Monday, September 30, 2013


A Just for Fun Fiction

Byrd sat perched upon a throne of books.  Her father gave her the task of choosing which to save by packing them into the wooden crate, and which to leave behind.  They were dear old friends, and Bryd blinked back the tears at parting.  Some of the books were family and absolutely could not be left any more than her little brother Richard.  Others had visited with her so often that it was tearing her heart to part.  She tenderly kissed each volume, a farewell gesture, as she set them aside one by one.  The leather bound books were an expensive investment her father had made in his children's education, but not everything could cross the ocean.  Most of these books must be sold.

Byrd wisely chose a nature picture book with hand colored plates that her brother could get lost in on the voyage while they would be confined for the long months stranded between shores.  The books of poetry were hard to choose from.  She determined to bring her favorite novel even if it had to be hidden, wrapped in her change of clothes in the family trunk.  The knowledgeable daughter wisely selected the books that had first enticed her father to think favorable of the New World.  John Locke was a given and did not take up much room.  The book of maps of the world included the newest one of America as well.  The crate was becoming too heavy for her to lift.  She looked around the room perusing the collection.  Even in its scattered appearance, it was all well known to her.  Her eye grazed over the imprinted titles and appraised their values trying to find one more nugget of gold.

Suddenly, she ran to the sitting room where the squat leather bound family Bible lay on the mantle.  It could no more be left behind than leaving Jesus back on the English shore at the dock.  God must go with them, or they would go in vain.  But there was more to the Bible than Scripture.  In its front piece there was a treasure very dear to her heart, the family history.  Byrd opened the page where her father had inscribed her name, Golevbryd Meredith, May 20, 1723.  Bryd could sit for hours tracing the generations as they came alive in her imagination.  Occasionally, she spun stories to her little brother to help him go to sleep.  The months ahead confined in the cramped quarters aboard ship, she could weave the silken threads of their genealogy into stories to entertain a lively, bored boy to help pass the time.

Her mother certainly was not strong enough to do more than care for the baby.  Bryd thought them both too frail for the voyage and beginning again in a new land.  It was good that her father had enough to pay for an indentured servant as well. They would need all the help they could get.  The parish had practically pushed them out for her father's non-conformist views.  They had to be out of their village home by the end of the month, just in time for departure.  Her father had saved the money which was for the fines for not attending the Church of England services, but bought the tickets instead.  She had overheard her parents voices in the night as he kept saying, "It will be worth it.  Just think, freedom to worship as our conscience dictates."

"Freedom" sent shivers down her spine like when she had run through the woods with her cousins playing hide and go seek out of the sight of the old hags of the village who were always knitting their brows in disapproval when she ran.  It had been exhilarating until a wolf howled.  They all sprinted back to the village with hearts pounding.  Would it be like that in America?  Were there enemies there too, such as wild panthers, bears, and Indians?

"Golevbryd, would you come here please?"  Bryd's mother was the only one who used her full name.  The girl was quick to respond to do whatever chore or errand she needed.  Her mother was much abed since the babe was born.

"Yes, mum?"

"Come here, dear one.  I've been thinking that the family's jewel might be safer around your neck than mine or even packed away.  No one would suspect that a slight girl would have it hidden under her plain shift.  We wouldn't have to worry about someone going through our trunk in our cabin either.  You are a responsible child, and I know you will take every care not to let it be seen or lost.  Nursing the babe would expose the necklace, I'm afraid, or the babe might yank it off my neck.  So, what do you think?"

For once Byrd was speechless and could only nod.  Her mother lifted her braid where the strays of he brown sun streaked hair and unclasped the jewel from around her slender neck.  Byrd felt its cool silver kiss on the skin of her neck as it slipped down.  Her heart was beating so hard, she was sure her mother would see it bouncing off her chest. 

"I guess it is all right, but we will need to leave your hair down to cover the chain.  No more braids."

Byrd loosened her tresses and unwound the braid combing her hair with her fingers.  As always it curled and waved freely once unbound.  She did not care that it would soon snarl in knots.  Golevbryd was now the guardian of the family treasure.  Byrd would look like a wood, or rather, a water sprite, but the emerald as green as Ireland would shine only for her under the cover of her dress.  Once in bed she would finger it under her night clothes to feel each tiny seed pearl and the filigree surrounding the gem.

"You do remember the story of the family emerald, don't you, Dove?"

Her mother liked to call her bird names.  It didn't matter as her mother was about to begin her favorite tale of family lore.  But the baby began fussing and Mother was busy seeing to his happiness instead.  Bryd covered her ears so she couldn't hear the baby crying.  He seemed to do that a lot no matter what her mother did.

One neighbor said, "He's just a bit windy.  Boil some onions in water, then feed him the broth and just see if that don't cure him."

Another said, "Never bring him out if there's even the least wee bit of a wind.  It will give him the tummy ache for sure."

"Best start him on watered down gruel.  Obviously, your milk is too thin for the little tyke."

She knew their neighbors meant well, but they seemed to forget their mother had raised the other children and was a perfectly good mother.

That night as she lay down to sleep, she asked her mother, "Remember, you were going to tell the story of the family jewel."


"Ah, yes, the emerald, it is a sad tale.  Once upon a time back in the days when William the Conqueror's son Henry I was waiting to be on the throne, his men had captured a beautiful, but very young, lass, Nest verch Gruffydd. (Her grandmother was Angharad verch Maredudd (Meredith or Maredydd)  With no protector, Henry I took her and she bore him a son Henry FitzHenry.  When he tired of her, the then king gave Nest to  his friend Gerald FitzWalter of Windsor, former constable for Pembroke Castle who had just helped put down some rebels for the king.  Nest had several children with Gerald. 

However, the Welsh were angry that a Welshwoman was given to an Englishman, a Norman no less. Not only that, a bard was heard singing of her beauty.  A cousin Owain ap Cadwgan decided to go visit his kinswoman.  When his men entered their castle, Nest hid her husband, some say by helping him escape down a lavatory chute.   Owain kidnapped Nest and her children and took her to a hunting lodge by the Eglwyseg Rocks north of the Vale of Llangollen. 

This enraged the Normans as well as the rest of Owain's enemies.  Nest told Owain, "If you would keep me, then send my children home to their father."  She then had a son by her abductor.  Finally, they were pursued so hotly that Nest was returned to her husband, and Owain and his father sought exile in Ireland. 

Her brother Gruffydd returned from fighting in Ireland and gave Nest this beautiful emerald, a spoil of war.  In the meanwhile, the Welsh were fighting the Welsh as well as the Normans. Owain had managed to be pardoned by the king and made Prince of Powys.  As Owain came to fight Gruffydd,  Gerald found Owain, and he avenged his wife by killing him.  One of their brothers was so tired of all the fighting that he took ships to find the New World.  Some say there is a colony of Welsh Indians in America who still speak the language from this Madog (or Maredydd). 

All this was six hundred years or so ago. So the emerald is indeed special that it has endured.  Now, because of the fight of Protestant against Catholic, Conformists and Non-Conformists, we must go to the New World to find peace to worship how we will.  We will lose our home anyway, even if we do not flee the oppression here.  Your father could even be put in jail.  God will go with us.  The emerald green is a reminder of everlasting life in His Son.  Let it be a comfort to you."

