||This is the first book of the "Herries Chronicle." In 1730, Francis Herries brought his family to live in "Herries" a long-deserted family house in Cumberland, England. He also brought along the most recent of his many mistresses, Alice Press, under pretence of being the children?s governess. Francis, the "rogue" of the title is a violent and impetuous man, a faithless husband and a capricious father.
||A little boy, David Scott Herries, lay in a huge canopied bed, half awake and half asleep.
He must be half awake because he knew where he was--he was in the bedroom of the inn with his sisters, Mary and Deborah; they were in the bed with him, half clothed like himself, fast sleeping. Mary's plump naked arm lay against his cheek, and Deborah's body was curled into the hollow of his back and her legs were all confused with his own. He liked that because he loved, nay, worshipped, his sister Deborah.
He knew also that he was awake because, lying looking up, he could see the canopy that ran round the top of the bed. It was a dull faded green with a gold thread in it. He could see the room too, very large, with rough mottled white walls and a big open stone fireplace; there was a roaring, leaping fire--the only light in the room--and he could see very clearly the big, shining brass fire- dogs with grinning mouths like dragons and stout curly tails.
He knew, too, that he was awake, because he could see Alice Press sitting there, her clothes gathered up to her knees, warming her legs. He did not like Alice Press, but she always fascinated him, and he wondered now of what she was thinking, so motionless, her head with its red hair pushed forward, her naked neck above her silver brocade.
He knew that he was awake, because he could hear the sounds of the inn, voices calling, doors banging in the wind, steps on the stair, and even the snap-snap of horses' hoofs on the cobbles of the yard. He could hear the wind too, rushing up to the windows and shaking the panes and tearing away again, and then he shivered, pleasantly, luxuriously, because it was so warm and safe where he was and so cold and dangerous outside.
Then he shivered again because he remembered that he, with the others, must soon plunge out again into that same wind and mud and danger.
He would like to stay thus, in this warm bed, for ever and ever.