✔ IN STOCK: Ships in 2 to 3 business days
Domestic and International Shipping Options
The Winds and the Waves by Dean Hughes, the nationally acclaimed writer, is the first in a new series and the 99th book he has published during his 33-year career.—Read the full press release on LDSLiving.com (Click Here)
Will Lewis is stuck. the class system in England in the 1840s seems destined to keep him in his place as a poor tenant farmer who cannot improve his lot and will never be able to marry the woman he loves. But the "new religion" that is sweeping through congregations of the United Brethren, Will's church, may hold the key to the better life he longs for. As he listens to the preaching of Wilford Woodruff, he almost dares to hope for the Zion the young Apostle describes.
Will's struggles to believe and to face the rigors of immigrating to an unknown land are paralleled by the modern-day story of Jeff and Abby, a young married couple facing challenges of their own. When Jeff begins digging into his family history, he finds himself particularly drawn to "Grandpa Lewis," an ancestor whose life was more like his than he would have imagined.
The skillful interweaving of these two stories brings Church history to life while demonstrating how much we can learn from those who went before us. Anyone who has ever faced the winds and the waves, in some form, will love this novel.
What books (if any) do you read for inspiration?
Other than the scriptures, I’m not sure that I read any particular book for inspiration. I read all kinds of things, always trying to understand what writing is all about. I read more history than anything else, and that’s partly because I’ve been writing historical novels in recent years, but it’s also because history fascinates me. I always have a list of books I want to get to, and lately I’ve been going back to read things I read fifty years ago and want to try again. I read reviews of books that have won awards or are being widely read, and I download them to my Kindle. I spot books in bookstores, or my wife tells me about something she’s reading—all sorts of things get me started. What inspires me is a really fine insight, stated well, and I find those in many places.
Interview with Dean Hughes:
Do you have certain tools you go to for the history part of your books?
Research has become much easier in recent years. There was a time when I sat in a library or archive for many hours, and I still do that at times, but I can find much of what I’m looking for at home now. When I’m starting a new project, I like to go to Curt Bench’s store, Benchmark Books, in Salt Lake City. I try to find the seminal works on a subject: especially the general books that give me an overview of the period I want to understand. The bibliographies in those books guide me to others sources, and the nice thing is, I can sit at home and order most of what I want to find, including many works that are out of print.
As I figure out my plot and know more exactly what I need to know, I look for books on nineteenth-century farming techniques or log cabin construction. What’s great, though, is that the Internet is replete with sites that zero in on specific information. There was a time when I had to go to LDS Church archives to find materials that are now published online. (The Joseph Smith Papers, both online, and in published form) have been a big help for me, for example. I write on an iMac with a twenty-seven inch screen, and I type my notes instead of taking them by hand. I can juxtapose my notes and the page I’m writing on the same screen, and then check details without much trouble, simply using keywords to find what I’m looking for.
I also find that I Google all sorts of things. If I’m writing a scene that involves an actual person, for instance, such as Eliza R. Smith, I wonder exactly how old she is and instead of looking through books or notes, I Google her name, and spot a bio, which always provides her birthdate. In a few seconds I know exactly how old she was in 1843 (thirty-nine, as a matter of fact). I have to be careful, because web sites are not all of equal quality, and there are mistakes all over the place, but I love to hit a couple of buttons and get instant information. My biggest challenge is that there is more information available than I can possibly read; sooner or later, I have to write the book.
What inspires the ideas for your fiction?
People often ask me where I get my ideas, but I hardly know what to say. For some reason that’s what my brain does pretty much all day. It grabs on to some little clue and says, “Hey, Dean, you could write about that some time.” I guess it’s a habit of mind from writing for thirty-five years (actually, that’s publishing for thirty-five years; I’ve been writing much longer.) And yet, it seems as though my brain has always been that way. Music, books, movies, the evening news, a conversation overheard, a certain scene or mood or desire: all sorts of things kick off ideas, and then my mind starts turning the idea into a story. In fact, when I’m driving, I fairly often forget where I’m going. My mind is too busy to waste time on such minor things.
