Filled with swashbuckling action, pirates, and high seas battles, this fanciful tale is set against the historic backdrop of sixteenth-century Ireland, Scotland, and England, where the English are foxes, wolves, and hawks, and the Irish and Scots are rabbits, squirrels, badgers, and bears.
“Buckle your swash and prepare to have your timbers shivered, that’s Tam O’Hare on the horizon. Whether Tam is hauling up the mainsail or scaling the castle wall, Scotty Roberts paints the reader right into the middle of every adventure.” —Ian Punnett, radio talk show host, Coast to Coast AM
“Not only is Tam O’Hare a rollicking good adventure full of fantastic characters and twists and turns that will keep kids and adults alike riveted, but Scotty’s art in beautiful eye-popping color is truly magical and brings the story fully to life! This belongs in every family’s library to read over and over again!” —Dan Madsen, founder of official Star Wars and Star Trek fan clubs
“Tam O’Hare left my kids and I breathless and decidedly more Scottish. A rollicking tale fit for anyone brave enough to venture into it!”—Grant Wilson of Syfy Channel’s Ghost Hunters
|Publisher:||Morgan James Publishing|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||4 MB|
|Age Range:||3 Months to 11 Years|
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Sunrise was still several hours away when Tam O'Hare's feet touched the cold slate floor of his bed chamber. Winter had passed and spring was well underway, yet streamlets of icy nighttime air still managed to eek in through the cracks and meander their way down the stone floored halls of HareHenge Castle.
With paws shoved under armpits for warmth, Tam hugged himself and shivered as he tiptoed across the frigid floor looking for the place where he had dropped his clothes. This was no time of night for a hare to be up and about, but from the moment he'd laid his head to his pillow, he'd done nothing but stare into the dark shadows that engulfed the great oak beams crisscrossing his bed chamber ceiling. All night long his mind raced and imagined, anticipating the adventure that awaited him at the cracking of the dawn. He hadn't slept a wink.
Stopping before the room's central round fire pit, where the night's fire had burned down to a few glowing remnants, Tam found his shirt and doublet. They were lying in a crumpled heap at the foot of his ornately carved high back chair.
"Right where I left you, mate!" he said to his shirt - as if it were a long lost friend - and he pulled it hastily over his head. After slipping into his green leather doublet, he picked up the poker, sat down in his chair, and stared into the dying coals.
A broadening smile filled Tam's face.
His entire life, he mused, had been brimming-to-the-full with adventure. He had met incredible people; made lifelong friends; fought myriad battles; sailed the high seas; stood honorably alongside loyal allies. He had truly seen the world through his many wonderful wanderings and journeys. But the adventure he was about to embark on today was like none he had ever experienced before. He was going to the New World, and he was eager to get under way.
"MacNutt!" he bellowed good naturedly while attempting to stoke a fire out of the glowing embers - a task he had never mastered, despite all his years of adventuring.
There was no answer.
"MacNutt, I say!"
Still no answer.
Ready to bellow his young squire's name for a third time, Tam sucked in a deep preparatory breath, then suddenly stopped short. The flickering stars suspended in the bluish-black sky outside the window caught his eye. In his excitement, he realized, he had completely forgotten that it was still the dead of the night. Not at all the proper time to roust a young squirrel from his slumber. And he reluctantly decided to let MacNutt remain in the warmth of his bed, at least, that is, until the sky began to edge its easternmost horizon with a sliver of golden pink.
"America!" Tam exclaimed under his breath as he poked at the glowing coals in the fire pit. He'd heard wonderful stories of the place. The New Continent, as it was called, was filled with strange new woodlands, breathtaking mountain vistas and exotic tribes of creatures dressed in brightly woven clothes and feathers. The rivers of this new land, it was said, ran as pure silver, and gold and diamonds grew on the trees. The air was sweet and fresh, and the grass underfoot felt as soft as imported Chinese silk. There was room to move, breathe and live free, with abundant land for the claiming. At least that's what was said by the few who had been there - and made it back home alive.
