More Comedy for Testing Times: An Extract from ‘Ravensdale’ (Now Free on Amazon ): Morpeth the Thief Taker, on the Trail of Reynaud Ravensdale, Calls in to Question the Landlord of the ‘The Huntsman’.

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“If this ain’t a Bow Street Runner or some other thief taker, then I’m a Dutchwoman,” Kate told Suki, as they watched the short, stocky, dapper man came up to the Inn door. “Good morning, Sir. What will you have?”

They knew he was staying with their rivals in The King’s Justice up the road. The landlord there prided himself on running a respectable house. The tenants of The Huntsman knew he was jealous, because he didn’t have such open-handed customers. The man was even applying for a licence to have his premises made into a gaol, possible future lodgings for some of the regulars at The Huntsman.

The customer glanced about with hard pale grey eyes, fixing them on the baby, who let out a wail.

Kate picked him up. “Serve the gentleman, Suki.”

“A tankard of porter. A fine infant; is he your only one?”

“Seeing as I was only married fifteen months come Saturday, yes, Sir.” The man wetted his moustache. “Has Reynaud Ravensdale been in lately?”

“Ravensdale?” Kate laughed. “You can’t mean that Lord? The gentleman has high notions of our patrons, Suki. Yes, Sir, him and the Prince of Wales, they came in together.”

The man’s eyes hardened still more. “Exercise your wit, Mistress, if you will, but Lord or no, now he’s an outlaw, and lower than the merest farm hand, a wanted murderer with a price on his head for highway robbery. I hear tell he’s been seen hereabouts.”

“By who?” Kate looked outraged. “That old harridan over the way, I’ll be bound. There’s so many sightings of that Ravensdale in different places, he must have a better horse than Turpin’s Black Bess to get about the way he does, is all I can say. What did they say he looked like?”

The man took some swallows of his drink before he pulled out a printed bill. “Here’s the official description, and not so helpful, with him having medium colouring, and no distinguishing features, save it does say, ‘noticeable eyes’ whatever that means. Tall, it says, and spare though strongly made, and he has a fair trick in disguise. When he stayed with you, I think his hair was dyed and unpowdered and it was described as brown.”

“Could be anyone,” Kate gazed at him with her jaw slightly dropped. “Does he have the trick of adding pock marks to his face, makes him look fair ugly? Remember, Suki? There was a man stayed who looked like that, brown hair and so on, said he was going Reading way.”

“Or maybe,” Suki looked struck, “It could’ve been that stout man that would never take off his coat? He could have stuffed in pillows underneath his waistcoat. I remember thinking his thinnish face went ill with his body. I mind he rode a dun coloured horse and went up north.”

The man snorted: “Do you take me for a fool? Have a care, mistress; the magistrates don’t like to renew licences for those who harbour known highway robbers. Where’s the master of the house?”

“This is a respectable house, and I’ll give my mind to anyone who says different,” Kate said angrily, while Suki tossed the bright blue ribbons Flashy Jack had given her in defiance. “The master’s away on business; he ain’t due back till tomorrow at the earliest.” Kate looked squarely into those judgmental eyes, which seemed to know the purpose of that trip.

The baby let out a furious wail.

“Now see what you’ve done! They understand more than you think, and he don’t like you coming in here making out we ain’t fit to run a decent establishment.”

Suki clicked her tongue.

The man actually looked abashed, before draining his porter with a business-like slurp. “I play my part in keeping the world safe from marauding thieves and murderers like His Lordship Reynaud Ravensdale, and if you’ve nought to hide you won’t mind my questions, nor your baby neither.”

They all turned about at a crash. The one time librarian at Wisteria House tottered into the yard to collapse on the bench.

The thief taker nodded to the women. “I may call in again.”

“Do, Sir, and we promise to keep a sharp look out for His Lordship.”

The man paused in the door, saying to Suki, “Look out for his fellow robber John Gilroy too: tall, fair hair, quite the swell and a ladies’ man. He’d have an eye for a pretty wench like you, miss; you and half the girls in London if I hear right.”

