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If you observe a mezzotint under poor light you soon become aware of the subtle changes of light and shade, drawing you gradually into its bewitching imagery.

It was four years after the death of Sir William Shakespeare, in the year 1620, that one hundred and one Pilgrim Fathers set sail from Plymouth’s Barbican with their noses to the wind, heading quickly beyond the rocky shores of England. Every man, woman and child had entrusted their lives unto god, praying for deliverance across the cold depths of the North Atlantic and to the New World.

I recount to you a moment only two summers past, so strange you would think it a fictitious tale retold to strangers only on cold winters night, but like most stories; truth and fiction often lead each other hand in hand.

Three days before the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Mayflower’s departure, with fine weather unbroken, Bill Catchpole shook hands with his fellow seadogs, wishing them good health and safe journey as they stumbled outside the Sailor’s Arms public house and onto Plymouth’s crowded fishing quay. He had remembered that Nelson, his three-legged tomcat, hadn’t been fed.

Bill hurried home, but in White Lane, he noticed a sign.

A rough scribble on a board declared that everything inside the studio was to be sold at half price. With outstretched arms to feel his way, Bill stumbled along the dimly lit passageway and up the rickety staircase. His nostrils winced with disgust as he entered a large room.

The smell was sweet and musty. Overhead, a heavy curtain hung across a window, yet brilliant shafts of sunlight still managed to dart through the occasional tears. A flickering light bulb tried desperately to exert itself, but its own ghost was only a breath away.

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