1635: A Parcel of Rogues – Snippet 31

1635: A Parcel of Rogues – Snippet 31

From the corner of his eye Finnegan could see Tully bristling. “I understand your distress, Sir Henry, truly I do. This day I’ve lost three good men, three! The two who you have awaiting decent burial outside your home, and it would soothe my heart so it would if you could tell me you’ve got them decently covered and laid out ready for the burying of them, and poor Constable Barry, who bled to death in his saddle while evading the bandits’ pursuit. He, the poor creature, is laid out even now ready for the burying of him, far from home and by rites alien to him, but he was doing his duty to the last, the very last, Sir Henry! Do you care to view the corpse of him?” Finnegan wasn’t sure quite where the bullshit came from on occasions such as this, but he seemed to have an inexhaustible supply. The easy part was that, yes, his boyos had indeed suffered tragedy this morning.

“That won’t be necessary, I assure you. From all the shot and riot I heard I was quite convinced there were at least a dozen of your constables there, what happened to the others? And if their numbers didn’t answer, why is it that I have had no return visit with more? Could not militia be turned out?”

“There was but the one man, Constable Tully as you see here, who took flight with his injured comrade, on a wounded horse, and had his heels across country to evade the very bandits you mention. Only when he was sure of no pursuit was he able to come here, with the dying Constable Barry, and make his report, such as you see writ there by him on the table, and it was as we were debating the best course of action you arrived, so you did. Do you tell me the villain has flown?”

“I do. And I am here to lay information in the proper form of the sighting. I presume you are already officially cognizant of the prison-breaking he stands accused of?”

“I saw the mined walls of the tower with my own eyes, the very day I was commissioned by His Majesty to catch the man Cromwell and his every associate and accessory.” Finnegan sighed expansively. This was a complication he hadn’t been expecting. He’d have no trouble leaving the lawsuit Sir Henry was plainly planning behind when he shook the dust of this town off his feet, but the earl wouldn’t be happy about the complication. Half the troubles in this blasted country were down to county gentlemen being difficult about things. Giving one of them the means to raise a scandal was certainly not going to help. On the other hand, here was also one of those local gentry raising a complaint about his quarry; if he couldn’t get one problem to solve the other it was a poor look-out.

“Sir Henry, Cromwell is as cunning as the very devil and I don’t doubt he has seduced several others to his aid. I know not what mischief he proposes to work as his final end, but I came here, rightly as it seems, to wait for him to try and capture him as he came for his children. If I could have found those, I might have had bait for the beast and caught him before now.”

Sir Henry harrumphed. “This, Mister Finnegan, is not what any man or woman of this locality thought you were about. There’s not a one of them believes other than you proposed to throw the poor mites into the Tower in place of the father.”

Finnegan gave the man his best hurt look. “I’ll allow, Sir Henry, that I am a rough and plain man, with none of your gentry airs, and my boyos that I swore in as constables are an ungentle lot to a man, but I’ll thank you to aver to all you have cause to tell that we’re not in any way monsters. Sure we’d have used the little ones quite civilly while we held them, and returned them where we found them once we had the father in chains. A mean trick to play on the man, in all honesty, Sir Henry, but he killed a dozen men with his own hands while breaking out of the Tower and he or his ruffians have accounted for three of my men dead and several others wounded already. I’ll spare no tears of sympathy for him on that account, and nor should any law-abiding man.”

Sir Henry contrived to look a little mollified from the state of high dudgeon he’d come in with. “You’ll hear my information, then, I take it?” The tone had become somewhat querulous.

“I will, at that, Sir Henry.”

Two hours later, Finnegan was as glad as a man could be to see the back of the pedantic bastard — not that he’d been able to call him that aloud — who’d gone over every finest point of his account of the morning, pointed out every minor incorrectness of the oath Finnegan had administered to make it formal, drawn to his attention two breaches of the Profane Swearing Act within earshot in the inn’s taproom, wondered aloud whether it was seemly to conduct such business in a common alehouse, inquired whether all of the boyos present were sufficiently resident not to be offending under the Act Against Common Tippling when they had beer with their luncheon and generally made a bloody nuisance of himself. To his credit, he’d pointed out that Cromwell’s children were in the care of the breedlings in the fens. It seemed the oldest Cromwell boy had been in communication with England’s answer to the bog-trotters. Finnegan had guessed as much already from the first trail he’d followed, but Steward had been more forthcoming. He’d even had an idea of where the breedlings were gathering to work mischief against the fen drainage and navigation works. And didn’t Sir Henry have opinions about that, now?

Finnegan heaved a big sigh as Sir Henry, his lawyer and his lawyer’s clerk went out the door. “Thank Christ those fuckers are gone,” he said, “I was sure my ears were about to fuckin’ drop off. Have I profanely swore and cursed enough yet? I think it’s time for some fucking tippling to top it off. Someone get that idle bastard over here with more ale.”

That got a chuckle out of Tully. “We’ve had some use out of the gaimbín, for all that. If I remember aright, this Earith where they’re agitating against the new river is no more than half a dozen miles past where we got to last time. Should I ask around and find why they’re agitating?”

