Michael Fallon, bonded servant, with trouble in Ireland just behind him, comes to the New World with one desire―to found a dynasty that need bend the knee to none.
In Charleston, South Carolina, Fallon begins. From bondsman to rice planter, from planter to privateer; from the beautiful, disturbingly sensual Elizabeth Carver to the lovely and loving Gabrielle Fourrier; from peace to the greatest Revolution the world had ever seen―a novel beating with the passion of The Fallon Blood.
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ROBERT JORDAN (October 17, 1948–September 16, 2007), a native of Charleston, South Carolina, was the author of the bestselling The Wheel of Time®, with millions of books in print.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The Fallon Blood
1 The English wind blew the dust of the road in Michael Fallon's face, as it had for miles past, and cut through his thin shirt and his flesh as well. He'd given up wishing he still had a coat. That had gone two days before for a stale loaf of bread and a small mug of beer. He had been lucky to get that much, and knew it. In this country there was more likely to be a kick and a curse for an Irishman than any sort of kindness. Perhaps, he thought, he should have sold the contents of the bag he carried. Sold it long ago. He hugged the long, narrow sack tighter and grinned mirthlessly. It gave him a piratical look, with the high cheekbones and hook nose a long-ago Spanish ancestor had bequeathed him. Only startlingly blue eyes kept him from being one of the Black Irish, those other descendants of storm-tossed Spanish Armada survivors. His grin faded. The selling would have changed nothing. Some things were fated to be, and he had the feeling he had been fated to walk this endless English road, fated from the day he was born. Ahead, around a bend in the road, an inn appeared. The brightly painted sign swung violently in the wind, but he could still make it out. A man knelt in front of a huge figure wearing a crown and holding a scepter. Below, in neat letters, it said THE KING'S MAN. It was the place he had been seeking. He leaned against the rough stone fence along the side of the road. Frowning, he turned up his foot to examine the hole in his left boot, and the blister that had formed at it. He was stalling. He'd seen that blister fifty times before. This was the place he'd sought, but now, in sight of it, he wondered if he had the right to involve anyone else in his troubles, even for an hour. The man bustling out of the inn shielded his broad face from the wind with one hand and headed for the barn, muttering to himself about eggs. He gave a casual glance up the road and slowly came to a halt. He stared hard at the dark-haired traveler. "It can't be," he whispered. A smile spread across his face. "Michael! Michael Shane Fallon! Is it you, or is it your ghost I'm seeing?" "It's me, Timothy Cavanaugh, me or what's left of me. I'd heard about the sign, but I didn't quite believe it. Have you become a good Englishman, then, bowing and scraping to their fat German king?" "Don't be talking like that where people might be hearing you." Cavanaugh glanced around nervously, though there was no one in sight. "Come inside before you get the both of us arrested for sedition." At the door Michael stopped for a last look down the road. His resolve hardened. If they came, let them come, and be damned to them. He turned and strode inside. A dozen tables stood on a well-scrubbed floor, with chairs instead of benches at every one. The only other occupant was a barmaid, a pretty girl with coppery hair. And remarkable breasts, Michael noted. At their entrance she began industriously scrubbing at the bar with a rag. "Out with you, girl," Timothy said. "Gather those eggs before I take a switch to you. And don't come back till it's time for the custom to come." She trotted out, with an interested smile for Michael. He shook his head; he was sorry for that interest. While Timothy drew two mugs of ale he laid his bag on the table. A quick tug at the drawstring revealed the hilt of a sword. He pulled two pistols to where they, too, lay just inside the opening. Cavanaugh set the mugs and a plate of meat and cheese on the table, ignoring the bag and its contents. "Sit, man. Sit. Is it on your way back to the old country you are? I remember you were always talking about going back after we were mustered out." "I've been there and left," Michael said, dropping heavily to a chair. He tried to keep his hand steady as he popped the first piece of ham into his mouth. And the second. God, but it was good. "And how is it there now?" "As it's always been. What the English haven't stolen already, they soon will." Cavanaugh looked at him in surprise, then eyed the sword and pistols. "Tell me. I've heard tell of some men in Ireland, now. The Whiteboys, they call themselves. You wouldn't be having anything to do with them, now would you?" Michael's back stiffened, and he kept a rein on his temper with difficulty. "Do you think I'd be riding around burning barns and harrying poor farmers while prattling about how I'm fighting the English?" "No, lad. No, of course not." Cavanaugh sketched a line across the tabletop with one hand and gave a short laugh. "I mind me the