“I couldn’t put it down! The author’s writing style is captivating.”
For the first time, Roy turns his writing skills to create one of the most romantic adventure stories ever told.
Jane Witlaw is a young woman living in Cornwall in the 1770’s. While out one night, and torn between feelings of hate and love for the man who jilted her, she comes across a party of wreckers luring a ship onto rocks. Fearful of being recognised, Jane moves through a series of adventures before falling in love with Mathew Appleton.
After sea bound incidents, Jane and Mathew marry and shortly arrive in Boston. Enthralled by new fashions and a vast array of shops, so different from those in her Cornish village, Jane sees the Americas as a haven.
However, taxes from the British government soon whirl up sentiments of rebellion in the colonies. Caught up in abductions, mysteries, intrigue and passion, Jane is faced with a decision that could change her life forever, and that of the future of her new country — America.
“A skilfully crafted adventure full of twists and turns, in which a tender love story is set against the backdrop of English smugglers, foreign pirates and the intrigue that harvested a revolution to create America. A beautifully told story with Du Maurier’s understanding of engineering suspense, bound to gather momentum.”
Irina Novitskaia. U.K.
“The Woman” conjures up all the love, passion and adventure of Gone with the Wind. Roy Andersen’s romantic novel takes the reader from Cornish smuggling, and high seas adventures into the turbulent time of the American Revolution. This book is a riveting page turner.”
Gwen Lavert. U.S.A.
‘Them that Ask no Questions, Them that Told no Lies’ – Smugglers’ Proverb
His shadow was always in her mind. Often, she would hate him, but then, when she felt the desire most to cause him pain, a sense of desperate need to feel his loving touch would torment her. Her body ached to be with him. How she longed to hear him call her name. Just once.
The wind picked up in the valley and the crashing of the waves on the rocks below brought her to her senses. She had been out too long and the day was turning to night. It was lonely where she was, and the thought that she might be watched caused her to search the trees for a figure. None were there, but how easily a tree could pass for a man when the mind played tricks. Still, it was late in the day and poachers would soon be about. It was not safe to come across a man who was stealing rabbits and could be hanged for it.
Jane shuddered with the thought and started to run. The path was a trail worn in the ground and in parts she felt she could slip, but she kept herself upright until she reached a low stone wall that barred her way. The wall was old and in parts broken. She tried to remember where the gap was by which she had come through earlier, but the darkness was beginning to fall fast now.
This stressed her and she felt a sense of worry. Not sure if she should go right or left, she chose the latter. Jane followed the wall for what seemed like hours, although in truth it was only minutes. She did not remember the stones she had to clamber over, nor the shallow ditch she had to take a long stride to cross. She cleared the ditch but did slip on the mud and felt her ankle twist as she fell down. She was angry with herself for staying out so late. It had only meant to be a short walk, but she had remembered the man she loved and how he had left her for another woman.
It was in the pain of her mind that time passed. Her mind and her heart fought each other and with all this pained confusion, she had wandered too far. Still, the pain of her ankle made her realise her situation now, and she realised she had taken the wrong direction at the wall. Leaning upon it, she pulled herself up until she was able to stand. It hurt, but not too much. She could limp and did so back along the way she had come. Now it was dark, but not too dark not to see her way. Time was slow now and it seemed to take a very long time to reach the path she had left. Although reach it she did, and with a sigh of relief moved along the wall towards the gap she now knew she would find. She lifted her skirt and felt a tear. The material was heavy, for now it had mud and the hem was wet. Still, all this could be mended. Jane reached the gap in the wall and was about to step over a large stone when something caught her eye.
It was a light down on the beach. Curious, she stopped to watch it. The curiosity pulled her away from the wall and careful not to stumble, she limped a few steps towards the edge of the cliff.
Yes. She was right. There were lights, She counted one, two, three, four. Strangely, they were all swinging in unison. She watched, puzzled as to why people should be behaving as such. Then, she noticed the lighthouse on Barney’s Rock was not working. She peered into the darkness, making sure her bearings were correct. Yes. There was the silhouette of Peter’s Peak to the right. The highest outcrop in the area. She looked again. Still there was no light coming from Barney’s Rock, but the lights down by the beach were still swinging in unison.
“Oh Mother of God! Wreckers!”
She had heard of such men. Cruel as pirates. They would lure a ship on to rocks with their false light and slaughter all on board, as they stole its cargo.
It was as this thought went through her mind that she saw a fleeting glimpse of something white out into the darkness of the sea. Jane peered to see if she could see something, anything out over the water. Nothing. She wondered if her eyes had deceived her. There it was again. Clearer now. A sail. It was a white sail. Not one, but a mast. Two masts of sails. All coming towards the lights on the beach.