- Size: 6 x 9
- Pages: 444
- Published: 05/2012
- Book on CD: Unabridged, 10 discs
About the Author
Dean Hughes has published books for readers of all ages, including the bestselling historical fiction series Children of the Promise. Through Cloud and Sunshine is his one-hundredth published book. Dean holds a bachelor’s degree from Weber State University and master’s and PhD degrees from the University of Washington. He has taught English at Central Missouri State University and Brigham Young University. Dean and his wife, Kathleen Hurst Hughes, served a mission to Nauvoo, Illinois. The parents of three children and grandparents of nine, they live in Midway, Utah.
Will Lewis heard a wailing sound, faint and distant. When it came again—sharper this time—above the noisy scrape of his plow blade, he shouted, “Whoa!” He reached with his stick and tapped the rumps of his oxen. “That’s it, Nick. There’s a good lad, Nimble. Take a rest now.” The oxen settled to the ground, still yoked.
Will looked down the hill to the south end of the field, where he thought the cry had sounded, but he saw nothing. Then he heard it again, and he saw movement close to the south hedge. By the time he recognized that an arm was waving, he was already running. There was a pinched insistence in the voice; something was wrong.
Will stumbled and wobbled as he ran over the heavy clods in the plowed soil. “Help,” someone was yelling. “Here. Here, Will. By the stile.”
By then he could see that it was his father, Morgan, dressed in his farmer’s long smock frock. He was rolled up on his side, looking like a pile of white linen. “Dad, what is it? What’s happened?” His father was gripping his right leg, which was bent toward his chest. Will dropped down next to him.
“I can na’ get up,” Morgan said, but he no longer sounded quite so desperate. “I was crossin’ the hedge an’ jumped down from the stile. But me knee give way. I’ve torn somethin’ inside, Will. It burns like a fire.” He tried to straighten his leg, but he grimaced and then grasped it tight again.
“What were you meanin’, jumpin’ off a stile?”
“I can still climb a stile, can na’ I? An’ jump down too. I come down wrong, that’s all.”
“You’re near fifty, Dad. It’s time to think on that.”
But Morgan was looking away from Will, toward the sky. “I prayed, son. I called out, but you could na’ hear. That’s when I lifted up me voice to God an’ called again—and the Spirit carried the sound to your ears. It’s what I’ve said so many a time. God does—”
“Pray next time that you’ll know better’n to make such a jump. That’s the prayer you should be sayin’.”
“What I pray—more’n anythin’—is that you’ll soften your heart and not talk so.”
Will didn’t want to hear another of his father’s sermons. “Let’s get you to the house,” he said. He got his hands under Morgan’s arms and hoisted him upright, and then he slipped his shoulder under his right arm. “Can ye place a little weight on that leg, or do I need to pack ye on me back?”
“I can manage a little, I think, if I . . .” But when Morgan tried to straighten the leg again, he gasped and tightened his grip around Will’s neck. Will knew the damage must be serious, and his mind was already running to all the troubles that lay ahead. For now, though, he needed to get his father to their cottage, on the other side of the hedge. He moved in front with his back to his father and got the man’s arms over his shoulders. Then he bent forward. “Hang on to me,” he said, and he grabbed Morgan’s left leg and pulled him up. He heard another gasp. “Is that hurting ye too much?” he asked.
“I’ll last it out,” Morgan gasped.
“Say another prayer,” Will said, and he wasn’t mocking. He trudged forward along the hedgerow, his boots sinking into the damp soil. “I’m heading to the gate. It’s a long way about, but there’s no other way I can go.”
“I know. Keep on agoin’.”
And that Will could do. He was twenty-two, the oldest of the seven Lewis children, and he had been carrying the heaviest load for the family for the last four years. He was a powerful man, built like those oxen—thick and hard in the shoulders and limbs—but there was none of their bovine indifference in him. He looked forceful when he walked, and whenever he strode into Ledbury for church meetings, or even just strolled past booths on market day, he turned the heads of the young women in town. His hair was almost black, his skin tanned from the sun, but his eyes were bright and intensely blue—always a surprise when someone first looked at him.
