Aug 19th

VersePerfect software freeware

By Pride.James
VersePerfect for Poets and SongWriters with McGill Dictionary of Rhyme V2
Aug 18th

A poem for Word Cloud members

By Pride.James
I start with two lines and everyone adds two lines, and only two, and we'll see where we end up.

A summers day in deep December
The blind man looks up at the moon
While his sight has already left him, many years before
He can sense the magical essence of it's presence   (Chandy)
And his senses are alive with expectation.
It's almost as if he could hear it.    (Edwina)
The sound of the stars,
Dancing around Mars.    (JAK)
As a wolf howling on the edge of a sparse grassland,
Warning, yearning, hungry for what he cannot have      (Tony)

But what brushes his cheek?
Should he turn, should he speak?    (SecretSpi)
Was it just a cobweb, a thread of filigree lace
Or human touch of softness, the hint of an embrace      (Mockingbird)
The chilled fur, a realisation,
The wolf's tail, a gentle sensation     (Barb)
A secret spin, hesitation
dwindling spirits, lost in recogonition     (CJ)
Aug 14th

A List of Software Writing Tools

By Pride.James

Outlining and draft building

  • Any outlining mode in word processors

Tools for specific genres

See also idea managers (there is quite a lot of overlap)

Story writing
  • WriteThis. The tool generates writing exercises, based on a set of keywords and criteria. It can generate characters, locations, items and special rules, and you - the writer - have a specified number of minutes to combine these things into a story.
  • QuickStory 5 (A free version is QuickPlot ) ?
Wordprocessing for writers
  • RoughDraft has features specifically designed for creative writing: novels, short stories, articles, plays and screenplays.
  • yWriter, Story writing software (by Simon Haynes, free)
Argumentation and dialog
Scholarly writing
  • ARTware - support the early stages of scholarly writing using hypertext representations
Collaborative writing and documentation
Storyboard software for films

Concept maps


Guidelines can classified as tools.

General links

Index of writing tools

Aug 14th

Stealing writing

By Pride.James
Found on the net.
  • Make Money Writing
    Get paid £500 an hour for legally 'stealing' other people's work!
Aug 14th

yWriter 5

By Pride.James
On searching the net looking for useful writing software I came across yWiter 5. It was, according to the blog, written by a published auther, what is more it is totally free. It has a good pdf first time user guide. Do a google search for yWriter and have a look for yourselves.
Aug 13th part 2 reviews

By Pride.James
I put my First Case of Strees on the site for reviewing, and below it are two responces.

I must confess I didn't quite know what to make of this at first. I liked the humour and the original style and, on the whole, I thought it worked well. I did find the accent of Mrs P irritating and I am not sure it was totally convincing 'ants boring into your think hide' being one example. Either that is a spelling mistake or a terrible rendition of an Irish accent. The language improved however as the story progressed. I would just go over the initial parts and perhaps speak the lines aloud.
Your story did have a point to make and it did so with gusto and spirit. I enjoyed the comic humour e.g. 'It'd have to be a toughish morsel, my dear' and the small breakfast of half an acre of forest. The hippo 'Hippy' clearly saves the day and I loved the little speech he makes to cheer Mr P along. All in all a nice treat.
Good luck with it.

i read the synopsis with interest and began reading the story with anticipation of humor. i was surprised to find that you had chosen to set the story in the prehistoric era. that was quite a surprise. but the good thing is that the surprise did not come with disappointment. i read the piece at one go and found it quite good if not very humorous or funny. the ending is fine and holds with the narrative. the characters are also interesting. the pace was racy and the narrative smooth and convincing. all in all i found it an easy to read piece but for the specific terms that you use.
i did wonder about one thing. is this for children? or a magazine? or do you have a series of such small episodes lined up?
best of luck!
Aug 10th

By Pride.James
I found another writers site,, you have to work for your reviews by reviewing others.
Aug 4th

Hope Valley chapter one for BP

By Pride.James


                                  Words  87,552


 A still warm evening followed the intense heat of a Spanish summer’s day in the year 1480, the setting sun throwing long shadows down a mountain pass somewhere in central Spain. The towering crags and giant trees seemed as if they fought an eternal battle for control over the rugged path, if path it could be called. Wild flowers and brambles covered the rocks along the way, making travel difficult for even the most athletic of men.