He must have been disappointed at her indifferent shrug. Kate snorted: “Be serious, Sir! As if we don’t get young men in here all the time, making up to her, and half of them called Jack or John.”

‘Ravensdale’ is free on Amazon.com  here

and on Amazon.co.uk here

and on Kobo here

Dark Comedy: Extracts from ‘Where Worlds Meet’ – A Sequel to ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’.

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I wrote earlier of how dark comedy can be just the thing in hard times, and recommended some works by current Indie authors.
Here is some dark comedy of my own in the form of two extracts from the sequel to ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois‘. In this, the vampire Kenrick makes an attemtped return to this world, along with his handsome confidential manservant Arthur Williams and a troop of monster men trained to follow his bidding.

Naturally, there is a violent clash with Émile, who joins forces with his cousin and fellow ex-highwayman Reynaud Ravensdale and his now wife the former highwaywoman Isabella. But Émile’s own wife Sophie has her own ideas about how to combat the menace…

A stooped, brawny, leathery looking creature with hair like string had appeared by the side of the lane. It stood glowering from eyes which might have been a pair of marbles pushed into its lumpy face. It wore tattered breeches and shirt, and addressed them in a grating drone: “Filthy robbers’ lackeys.”

Longface was lost for words. How had talk of Lord Ravensdale and Émile Dubois’ villainies reached the ears this outcast? He spoke with lordly disdain. “What, you poor lubbard?”

The man – if this was human –seemed eager to explain: “Your masters were smugglers and highwaymen. The Great Kenrick says they belong on Tyburn, and you lackeys as well.” It moved to the middle of the road, slightly crouched.

Longface raged. “You lubbard: Judge Jenkins cleared His Lordship and me. Mind what you say of your betters.”

“Master Kenrick says it was corruption.” The being was contemptuous.

“Kenrick’s dead, fellow; don’t you know that?” Longface spoke pityingly, but he suddenly he felt a chill, as if a cloud had passed over the sun.

“He’s too clever for that, though I like Arthur best, when he smiles.” Suddenly, it clapped a hand to its lipless mouth, its voice rising to an anxious gibber. “Arthur will be angry I talked. If I drive you away, maybe he won’t.” It moved forward in a threatening crouch.
Longface brandished his whip, while Guto roused from astonishment to bunch his fists: “Get away with you!”

The being blundered into the bushes at the side of the lane to force its way through. Longface saw a thorny bush catch and tear one of the exposed arms, and green droplets appear on the leathery skin.

Guto shook his head as if to clear it of the grotesque image, and then stared down the lane, to where the donkey was tethered. “Diawl: There’s the donkey cart down there, by the Kenrick place!” …

…Longface settled with dignity at the desk in the library. He saw that it was his duty to warn Lord Ravensdale (his former robber chief) about these dangerous goings-on, particularly as his cousin Monsieur had mixed with this mad inventor before. That, of course, would have the young hotheads rushing up looking for trouble, but there was nothing he could do about that, except give them the benefit of his wisdom.
He was proud of his lucid and diplomatic letter.
‘My Lord Ravensdale and Your Honour Monsieur Dubois, It is with regret that I set pen to paper as has no wish to be worrying of Your Honours, but things is come to a pretty pass here, with a green simpleton walking about the mountain as bold as brass as can’t be human as with my own eyes I’ve seen green blood coming from it.

It is fair insulting in free talk of Your Honours as belonging on Tyburn when Judge Jenkins un-outlawed us all after that time when, though loath to blow my own trumpet, I did save your life.

The green simpleton do maintain that Kenrick ain’t dead, and him a bitter enemy of Monsieur, who has been most obliging in appointing me here.

It’s a fact that insolent ex-sailor ain’t dead neither as I’ve seen him, and after the flighty French wench we call Ellie who we had to take from that place and won’t let us see her neck, so I must ask her aunt to deal with her to maintain propriety as they say. So I must pick up my pen and trust to Your Honours’ discretion as one who has ever been willing to give you the benefit of my wisdom.

