General Fiction posted August 4, 2016 Chapters: 2 3 -4- 5... 

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Clare is finding it hard to settle into her new life

A chapter in the book DAUGHTERS OF THE FOUR WINDS

Hope for a Brighter Future

by Annette Gulliver

After leaving Ireland with her husband to live in a tin mining village in England, Clare feels lonely in her new home
There is a place across the sea
A place where my soul longs to be
As years go by memories grow dim
They are but whispers on the wind
Clare lay staring at the dying embers of the fire. She knew she had brought shame on her family by going against her father’s wishes, and the last words that he spoke to her still rang in her ears. She tried to shut them out, but sleep evaded her. She turned onto her side and softly stroked Matthew’s chest. He was sound asleep, and in the shaft of bright moonlight streaming in through the window, she studied his strong profile. She loved him dearly, but a feeling of uncertainty about their future nagged at her.

The haunting call of a night owl broke the silence of the night, and as the moon disappeared behind a cloud, the room was plunged into darkness, and she drifted off to sleep.
Chapter 4
Matthew awoke before dawn the following morning, refreshed and ready for the long walk to the mine. Clare was already awake after a sleepless night, and as Matthew lit a fire in the hearth, she crawled out of bed. She yawned, and donned a thick woollen shawl over her nightgown, and laced up her sturdy leather boots.

"What time do ya think ya’ll be home tonight, Matthew?" she asked, as she mixed a cup of oats into a pot of boiling water hanging above the fire.

"It won’t be ‘til after dark. It's a long walk from Wheal Coates Mine."

While the oats bubbled away, Clare filled Matthew’s lunch pail with two thick slices of crusty bread, some cheese, and an apple. "Well, I hope this will keep ya happy 'til then."

Matthew beamed at his new bride. "It looks like yer settled in already, darlin', but I think ya should go to market today," he said, as he shovelled the porridge into his mouth. "There’s not much here to fill a man’s belly"

Clare forced a smile. Just the thought of visiting the shops in the village filled her with dread. She was a stranger in another land, unfamiliar with the ways of the local people.

Matthew finished his breakfast with a cup of tea, and then donned his cap. "I have to be on me way now if I’m goin’ to get a shift at the mine," he said, as he kissed Clare on the cheek and headed out the door.

Clare followed him outside, and watched until the glow from Matthew’s lantern disappeared from sight along the cliff top track. She shivered in the early morning chill. Winter had arrived with a vengeance, and a heavy frost still covered the ground. The rising sun was hidden by a thick bank of clouds on the horizon, and in the faint glow of dawn she could see the outline of shadowy cliffs along the coastline.

As daylight slowly spread across the hills she also noticed a building in the distance. The outline of tall chimney stacks stood naked against the sky, and she wondered if it was Wheal Coates mine. She stood staring out to sea, and as the thought of a lonely, bleak future flooded her mind, she reached for a handkerchief to wipe away the tears cascading down her cheeks.
Stumpy Thomas hobbled out into the stable yard, lit his pipe, and made himself comfortable on a stool by the gate. He noticed the young woman standing nearby, and immediately guessed that it was Matthew’s new bride. He quietly approached her and tipped his cap."Good Mornin', missus! I take it ye be Mrs Gowling."

Clare turned to see a short balding man beaming at her, and hesitantly accepted his outstretched hand. "I am Mrs Gowling."

"Well, me name’s Eddie Thomas, and I’m the blacksmith around these parts. You can call me Stumpy if you like," he laughed, as he leaned on his walking stick and swung his wooden leg in the air.

Clare attempted a smile, conscious of her tear stained face. She was embarrassed to be caught in such a state by Matthew’s good friend.

Stumpy discreetly coughed, and his brow wrinkled in concern. "There now, things can’t be all that bad. Come along wi’ me, lass," he said, as he took her by the elbow and led her through the door into his shop, "and I’ll make you a nice hot cuppa tea."
Three months slowly passed and with each day Clare became more depressed as married life took on a monotonous routine. The well-meaning visits from her neighbours were a comfort in the beginning, but when it became obvious that they had nothing in common with the Irish woman, the number of visitors began to dwindle.