Will made it to the gate, used his free hand to unlatch it, and then headed past the old brick barn and the hayricks. He was already thinking ahead. He needed to take care of his dad, but he also needed to get a lot more work done before the rains started again. Clouds had been gathering all day, and by tomorrow he might not be able to get back into his fields. It had gone that way so far this spring, with rain falling more days than not and the soil never quite drying out. Spring was often like that in this part of England, but it was April, and most years Will had planted his barley by now.
“How bad is the pain?” Will asked.
“God’s helping me.” But Morgan was breathing hard, moaning a little with each step Will took.
“There’s Daniel,” Morgan said. “He can help.”
Will was already heading around the cottage, so he didn’t need Daniel now. But before he reached the front gate, Daniel hurried past and opened it. “What’s gone amuck?” he asked, sounding curious more than concerned.
“Give Will a hand. I’ve hurten me knee.”
“Do na’ bother,” Will grunted. “Open the door. And tell Mum we’re acomin’ in.”
Daniel was already at the door, but the old latch caught; he had to shake it before it let go. He stepped in and called, “Mum, it’s Dad. He’s hurt his leg. Where do you want us to lay him out?”
Will bent low so that his father’s head wouldn’t hit the doorjamb, and then he stepped into the dim light of the cottage. His mother had just stood up from a chair by the front window. “Oh, Morgan,” she said, “whatever have you—”
“Never mind all that, Nettie. I’ll be right as rain. Send Josiah ta town, fast as he can run, and bring back Brother Watkins.”
“Do you want him in the back or out here?” Will asked. The cottage had only two rooms—a bedroom in back and beds in the main room too, along with the fireplace where all the cooking was done.
“In the back room.” She touched Morgan’s shoulder. “Is it your ankle, or—”
“Nay. Me knee,” Morgan said. “It’s somethin’ inside what’s pulled apart. I felt it give way. But God’ll heal it.”
Will didn’t say what he thought about that. He merely bent to get through another door and then stepped to the bed. He crouched and at the same time let his father’s good leg slide from his hand down to the floor. He balanced him, turned him on one foot, then slipped around him so they were face-to-face. “I’m going to take your weight now and let you sit down on the bed.”
But his dad did most of the work, all but hefting his right leg onto the bed. When Will did that, a muffled little cry emitted from his father’s throat, but nothing more.
“Oh, Morgan, you’re badly hurt,” Nettie was saying. “I’ll call Josiah, but we better send for Doctor Eldredge. You might have broken a bone.”
“No. I do na’ need him. Brother Watkins will rebuke the pain and I’ll be walkin’ again in that very moment.”
Brother Arthur Watkins was a lay preacher for the United Brethren. Morgan had been raised as a dissenter from the Anglican Church—a Wesleyan Methodist—but he had joined an offshoot group called “Primitive Methodists,” and then he had discovered the United Brethren. A lay preacher named Thomas Kington, a Primitive Methodist himself, had formed an organization—a group of believers—who sought “light and truth,” as they liked to say. By now, in 1839, many branches of the organization, with several hundred members, had spread across Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, and Worcestershire, mostly in the Malvern Hills.
Will, with the rest of the family, had begun attending services in the Ledbury, Herefordshire, branch of the United Brethren, which met in the home of Brother Watkins. Nettie and the younger children seemed happy enough with the choice, but Will was skeptical and Daniel was mostly uninterested. Morgan had become far more resolute in his faith in recent years, and to Will he seemed fanatical, as did many of the other United Brethren. At every service and prayer meeting people reported their dreams and visions, spoke in tongues, or testified of faith healings. But Will doubted that God fussed with day-to-day aches and pains. His parents—and everyone at church—had been asking God for weeks to hold back the rains so that spring planting could commence, and what had come? More rain. So Will had started plowing before the ground was really dry. He wasn’t about to wait for all those prayers to slip through the dark clouds and penetrate heaven.
“Bring Brother Watkins,” his dad was mumbling again. “That’s all I ask of ye.” But his eyes were closed and his jaw clenched. “It’s like a knife stickin’ in me.”
Will was suddenly sorry for his impatience with his father. The man did work hard. And he accomplished a great deal for someone his age.