Byrd fell asleep holding the gem in her hand. It would be good to have a new beginning in America where there would be freedom of religion and a new beginning, a place for Byrd to find her nest. 

*This is a compilation of stories about those who fled to America for religious liberty, but there was an actual Golevbyrd Meredith who immigrated with her family.  It also tells the true story of Nest with  a hint of the Welsh Indians (read my book "Nest.")  Nest not only bore an illegitimate grandson of William the Conqueror, but she was also probably the great-granddaughter of Lady Godiva and Leofric, Earl of Mercia.  Her mother was Ealdgyth (or Edith, the Swan Neck) of Mercia and her father was Gruffydd ap Llywelyn a Prince of the Powys.  Her mother had fought alongside her husband.  While he was on a raid, she defended their territory, was caught and beheaded by the Normans. The Welsh long fought in her name.  We are distantly related on both my mother and father's side.

(The pictures are not family related nor is there truly a family jewel.)

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Just as it is written, For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'  But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:35-39

Sunday, September 29, 2013

I fell in love with Curly.  I had a Curly crush.  He was my first love. He was a paper doll from the musical "Oklahoma."  We did not go to movies, but my parents went to the Starlight theater in Kansas City, the outdoor theater in Swope Park, to see "Oklahoma." They brought home the record (you know, one of those giant CD looking things) and paper dolls.  My sister got the girl.  I got Curly and loved the beautiful man doll made of paper.

I grew up listening to the "Oklahoma" original soundtrack.  There was one song that my mother would carefully skip the needle of the phonograph over, "It's All or Nothing With Me."  So, when she forgot to move the needle, I would listen more carefully to try to figure out in my preschool brain what was so bad about the song.  The "loose" two-timing characters sang the lyrics back and forth, "It's all or nothin' with me. C'ain't be now and then, c'aint be in between, no half and half will do for me." "Not even somethin'?"  "No, it's all or nothing with me."  I used to belt it out singing those forbidden lyrics lustily.

Actually, the lesson in the right context is quite good.  That's God's kind of love, the love He desires from us because that's the kind of love He offers to us...or are you living in this heartbreak world holding out singing, "Many a new day will dawn before 'I do.'"  Do you love God with half-measures or with your whole heart?

"Hear O Israel!
The Lord your God is one God!
And you shall love the Lord your God
 with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your might."
Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Saturday, September 28, 2013

From my devotional "Joy & Strength," by Tileston...

"Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be faint hearted."
Isaiah 7:4

He looks like a little tree frog in the attic.
"Though everything without fall into confusion
and though thy body be in pain and suffering,
and thy soul in desolation and distress,
yet let thy spirit be unmoved by it all,
placid and serene, delighted in and with its God inwardly,
and with His good pleasure outwardly.
Gerhard Tersteegen
"...for His sake who suffers them to come,
gives a dignity, a purpose, nay, a very joy
to what otherwise is all cheerless annoyance."
H.L. Sidney Lear
I'm a poster child for post-shingles-neuralgia.  The onset wasn't too bad.  The lingering is exhausting.  One way to describe the pain is as if someone has tickled me for five months after I begged, "Stop!"  It's torture and I'm not laughing. Nerve pain is strange.  It wears me out. The doctor said the nerves heal a miniscule amount daily, at best.  If I'm in public, I pay for it.  Unless I dress loosely, I pay for it.  If I do a big shopping, I pay for it.  If I am with grandchildren, I pay for it. (I miss them.)
Another twig on the family tree
  Yet, I can count my blessings.  I have joy in writing my Kinfolk Stories and am able to be home and spend the time with what brings me pleasure.  I can find purpose in picking my way through God's construction zone in my life right now.  The "Slow Children at Play," sign is for me, any way you take it.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Kinfolk, Our Viking Ancestors

"When will our father return from his raids?"

"Summer is the best time before the ice and snow set it. Then it will be time to sit around the fire to hear the stories of their exploits upon their return. If they do not go away in their Viking Ships, where would we find such marvelous stories of their conquests?  A Viking is to be feared.  You have been born into a line that goes back to the early rulers of Denmark, from King Harthacnut to Gorm the Old..."

"You mean our great grandfather Gorm the Sleepy?" the boys said laughing.

"Yes, that will come later in the telling of our story tonight.  As I was saying, after Gorm, then his son, your great grandfather, Harald the Blue Tooth was ruler over all of Denmark.  But tonight I wish to tell you the story of the beautiful Thyri Danebod, your great-great grandmother."

"Ahh, we want to hear tales of battles, not about queens who sit at home and do nothing," the boys fussed while her daughters clamored to hear the story.

"That is where you are mistaken, my sons.  She was a warrior princess, some say Gorm called her the Salvation or Adornment of Denmark."

"You mean what is carved on the Jelling Stone?"

"Yes.  She was buried in a great stone ship in a mound as was Gorm.  Then Harald the Blue Tooth built a church over the remains when he converted the country to Christianity instead of the Norse gods.  As a daughter of King Edward, Queen Thyri was of English heritage and taught her son Christianity and lived before him such a life as turned him to her religion.  It is he who turned the Danish to Christendom."

"What about Gorm the Old?"

"He worshipped the Norse Gods and never found the peace that Thyri had."

"Why did Thryri marry him then?" asked one of the girls.

"King Edward made peace by marrying his children to different kingdoms.  Actually Emperor Otto I of Germany sought her hand in marriage, however Thyri put him off for a year.  In the meanwhile she encouraged the building up of the ancient earthen Danevirke wall calling on all adult males` to protect Denmark from his invasion.   It is said she even lead an attack on the army of Germany."

"Thyri finally consented to marry Gorm before he was old, and I'll tell you why perhaps he is also known as Gorm the Sleepy.  Before she would agree to marry him, she asked him to build a new house, and to sleep in it for the first three nights of winter and tell her of his dreams.  The dreams were told at the wedding banquet, of oxen coming out of the sea interpreted to mean a bountiful harvest for the Vikings, and of birds symbolizing the glory of the king to be born."

 By this time the children's eyes were saucers, and they hugged their knees enraptured by the tale so their mother went on.

"To Gorm and Thyri two sons were born, Knud and Harald.  Knud was their father's favorite and the oldest.  Knud was the more handsome of the two and was called "Knud dane ast," or Knud the delight and love of the Danes.  Knud and Harald arrived in England when Adelbrecht was King and conquered Northumbria as their inheritance which their parents owned.  The battle continued as they moved over the countryside.  One day as they were swimming, an attack came with bows and arrows and Knud was killed.  Five young kings and seven Earls were among the dead in this conflict.

