What a treat!

Another wee video for you. This one is about how I’m going to go about editing my NaNo novel when the first draft is finished.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pF4hbSecTY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

While I am busy finishing my first draft of my NaNo novel, I thought I’d give you a special treat. Jane Blewitt is one of the writers in our writers’ group, PenPals, and she is very interested in history as well as being a great writer. She often combines the two as she has in this short story.

If you want to find out what is fact and what is fiction, Jane has been kind enough to share some of her research with us after the story.

Enjoy!

~~~~~

A Twilight Memory of 28th January 1829

by

Jane Blewitt

 “It’s going to be a long night and you’re no going to make it any easier if you’re getting jittery already!” hissed Charlie.

“I can’t help it.  Do you think this is necessary?  It’s never happened in Penicuik before.  I mean, he’s only a wee bairn – surely they would show some mercy…” My voice trailed off.

“Do you think they care about that?  Do you want to run the risk with wee Jimmy?  If it goes wrong, you can tell ma it was your fault.”

“You’re right, you’re right.  I hate graveyards; it’s uncanny with this unholy time of day.  It’s neither day nor night.”

“Do you think I relish this task?  It has to be done and we’re family and best suited to carry it out. Well, I am at any rate,” assured Charlie. “Keep busy while it is light, Harry. Check we have everything in order.”

“I’ve checked everything a dozen times already.”

“Do it again!”

Sighing, I picked up the blunderbuss and examined it; everything was as it should be.  We had been given two as it was necessary that each of us was armed.  All the ammunition was present and correct.  Ma had provided us with food and ale, and thick blankets to help us through the cold night.  Though Charlie had sniffed that I wasn’t man enough to drink ale and I was that soft the blankets would make me fall asleep.  I gritted my teeth, grimly determined to prove my brother wrong.

“Don’t light the lamp, eejit!  We don’t want people to know we’re here!  You sit there, and I’ll stay here and that way we can watch the whole area – if you manage to stay awake, that is,” commanded Charlie.

It didn’t help that Charlie was right, I was jittery.  This place was eerie during this half-light but unthinkable to contemplate what it was like at night.  No one of sane mind would be caught lingering here.  The age of the place didn’t help although our Watchhouse was fairly new.  I started at a sudden noise.

“Barn owl,” growled Charlie.  I could feel his glare burning my skin through the dark.

It didn’t help that I couldn’t get that blasted skipping rhyme out of my brain either.  I repeated my prayers to steady my nerves and remind myself that I was a good Christian, thus having nothing to fear.  Afterwards I chewed some bread to help me stay awake.  At last, the moon peeped out from under its blanket, for which I was thankful at first, but then shuddered as the dancing shadows played tricks with my eyes and my mind.

It was halfway through the night before I heard them.  The sounds were unearthly and were advancing and retreating at stages.  I strained to see who it was.  I could hear the foliage moving and strange grunts as they bumped into the grave stones.  They were progressing to where Jimmy lay!  I called out a warning to the Resurrectionists, which was ignored.  I lowered my blunderbuss and fired.  Charlie managed to light the lamp and we ran to Jimmy’s grave.

“Henry Dewar!  You have succeeded in shooting Granny McLeod’s pig!” roared Charlie with laughter.

I gave a watery smile, but my nerves were torn to pieces.  Altogether, I was a thankful man when our watch had ended and our cousins took our place.  I started the walk back home and Charlie caught up with me after having exchanged the various items of news.

“The lads were saying Burke swung for it yesterday morning.  It doesn’t make it any easier for us. Shame we still have to keep an eye out for the Resurrectionists.”  Charlie jaunted off, thinking of his breakfast and singing that skipping rhyme:

“Up the close and doun the stair,
But and ben wi’ Burke and Hare.
Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief,
Knox the boy that buys the beef.”

~~~~~

And now, the background facts.

Henry Dewar was a real person and the incident I’ve described did happen but I’ve used a wee bit of the literary flight of imagination as I wasn’t sure what Henry’s brother was called.  Thank goodness we can be creative when writing!  Other characters have gone down infamously in history and the skipping rhyme used to be sung by children in Edinburgh and the surrounding area.  So my story is a mixture of fact and fiction.  Hope you enjoy!

I’ve a direct quote from The Annals of Penicuik – Chapter V – Ecclesiastical History, which was written by By John J. Wilson (1891):

The old watch-house in the churchyard will also be remembered by many of the inhabitants. In the times when body-lifting was so common, to provide subjects for dissection, it was erected at a cost of £20 by a number of the inhabitants. A Watching Committee was formed, and each had the right to watch at night after any of their relatives had been buried. Two guns, with suitable ammunition, were provided, and the watch was usually kept by two persons. There is no record, so far as I know, of any resurrectionists visiting our churchyard to carry out their dismal work. The only tragedy, indeed, which occurred was the shooting of a pig by Henry Dewar, whose excited imagination, when lie heard it moving about the tombs, led him to believe that a nocturnal body-snatcher had at last made his appearance. This watching was discontinued about the year 1840. In connection with the matter it may be interesting to my readers to learn that Burke, of infamous memory, lived for a considerable time in Penicuik. He lodged with Lucky Millar in the High Street, and worked as a labourer at the mill-lade which was being cut between Lowmill and Esk Mills.

~~~~~

Hope you enjoyed Jane’s story as much as I did.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Yolanda Isabel Regueira Marin
    Nov 28, 2013 @ 19:19:30

    Thanks for sharing, I see you are still I n bed. Have to try that for inspiration lol Congratulations on meeting your challenge.

    Like

    Reply

  2. Katie Cross
    Nov 29, 2013 @ 17:11:56

    A definite treat! I loved, loved it, and your video was perfect. Editing is 3/4 the battle for me!

    Like

    Reply

    • cicampbell2013
      Nov 29, 2013 @ 17:48:21

      Thank you, Katie. Yes, for me too. I always think the first draft is like paint primer. It’s absolutely necessary as a foundation on which to layer the colour. The more layers, the deeper the colour.

      Like

      Reply

  3. Wendy Janes
    Nov 28, 2016 @ 20:22:31

    Loved the video, Christine.
    I also really enjoyed how Jane has combined fact and fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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