Sherry Ann Miller
"writer of miracles"
Books coming in 2007:
coming in April 2007
coming in April 2007
coming in August 2007
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The Refiner's Gift coming in 2007
Scottish Legend coming in 2007
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Mama's Lemon Pie online version
Search for the Bark Warwick
Beginning with the stowaway who interrupts and changes John’s life forever, and concluding with John’s desperate search for his captive son, Thomas, this historical novel, based loosely on a true story, is a stirring tale of surprise, compassion, love and tenacious devotion to family. The story of a genuine hero in 1630's England, Search for the Bark Warwick will keep you on the edge of your seat, and leave you begging for more.
Granite Publishing ISBN# 1-932280-33-2
Search for the Bark Warwick
The cold March fog penetrated Rebecca’s long, hooded cloak, making the thick, green velvet damp and heavy. Her back ached fiercely, as though she’d been splayed with a hot iron straight from the fire, but the pain could not match the fervor of determination that coursed through her. Refusing to acknowledge her own agony, she continued the journey, her feet throbbing from the distance she’d walked, which she judged roughly at over eight miles. If the fog didn’t impede her progress, the blackness of night could.
Rebecca had not been drawn to the Chatham dockyards for commerce or trade, for she had nothing to sell and no money with which to purchase. Her only purpose was to escape. Her only plan was the hope stirring within her heart and the prayers whispered in her hours of desperation, as she begged the Lord God to help her find safety from her persecutor aboard the bark Warwick. Now that night had fallen, wrapping the sleeping city in a cloak of darkness, she prayed that she would be able to find her way to the square-rigged sailing vessel without being discovered.
Her blonde hair, once neatly coiled at the nape of her neck, came loose in tendril curls that dangled out from beneath the hood, framing her face and wisping across her eyes as she hurried down the alleyways and dark streets of Chatham, hiding in doorframes of buildings whenever she heard any sounds nearby. She pulled the locks of hair away from her face and felt the flush of fever upon her forehead, but even this she disregarded.
Then she heard footsteps quickly drumming toward her on the cobblestone street. Rebecca nearly panicked. Stepping into the shadow of an alley, she breathed silently, praying for God’s mercy.
She would never go back to Blackwell Tower now. Never!
Even a watery grave seemed welcome rather than face what lay in store for her if she remained in Chatham, especially now that her father was dead. He’d turned forty-seven years old last week, yet Jeremiah Webster should have lived to see sixty. Easily! He’d been in perfect health until his imprisonment. Rebecca shuddered and forced the tears back. Her father was dead . . . dead at the whim of Edward Blackwell, one of the wickedest men she had ever met. Sir Edward Blackwell III . . . the man to whom she was betrothed.
The sound of footsteps came ever closer to her and she held her breath. Ten seconds, twenty, thirty. Then the sound diminished in the impenetrable fog, leaving Rebecca alone once again. She sighed in relief and waited a few more minutes in the black, misty silence.
Hefting the awkward garment bags in both hands, she resumed her journey, making slow, but soundless progress. Inhaling deeply, her nostrils caught the faint fragrance of tar and timber, mixed with the savory scent of the sea and she knew that she didn’t have much farther to go before she reached the wharf.
Just a few more steps and she would arrive at the Chatham dockyards, where the Royal Navy’s chief arsenal was stored in buildings so massive in size as to make Blackwell Tower seem minuscule in comparison.
Chatham, in 1635, housed one of the largest dockyards in all of England, with sailing vessels the size of tall buildings resting in its harbor. The Royal Navy’s considerable fleet lay at anchor, secured for King Charles and the defense of Great Britain. Merchants, with their various wares and goods shipped between Chatham and other ports around the globe, became rich and powerful.
Lord Blackwell, himself, had a number of sailing vessels under his command. He traded wool and linen from Scotland for tobacco and corn from Virginia; tea and pewter from England for cod and otter fur from Massachusetts.
Again Rebecca heard footsteps behind her and she crouched down near a street vendor’s empty wagon. This time there were several people coming toward the quay, military men judging by the sound of their boots against the cobblestone.
