Irish immigrant Tom Tracy has nearly everything he's ever wanted—a promising political career as an aide to the city's mayor and the love of a beautiful woman, Rachel Levka. When his lusty cousin, Padraic Starr, arrives from Galway on a mission for the Irish rebellion, Tom's world unravels.
Padraic convinces Tom to return to his homeland to join the cause and avenge his father's death. Padraic's convictions also inspire Rachel, a fervent Zionist, who finds herself powerfully drawn to him. All three set sail for Ireland loaded with guns and ammunition. On Easter Sunday 1916, love, loyalty, and history collide in violence that will change their lives forever.
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|Publisher:||Tom Doherty Associates|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author William Martin is best known for his historical fiction, which chronicles the lives of the great and the anonymous in American history while bringing to life legendary American locations, from Cape Cod to Annapolis to The City of Dreams. His first novel, Back Bay, introduced Boston treasure hunter Peter Fallon, who is still tracking artifacts across the landscape of our national imagination. Martin's subsequent novels, including Harvard Yard, Citizen Washington, and The Lost Constitution have established him as a “storyteller whose smoothness matches his ambition” (Publishers Weekly). He has also written an award-winning PBS documentary and a cult classic horror movie. He was the recipient of the 2005 New England Book Award, given to "an author whose body of work stands as a significant contribution to the culture of the region," and in 2015 he won the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for four decades of bringing history to life. He and his wife live near Boston, the city that his recurring character, Peter Fallon, also calls home, and he has three grown children.
Read an Excerpt
THE RISING OF THE MOON (Chapter 1)
"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned."
"How long has it been since your last confession?"
"Six weeks and three days."
"A long time," said the priest, then he listened for the response that he had been expecting, and fearing, for years.
"Not if you're an honest man."
Mother of God, thought the priest. "It's coming, then?"
"It's coming soon. That's why I'm here."
The priest turned his face to the screen beside him. In the gentle darkness of the confessional, he could make out reddish hair, a long face, a light, sallow complexion. Galway, he thought, or perhaps Kerry.
"How can I help you?"
"Guns," whispered the priest. "Guns is it?"
"Guns...to arm the soldiers of Christ."
The priest sensed sarcasm. It was not something to which he was accustomed in his confessional. "Guns...indeed. If ever we're to jump on John Bull's back, this is the time."
"Well said, Father, but before the guns"--the penitent brought his lips close to the screen--"something more urgent."
The priest tried to focus his eyes on the face a few inches from his own. "Yes?"
"John Bull may be looking at the Kaiser, but he has eyes in the back of his head."
"And they're watching you?"
"No, Father. At the moment, they're watching the votive candles flicker on your altar."
The priest's hands closed tight around his breviary. "British soldiers in my church?"
"British agents is my guess. I'm not sure where they picked me up. I never noticed them on the ship."
"Them?" The priest swallowed down the fear that rose like bad meat at the back of his throat. "How many?"
"One at the altar rail, another outside."
The priest peered through the little window in the door of the confessional. He saw Mrs. Kelly in the closest pew, saying her beads and examining her conscience, troubled as it usually was with the sins of gossip and envy. Behind her slumped Jimmy Duggan, a choirboy with the voice of an angel and a weakness for the most common transgression of the fourteen-year-old male.
Others were scattered across the great, dark nave of the Holy Trinity Church. Some knelt with heads bowed; some sat and stared at the stained glass; some moved slowly along the outer aisles, following Christ's journey in the Stations of the Cross; some scurried to the altar rail, said their penance, and left renewed. Saturday afternoon, confessions three to five, and then, thought the priest, for most of them, it would be home to franks and beans and brown bread, the weekly bath, a few shots or a pint, poker or pinochle, perhaps a long wait with a rolling pin for a late-wandering spouse, and for Jimmy Duggan, the nightly struggle with his own hormones. From one parish to the next, the hopes and fears, the petty sins and prejudices of these people were always the same, and Father Sean O'Fearna knew them all.
But he did not know the man in the rumpled tweed suit who knelt at the rail on one knee, as though expecting a bolt of lightning to strike him for advancing too close to the Catholic tabernacle. A Protestant for sure, thought O'Fearna, and an agent of the Crown as well.
The priest turned back to the screen. He could see blue eyes and wide, black pupils, watching him in the same way that he watched his penitents when he thought they weren't telling him the truth. "I expected they'd send one of their best when the time came."
"They have, Father."
"How is it, then, that the one they sent didn't know the Brits were on his tail until he led them into my church?"