Gorm was now old, nearly blind, and staying at home.  He had once made an oath that the messenger who brought news of Knud's death would be executed.  When Harald came back alone, no one would tell the king.  Queen Thyri ordered the royal hall to be painted black, but no one was to say a word.  When the king entered the hall, he was astonished as even he could see how it was hung in black and asked what the mourning meant.  Queen Thri said, "Lord King, You had two falcons, one white and the other gray.  The white one flew far afield and was set upon by other birds which tore off its beautiful feathers and is now useless to you.  Meanwhile the gray falcon continues to catch fowl for my king's table."  At that the king cried out, "My son is surely dead and all Denmark mourns."  Thyri replied, "You have said it, not I."

Knud's son challenged his uncle Harald demanding half the kingdom.  Harald replied, "No man had claimed from his father Gorm that he was to be half king of Denmark, nor from his father's father Hordenud nor from Sigurd Ormoye or Regnar Lodbrok."  So Harald was King of Denmark and he honored his mother's memory as the prudent, pretty, and virtuous queen, the Mother of Denmark."

"Did she have daughters?" finally one her girls asked.

"Oh, there is a story that her daughter was stolen away by trolls and carried beyond Halogaland and Biarmaland."

"I'm not afraid of trolls!" one of the children bravely said.

"I don't believe in trolls," another declared.

"Perhaps she became Snow White with the Seven Dwarfs as in the old fairy tale," yet another daughter said.

"I think she fell in love with someone who wasn't of royalty and snuck away to live happily ever after."

"When your father returns, he will bring many more stories for you.  But now, it is time to say good night."

Solomon, the original Viking?

"And Huram by his servants sent him ships and servants who knew the sea; and they went with Solomon's servants ...and took from there four hundred and fifty talents of gold, and brought them to King Solomon....For the king had ships which went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks."
II Chronicles 8:18 and 9:21


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Some people just aren't happy unless they have a bone to chew.  Observe my dogs.  They each have their own bone, but they are growlingly possessive of it.  Nothing makes them happier than to steal the other's bone too.  Old Sweetie went out and buried her bone and came back and took over the pup's.  The same goes for their dog toys that look like road kill with all the stuffings and squeekers out of them.  They do tug of war barring their teeth emitting danger, danger, danger growls, but are actually playing.  Have you met those people who love drama?  Yeah, the ones you have to tip toe around or they'll bite your head off thinking you want their soggy chewed over thing.  They snarl and snap and then act like they are the sweetest little thwang.  The bones don't give real sustenance.  I still have to feed my dogs.  The rawhide bones are just for their chewing pleasure.  It is sad to see people getting their kicks out of chewing out others as if they were scraps thrown to the dogs.

One of our secret parent codes my husband and I say to each other is "pick your battles."  Is it something you want to die for?  Throw the bones to the dogs.  I want real meat, stick a fork in it, not milk, not milk bones, not bones.   How much time is wasted over bones?

"Snap what an unhappy sound.
Some want snarling or the world's not round.
Snap, Snarl, Growl
Pick your battles.

"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh,
as to babes in Christ.  I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not able to receive it."
I Corinthians 3:1

"For though by this time you ought to be teachers,
you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God,
and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 
For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness,
for he is a babe.
But solid food is for the mature,
 who because of practice have their sense trained to discern good and evil."
Hebrews 5:12-14

I've noticed that those who don't eat the meat of the Word
tend to bite and devour one another.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"How long do you think they will keep me here in this stockade?  I have done nothing to deserve this. It has almost been a year and my father has given back his English prisoners.  Am I not worth more than the few swords and weapons they still demand from him?"

"I know Pocahontas."  I will try to talk to the Council again.  I have brought it up nearly every day with one man or the other."

"Thank you for coming to see me,  Captain Rolfe.  Not even my old playmates will come to visit me here because it is so shameful to be locked up."

"I remember when you were a girl causing merry mischief trying to teach the girls how to do cartwheels while their mothers disapproved.  Sadly, few have survived."

"That seems like a long time ago now.  Mostly, it was the boys who played games with me.  I have always been a friend to you English, and now this is how I have been treated.  I kept many from dying bringing food every few week back in the Starving Time.  My deeds have been lost in their memory.  When my father moved far away, I missed my friends here, but it seems they have forgotten me.  I trusted the Captain Argyll when he invited me aboard his ship for dinner, then he kidnapped me."

John Rolfe put his hand through the bars to wipe away tears coursing down here cheeks.  Then he gently cuffed her chin in his hands and asked, "Have you tried praying like I taught you?"

She nodded, "But God the Father doesn't answer."

"I am praying too.   Perhaps if you were baptized as a Christian, they would set you free."

"You mean the sign of accepting your God by water?  I have listened carefully to the vicar as he has been teaching me."

"Yes.  It would make me happy if you did."

She smiled at him.  "You are the only one I can trust."

"Do you think your father will decide to the terms to return the weapons?  That is the only reason they still keep you here you know."

"No, if I were his son, then he would consider it.  He always thought I was too friendly to you whites.  There was too much trouble with you Englishmen, so he moved far away to have peace like the old days before you came.  Then you followed him and caused more trouble.  He probably thinks I want to be here or deserve to be here locked up.  He might attack.  But agree to return weapons?  No.  As a child I was his delight and darling, but it is not the Powhatan way.  I am only a woman.  My father marries many women.  After they have his child, then they are sent away to be married to someone else.  I am to be forgotten as well."

"If you were set free, would you go back or stay here with us?"

"I don't know.  I am caught with a foot in both worlds.  I don't know where I would be accepted."

"I would like you to stay."

Pocohantas looked up surprised to see the tenderness in John Rolfe's gaze.  "It is something the governing body would have to decide as well as the representatives of the church if I were to take you as my wife.  Are you willing for me to ask for your hand in marriage, my dear?  You know I lost my wife and child in Bermuda on our way here."

The maiden was speechless, but was desperate for someone to care for her.  This good widower's heart was true.  He had proved it.  She reached through the bars and held his hand that was held out to her.  He kissed it as if she were one of the English ladies.  Tears filled her eyes.  "You have been so kind to me, John.  I am honored, but am afraid your people would never accept this marriage.  I am only a Powhatan, an Indian as you call us, but my heart will always be yours."

"Pray, Pocohantas, pray.  My heart is so entangled with yours, that I can't stand to see you here like this.  I will write a letter with a formal request and suggest that it will bring good to the Colony."

After he left, the girl knelt in her cell and poured out her prayers to her Father who John told her truly cared what happened to her.

The council came in the morning.  Christopher Newport spoke for them. "It is evident that your father refuses the weapons exchange.  Pocahontas, are you willing to be baptized as a Christian believer?  John Rolfe has asked permission to marry you, but we will not consider this as long as you are still a heathen.  Your new name would be Rebecca, the mother of a new nation in the Bible.  We hope that your father will take it as a sign of good faith that we will be friends with the Powhatans.  We trust this for the good of the Colony to bring peace by this marriage."

Softly she replied, "Yes, the vicar has carefully explained what it means to be a Christian, and I am willing.  I have been talking to God in prayer since I have been here.  I have always known there was a Creator God, but now I know He is the only true God and His Son has forgiven me my sins."

Pleased with her answer, Newport signaled for the jailor to bring the key.  John Rolfe brought her out to the sunshine where a crowd had gathered.  She was ashamed to stand before them so dirty and unkept from her time in jail.  When her eyes adjusted to the light, she looked up into mostly grim, disapproving faces, with only a few friendly smiles from former friends.

