The trial was set to begin in one week. This was the worst possible news as it gave not nearly enough time to have Shepherd’s friends of influence have a voice in his behalf. I contacted Thomas Rainsborough, a recently elected MP, and a leader in the Leveller movement. Rainsborough knew Shepherd well, and he jumped at the opportunity to defend him in court. No Royalist he, Rainsborough might strike a nice balance as the defender of Shepherd. He would be equally trusted, or distrusted by the Cromwell people as well as the Royalists. I wanted to make clear that, even though Shepherd was a former Royal Physician, he was not a supporter of the Crown any longer. I wanted to establish Shepherd as essentially non-political, even one who departed from his past leanings (if indeed he ever had any “leanings” politically!).
Shepherd was languishing in the prison, and I visited him every chance that I was allowed. Indeed, the only time he got decent food was when I brought him something that Margaret had made. He was grateful for the visits and the food. I teased him that he would be just as pleased if he only got the food, not my visit. In fact, I said “If Margaret were to be the one to visit and bring food, you would be happy as a lark!”
Shepherd managed a weak chuckle at this. He seemed resigned to his own death, but I would not allow such thinking. Shepherd had been offered freedom if he would produce King Charles Stuart. At this point, Shepherd had no idea where Charles had escaped to, although many heard rumors of his presence in Holland. I was fascinated that the local wrath seemed to be centered on Shepherd, not King Charles. Charles would eventually make himself known, and there would be battles with the New Model Army- most were quite convinced of this likelihood. But the anger toward Shepherd seemed out of proportion and out of place. Yet, there were those who seemed to place upon Shepherd the mantle of treachery. He had ruffled some people in high places, and people like Andrew and Anne Kensington were happy to fan the flames of fury against him. As long as fingers were pointed at him, they were not pointed at the Kensingtons.
I told Shepherd that I retained Thomas Rainsborough to defend him in court. He seemed grateful about this, but worried that this might be detrimental to Rainsborough- to defend someone like himself who seemed so unpopular. I told Shepherd that Rainsborough was quite able to make that decision, and that those who opposed him were not in the majority- they were simply more vocal. Shepherd conceded that Rainsborough would be a fine choice, and he thanked me.
I left the prison discouraged. My rock-like friend, Joseph Shepherd, seemed resigned to his fate. He hardly cared to make a defense for himself. It seemed like he wanted to die! I mused upon the fact that Shepherd’s influence had really changed me. It seemed like the energy that Shepherd had originally possessed and had infused into me, was now departing him. I was now focused and motivated in a mission whereas I had been drifting along before I met him. Now, it seemed, his energy, his life force, was diminished and that he had given me a life, but he was now willing to give his up. I would not stand for that!
The trial began as expected. Witnesses were paraded forth claiming that Shepherd was a Royalist. He had been Royal Physician (Assistant Royal Physician to William Harvey, not the official Royal Physician, Rainsborough objected); he had harbored his friend and colleague, Charles Stuart, King of England, in the Mission; he had harbored thieves and criminals in the Mission over the years so this was habitual behavior for him; and he had consort with the lowest wretches in London there; and he enjoyed the privileges of royal friendship as he had influence with monarchs on the Continent. Even his unusual forms of medical treatment were called into question as the prosecutor called upon some of the medical professors from Oxford to berate his “ignorance of traditional and standard medical practices”, and his “disdain for experienced scholars in the medical field”.
Rainsborough was able to deflect many of these peripheral issues, simply because they had no bearing on the current charges. The jury, however, was getting a picture of a man who was radical, unpredictable in his dealings and one who simply scoffed at current convention, even the law. One thing Rainsborough could not deny, however, was that Shepherd had harbored the fugitive king, and he failed to cooperate with the New Model Army who pursued him.
I was called upon to testify about the night that Charles Stuart came to the Mission seeking asylum on his journey. “Dr. Greene”, began the prosecutor, “were you and Dr. Shepherd aware that Charles Stuart was a fugitive from justice?” he asked. “The king told us that Parliament had issued a writ ordering him to appear before them, but he did not indicate that he was under arrest, nor that he would be pursued by Parliament’s forces”, I said. “What did he say?” he asked. “The king told us that he could be compelled to appear before Parliament, but that was not the case at that time”, I said.
It seemed that part of the case rested upon the nuance of whether the king was actually being sought because he failed to appear before Parliament, or whether he was simply avoiding that circumstance by running away. The king had told us that he could be compelled to comply, not that this was already the case. Rainsborough had neatly explained this to me, so my response was as strict as I could make it in stating that we did not see him as under order to testify. He was not a fugitive from justice, he had simply asked us for refuge, and we complied. He was planning to go to Colchester Castle, and that was not totally out of the ordinary for him.