Nettie seemed to be thinking much the same. “Oh, Morgan, I’m sorry this has happened,” she said. “I’ll send Josiah, and I’ll make a brown-paper poultice. That might cool the pain a little, for now.” She turned to Daniel. “Find Josiah, quickly as you can.”
Daniel nodded, but he was smiling as though he saw something comic in the scene. He left the room without showing any sign that he was in a hurry.
Will wanted to get back to the field. The house seemed to be getting darker, those clouds surely continuing to build, but it didn’t feel quite right to leave so soon. “Dad, is there anything I can do for you? Can I hold your leg or—”
“No. Do na’ touch it.” Morgan took a long breath, then added, “Go on with your business. You can na’ do a thing for me here, and when the preacher come, you will na’ add nor a penny’s worth of faith to his blessin’.”
“I guess there’s enough truth in that,” Will said. He stepped from the bedroom and found his mother down on her knees, searching in a cupboard by the fireplace. Will had seen her put together poultices before—wheat bran and vinegar, more often than not. She had plastered Will with her concoctions all his life. He had never been certain that they helped him any.
Will watched, still wondering whether he ought to stay and help. But it was the longer view that was setting in as a reality now. “This is a bad time for this to happen,” he told his mother.
“When’s a good time?”
“Never, I guess. But right during the planting season, that’s about the worst.”
“You always do the plowing. He hasn’t done any of that for two years.” She had found the tin container she had apparently been looking for. She started to use a hand to get up. Will reached and took hold of her elbow, but she got up under her own strength. She was a little younger than Morgan, but she had always been more delicate. Nettie’s father had been a merchant in Ledbury. He had operated a chair-making business and had sold his furniture in a little store at the front of the family house on Homend Street, the main street of town. He was considered above the “working class,” a craftsman, and Nettie—Neath was her actual name—had received several years of education. At twenty-three she had found no husband, and she had met Morgan. He was the son of a tenant farmer from Wellington Heath, a lovely green valley just north of town. Morgan was socially beneath her, but he was handsome and strong, and he had humbly professed his love. She had convinced her father that she shouldn’t miss her chance to marry and have a family.
Nettie had told all this to Will—told him probably because she could talk to Will better than she ever could to Morgan. And what she had also told him was that she had felt for many years that her husband was disappointed in her. She hadn’t come to the marriage with many household skills, having had “help” in her house, so she had learned everything as a wife. She had worked hard, learned from other women, and devoted herself to her children, but she had not really understood what it would mean to live as a tenant farmer’s wife. She had also not realized that Morgan would be so hard to know. She had settled into a quiet life, often alone with her thoughts, even though she was busy with her duties. She had done her best to cook and sew—even taking in sewing to add a few shillings a week to their income—and she had worked in the fields during harvest. But she wasn’t the woman Morgan’s mother had been, and, in little ways, he had made that known to her.
Will could see that Nettie was aging. She was forty-six now and much too thin. She lived with more pain all the time—rarely admitting to it, but showing it in the way she moved about the house. She would stitch for a time, stop to rub her fingers, and then go right back to her work. Since the day she had married Morgan, she had been working from sunup until long after sundown. Father was adamant about not doing farm work on Sunday, but he never noticed when Nettie cooked and even churned butter or salted meat on the Sabbath. Will doubted that since her wedding day she had ever spent two daytime hours in one stretch just resting—not even when she got sick.
“Dad’s the one who keeps things agoin’ around here,” Will said. “I can do the plowing, but with Dad staying in bed, Dan will sleep under the old sycamore out back. They all will—’cept the girls.”
“Will, don’t start all that again. Daniel does his share. He starts slowly, but he always gets to his work, in time.”
“That’s fine. I will na’ say another word. But when he finally comes ’round to his work, it’s Dad who, more’n not, gets him to it.”
“Don’t speak like a farm boy, Will. You have been taught better than that.”
Will couldn’t help smiling, but he didn’t reply. He was a farm boy; he could speak the Herefordshire dialect as well as anyone. It was when he had tried to speak his mother’s way that the lads at school had teased him. Still, Nettie had corrected him all his life. She believed that Will would better himself someday, and for that, he needed to speak correctly.
