Chapter 1

Finn Laverty walked out  to the dusty street to catch a scent of the early spring flowers.  He was in the mood for the romantic sentiments they conjured up.

Finn held in his hand a letter from his beloved Hildy. She was several thousand miles away and probably getting ready for bed at this hour.

Despite his successes since coming to America, he missed her. She had not wanted to make a trip into the unknown  from County Atrium so refused his offer of an immediate marriage.

“Give her some time”, thought Finn.  He folded the letter into his pocket and walked back into the print shop.

Time seemed to be on Finn’s side. He had made a lot of progress since getting off ship at Williamsburg two years before. Why couldn’t she see that?

Arriving in Virginia as the war with Britain was subsiding, Finn thought he had entered heaven. In this place he would not have to put up with the harassment of the King’s soldiers and supplicants back in Ulster.

Making his way across the Virginia Piedmont and into the mountains of the southwest region, the stocky Irishman had settled in a small settlement called Draper’s Meadow. The entire area was still mostly wilderness, having been abandoned as a result of the Indian wars of 30 years before.

However, in the last decade Samuel Black had come to Montgomery County and bought 600. He had big plans for the tract, and had begun the makings of a village.

At first Finn took care of some of the Black family’s sheep. He had grown up as a shepherd boy, helping his father with his woolen business back in Ireland.

Eventually, Finn built a small shack and managed to import a printing press all the way from Belfast. He was the only source of printed news for the 10,000 residents of the county.

The only other information came by word of mouth over the Blue Ridge from the East. Some relative of one of the farmers would come to visit, or a man’s bride arrived from Britain or Ireland.

An occasional soldier arrived home after serving his time in George Washington’s arm y. Usually these men had little to say.

They did do one thing well, though. They complained with loud swearing and epithets over their treatment by the Continental Congress.

Most of the men in Washington’s army were underfed and underpaid. These boys coming home to Montgomery County were fed up and let everyone know it.

Finn could appreciate their disappointment, but he wasn’t too keen about the way they expressed it. Some nights they would get in a drunken argument at the tavern over in Hot Springs.

The foul language these former soldiers picked up from their days in the Continental Army seemed more appropriate for a sailor than an infantryman.  It offended Finn’s Catholic sensibilities.

There weren’t too many Papists in Virginia, especially in the Alleghenies, but no one gave Finn trouble like the British did back home.  He was left alone to worship as he pleased.

There  wasn’t even a priest around, so Finn was left to do his own confessions.  The people in the area were mostly god-fearing Protestant folk, and he kept his beliefs to himself, not wishing to rock their spiritual boats with talk of rosaries, saints and the Virgin Mary.

However, Finn wasn’t quiet about his revolutionary fervor. He hated the British and their royal line.

In County Atrium he and his friends had suffered under the merciless cruelty of their  troops, who had little love for Rome and the followers of the Pope. They were capable of horrors that most people thought were limited to Cossacks on the Russian steppes.

Finn himself had been strung up and cut down over and over again, gasping for air. The King’s soldiers had once poured  hot tar on the head of one of his closest mates, shearing off his hair and part of his scalp in a process known as pitchcapping.

 At first the soldiers attacked Finn and his friends in minor ways because of his printing of pro-Catholic literature.  His shop received an occasional stone through the window.

However, once the Irishman had begun countering with anti-British propaganda, the opposition grew more vicious.  So did their methods of ingenious torture.

Once the suffering got severe, Finn had had enough. He made arrangements to sell his print shop and press and took the proceeds to finance his immigration to Virginia.

His parents and Hildy were not happy about his departure, but they understood it. He would probably never see his parents again, but Hildy was another matter.

Once he was able to save enough money to start his own flock, Finn could get out from under the Black’s domain and start his own small farm. Combined with the small income he received from his newspaper, he could make a living and bring Hildy to the hills, meadows and peaks he had grown to love.

A man needed his freedom in Finn’s way of thinking. Just because a person wore a fine wig and breeches didn’t make him any better than the next man.

America was a fine place to carry this belief from where Finn sat. The sky was the limit here.

A young man like himself could do just about anything he wanted if he set his mind to it. The royals just had to get out of the way.

When he saw that they were being in fact pushed to leave their colonies in North America, he knew  America was the place for him. He had done a lot of reading in Ireland and knew that the leaders of the Revolution were radicals.

They kept the writings of John Locke and Thomas Paine on their shelves. These revolutionaries were developing their own heroes of the press as well in the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Frankin.

Finn wanted to be a part of this fresh breeze of liberty.  Virginia would be his home from here on out.

As he sat type, Finn heard an uproar outside his little building.  A few man were yelling in surprise and joy, including one with an all-too familiar brogue.

When Finn looked up, he stared into the face of a tall brown haired and blue eyed fellow Irishman.

“I’m lookin fer’ Finn Laverty. Would that be you?”.

“Whose askin’? ”

“Why, it’s Daniel Connell”.

Finn thought for a quick moment and realized who was standing before him. He had heard of his cousin, but had never met him.

“I’m your flesh and blood fresh from the War against those devils across the Atlantic”, Connell said, noticing Finn’s combined look of confusion and amusement.

“Welcome. Welcome, you old sod”, Finn replied as he shook himself into awareness. “What brings you out across these mountains?”

“I’m running away from the royals”.

“Well, I thought they had left, cousin”.

“I’m not talking about those British sons of devils, Finn, my boy.”

“Who then? Spit it out!”

“I’m fleeing from my old masters. George Washington has been declared King in New York!”

Finn did something he never did. He swore.    

This blogger is participating in National Novel Writing Month, which begins on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word plus novel in 30 days. This is an excerpt of his endeavor.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Chapter 1

  1. Eddie Boylan

    Keep the “pen to the paper” and finish the race !

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