“Dr. Greene”, smiled the prosecutor, “are you a legal expert? Are you trying to make a legal argument defending your obvious behavior of harboring a fugitive from justice? We all know that you acted upon the belief that you were giving safe haven to a man who was under a legal order to appear before Parliament, and that he was simply ignoring, nay, FLAUNTING that order. Such is the behavior of that man who believes that he is above the laws of England. That, Dr. Greene, is the crux of the current problem with the king- he believes that he is above the law! This has been a bedrock belief of English civilization since the Magna Carta! No one is above the law!”
The prosecutor had gone from questioning to pontificating. He had his audience, and I was simply the puppet whom he used to give himself a platform. He had no interest in answers, he simply wanted a pulpit.
“How might I answer such a question, if indeed there is a question in that sermon”, I said, probably inadvisably. The jury and spectators seemed to like the response as it drew a gale of laughter and hoots. The prosecutor, Sir William Lundly, did not take kindly to it however.
“You will answer that and all questions truthfully Dr. Greene. Please be advised that charges have not been dropped in your case, and such rude and disrespectful responses could result in your own trial!” he fumed.
“My answer, sir, is that I am not a legal expert. In fact, the law is something I cannot understand well, but I do respect it. Dr. Shepherd and I were simply responding at that time to a man in need who came to a place he saw as refuge, and we could no more turn him away if he were a beggar or, as it turns out, the King of England”, I concluded.
Lundly had established that we took in Charles Stuart and that we had the intention of giving him safety from whoever pursued him. That is all he needed to do, but he had stretched out the questioning so that he could once again make a case for an arrogant king, and that those who helped him were of the same ilk. My insolent response was not helpful, and I regretted saying it. It was too late to retract it, so we were now clearly living up to a reputation of being arrogant scofflaws.
We were hoping beyond hope to delay and string out the trial as long as we could in order to receive some replies from the influential people who might be of help to Shepherd. Rainsborough used all the tricks he knew, calling witnesses from as far away as he could conjure up, and even begging the court for extra time due to the poor health that Shepherd now experienced. Rainsborough took some pains to detail how poorly Shepherd was being treated, and that the poor food, inadequate quarters, and the lack of sleep he experienced was shameful and taking a toll on the defendant.
The judge, Sir Thomas Ackley, was not unsympathetic. He granted us some time for Shepherd to receive medical care outside of the prison, allowing him to be treated at the Mission hospital under the watch of guards. We were able to gain several extra precious days of rest, as well as time to get additional support.
Shepherd felt much relieved when he was brought back to the Mission. I saw him actually smile for the first time since before his arrest. We did not know how much time we had for him to recuperate, but whatever we had was a blessing. Shepherd began to eat and heal from his mistreatment at the hands of the guards. He was over 50 years old now (although, truthfully, I never knew his exact age, and he had never bothered to tell me) and healing came more slowly. The truly healing thing for him, however, was to be able to treat patients again. He simply could not be stopped from ministering to the needs of those in the hospital. In fact, as he began working with patients, I saw his entire mind and body change. He had renewed energy, became more talkative, and actually started to discuss his future.
Of course, this ended up working against him since the guards reported back to Sir Lundly, and Judge Ackley that the prisoner was “fit and healthy” in their modest opinion. One evening, about 6 days after he had moved back into the Mission, one of the guards was attacked by one of the patients at the Mission. People there knew what was happening, and they were very defensive of their “protector” Joseph Shepherd. One of the poor wretches who had been at the Mission off and on for several years felt very protective toward Shepherd. He saw that one of the guards had fallen asleep and he took that opportunity to run at him with a knife. He stabbed the guard several times in the head and neck area and was ready to finish him off when the other guard swung his sword at the man and cut him down. The poor man died almost instantly from the blow which nearly severed his head. The attacked guard however was seriously hurt.
Shepherd ran to the guard quickly. He saw that there was nothing to be done for the assailant, but quick action was needed for the guard. The guard sustained cuts to his neck, scalp, and ear. His ear was nearly severed, but the neck wound was what concerned Shepherd. He quickly applied pressure to the wound and he called me over to help sew up the wound. There was a great deal of blood loss, and we were not sure that we could save him. Shepherd’s skill at such work was unsurpassed. He was able to staunch the flow of blood and tie off the vein which had been pierced. We worked as a team again, recalling our work on Kelley aboard the Intrepid, the Algonquin native, Achak, in America, and on Jacob Carr after his stab wound. Shepherd made quick work on sewing the guard’s ear back, this being almost an afterthought given that it was certainly not life threatening.
After this attack, the judge and prosecutor were resolved to end this kindness to Shepherd. He was indeed much improved in his own health, and there was no need to expose guards to harm in this house arrest situation any longer.