Tam simply had to see this marvelous place with his own eyes, breathe in its rich aromas and taste its intriguing new flavors. He wanted to walk in it, feel it, hear it and handle it. He must experience this place firsthand! To do so would give him his own stories to tell of this mysterious, faraway land that lay across the still infinitely mysterious western sea.
The ship he had hired embarked from Dublintown Port three days hence, and he did not intend to be late.
"MacNutt!" he called out again at the top of his lungs, forsaking his resolve to let the lad sleep through the night. This would be the first time MacNutt had been anywhere beyond the borders of Scotland and Ireland and the first time ever that Tam would venture further west than the setting sun's horizon. They were embarking on the adventure of a lifetime!
How on God's green earth could Tam let him sleep any longer?CHAPTER 2
A Squirrel with Purpose
Horatio Glamis Tamolyn Thatchaway MacNutt was a squirrel of singular purpose. And he idolized his Uncle Tam. For as far back as he could remember, he had been enthralled with the stories his father told him of Tam's marvelous adventures, and he was bound and determined to become the hero he knew his uncle to be.
He had begged his parents to let him go to Ireland to live with his Uncle Tam, and after much pleading and bargaining, they agreed, but only if Tam would take Horatio on as his squire.
"No free nuts!" his father had said. "If you are to stay with Uncle Tam, you need to earn your keep!"
Horatio was only too willing to comply.
Now, Tam O'Hare was not actually clan or kin to his young squire, but he may as well have been. Long before MacNutt was born, Tam and Horatio's father, William, had fought together for Scotland's king, James the Fifth, in the Battle of Solway Moss during the infamous Border Wars between England and Scotland. This particular battle against England was lost. But as a result, Tam and William, as warriors are often wont to do, became brothers, swearing an oath of honor and fidelity one to the other.
Sadly, within two short weeks of the battle's end, King James died some say of a broken heart over losing the battle - leaving his one-week-old daughter Mary as sole heir to the Scottish throne. Both Tam and William bowed their knee to the baby Queen of the Scots, and swore to uphold and defend her.
"Never in all my born days," smiled Tam under his breath during the ceremony, "would I ever have predicted that I would swear my oath of honor and allegiance to a red-haired fox!"
"At least she's not an English fox!" chuckled William in his deep Highland brogue, spitting out the word English as if it were sour milk in his mouth. He then quickly removed his blue bonnet, curled his long bushy tail and dropped to his knee. The two looked at each other with wide, whimsical eyes and whispered, "Tally Ho!" in unison with a wink and a grin, breaking the serious moment with the giddiness of having simultaneously hit upon the same joke.
Although they were giggling in whispers, they were just loud enough to prompt a grand "Huh-rrumph!" and an over-the-shoulder, stern priest's glance from the black cassocked bear kneeling in front of them. Tam and William instantly fell silent in rebuke, but could not keep from letting an occasional snicker slip out under their breath.
So twice, in as many weeks, the pair had sworn their honor and allegiance, a thing not to be lightly given. Especially in light of the fact that the new-born Scottish Queen was the great-niece of their recent foe, Henry the Eighth, King of England, the wiliest, most fearsome fox of all!
Yet, in this allegiance, Tam O'Hare had found some conflict. As an Irish lord, he was subject to the rule of the English king, Henry the Eighth, who reigned over England and Ireland. However, Tam's grandmother was a cousin to James the Fourth, the previous King of Scotland, who himself had been married to Margaret Tudor, King Henry the Eighth's sister. These royal relatives of Tam's grandmother gave Tam a sort of dual-citizenship. He was indeed an English subject, yet his grandmother's family ties gave Tam the right of Scottish citizenship - and peerage - even though he was an English subject of Irish birth.
And if that isn't confusing enough, this long string of mixed up, intricately intertwined marriages between the ruling families of England, Ireland and Scotland (as well as the long list of relatives associated with each and every monarch) left Tam somehow related in a distant way to almost every king, queen, duke or duchess from Belfast to Edinburgh, Inverness to York, Dublin to London. And all of this placed him in what sometimes seems like a very confusing, discombobulated set of loyalties and allegiances.