At times it became necessary to wade across a rushing stream, and dodge the fallen branches tossed about in their raging torrents. More often than not clambering through dense undergrowth, where pine trees grew side by side with the oak and cork, interspersed with smaller trees of an equally wild grandeur.

The mountains seemed to reach high into the sky, their bases covered with trees and other plants, these gradually thinning out, leaving their snow-covered peaks totally barren. Stark in relief against the clear blue sky.

It seemed unlikely that such a pass could lead anywhere, as it grew wilder the further it went, appearing to lead into the very heart of the Sierra Toledo. Yet on this beautiful evening a lone man wended his solitary way. His slight figure verged on boyishness, but he moved with grace and agility making light of the obstacles in his path. His broad-rimmed hat could not conceal the restless blue eyes, the rugged complexion and long brown hair. His features, although not handsome in the accepted sense, were alive with intelligence and humour. His total demeanour showed qualities totally different to those of a Spaniard.

Edward Emsley was one of the many English noblemen that the Wars of the Roses had sent into enforced exile. His father and four of his brothers had all fallen at the battle at Tewkesbury, and he and his twin brother Edwin were taken prisoner after the battle. The boys then scarcely fifteen years old had been then left for three years to languish in prison.

King Edward seeking to appease the still powerful family of Emsley, offered the two youths liberty and a place honour, if they swore allegiance to him. But this both brothers refused to do and with cruelty more in keeping with Richard of Gloucester, Edward V ordered one to the block and the other to a life in prison. The boys were forced to draw lots, and it was in this way Edward’s twin died. After six more long years in prison, Edward managed to escape and fled England. On escaping he travelled Europe for the next three years, finally ending up in Aragon and the court of the youthful Prince Ferdinand.

Edward carried with him letters of introduction to the heir apparent from friends of his father, men of both rank and influence. Before long Edward had distinguished himself in the many wars raging in Spain at the time and very soon took his place among the nobles in Court. He became devoted to the Prince, and at the same time Ferdinand learned to trust and rely on the young Englishman.

During the last ten months Edward had changed, he had become quieter and far less ready to smile and the rumours in Court ran rife. Some said that a beautiful young woman had won his heart, and then left him, others that she was married to a rich older man, and Edward was far too poor for her liking. But whatever the truth, he had changed; at times he would take himself off and walk for miles by himself. In these moods he was totally unconscious of where he was going or what it was he sought.

It had been in one of these moods he had entered the pass, rejoicing in the challenge of the country and the mountains. Then suddenly from almost out of nowhere a cliff face rising almost vertically barred his way, and quickly awoke him from his daydreams. Looking slowly around him he was unable to see a way out, all around him the mountains towered, giving no clue to the way he had come. The path he had travelled was now indistinct, and he was unable to see how he had got there and he found a challenge in the cliff.

The sun had now either set or well hidden by the towering peaks; but this made little difference to Edward, he had already decided to climb. Throwing off his cloak he folded it into as small a bundle as he could, and then tied it knapsack like to his back. Slinging his sword over his shoulder he began the ascent.

Small pieces of bush and stunted trees gave him the occasional handholds, and ledges in the rock face gave purchase for his feet. One false step, one failed hand hold and he would have fallen to his death on the rocks below. But for Edward this added danger was just the spur he needed, as to where he was going he still neither knew nor cared.

Panting, breathless and all but exhausted, he finally reached the summit. Before of him he saw a huge chasm some three meters wide, dark and fathomless; it was almost as if the earth in a wild convulsion of long ago had torn the rock asunder. The flattened ground where he stood was barely fifty feet square, with just a few stunted bushes and dry grass covering the earth. Behind him lay a spectacular view of the mountains and a waterfall whose had created a black pool at its base, from this ran a tumbling stream. Taking one quick glance behind, and shrugged his shoulders; Edward took quick two steps back and then launched himself into the air. On landing his feet skidded from under him and he started to slide over the cliff, but reaching out he managed to grab a bush and pull himself to safety. Only then did he really feel the effort it had required and sank down onto the grass.