Shepherd would be called upon to testify after proceedings resumed. Hoping to delay that testimony, and delay the trial as long as he could, Rainsborough took the unusual step of calling in the guards who were at the Mission to testify. The guards, Micah Davis and Elijah Mays were summoned to court. Davis, the guard who was the victim of the assault, was called to the stand. Sir Lundly appealed to Judge Ackley that this was an unusual and unnecessary tactic. What value could there be in calling the guards to testify. This was a defense trick, and Lundly would not stand for it. “I object to this trick of the defense!” thundered Sir Lundly. “Sir Ackley your honor”, said Rainsborough, “I am simply trying to establish the character of my client, which has been so impugned over the course of this trial by the Honorable Sir Lundly”, said Rainsborough. “I am attempting to show that my client acted well within the bounds of this court when he was shown the grace of recuperating in the Mission hospital. The only way that I can establish that is by the testimony of his guards. Is this trial not about character, as the honorable Sir Lundly stated in his questioning of Dr. Greene?” concluded Rainsborough.
Sir Ackley paused for just a moment and said, “I will allow it. I see no harm in it, and if it can further justice, we all benefit”, he ruled. Lundly sat down, clearly upset, but he managed a smile as he nodded toward the judge.
“Mr. Davis”, began Rainsborough, “can you tell the court if Dr. Shepherd was in compliance with the law while he was recuperating at the Mission hospital?” he asked. “Yes he was sir”, answered Davis. “Did he ever try to escape during his time there?” asked Rainsborough. “No sir, he did not” answered Davis. “Did he treat you with respect and dignity during the time you were guarding him?” asked Rainsborough. “Yes sir, he surely did”, replied Davis. “You were injured while you were guarding him at the Mission, is that true?” asked Rainsborough. “Yes, someone tried to kill me. I was attacked by a mad man there!” said Davis, now a bit shaken. “And how did Dr. Shepherd respond to this?” asked Rainsborough. “Why, he saved my life he did!” said Davis. Some of the spectators and most of the jurors were hearing this for the first time, and they gasped. Rainsborough, in his wisdom, had not allowed this information to be shared as far as he could control it. He had wanted exactly this response of surprise, and he was pleased that this information was new to many people.
Rainsborough went on, in painstaking detail, to question Davis and Mays about how Shepherd had responded quickly with care and skill to save a man who was guarding him from escape. Rainsborough was able to establish something that many people already knew about Shepherd- he was a kind and thoughtful man who sought the best for all he came in contact with. This example was just one example of that, but it was powerful and very timely! This testimony also stood in contrast to the Oxford masters who tried to paint Shepherd as a wild and reckless man who did not display good medical practices. This man Davis was living proof of the opposite.
Then something strange and wonderful happened. Several spectators stood and demanded to be heard. One after another, people gave testimony, unsolicited, about how Shepherd had saved their life- whether it was a physical intervention, food when they were starving or a shelter when they were cold. Julius Rosello stood and told about his own healing in Rome when he encountered Shepherd there with a friend, and also about his son Mario who no longer had seizures after treatment from Dr. Shepherd.
Then a young man stood from far back in the court room. There was a short time of stunned silence and the young man began to speak. “I was abandoned at the Mission over 20 years ago and cared for by Dr. Shepherd. A man who Dr. Shepherd took in, whose life Shepherd actually saved, was the same man who saved me from a terrible fire. This was a man whose name I have proudly taken, Jacob Carr”, he said. “I am also the son of Margaret and Dr. Luke Greene. I beg you to consider what you are doing here. This man, Joseph Shepherd has done nothing but good in London, and you want to hang him for harboring a fugitive king?” Jacob broke down at that point and began weeping. Edwin, his uncle, stood with him and held him.
Judge Ackley finally restored order in the court room, but emotions were running high. Sir Lundly had been beside himself with rage at the actions in the room, but he had been shouted down, and he could not turn the tide which had arisen.
Judge Ackley finally recessed the court until the next day. He asked that Rainsborough and Lundly meet him in his quarters. He wanted no part of the display that he saw in the court room to be repeated in the future. Yet he would need to convene without the usual open court to which people had become accustomed. Any secrecy these days was held to be highly suspicious. Mob rule was not far from London these days, and Judge Ackley was sure that it would not begin in his courtroom.
“Gentlemen”, he addressed them in his quarters, “we must come to some resolution here so that we do not set off a riot. Justice must be served, but not at the expense of the lives of innocent people who will be harmed in riots.” Just as he was finishing his sentence, his bailiff burst into the quarters and asked if he could have a word with Sir Ackley. “I have news!” the bailiff cried. “Just tell the news!” said an exasperated Ackley. Charles Stuart is at Colchester Castle, and he has sent word to Cromwell that he would like to discuss his situation”, concluded the bailiff.
