1635: A Parcel of Rogues – Snippet 01

1635: A Parcel of Rogues – Snippet 01


By Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis


May, 1634

Fareweel to a’ our Scottish fame,

                                  Fareweel our ancient glory;

                                  Fareweel ev’n to the Scottish name,

                                  Sae fam’d in martial story.

Chapter 1

“All right, let’s put our backs to it, “said Stephen Hamilton, as the barge carrying the rest of the escapees from the Tower of London began to pull away downriver, Harry Lefferts waving over the stern.

Hamilton waved back, then turned to look north, toward the left bank of the Thames. “We’ve some rowing to do,” he carried on, “and upriver, what’s more. Unlike those lucky sods.”

Darryl McCarthy grabbed one of the oars racked down the center of the boat and swung it overhead to drop into a rowlock. As the boat turned gently in the current, it brought the receding barge into view. “Hallelujah,” he said softly, “I’m finally rid of the Schoolmarm From Hell.”

He heard a mild cough and turned to see Cromwell frowning at him from the other end of the thwart he was sitting on. “What?” he asked.

“Young fellow, if you propose to be my recording angel as I go up and down in the world,” Cromwell said, “I would ask that you not blaspheme like the devil you make me out to be.”

Darryl’s jaw dropped.

“He’s got a point, Darryl,” Gayle Mason called over. She was getting settled by the tiller while Stephen Hamilton was organising himself on the rearmost thwart alongside Paddy Welch. “You got a potty-mouth on you.”

Darryl bit down on the first retort that came to mind. And the second. Because, he realised, both of them had been pretty ripe. Not four-letter stuff, but then that wasn’t nearly so big a deal nowadays. His mom hadn’t stood for Taking The Name In Vain, and hadn’t stood for it in capital letters with quite a lot of volume. Most folks nowadays set the bar on blasphemy even lower than she did. Some set it even lower still. Lowest of all for, let’s face it, Puritans. Like, for instance, one Oliver Cromwell.

Not so long ago, while maybe being a bit shamefaced if a lady’d called him on it, Darryl wouldn’t have cared two cents what Oliver Cromwell thought. Not Oliver get-you-to-hell-or-to-Connaught Cromwell. Not Oliver butcher-of-Drogheda Cromwell. He could have cared less what the man — demon, rather! — thought of the way a McCarthy spoke.

Now, though…

“All right, sorry. I’ll watch my mouth.” Goodbye, Schoolmarm From Hell. Hello, Puritan Watchdog. All the more ironic — a word he’d learned well from that very schoolmarm, who’d been amused by his detestation of the man turning into wary respect — that he’d insisted on following Cromwell to make sure he didn’t get up to the atrocities he’d committed in a future history that was now never to be.

“Backs to it, lads,” Hamilton called. “Mister Lefferts has left us transport at Stratford. Only a couple of miles up the Lee. Mistress Mason knows the way. Master and Mistress Mackay, Vicky, watch forward if you would. Now, ready oars and — stroke!”

The tide was running with them, fortunately, and the day was shaping up to be a cool morning. Darryl dug his oar in and pulled, watching Hamilton for the right way to do it. Damned if he was going to admit not really knowing what he was doing. Besides, how hard could it be? He’d paddled canoes back up-time, once or twice. There were six men rowing — Hamilton and Welch on the thwart astern of him, and Captain Leebrick and Dick Towson at the front. Alex, Julie and Vicky were perched in the bows on top of the load of baggage up there, with Gayle Mason perched on the crate holding her radio at the back.

Gayle certainly looked like she was enjoying the ride, the sea breeze up the Thames ruffling her hair as she scanned the river ahead. Darryl, for his part, began to find that rowing got old very fast. Like, five minutes fast.

“So, Stratford,” he said, timing his words between strokes of the oar, “that the place Shakespeare’s from?”

“Different Stratford,” Towson said from behind him. “Master Will, God rest him, was a Wiltshire lad. My da knew him. I can sort of remember him, a bit, but I was only a nipper when he went home to die.”

“There are a lot of Stratfords,” Cromwell remarked, leaning into his oar. “Three in Buckinghamshire that I can think of.” Stroke. “I used to go fishing at Fenny Stratford, when I was a lad.” Stroke. “We had cousins there. I remember –” Stroke. “It was a long day’s ride with my father.”

“Two in London,” Hamilton remarked. “We’re going to the one on the Lea. Bit of a hole on the Colchester road. Marsh country.”

“Making good time,” Darryl said, after a few minutes, thinking the while that maybe the unit of rowing travel wasn’t the mile, it was the backache. Or maybe that was why they called it knots, on boats. Because you got knots in your damned spine. Not that he could say anything with Vicky right behind him. Admitting pain in front of the ladies was bad enough, but a guy’s intended? He’d laugh while they sawed his leg off, if it came to that.

“Still downriver,” Hamilton said. “We’ll be turning up the Lea in a little while.”

“Get harder then,” Cromwell observed.

“We’re catching up to the barge,” Julie called back. “I reckon you guys should take a breather. Besides, the testosterone is crinkling the paint on this thing.”

“Up oars,” Hamilton called, and swivelled on his thwart. “The what is doing what?”

“Oh, come on,” Julie said, grinning back as all six rowers glared at her, Darryl hardest of all since he’d known what she was talking about. “Nobody wants to be the sissy who doesn’t row as hard as everyone else. Give it up, we’re not being followed and not likely to be for hours.”

“Well, I wasn’t rowing any harder than I learned as a lad,” Towson said, “and Master Hamilton set the stroke. How about you fellows?”

“Me neither,” Hamilton said. “And of course we’re going faster than the barge, they’ve got fifty souls aboard and there’s but the nine of us in this cutter.”