At last he found the energy to look around him and the change in the scenery was so great, he got to his feet taken aback. In front of him was a gradual hill, half covered in rich green grass, the other half with ripening corn that sloped gently downwards, leading to a small valley.

Apart from where he was standing, trees seemed to fill the valley, orange and lime trees, pine and chestnut, palm and cedar all growing in wild profusion. Below him a natural fountain threw up a sparkling shower of water, falling onto beds of sweet smelling multi-coloured flowers. The hand of a skilled gardener had obviously aided nature in forming this wild, yet beautiful valley. Edward started to walk slowly down the slope, disturbing only few sheep and goats on his way. He felt a need to meet the genius who could create a haven of such beauty.

Off o his left he saw a small building all by itself, almost concealed in the trees. Seeing no-one there he walked deeper into the solitude of woods, before going to ask for hospitality at the house. A he followed narrow path that led deeper into the wood, and at its very heart he found a small building, a building was of a shape and style that Edward had never seen before.

The structure was square and built from blocks of solid cedar, and totally undecorated; neither carving nor imagery of any kind enhanced it. Yet whoever had built it had so with great skill and care. It was not a chapel, which had been Edward’s first impression, as it had neither tower nor bell.

As he stood looking he heard a woman's voice of exceptional beauty suddenly coming from within. He was almost sure it was a hymn she chanted, as the tempo was both slow and solemn. Although he heard the words quite clearly he was unable to recognise the language in which it was sung. As he listened his face changed from amazement to one of dawning of hope. His pulse started racing, and he found it impossible to either move or speak. The chant came to an end and the beautiful voice ceased. A moment later a door opened, a door so cleverly hidden that it had seemed a part of the wall. When the door stood fully open a young woman stepped out and stood facing him, but she was unable to see him, as he was hidden in the shadow of a tree.



To describe either her face or figure would be like trying to describe a full moon on a bright starry night sky to a blind man. Her face was the essence of perfection, her skin was without blemish. Her figure slim yet full breasted, she was brunette in comparison to a Dane and blond compared to a Spaniard. But all this beauty palled into insignificance, or at least passed unnoticed, when compared to her inner-self reflected in her beautiful brown eyes.

Her dress was a peculiar full loose petticoat of dark blue silk reaching only to her ankle, displaying her beautifully shaped foot. She wore a pale yellow jacket, made of the finest wool, reaching up to her delicate throat. The sleeves were tight at the shoulder, falling in widening folds to the wrist, so that every movement she made displayed the soft round arm beneath. An antique brooch of curiously worked silver held jacket at her delicate neck, the collar designed so it either stand or fell. This evening it was closed and thrown back, the silver fringe gleamed through her hair as it fell with natural richness down over her shoulders.

Her hair was parted and braided at her temple, enhancing her classic beauty. To a stranger this beautiful vision may have looked like an angle from heaven. To Edward she was the catalyst the brought a memory to the present with such a depth of feeling that for a moment he found it difficult to breath.

The woman turned away still not having seen him and her movement awoke him from his near stupor.

“Ana,” he exclaimed, moving into the sunlight. She was so badly startled by his sudden appearance that she would have fallen had he not caught her. As she attempted to break away from him, he heard her muffled exclamation, a mixture terror, astonishment, yet at the same time intermingled with joy.

After the shock of their initial meeting, time passed slowly for them, nearly an hour had passed and still they reminisced about their past, both together and apart.

When they had first met some fifteen months earlier, they had both intuitively felt they were meant for one another, even though not one word of love had passed their lips. But when he had managed to find the courage to tell her of his love for her, she told him that shat loved him to, but at the same their love for each other seemed to cause her pain. Even after all this time she still wept as she remembered when ever she thought about that lovely, tender night, as their mutual admission of their love had meant their parting.

“Ana, why did you leave me without a word? And what did you mean when you told me it was impossible for us to get married?” asked Edward. The words tumbling from his lips brought her thoughts rushing back to the present.

Just before leaving Segovia Ana had told Edward she dared not marry him, and that that even loving him was him was sin. She had all but forgotten about this, due to beautiful emotions she was feeling. She had forgotten how their love would have to end, a life of solitude for her, and if Edward loved her as much as he said he did, then it would be bad for him.

