Writing by Candlelight

  old candlelight For my attorney hero, John Eagle, I am trying out a new voice (first person present tense) from a standpoint nearly 40 years on from events portrayed in An Uncommon Attorney. The year is 1830. John is an old man in his sixties with not long to live as he looks back to the 1790s: old candlelight 2

The candlelight I am writing by tonight is poor but my memory to compensate is as bright as it is long. Like Daniel Defoe at his most arrogant I have forgotten nothing, not a word, not a gesture or a smile.  My mind, like a sponge, has soaked up all it has seen or heard down the years.  Nothing escaped; everything was captured by my absorbing scrutiny.  And I, proud owner of this store of memories with few left to be added as I near my 65th year, may study them at my leisure, take them out one by one and dust them down for the joy – or the pain – they bring.  The passage of time, which has brought some welcome perspective, has dimmed them not; rather it has polished them brighter, and, as my days dwindle, will rub them brighter still.  Most vivid of all are my memories of Horseford and my life there as a young lawyer. To relive them, I need only relax and remember. I am doing so now, flying back down the years, leaving behind the dark night that will end this troubled year 1830.  I have in mind another year, just as dark, just as troubled and, as its last hours ticked away on New Year’s Eve, just as long in the tooth. My journey takes me across the moors. There’s no moon, the darkness hides them, yet I know they are there; the snow on their blighted winter heather wants but the faintest light to sparkle by, and first one cottage, then another, proves my point by a candle in the window. Beyond the moors, across the beck whose rock-strewn waters tonight are darker than its banks, lies the village. On I go, eagerly now, watching the lights shimmering yellow through the blackness. The heart of the village is soon in view.  I make out the roofs glistening with frost. I see the inns, the church and the graveyard, the house of Dr Stables on the Green, where no light burns within. Then I remember why, and that I’ll meet with him soon. I hurry on, only to pause again one more time at a different house – mine, or what used to be mine. That fleeting shadow on the curtains is my maid Sukey checking all is right downstairs before retiring to her attic bed.  Seeing the curtains twitch I know that she is peeping; trying to glimpse beyond the lodge-house and gates through which I pass. I follow the carriage-drive to Horseford Hall. Horseford Hall 2 I overtake the carriages and arrive among more.  Be-wigged footmen slavishly crowd each one, assisting the guests into the Hall where the jaunty strains of violins fly out on the crisp night air. I follow in their wake, sniffing the sharp tang of pitch from the flaring torches on the walls …


Miles Craven’s latest historical crime thriller, An Uncommon Attorney, is available from our Book Store in all eBook formats. To purchase a copy, click here:



About mmiles2014

Writer of Historical Fiction/Crime Fiction and what might be termed Speculative Fiction. Oh, and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Glyndwr University.
This entry was posted in 18th Century Crime Fiction, An Uncommon Attorney, Historical thrillers, History of Leeds, Old Leeds, Reflections on Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Writing by Candlelight

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