Charles, no longer a fugitive and in plain sight, was willing to talk with the Rump Parliament and Cromwell. There seemed to be less compelling reasons now to prosecute Joseph Shepherd for an escape that was over.
Lundly was not persuaded that anything had changed. “Shepherd’s treasonous act is not mitigated by the fact that his crime was not successful”, he reasoned. Rainsborough jumped in. “Your Honor”, he said, “Sir Lundly may be quite legally correct in his statement, but may I suggest a bit of a bargain shall we say?”
“Bargain with justice Rainsborough?” said Lundly. “You are like the rest of these brigands that you associate with!” he sniffed in his best self-righteous tone. “My bargain, if I may proceed Sir Lundly, involves a plea of guilt by my client, but with the promise of mercy by the court. No death sentence, no imprisonment, but banishment from England. That way, we have no local martyr that the street people will defend like that fool at the Mission tried to do. There are others who may do that if he stays. You saw that court room-some people are passionate in defending that man. Let us remove him, not by death, but by exile”, he concluded.
Rainsborough was taking a risk in this tactic. He was not at all convinced that his principled client would accept the idea of pleading guilty. Even if he did, Shepherd would find it very difficult to leave his precious Mission behind. However, if he did not make the move now, it may never work. Timing was critical in these things, and he had just come from a court room scene that could turn the tide for now, but such passion could not be sustained. Now was the time to get commitments.
Sir Ackley and Sir Lundly pondered the situation. Rainsborough had given all of them a way out with some kind of honor. They would consider it overnight and discuss it again in the morning. If Rainsborough could convince his client, he may just save his life.
Rainsborough came back to Shepherd and me with the offer that he had just proposed. “Brilliant!” was all I could say. This was a way to save Shepherd’s life and take him away from the harm that was rapidly enveloping England. Charles’ offer to meet with Cromwell meant that he was so desperate now that he would try a last-ditch effort of a “plea” himself.
Shepherd thought for a moment and said to Rainsborough, “Thomas, I did not authorize such an offer.” My heart sank. Surely Shepherd would not turn down his only way out! “So you are rejecting the offer?” asked Rainsborough. “I need to pray about that Thomas”, replied Shepherd. “I suppose Lundly and Ackley need to as well since they have not accepted the offer yet either”, he said.
Rainsborough was very calm about the whole matter. I think perhaps that he had anticipated this possible response from Shepherd, so he gave some space for Shepherd to wrestle with it rather than try to convince him of the wisdom of the offer. Rainsborough recognized that it may not have been his job to convince Shepherd, but to simply present the facts in a calm and reasoned fashion and let God convince Shepherd of its wisdom. Indeed, this logic was unassailable. Shepherd was a man of reason, not impulse. Further, no man would convince Shepherd of anything unless Shepherd truly believed it was God’s plan- I had learned that over the years with him. So, giving him the time to pray about it was another stroke of wisdom on Rainsborough’s part.
Lady Anne Kensington heard the news about Charles making his arrangement with Oliver Cromwell, and she was unsettled. She had cast her lot with the Crown over the years, whereas Andrew had played in the courts of the Royalists and Parliament, as well as the New Model Army at times. In doing so Lord Kensington had made enemies among all sides while he believed that he was simply making friends of all. His deals had made temporary friends, but, evidently, lasting enemies as well. He had managed to get himself out of Whitehall prison by calling in some financial favors and distributing money, but could his luck hold out?
Lady Anne was certain that Charles would be toppled from the throne and likely imprisoned. In her worst fears, she believed that he might even be executed. The same fate may well await her. She contacted Andrew and asked to meet with him at Sherwood Pub. Both were well aware of the treachery of the other, but in this time of crisis, they were thrown together for a last chance of saving themselves.
“Whom can we rely on in this danger?” asked Anne as they met outside of London at the pub. “You have friends who have helped you get out of prison, who helped you?” she asked Andrew. “There were several people who came to my aid” Andrew said, and they were well compensated for it”, he concluded. “Your little plot could have gotten me killed”, he said to Anne. “Why should I do anything to help you?” he asked. “If you had had your way, I would have been beaten to death, not imprisoned at Whitehall”, he said.
“We can help one another now”, said Anne, deflecting Andrew’s obvious observation. “And how do you propose to help me?” asked Andrew. “I have friends who have arranged a safe retreat for me”, she said, “but you have the ship that I need for the passage”, she concluded. “And what do I get?” asked Andrew. “You get to keep all claims that I have on your estate”, she said. “So, I profit after I die, having the ability to rest in the grave with the consolation that you cannot profit from my hard work”, he said. “That does not sound very satisfying to me”, he snorted. “Yes, I expected as much” Anne said. “I will also pay you £10,000 for the use of your ship”, she concluded.
