To Shelter a Rogue

Chapter One - Prologue


Imajane Witherkettle peered out her Venetian blinds at the rest of the neighborhood. The row of identical stone-faced houses was silent and ordinary, as usual. It was a cold, dreary day in Boston, and the water of the harbor visible from her window stirred restlessly. A heavy fog was beginning to descend on the neighborhood. She could see a fight going on between workers and dignified men wearing ruby red coats. Imajane sniffed lightly; she could smell a revolt coming on. England had toyed with these colonies long enough. Being a devoted Patriot like she was, Imajane quite supported a Revolution. She continued dusting as she had been, but stopped to look out the blinds once again.

Mrs. Witherkettle clucked her tongue with disapproval as her eyes came to rest on a particular house. Number 34. The flag of England waved boldly in the wind from a flagpole in front of it. The house seemed tired and in disrepair, from the rusty gate swinging freely to the cracking foundation. The door was shut tightly, and all the windows were shuttered. Once it had been a grand house, standing out from the others nestled against it. Once it had had windows letting in light and fresh air, with laughing voices filling its cavernous rooms. That had all ended more than ten years ago. Now house had a dark, foreboding look to it that took away all of the city charm it had held in the past. It was the home of a Miss Mae Canterbury. Mae had lived there from the very day she was born, her and her damnable Tory family. Imajane sneered with disgust. She had no right to be living in a Patriot neighborhood such as this! Lady Mae, as the neighborhood gossips collectively called her, thought herself too high and mighty to come out very much. The snooty, king-loving Tory was probably afraid of the Patriots roaming the streets. So she retreated into her house, like some sort of hermit.

Mrs. Witherkettle was an elderly woman whose husband had died in a skirmish for the Crown. She had been an active Patriot ever since. Imajane was considered the neighborhood leader, and one of the most reputable gossips in Boston. She knew the what, where, when, how, and why of everything that occurred in Massachusetts. And she was determined to reveal the true story of Mae Canterbury.

Stories had been circulating for years about Lady Mae. Some said she had hideous scars covering her face from an accident, and would not come out without a hooded cloak. Others claimed that she was too scared that she would be killed by a Patriot mob to go out on the streets. But there was one thing everyone knew; Mae Canterbury had lived alone for more than ten years. Her parents had disappeared many years ago; no one seemed to know the details of that event. Most speculated that they had died suddenly, or perhaps even were murdered. Imajane Witherkettle was not nearly naïve enough to believe that. She knew that they had been forced to run away, and had left Mae in the house. For almost two years no one even knew that the young woman still resided there.

Imajane knew everything about everyone, and was sick and tired of people asking her the real story of the Canterburys. Sick and tired of having to tell people that she didn't know. She wanted to know the young woman's real story, and she would stop at nothing to get it.