Author: Luisa Weasley20 PM
It's the American Revolution and everything is changing for Mary. Things are only throw into even more of a turmoil when an unexpected visitor is found in her home.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Chapters: 4 - Words: 8,931 - Published: 07-12-06 - id: 2209732
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It was a chilly October day, the wind was blowing hard, making the fallen leaves fly and though the sun was out, it offered little warmth. I was sitting at the window of our home, mending clothes while my mother oversaw our cook in the kitchen. My father was at the store that he ran in town along with my brother while my sister was away visiting with one of her suitors and his mother.
My family and I are living in the colonies, or to be more specific, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is the year 1776 and we are in the middle of a war with our mother country, England. My family and I remain loyal to our king and country, and for that we are members of the Loyalist party, or as others call them, the Tories. Those fighting against the crown are the Patriots, though among our ranks they are called Rebels. The Rebels seem to believe that King George is unjust and that we in the colonies deserve to be free. Many believe that this war will be over with soon, though I am not so sure, for I have seen soldiers from both sides marching through the city and neither appear as though they would willingly admit defeat.
As I was mending, I began to think that I was hearing things, strange noises like scraps and bangs coming from our root cellar. I was only just about to go see what was making all the noise when Mother called, "Mary! Mary, come here."
Sighing, I set down a pair of my brother Tomas's breeches and followed the sound of Mother's voice to the kitchen. My mother was what most would call lovely and respectful, with golden hair and excellent manners, both of which I was still without at fourteen. Mother was standing at the counter while she watched our young cook, Nancy, roll out the pie dough for tonight's dessert. My mother said, "Mary, would you please fetch some cinnamon from the cellar? I cannot find Michael." Michael was my father's slave and mostly did what Nancy couldn't or what she needed help with.
I nodded and, as much as I hated to do it, I tore myself away from the smell of the roasting chicken and baking apples to walk down the creaking stairs into our dry cellar. Although dark and dusty, the cellar was not too horrible, and I often went there when I needed to get away from my sister, Prissy. Prissy was older than me by two years, and seemed to think that she knew much more than I could ever comprehend. She was also quite vain. After being down here so many times, I knew the cellar well and did not need a candle to find most things. Just as I was walking to the back shelves though, I ran into a large box of extra dress material, which I found odd since I could have sworn that the box had last been next to the back wall. For a moment I thought back to the noises before and wondered if maybe the noises had been that of the moving box. I brushed off these thoughts quickly though; no rat or such that might be hiding down here could have been strong enough to move that entire box of material and Michael had not been done hear all day. I carefully navigated my way around the box and toward the shelves lined with dried spices. When I laid my hand on the shelf though, I discovered that it was covered in something sticky that smelled like peach preserves.
"That's odd," I muttered, but shook my head, one of the jars had probably just broken. No need to worry about it now, I could just return later and clean the mess. I picked up another jar, smelled the contents just to make sure, and then made my way back up to the kitchen. Once again, I ran into that box of material, although this time it seemed to be in a different location, as though it had moved while I wasn't paying attention. That was absurd though, like I realized before, nothing that could be down here would be big enough to move it.
Back at the top, I just handed Mother the jar when suddenly Priscilla, or Prissy as she was called, burst in, looking happier than her usual smug appearance. Upon seeing her first daughter, Mother asked, "Priscilla, whatever is the matter?"
My sister grinned. "Nothing is the matter. Everything is just perfect."
I couldn't help but inquire, "What is it that has you so cheery, Priss?"
For once my sister didn't even glare at me for the use of her unfortunate, yet true, name. She only replied, "Mr. Nickels has finally done it."
That was a bit…vague, and even Mother thought so, for she had to ask, "He's finally done what, Prissy? He has not died, has he?"
That was not likely, for Mr. Joseph Nickels was only three and twenty and very healthy though it seemed that he spent most of his time in an office. Prissy answered, "Of course not, Mother. He's finally done it, we're betrothed."
Mother didn't say anything and Prissy took it as her cue to continue. "Yes, he asked me as I visited him and his mother today, I, of course, said that I had no objections to the match. Do not worry, he told me that he had asked Father first, Father was just being secretive and didn't say anything."
Finally, Mother seemed to find her voice. "Mr. Nickels? That is wonderful, Prissy. Just do not forget your lessons before the wedding. My daughter is going to be Mrs. Priscilla Nickels."
I expected what came next, Prissy stated, "Yes, Mr. Nickels is a very respected and wealthy man. I am very lucky to be marrying him."
I noticed that while she said this, she glared at me, as if she expected me to mention the name of some man I had been secretly courting for months. I did no such thing, instead, I replied, "I will miss you when you are gone, Priss. You must come and visit often."
"Tell me, Mary, when do you plan to fine your own husband?" Mother questioned.
I only answered, "I am only fourteen, Mother. I have time yet to find a suitable husband. Besides, many sons from good families have gone to fight in the war."
"Don't forget those families that left entirely, they say that about one thousand left on March seventeenth with the British hoard," Prissy commented.
"I do suppose you do have something there. What did happen to that Mr. Rovman though, Mary?" my mother asked.
My mother was of course talking about Nathaniel Rovman, who had once been one of my closer friends; Mother had been waiting for Nathaniel to come up the walk one day, asking for her and Father's permission to court me. That day never happened, and it seemed as though it might never happen either, since it had been a year since Nathaniel had left for the war and I had yet to hear from him. I simply said, "I do not know, Mother. I can only hope that he is well."
The rest of the day passed quite normally, I continued to mend while my sister and mother persisted in drop subtle hints about finding myself a husband. When Father and Tomas came home, Prissy rushed out to greet them and share the wonderful news. This instantly made my brother call out that I better find a good boy quick before I was too old and grey. No one dared to call Tomas Hopefort tactful. This gained him a reprimand from Mother though, and I could tell that he did not truly mean it. Then that night, as I lay in bed, I thought about Nathaniel. He hadn't crossed my mind in such a long time, and I couldn't help but wonder if the reason he didn't write was because he couldn't. Maybe he was dead and couldn't do anything anymore.
The next morning, I was helping Nancy cut and quarter vegetables for lunch's stew when I started to hear those noises coming from the cellar once again and was determined to figure out what it was before someone else noticed it and blocked off the entire cellar.
I gave Nancy my sweetest smile and said, "Nan, I believe I forgot something in the cellar and I want to fetch it. Please forgive me."
Nancy nodded as she replied, "All right, Miss Hopefort, but don't forget a candle. We don't need you being injured."
I took an extra candle of the fireplace mantle and carefully placed it near the flame, lighting the candle without catching my skirt on fire as I had done before. I walked down the stairs again, this time with the candle giving the way an eerie glow. At the bottom I took notice of my surrounding, seeing that some things had indeed been moved and that there were now empty jars of what used to be preserves scattered about.
I started toward one of the corners where it looked as though a bed had been made from out summer clothing, I could faintly hear the sound of shuffling as I approached. Finally, I leaned over one of the boxes to see a man sitting there, with his gun pointed right at my heart. I did the only thing I could think of, I screamed. My scream was muffled slightly though when the man jumped up and wrapped his hand around my mouth.
A hoarse voice whispered in my ear, "Shut it, girl, or else you're really going to have something to scream about."