Andrew did not even raise his eyebrows at this offer. “You are truly in need Anne”, he said. “Even if I wanted to help you, and I do not, it would cost you £25,000 for use of the ship, depending on where you want to go”, he said.
Anne had expected that this would be a difficult negotiation because she was not in a position of strength. But she was in trouble. Her affiliations with the Crown had made her poison with her primary contacts. Cromwell had already put her on the list of “Enemies of the English People”, so she was expecting to be arrested anytime. While Andrew was not safe to entrust her fate into, he was about the only one with whom she could negotiate now.
“So that is your offer?” she asked. “I did not offer it” said Andrew, now enjoying Anne twisting in the wind. “I simply said that would be the cost. I am not interested in offering you safe passage”, he said.
Anne was starting to panic, but she tried to maintain her composure. Now she understood why Andrew was willing to meet with her despite her attempts to destroy him. He would now try to destroy her or put her into financial ruin. He was willing to take risks in order to exact some revenge upon Anne.
“How do you know that I did not invite you here to kill you”, Anne asked, her mood darkening. “I fully expected that you did my dear”, replied Andrew. “I brought along 25 armed men who are not 50 yards from here”, he said. “I only brought 5 because I trust you so much”, Anne said acidly.
Andrew laughed and the tension was broken a bit. “I have good reason not to trust you”, he said. “I should have brought more men!”
“Now that we have that out of the way, perhaps we can begin to negotiate in earnest”, Anne said smiling. Andrew darkened quickly. “Just because we can still laugh does not mean we are not enemies Anne”, he said. “My offer to you is that you turn over everything to me- everything that you own, and I will consider providing safe passage for you to America, or to France where you have lovers who may take you in”, he concluded. “I want you broken in every way, and I will not rest until you are!” he glared.
Anne knew that she was beaten. Her bravado in trying to negotiate may have made her feel like she still had some power, but she now realized that her bluff and showmanship were not enough for the steely and relentless Andrew. “Very well” she said. “I will deed all my holdings to you for safe passage and protection to France”, she said. Andrew grinned at his victory. “I shall expect papers from your attorney by the end of the week”, he said. “I can arrange passage by the end of the week also when I have reviewed your deeds and holding contracts”, he said.
Joseph Shepherd was thinking and praying about his decision on the court bargain proposed by Rainsborough. I came to visit him in jail and he seemed to be in a very reflective mood. “Have you considered your decision about the arrangement that Rainsborough has arranged?” I asked hopefully. Shepherd seemed not to even hear my question as he was intent to talk about other things. “Luke, I have never told you about how I ended up on the Intrepid have I?” he asked. “You told me about being in Egypt, then signing on with a trade ship, the Herald, I believe. I always thought that you had lost your memory of what happened because of the blows to your head that you sustained”, I replied. “I did lose those memories for some time, but I have recalled much of what happened over the years”, he said. “I did not tell you about my life prior to Egypt did I?” “No, I do not know of your life before you were in Egypt”, I said. “Please tell me about that”, I said, “I am most anxious to know!”
“Before I came to Egypt I travelled around the Continent, working with some wonderful people. I was in Swabia with Johannes Kepler as he was formulating his experiments on optics. He was a true genius and a man dedicated to God. He believed that he could honor God by discovering more about His creation, a notion, as you already know, I happen to agree with. He was an amazing astronomer, coming up with ideas about the planets spinning on axes, the moon’s role in affecting tides, designing better optical equipment for both astronomy and vision. We even worked on things like determining the likely year that Christ was born, and I am quite certain that we have established that reasonably correctly.”
“Wait”, I said. “You both worked on these things?” I asked. “Oh yes, Kepler and I were very close then. I just wish things would not have gotten so troublesome with his mother.” “What happened with his mother?” I asked. “She was accused of being a witch by the people in her town. She was a bit of a troublesome woman, very bright but also very eccentric and opinionated. She absolutely refused to recant her story when being accused of being a witch. In fact, she was completely innocent, but she would not accept the bargain that was offered to her when they could not prove her guilt. The townspeople had conjured up a plan to get rid of her, and she fell into a trap of making a potion that they said was from the devil. She was a woman skilled in medicinal herbs and plants, and I have used some of that knowledge in my own practice. Sometimes people are not ready to accept new practices and they react out of fear. Interesting that fear often comes out looking like anger”, he concluded.
