Rourke’s Rules Rule Number One: ne’er let them see you cry. If they do, they’ ll only hit you that much harder, pound your body and will into bloody pulp. Rule Number Two: watch, listen, and wait. Sooner or later your luck is bound to change, so mind you keep a sharp eye out and a canny ear cocked. Rule Number Three: when your chance comes, take it. Cut loose and run as if hell’s own hounds chased you. And dinna ever look back. Never look back. From the front of the courtroom, the judge called out, “Bailiff , read the final case if you please.” Heads swung to the back of the room. Th e defendant, thirteen-year-old Patrick O’Rourke— Rourke—swallowed against the twist of fear knotting nooselike about his throat. Unlike the poor blubbering bugger called up for sentencing before him, who’d pissed a steady stream to the prisoner’s stand and then promptly puked, he swore to hold onto his tears, his bladder, his breakfast—and above all, his dignity. Never let them see you cry. The bailiff nodded. “The defendant is one Patrick 4 O’Rourke, late of St. Giles parish but no known address. The accused is a minor child aged thirteen years or thereabouts, and orphaned. Two prior arrests, the fi rst for vagrancy and the second for petty thievery; for the latter, he was sentenced and did receive fi fty lashes.” Rourke gritted his teeth as he had six months before when they’d tied his hands to the whipping post and laid into his back. The humiliation and pain were branded on his brain, but lest he forget, the cross-hatching of white scars scourging his shoulders was there to remind him. The whipping had been good preparation for last night. Seemingly satisfi ed, the judge nodded. “Let the prisoner come forward.” Having been brought up two times before, Rourke recognized his cue. He stumbled out into the aisle between benches, the robin’s egg-sized lump beating a tattoo on his forehead, the scabbed blood forming a cowl over the left side of his face, the shouted questions ricocheting like cannon shot inside his brain. “What made you set out to off the prime minister?” I didn’t know he was the PM, and I didna set out to off anybody. “Are you in league with the Fenians?” I’m not a Fenian. I’m not even Irish. I’m Scots! If I’m in league with anybody, it’s Johnnie Black, but his game’s running street scams, no politics. “Did Disraeli’s supporters put you up to this?” Who the devil is Disraeli?