“Search all of them!” she heard a familiar man’s voice shriek hoarsely and the sound sent shivers up her spine. Edward Blackwell III had evidently discovered that Rebecca was missing.
this, though it did not make her any less fearful. Edward Blackwell
would stop at nothing until she acquiesced to his wishes. With her
father’s cold body not yet in his grave, Edward had nothing left with
which to coerce her. Yet if he hadn’t arranged for her father’s
imprisonment to begin with, her father would still be alive. Had Edward
made any effort to spare her father’s life, Rebecca would have married
him come Monday next, fulfilling the agreement she’d made with him. But,
Edward did nothing to keep his end of the arrangement. Now her father
was dead, which nullified the betrothal, and Rebecca did not feel
obligated to continue the charade any longer.
Then, Rebecca heard another familiar man’s voice, calling: “Master Blackwell! Master Blackwell!” She smiled to herself. Praise be to God that she had found friendship in Blackwell Tower.
forward quickly. “Wilson? Where is she?”
Edward seemed to contemplate this information. Then, “She’s not on board any of the ships here. Perhaps you’re right. Guards!” he bellowed, dismissing Wilson without another word. “Guards! Quickly!”
The pounding of a dozen men’s footsteps following after Edward echoed up the quay, diminishing in sound until nothing more could be heard from them. When the quiet of the darkness comforted her once again, she heard Wilson whisper. “Go with God, my lady.”
Rebecca crept out from beneath the wagon and whispered back, “I will, dear Wilson. I will.”
Wilson gasped and turned away, muttering something beneath his breath that sounded very much like a prayer in her behalf.
Cautiously, Rebecca stole into the night fog, hoping to find the Warwick in an expeditious manner. She had to wait a little longer than she wanted, what with the seamen aboard the docked vessels having just been awakened by Edward and his loyal guards. With visibility at less than ten feet, the bark could be anywhere and she may not see it, yet she dared not wait until daylight. The only thing she knew for certain was that the bark was at anchor and planned to sail at first light, if the weather proved suitable.
After a short time, the quay became silent once again. Stepping out to the very edge of the wharf, Rebecca listened carefully for any sounds such as the lapping of water against a wooden hull. Far away in the distance, she could faintly make out the melody of a seaman’s song. It was a strange shanty and reminded her of tales she’d heard as a child regarding haunted ships at sea. Some large ship must be laying at anchor several hundred feet from the dock, out in Chatham Bay, and it could well be the Warwick.
Since she had no ability to swim out to it, Rebecca located an old shallop, a small boat about fifteen feet long, with a short mast and pointed ends that curved upward nearly three feet taller than the gunwales, tethered to the dock. Rebecca dropped her two heavy bags down into it, then untied its lashing and climbed hastily aboard.
Without looking back, she pushed the shallop away from the dock. Since there was no wind, she decided not to pull out the sail that was lashed to the stocky mast. Besides, she wasn’t sure she would know what to do with a sail if there was any wind.
What little Rebecca knew about boats could be measured in a thimble. Groping around, she found an oar in the bottom of the shallop and picked it up, hoping to row out into the bay toward the sea songs she heard. It was the first time she’d ever been in a boat and she found the art of rowing to be something much like a magician’s trick. Too many strokes to her left and the shallop turned to the right, while too many strokes to her right and the shallop turned left. To make it more difficult for her, Rebecca’s left strokes could not match the strength of the right, for the pain in her left shoulder blade restricted her movement. Determined, she continued trying. After several lame attempts at heading the unwieldy shallop toward the middle of the bay, she finally concluded that two weak strokes to the left, then one strong stroke to the right kept her on a somewhat steady course.
The sound of the oar slurping through the water alarmed her and she made several attempts at keeping the noise to a minimum. She could taste the salt air heavy on her lips and the smell of fresh fish lingered around her. A small splash to her right startled her and she wondered what creatures might lurk below her in the deep and dangerous sea, awaiting a tasty meal. Rebecca shuddered . . . .
Search for the Bark Warwick
at your favorite booksellers and read the rest of the story.
The Warwick Saga
Historical fiction at its very best!
Complete in two books.
Search for the Warwick II
Proving once and for all why she is known as the writer of miracles, Sherry Ann Miller’s absorbing sequel, Search for the Warwick II, concludes the search for John Dunton's son who is enslaved in 1630's Algeria, where a generous reward has been offered for John's capture. Now, John must not only find Thomas, he must avoid recapture while he and his devoted crew attempt to outsail and outmaneuver a horde of evil pirates. Nothing else matters to John or his men . . . not even their own lives.
Granite Publishing ISBN# 1-932280-95-2
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