At the time when Tam bowed his knee to the seven-day-old Mary Queen of Scots, however, he had no idea just how much he would have to wrestle between those loyalties later in his life William MacNutt, Horatio's father, however, was Scot through and through, and he defended with vigor, his nation's desire to be free of English rule. He loved and respected Tam for standing with him and his countrymen against the English king. His loyalty to Tam was fierce, and he would have given Tam the world, were it his to give, and most certainly his life, if ever called for.
So, many years later, when his son, Horatio, asked to go on a prolonged visit to Tam in Ireland, William was more than happy to let him go, but only if Horatio understood just how fortunate he was to have in Tam O'Hare, a loyal friend and loving Uncle.
"Honor," William repeated to his son, something he heard from Tam many years earlier, "is the only gift that a creature can give to himself." He went on to tell Horatio that he must always deal fairly with others, keep his word, store enough nuts for the colder months and above all, act with forethought and honor.
"Watch your Uncle Tam," William said, locking eyes with his son, "you will see in him the honorable creature I pray you will someday be."
A tear slipped out of William's eye, and he quickly wiped it away, pretending as if he had gotten a fleck of dust in his eye. He then stood to his full height and nodded his approving farewell.
These were the final words uttered to him by his father as Horatio stepped onto the gangplank of the small ferrying vessel that would, for the first time in his young life, carry him away from Scotland, across the Straights of Dalriada to Dublintown port, where his Uncle Tam awaited his arrival.
That had been nearly a year ago, and since then he barely had time to miss his family and his home in the Highlands of Scotland. Life had indeed been an adventure with Uncle Tam, and today was going to prove no different.
* * *
A loud bellowing abruptly woke Horatio out of his cold, hard, deep sleep. He lay there in his bed blinking fuzzy eyes, wondering incoherently for a moment, just who and where he was.
There it was again. That hideous wailing. That monstrous droning that was beckoning him so cruelly out of his dreams. He blinked twice and gained some vague recollection of who he was.
The little squirrel jolted upright in his bed.
"On my way, Uncle Tam, sir!" he croaked as he leapt down out of bed, the shock of the icy floor on his bare feet eradicating almost all remnants of sleep. He ran at full speed down the tower steps and across the hall to the source of the bellowing.
With a horrendous groan, the huge oak door of Tam's bedchamber swung open as MacNutt pushed his way into the room. The iron hinges let out a squeeeeeak that crescendoed from a low rumbling to a high, shrill pierce causing both hare and squirrel to wince.
"Ahhhhh!" they both cried in unison. "I hate when it does that!" "That needs some grease," said the young squirrel sleepily, pointing with his finger at the offending hinge.
MacNutt stood motionless in the doorway for a moment, still shaking off the last scraps of sleep, waiting to hear why it was he had been summoned so suddenly from his dreams.
"Ah ..." said Tam, turning away rather dismissidly, grinning from ear to ear as he continued poking at the coals in the fire pit, "... you're awake then."
MacNutt glanced over his shoulder at the winking stars that still hung brightly in the sky outside the window at the end of the corridor. He turned back toward Tam, blinked hard twice and said, rather unbemusedly, "Well of course I'm awake, then! 'Twas you that played the banshee and ..."
"You should thank me for rousting you with my hideous wailing," Tam interrupted with a smile. "We've an adventure waiting just beyond the breaking of the sun, and you will want to be ready by first light."
He poked again at the embers, trying to coax out a bit more heat before they went completely cold.
"Here, let me do that, Uncle Tam," MacNutt said extending his hand while crossing the room. "Besides, you need to fix yourself," he continued as he took the poker from Tam's hand. "You've your doublet on inside-out."
"I haven't either ..." said Tam, as he lowered his chin against his chest, looking down at his clothing.
"Well, I'll be ..." he whispered almost under his breath. He then removed the green leather garment and flipped the sleeves inside out with a whip and a flourish.
Having sparked new life into the coals, MacNutt hung the poker on its hook on the wrought iron rack standing alongside the pit, then returned and held his paws above the small fire.
"Much better," he said with a satisfied smile. "Shall I fetch some breakfast, then, Uncle?"
