BOOK LAUNCH: THE MUD ROSE

Mud Rose Cover 333x500

Book Two of my middle grade Time Rose series is set to release this Friday, January 10th, but is available as a pre-order at: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/coming-soon/the-mud-rose-detail.

Life’s hard if you’re a Victorian street urchin, and crossing the path of Jack the Ripper can make it even harder. Another journey into the past takes Paige, Dane, and Jack to Victorian London, where they meet two young mudlarks named Hetty and Pip. Even though life is difficult, Hetty is leery of seeking help from social reformers who might separate her from her little brother. The Time Rose travellers have an idea for getting around that problem, but they’re about to have another. Jack the Ripper’s grisly attacks on women in the East End have the whole city on edge – and the blood covered man Hetty and Pip come across late at night isn’t keen on having witnesses on the loose.

EXCERPT

“There they are,” said Jack. “They’re the ones we’re after.”

“How do you know?” asked Paige.

“I just do. Come on.”

Exchanging dubious glances, Paige and Dane followed him.

As they approached, the two ragamuffins sprang up on bare, mud-caked feet and stood protectively in front of the things they had been sorting.

“Clear off,” said the girl. “This here’s ours.”

“We don’t want it,” Dane said hastily. “We just want to talk to you.”

“Why?”

“We’ve just arrived in London,” said Jack. “We don’t know anyone here. We thought you might help us find our way about.”

“Oh? Come up for the old girl’s jubilee, did you?”

“The old girl? Oh, you must mean Queen Victoria,” said Paige. “And this would be … let’s see … her golden jubilee, wouldn’t it? Celebrating fifty years on the throne?”

“Yeah. You’ve missed most of the good stuff, though. There were a big procession yesterday. Didn’t see it ourselves, but our mates, Minnow and Nolly, did. They said it were a real sight to behold.”  

“Minnow?” said Paige. “What kind of name is Minnow?”

“Dunno. His name. Think it’s actually Benjamin, or summut. What’re your names?”

“Paige,” said Paige. “This is my brother, Dane, and our cousin, Jack.”

The girl raised her eyebrows. “I’d say them name is a bit odd too. ’Cept for his,” she added, nodding toward Jack.

“What about you?” Paige inquired.

“I’m Hetty. This here’s me brother, Pip.”

“Where do you live?” Paige went on, determined to find out more about the pair.

“Here and there. Mostly round Whitechapel way at the moment.”

“Is that near here?”

“Not too far.”

“Do you go to that school over there?”

“That place? Not likely! All they wants to do is learn you stuff.”

“What’s wrong with that?” asked Jack.

“Got better things to do with me time than that, mate.”

“Like what?’

“Like earning me living. Can’t go out larking if you’re at school.”

“What’s larking?” asked Paige.

“Mudlarking. Looking for things in the mud. Things what we can sell.”

“What if the weather’s good and there isn’t any mud?”

Hetty gave her a strange look. “There’s always mud. Every day.”

“She’s talking about the mud of the Thames,” said Jack. “The Thames is a tidal river. All sorts of things get washed up and left in the silt. Mudlarks used to poke about in it at low tide.”

“What you mean, used to?” said Hetty. “Find lots of good stuff there some days.”

“Not today,” Pip said, looking down at some broken glass, a cracked teapot, two short pieces of rope, and a few bones.

“Yeah, well, that’s how it goes, titch. But at least we got summut. And the day’s not over yet. Larking’s not me only trade,” she explained to the others. “I does other things as well. What about you?”

“We don’t really do anything,” said Dane. “Like Jack said, we’re new here.”

“Can tell that from the way you talks. Where you from?”

“Canada.”

“Where’s Canada?”

“A long ways off. Across the ocean.”

“You’d know that if you went to school,” said Jack. “An education can be very useful.”

Hetty snorted. “That’s what Nolly says. He and Minnow’s been talking about going to that school yonder. Not regular, of course, just when they can fit it in. You from Canada, too?”

“No, I’m English.”

“And a right toff you sound, too. I’m guessing you’re ‘educated’. From the looks of your clobber, it can’t have been much help to you.”

“My family’s come down in the world,” said Jack.

Hetty nodded sagely. “It happens. Used to be better off ourselves. Nothing fancy, mind, just a bit better. How you planning to make your way here in London?”

“Don’t know,” said Dane. “Maybe you could give us some ideas.”

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