My intent is to allow the reader to walk down the lanes of old London (before it burned to the ground in the Great Fire of 1666) and feel as if you are actually there. You can smell and touch the nuances of London. You'll know what it's like to work your way through the City and its the conflicting laws where religion played in important part of everyday life. So sit back and enjoy the ride.

Oh, and then there's my French Revolution novel.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Of Carrion Feathers

A historical novel of London

Even though King Charles II returned from exile to England, there are still discontents all over the land. Oliver Prior works for the Crown as a spy.  His boss is the undersecretary who loves ciphers. 

When Charles II returned, he brought the French way of theatre, which was to put women on stage. Beatrice Short is a servant.  Her goal is to go on stage, but something happens to cause her heartburn...

Excerpt of Chapter 1, Part 1

Of Carrion Feathers,
A Rowdy Tale of Rogues and Cheats

London, February 1662

A great storm raged outside as Beatrice Short trudged through the house of a prosperous person.  With a feather duster tucked in her apron strings, she staggered up the stairs, lugging a bucket of sudsy water.  If the house didn’t fall down around her ears with the wind so high out there, her task was to scrub the gentleman’s parlor. 

She did not know the man who lived here, only his name; a Mister Josephson.  Beatrice came on the request of her auntie who worked in the house.  A maidservant had gone down with the ague, and could not do her duties.  Auntie assured Beatrice she’d be paid a shilling for the trouble, and Beatrice could use the coin.  With every bit of her money a’ jingling in her purse, she’d go straight away to a music and dance instructor, and hire him to teach her all he knew. 

Her goal was to go on stage. 

Since the Puritan lawmakers were cast out of London, the king returned from exile with new ideas.  One of them put women on stage.  It was lovely to see a burlesque where women played women, and not lads whose voices cracked into manhood.  Aye, it was very nice, indeed, and Beatrice intended to go on the boards.  She had a good singing voice, if not a bit warbly, and she could speak loudly enough to flatten ears against skulls.  She must learn to dance light as a feather, though, or she’d pound across the stage like a thundering bull. 

Aye, this task to help out whilst the real maid lay sick abed was just the ticket to her dreams come true. 

She came to a standstill at the parlor’s entry, and watched in horror as ceiling pieces rained on everything in the chamber.  She gasped as a great swatch of plaster ripped away and plummeted to the floor.  Black rats fell with the debris, and dust rose in a choking cloud. 

Beatrice swung around.  She’d not get that room cleaned, nay she would not, but there were other rooms on this floor.  She would clean another chamber and get that shilling.  She crossed to another door. 


She lightly rapped on the panel, but heard no sound.  “Oiy then, art thou within?” she asked, knowing he was not.  Auntie told her his work sent him most of the time to Whitehall Palace, and today was no different.  With the winds raging so boisterous outside, he should stay put.  It was quite the hazard out there. 

The house shook in the booming gusts, and the lock rattled.  Light of day wobbled between panel and doorframe.  The loose lock bounced in its anchor, and seemed under great stress chattering in the door. 

Beatrice stood back and looked around.  Her papa, bless his poor, dead soul, said she was very wicked, and a terrible snoop. 

It all started when she was a wee one, and whilst he taught Latin at St. Paul’s school.  In the evenings, he taught her to read, write, and do arithmetic.  The challenge of learning thrilled her, and spiked her interest in all things.  Each night, she’d dive through his journals, loose leaves, and books to locate their next lesson.  Soon, he’d hide them away for her to locate, turning it into a game of hunt and find. 

One day, he threw up his hands and declared, “I cannot hide anything from you, sweet lass.  You are too cunning.”  Then he furrowed his brows most severe.  “Keep in mind, you may not rummage another’s house so bold as ours.  They’d think you a horrid person.” 

Well, she was a horrid person, wasn’t she?  With no one around, Beatrice gingerly fingered the lock.  It waggled very loose, then fell to pieces in her hand. 

A wind gust hit the house, and the door swung open.  She gazed with wonder at the broken lock, then peeked into the chamber. 

See next installment in a week or so... 

You can find more of my novels at, Amazon, and the NOOK.

No comments:

Post a Comment