Hello Gracious Readers
Today I have a wonderful excerpt to share with you
The Missionary By Rowena Kinread
Book Title: The Missionary
Author: Rowena Kinread
Publication Date: 28th April 2021
Publisher: Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie Publishers
Page Length: 357 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Patricius, a young man of Britannia, is taken from his home and family when Gaelic pirates attack his village. On his arrival in Ireland, he is sold as a slave to the cruel underking of the Dalriada tribe in the north. Six years later, Patricius manages to escape. His journey takes him through France to Ravenna in Italy. His subsequent plans to return to Britannia are side-tracked when he finds himself accompanying several monks to the island monastery on Lerinus. His devotion to his faith, honed during his captivity, grows as he studies with the monks.Haunted by visions of the Gaels begging him to return to Ireland and share the word of God with them, Patricius gains support from Rome and his friends to return to the land of his captivity. His arrival is bitterly opposed by the druids, who have held power over the Irish kings for many years, and he and his companions must combat the druids to succeed in their God-given mission.
Sex, violence, swearing
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Excerpt 3 from “The Missionary” by Rowena Kinread
A blizzard swept across the landscape, icy hail biting into Patricius’ skin like sharp needles. He drew his cloak tighter around himself and followed Daithi’s rapid strides in a northern direction. They had set off at the break of dawn and Daithi said they must hurry to reach their destination before night fell. Daithi was an old man with a crooked back and a weather-beaten face. He held a wooden staff in his right hand and pushed it into the ground before him. Despite his age, he was surprisingly fit, and Patricius had trouble keeping up with his pace. They passed ploughed fields, farmsteads and fertile glens. Without stopping they battled on against an artic wind, blowing in from the Western Sea. As they reached higher land, the landscape became barren. Boggy moors with tufts of heather, now brown and uninviting, alternated with poor grazing land on unfertile soil.
Avidus ran all over the place, sniffing excitedly at all the new smells. Occasionally he startled a rabbit and chased it madly through the heather. He bounced up and down, nearly disappearing in the moors only to suddenly jump up again. His ears flopped up high and low. He never caught the rabbit, though. Patricius grinned at his antics; he looked so funny bobbing up and down in the heather. Daithi’s dog, Cú, trotted patiently beside them, but if Avidus wandered too far away, Daithi gave a short sharp whistle and Cú ran off to herd him back again. Ahead of them, half obscured by sleet, Patricius saw a mountain with a flat top.
Daithi paused a moment and pointed. “That’s where we’re going, Sliabh Mis.”
Patricius looked up and drew his breath in. His eyes widened. The mountain’s upper reaches had steep, rugged sides, barren and inhospitable. Despite a few rocks scattered here and there, the slopes were exposed to the elements. Sheep were scattered on hillside. He swallowed.
They followed a narrow downtrodden path, westwards around the mountain. A coppice snuggled against the bottom of the mountain wall, and entering it, Daithi said they would stop soon. A small lean-to, ramshackle shed was half hidden beside a huge boulder, under a beech tree. It was open at the front and didn’t look very solid, but Patricius hoped it might keep off some of the wind. He collected wood whilst Daithi struggled to kindle a fire with his flintstone. Sleet blew horizontally against the landscape. Patricius hugged his knees to his chest and pulled his rug tightly around his shoulders. The freezing cold seeped upwards through his body to its very core. White frosty icicles clung to Daithi’s eyebrows.
“Tomorrow I’ll take you to the summit,” Daithi said, “and we’ll check on the sheep.”
For six weeks Patricius wandered around Sliabh Mis with Daithi. Daithi examined the sheep.
“This one’s having twins,” he said. “Feel.” Patricius touched the ewe’s belly. Daithi shook his head. “Don’t be timid. Squeeze her with both hands.”
“Oh yes,” Patricius cried. “I can feel it moving!”
“Good, now try a bit further down, here.”
Patricius worked down the ewe’s belly, pushing against her sides with his fingers. “Yes,” he cried, “there’s another one, I can feel it!”
“Good. Now make sure you remember her. She’s a first-time mother and when she starts to lamb we may need to help her.”
Patricius looked at the herd of sheep. “How do you tell?” he asked. “They all look the same.”
“Ney.” Daithi spat on the ground. “She’s got speckles on her nose and a black rear foot.”
Patricius looked again and then at the other sheep. There were some small differences but there were six hundred sheep. “Can you tell all of them apart?”
“I’ll never manage.”
“You won’t need to right away. I’ll show you the one- and two-year-olds, they haven’t been tupped yet. And then the first-time mothers. You won’t be alone this year. You’ve a lot to learn yet.”
He showed Patricius which sheep were expecting twins. Patricius tried to remember small differences; a floppy ear or curious nature. He couldn’t tell all of them apart but at least he recognised which the younger ones were and tried to note the sheep expecting twins.
As the days passed, the ground started freezing and the sheep had difficulty finding enough to eat. Three days before Yuletide they started herding the sheep together; bringing them down the mountain and moving them back towards Antrim. At a farmstead about a mile outside the ringfort, outdoor enclosures had been erected especially in wait of them. Here the sheep were separated. The one- and two-year-olds were put in one pen; the few rams in a smaller pen. The mothers-to-be were put into the most protected corral nearest to the farm and with a small shed.
“It depends on the weather,” Daithi explained. “Some lambs aren’t as strong as the others, and if it’s too cold, we’ll need to keep them in the shed.”
All the sheep needed extra feeding now. There was no longer enough food for them on the wintry mountain slopes, and the cattle had grazed the lowlands bare. They would stay here until Ostara. Patricius made sure they all had enough hay, and Daithi gave them water.
When the sheep were settled down, Daithi said they were to return to Antrim. He was looking forward to seeing his family again. Patricius started inwardly shaking.
Rowena Kinread grew up in Ripon, Yorkshire. After leaving school she started working for Lufthansa in Stuttgart. There she met her future husband whom she married in Ripon. After raising 3 children, she began working as a secretary in a private physiotherapy practice. At the same time, she started writing non-fiction books and magazine articles. Retirement finally brought the financial security to start writing full length fiction. A keen interest in history and her own family ancestry inspired her debut novel “The Missionary”, the dramatic story about the life of St.Patrick. A second book “The Scots of Dalriada” will be published this year. Ms. Kinread says that she welcomed retirement and all its wonderful opportunities to launch a third career.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com.au/Rowena-Kinread/e/B09JXTK626