"It is good to have you back with us, Pocahontas," the good wives of  the men of the Council came up and embraced her as an example before others.  The maiden looked up into John Rolfe's face as he smiled and whispered, "As soon as you are baptized, we may marry.  You are approved, my little merry mischief."

Pocahontas was incredulous.  To be married to the most successful planter in all of the Jamestown Colony, the kindest of them all, was more than she could have imagined.  God was so good to this little Indian girl.  She never dreamed growing up playing with the Jamestown children that she would ever truly be one of them and loved, yes, loved by a man like John Rolfe, an Englishman.

Captain John Rolfe and his Pocahontas are my 9th great grandparents
through the Stovall side.
""Will you go with this man?'  And she said, 'I will go.'
'May you, our sister,
Become thousands of ten thousands,
And may your descendants possess
The gate of those who hate them...'
"he took Rebekah, and she became his wife;
and he loved her."
Genesis 24:58,60,67

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Autumn is a time of harvest, for gathering together."
Edwin Teale
"She usually loved the sun to reign
But today she enjoyed 
the surprise of rain."
 "Gone are the birds that were our summer guests."
At least the geese are honking their farewells as they fly so very low over our lawns making me glad
they are more graceful with their wings than in their singing.  Yet in their haunting honking, there is a call to linger, for coziness, domesticity as we are left behind while they fly away.  As for domesticity, my new four year old grandson walked in my house, looked around and said, "I see you cleaned it."  Glad he noticed, but gladder still he lives with the Queen Bee of clean, my daughter.  As for me, it is such an achievement to have clean swept floors, it is a joy indeed that holds me over till the urge to clean so moves me again.  Usually I lie down and the feeling passes.  Often my floors are as littered as the forest floor in fall, but not as pretty.

"Woolens and tweeds.  Brilliant hues of orange, red, and gold.  
A crisp scent.  A cool northern wind."
It is almost boots and sweaters time
all you puddle stompers!

"Joy and gladness will be found in her,
Thanksgiving and sound of a melody."
Isaiah 51:3

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dear cousin,

Just when it appeared to be peaceful with the Cherokee, the British came along and stirred some of them up to attack our forts.   Our family had hurried to Martin's Fort as soon as we heard the Riddle's Fort had been attacked.  After a terrible battle, it was obvious we were outnumbered and could not win against their canon.   Imagine, a canon there in our neck of the woods where there had not even been a wagon trail five years before.  Our captain  negotiated a surrender with Col. Henry Byrd, the British commander and opened the gates. He promised protection from the Indians, but I will never forget the horror of that moment.  The Indians rushed in scalping and grabbing the babies out of mother's arms and dashing them against the posts or throwing them in the fire, such as the poor Loveless' little baby.  Major Byrd only shrugged that he couldn't control the Indians.  Most of the elderly and infants were killed and the rest of us taken prisoner.  Blood was everywhere.  Our dear friends scalps were now hanging on the Indians' belts and their bodies left stripped of clothes. Fortunately, our grandmother and all of our family were spared.  That was the beginning of the long march from our corner of  Western Virginia up to Canada.  There were over four hundred of us, but if anyone wailed too loudly, they were killed.  If any lagged behind, they were killed.  Some were taken as slaves by tribes along the way.  I had almost given up not thinking I could take another step when we were put in canoes. We went up the Licking River where David and Susannah White's canoe overturned and their little son drowned.  We went up the Ohio and the Miami Rivers going first to Cincinnati then to Detroit.  Finally, we were taken to the fort at Montreal.  Somehow my mother and father, Grandma Duncan, my older brothers and sisters and I survived as well as my little sisters.  Aunt and Uncle  Berrie and the cousins are here too.  My mother gave birth to another little girl shortly after we arrived.  Though at times we were separated on the trail, we were reunited at the fort.  Once in Canada, we were left with the British.  The nightmares never leave me.  I don't know if I will ever sleep again without waking up crying with such intense memories of that fateful day.  Father is allowed to work when he can find it.  We pray for our country to overcome against these hated British, but we don't get much news.  Mother said we also have to pray to God to help us get the hate out of our heart.  That is the bigger battle.  My brother is planning an escape.  My older sisters and I are helping him secretly to get ready.  We dare not tell father or the British will put him in prison or worse if they think he was in on it.  John is almost a man now and strong.  I know he can make it, so I'm sending this letter to you with him.  Don't give up praying for us.  We yearn to see you again and our home.  Give our love to Uncle Benjamin and Aunt Hannah Sharp.  I hope the Indian attacks have ceased for you who remain there.  War is horrible.  I long for the day this will all end.  Your loving cousin,

Polly Duncan


Col. Henry Byrd and his troops of English and Indian troops attacked in the summer of 1780.  A Duncan told how "My grandfather and his family, and all his friends captured in Riddles and Martin's Station, old and young, black and white, were carried as prisoners by a party of British and Canadians, and a large number of Indians, and carried to Canada...There, they were retained as prisoners until the close of the war when they were exchanged and returned to the United States through what is now northern and western New York, and through New Jersey to Philadelphia and thence to Virginia from whence they had removed four or five years before." The Sharp sister, Eleanor (Nellie) Sharp Duncan, sister of my 4th great grandfather Benjamin Sharp, and his brother John's daughter, Sarah (Sally) Sharp Berry, and their families were taken captive.  This was a piece of
our nation's history I had never heard.
John Duncan did escape with a couple of friends. They almost starved to death and even ate a polecat to survive before coming upon Washington's army.  His father was put in the stockade under suspicion for helping him escape.  They made it home but the father never fully recovered from the ordeal.
"When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
Our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the Nations,
'The Lord has done great things for them.'
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy."
Psalm 126:1-3

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pardon moi...
A conversation overheard in a waiting room..."Mom, when can we move back to France?"  "We can't."  "Why not?"  "Because we've never lived there so we can't move back."  Or my granddaughter Grace on the verge of tears, "How will I know what I'm going to be when I grow up, a biker or a surfer?"  Or a little foster grandson hoping someone will love him enough to not send him away, "But I have to be in time-out sometimes.  I try to be good, but sometimes I cry and have a fit."  Or the foster granddaughter wondering why they were taken away: was it was the traffic ticket her father could not afford to pay?

I remember that even in my secure home I used to wonder if I was adopted, that I really wasn't one of them, and would try that on for size in my imagination.  After all, I was a brunette with two blonde siblings.  Somehow it all comes out in the wash. The years have mellowed us into a trio with much more of a resemblance to each other than used to be apparent.  "Life is full of "What if's..."  When I was first pregnant, I used to wonder if I was in a room full of babies would I recognize which was mine if I had never seen his face at birth?  Inquiring minds just want to know.