"Haven't you heard, Father? The best of Ireland's best left for America when the potatoes went bad. I'm the best that Ireland's got left. If you're going to help, you'll have to put up with my failings, which also include a weakness for women and strong drink."
The priest saw the smile curling on the other side of the screen. He liked a man who could joke at his own blunder. It was a sign of cool courage...or the mark of a dangerous fool.
"Do you have a name?" asked the priest.
"Padraic Starr...but my passport says O'Mahoney."
"And do you have people in Boston, family who'll put you up, now that the house of God is no longer safe refuge?"
"Cousins, by the name Tracy."
The priest leaned close. "Tom Tracy, the mayor's boy?"
"I wouldn't know about that. All I know is that they live on a street called Gloucester Place."
"About three blocks away, in Cathedral Parish. Go there and I'll contact you tomorrow."
"That still don't solve the problem at hand, Father, unless this confessional has a trapdoor and you're after droppin' me into the cellar."
"The trapdoor in here leads to a much hotter place than the cellar, my son."
The penitent laughed softly.
Once more, Sean O'Fearna looked through the small window in the confessional door, and his eyes fell upon the choirboy. An idea began to form.
He turned back to Starr. "Would you like absolution?"
"Will that get me out of here?"
"No, but at least you'll be ready if the Brits catch you and hang you."
"That won't be happenin', Father."
The priest studied the eyes--steady and unblinking--that studied him through the little holes in the screen. Whoever this Padraic Starr was, he was one to be reckoned with. "I don't believe it will. Now, then, how much time do we have?"
"I've promised a ship, loaded with guns and ammunition, six weeks from now in the Bay of Dunslea."
"That it is."
"We've not much time, then."
"Indeed not, Father, so let's not be wastin' any more of it in this tight spot. If you've got some ideas, I'd like to be hearin' them. Otherwise, I'll be about the business at hand."
"The business at hand," whispered the priest firmly, "is absolution. Even if you want none, I suggest you go to the altar rail and say a few Our Fathers and a few Hail Marys. It'll do you good. Then cross the altar and leave by the sacristy door when you hear a boy singin'."
"Just do as I say, and don't forget to genuflect before the tabernacle."
Sean O'Fearna closed the wooden shutter and heard the rebel step from the confessional. Then the shadow slipped past his window, and he peered out. What he saw gave him some confidence, for a six-footer with brawny shoulders might joke about a blunder and be able to back up the joke.
Padraic Starr wore brown corduroy trousers, heavy hobnail boots, a white turtleneck sweater of Donegal wool, and for all his size, he moved with the loping grace of a Wexford thoroughbred. He carried in one hand a duffel bag and in the other a tweed scally cap of the sort that most Irishmen wore, whether they lived in Boston or Ballyshannon. But this rebel did not seem concerned about concealing his Irish identity. Instead, he went straight to the altar rail and knelt just a few feet from the man in the tweed suit.
A bold one, thought the priest, one worth helping.
Jimmy Duggan stepped into the booth. The priest pushed the slider and heard a nervous little cough.
"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been a week since my last confession, and I done the...the usual, Father. Six times."
"The spirit is willin' but the flesh is weak, Jimmy. Just try to get out there and start swingin' the baseball bat. With the weather warmin' up soon and the Red Sox in spring trainin', you've no reason at all to sit home in your room lettin' your hand and your mind wander where they shouldn't."
"For your penance, an Our Father and a Hail Mary. Now, make a good Act of Contrition."
The boy recited the prayer as the priest spoke the words, Ego te absolvo..., that erased his adolescent sins. Then Jimmy Duggan blessed himself and started to leave.
"There's one more thing, Jimmy."
"I want you to sing."
"You want me to sing three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys?"
"No, no. But I need a little favor." The priest wiped a trickle of perspiration from his forehead. "Do you know the song 'The Rising of the Moon'?"
"My father taught it to me."
"A noble song about bold men fighting for the redemption of Ireland."
"Yes, Father," muttered the boy.
"Now, then, push your curtain back just a bit and look up at the altar rail." O'Fearna heard the fabric rustle. "Do you see a sort of red-faced fellow in a rumpled tweed suit, kneeling in front of the votive candles? He looks a bit jittery, like he just went to confession, but he didn't tell all his sins?"
"Near the big guy in the white sweater?"
"That's him," whispered the priest. "For your extra penance, I want you to kneel down next to that fella, on his left, and sing 'The Rising of the Moon' in the loudest voice you've got...right in his ear."
