The new Yorkshire Ghost Story is now available for pre-order. Release date: 28th February 2017
No matter how hard life is, humanity has the power to make it better – or worse.
Parliament of Rooks contrasts the beautiful, inspiring village of Haworth today with the slum – or rookery – it was during the industrial revolution: rife with disease, heartache, poverty, and employing child slavery in the mills.
In 2017, life expectancy in the UK is 81. In 1848 Haworth, it was 22.
Martha hitched up the bundle strapped to her front then, satisfied Baby John was secure, grasped the handle and began to haul the full bucket up the well shaft.
John barely mewled in protest at the violent, rhythmic action, already used to the daily routine, and Martha pushed thoughts of the future out of her mind. Her firstborn was sickly, and she was surprised he had survived his first two months. He was unlikely to live much longer.
She stopped to rest, her body not yet fully recovered from the rigours of the birthing, then bent her back to her task once more. She had too much to do to indulge in a lengthy reprieve.
Once she had the water and had scrubbed their rooms clear of coal dust and soot, she’d be up to the weaver’s gallery to start on the day’s pieces.
She stopped again, took a couple of deep breaths, then coughed as fetid air filled her struggling lungs. Bracing herself, she continued the wind, cursing the dry February that had caused the well to run so low.
At last she could see the bucket, water slopping with each jerk of the rope. Reaching over, she grasped the handle and filled her ewers.
Adjusting Baby John once more, she bent, lifted, and embarked on the trudge homeward.
‘Blasted slaughterman!’ she cried, just catching herself as she slipped on the blood pouring down the alley past the King’s Arms and on to the high street. She’d forgotten it was market day tomorrow. The slaughterhouse was busy today. Another deep breath, another cough, and Martha trudged on, the bottom of her skirts soaked in blood.
The Parsonage, Haworth
She heard the snort of the horses and the trundle of cart wheels on packed but sticky earth just in time, and was already jumping out of the way before the drayman’s warning shout reached her.
‘Damn and blast thee!’ she screeched as she landed in the midden anext the King’s Arms, stinking of rotten meat and offal from the slaughterhouse next door.
She clambered back to her feet, checked Baby John was unharmed, then noticed her empty ewers lying in the muck beside her.
Covered in blood and filth she ran after the dray, cursing at the top of her lungs, then stopped. That wasn’t the drayman sat atop his cart of barrels. That was a trap carrying a passenger.
She watched the carriage come to a halt by the church steps, and a jealous rage surged in the pit of her stomach as the passenger alighted. Emily Brontë had returned to Haworth.