Sometimes, we are as confused as the disciples on what to do with a Messiah like Jesus.  So many questions with answers that don't fit our preconceived notions.  "Are you the...One or do we wait for another?" (Luke 7:18)  Should we wait and see if He does a miracle with our finances, gives us a good job, or good kids or a good marriage, good health, or should we wait for another Saviour.  Are we really part of the family of God?  Do  I look anything like my Father in heaven?   What if I'm not good enough and need discipline, will He send me away?  Why do I always feel not as loved as the ones who are not adopted?  Does God really love the Jew more than the Gentile?  What will I be when I grow up?  So many questions, and He doesn't owe us an explanation.  All He wants us to completely understand is how much He loves us, has laid down His life for us so that we can do better than moving to France. We can live with Him forever.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Twigs on the family tree
Dedicated to my mother and father
inspired by their heritage.
My father was a cotton picker, a migrant fruit picker, a soldier, a YMCA director, a youth pastor, a senior pastor, a college recruiter, a real estate developer, an antique shop owner, a hydro power plant builder, a writer.

Over the last thousand years, many vocations were plied by my kinfolk, from kings and queens to farmers, from Parliament to pulpit, from Congress to soldier, from authors to weavers, from knights to indentured servants, from slave traders to slaves, from Indian to Indian fighter, from doctors to those on trial for witchcraft, some were educated at Oxford while others were illiterate, from clerk to merchant, from sheriff to thieves, from Crusader to those fleeing persecution for religious beliefs.  Some were sent to the Tower of London, some were beheaded, some having their titles and lands stripped away, others awarded castles taken from others, one murdered by an angry mob while another by offering hospitality to the one seeking his life inviting their own murderer in, another hung, another killed in a duel, some captured in the French and Indian War and taken to Canada, some made prisoners in the Civil War while some died in the Crusades, one was an embezzler while others gave great riches to support their government and were never repaid, some brothers fought as did Cain and Able, some sons fought fathers in struggles for power, many died on the battlefield, some while on Viking raids, one became a bride stolen as the prize from those raids, some became moonshiners on the run, some were Tavern keepers, one was struck by lightning, some drowned, some died of epidemics, but they all are now history. 

The overwhelming sense of reading through family history is that the thread of war and conflict is woven throughout.  Twenty years was about as long as peace could be secured through strength.  Regardless of our lineage, it is important to know on which side we should choose to be on.  It's a war out there and none of us are going to come out of this alive, except through eternal life. 

History is a tale of "continual fear and danger of death."
Thomas Hobbes

"The only things certain in life are death and taxes."
"And please don't forget, there is life before death."

Here's an excerpt from a kinfolk's letter, one brother writing to another, both had served in the Revolutionary War, Robert Vance to Samuel, 1792...

"Oh, Sam, let you and I be very busy and up and doing while it is day.  For the Lord cometh wherein no man can work.  There is no work done in the grave where we are fast a hastening.  Let us try to make our Call and Election sure by getting an interest in Jesus Christ and a hiding place to cover us from the wrath of God that will surely overtake a Christless world.  I hope you will set a pious and Exemplary Life before your children for example is more powerful than precept and heads of families have a great charge, the charge of precious souls, the value of one of which is worth more than ten thousands worlds.  May God grant his grace to each of us and able us to discharge every duty incumbent on us and prepare us here in the Kingdom of Grace for the enjoyment of Himself in the Kingdom of his glory."
"Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven...
"For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen."
Matthew 6:10, 13


Friday, September 20, 2013

I've seen better gardening days.  My tomato plants flourished so much that they spent their energy growing more leaves than tomatoes on the vine.  I finally got one zucchini plant to survive which has produced 3 fingerlings.  The strawberries are bigger and  better this season at least.  In years past I have grown the proverbial zucchini that grew so much that you didn't have enough friends to whom to give it away. We've had fifteen foot tall okra plants for our culinary delight and green beans and grapes galore.  These are memories of the past, not current realities. 

Sunday's children's church lesson was on the parable of the sower: some seed fell on the hard ground which the birds snatched up, some grew but were choked by the weeds of this world's worries, some fell on rocky soil in which the joy shriveled up and died, and some on the good soil.  The question is which soil am I? 

The children eagerly took the flower packets and filled them with scripture strips.  Gardening tip of the day: the Word of God will not return void.  Whatever I do, I want to sow its seed.  That's why I try to give a Scripture each day with my blog.  That makes for a successful garden.

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth,
And making it bear and sprout,
Furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:10-11

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Vance Song by Abner Vance

"That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.  All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man."
Mark 7:20-23

Kinfolk...a different kind of music.  "Vance's Farewell," was a ballad from the Blue Ridge almost 200 years ago written by Abner Vance in 1819.  There were dirty doings going on at the Clinch River...

"Wish it was Indians, it'd be simpler justice." Abner Vance, took the rifle off the hook and checked to make sure it was loaded with the ominous click of iron opening and closing of the chamber.

"It would all come out alright if he would just marry Elizabeth," his wife Susannah worried.

"This might help him see the error of his ways."

"It's those Horton boys.  Daniel and Lewis have just gone to seed."

"What about our Elizabeth?  Is she in love with Lewis?"

"I should hope so.  She's been off with him for going on two months now. What do you think he's doing bringing her back here now?  Do you think he wants to make it right?"

"Only one way to find out.  Let's go talk to them."

Looking toward the Vance place

The pair rode up on one horse and Elizabeth slipped down walking past her parents with a hard face going in the cabin slamming the door behind her.

Lewis' horse pranced backwards.

"What are your intentions with my daughter, young man?"

"She wanted to come home, so I brought her."

"Not so fast.  You can't just use a woman for a few weeks and then drop her back home as if she was a plow horse.  That's our precious baby girl you've messed with ruining her reputation.  I suggest you do some quick thinking and make the honorable choice Mr. Horton."

"Are you threatening me, Vance?"

"I'm making a strong suggestion or there will be hell to pay."

Lewis Horton weighed his choices while his horse danced in the Clinch River ford shallows.  Suddenly he spurred his horse away and made for the other side of the river on the run.

"He's getting away Abner!"  Susannah yelled.  "Stop him!"

Vance raised his rifle and trained his site on the rider as if he were a buck and blasted away.  Lewis fell into the river off his horse.

This is the ford on the Clinch River by the Vance place where Lewis was shot.

"I didn't mean shoot him, Abner! Now look what you've done."

"Don't shoot, don't shoot!" A man on the other side jumped off his horse and pulled the seriously wounded Horton out of the river before he could drown and threw him over his horse and thundered off."

"Pa!"  Elizabeth screamed from the house.  "What have you done!  You murdered Lewis!"

"What do you expect me to do to the man who has drug you to the lowest...the man ruined you, Lizzie."

"Well, Abner, I'll pack you some food, cause sure as the sun comes up, they'll be here to take you to jail.  You better run.  I never dreamed it would be this way.  I stood by you when you were an Indian scout, a soldier in the Revolutionary War, a farmer and a Baptist preacher.  But now you are an outlaw.  Lord help us!"

Abner hid out for two years before coming back to face the music.  His wife and a son were also jailed but later released.  His ballad written in his jail cell while waiting for the end to come became legend and was sung in the Blue Ridge Mountains and has survived for nearly two hundred years.