She felt her heart pound. She gripped the knot of the shawl she wore and held it tight to her chest. She thought to cry out a warning to the ship, but held her breath. The crew would never hear her, but the wreckers would. She had heard of what they do to innocent people, and she had remembered hearing of some who were hung after the last assizes in Tregony. Jane watched the lights swing so slowly and so enticingly pull the ship and her crew closer and closer.
The wind seemed to rise up again from the valley, but the sound, a horrible sound of breaking wood far below, kept that of the wind from her ears. She saw the lights moving now. There were more of them, as they seemed to move into the water. There was a terrible tearing of wood as the ship bore itself upon the cruel rocks. She could see the masts clearer now and saw how they lay tilted to one side. Small images of people were moving about on the beach. She was terrified. Terrified for the sailors on board and terrified if the wreckers should ever know she saw what was happening.
There was a shuffle behind her, somewhere in the dark. Jane’s heart stopped. Her eyes opened wide. She turned but could see nothing.
“Hurry up!” the voice came in a hard whisper.
A tall figure moved out of the darkness. Jane stooped as low as she could manage without falling onto the ground. Her breathing now silent, though the sound of her heart beating felt like a church bell.
The figures moved along the side of the wall and did not look at her, only along the path they followed.
“Did Jimmy put the wagons where I told him?” The voice now lower, as the tall figure moved further into the darkness. Further, Jane knew, down towards the beach.
She did not hear the reply, but M’Lord, who was M’Lord? The thought that it might be Squire Morgan was too much and she dismissed it immediately. Squire Morgan was the local magistrate. A magistrate could not be a wrecker.
There was some shouting from the beach now and with this noise, Jane felt a little safer to move back towards the wall and through the gap she had long sought.
It was the cock crowing that woke her the next morning. She had left the scene last night as quickly as she could. There was nothing she could have done to save that poor crew and there was no-one she could have told that night. The way back to her home had gone so quickly with her mind on what she had seen. It was only the sound of her dog barking that made her give a sigh of relief as she approached the small cottage where she lived. But now, as she lay there in bed, her mind begin to question if anyone else had been out there in the shadows last night. Suppose there had been. Suppose she had dropped something. Her mind raced to think if she had had everything with her that she had left home with. Surely, she tried to comfort herself, if someone had seen her, they would have caught her, wouldn’t’t they? The thoughts were uncomfortable, and she moved to get away from them by getting out of bed. Better to do something than just to lie here with imagination, she thought.
Jane poured water into the bowl on the table and gently washed her face. She dressed, went down to the kitchen and felt a relief that Bobby was there. The dog rose from his basket and came to greet her. She bent down and felt the love of her dog lick her face. She stroked his head, stood up and went outside. It was chilly out here and she pulled her shawl more about her shoulders.
“Morning Ma’am.” It was a loud and rough voice that startled her.
Jane turned quickly to see a soldier standing at the gate. There were three of them. The one who had greeted her was a sergeant.
“Good morning, sergeant,” she replied, knowing full well why the soldiers were here.
“Did you see or hear anything last night Ma’am?” asked the sergeant, once she had turned to face him.
The thought to tell him what she saw moved to her mouth. The lips moved, but she bit them closed.
Wreckers were normal people in the day. They could be anyone. You would never know. They might even be one of the soldiers, although Jane knew this was unlikely. Still, they would have families, brothers, fathers, cousins. It was a small world in the little villages of Cornwall and no secret lasted longer than the time it took a man to drink a glass of grog.
The soldier was waiting. She could see he was in a hurry. Her mind lingered with the truth, but there was something about one of the other soldiers that disturbed her. It was this man she did not like. There was no reason for it, save a feeling. Just something inside that told her not to trust these men.
“No!” she replied. “Why, should I have done?”
The sergeant touched his hat in respect.
“Sorry to be disturbing you, Ma’am.” He turned and ordered the other two to move off.
She watched them grow smaller in the distance. It was good she did not say anything, she told herself, but what was it about that solider? A shudder moved through her. Jane turned and moved quickly back into the house, but inside, she suddenly felt vulnerable. She felt unsafe alone and needed the feel of other people about her. Other people, she thought, would distract her mind and make her feel safe. She just needed to get the feeling of that soldier out of her mind. Anyway, she had used up all the salted fish in her larder, so there was a good excuse to go down to the harbour in Port Warren and buy some fresh fish.
Jane brushed her hair, placed a new shawl about her shoulders, pinned a broad-rimmed but flat hat upon her head and, carrying a shallow basket under her left arm, stepped out into the fresh air. …….
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