“Isn’t this a wherry?” Welch asked. He was a little flushed in the face, Darryl was pleased to note.

“No, a wherry’s smaller, they’re those little boats the watermen use upriver,” Towson said. “They have to be of a size set by statute to be licensed. This is bigger, I think Master Lefferts bought this one off a ship. Or stole it, if he didn’t like the ship’s master. I reckon it was a ship’s pulling cutter, the kind they use for towing them out of a lee harbour.”


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20 Responses to 1635: A Parcel of Rogues – Snippet 01

  1. ann sor-lokken says:

    I’ve been watching for the snippets since forever

  2. Curtis says:

    Been waiting for this for ages….
    The lyrics by Robert Burns poem

    Fareweel to a’ our Scottish fame,

    Fareweel our ancient glory;

    Fareweel ev’n to the Scottish name,

    Sae fam’d in martial story.

    Now Sark rins over Solway sands,

    An’ Tweed rins to the ocean,

    To mark where England’s province stands-

    Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

    What force or guile could not subdue,

    Thro’ many warlike ages,

    Is wrought now by a coward few,

    For hireling traitor’s wages.

    The English steel we could disdain,

    Secure in valour’s station;

    But English gold has been our bane –

    Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

    O would, ere I had seen the day

    That Treason thus could sell us,

    My auld grey head had lien in clay,

    Wi’ Bruce and loyal Wallace!

    But pith and power, till my last hour,

    I’ll mak this declaration;

    We’re bought and sold for English gold-

    Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

  3. Curtis says:

    In reading the lead-in i.e. the four lines of the poem that starts Parcel of Rogues it makes me wonder if the whole poem by Robert Burns sums up the story line. Treason, sold out for English gold, and the possible dangers or demise of Julie, Alex, Daryle, Gayle and the rest as they head for the safety of Scotland.

    Just my thoughts

  4. hank says:

    I wist that somewhere in this book will be corrected the glaring mistake re: Cromwell/Ireland that was made back in “1633” & “1624:TBW.”
    The Irish didn’t originally hate Cromwell on accounft of his military campaigns there, what earned him his rank in the pantheon of Tormenters of Ireland were the laws he passed as Lord Protector, in particular the “Cromwellian Settlement” which attempted to do for Munster & Lienster what the had been done in Ulster in the early 1500’s, and complete the job in Ulster too. The Irish were to be driven “to Hell or Connacht” and the best part of Ireland resettled with loyal folks. Under his regin there was also a major extension of the laws restricting the Irish, a process which began (more or less) under “good Queen Bess” and continued right through most of the 1800’s. Think Apartheid. No Irish Catholic may own land over 20 acres. No Irish Catholic may stand as Godparent to a child. No Irish Catholic may adopt a child, etc, etc. Reached the point where one English commentator remarked tha “The Law, in it’s majesty, dows not admitt the existence of any such person as an Irish Catholic.” And Cromwell played a major part in all that, which is why he was reviled in Ireland to begin with.
    The stuff about his military campain in the 1640’s accreted to the legend later, it was the laws he passed later which made his name mud.

    • Drak Bibliophile says:

      Historically you’re correct.

      However, an Irish-American Hillbilly likely would only know about the military campaign not that Cromwell was responsible for those laws.

      Of course, the other Americans were more interested in getting Darryl to behave civilly around Cromwell than to correct Darryl’s knowledge of history.

      I suspect that talking about those Cromwell Laws would have gotten Darryl even less likely to be civil around Cromwell. [Smile]

      • Stewart says:

        Since Cromwell is being introduced to the Scots, maybe he should also meet some of the Wild Geese to change his viewpoint on the Irish. ……

        — Stewart

    • Jeff Ehlers says:

      Remember, this is the same person who thought Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, “Black Tom Tyrant”, killed the Men of ’98 (1798), even though Strafford was long dead by then.

  5. I noticed with surprise Anthony Leebrick’s presence: he appears as a top aide to General Mike Stearns in 35EF and 36SU. I hope he gets across the channel soon enough to reach Saxony in time.

  6. Marshall says:

    Been looking forward to this loose thread getting tied up. I just hope the time travelers know to avoid the standing stones by Inverness.

  7. Vikingted says:

    I guess I am pretty thick, but I thought the Barge was going towards the sea and the pulling cutter was going up river. Towards the end of this passage it seems that our heroic rowers are catching up with the down river barge. The text indicated that the tide was with the rowers (“The tide was running with them…”). Is the river current so strong that they make no progress upstream and all their efforts in that direction only speed them closer to the drifting barge. What am I missing here?

    • Steve W says:

      They’re also going downriver for the moment. They’ll be turning upriver when they get to the Lea.

      ““Still downriver,” Hamilton said. “We’ll be turning up the Lea in a little while.””

      • Vikingted says:

        Hamilton waved back, then turned to look north, toward the left bank of the Thames. “We’ve some rowing to do,” he carried on, “and upriver, what’s more. Unlike those lucky sods.”

        How do these “rogues” end up approaching the barge at end of this chapter?

  8. Curtis says:

    Where is Elizabeth Lytle? After the break out from the tower she is not mentioned at all. Not in the barge heading down the Thames towards the ocean or in the small boat being rowed away in the opposite direction. I do not think her boyfriend; Anthony Leebrick would have left her behind (quilt by association) unless her love of London was greater than her love toward Leebrick.

    Just a thought, did anyone else catch onto this. Where is she?

    • Ed Wada says:

      Dear Curtis: I have an ARC copy of the entire book. At the very end of Chapter 19, Leebrick makes a reference to Elizabeth Lytle, and so we learn what her situation is at this point in time.

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