"While he's saying his penance?"
"For him, hearin' that song is penance in itself. Now you just do as I ask, and don't let him get away from you till the song's done."
After a time, the boy said, "All right."
"Mind you, what's said in here's a secret."
While the boy scuffed up to the altar rail, Sean O'Fearna prayed. He prayed that his plan would work. He prayed that Padraic Starr would be worthy to the cause. He prayed that he would not offend God in the weeks ahead. Then he blessed himself.
At the altar rail, Padraic Starr kept his head bowed and his hands tightly folded. He was not accustomed to the position, but he would assume it for a few minutes, if it aided his escape.
He was certain now that the man in the tweed suit was an agent of the Crown. He saw the bulge in the jacket, where a pistol was holstered, and although he had never seen the face before, he had seen hundreds like it. Shapes and features might differ, but the eyes were always the same--suspicious, haughty, contemptuous--whether they were the eyes of the resident magistrate in the village where Starr was born, or the guard in the visitor's room at Kilmainham Jail, or the man now kneeling a few feet from his dangerous Irish quarry.
And Padraic Starr was very dangerous. In his boot he carried a knife with a six-inch blade stropped to the fine sharpness of hammered gold. He could open an artery in an instant and disappear at high noon in the Dublin Markets or at midnight among the peat bogs. He did not fear the Englishman beside him. His only fear was that by his carelessness he had endangered the rising. And for that he was heartily sorry.
The young boy from O'Fearna's confessional came to the rail and knelt, carefully positioning himself between Starr and the man in the tweed suit.
Starr heard the boy clear his throat. He realized what was going to happen. He reached down and felt the outline of the knife handle beneath his trousers.
The boy blessed himself and stood.
Starr loosened the knife, so that he could snap it clear in an instant.
The boy licked his lips and took a deep breath. Starr rose to one knee. But the boy hesitated. The man in the tweed suit shifted slightly and looked up at him.
Then the priest came out of his confessional. He was bigger than Starr had expected, and he looked like a bull in his black cassock.
When the boy saw the priest marching angrily down the side aisle, he took another deep breath and turned himself toward the man in the tweed suit.
Now, thought Starr. Sing your lungs out, lad.
The voice was a high and piercing tenor. "Oh, now tell me, Sean O'Farrell,/Where the gath'ring is to be..."
Starr leaped over the altar rail. The man in the tweed suit jumped up and shoved Jimmy aside, but the boy clutched at his elbow.
"In the old spot by the river,/Right well known to you and me." Jimmy Duggan's high C was the most powerful instrument in the choir, and he played it right in the man's face. "At the rising of the moon, the rising of the moon..."
Padraic Starr did not stop to genuflect in front of the tabernacle. He flashed across the marble floor and disappeared through the sacristy door before the refrain was finished.
"...With your pikes upon your shoulders, at the rising of the moon."
"Jimmy Duggan!" boomed the priest. "What do you think you're doin'?"
"Father, you said..."
The Englishman pulled out of the boy's grasp.
But O'Fearna came charging across the front aisle. "I'm terribly sorry, sir." He clapped a pair of huge hands on the man's shoulders. "I think the lad misunderstood his penance."
The man was tall and thin, with a nondescript face well-suited to his work. He growled something and tried to break free.
But the priest held tight. "What was it you said, sir?"
"I said let me go." The man could not disguise his Liverpool accent.
"And what parish did you say you were from?"
The man pushed O'Fearna away and jumped over the altar rail.
"Here, now!" cried the priest. "Get off my altar!" He opened the gate and ran after the Englishman, but when he reached the sacristy, the robing room beside the altar, he felt a cold draft. The outer door was swung open and the sun was reflecting off the snow outside. Starr and the Englishman were gone.
"Father..." Jimmy Duggan came in from the church. "I just did what you asked, Father. Why'd you yell at me?"
The priest patted him on the shoulder. "You did fine, Jimmy."
Father Hans Ritter, rotund, balding, benign, waddled into the room. He spoke in a thick German accent he had been trying to hide since the sinking of the Lusitania. "What is happening? Why singing and shouting when people is trying to tell me their sins?"
"A mistake, Father. Jimmy didn't understand the penance I gave him."
"And those two men?"
"One yelled at Jimmy, the other said, 'You be quiet. It's a grand song.' I imagine they've gone off to discuss it."