Yours Respectfully

James Higgins.’

Unluckily for him, this note, along with a handful of others, fell from the postboy’s sack into the mud when he took up another’s challenge to a game of pitch and toss at the roadside against an outbuilding wall.

It was only one that he missed seeing. Days later, the farmer spotted it and took it to the post office, and it arrived torn and illegible ten days late at Dubois Court. 

Blissfully ignorant of this, Longface began to make up an envelope. “Them females. When I saw them shameless hen robins at it as a lad, I learnt all I needed about their flighty ways.”

For those interested in buying the whole novel, it is on offer at Amazon  Here

 

‘The Peterloo Affair’ is free on Amazon today and tommorow…Also ‘Ravensdale’ free on Amazon.co.uk and Kobo

 

For those readers interested, my latest novel ‘The Peterloo Affair’ is free on both Amazons today. It’s a love story set about the infamous Peterloo Massacre of 1819, and here is the blurb:

Young Joan Wright knows exactly what she wants: to escape with her friend Marcie from domestic drudgery in her poor village of Lancashire cotton workers, and to make a living using their healing skills. They have sworn to have nothing to do with men.
But when roving, rascally, magnetic Sean McGilroy comes on a visit to his relatives, Joan finds herself attracted to him despite her plans and his bad reputation as a ‘light o’ love’.
Appalled by the poverty all about, McGilroy joins Joan’s father and the local Radicals in organising a protest march to St. Peter’s Field in Manchester to hear the famous Radical orator Henry Hunt.
Joan and Marcie organise a group of women to march with the men. Irresistibly drawn to McGilroy, Joan finds that she must choose between the dreams she has shared with Marcie of independence, or in taking the risk of trusting the beguiling but notoriously fickle McGilroy.
But meanwhile, McGilroy has made powerful enemies among those who have the support of the goverment to surpress the Radicals…

 

and

Here for Amazon.co.uk

…And my novel ‘Ravensdale’ is also free on Amazon.co.uk.

Here is the blurb:

The author is proud to announce that this novel has become her second to win a B.R.A.G medallion for outstanding self-published fiction.

For those who love a satire on the cliches of historical romance, which at the same time draws them into the adventure.

When the group of highwaymen, headed by the disgraced Earl Ravensdale hold up the hoydenish Isabella Murray’s coach, she knocks one of them down and lectures them all on following Robin Hood’s example. In fact, she has been long resisting the urge to escape from her parents’ plans for her advantageous marriage and become one herself.

The rascally Reynaud Ravensdale – otherwise known as the dashing highwayman Mr Fox – is fascinated by her spirit.

He escaped abroad three years back when he fell under suspicion of shooting a friend dead after a quarrel. Rumour has it that his far more respectable cousin was involved. Now, having come back during his father’s last illness, the young Earl has largely lost hope of clearing his name of murder, living as an outlaw as he is, and having sworn to protect someone else who was involved in the quarrel.

Isabella’s ambitious parents are eager to marry her off to Ravensdale’s cousin, the next in line to his title. The totally unromantic Isabella is even ready to elope with her outlaw admirer to escape this fate – on condition that he teaches her how to be a highwaywoman herself.

This hilarious spoof uses vivid characters and lively comedy to bring new life to a theme traditionally favoured by historical novelists – that of the wild young Earl, who, falsely accused of murder by the machinations of a conniving cousin and prejudged by his reputation, takes up life as an outlaw.

‘Ravensdale’ is a fast paced, funny and light hearted read from the writer of ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’, and follows the adventures of Émile Dubois’ equally roguish cousin just prior to the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars. It can be read as an independent novel.

Here

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You can get it free at Kobo free

Here

I understand that if you quote that it is free on Kobo, they will make it free on Amazon.com too, and I hope that readers will do that. As I am only a customer on  Amazon.co.uk, I can’t do that, unfortunately…