“They’re agitating because a Dutchman’s digging a fucking ditch, Tully, and I much doubt me that we’ll ever need to know the why of either side of the tiresome business. If it comes up in conversation, make note of it, and we’ll leave it at that. What we do know is that Cromwell’s boy fell in with the agitators and that’s where he hid himself and his little brothers and sisters. Now, it’s too late in the day to get out there, but while I see poor Barry decently buried, get you a cart and take half a dozen boys and go fetch Kennedy and Quinn back here for the same. I said to Sir Profane Fucking Henry I’d see them away from his doorstep, and I’ll keep the promise for their sakes. I’ve a notion that if we shift ourselves we can have them decently in the ground by sundown, for all the bloody Protestants won’t let them have holy ground for it. There’s plenty of ground we can use, and I am in no mood to hear argument on the matter.”

“Nor I,” Tully said, grabbing his hat. “I can be to St. Ives and back in three hours, so we’ll have the evening to wake them properly. Then to Earith in the morning?”

“Earith in the morning,” Finnegan affirmed. “And then we start the hunting.”


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25 Responses to 1635: A Parcel of Rogues – Snippet 31

  1. Cobbler says:

    Methinks he hath a lean and hungry look.

  2. Cobbler says:

    Is Mackay wearing a kilt?
    The great kilt was the Highlander’s secret weapon.
    Ground cloth.
    Match coat.
    You didn’t think those plaids were ornamental did you?
    A Highlander wearing a skirt should impress even Daryl.
    Who carries an army surplus poncho.
    Some things never change.

  3. Cobbler says:

    Awake, my soul, and with the sun
    Thy daily stage of duty run;
    Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
    To pay thy morning sacrifice.

    Thy precious time misspent, redeem,
    Each present day thy last esteem,
    Improve thy talent with due care;
    For the great day thyself prepare.

    By influence of the Light divine
    Let thy own light to others shine.
    Reflect all Heaven’s propitious ways
    In ardent love, and cheerful praise.

    That’s what he meant, isn’t it?

    • Bret Hooper says:

      @Cobbler: Did you, perhaps, recognize that in my comment on the previous snippet I was almost quoting from A Song in Time Of Order:
      ‘When three men die together,
      The King’s men are less by three.”

      A portion of Swinburne’s 1852 poem:

      They have tied the world in a tether,
      They have bought over God with a fee;
      While three men hold together,
      The kingdoms are less by three.

      We have done with the kisses that sting,
      The thief’s mouth red from the feast,
      The blood on the hands of the king
      And the lie at the lips of the priest.

      Will they tie the winds in a tether,
      Put a bit in the jaws of the sea?
      While three men hold together,
      The kingdoms are less by three.

      • Cobbler says:

        I was thinking Villon, but it’s Swinburne’s translation.

        Freres humains qui apres nous vivez,
        N’ayez les coeurs contre nous endurcis …
        Men, brother men, that after us yet live,
        Let not your hearts too hard against us be;
        For if some pity of us poor men ye give,
        The sooner God shall take of you pity.
        Here are we five or six strung up, you see,
        And here the flesh that all too well we fed
        Bit by bit eaten and rotten, rent and shred,
        And we the bones grow dust and ash withal;
        Let no man laugh at us discomforted,
        But pray to God that he forgive us all.
        If we call on you, brothers, to forgive,

        Ye should not hold our prayer in scorn, though we
        Were slain by law; ye know that all alive
        Have not wit always to walk righteously;
        Make therefore intercession heartily
        With him that of a virgin’s womb was bred,
        That his grace be not as a dr-y well-head
        For us, nor let hell’s thunder on us fall;
        We are dead, let no man harry or vex us dead,
        But pray to God that he forgive us all.

        The rain has washed and laundered us all five,
        And the sun dried and blackened; yea, perdie,
        Ravens and pies with beaks that rend and rive
        Have dug our eyes out, and plucked off for fee
        Our beards and eyebrows; never we are free,
        Not once, to rest; but here and there still sped,
        Driven at its wild will by the wind’s change led,
        More pecked of birds than fruits on garden-wall;
        Men, for God’s love, let no gibe here be said,
        But pray to God that he forgive us all.
        Prince Jesus, that of all art lord and head,
        Keep us, that hell be not our bitter bed;
        We have nought to do in such a master’s hall.
        Be not ye therefore of our fellowhead,
        But pray to God that he forgive us all.

        • Cobbler says:

          You do realize this is a plot.

          Think of all the money Eric doesn’t spend on editors.

          • Stewart says:

            Much the same way that Microstuff doesn’t have to employ official Beta Testers. But MS can issue service packs and revisions, BAEN would find that just a little difficult for something already in print.

            — Stewart

  4. John Cowan says:

    First of all, if money flows away from an author in any circumstance connected with publishing, their publisher is a scammer. Baen Books is not a scammer. Q.E.D.

    Second, errors pointed out in the comments have been known to persist through to publication. So what we say here has little or no effect.

    • Cobbler says:

      So much for my self importance.

    • Bret Hooper says:

      I am sure John Cowan is right that Baen is not a scammer, and I can personally attest that when it comes to paying authors, Eric Flint (Grantville Gazette) is not a scammer or a cheapskate.
      However, selling of hardcover editions can also be considered “connected with publishing,” and I have purchased from Eric’s bookstore, and in that transaction as well, Eric proved he is not a scammer or a cheapskate.

  5. Cobbler says:

    Though there is a difference between a scam and found money.

  6. Cobbler says:

    I thought the Gazette was all about found money.

  7. With electronic books, not only are patches and corrections possible, but some publishers insist on notifying all prior purchasers when they occur. Of course, when the patch includes the new list of the published books,it is free advertising for the new books.

  8. Cobbler says:

    Clever fellow, Eric.

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