"That would be splendid!" exclaimed Tam. "It's never a good tiling to set off for a new world on an empty stomach.
They smiled at each other for a moment, both fully aware that they craved each other's company, and that Tam only wanted to share his excitement with his young squire and friend. Then MacNutt swung about and retreated through the great oak doorway in his usual bouncy gate, now fully awake and excited to get underway.
"Tewksberry!" he bellowed for the household cook as he marched down the corridor toward the kitchens.
"Tewksberry! Up I say! Uncle Tam will breakfast in his bedchamber this ... ummm ... morn!" And then he added with a bit of lighthearted sarcasm, "... hours earlier than the usual!"
MacNutt's voice echoed off down the hall and Tam burst out with heartfelt laughter that filled HareHenge Castle with a sincere warmth.CHAPTER 3
A Call for Help
After breaking their fast, MacNutt excused himself, dressed for the day, awoke the rest of the household servants, and went outside to supervise the loading of the wagon. Once in the courtyard, he saw that it was already fully packed and ready for the road - and what a magnificent sight it was!
The wagon was a flat bottom rig with no sides save four upright posts on the corners and three horizontal slats on all four sides that firmly held all the contents in place. A five-foot-tall pole was secured to each of the four corners of the wagon. On the left front and right rear poles there were banners emblazoned with the O'Hare family crest - the silver Irish Harp with a beautiful female hare as it's upright.
The other two poles, respectively right front and left rear, both flew the green flag of Ireland bearing the image of the Irish Harp. Some of the servants thought it would be a nice touch to add more color to the rig, so red and saffron banners were secured by nails and hooks along the topmost slats on the sides of the wagon. The wood itself was painted a bright clover green and the wheels were painted black with green knotwork detailing.
All in all, a pretty glorious site.
MacNutt took upon himself the responsibility of double-checking the contents of the wagon against the master inventory list drawn up by Uncle Tam two days ago. The load had already been inventoried by the servants, but MacNutt wanted to be sure that everything was there.
The young squirrel stood next to one of the wagon's two wheels, and only when he pulled himself to his full height was he taller than the circumference of the wheel. He walked around to the front of the wagon and climbed up into the seat. Facing the rear of the wagon with one foot down on the step, and one knee resting on the plush leather seat, he surveyed the load:
- One large barrel containing a cache of various greens and vegetables ranging from lettuce and cabbage to carrots and beets.
- One large wooden box filled with assorted nuts and sunflower seeds.
- Uncle Tam's clothing trunk.
- A leather satchel containing his own clothing.
- A long chest filled with various swords, knives, axes and other weapons.
- Two spools of hemp rope spun by the townsfolk.
- Two canvas tents, and twenty-six poles for their support.
- A chest filled with cast iron pots, pans, grates and cooking utensils.
- A dismantled table and benches.
- A small box containing everything from fine china to simple wooden bowls, mugs, cups and eating utensils.
- One large rope tension bed.
- One small cask of wine.
- One large barrel of fresh water.
- One small rope tension bed.
- A small chest containing various clay pipes and tobacco.
- A tool chest holding hammers, nails and sundry other curious instruments.
- Twelve woolen blankets.
- Six pillows, and something called a "mosquito net" that Tam had acquired from an old sea dog who'd been aboard a merchant ship that had spent many months in the West Indies.
MacNutt smiled with great satisfaction. The wagon was loaded, the inventory was in order, and all seemed ready for the great trip. His heart skipped a beat, knowing that he was about to embark on one of Uncle Tam's famous adventures.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Rollicking Adventures of Tam O'Hare"
Copyright © 2007 Scotty Roberts.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
TWO A Squirrel with purpose,
THREE A Call for Help,
FOUR The Mermaid,
SEVEN The Road to Edinburgh,
EIGHT Mary Queen of Scots,
NINE The Hunt for the Elizabeth Jonas,
TEN For God, Queen and Country!,
ELEVEN The Plan,
THIRTEEN The Hole In the Stone,
FOURTEEN Out of the Mists,
EXTRA! EXTRA! Tam O'Hare Goodies,
WHAT OTHER READERS HAVE SAID,