I ARISE FROM my bed with a sense of dread. Something troubles me, but I know not what. A shaft of silver moonlight crosses the woven mat on my wooden floorboards, giving me enough light to find my shawl, and I walk out the door. My two little ones are sleeping soundly, and I pass unheard and unseen over the landing.
My bare feet take me to the narrow wooden stairs and I descend into the oak-beamed hallway. My way is clear and I feel drawn to the garden door, trying to remember what it is that alarms me. I sense that there is danger nearby, and go in search of my husband, James, the innkeeper at this place, the Maybush in Newbridge. I pass through the barred door into an enclosed garden and hear the distant sound of men fighting. The Roundheads have come to take the bridge.
I am drawn towards the sound. Clashing of swords, cries and curses assail my ears. We live in dangerous times, in this year of our lord, 1644. I hear my husband’s voice. I must go to him. I close my eyes and feel the cool night breeze play with my hair, a tickling sensation on my neck. I curse Cromwell’s thugs, tearing at the heart and soul of merry England, bringing terror to simple God-fearing folk.
A shiver runs through me as I pass through the solid wall and find myself outside on the pathway above the river. I see my husband on the bridge – he is fighting desperately but is overwhelmed by greater numbers. He falls, and two men are upon him, cutting and slashing with their swords. Through his dying eyes he sees me, and a look of sorrow, regret, helplessness is conveyed to me in that briefest of moments.
Then he is still. I cry out. The two men are upon me. I am too terrified to move. They seize me roughly by the arms and drag me past the blood-soaked body of my dearly beloved, onto the bridge over the river. One of the villainous Roundheads, stinking of sour ale, tells me: “You and your husband have harboured Cavaliers at your inn and plotted against our leader, Master Cromwell. Now you will pay with your life – a death to all Papists!”
With that, he drew his knife across my throat and I swooned, feeling my warm blood spill down the front of my nightgown. “Oh God, dear Jesus, receive me,” I mutter as I fall down, down spinning silently into the dark murky waters of the Thames.
A curse on these lowly wretches who see a chance for self-advancement in chaos! But my last thought is for my children. What will happen to my beloved Geoffrey and sweet Annabelle? I must search for them. The cold waters envelope me and a silver ribbon lights the way to my watery grave.