“I have been thinking about her lately with this bargain that Rainsborough has tried to arrange. She had the courage of her convictions and she refused to succumb to the tyrants who oppressed her. Can I do less than that woman? Johannes learned that trait from her, and he stayed strong in his convictions, even when he would have been safer to accommodate to the demands of those in authority.”
“Joseph”, I began, “I am most impressed that you worked with Johannes Kepler. Your genius never ceases to amaze me! I also know that is not why you told me the story since the only thing that surpasses your genius is your humility. And I know that your sense of ‘right’ is much more developed than mine, but I too am a friend, and I have some advice to give. You lose nothing by agreeing to plead guilty to harboring a fugitive- you did harbor a fugitive – we harbored a fugitive. So plead to the truth of that and accept the mercy they are willing to extend. Is that beyond your values?” I asked.
“I truly appreciate your care for me Luke, but truth is more complicated than simply agreeing to a bargain. If I accept that bargain, I am allowing them to keep alive a system of authority that is not legitimate. What they did to me was wrongful behavior. When Paul was in prison and then was released after wrongful procedure, he demanded that they acknowledge the fact that they had wronged a Roman citizen. He did that not for his own purposes, but for the benefit of the young church which needed freedom from oppression.”
“You may be the most stubborn man I know!” I concluded. “I will return tomorrow to see if even God can change that stubborn mind of yours!”
Shepherd was right- fear often does look like anger.
Back at our residence as I talked with Margaret, Edwin and Jacob, I told them of my encounter with Shepherd and my frustration with his stubbornness. Margaret and Edwin nodded in agreement. They too had seen his unbending will when he believed that a principle was at stake, and they had worried that it might be his undoing.
Then Margaret said, “You mentioned something about Joseph and Kepler’s mother. What happened there, I don’t understand what that had to do with Joseph going to Egypt”, she said.
It then dawned on me that Shepherd had never finished that story. We had become involved in his current distress and he never told me what happened. “I must be sure to ask him that when I visit him again”, I said.
“Have you decided when you are going to return to America?” asked Edwin. “I have been giving that some thought Edwin”, I replied, “but I think that depends on Shepherd’s decision and the willingness of the court to follow through with Rainsborough’s bargain. If they allow him to go into exile in America, we can take him back with us. It would really be an excellent solution. We could all be together again and I am certain that Shepherd would like to see what has happened in America”, I concluded. “And if the court does not allow it, or Shepherd does not agree?” Edwin said. “We cannot leave him in his hour of need”, I said. “We must fight for his release, or stand by him in his sentence”, I concluded.
Margaret began crying softly as I spoke. “We must persuade him to accept a bargain if it is proposed, and we must pray that there indeed is a proposal”, she said. We nodded in agreement and finally drifted off to our rooms to sleep.
Early the next morning, Rainsborough came to the Massachusetts Bay Company quarters where we stayed. “I have news!” he said. We looked at him and knew that it was good. “They have offered Joseph a reduced sentence of exile to America if he pleads guilty, and apologizes to Parliament for “obstructing justice” in harboring the King.
We looked somewhat downcast and Rainsborough was shocked. “Don’t you understand?’ he asked. Shepherd will be free! He can go back to America with you if he simply complies with the court’s request”, he said.
“We know Shepherd well”, I said. I am not convinced that he will do either of the court’s requests- plead guilty or apologize to Parliament. If he continues to believe that he is right, he will do neither, even if it costs him his life”, I said glumly.
“I will visit him this afternoon”, I said. “Pray that he has an open mind”, I added. “Perhaps I should go with you?” Rainsborough said. “No”, I said softly, “I want to go alone”.
I visited Joseph in prison that afternoon and I found him to be in good spirits. I decided to delay talking about the arrangement that Rainsborough had succeeded in acquiring for him. “Joseph”, I began, “You did not finish telling me about how Johannes Kepler’s mother had something to do with you going to Egypt. Tell me about that”, I said.
“Yes, I did not complete that story did I?” he said. “I was in Swabia with Johannes, and I had been there several months in fact. We were working on refining the Copernican theory about a heliocentric universe. Kepler was sure that the mathematics of the orbits of the planets made it clear that they, along with the earth, revolved around the sun. We had intuitively believed this because any other theory would be much more complicated to explain. He began writing a book about what the earth might look like from the moon, and it gave a perspective that explains how we might look from the heavens as opposed to us only looking out toward the heavens. It got me thinking about how we are so proud in our thinking that the earth must be the center of all the universe- all the planets, stars, comets and heavenly bodies. The sun, as giver of life, can be at the center, much like God, the maker of life should be at the center of our thought. The church cannot explain all of God’s creation. Indeed, that is not the role of the church. God has given to us inquisitive minds, tools like mathematics to understand His wondrous creation. It is a shame that those who pursue thought outside the purview of theology are condemned.
