Martha Peake: A Novel of the Revolution
Summoned by his elderly uncle, Ambrose Tree rides out across the Lambeth Marsh to Drogo Hall. As he settles down by a crackling fire in a drawing room of the giant old house, a large glass of Hollands and water in his hand, the old man begins to tell him the story of Harry and Martha Peake: how Harry, in a moment of folly, was horribly disfigured by the brute intent of a burning roof beam. How his wife perished, and his livelihood as a smuggler - along the wild coasts of eighteenth century Cornwall - was lost. And how his daughter Martha, his sole remaining comfort, a proud girl with a shock of long red hair, set out with him for the haven of broken men, for London.
In two small rooms over a pub in Cripplegate Street, Harry and Martha live in a rough hewn harmony until, in time, the lacerations upon Harry's soul grow as monstrous as his skeletal deformities. He becomes violent, and Martha is forced to flee to the sanctuary of an English nobleman, the famous anatomist Lord Drogo. Yet there is no real safety in that man's house. The distance between father and daughter is too short, their bond too strong. When Harry commits a final unspeakable act, Martha is forced to seek a more distant place of refuge and sets sail for America.