A messenger came from the King, summoning Edward to rejoin the army, and his recall had ended their last meeting before its time, and when he returned he had found Ana gone.

On returning to Segovia he searched high and low for Ana but without success. He found impossible find either her or Don Albert, the friend she had been staying with. And when he had knocked on Don Albert's door, Donna Maria, his wife, had told him that her husband had left for one of the southern cities and their guest had returned to her own home. But she had refused to tell him where she lived.

But he had found her now and was not about to let her go so easily, what possible reason was here for them to be separated?

“Why won’t you let me speak your grandfather and ask for his blessing on our marriage?” asked Edward

“Edward, my love, my grandfather needs me, and there are other reasons that I can’t tell you about why I had to leave Segovia. And these reasons haven’t changed. You must leave here and never return, forget that you’ve ever seen me again. Believe me my love, when that it’s for the best.”

“I swear that I’ll tell no one about this hidden valley of yours, Ana,” His voice verging on desperation. “I don’t know what you’re scared of, but believe me, I’d protect your secret with my life. And I can’t go back the way I came, because I don’t know how I got here. Besides which you still haven’t told why it is such a sin for you to love me. Are you promised to somebody else? Is your heart already won? Please tell me, I need to understand.”

“No, Edward,” came her instant reply: “I could never love anyone as much I love you. I would not, will not marry anyone else, not whilst my heart belongs to you.”

“But why do you use the word 'sin', to describe our feeling for each other?”

“Because of a grandfather's curse, and a demanding God, that’s why. Now please don’t ask me any more. Oh, why did you have to fall in love me?”

Ana, all I ask is the reason why, why we can’t be married? I cannot and will not let anything come between us. I’ll give up everything for you, even my honour, and that I hold dearer than life itself.

“So be it,” she said, at length. “I will tell you why we can’t be married; I know you’ll never tell anyone else. Doubt wasn’t the reason I couldn’t tell you; it was the fear of you growing to hate me. Once people know the truth about me, I become an object of hatred, of scorn, even you will feel this way about me.”

 “Hatred? Scorn? Whatever are you talking about? I don't understand you, The love we have for each other can overcome anything.”

The colour slipped from her lips and cheeks and with an unfaltering voice, Ana revealed her secret, the secret she believed would separate them forever.

“I am,” she said, “one of Abraham’s children, I’m a Jewess.”

Edward, shocked, released the hands he had so loving held just a moment ago. And then he took two rapid steps backward, the look on his face showing both love and aversion, each fighting for supremacy. Finally burying his face in his hands; his body began to shake as though he had been struck by a sudden fever.

“So now you know why our love can never be” continued Ana, softly, after a pause. She stood before him, her head up and her arms by her sides. Then she saw the reaction to her words, and her voice changed. “Senior Emsley,” a hardness came into her voice, “I see I need no longer ask you to leave, your response is sufficient. All you need do to is remember what I am and you will soon stop loving me.”

“Never, never,” replied Edward, his heart easily heard in his voice. “Come with me, come to England. No-one will know what you are there. Ana, my love, please come, I don’t care what you are, all I can see is the woman I love, who I will always love. Come with me. King Edward has asked me to return to England, and for your sake alone I will live beneath his sword.”

“And my grandfather?” gasped the now unhappy girl, the strength of Edward's love made her rebuke seem unworthy. “Will you protect him too? Can you forget what he is? You can’t do it, can you? I know it. But I do thank you for your generous love, and please don't tempt me anymore Edward. There is one a thing I cannot be, and that is your wife.”

He turned away from her stifling groan. “You speak to me of love, but you cannot love me.” Edward almost sobbed the words both disappointed and hurt. His pain of rejection so bad he scarcely knew what he was saying. “I would give up Spain and her monarch's service for you. I would even live in slavery under a tyrant's rule to give you a home. I would forget, and put aside the prejudices of a life time for you. I would even mix the pure blood of the Emsleys with the darkened torrent that flows through your veins. All this I would do just for your love.

“And do you do for me? You reject me, tell me to leave, and still you can talk of love? What love?”