Abner Vance was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged.  Four thousand people came for his hanging and he spoke for an hour and a half to the crowd as the paper said, "with the most perfect composure and heroic fortitude."  Some say a pardon from the governor arrived too late.  In Abingdon, Virginia, there was no shotgun wedding, only a shotgun funeral for one and a rope for the other.  Elizabeth never married but gave birth to "Bad" Jim Vance who was involved in the Hatfield-McCoy feud.  Another of the girls, Nancy, married Ephraim Hatfield and was the mother of "Devil Anse" Hatfield.

Bright shines the sun on Clinch's Hill.
So soft the west wind blows.
The valleys are lined with flowers gay,
Perfumed by the wild rose.
Green are the woods through which Sandy flows.
Peace dwells in the land.
The bear doth live in the laurel green.
The red buck roves the hills.
But Vance no more on Sandy behold
Nor drink its crystal waves.
The partial judge announced his doom.
The hunter's found his grave.
There's Daniel, Bill, and Lewis,
A lie against me swore
In order to take my life away
That I may be no more.
But I and them shall meet again
When Immanuel's trumpet shall blow.
Perhaps I'll be wrapped in Abraham's bosom
When they roll in the gulf below.
My body it will be laid in the tomb.
My flesh it will decay,
But the blood that was shed on Calvary
Has washed my sins away.
Farewell, farewell, my old sweetheart,
Your face I'll see no more.
I'll meet you in the world above,
Where parting is no more.

Listen to the old recording by the Blue Ridge Mountain Music Collection

*The father of Abner Vance was Ephraim Vance called "Levi" who was the nephew of our 5th great grandfather Samuel Vance (same 6 great grandfather Andrew Vance)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Company for Supper"
"Pass the biscuits, please."  The dish was quickly passed to their father, but mouths were too full at first for much conversation
It was an ordinary breakfast for the Fulkerson family.  Everything on the table came from their place, all 450 acres they had cleared, even the sugar from their thousand sugar maples.  The soil was so rich, the spring so unfailing, that there was always plenty for their large family or to share with travelers along the mail Carolina-Pennsylvania wagon road, the one that ran from the Moravian settlements on the Yadkin River up the Warrior's Path where the Roanoke River breeched the Blue Ridge and then up the Shenandoah Valley.  Half of their twelve children were grown and gone, but six were still at home. 
Finally, their stomachs were full enough to slow down to allow easy conversation.    
"Was there any news from your trip to Abingdon yesterday?  That was a hard days ride, twelve miles there, twelve miles home." His wife asked leisurely.
"You said you would probably stay in town, Pa. What changed your mind?   We can handle the chores for you, you know," Issac the oldest at home said.
The father pushed back from the table and wiped his mouth with his cloth tied around his neck.  "As a matter of fact, I did pick up some news.  It has our sleepy little town quite in a stir."
"Well, what is it?" His sixteen year old daughter Mary was on the edge of her seat always ready for some excitement.
"I hope it's not another Indian raid, God help us," his wife Mary worried.  I can't bear to lose another one of my children to the Indians like my dear Jacob.
"Nope.  It's something rather unexpected in our neck of the woods.  Seems like some travelers stopped over for a couple of nights to have some work done on their saddles."
"Who were they, Pa?"   Even twelve year old Catherine was curious.
Major James Fulkerson looked around the table finding every set of eyes on him expectantly.
"Well, I met these gents and invited them to dinner tonight." 
"Who are they, Pa?   Where are they from?"  eight year old Abram asked.
"My stars!  I hope they aren't here to rile up the Indians against us again," his wife worried.

"No, they are just passing through, but kinda interesting fellas."

"I thought you and your troops ran the Frenchies out of these parts, Pa," wondered Issac.
"Do they speak English?" eleven year old Thomas asked.
"Yes, I think we'll have a very interesting dinner conversation tonight."
"Who are they, dear, and how many are coming?"
"It is Louise Philippe Duc d'Orleans and his two brothers Antoine and Louis Charles.  They have been exiled and their father guillotined during the Reign of Terror.  However, Philippe is still in line for the throne of France if political circumstances change."
"My stars and garters!" his wife sank back in her chair fanning herself. "You invited them here?"
The girls were open mouthed and wide eyed at the thought of French royalty here and at their mother's language they had never heard from her strict Methodist lips.
"Of course, dear.  Who better than us to provide a good meal."
"Yes.  Whatever you usually make will do fine.  Your cooking is always the best."
"Girls!" their mother practically shrieked.  "We have to get busy!"
"Thomas, you ride to your sister Hannah's and ask her to come help me and bring all her best silver."
"And ask her to bring me one of her pretty dresses.  I don't have anything to wear!" the sixteen year old worried.
"Frederick, you ride to the Sharps, Hannah's in-laws.  He was born in Bruce's castle and can advise me on the proper way to entertain royalty. Tell him, I mean ask him, to bring his wife to help me, and they will be welcome to stay to dinner as well.  Ask Mrs. Sharp if she's willing to bring her best dishes."
"Abram, go find all the eggs you can.  Be careful.  I will need every last one."
"Girls, I need you to start cleaning, the best cleaning you've ever done in your life.  First we must laundry the bed linens in case they stay over.  Your sister can help me cook when she gets here."
Major Fulkerson threw back his head and laughed.  "I haven't seen troops this well ordered since my last campaign.  You children obey the General and step to it!"  He saluted his wife and ducked out.
In between the scrubbing of floors and windows, and the extra laundry and cooking like all the days of the week poured together, the girls practiced their curtsies.  They almost forgot to allow time to bathe and put on their Sunday-go-to-meeting best before their guests arrived.  The house was full of good smells, fresh flowers, fruit from the orchard and nuts from the woods, with cold water from the spring, and a table spread with a clean cloth and sparking silver and pewter dishes.  An heirloom dish here and there added a special touch that awed the family even if it wasn't enough to impress royalty.  The clopping of horse's on the road spread like the static electricity before a lightning strike.
Mary ran to the window, "I think I'll faint, Ma.  Father didn't tell us they were handsome young men.  I was expecting paunchy old Frenchmen.  Look at them!"
"Mind your manners and get away from that window girls.  We need to go outside to greet them."
The girls were glad they had practiced their curtsies and swept down on bended knee as the gentlemen passed by.  Catherine giggled.
"Shh, don't you dare!" her sister whispered mortified.  But Louise Philippe winked at the little girl as they entered the frontier abode.
"May I take your coats, sirs?" Mary asked trembling.
"The chairs are all pulled up to the table, gentlemen, so why don't we just have a seat."
Mary was so embarrassed to be seated at the children's table, but knew she would be too busy serving to sit much.  All the family were there as if it were Christmas.  Ma had made  ham, turkey with cornbread stuffing and gravy, and venison roasted outside on the fire pit.  Mrs. Sharp brought platters of fried chicken and her special rolls.  There were the fresh green beans from the garden with bacon, and dried apples.  Mary almost tripped over the long hem of her sister's borrowed dress.   She clung to every bit of conversation from their guests, their soft accent making every word delicious. 
She should not have worried.  Even after the food was eaten, and the dishes were done, the guests lingered long over tea. Conversation flowed as fast as the Holston River, rather their guests kept them entertained them with their adventures.
Louise Philippe explained how they were born in luxury in the Palais-Royal in Paris.  As the masses murmured against oppression, his father had welcomed the revolutionaries into their home as a place for meeting.  His own tutor was the Countess of Genlis who instilled liberal ideas in him from his youth.  "She even took me to the prison Mont Saint-Michel where we helped break down a prison door.  Then it was time as a member of  royalty to take my place as an officer in the military where I saw quite a bit of action."
His valet broke in, "He is too modest.  He was very brave taking musket balls grazing his brow as tenderly as a woman's hand, while his horse was shot out from under him.  The next day he showed bravery as well when he dove into a swift river and saved a man from drowning."
Mary and Catherine gasped in unison.  Mary was glad to see even her brothers were impressed judging by their wide-eyed attention.
"Tres jolie jeune filles!" Philippe laughed.  He waved away his attendant's praises.  Then his face sobered.  "It was 'Au revoire' to the life we knew.  My father and these my brothers were put in prison, while I made my escape.  I was only nineteen."
"Were they all guillotined?" little Abram asked.
The men burst out with raucous laughter.  Antoine said, "Oui mon petit monsieur.  I just picked up my head and put it back on.  Come, would you like to see the seam on my neck?"
Abram was embarrassed into silence the rest of the night, though Louise Charles slapped him on the back in good camaraderie.
"Bandouin my faithful valet and I went over the alps, but found we were refused asylum in Switzerland.  Our horses almost died on the heights and we sold them for bread to eat.  I had never been that hungry before.  We were even barred by monks from entering a monastery thinking we were  just more riffraff.  I slept in a barn one night but woke to a musket pointed at my face as if I were a common criminal.  I hardly dared to spend more than a day in any one place.  Finally I found a position at Reichenau teaching in a boy's school.  That's where I heard my father had been put to death.  I looked for comfort, shall we say, in the wrong place and that was the end of my teaching career."
Their mother put her arms protectively around her girls who had slipped in beside her, but Louise Philippe still dared to give Mary a wink. 
"I found out my sister Adelaide, only sixteen..."
"That's my age," Mary said under her breath.
"Yes,  you make me think of her at that tender age.  She was having to get by sewing and working wool, so I found my way to her and took her to our great aunt, Princess of Conti at Fribay, then we went on to Bavaria, Hungary, and finally to our mother in exile in Spain.
"Bidding them adieu, I continued my wanderings in Scandinavia and Finland where I stayed with a Lutheran Vicar."  He cleared his throat, "I was becoming a little too entangled at twenty-two, so I decided to join my brothers who had escaped to New York here in America.  And voila, here we are!  I have found the American frontier much to my liking and the government of the colonies quite impressive."
Abram had fallen asleep with his head in his plate when their father showed the guest to their beds.  They had to share as the family did.  The boys bedded down in the barn for the night with the oldest Issac carrying his sleepy brother out like a sack of potatoes over his shoulder.  It was said that for years after when King Louise Phillippe met someone from America visiting Paris, he always asked, "Do they still sleep three to a bed in Tennessee?"  As for Mary, she never forgot when the future King of France, a dashing twenty-four year old, kissed her hand.
A little glimpse from my fifth great grandparent's history.
"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."
Hebrews 13:2