The door opened, and Sarah and Esther stepped in, the gray light from the open door making silhouettes of them. They were wearing white aprons and caps, both having spent their day in the little dairy that was attached to the back of the house. “What’s happened to Dad?” Sarah asked. “Daniel said he’s hurt himself.”
“He’s sprung his knee,” Nettie said. “Badly, I fear.”
“He’ll be laid up for quite some time,” Will said. He took a hard look at the girls, hoping they would understand that more would now be asked of everyone. Sarah was sixteen and Esther only eleven, but they were used to working hard. They milked two cows every morning, and that meant separating milk, churning butter, molding cheese. They fed animals, too, and they weeded in the garden and topped turnips. Josiah, who was fourteen, did some of those things as well, but he had plenty of work just cleaning out the barn, keeping the yard tidy, and doing all the other chores Morgan gave him.
“We’ll hope for the best,” Nettie said. She had assembled her ingredients on the dinner table in the center of the room and had spread out a scrap of brown paper.
“I’ll tell you this much,” Will told the lasses. “He couldn’t get up, couldn’t even make his leg go straight. I’ll wager he won’t walk for a fortnight and won’t work for a month. When a man his age makes a muck and muddle of his knee, there’s not much anyone can do to make it right again.”
“He thinks God’ll heal him,” Sarah said. “That’s what Daniel said.”
Will looked down at the floor—the smooth-worn paving stones. “Well, I hope he’s right.”
“But you don’t believe it, do you?”
“I don’t have his faith. Father just told me that himself.” Will meant to say no more, but he couldn’t help adding, “Still, I’m thinking we’re all going to have to work harder around here.”
“Dan can fill in for Dad,” Esther said, and she laughed. Sarah laughed too, and Will finally smiled. He knew the girls loved Daniel—probably more than they loved him—but everyone knew how Dan liked to dawdle.
“That’s enough of that,” Nettie said. “All three of you. Someone go see how your father is doing.”
So the girls walked to the back bedroom, and Will said, “I better see about the oxen. I left them in the field. Do you need water from the well, or—”
“Not right now. Go back to your work before the rain starts. I can see it coming.” As Will turned to go, she said, “I know what you’re thinking.”
Will looked back at her.
Nettie looked up from the concoction she was mixing. She brushed some loose gray hairs out of her eyes with the back of her hand. Will had heard from others how pretty his mum had once been, with flaxen hair and bright blue eyes like his own. He could still see some of that beauty, but she was tired, and her eyes had lost much of their brightness. Her skin had turned leathery, especially along her throat and around her eyes. The last few years had been difficult. Tenant farmers with small parcels of land—like the Lewises, with only twenty acres—had struggled to feed their families. It was not just the work, but the worry, Will thought, that had taken a toll on her.
“What am I thinking?” Will asked.
“That you’ll never get away from us now.”
Will didn’t answer.
For a long time Will and his mother had talked about his hope to find another way to make a living. As the oldest son, he was the one who would normally take over the tenancy and continue to farm the land. Squire Riddle, the young man who had inherited twelve hundred acres that he rented out to tenants, was not obliged to pass the tenancy to Will, but Will stood in line to be the fourth generation to farm the parcel the Lewises lived on. More than that, he was more skilled and knowledgeable about farming than any young man in the valley.
The problem was, Will wanted more. He had watched his family struggle to get by all his life. The enclosure laws that Parliament had passed had taken away the chance for tenants to graze cattle, to hunt, or to gather firewood from the lands that bordered their farms. Time was, a tenant could run his small farm, share his income with the landlord, but also help provide for his family by using adjacent lands. Now, the gentry had been allowed to make those lands part of their own property. This meant better efficiency and more production, which was seen as a positive by Parliament, but it also meant that tenant farmers were forced into deeper poverty. They could sometimes manage to keep a pig and some fowl, and they could raise a small garden, but all this took away from the land they could cultivate—and landlords pressed them to plant every inch of their rented land. The Lewises kept two cows and sold some of the butter and cheese. Squire Riddle didn’t like that, but Morgan persisted. The tiny dairy didn’t offer much profit, especially since the cows were aging, but he wanted to keep his daughters close—not off working in some mansion, servants to the gentry.
