Historical Fiction

“Thomas, James! We are almost there!” I called to the boys in the back of the wagon.

The boys popped their head out of the wagon eager to see the “light dirt” called “sand.” James stared at it in wonder and Thomas hollered that he wanted to go play in it. The tall grass by the seaside was swaying in the breeze like it had something to say. The sky was a bright blue, so different than the grey of the city which only had patches of blue here and there to remind you of what color the sky really is. The sand dunes were piled high everywhere you looked. A long time ago this land was pure marshland. Once it was drained in the late 1600’s, all that was left was perfect, fertile land and sea. Far to the other side, was land and horizon with colorful roofs on white houses in the distance.

“Let’s go see my cousin now, boys.” I said as I set off down the wide roads of Southport, marveling at the color and the emptiness that let in the air and light.

We arrived at the house and Thomas came out to greet me. He looked well and strong. “Daniel! You look well!” Thomas said.

“I am well, just tired. It was a long day in the wagon, but we made it. Here are my boys, Thomas and James.” I said

The boys hopped down from the wagon and greeted Thomas politely. Thomas then took off to explore, while James stood close by, still unsure of all that he was seeing.

“Let’s get you settled.” Thomas said as he led us into the cottage.

“Thomas! Let’s go inside.” I called.

“Inside? Why inside? I want to be outside!” Little Thomas whined.

“We must rest and eat and greet our cousin.” I said.

We walked into the first room and we were greeted by the cooking fire and a few comfortable looking chairs.

“How are things in Manchester?” asked Thomas after we had settled the children and we were sitting.

“Well enough, I suppose.” I answered.

I sat down in a chair by the fire, opposite my cousin Thomas.

“How about you?” I asked.

“Very well.” said Thomas.

“It’s nice to sit by a fire, rather than an oven in the tenement, I’ll say that.” I said as I sat back for a minute and enjoyed not just the warmth, but the colors of the fire.

“You have written that business is good?” Thomas asked.

“Yes, the canal is as busy as ever and people need my ropes. The new Railway is starting this fall. I’m hoping that new venture will need ropes. I am quite busy.”
 I said.

“Fascinating invention, that railway car!” Thomas said. “I’m not sure how I feel about traveling without my horse!” Thomas said.

“They say it’s safe, but I am not so sure.” I said

“People still need horses, so there’s no lack of work for my blacksmithing.” Thomas said, though, it leaves me little time for farm work.”

“I have no farm to worry about. Ellen goes to the market for our dinners. I hear that’s almost as back breaking as farming, with all of the women racing for the best.” I said, laughing. 

“I have read about all kinds of inventions in the textile business. I have heard of all of the mills opening up.” Thomas said

“Yes, there are quite a number popping up.” I said, “We know quite a few people that work at the mills. It is hard work. There is little fresh air. I feel lucky that I can work at the ropewalk, with some fresh air.” I said.

“Even our little seaside town is attracting a lot of visitors. The railway, I hear, will bring more.” Thomas said.

“This village is delightful. The children had never seen so much sand or water before. They could not stop chattering.” I said

“We won’t have mills here, but I do hear they are planning on building a lot more Inns. When I was a child here, there was nary a soul in sight for many days. Now, you run into people all day long.” Thomas said.

“My father used to to tell me of the blue skies, open fields and empty beaches of his childhood home. Soon after his schooling, visitors began arriving from the canal even though textile work began moving east, closer to the cities. He always seemed to miss the beauty of this land.” I said.

“They tinker and build and put noisy machines in big buildings, shutting out the daylight. Not me. It’s bad enough that I tinker with metal all day long, I am glad for when I can shoe a horse or see a customer in the daylight and air.” Thomas said.

“Yes, and now they are putting people into noisy machines to move them from one noisy place to another.” I said

“I shall stay by the sea. No matter of “progress”, people will always want a bit of peace and quiet by the sea.” Thomas said.

“Unless it is a port! I hear Sunderland is bringing in beautiful textiles from India. I hear it is very busy. We might need to take a trip there someday.” I said.

“When do you get your peace and quiet, Daniel?” Thomas asked.

“Oh, by the name of “The Crown and the Kettle”. That’s my growlery! Whiskey shuts out the din!” I said.

“Ha! A man needs his peace and quiet, no matter how he gets it.” Thomas said

“I do sometimes feel like the world is closing in on me. No where to breathe. They say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Well, it certainly seems like it could have the way they’re building up Manchester. Putting children to work in the mills already. Makes me wonder when it’s going to stop. I wonder when the gladiators will pop up.“ I said chuckling.

“Let’s go out and look at the stars while you have the chance, Cousin. Before Rome builds up around you shutting them out. ” Thomas said.

April 28, 2023 00:19

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