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Poppa, the Captured Bride of Rollo the Viking
My 35th Great Grandmother
Poppa's name meant doll.  She was adored by all who knew her and was as lovely as her name implied.  The French countryside which ran down to the sea was beautiful. Poppa lived a protected life of privilege, that is until the day of the Viking raid.  She was sitting in the morning sunshine with a view where the ocean shimmered on the horizon while doing her embroidery.  Her thoughts were miles away with maiden dreams when one of  Berenger's men burst into the courtyard yelling "The Vikings are coming!" 

Such a commotion and scramble as men grabbed weapons and women screamed.  Poppa was frozen not knowing which way to go since she could see people running every which way.  Some dove into a wagon full of hay, while others turned the wagon over for a barrier dumping the fearful out of hiding.  The brilliant sun was shining on the armor of the oncoming enemy who seemed huge as they approached thundering at a fast pace yelling like wild demons.  Poppa was trembling uncontrollably and could not move away from her spot as the terrible scene unfolded below her balcony of hand to hand combat with axes, swords, and clubs and bows and arrows.  Her people,  the ones who had surrounded her life to make it one of ease, were no match for this giant enemy.  The young leader, taller and fiercer than the rest looked up from where he stood in the pools of blood and caught her wide-eyed gaze.  With horror she realized he was smiling at her. 

There was no where to go, for the manor was swarming with the invaders.  She heard Berenger the Count Bayeux  shout and his wife scream then the clashing of swords ceased.  Only one set of heavy footsteps was pounding up the stairs.  Poppa was suddenly in a tall shadow and turned to look up into his grinning face.  Before she could take a breath, the Viking threw her over his shoulder and scrambled with her down the stairs as if she were a sack of potatoes.  He ran past where the Countess' body was laying over her murdered husband and out into the carnage of the courtyard.  Once there, he gave a great shout of victory.  His men answered in a roar.  The girl wished she could die, for everyone she loved and cared for had bled to death in her defense.  Poppa only fainted.

The next thing she knew she woke up in the Count's bed with her hands and feet bound.  The Viking was laying next to her snoring loudly in the exhaustion of victory, his arm thrown across her like a beam.  Poppa did not dare move but wept silently until she could not stop the wrenching sobs that woke him. 

"Shh, shh, don't cry," he spoke in broken dialect, propping himself up to stare into her face.  "I just bound you so you would not run away while I slept.  Don't worry, I will not harm you."

"You have done it already, robbing me of my home, friends and servants.  You are a murderer."

The Viking looked startled at this outburst.  "It is war.  We are the conquerors and yours were the vanquished.  For as much pain as this has cost you, I want to make it up to you as my bride.  I can give you much more for I will be the Marquis of Normandy.  Even King Charles of France will have to respect me."

"Never.  I would rather die than marry you!" Poppa cried beating her bound fists against his chest.

He only laughed and caught them in one hand.  She felt his strength.

"Ahh, if only your people had all been as fierce as you, perhaps the contest of the battle would not have been such a slaughter of weaklings.  I will give you time.  Perhaps such passion can be turned in my favor one day, no?"

Poppa rolled to her side so as not to look at his gleeful face only to be felt pulled to his side.  A knife of fear pierced her, but only a gentle kiss was brushed on her neck before he fell asleep again with his deep breathing calming her from a panic.  As much as she fought it, sleep bound her in its healing embrace.

He was gone when she awoke.  She found her feet loosed, though her hands were still tightly wrapped.  She went out to the balcony to look and was amazed.  The enemy had cleaned the bloodbath and fresh hay hid the stain.  It looked much like before the attack except now tall Danes, men of the North, the savage mix of Norweigans, Swedes, and Danish were everywhere working.  The pain threatened to burst her heart knowing her people were no more but buried in the freshly dug mass grave outside the gate.  This was in contrast to the baudy laughter of the men below.  Poppa could see that some of the women had been spared, like her, and were being bounced from man to man as if a game.  She wanted to scream.  Once again she was in his shadow.  She did not even know his name, like it mattered.