Padraic Starr was racing down an alley at the rear of the church, along a run-down row of back alleys and loading docks. An old man was sitting on a fire escape, bundled in overcoats and blankets. Two women were poking through the pork trimmings in a trash barrel behind a butcher shop. A wagon and team were backed up to a dock where a worker was rolling beer kegs out of a small brewery. And the man in the tweed suit was racing after Padraic Starr.
Under different circumstances, Starr would have turned and killed him as soon as they were outside the church. Or he would have chosen not to run at all but to mislead him more subtly, over several days, into believing that he had come to America to visit relatives or see the sights. However, open violence was too dangerous, and there was no time for subtlety.
So he grabbed two trash barrels, spun them back, and ran.
The great oak doors at the rear of the church had been opened. Although the temperature was no better than forty degrees, the sun was high and bright, and even in the South End, the air smelled of promise.
"You never sung better, Jimmy," said the priest. "And if any of them old biddies in there go to gossipin' about this, you just tell your ma and pa to come to me and I'll set 'em straight."
O'Fearna watched the boy bound off the steps and disappear into the traffic on Shawmut Avenue, then he noticed a man leaning against the lamppost. The man's body was short and square, shrouded in a blue wool overcoat. He wore a black derby, had a black handlebar mustache, and chewed on a black briar pipe. Ordinarily, the priest would not have noticed him, but in the moment that they glanced at each other, the man seemed to study everything from the size of the priest's shoes to the cut of his cassock. Moreover, he had positioned himself so that he could see the front and side doors of the church at the same time.
This, the priest knew, was the second British agent, and the only door that he could not see was the door that Padraic Starr had taken.
The alley behind the church led Starr to Dover Street. Two blocks to the south, the elevated station rose above the traffic. Padraic Starr dodged a fish peddler's pushcart and ran for the train.
The cart stopped at the mouth of the alley. The Englishman bumped into the peddler, who lost his grip on the handle, sending the cart banging onto the sidewalk. Halibut and cod splattered everywhere. The peddler cursed in Italian and grabbed for the fish, then snatched at the tweed coattails, but the Englishman was already weaving through the crowd of shoppers, chasing the white wool sweater that was halfway to Washington Street.
By the time he reached the corner, Padraic Starr had taken a block lead on the man in the tweed suit. The elevated tracks above Washington Street cast a deep and perpetual shadow, fractured by little shafts of sunlight that slipped through the cracks like rays of hope in purgatory. The intersection was jammed with autocars, lorries, and wagons, all stopped because a draft horse had fallen and an ice wagon now blocked the intersection. Horns were squawking, the driver was whipping the horse, and two policemen were trying to unsnarl the traffic.
Police. No police, thought Starr, no matter what.
Then the clouds of exhaust beneath the tracks began to billow toward him, pushed along by a sudden wind. The sunlight disappeared. The darkness grew darker. A distant rumble rose in pitch and volume until it swallowed all the noise of the intersection. And the elevated train arrived at Dover Station.
Starr scrambled across the street, took the stairs two at a time, ducked under the turnstiles, elbowed up a second flight through the crowd coming down from the train and jumped onto the front car an instant before the doors slammed shut.
He had escaped.
Every seat was taken. People were hanging onto hand-straps and gripping side rails. Their closeness made Starr feel secure. His nostrils were struck with the smells of damp wool, perspiration, and whiskey. He heard the familiar lilt of two Kerrymen, bricklayers, arguing about someone called Babe Ruth and whether he mattered more to the Red Sox--whoever they were--as a batter or a pitcher. He noticed a colored woman, wearing a maid's uniform beneath a threadbare topcoat. She was sharing a side rail with a man who looked like a rich merchant. Their hands were almost touching, but their heads were turned carefully in opposite directions. Starr hooked his wrist into one of the straps and waited for the train to start.
Instead, he heard the doors on the second car pop open and saw the Englishman jump onto the train. The chase was still on, the chase which had gone on for centuries, the English hound and the Irish fox.
Starr tried to peer into the second car through the rear windows of the first, but the bodies were packed so tightly that he saw only details: the top of a bald head, an ostrich feather in a hat, an upturned collar, a newspaper with the headline "French Push Germans Back at Verdun"...and the eyes of the man in the tweed suit.
The train kicked ahead. While Starr pushed toward the doors at the front, as far from the Englishman as possible, the train tilted forward. Bodies shifted against the slant, sunlight faded, and the subway tunnel suddenly concentrated the sound of the train, like a magnifying glass straightening a beam of light.
