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Chapter 1

The Journal of Sir Edmond St. Clair

In 1629, my work changed. Under King James, I'd been a trusted and valued advisor. I'd traveled throughout the Continent and even to the New World, establishing contacts and buying information. James understood the value of knowing what his enemies and friends were planning. Often the information on friends proved to be of greater value. We seldom met face to face. My most valuable asset was my anonymity. When Charles became king, it became my biggest millstone. My secret work and the relationship that went with it hadn’t been passed on to the new king. I was an unknown. It took many months to procure an audience with Charles and reestablish my bonafides. Even then, Charles' financial problems left me with bread crumbs compared to his father's support.

Troubles were brewing throughout England. The Puritans were getting out of England as fast as their black-clad legs could get aboard ships. They were pouring into the New World at Plymouth, Boston, and Salem like migrating geese. With Charles' ongoing feud over funds with Parliament, I'd be getting money and an endorsement to investigate the situation in Massachusetts on the same day that cows learned to fly. He simply didn't care about anything in North America. It seemed to exist across some horizon that turned everything beyond it to fog. If I thought extracting gold from Charles to maintain informants in Europe was painfully difficult, obtaining so much as a bent shilling from Charles to investigate the New World was impossible.

Perhaps I'd been mistaken when I thought my profession was generally a secret. Someone certainly knew: someone who did have an interest in North America. I was approached by representatives of the Virginia Company and the Merchants Adventurers. Evidently, the new residents of Massachusetts were being less than forthcoming about how conditions really were, and their competitors to the south were worried. The investors were prepared to pay well to send me to the colony to bring back a full, unbiased report.

In April 1629, I joined the Higginson Fleet aboard the Four Sisters, Capt. Harman commanding. Capt. Harman was of the same persuasion as Capt. Pierce had been four years ago on my earlier voyage of discovery. Money bought silence. It wouldn't have been smart to let the Massachusetts residents know just how closely I'd be observing them. For the right compensation, Capt. Harman simply forgot to enter my name anywhere in the log or passenger list. I didn't dress like a Puritan, but I didn't dress like a nobleman, either. It took us more than two months of contrary weather to reach the colony.

Massachusetts Bay was turning into a settlement hotbed. The Puritans were expanding in every direction. Fifteen more ships had already made the round-trip since my last journey there in 1625. The fur trade was suffering, however, because Miles Standish had gotten too violent with the Indians, as I'd feared. He was a short man, and an Indian had insulted his height and bald head. He'd treacherously killed a pair of Indian leaders after he'd invited them to negotiate a peace pact. Instead of settling any controversy with the natives, the whole colony was on the verge of an Indian war, and the supply of furs was a mere trickle. It didn't take me long to get the information my clients wanted. Divisions within the Puritan communities ensured that there were disgruntled people that would talk freely. I was able to take the Four Sisters back to England as soon as she sailed on her return trip.

Once we were past Cape Cod, Capt. Harman was more than happy to allow the Four Sisters to be "blown off course," in the general direction toward Long Island and the Connecticut River, for a reasonable amount of coin. The Wampanoag tribe, who'd once been Plymouth's friends, had become cold and distant, as the white settlers grabbed more and more land. The Pequod tribe, to the southwest, were still behaving in a friendly fashion. They'd acquired more than enough tribal territory, and they were making friendly noises about trading some of their land along the Connecticut River to the English colonists. Unfortunately, they were also making the same friendly noises toward the new Dutch settlers south of them.

I skimmed a few pages to get to the part where I entered his life.

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