We began to teach and publish such ideas, and church people were becoming uncomfortable, then angry. We were being called heretics for pursuing our discovery of nature, which, in our opinion, are not antithetical to theology, but complementary. The more I see of the intricacy of creation, the more I see God himself. At the same time, Kepler’s mother, Katherina, was being charged with being a witch. She liked to deal with natural, herbal remedies, and she prepared such medicines for people in the town. Her ideas are a bit different, and she can be a hard woman to understand at times. In fact, many found her to be off-putting and distant – a dreamer with eccentric ideas. When Bruno Marker died after drinking one of her remedies, she was charged with being a witch. She was a hard-headed woman and refused to recant a statement that she had made earlier about witchcraft. Even when she was granted freedom, she chose to pursue vindication from her charges. Kepler and I rallied to her defense, and we offended the town burghers to the point that we were also accused of witchcraft. Kepler’s mother remained in a kind of house arrest, and Johannes was ordered to watch over her- under house arrest himself until his patron, Tycho Brahe could help arrange a reasonable disposition to the problem. I was told that I must leave Swabia, but I was not given safe passage to any Christian land. Neither Catholic nor Lutheran nor Calvinist would come to our defense, rather my defense. So I decided to go to Egypt. This Moslem country, pagan as they were, allowed me refuge because of Kara Mustafa Pasha, whom I had met years before in my travels through Macedonia. He had heard of our writings, and invited me to have asylum in Egypt with the intent of going to help rebuild the library in Alexandria- a grand vision of Pasha, but just that- a vision or dream. That was unlikely in a land where any knowledge outside the Queran was becoming dangerous. I went to Alexandria and quickly found that Christians, even under Pasha’s protection, were in danger. Pasha himself was executed not many years later. I went to become a ship’s physician, and you know what happened to me after that” he concluded.
As I listened to his story, the one theme I heard was that his stubbornness, and that of Kepler and his mother, had time and again stymied him. “Joseph”, I said,” that is a fascinating story. Your travels and adventures rival that of Marco Polo I do believe. But your journey seems to be one of running from things at times, not going toward a dream or goal of your own. What are you running toward, not running from?” I asked.
Shepherd thought for a long moment on that. “My life is not one of running away, although I see how it may appear so to you”, he said. My life is about seeking God by learning about His creation, and using that to help his people. I find that God’s people do not always take kindly to things offered to them. We are like frightened sheep who resist the care of the shepherd who only wants to save them from danger. When I took over the Franciscan Mission, I found peace, but even there I encountered resistance for doing good. But, I have learned, as Peter said in his epistle: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.”
“Joseph, you are dedicated to doing God’s will. Please do not let your stubbornness get in the way of that”, I said. “What do you mean?” asked Shepherd. “Rainsborough just this morning told us that Judge Ackley and Sir Lundly have accepted his arrangement to have you plead guilty to the charge, apologize to Parliament, and you will be offered exile in America as punishment. You could come back with us to America. Surely you know that you can serve God’s people there, and you will have me and Margaret and Jacob and Edwin with you, along with Henry Adams, and other friends. Joseph, it is another new start! How often does God put such opportunities before us?” I concluded.
I waited as Shepherd listened to my plea. “Yes”, he said, “I had already decided that if the offer were given, I would likely take it. But I would only accept the offer if you were completely committed to it. My prayer had been that I would know it to be God’s will if you were to plead that case with me one more time. It was somewhat like the “fleece” that Gideon put out before God when he was called to battle the Midianites. I know you had pleaded with me once, but I needed confirmation that this was from God, not just my decision for my own benefit. God speaks to us in many ways Luke, but I wanted Him to speak through you. I am convinced that He has done that. I am ready to accept the grace offered by the court, even though I believe that the process and tactics they used were wrong. The more important principle, as you pointed out, is that I must not let my pride stand before God’s work.”
We rejoiced at the turn of events when I returned to the Massachusetts Bay Company quarters. We planned to return to America as soon as we could arrange for all of us to finish our business in London. Gerry and Hancock had not met with Charles Stuart since he was already on the run by the time they were to meet with him. They did meet with several MP’s who showed some sympathy toward them and the cause of those in America. However, most of the House of Lords were indifferent to the needs of America, and some were actually quite hostile. They spent the rest of their time in London meeting with importers who had a taste for the cod which were abundant in American waters. Cod was becoming king in the trade world, and New England had the best cod and oysters that could be found on earth. Gerry and Hancock made friends with people who were to lead the way in increasing the cod trade.
We would be leaving in just a matter of 3 or 4 weeks as we awaited the Queensgate’s refitting, and a final passage list for the 40 some passengers who were awaiting their trip to America. Edwin and Jacob Carr were busy with planning for the trip as it was now autumn, 1648. Shepherd was regaining his health which had been almost broken in Whitehall prison.