By the time Starr reached the front doors, they were sliding open at Essex Street, the first underground station. He stepped aside and let several passengers slip off. He wanted to spring for the stairwell himself, but it was blocked by turnstiles, and he knew that the Englishman would expect him to run at the first chance. He waited instead for the next station and planned a more subtle escape.
The doors banged open again. Starr peered out at the mosaic sign: Washington Street. He noticed the manikins in the underground department store window. This way for Filene's Automatic Bargain Basement. But he did not move. Not yet, he thought.
He glanced toward the second car. The tweed jacket was poised by the door, waiting for him to run. Not yet, he repeated to himself.
Three Sisters of St. Joseph stepped onto the train, followed by a drunk who could barely stand. The conductor between the cars leaned out to check the doors. Now.
Starr jumped off the train. The tweed suit leaped from the second car and came toward him. The doors began to slide, and at the last moment, Starr jumped back onto the train.
The doors slammed so close behind him that they nearly snipped the button from his back pocket. Now, he was certain, he had escaped. He craned his neck and looked out onto the platform. No Englishman. He glanced toward the rear of the car, and through the thicket of arms and handstraps, the eyes appeared again. The Englishman had not been deceived. Instead, he had slipped from the second car to the first.
He was a good one, Starr thought, too good for his own good.
Starr knelt in the little space around him and tightened one of his bootlaces. When he stood, the haft of his knife was in his hand, the blade was concealed in his sleeve, and the drunk was supporting himself against Starr's shoulder. Starr did not want to use the knife. But if he had to, he would try not to slice through the tweed, because he could not be certain of a lethal cut. Instead, he would slip his hand under the suit jacket, drive the blade through the maroon sweater, into the heart, and leave the Englishman dead on his feet, supported by the press of bodies around him.
The tweed suit was halfway down the car now, and Starr was trying to gauge the moment to strike when he felt the train slowing once more. The doors slid open: State Street.
He grabbed the drunk and threw him into the nuns. People went down like ninepins on a rich man's lawn. Starr leaped from the car and raced for the escalator, a treadmill of grooved wooden slats rising to the street. He stepped on and slipped. He grabbed the handrail and balanced himself against the strange movement, then he began to climb, pushing past a young couple, stumbling over a woman and knocking her bundles from her hands. Bright oranges and toilet paper went tumbling down the dirty brown escalator.
Padraic Starr came out at the head of State Street, where the tall buildings formed a corridor that stretched all the way to the harbor. He shouldered his duffel bag and began to run. He crossed over a wide circle of cobblestones in the middle of the street. Site of the Boston Massacre, said the center stone. He stopped and looked back. The subway station was in a Georgian brick building whose facade was still decorated with the Unicorn and the British Lion. A remnant of America's colonial days, thought Starr, and a bad omen, made worse by the British agent now emerging from below, ignoring the traffic, and coming straight at him.
State Street was a place for banks and brokerage houses, all four steps above the street and all but deserted on a Saturday afternoon. At the first corner he came to, Starr turned onto a narrow street called Merchants Row, which led to Market Square, where the Saturday life of the city spread before him.
Wagons and lorries swirled. Crowds of shoppers shuttled between the red brick building on the left and the three soot-covered granite rows running away to the right. Peddlers were shouting. Beggars held out dirty fingers and drunks slept in doorways. Someone hurried past carrying a side of beef. A boy came out of the Fulton Fish Market and tossed a bucket of slop into the sewer. A Cadillac roadster blew its horn at Starr, then stopped at the building with the granite pillars, and the chauffeur climbed out with a grocery list in his hand.
It all reminded Starr of Covent Garden, but from his Boston guidebook, he recognized this as Faneuil Hall and the Quincy Market. If he could not lose himself here, he thought, he had no right to call himself a rebel.
An alley ran down the rear of the long market building to Starr's right. He saw a man roll a barrel across the alley, then disappear directly into the side of the building. From where Starr stood, he thought it was an illusion. He went down the alley and found a pedestrian tunnel cutting through the row. He ducked into the tunnel and performed the illusion himself.
The tunnel led him to South Market Street. Peddlers' stalls stretched back to the square and down toward Commercial Street. Wagons rattled along, squashing horse droppings into the cobblestones. Cabbage leaves and banana peels rotted in the gutters, giving the street the odor of a garbage dump. A rat scuttled around a puddle and stopped to nibble one of the leaves, and a scrawny cat burst from a fish stall to chase the rat.
But Starr's chase was over. The Englishman was gone. The illusion had worked.
