The Iron Bridge

The Iron Bridge

David Morse
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The Iron Bridge
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The Severn Gorge
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Joan Joffe Hall
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Samples of text from The Iron Bridge

Maggie Foster: June 1773

Maggie caught her breath. She handed the baby back, out of some fear - not that she would drop it, but somehow from the intensity of her response; that was what frightened her. It came from too deep a place.

The old people had that same vitality. It showed in their hard edges, their mobile faces, warped postures; their tenacity bargaining at the Madeley market. Certain workers at Bedlam stood out sharply: the Clerk with his clean white stockings and curled wig; the one-armed man who operated the Newcomen engine; the big woman with the raucous voice and rust-streaked face who worked with the men breaking ore. There was a heartiness in all that idiosyncrasy, even among the wounded and the exploited. Maybe because they had a future. [Rest of the story of Maggie Foster]

Abraham Darby III: September 1775

From the moment he stepped off the Diligence onto the cobblestones of St. Paul"s Church Yard - Paul"s Yard, as Quakers preferred to call it - Abraham was distracted as always by the bold tempo of London, the vainglorious fashions: Wooden French heels painted bright red clicking past; ladies' wigs as tall as grenadiers' hats; enormous wheels of phaetons rolling past mounted on springs so absurdly high as to require an eight-foot ladder to climb into them; shop-windows filled with earthly temptations which he kept reminding himself he did not need. He kept his purse snugged to his breast, eyes alert. Still, while gawking he was nearly run over by a coach-and-eight arriving on the heels of the Cambridge machine. He was accosted by peddlers and by punks in soiled laces, jostled by chairmen, and proselytized by a ragged wild-eyed man reeking of lavender and rum who took a swipe at his hat and declared himself the last of the Ranters. "We know God by our sin!" the man cried, whirling in circles. [Rest of the story of Abraham Darby III]

John Wilkinson: August 1775

"What is needed," chuckled Houliere, "is permanent war."

Wilkinson smiled grimly. The general had intended it facetiously; but this was the very concept that had begun to take shape in Wilkinson"s own mind after the Seven Years War ended and iron prices began to decline. "I am convinced, my friend," said Wilkinson, "I am convinced that in a future run by businessmen, this is exactly where 'tis all headed. Permanent War." [Rest of the story of John Wilkinson]

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© copyright David Morse, 2003-2011