“It’s true,” replied Ana, something in her voice made him listen more carefully. “You speak the truth without knowing it. You have reminded me of something I had almost forgotten. I do have a love, a duty, a thing far stronger than any feelings I might have for you. I would give up everything for you, everything, but one, I cannot turn my back on the God of my people.”

Ana's voice and her choice of words appealed to Edward's better nature and any hope he may have had left him. A long silence followed her angry words, broken only by Edward's footsteps as he paced back and forth. The blow of losing her again so soon after having just found her caught him totally unprepared.

Ana had known from the very moment they had parted, some fifteen months earlier what must happen. She had prayed that they would never meet again, that he would forget her, but her prayers went unanswered. And although she thought herself prepared, one look at his face, one word from him had proved just how impossible her dream had been.

“You have asked me to leave Ana, and so I will,” Edward said, at length, the pain visible on his face as he looked into her eyes. “But remember, if you really did love me, then time can’t have changed that love. And if only one thing keeps us apart, then surely our love can break it. When ever you are alone, in need of a friend, just look around and I will be there, no matter your race or creed.”

Ana found tears start to fill her eyes as she looked at him. “It would have been better for you to have hated me, as your people do mine. I find it impossible to endure your gentle and loving words,” faltered Ana, her head sinking to his shoulder and her pent-up tears began to flow. “But this is folly,” she continued, forcing back a sob and breaking free from him. “You must go; if you stay here any longer then both you and my grandfather will be in danger. No, not that way,” she interjected, as he turned towards the hill he had come down. “There is quicker and easier trail. Follow me.”

Edward followed Ana through what seemed to be an endless maze; until they came to a halt before an immense rock. Standing beside the rock Ana pushed aside a thick bush and with a slight hand movement opened a small door, revealing a winding staircase.

“Do you trust me, Edward?” asked Ana

“Need you ask?” he responded.

Edward followed her up the rugged stairs, the stairs and narrow passage were lit by long narrow loopholes, hidden on the outside by trees and bushes. After some twenty minutes of walking and quite conversation they finally came to a stop at another wall. Once again a hidden door opened at the touch of her hand, this door opening up into a forest. Walking a hundred yards through the ferns and tangled undergrowth, Ana came to a stop and Edward looked around him bewildered. What appeared to be an endless plain, stretched for miles around them, totally barren but for a few rocks lying scattered about. He looked around him once more, knowing he would never be able to find his way back, even had he wanted to.

“This path looks harder than it really is.” said Ana, reading his mind, “Stay to the left; even though it seems the lesser used path. Tomorrow's sun will bring you to a small village; from there you will find your road will be easier.

If only we could stay together,” said Edward haltingly, wanting to delay their moment of parting.

“No one will ever take your place in my heart, Edward my love,” she smiled up at him. “But even so, I must ask you never to seek me again.”

Five minutes later they had gone their separate ways, and the forest looked as if no one had ever been there.

Aug 4th

Hope Valley chapters two and three for BP

By Pride.James


The wars raging throughout Spain at this time brought many a warrior to his maturity, giving the knights of the realm more than enough opportunity to gain and display their chivalrous qualities. In the armies of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile were some of the noblest and most valiant knights in Christendom. Spanish chivalry was renown throughout the civilised world, but never more so than under the leadership Ferdinand. Nobles put aside their petty rivalries and jealousies as they sought fame under his guidance. Chivalry rarely had as much success as had in the court of Spain at this time. And ase it reached its zenith, so it began its slow but inevitable decline.

Among these lords of gallantry, Edward took the opportunity to lift, in his own way; the military glory of his much-loved and deeply missed England. Ferdinand honoured him with his own hard earned respect; he earned this respect in such way, that there were no overtones of jealousy from among the younger Spaniards. It seemed as if nothing could interfere with his advancement. Almost all of Edward’s friends were from Aragon, to Isabella and her Castilians; he was just a valiant young warrior and a favourite of the King.

These civil wars brought another man to the fore; his name was Diego Correa, no one was ever heard to speak about him, be it monarch or peasant without the same warmth and respectful affection. The growth of his fame had been a gradual process, due entirely to the man himself, he never sought the patronage of a high ranking peer, to win the respect had he earned. At the tender age of sixteen and still a page, Diego Correa had witnessed, the dethroning of King Henry IV of Spain, it was only with luck that he managed to survive the furore that followed. His youth together with his dignified bearing and unpretentious manner, soon attracted the attention of the young Prince Alfonso (Queen Isabella's younger brother), and a bond quickly grew between the two youths from that moment on.