Dodging wagons and turds and rolling barrels of beer, Starr loped across the street and into the central building, where he would lose himself a bit longer before chancing the subways.
In the magnificent rotunda of Quincy Market, Starr felt, for a moment, as though he had entered another church. The noise of the merchants rolled down the arcades and rose into the sky-blue dome like the singing of a secular choir. In a city that would pay such homage to commerce, thought Starr, a man could surely find anything for sale, including five hundred rifles and a million rounds of ammunition.
He went down the arcade that led back to Market Square. On either side were stalls, framed by handsome white pillars. H. A. Hovey--Butter, Eggs, and Cheese. Adams, Chapman, and Company. Carrol and Liley--Butchers Supplies--Saws, Cleavers, Cutlery, Grinding, Saw Filing.
Many of the stalls were closing, since it was after five o'clock, but the sellers of fresh produce and dairy were shouting lower prices to every shopper that trundled by, because by Monday morning most of the vegetables would be rotten and the milk turned sour. Starr stopped and bought a bunch of carnations for his Aunt Josephine Tracy, who had not seen him in sixteen years and was not likely to welcome him when he appeared at her door. Then he decided to head back to the South End.
He was a few stalls from the exit when he saw the tweed suit. The Englishman was at one of the granite pillars outside. He had finished scanning the square and was turning to come into the market.
Starr cursed. He was a head taller than most of the people around him, and he was carrying a bunch of red and white flowers. The Englishman was certain to see him.
A door opened to Starr's left. A butcher came out of a cold room. MacClean Beef Company, Stall 57. The butcher was cradling a leg of lamb that he carried to his block and dropped in front of a customer. The door closed with a loud thunk.
A moment later, Starr was hiding behind a side of beef.
The cold room had granite walls and a vaulted ceiling and was more damp than cold. There were three rows of meat hooks, three dozen hunks of meat, and the smell of beef tallow in the dark was like the smell of the grave.
Starr waited and listened and hoped that he would not have to use the knife. What he heard, above the hundreds of feet shuffling by the cold-room door, was the sound of a bottle dragging a short distance over the floor, sloshing toward a mouth, and pumping whiskey down a throat. It was a sound that Padraic Starr knew well. Someone was sitting in the dark, in the far corner, and too drunk to notice him.
Then the door popped open and the light came on. The drinker noticed that. He inhaled and held his breath. Starr could see the drinker's feet and his white butcher's apron. The door thunked. Starr peered between stiffened carcasses. He saw the tweed and cursed to himself. The footsteps came slowly toward him. Then he saw the barrel of a pistol. He twitched his fingers and snapped his knife into position.
"Step out of that corner," said the Englishman, "or I'll shoot through the meat."
"Holy Jesus!" cried the drunk in the other corner. "I'm just takin' a snort to warm up!"
The barrel of the pistol swung away from Starr and a side of beef swung at the Englishman, with Starr hurtling after it. The beef knocked the gun from the agent's grasp, and Starr drove in with the knife, cutting through tweed, through wool, skittering off bone; and into the chest.
The Englishman let out a cry and stumbled back, hitting another side of meat and sending it swinging into the one next to it. Then he lurched forward, grabbing for Starr's arm. But the knife slashed again. A line of red appeared just above the Englishman's collar. Arterial blood trickled onto the white, then poured out all at once.
The Englishman opened his mouth, as if to speak, but a side of beef hit him and knocked him to the floor at Starr's feet, where his blood mixed with sawdust and dried bloodstains.
"Holy Jesus!" came a voice from somewhere near the floor. "You killed him!" The drunken butcher's face appeared, horrified, looking up from under a dressed lamb.
The meat swung back, then forth, and Starr kicked hard into the butcher's face.
After that, he worked quickly and efficiently. He dragged the butcher back to the corner and poured another shot of whiskey into his mouth. Although it sickened him, he lifted the Englishman and slipped a meat hook through the tweed, taking care to keep the blood from his white wool sweater. He shoved the pistol into his duffel bag, then took the Englishman's wallet, to make it look like a robbery. He slid two sides of beef close to the body and spread sawdust over the fresh blood on the floor. For as long as the butcher remained unconscious, he hoped, no one would notice the Englishman hanging in the corner.
He picked up his duffel bag, then reached for the bunch of carnations, but the white flowers had been turned to red. He switched off the lights in the cold room and headed for the home of Josephine Tracy and her boys.
THE RISING OF THE MOON Copyright © 1987 by William Martin