The King's Shilling by Barbara Kennedy with Peter Kennedy. Truth-inspired short stories and poems.
In the late 1880s, two boys were born in Great Britain. In the Great War their paths crossed and a coin belonging to one became the possession of the other. The shilling had lain in the button box for years. One day it caught the eye of a small boy who was playing with the contents of the box. The engraving on the coin fascinated him. Years later, one disappointing day trying to research his grandfather's war record at The National Archives at Kew, he remembered the name engraved on the coin. Here, in this book, fact and fiction have been combined to provide a story telling how the shilling affected two separate families over ninety years. Contents include - The King's Shilling, Cyprus Story, Isabella's Story, Archie's Story, Carmelita's Story, Elsie's Story, Harry's Story, The Daughter's Story, Dorothy's Story, The Family Story, Kate's Story, Joe's Story, The War Story. Also five related poems. From the Shilling and From Queen to Queen give brief accounts of the military service of the men researched for the book. Hardback. 160 pages. 14 mono halftones. ISBN 978-0-9558799-0-6 Price - RRP £12.99 GBP Shilling Press price £9.99 plus postage and packing
Shilling Extra by Barbara Kennedy with Peter Kennedy. Truth-inspired short stories and poems.
The Bellwood Family was almost wiped out by an ancient curse. It took the arrival of two women, born eighteen years apart, to bring the curse to an end. In a tale of mystery, murder and romance, the love of a mother for a daughter conquers all. In this companion to The King's Shilling meet again some of the characters from the original book and find out more about their lives and adventures. Not a sequel, not a prequel, but an equal. Contents include - The Curse of the Bellwoods, The Story of a Soldier, The Horse and the Soldier, Douglas's Story, Charles's Story, Story of a Search, Molon Labe. A Scottish Soldier is an account of the life of Charles Thomas Kennedy VC. Each story has a poem connected to it. There is also an anthology of further poems. From Queen to Queen Extra updates the details given in The King's Shilling. Hardback. 130 pages. 6 mono halftones. ISBN 978-0-9558799-1-3 Price - RRP £12.99 GBP Shilling Press price £9.99 plus postage and packing
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The King's Shilling
The soldier stubbed out his cigarette and opened his tobacco tin to roll another.
He looked at the coin. He kept it in the tin with his cigarette papers, spare buttons and letters from home. That reminded him, he must write to his mother and tell her about his journey to France and the coin.
Somewhere in France.
I can't tell you where I am but I am safe so far although missing you all. I must have looked pretty miserable as while I was waiting for the train I was approached by an officer who asked if I was all right. He turned out to be a really decent fellow - for an officer, anyway.
I jumped up to salute him and he told me to ignore his uniform and rank. Said he needed someone to keep him company. He was on his way home as I was going out. He'd been suffering from trench fever, measles (of all things) and this shell-shock thing.
I rolled him a ciggie and we played cards to pass the time until the trains arrived. His came first and as he got up to go he put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a coin.
The coin, a shilling, is useless. It has been engraved on the back with his name. I will keep it for luck.
Love to everyone,
Your loving son,
Thanks for your letter. everyone is fine but I am having trouble convincing young Douglas not to rush off and enlist. All the young men seem to see war as a "bit of a lark" and a taste of adventure.
Please write from time to time so as I'll know you are safe.
Your loving Mother,
At this time Isabella did not know that Alexander had been wounded and was lying, suffering from loss of memory, in a field hospital somewhere in France. He had lost his identity discs and his uniform had been blasted from his body. All he had, tightly held in his hand, was a coin - a silver shilling.
In mediaeval days, when people were afraid of anyone with unexplained gifts or powers, witchcraft was feared and witches were burnt at the stake. Many were accused of this crime in order to cover all sorts of minor misdemeanours.
One such woman was accused of witchcraft when she refused to submit and give herself to her master on her wedding night - even after he raped her. The custom was that the lord of the manor had the right to claim the bride before her husband. He had tried to save his new wife but was himself arrested and condemned to death. The young man was hanged before her eyes as the fire around her was lit. He died calling her name. As the flames leapt to consume the girl's body she cried out a curse before she too died.
"A curse on all men who inherit or come by the Bellwood lands! May they all die before their time and suffer tragically as I have done. All in their company will also be cursed. Only when a woman shall be spared from disaster by a male Bellwood in an act of love and her daughter inherit then - and only then - the curse will end."
Through the following years and as the centuries passed strange deaths occurred in the family cursed by the wrongly condemned young woman. There were freak accidents when lightning struck a tree a Bellwood was sheltering beneath and a chimney fell and crushed three Bellwood brothers on another occasion.
There were a couple of suicides by terrified family members who could not bear to wait and find out what fate had in store for them. Then, of course, several Bellwoods who made the army their career died in battle. No medals were won for gallantry or conspicuous acts of bravery but hasty commands and acts of foolishness caused the deaths of many a Bellwood officer, his platoon and comrades.
The nineteenth century arrived and in the early-to-mid-years two baby girls were born eighteen years apart. The first was the mother of the second and between them they were to bring an end to the curse of the Bellwoods.