During Alfonso's brief career, Diego had shown many sterling qualities, his wisdom and loyalty not only earned the Prince's love, but the confidence of his friends and advisers as well.

His grief together with his unconcealed suspicion at the young prince's mysterious and sudden death not only won him a great many enemies; it also endangered his life. His defence of Alfonso earned him the gratitude and favour of Isabella, and she in her turn managed to protect and advance him to even higher rank.

Isabella’s love for her younger brother went beyond the usual bonds of affection felt between siblings. Because of this it made all those who loved and served Alfonso dear to her, even more so bearing in mind the treachery that surrounded her, all too often in the guise of devotion to her cause. The unswerving loyalty of Diego, together with his deep affection for Alfonso, made her feel that she could trust him completely. She felt secure, not only in his loyalty, but also in his ability to discover and counter the schemes of those who sought to harm her. Isabella also constantly used him as her messenger to Ferdinand, in the end he was trusted implicitly by both the prince and his subjects.

Diego’s personal wealth seemed endless and was always at the service of either Isabella or her betrothed. It was from him that the necessary monies for her private nuptials were borrowed. Diego was a guest at the wedding and at own his request escorted the young prince back to his own country. This, besides being an honour for him, was also a highly dangerous undertaking and he performed it with all his usual devotion and skill.

It is not surprising therefore that Diego harvested the reward for his unswerving loyalty by rapid promotion within the royal court. As Isabella and Ferdinand’s prosperity grew they were able to reward him in a more tangible manner, as well showing their personal gratitude.

It should also be said that no royal favour, no coveted honour or power could change his whole-hearted honesty. His unreserved friendship and his interest in his equals; be they of the church, the court or the army was endless. His gentle and unassuming manner to people of lesser rank earned both their respect and loyalty. It was these things that made him so universally loved, even the hardest of men when meeting him for the first time soon found themselves subconsciously warming to him.

It was not until Isabella and Ferdinand were firmly established on the throne, that Aragon and Castile became truly united. Until these things were settled, there had been little leisure time for Spanish knights to think about domestic ties. If it had it not been for that, it might have been seen as somewhat unusual for Diego remain unmarried. Even on the field of battle he preferred to fight alone and although he could claim distant relationship to four or five of the noblest houses of the Castile, he appeared to have no other close relatives. Diego mingled easily and courteously, and to the minds some of the younger men, a little too easily with the young ladies Isabella's court. Many of these same young ladies thought he was too cold and that he would never fall in love.

Isabella often teased him about his apparent indifference. “When sir,” she asked, “if ever, are you to wed?”

On the last occasion of this teasing Diego answered her, somewhat to her surprise. “For some years now,” Diego had said, “my affections have been engaged to a lady living in retirement in the countryside. She is entirely unknown at court and I’m only awaiting peace in Spain, so that I can offer her not only my love; but a secure and peaceful home as well.”

He spoke with a quiet confidence, as Isabella listened with great interest.

“I can only approve of your choice Diego,” she said, “as I am convinced you would never marry anyone, whose birth or lineage could tarnish your pure Castilian blood, or bring danger the Holy Catholic faith.”

Thus giving her royal seal of approval, without knowing any more than what he had told her. Diego's face may have changed colour at her words, but his deep obeisance as he departed the royal presence effectively concealed any unwonted emotion.

Less than year after that conversation, not only was the ancient city of Segovia, where his vast estates lay, but all of Castile was thrown into turmoil by the marriage preparations of their popular idol. Rumours said he was to marry a young and lovely girl, who lived in retirement in the country. A young lady, whom few, if any, had ever seen, her name was Donna Ana Hedesa. And even though she was acknowledged as being essentially Castilian; she was as yet an entirely unknown quantity.

The mystery of who she was and where he had found her were soon forgotten in the universal admiration of her charm and beauty. A great many people thought Diego too cold, to rapt up in his duties as a statesman and general to ever play the lover, and Diego was quite happy for this impression to remain.