The elder Squire Riddle had been a fair-minded man, but he had died rather young, and his oldest son had taken over the estate—the expansive manor house, gardens, barns, and coach house on a prominence overlooking the valley. The young squire liked to live well, and rumors were that he spent more than he took in. He was trying to bleed every farthing he could from his tenants. He had raised his rents twice since taking over, and he was strict about any use of common lands. He had hired a gamekeeper, whose job it was to stop poaching but also to watch for anyone hauling off wood—even just dead limbs.
For years Will and his mother had discussed Will’s leaving to learn a trade, but Morgan had not been willing to hear of that. In his mind, the tenancy was a family legacy not to be lost. He always believed that better days were ahead and that the new squire would soften with time.
Will had actually learned one non-farm skill from his father. Morgan had taught him to lay brick and stone, enough to build an outbuilding or to repair a wall. Morgan and Will sometimes took on small jobs and added to their income. What Will had been mulling over for years was the idea of pursuing this masonry trade. He had talked to the stonemasons in Ledbury about working with one of them, but he was too old to be an apprentice now, and masons were not interested in training someone who might soon compete with them—not in such hard times.
“There’s something I’ve been thinking about,” Will said. He waited for his mother to look up at him. This was probably the wrong time to introduce his idea to her, but she had raised the question. “I’m thinking of heading off to Birmingham or Manchester to work in the factories. It’s not good work, I know, but I might, in time, become a manager. The bosses earn a pretty penny, from what I hear.”
“What are you saying? When would you go?”
“Not now. That’s certain. I can’t even think of leaving until after this year’s harvest.”
“But aren’t factories closing up?”
“I hear those things, but I can’t say for sure. If a man is young and strong and willing, maybe there’s hope for him. If I stay here, my hope is dead already.”
“But Will, I doubt you would be happy in a factory, far away in a big city.”
“Maybe not, at first. But I have more education than most of the workers in those places. I talked to a man in Ledbury who said I might have a chance to make something of myself.”
It was true that when Will was younger he had attended school in Ledbury each winter after harvest, and he had gone to a Methodist Sunday School where children were taught to read the Bible. More important, Nettie had always taught him at home. He was a good reader and had a natural knack with arithmetic. Still, it was only a little more education than most farm boys had; it probably wasn’t enough to get him work as a clerk or a bookkeeper.
“Is it the farm you hate so much, or is it Liz Duncan you love so much? Which is it that makes you want to leave us?”
“Mum, you’ve always told me it’s what I ought to do—rise a little in the world.”
“I know. But not in a factory. And I don’t want you to go so far away from us.”
Will let his breath blow out. He didn’t know what he could say to his mother. She had no idea how unhappy he had been lately.
“Do you think you can win Liz over if you hold a position in a factory?”
“No. Nothing will win her over. I’m not thinking about that.”
“Will, I watch you at church meetings. You light up if she so much as speaks to you. I know she’s pretty, but is she worth all the pain you put yourself through?”
“Who said anything about pain?” Will didn’t want this.
The poultice was ready now, and Will had thought his mother would hurry off to her husband, but instead she was still watching Will. “I think you’re taking me wrong,” she said. “In my mind, you deserve her. I just don’t want to see your heart broken. Her father wouldn’t hear of his precious daughter marrying a tenant farmer’s son. And Sister Duncan thinks that being a solicitor’s wife makes her better than anyone else in our church.”
She picked up the poultice, ready to take it to Morgan, but she kept watching Will. He felt her pity, and he appreciated it and hated it at the same time. “That’s how it is with religion,” Will said, with more bitterness in his voice than he usually let his mother hear. “We all go to meetings together and hear sermons about loving our neighbors, but the ‘better classes’ will na’ mix wiff us what’s beneath ’em. God blesses them all the same. And things only get worse for us.”