first time I saw you. Not even beginning to shave, you were. Come to seek fame and fortune in King George's German war with a sword as old as my grandfather and a musket that must have been on the Ark. You remember? Riding all over hell and gone, never knowing who we'd face next. Austrians, Poles, French, Russians. And you, thinking it was such grand fun." "I was young then." "Eh? Yes, you were. So were we all. But tell me. Do you remember cutting your way into Freiholm to save my hide? A fine day. Three hundred pounds sterling a man from that paychest we took, and promotions all around. Aye, Captain Fallon?" "The King of Prussia's Irish Hussars were long ago, Timothy." Timothy sighed. "But it provided the money for your farm." "Maybe it would've been better if I'd never gone. I said I've nothing to do with the Whiteboys, and that's true, but I'm still here under false pretenses, after a manner of speaking. But then, I think you've guessed I'm not carrying that sword to spit cabbages." "I did think just that," Timothy replied, "and the pistols for shooting flies." The words were light, but his tone was forced and his face long. Michael kept his eyes on the table as he began. "I went back after we were mustered out, as I said I would. I should have stayed away like you did, bought a tavern somewhere. But I'd that idea of getting a piece of Irish ground, of starting the land and the Fallon name. I got it, all right." "Good land, was it, Michael?" "Beautiful land, Timothy Not a mile from where I was born, just a short walk from the River Shannon. It was a fine life, for a while, quiet and calm. With the money I had, the rackrents couldn't pull me down. The first crop was mine, free and clear, with a second on the way. There were families in the village who remembered mine kindly. I even went up in a party with some of them to the fair at Ballinasloe." He fell silent, and Timothy waited before prodding him on. "What happened, lad? What changed it?" "There was a girl. No, Timothy, not what you're thinking. She was pretty enough, but I'd never looked at her twice until the day she walked past my door. An Englishman, a colonel staying at the big house above the village with the Fitzhuberts, was riding past the other way. He stopped her as if to ask directions. I saw it all from my cottage. The next I knew he was down off his horse, laughing and putting his hands all over her, and she was beating at him and screaming she was a good girl." "And was she?" "Would it have mattered?" He didn't wait for an answer. "I did the only thing I could. I went out and knocked him down. That was bad enough, I suppose, him being who he was, but he wouldn't let it end with that. He drew his saber." The man across the table shifted uneasily. "If I hadn't been a hussar, if I'd still been just a farmboy, I'd have grabbed the girl by the hand and ran away, to keep from being split like a sheep. But you see, by instinct, not even thinking about it, I'd grabbed up my own sword as I ran out." "Oh, God, no, Michael." A snarl twisted his mouth. "He said the Irish were only good for twothings. He'd demonstrate the first by killing me, then show the girl what the other was. He might have been fine at hacking at poor peasants with the thing from horseback, but the King of Prussia's Irish Hussars would've thrown him out for a butcher's apprentice. I ran him through on the second pass. I tell you, Timothy, I never meant to kill him, not even after we crossed swords, but I was that mad I could hardly see straight, and when he left himself open, I did it. The work of a second, and I couldn't call it back if I had a thousand years. Not that I'd want to. He deserved it, and likely more. But there I was, with him dead, and his horse off and running back toward the village, and the girl so white-faced scared she looked ready to drop dead on the spot. It's a charge of murder, no matter that he had a sword in his hand." Cavanaugh puffed out his cheeks and nodded vigorously. "That it is. Murder for killing a man. Murder for killing an Englishman. Murder for killing an English colonel. Lord, man, they'd hang you three times over for it." "So I knew. I started running, and I've not stopped or slowed till now." He paused, then went on quickly. "Hell, I'd best tell all of it. The flyers are out on me already, saying I killed him from behind, to rob him." "So they'll hang you four times, do they catch you. Now, what can I do to make sure they don't?" Michael's throat thickened. "Always ready for the troubles, aren't you?" "Ah, lad, we went through a lot together. Now, what?" "The name of a smuggler who'll let me work my way to the Continent. A meal. A place in the barn for the night. No, that's all, Timothy. If I'm discovered, you didn't know I was there, and you don't know who I am. I'll not be taking you down with me." Cavanaugh studied the tabletop for a moment, his lips moving as if planning his words carefully. Finally he looked up. "So you intend trying for the Continent, then. You'll be safe enough from the English law there. Of course, you'll have to stay away from the German principalities. There are still British soldiers there, I understand. And in the ports there'll be marines. Him being a...
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