Christmas had come and gone, and the strings of homesickness tugged hard at her heart. The Yuletide had always been a joyous occasion back home in Ireland, but in the lonely confines of her new home, without the comfort of old friends and family, she sank into the depths of sadness. The winter had been long and cold as well, which did nothing to help her state of mind. She longed for spring.

Although she tried her best to hide the fact from Matthew, she hated living behind the blacksmith’s shop, and there were still no houses available for rent. The only bright spot in her life were the mornings she spent with Stumpy as they chatted over a cuppa. Stumpy was a good-natured soul and the two of them soon developed a close bond. The old man’s friendship was a comfort, and although she did her best to be a loving wife to her husband, she began to wonder if she had been too hasty in her decision to leave Ireland.
The dawning of spring across the land brought with it not only warmer days, but a feeling of well-being amongst the citizens of St Agnes. Clare felt it as well and made up her mind to pull herself together. No good would come from moping about the place all day long. A Saturday morning in April dawned bright, and with it came a note of optimism for Clare.

Matthew noticed the sudden change in his wife’s mood. He had been at a loss as to how to raise her spirits throughout the long winter, and welcomed the change. "You’re looking much better this mornin’, Clare" he said, as he prepared to leave for the mine.

Clare hugged him tightly and kissed him on the lips. "I’m feelin’ fine today. It’s so nice to see the sun again," she replied, as she locked her arm through his and strolled a short way along the track. "Matthew, I was just thinkin', as its Sunday tomorra', we could have a picnic on the beach. Ya deserve a rest."

"I'll look forward to that," Matthew replied, as he headed off along the track.

Stumpy also noticed the change in Clare’s mood when she joined him for their morning cuppa. "Good mornin', Clare, yer lookin’ well today."

Clare blushed. "Thanks, Stumpy. I do feel better this mornin'. In fact, it looks to be such a fine day that I’m goin' to go for a walk along the beach."

"Aye, that’s the way, lass. There’s no good will come of sittin’ around here all by yerself."

Clare finished her cuppa and put on her prettiest bonnet, and with her cane basket tucked firmly on her arm, waved goodbye to Stumpy. She was excited as she negotiated the steep rocky path that led down to Trevaunance Cove. A walk along the seashore always made her feel better. It reminded her so much of home. There were few people about, so when she reached the beach she took off her shoes and stockings, letting the coarse sand tickle her bare feet.

It was an unusually warm day for spring and she couldn’t resist the urge to paddle in the shallow rock pools exposed by the low tide. She idly strolled farther along the shore, trying hard to ignore the noise of the pumps at the mine, and when a large rocky outcrop at the foot of a cliff offered comfort she sat down to rest, shading her eyes against the glare of the bright spring sunshine. The mine stood just ahead, straddled high on the gorse and heather clad cliffs above the sea, and she wondered if she would ever get used to life as a miner’s wife.

The hours passed by quickly as she gathered seashells and driftwood, but when the breeze grew stronger, and dark clouds began to roll in across the hills she turned for home. She quickened her pace on the way back. Matthew’s shift was to finish at midday, and it was time to prepare his lunch. Besides, she was hungry after foregoing breakfast that morning because of an unsettled stomach.
To be continued ....

 Character List:
Sean and Meara O'Connell - Irish farmers in County Kerry, Ireland
Clare O'Connell - only daughter of Sean and Meara
Matthew Gowling - An Englishman from Cornwall
Father Moriarity - parish priest in Dingle Town, County Kerry
Stumpy Thomas - the village blacksmith in St Agnes, Cornwall, England



Trevaunance Cove - a beach by the village of St Agnes in Cornwall, England
Wheal Coates Mine - one of the many tin mines that operated in Cornwall the 19th century
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