“Oh, Will, I fear you take some of your attitudes from me. We really are God’s children, and that is what matters.” It was all the same old talk. Will didn’t want to hear any more of it. He walked to the door before his mother said, “I pray every day that something will change—that somehow you will be able to have what you want.”
“Mum, it’s better not to talk that way. You should tell me plain to give up on things I cannot have. It’s what I tell myself, and it’s what I need to believe.”
“I still pray.” She hesitated, as though she wanted to find the right words to encourage him, but then she said, “I must go to your father.”
“Aye. Do that.”
As Will stepped through the door, he heard his mother say, “Morgan, has the pain calmed a little by now?”
Will didn’t hear the answer. He headed back to the field. He could see the oxen where he had left them, still bedded down. He wondered whether he could get them going again now. He wasn’t sure he could get himself going, but he could still feel the rain in the air, and he needed to try.
As Will passed the barn, he heard Daniel laugh. He stopped and looked through the door. Daniel was wrestling with Edgar, who was seven, and little four-year-old Solomon. They were trying to grab Daniel and pull him down, but he was holding them off and laughing at their inability to move him.
“Dan, I suppose it would na’ help matters if I told ye we have more work than ever now.”
“It would na’ help at all,” Daniel said. He pushed Edgar away and then turned around, smiling. “I know that as good as you. I was workin’ when you was whilin’ away your time in the house with Mum. These little badgers took me on, though. I plan to make short work of ’em.” He poked Solomon, who laughed and then jumped at him. Daniel caught him and pushed him back. “And do na’ forget, we have no worries. Brother Watkins will fly in soon, like a angel. One touch with his magic hands and Dad will rise up and do the plowin’ himself—no oxen needed—an’ then do me chores.”
“And is that what you hope for, Dan? Someone to do your work for you?”
“Do na’ start with me, Will,” Daniel said. His smile was gone. “Just get back to your oxen. You’re the chosen one. You get to plow; I get to dig ditches and muck out chicken coops.”
“If I can ever leave this place, you can have the farm—if you think there’s such a bright future in it.”
“More future than laborin’ for some other man.”
Will knew that might be true, and at times he did pity Daniel, who had little to look forward to but farm labor, the lowest-paying work of all. But Daniel might have tried something by now, not having been required on the farm as Will always had been. Will was sick of his whining. “I work hard, Dan. Every day. And you play with the lads in the barn.”
“I’ve heard that story afore. Dad tells it to me all the time. But I say this. You do me chores and I’ll be happy to plow those fields—any time you want to trade.”
Will felt rage fire inside him. “Tell the truth, Dan. You can na’ hold a plow straight, can na’ cut two furrows without runnin’ one o’er the top of t’other. An’ you walk away five minutes after you make a start.”
“That’s a lie, Will. It’s what you allus say ’bout me, and it’s na’ any of it true. If you think you’re so good with a plow, tell me how good ye be with two fists.” Daniel stepped up face-to-face with Will.
“Do na’ tempt me, Dan. I could end all this talk with one blow.”
“Let’s see it, then. But make it good, or six more will be flyin’ back at ye.”
But Will couldn’t hit his brother. He didn’t look away, but he knew that the little lads were standing near, probably frightened. This had to stop. “I can na’ waste me time with this,” he said. “I’m goin’ to plow a li’l more afore the day is gone.” He turned and strode away.
As he reached the door, Will heard Daniel laugh and say, “Take heart, big brother. You can allus marry Liz Duncan. Maybe her dear ol’ father will take you into the solicitor’s trade.”
Will spun around. “You know as well as I do, Liz Duncan would never stoop to touch someone as lowly as me.”
“Or if she did, her father would slap her hand.” Daniel’s voice had changed, as though he understood how raw Will’s pain was.
Will stood for a long time, looking into Dan’s eyes, and then he looked at his little brothers, who looked concerned. “We do na’ have a future, do we?” he finally said, softly. “Not one of us.”
For once, Dan didn’t smile. “Nay. An’ that’s the truth on it,” he said, barely loud enough to hear.