He was the kind of man who showed little of his true feelings, and no-one except Isabella, ever realised just how much he truly loved his wife, until they met Ana.


Hope Valley was originally the work of one man; a man had taken refuge there when fleeing the power of the Inquisition, a power he had somehow miraculously escaped from. This man was Saul Hedesa, Ana’s grandfather. For five long years he had remained hiding in the valley, and during those he had built a comfortable home. He had built this well-hidden retreat, not only for himself, but for his family as well. Nature herself appeared to have lent a hand in making Hope Valley into a well nigh impenetrable fortress. And Saul's own skill and energy, had only increased and strengthened its natural barriers.

During those five years, the search for him had been so thorough; that towards its end Inquisition had thought him dead. As they felt sure only death could have kept hidden him from them for so long. At the end of that time the search gradually relaxed, finally ceasing altogether as friend and foe alike believed him dead.

When he did make his reappearance he wore the coarse robe, shrouding cowl with the hempen belt of a wandering friar. It was in this way that he found he could travel throughout the country in almost total safety, unknown and unsuspected. Only with great difficulty was he finally able to locate his family, and it was a matter of no little skill to smuggle them away. His biggest problem was to do it without arousing suspicion, caused by their disappearance. When eventually they were all safe in his retreat, his reward for his efforts were repaid with many long years of domestic bliss.

Apart from his immediate family, a wife, two sons, Manual and Jaime and a daughter, Rachel, Saul had also rescued his sister’s children, a nephew Diego and a niece, Josephine. Their father had died at the hands of the same Inquisition he had escaped from. Their mother dying shortly after arriving in the valley from a broken heart, and Saul raised the two orphans as his own.

As the years passed, Hope Valley became not only a safe haven, but luxurious home as well. With every visit Saul made to the outside world he turned into a profit, first to purchase the necessities, and then the luxuries. He also built a small temple in the Valley, with the assistance of the younger men, and because of this they were able to adhere to the religious ceremonies of their Jewish ancestors.

Although the family was small, births, deaths and marriages did take place, inner struggles quietly endured, making that small spot of earth, a smaller world in it's own right. Diego and Rachel left the Valley hoping to find a more exciting life on the outside. Manual, Hedesa's son and Josephine, his niece, preferring the quiet life of the vale were content to remain at home.

But Jaime also loved Josephine, but as she had given her love to his brother, he also left, because he felt he could no longer be happy living near the woman he loved and could never have. As a boy Jaime had always been a thoughtful and quiet lad, and the fate of his uncle was never very far from his mind. And, as most boys are want to do, he swore that one day he would avenge his uncle’s death, and tried to cure his love of Josephine by using his hatred of the Inquisition to crush it.

As a family they tried to attend all the Jewish festivals, more often than not bringing old friends, with the same ties of faith. To the visitors, the secret of the hidden valley became as precious as it was to its inhabitants. As the years passed by the ageing founder often enjoyed the pleasure of having twenty to thirty of his own people visiting Hope Valley. And his pleasure was enhanced by knowing his work benefited friends as well as family. Jaime was the only member of the family who never returned to the Valley and they mourned him as though he were dead.

The career of Diego, after leaving the valley was glorious, but short, as he died fighting for his country. His widow, Rachel and her young son, Diego, named after his father, soon returned to the parental retreat.

Although the cousins had married on the same day, Diego was some ten years older than his cousin Ana. Manual and Josephine having been married for twelve years before Ana was born. As a child Ana had been a plaything to the youthful Diego, someone to play and laugh with. When he left the Valley, it was to become a page to his father's companion in arms, Gonzalo de Lara. Ana was little more than five years old at the time, but his love for both her and his home was so great that he would always find the time to visit them.

It was on one of these visits Diego realised that the child he had once played with had now matured into a graceful young girl. And no sooner had he adjusted to this, than she changed yet again into a lovely young woman, and making his boyhood home dearer than ever. Over the years, death had overtaken many of his beloved family, until eventually the Valley's sole occupants were Ana, her grandfather and their retainers.

