When I first started blogging, long before I was published, Elaine Cougler was one of the first author’s I met online. She’s been encouraging me ever since, so it’s a great pleasure to finally have her on Mystery Mondays.
Linking History and Fiction Through Theme
by Elaine Cougler
One of the things I like to do in my books is to show the strengths of ordinary people, fictional though they may be. Putting them in ever more dangerous and extraordinary situations allows me to do just that. In The Loyalist Legacy, for example, Lucy has to find a way to get her husband released from jail where he has been wrongly imprisoned with not so much as a charge against him. Oh, she learns why those in power are holding him. He has helped far too many simple settlers with legal problems over their land in the burgeoning Niagara communities, all too often going against the rich and powerful. In a rough country where democracy is still just an idea, the high-and-mighty rule.
A good shot with her very own rifle, Lucy is the mother of a grown family with grandchildren on both sides of the Niagara River. On more than one occasion she has shown her mettle, but now she yearns for what she had thought would be quiet years with her husband. Instead, she and John are still struggling, this time with their own British government in Upper Canada.
The day John was seized from their mill near Fort Erie, she rushed to Niagara (present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake) thinking John would be released immediately. It didn’t happen. This circumstance gave me, as the author, the chance to have Lucy meet Richard Beasley, the real person who owned the land on Burlington Bay, which the British actually seized as a marshalling station and army camp during the War of 1812.
Beasley’s mostly true story became one of the subplots in this third novel in the trilogy.
Here is the scene where Lucy meets Richard Beasley.
Lucy lay on the lumpy bed as the snow beat against Aaron’s newly installed glass windowpane and tried to keep the tears from coming again. John had told her to forget about him. He worried that her constant running back and forth from the inn to the jail would aggravate her paining joints. “Go back home, Lucy,” he’d said week in and week out the past three months.
“But I can’t!” Her voice echoed in the bare room. How she ached to have him with her. She rolled over once again, taking care with her right knee. Her latest patchwork quilt at least kept her warm and reminded her of better times.
In the morning she would try to get the jailer to let her bring food to John. His hands were so bony and his trousers so loose, she knew they weren’t feeding him much at all. She would make that jailer listen to reason!
The rebuilt Angel Inn, burned with almost every building in Niagara that December of 1813, this morning bustled with travelers and local hangers-on, all slurping their steaming bowls of porridge and gulping tankards of ale as though they hadn’t eaten or drunk for days. Aaron was back in the kitchen dishing up orders while Lucy rushed as best she could from table to table, side-stepping the boots protruding into the aisles and the arms flung out to emphasize some important point in a customer’s harrowing story.
Her mind was on her plan this morning. That jailer would listen or she would—well, she didn’t know what she would do but she would convince him to let her give John the bowl of porridge she would carry with her. Maybe she’d take two and bribe the jailer with his very own. Ah, that’s a good idea.
“Watch what you’re doing, woman!”
She tripped and fell right into the table, upsetting the bowl of porridge she carried all over the men’s food. “I’m so sorry, gentlemen!” With her cloth she wiped up the mess. “I’ll get more. I wasn’t thinking…Please forgive me.” She couldn’t stop talking and felt the heat spread from her face all down her front, adding to her embarrassment.
“Madam, do not worry.” The well-dressed man’s voice soothed as he spoke. “This is just a trifle. Do not concern yourself.”
She looked up. The speaker was the ruddy-faced, white-haired man she’d noticed when he came in. He smiled at her. He still had most of his teeth. The table put back to rights, she picked up her cloth and curtsied quickly. “Thank you, sir,” she whispered in a voice so soft she wondered if he could even hear it.
But he did. “Landlord! Give this woman a shot of brandy. She’s pale as a ghost.”
When the War of 1812 is finally over William and Catherine Garner flee the desolation of Niagara and find in the wild heart of Upper Canada their two hundred acres straddling the Thames River. On this valuable land, dense forests, wild beasts, disgruntled Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans. William cannot take his family back to Niagara, but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and the children, he hurries along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return in time for spring planting.
With realistic insights into the challenging lives of Ontario’s early settlers, Elaine Cougler once again draws readers into the Loyalists’ struggles to build homes, roads, and relationships, and their growing dissension as they move ever closer to another war. The Loyalist Legacy shows us the trials faced by ordinary people who conquer unbelievable hardships and become extraordinary in the process.
Praise for Elaine Cougler’s writing:
“….absolutely fascinating….Cougler doesn’t hold back on the gritty realities of what a couple might have gone through at this time, and gives a unique view of the Revolutionary War that many might never have considered.”
Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews.
“….an intriguing story” A Bookish Affair
“I highly recommend this book for any student of history or anyone just looking for a wonderful story.”
Book Lovers Paradise –“Elaine’s storytelling is brave and bold.” Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Oh, for the Hook of a Book
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