She was but two years old and the taint was already in her, Jedidiah Thickett laid a heavy hand on his King James Bible, handed down through generations from his great-great grand-daddy to his great grand-daddy to his grand-daddy then to his daddy and finally to him. He laid a thick, gnarled and heavy hand upon his bible and he looked down at the little girl he was dandling on his knee and he sighed, a ponderous heavy sigh. “Louisa” he murmured in that deep whisper of his “Yes paw?” his daughter replied in that tremulous way of hers, “Fetch maw” Louisa pondered the dark clouds of wrath massing on her father’s brow and trembled. She did not have to ask what the matter was, she did not have to guess it, for had she not also heard the forbidden word which had tumbled innocently from her sister’s lips, she rushed to fetch her mother.
Bettina Thickett burbled happily on her fathers lap, as he ruffled her hair with his bear paw of a hand, whilst at the same time rifling through the pages of his bible with a thickened, gnarled, finger. Turning to the New Testament he saw that his finger had landed on that part of the bible to do with the temptation of Christ. Taking care to underline each word, and each phrase with his finger he read the episode, from time to time murmuring in assent at some aspect of the saviour’s response to the devil, that he found worthy. He was still reading the episode and dandling his daughter on his knee when his wife crept trembling into the room. “You asked for me paw?” Jedidiah sighed, a heavy, ponderous sigh, but this time slightly quickened as if fueled by some inner fire. Maw Thickett knew the sign of rage when it lit upon her husband, as she had known it half her married life and she eyed the heavy tome on which his heavy hand was laid with severe misgivings. Taking his finger out of the King James bible, Jedidiah placed his hand under his daughter’s legs and bouncing her gently up and down whilst he cooed to her, “Aren’t you my little darling!” he cooed to her, “Aren’t you my little darling? Tell maw your new words!”
She steeled herself as her daughter chortled with glee and uttered the phrase “Gove bweee pwaised! Gove bweee pwaised!” Maw Thickett flinched, Jedidiah Thickett’s lips thinned, and when he raised his eyes she paled and inadvertently made the sign of a cross behind her back. “Is this how you raise our daughter?! Is this how you ensure that she has a fine southern upbringing?!”
“Woman if you were a man! So God help me! I’d have you shot for this…this treacherous act of dishonour! No blood of mine will embrace the nefarious teachings of an imperialist! You are a daughter of the revolution are you not madam? And you will raise my child likewise!”
Getting to his feet, he tumbled the child into the arms of her trembling and shaking mother, Maw was barely able to grasp her daughter firmly enough to stop her from tumbling to the ground. Standing as he did six foot tall with his wife cowering before him, he seemed almost like a god and indeed he was in his home, for all the women folk stood in fear of him, whilst his followers (and there were many) looked up to him in awe.
“Why I cannot think of more godly texts than the nursery rhymes of Thomas Paine and the King James bible. Learn her those and bring her back to me on Sunday so that I may see what progress she has made”
Nodding in submissive assent Maw Thickett left the room, sitting down once more Jedidiah continued to read the remainder of his text and when he finally rose and pulled on the servant’s bell it was as if he had formed a definite resolution about some matter,
“Yes Sir?” inquired the Butler, the only individual to remain unperturbed by his master’s disposition,
“Send in Mr Geraghty”
Mr Geraghty whom he had kept waiting for nigh on an hour in the front parlour, Mr Geraghty who had travelled miles over land and sea to find and secure the one man who alone could be held responsible for the eviction, and subsequent starvation, of a third of his family. Mr Geraghty who had taken full advantage of the Battle of Grid-Iron Square in order to exact his revenge on Lord Grid-Iron only to see him slip out of his hands and through a collapsing roof.
“Mr Geraghty, ever a pleasure sir! Please, please take a seat” Jedidiah drew up an armchair before the fire place and bade Geraghty join him, this Geraghty duly did pulling out a cigar which he duly lit from the fire. Jedidiah pulled out his pipe stuffed it with Cherrywood tobacco and having lit it proceeded to draw in the near sweet smoke at regular intervals slowly exhaling it in vast streams. They sat for a while staring into the fire, puffing and exhaling, at length Jedidiah spoke,
“Paid for and well hidden, Gantry has the keys”
“And the Nitroglycerin?”
“Also paid for and well hidden at Turkles”
“And the guns?”
“Safe and secure in the basement of the Theatre Royal, the theatre manager is in our employ”
“And you trust his allegiance?”
“He’s my Uncle”
“Very well then” Jedidiah Thickett arose from his armchair leaning against the fire place, he looked down upon Geraghty from his great height , his piercing blue eyes staring into the blazing fire,
“There is a certain haunt frequented by disreputable persons (and equally by certain reputable persons), where a room can be got for a shilling and Opium can be had for a penny a piece. I am told by a fellow believer who runs the place, that the haunt, though frequently overrun by the sons of the aristocracy, only tenants one of that ilk at the present time. One George Laidlaw, a softly spoken man with soft, white, hands.” he uttered the words ‘soft’ and ‘white’ with heavy sarcasm, “I’m told, that a woman frequently visits him there, a lady of uncertain birth, with flame coloured hair?” he glanced quickly at the taut features of Geraghty and then back at the fire, “Bow & Barking Creek is where you’ll find your quarry, lodged just as cosy as you please at the Nags Head Tavern. If I were you I’d hurry…”
Jedidiah continued gazing into the fire, pretending not to hear the ferocity with which Geraghty stubbed out his cigar, nor the unseemly haste with which he swept out of the room, over turning his armchair in the process. Jedidiah was too busy contemplating the swift retribution he intended to exact on behalf of the daughters and sons of the revolution.
“The Theatre Royal” he muttered to himself “TheTheatre Royal” sitting back in his armchair he pondered, he reflected and he brooded. And then at length with a heavy sigh he opened his King James bible.