As if he could read her thoughts, he said, "My name is Rollo Ragnvaldsson, the Norseman.  You are the fair daughter of Bayeux, but what is your name?"

She did not turn or answer him.

"Tell me your name unless you wish for me to rename you."

"Poppa," she whispered.

Again, his laugh.  "Poppa, of course.  It fits.  He spun her around.  You are tall though still small like a doll next to me.  I like it."

"I am not the daughter of the Count of Bayeux.  I am the daughter of Gui, Count of Senis.  I was under the Count of Bayeux's protection."

"Oh, I knew of  your father.  So you are the great, granddaughter of the King of Italy and thus of the lineage of Charlemagne himself!"

She curtsied as best she could. Then she looked up at her captor and asked, "Are you the Walker?"

His smile was gone and a fierce gleam was in his eye. "I said I am Rollo a Norseman, soon to be the Marquis of Normandy.  You will never call me that again.  Men have died for less."

Poppa met his glare and nodded though keeping her chin up in defiance.  She knew he had been called Walker because he was so tall that he looked gangly riding the small Norweigan ponies with his feet hanging down as if he was walking while riding.  He was legend.  She also knew he had been banned from Norway having caused depredations against the king's orders.  His name was always spoken of with fear.

His ready smile came back and he ran his finger along her jawline and over her lips.  "Poppa.  You are very beautiful.  I am a fortunate man."

"I am a Christian."

Again he laughed, "And you think Vikings are not?  Some have became Christians.  Your Jesus was a man of peace, but even his David was a man of war.  Perhaps I will consider converting if King Charles insists. Though I am not a Christian, I am a patient man and will give you time, a little time, to get used to the idea of becoming my wife.  I want you to love me, not war with me.  Just because I have to be fierce in battle, that is not what I want in my heart and home."

Poppa only stared at him noticing his tanned, strong face, tangled blond hair and sea blue eyes which now looked seriously into hers.  He was the tallest man she had ever seen.  She took a shuddering deep breath before she could look away knowing everything was going to be different from now on.  She was no longer a child, but had become a woman, a woman to be married.  This Rollo would be her only family from now on.  She could fight him or try to respect him for any kindness he showed her.  Her heart would have to follow on its own.  His touch was gentle on her hair as he gathered it in his hands  and lifted it where the  breeze cooled her heat before he once again brushed a kiss upon the back of her neck.  From where she could see below, the other women were being treated roughly, the men like animals.  Perhaps, she should be thankful for this man, who was the fiercest of them all and perhaps the most gentle.

"I would like a Christian burial for my people."

"I will find a priest if that will bring you comfort."

Again, Poppa nodded as tears filled her eyes.  "Thank you."  She could not hold back the tears.

This time he kissed her forehead and embraced her as if to console her.

She wept while he held her not releasing her until she was spent.

It was a strange kindness from the leader of those who took the lives of her loved ones by sword.

When she was done he held her hands and saw where the bindings chaffed. "Do I have your promise, that you will not try to escape if I do this for you, the service for your people?"

"I give you my word."

Rollo carefully cut the cuffs with his sharp knife now wiped clean of the blood it spilled yesterday. She felt a grateful release.  He took her wrists in his hands tenderly turning them to see where they were wounded by the cords.  His thumb caressed her bruises and scrapes softly and said, "Do you have any ointment to help these heal.  I'm sorry You were bound so tightly.  I did not mean to injure you, but you fought me even in your sleep."

Poppa could only nod as she searched his face finding only true concern in his handsome visage.  She allowed a smile to escape.  She tried to convince herself that it was only relief, but his gentleness soothed her fears, and she felt released from these as well.  She could not help noticing he looked as pleased as a little boy eager to gain his mother's approval when she smiled.  He laughed.  She laughed with him, with relief of course.  The beast picked her up as if she were light as a feather and twirled her around,  His happiness was as unbounded as a Great Dane's.  Poppa choked back a scream making it sound more like a squeal.  When he put her down he whispered in her ear in a more serious tone, "Good day, the future Countess of Normandy."  He bowed and left.

Poppa shook her head.  The man was a tempest with hurricane force whether in battle or in joy.  Rollo would be difficult to conquer, but with love, anything could be possible.

The day she turned from his kiss on her neck to meet his lips, passion was kindled.  They were married Danish style though she longed for a Christian ceremony.  She was his "frills."  Then he was off to show his force  to King Charles to subdue him into acceptance of his Norman rule of the North of France, Normandy. 

Upon his return he was the one subdued though his men were boisterous in their bragging.  He lifted his cup to their honor, but drank little.  He left early for bed.  Poppa followed where she found him staring seriously at he ceiling.

"Why are you not rejoicing with your men?"

"I don't think you want to know."

"It sounds as though you found exactly the success you sought in the King's eyes."

"I got more than I bargained for."

"What do you mean?"

He told her of the pledge he made to serve the king.

"He wanted me to kiss his foot."

"What?  No, you didn't, did you?"

"Of course I didn't."  Then he laughed finally bringing Poppa relief.  "I told one of my warriors to do it.  He too refused until I forced him.  Not wanting to kneel, he lifted the short king's foot to his lips and the king fell backwards upsetting his throne and all."

They both shrieked with laughter.  Finally Poppa asked, "Were you afraid of what the king might do for such an offense?"

"He did not dare.  He is half afraid of me though I have sworn loyalty."  Then his face lost all joy.

"What is it?  Why are you so sad?"

"I don't want to tell you."  He sighed, but I must for you will hear it talked of anyway.  "He gave me the hand of his daughter to seal the pact."

"What?"  Terror seized Poppa and she climbed away from him in the bed.

Rollo reached out and pulled her to him gently.  "Shh, don't worry my little Poppa.  You have my love, my only love.  I will be married to her in name only. She is in ill health.  I may have to renounce you to the world, before the king, but when I am able, we will be married in a Christian ceremony.  I have converted.  This marriage is not what I want, but it is the cost of peace.  Can you trust me and be patient with your husband?"

Poppa was crying silent tears unable to speak at first.  Then she told him the news she had hoped would bring them both great joy.  "Your child will be born with you bound to another."  She fell to weeping as he held her.  She did not see the tears on his cheeks until he released her.  She gently wiped them away.  "I trust you and will be as patient with you as you were with me.  I love you, my Rollo."

"I love you Poppa, my true wife."

When the time came, Rollo married Poppa in a Christian ceremony and they ruled side by side, the first rulers of Normandy.

Their children:
William I Longsword, 2nd Count of Normandy (7 foot tall)
Robert of Corbeil, Count of Corbeil
*Rollo never had children with Griselle, Charles III's daughter, if in fact there was a marriage at all.
"For the Lord has called you,
Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Even like a wife of one's youth when she is rejected,
...For a brief moment I forsook you...
But with great compassion I will gather you...
with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you."
Isaiah 54:6-8
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."
Isaiah 61:10