This, Mary and William Dyer return to war-torn England and lay a foundation for liberty that resonates in the 21st century. Why did beautiful, wealthy Mary Dyer deliberately give up her six children, husband, and privileged lifestyle to suffer prison and death on the gallows?
**An Excerpt from Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This**
October 27, 1652
Will thought he hadn’t done badly at planning the day’s outing: a stroll from Henry Vane’s townhouse up to St. Martin-in-the-Fields to recall the day exactly nineteen years ago when he and Mary had been wed at the church doorway, and the same day the following year, when he’d buried their first child. He’d bought the midday meal at Covent Garden, including a bowl of exotic and expensive pineapple chunks, the fruit having been imported from South America via Portugal. He’d hired a boatman at Whitehall Stairs to take them on a sightseeing cruise on the Thames.
The barges and ferries, ships and small boats, were thick on the water’s edges, and boys with baskets of stinking lampreys picked through the muck for shellfish to supplement their catches that they’d peddle to cook shops.
His wife was nestled under his arm for pleasure, not because of the cold. There had been several terrific storms the last several weeks, and the Thames still ran muddy from flood runoff. This day was overcast and cool, and there was an occasional mist, but Mary was a native Londoner and took no notice. They pointed at landmarks like the Tower, St. Paul’s, and as they were paddled westward, the ducal palaces of Somerset, Durham, and York.
His wife seemed pensive and melancholy, and a song came to mind that he thought would lighten her mood. As he sang to her, she nestled closer into his coat and closed her eyes.
The water is wide, I cannot get o’er
Neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I.
A ship there is and she sails the sea
She’s loaded deep, as deep can be
But not so deep as the love I’m in
I know not if I sink or swim.
When cockle shells turn silver bells
Then will my love come back to me
When roses bloom in winter’s gloom
Then will my love return to me.
“You left some verses unsung,” Mary reminded him.
“They were too morbid. This is the anniversary of our wedding. We should be rejoicing.”
William changed the subject. “I’ve got my commission. In a few weeks I’ll be invested by the navy, and then I hope for the grant of ships to outfit and sail back to defend our waters.”
Mary squirmed, sat up straight, and spoke sharply. “This war on the Dutch, which began with greed for foreign ports, is only about money, and the power that money buys. You have money, honestly gained by your hard work. You have the money that I brought to our marriage from Uncle John and from my father and brother. Why isn’t that enough? Will, please, I’m begging you: don’t make war on innocent Dutch traders and farmers. Don’t make up charges so you can steal what they’ve gained by honest work. Go home, make just laws in the Assembly, and run the farm.”
He replied, “This situation is much larger than me and the farm, or even about our trade routes and ports. Privateering is an indispensable weapon of war, and as you know, the realm needs the prizes to finance the navy, thereby saving our own people from crippling taxes. It defends our liberties to trade and import what we need to feed our families.”
“Oh, it’s patriotism now?” she retorted. “War is noble and glorious when it’s not our English fathers and sons and breadwinners dying before cannon and musket shot, and it’s only the filthy, greedy foreigners who lose their lives and their women and children die of want.”
“Mary! Is this something you’ve learned from street preachers? Disloyalty to your country? Rebellion to proper authority? And yes, it is patriotism. The Dutch on Long Island have been caught supplying Indians with arms to kill English men and women. We’re not starting a war. The war has been forced upon us.”
Mary lowered her voice so the boatman wouldn’t hear. “Do you go so far as to call Oliver Cromwell ‘proper authority?’ I’ve never met George Fox, though I’ve listened to his followers and respect what they have to say about the peace of God, and making time and place to listen for his direction. If the Spirit speaks, I must obey, though men might call it rebellion.”
“Well, I’ve had enough of this uneducated rabble-rouser Fox, and the Seekers, and naked Familists, and so have you. I’ve spoken to a ship’s master about your passage back to Newport. There’s a ship that leaves the first week of December, and goes by way of Barbados, so you can have a holiday there while cargo is exchanged. Just think of palm trees and warm sand in January!” He smiled.
She crossed her arms. “I’m not ready to return.”
“How can you say that? You have six children who need their mother. Not to mention, your husband loves you and wants you home where you belong.”
“I’m staying in England for a while longer.”
“How much longer do you propose?”
“I don’t know, honestly.”
“If I allow you to stay—” at this, Mary glared at him, “what would I say to the children? Or anyone in Rhode Island? How do I explain a mother’s reluctance to return to her own home and children?”
“You can say that you weren’t willing to risk my safety while there’s a naval war raging, and privateers lurk in bays or under cover of fog banks to snatch away safety, security, and personal property. You can say that Rhode Island and Providence Plantations are in an uproar and can’t even govern their own affairs.”
“Sarcasm doesn’t become you, Mary. What is your real reason?”
“I’ve told you before, and my story won’t change because it’s the truth. God has called me to England for a time. He’s only shown me one step at a time on the path, and I don’t know the destination. But he’s put it in my heart that I should be here now, and he will reveal the time and circumstances of my journey here, and when it’s time to go back home.”
Will was silent for a few moments. “Sweetheart, you’ve plunged a sword in my heart. How can I fight for you when my adversary is God?”
About the Author
Christy K Robinson is the author of two biographical novels and three nonfiction books.
“The Dyers” book series (two biographical novels and a nonfiction companion) are linked to Amazon from her website, http://www.christykrobinson.com/book-author.html
For more (much more!) information on William and Mary Barrett Dyer, visit Christy’s Dyer blog, starting with its most popular article, Top Ten Things You May Not Know About Mary Dyer.