Will worried what the boys would think of such an assessment. Edgar was a frail little fellow who liked to joke with Daniel, but he took life far too seriously. He had the same dark hair as Will and Morgan, and brooding eyes. Will could see that he was worried. “We still have to do our best,” Will said. “Right now, we have to keep things movin’ fo’ward ’til Dad is up and agoin.’ And who knows, maybe things’ll get better one of these days.”
He didn’t believe his own words, and surely his brothers must have known that. Still, there was nothing else to say, so Will walked around the shed, used the stile to cross through the hedgerow, and then hiked up the hill to the oxen. He talked to them, told them they needed to plow a few more furrows before dark. The oxen got up as though they understood, and the three of them trudged back across the field, Will fighting the plow in the damp soil and feeling so tired he could hardly keep up the struggle.
Half an hour later, Will felt the oxen losing strength. He pushed on a little longer, but finally a light rain began to fall. He unyoked Nick and Nimble and led them down the hill to their corral. On his way to the house, he saw Esther coming for him. “Brother Watkins is here,” she said. “Dad says for all to come in.”
“He do na’ want me,” Will said. “He tol’ me so. Tell ’im I’m still aplowin’.”
“In the rain?” Esther was always much too quick to believe Will, even when she should have known he wasn’t serious. She was a pretty girl, with her mother’s eyes and wispy hair that shaded toward yellow, like an early cowslip bloom.
“It’s not rainin’ now,” Will said. It was true that the shower had passed over quickly, but darker clouds lay along the west hills of the valley. Still, Will had no intention of going back to work. He walked all the way to the top of the hillside field and then sat down under the great sessile oak near the upper hedgerow. The sun was not far from setting now, and the clouds over the hills were orange and pale yellow, with streaks of misty light shining through, reaching across the valley, turning everything golden. South, toward Ledbury, he could see the fields in varied shades, and white hawthorn blossoms in the hedgerows, shading yellow in the angled light. Mixed among the shades of green were cottages in little groups, red-tiled or thatched. All of it was like pictures rich people liked to hang on their walls. Mother said that the valley, Wellington Heath, was as beautiful as anything she had ever seen. Will thought she might be right. But he had never seen anything else, and the truth was, Mum hadn’t seen much either. He had no idea what the rest of the world looked like. He only knew he would like to find out.
For Will, this valley was a snare. He was caught like a hare, one leg in a trap, with no way to break loose. Across the valley he could see Squire Riddle’s manor house with its many windows and chimneys, and all the red brick buildings: a coach house, stables and half a dozen outbuildings, plus living quarters for the coachmen, who dressed in livery and drove the squire around as though he were the new young Queen Victoria herself. The squire had servants to cook for him, to tend his fires, to wash his bedding, probably to scratch his back. The man had done not one thing to earn anything he had. He had only been born to it, and Will had been born to the plow that was still sticking up in the ground where he had left it. He could find a wife someday, bring her here, and work her hard until she grew old—all too fast—and he could raise up a family and make all the children work as hard as he always had. And when life was over, what would he have, and what would his children have? He still wouldn’t own the land he worked, and his income would be as meager as ever—hardly enough to keep clothes on his children and bread on his table.
His mum said she was praying that things would change, but Will had tried praying too, and he had never seen any results. Maybe hares prayed when they were caught in a snare, but he had never known one to escape.
Couldn't put it down!
by mike - reviewed on July 31, 2012
I have read Dean's books for years, and this is by far my favorite. It is well researched and a captivating story. Can't wait to continue the journey with these English saints.
by Russell - reviewed on February 19, 2013
Couldn't put it down, totally absorbed me, got me begging for the rest of the story. I felt like I wanted to be right there in Nauvoo back at the beginning.
The Wind & the Waves is Dean Hughes at his very best.
by Richard - reviewed on June 19, 2012
In Dean Hughs' epic new book, The Wind & the Waves, he has created a real page turner, and a historical novel which will be of interest to all members of the LDS church. In it he provides vivid images of life in Great Britain at the time the first missionaries were sent there and great character development of those who first joined (and did not join) the church. The author describes the almost unbelieveable struggle the saints endured on their shipboard passage to Nauvoo and their establishment of a new life there. A great read and introduction to another premier series by this renouned author.