Andrew Kensington had his eye on our voyage preparations also. He had revenge on his mind toward Shepherd, me and especially young Jacob, who had “stolen” his vessel in America. Kensington never forgot a wrong, and his “patience” for revenge was legendary. Kensington had reviewed the deeds given to him by Anne, and he had arranged for her passage to France after having ensured that she would be a near pauper upon arrival in France. She would be totally in the debt and graces of Cardinal Mazarin and Louis XIV and the French aristocracy. Likely too old now to serve as a mistress, Anne would be challenged again to live on her wits and guile to survive the machinations of the French court. She had been equipped to do that over the years, but she was now a beaten woman- another victim of the wily Andrew Kensington.
The recent Treaty of Westphalia, which had just been signed, seemed to bring an era of peace to Europe from the religious wars. Shepherd seemed to be alternately baffled and agitated about the religious wars which had plagued the Continent for the last 30 years. However, the idea of peace brought him some relief. Indeed, I was finding myself to be something that was very new- an American. Yes, I was English by birth and culture, but I was finding that what some called an “American Spirit” was capturing me. I saw value in a land which espoused religious liberty; a land where position and wealth were not the pre-requisites for success; a land where ingenuity and risk were rewarded with financial gain and personal independence. Adams, Gerry, Hancock and others were believing the same things, and that is why they returned with us somewhat sullen when they saw that the English Parliament had no such thinking, and were more than a little stunned that the upstart Americans would try to negotiate as equals on economic trade items such as cod, tobacco, molasses, and timber.
We boarded the “Queensgate” on October 27th, ready to sail back home. Home indeed! America was now home!
Anne Kensington was adrift and hopeless in Paris. Cardinal Mazarin, her old protector seemed to no longer have use for her. Indeed, he had agreed to house her in the palace and give her modest financial support, but she no longer had access to power and the means to live the life she was accustomed to. She was a kept woman, the role she had let people believe she was playing in the past, while actually managing to exert great power and control. Now, she was that hated type that she had played, and she was miserable.
One day, she received a package from London. She was surprised to see that it was from Oliver Craft. She opened the package which was filled with envelopes from all over Europe. Craft had taken the package from Whitehall. It had been addressed to Lord Rainsborough who was now dead- killed at the hands of Cromwell’s New Model Army. Craft decided to send it on to her, asking for only £100 for the service. Craft himself, now destitute, was trying whatever gambit he could find to live. He gambled on this, thinking perhaps, that he had nothing really to lose.
The letters were from some of the finest scientists and crowned royalty in Europe. The letters had come too late to be used in Shepherd’s trial, but, of course, they were no longer needed after the agreement Rainsborough arranged. One letter, from Robert Moray, caught her attention. Moray had written at the urging of Robert Boyle.
Moray was known in both English and French courts as both a scientist and a person of some influence. Shepherd had met him while serving King Charles, and had discussed with him ideas on the role of potassium nitrate in gunpowder. While experimenting with Moray one day with nitric acid, they had come upon a peculiar effect when they mixed it with some starch from plant material- it tended to explode! Fascinated by this, they worked at trying to understand why this happened, and they came up with a type of gunpowder that exploded, but with much less smoke and soot. Shepherd saw the likely outcome of this and wanted no more to do with it. He knew that this might make battlefields much more dangerous, and cannon much more useful. He asked Moray to keep this a secret with him, and trusted that Moray would do just that.
However, secrets do not tend to stay secret, and word got out about this curious substance. Moray, to his credit, honored his commitment to Shepherd that he would no longer work on this substance. However, as a man of science, he kept notes about his work, and those notes came into the hands of people who saw a way to exploit it. However, they lacked the knowledge of how to proceed. Moray had noted in his letter that Joseph Shepherd was a brilliant man of science, and that he should be considered a treasure to England, not a subject of imprisonment. While the letter was no longer necessary for Shepherd, Anne wondered if this letter might be of use to her.
Anne’s scheme was to find those men who had discovered the notes, and then find Shepherd and coerce him to cooperate with those who could turn this discovery into a fortune. It also would be of infinite value to her French hosts, and may get her back into a position of power. Through her old network of friends, and with Oliver Craft’s help, she was able to track down the group of men who had come upon Moray’s notes. Now she just needed to track down Shepherd.
Anne knew that she did not want to work directly with the devil, but she felt that she could persuade Mazarin to deal with Lord Kensington to track down Shepherd and to become rich once again. If Andrew were also to become richer, she no longer cared. She wanted power and wealth, and that alone became her god. The £100 was a small price to pay Oliver Craft for this.