Had Ana’s mother lived, she would never have exposed her daughter to the dangers of the outside world. In Ana's grandfather’s heart, as well as Diego's mother, the pair were as good as betrothed, and because of this Saul never saw any problem.

Had Ana’s mother had still been alive, she would have known just how possible it was for another man to steal her daughter’s heart. And if she had allowed Ana out into the world, she would have waited until she was Diego' wedded wife, knowing only then she was safe. But fears and feelings like these are the property of women, and not of a devoted grandfather. Saul was incapable of such thoughts, or to understand them if he did. He may have admitted there was some truth to them, if his wife was there to point them out, but her voice was still and her counsel long buried.

Saul was proud grandfather and only thought of his grandchild's beauty and of how much she would be admired and envied. It was for her sake he took her from the quiet seclusion of the Valley, and placing her into the care of Donna Maria de Castro. He wanted to see the admiration she received, as he truly believed her to be the loveliest woman in all Castile. He only wished that Diego could have been there to see her. But he was elsewhere, engaged on the important and private business of the Queen. He did not even know Ana had left the Valley.

The thought never entered Saul’s head that his granddaughter could ever fall in love anyone outside of her own people, the very idea was unthinkable. Ana herself was totally oblivious of her grandfather's desire for her to marry Diego. More so as he had never mentioned the matter of marriage, either to herself or Diego, he took it for granted his grandson would love fall in love with Ana and seek her out for himself. It was a shame she did not have a mother to warn her of the dangers she faced.

When the totally unknown and unexpected emotion of love slowly took control of her heart, during her short time with Edward, she had no idea what this new feeling was; as the word love had ever passed between them. All she knew was that his presence, his voice and the very touch of his hand, brought her a new thrilling sensation. A sensation of intense happiness, a feeling she had never felt before.

Only when from out of nowhere he asked her to be his wife, she realised she was in love. Not only did she accept the fact she was in love, but also of the barrier between them, a barrier of faith that no amount of love could ever circumnavigate. The sacrifice of race, faith or family could be made; but the very idea never occurred to her, to her it was sin even to love him.

When Saul Hedesa returned to Segovia take his granddaughter back home to the Valley, he never had any idea of the pain she was experiencing. Ana had always been a rather a pensive and quite girl and for this reason no-one saw any change in her. Although her love for Edward caused her pain, there was no outward sign she was or ever had in love.

For fifteen months Ana tried to deny the love she felt for Edward, everything telling her that her very love for him was a sin against God. To begin with the time she spent at prayer softened the sharp pains until at last she thought she had conquered them altogether. And then when he appeared unexpected in the Valley, all her old feelings for him were re-awakened. Throughout that meeting she had succeeded in remaining firm, she had even managed to tell him her secret. And if that secret ever reached the wrong ears, would mean almost certain death for her and her grandfather. She had even found the courage to tell him to forget her, because she knew he could never marry a Jewess. But she had underestimated his love for her as he even dismissed that obstacle; his generosity and his love would linger in her memory despite every effort she might make to forget him.

Ana found it hard to bear the pain alone, she longed to be able to tell her grandfather everything, but she knew too well how much grief such a confession would bring him. And what his judgement would be. Ana hated the very thought of anybody else condemning her feelings, as she herself condemned them.

Saul had been away from the Valley during Edward's unexpected visit; and his return was now long overdue. He lateness was enough to alarm not only Ana, but their servants as well. When he did eventually arrive home and explained the reason for his delay, it did little to ease Ana's anxiety.

“I’m sorry I’ve been gone for so long, Ana,” he explained, “but I suffered a strange, but short illness. I lost consciousness, and when I awoke I found myself far weaker than I’d ever thought possible. I’m much better now, so it can’t have been anything to worry about.”

Although Saul made light of his illness, he still felt very uneasy about it. Not that he feared his own death, he only feared it would take him away from Ana before he seen her safely married. The attack he suffered was only the forerunner of others, sometimes slight, but at others his periods of unconsciousness lasted for many hours. His illness made Ana even more determined to keep her secret from him.

She had the feeling that any sudden shock would bring on another one of his attacks, and she wanted him safe. His unstable health only served to increase her love for him, as did her fear of causing him any more grief. Except that now she could see just how fragile her intentions were, one short hour with Edward and everything had changed.