Doug MacBrayne is like any other boy born to great wealth, except he has the uncanny ability to remember pieces of past lives. But before he can decipher the puzzle of these memories, he must first overcome the Dickensonian plot by an unscrupulous psychiatrist who seeks to gain control of the family’s fortune. But Doug has important albeit eccentric allies including his indomitable Scottish nanny, a globe-trotting grandfather, a ghost who inhabits the family chapel, an English teacher who just might be the most recent incarnation of John Milton, a pair of mysterious Gypsies, and a militant corps of young women known only as The Moles
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Phineas fled, the ratty tail of his coat flapping behind him. As he entered the market-square, he noticed the orange-and-green-striped tilts, fluttering from some of the stalls. He smelled the food on display. Hungry, he was well aware that strangers gawked at his convulsive, spastic progress across the rough cobblestones, so he slipped into a dark alley. Blinded for a moment, he slowed, then tripped over a small furry ball suddenly yelping in mortal pain.
Reaching over from where he'd fallen, Phineas tried to gather the tiny black-and-tan mongrel pup to him. The creature spun in circles, dragging its hind foot. His own leg aching from the spill, Phineas finally stretched out enough to grab the mutt, lifted it to his breast.
"There, there," he murmured. The pup shivered, more frightened than hurt, but didn't squirm to escape. Phineas smiled. "You like the warm, don't you?"
The pup worked its way into the opening in his jacket, was soon at Phineas' neck, nursing on the dry skin. Phineas chuckled, leaned against the wall, sighed for what felt like the first time in weeks. He stroked the puppy, tears welling in his eyes. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a thin scrap of cloth. Two coins rattled to the cobblestones. He quickly retrieved them, wiped his eyes, then folded the coins back into his kerchief.
"Ah, pup. If I could take care of myself better, I might be able to take care of you, as well."
The creature was now working its way up into Phineas' long blond hair. One of its paws caught in several strands near the back, yanking painfully on the livid, red birthmark, spread like an inkspill on the back of his head. Carefully, Phineas pulled the dog down to his chest.
In the dark, to his left, he heard the low growl of another dog, probably the mother. Creakily, he rose, carried the pup over to an emaciated bitch lying amidst the rubble. She looked up slowly. Phineas noticed the thin froth at her jaw. Suddenly her growl deepened.
"It's okay, mum. Your pup is here, now."
But her attention was behind him. Phineas turned to see a huge, glowering man with a dark, curly beard split at the chin. Dressed in rags, he held his hands behind him.
"Her pup wandered off," Phineas said, meekly, "I was bringing it back."
The man nodded. Phineas straightened painfully, started to hobble past. There was a brief flurry, the man's arms moved quickly. A brilliant explosion went off in Phineas' head. Sparks burst, cascading behind his eyes — fleeting streaks of starry light: meteor trails which smeared, then faded to total blackness.