Behind the Walls

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Book: Behind the Walls Read Online Free PDF
Author: Nicola Pierce
king.’ Not many people were listening to him. He clapped his hands some more. ‘That’s why we’re here today, to decide what to do.’ The poor man looked hurt that so few were paying him attention.
    It was the Anglican bishop of Derry, Dr Ezekiel Hopkins, who patted him on the arm. ‘I was afraid of this. Perhaps we should have a meeting with only the most prominent citizens.’
    The alderman refused to agree or disagree with this, only pleading with the bishop, ‘But why don’t they listen? They should be demanding to hear what we think.’
    Dr Hopkins said as quietly as he could, ‘That, my dear sir, is mostly a mob with a blind will of its own. But don’t give up yet, they just might come to their senses.’
    Daniel felt bound to stick by his mother. He could see Robert and his father arguing with the people nearest him and longed to join them. However, he couldn’t leave her alone. She already looked bothered by the people pressing in around her, fearing that the baby would be distressed. As if she could read his mind – and she claimed that shecould – she said to him, ‘You stay right here!’
    He widened his eyes. ‘Of course!’
    She wasn’t fooled; she could see he wanted to follow his brother.
    The two of them observed their neighbours, feeling slightly distant from the debating. Mrs Sherrard kissed the baby’s head. ‘Oh, I wish your father would come back to me. There’ll be no one answer that will please everyone.’
    A man walked by them. Something in his manner made them watch him as he worked his way purposefully through the crowd until he reached the group of elders and churchmen. A circle was formed and heads were bowed as the man said his piece. Gradually the arguing between everyone came to halt. The man was a messenger sent by a Colonel George Phillips of Newtown Limavady. Whatever he said, it certainly caused something of a stir amongst his listeners.
    A second alderman moved to the front and addressed the square. ‘Colonel Phillips has seen the army himself. And it is a Catholic army. His advice is to lock the city gates against them.’ There was probably no need for him to add, ‘He says we should prevent them from coming into Derry.’
    There was a roar of ‘Hear! Hear!’ from some. Bishop Hopkins didn’t look too pleased. The noise threatened to escalate again. Waving his arms, and doing his best to hidehis irritation, he called out, ‘Let me just remind you – this army represents King James, the king of England.’ Despite the cool temperature, the bishop was obliged to wipe away sweat that was beading his forehead.
    He continued, ‘As citizens of this city, we are servants to the throne.’ He waited for agreement to this and spied a few heads nodding. ‘Well?’ he asked. ‘Who are we to refuse entrance to the king’s army? Would that not be treason?’
    Both Daniel and his mother made sure not to lose sight of Mr Sherrard. What did he make of this?
    Reverend James Gordon, the Presbyterian minister, had made up his mind. ‘Lock the gates!’ He repeated himself to make sure. ‘Lock the gates!’
    Dr Ezekiel Hopkins repeated his disagreement immediately. ‘No! It is the duty of a subject to obey his sovereign. No matter what, King James is still our sovereign.’
    A row broke out again. Mrs Sherrard was not surprised to see her husband shrug his shoulders and make his way back to her. Mayor Campsie took up a new cry. ‘But what about the letter? If we let them in, we may be slaughtered!’ Ha! That surely put an obstacle in the plan to play polite hosts to James’s Jacobite army. Daniel noted with dismay that even his father began to look confused.
    Who knows how much longer the debate might have continued if a second messenger had not arrived, this time from the Ferry Quay Gate that overlooked the river Foyle.There was a brief whispered discussion before Reverend Gordon, looking slightly dazed, informed the city, ‘They’re here! There are Jacobite soldiers
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