Upon her arrival, she unknowingly becomes entangled in the unsolved murder mystery of a young local girl, who she resembles, and her Redcoat boyfriend. She then learns of the desperate search for a hidden treasure and a priceless diamond stolen from the monarchs of Europe while in the employ of a wealthy and prominent woman with dark family secrets.
As Charity struggles to find her place in American society, she is lured into a web of deception, deceit, and treachery woven by unscrupulous characters with shocking secrets and desires. What horrific and inevitable events await poor Charity? Who will come to her rescue? How will these encounters, along with a favorite and mysterious doll in her possession, affect Charity's life and the lives of the people around her whom she has named patriots and scoundrels?
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Patriots and Scoundrels: Charity's First Adventure
By Paul C. Colella
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Paul C. Colella
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMy name is Charity Chastine. I was born in the year 1773, a time when rebellion and revolution were brewing between England and her colonies. My mother fell in love with a young man from one of England's prominent families. After a brief affair, he left my mother and traveled to the colonies to make his fortune and to wed the daughter of a wealthy Tory. My mother was penniless and with child, so she took refuge at a workhouse on the east side of London, where nine months later I was born.
In 1775, after living at the workhouse for nearly two years and being subjected to miserable conditions, we departed. We would have been left to the elements of the streets if it were not for the kindness and generosity of a woman named Patience Wright, a sculptor, who owned a studio in London. Patience was a supporter of the American Revolution. She would pass on British military secrets to Patriot agents through toy dolls that she fashioned out of putty and wax.
I grew up in the studio; we had our own quarters upstairs. My mother and Patience taught me how to read and write and sew. When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, America became its own country, free from the reign of England and its monarch, King George III.
Six years later I celebrated my sixteenth birthday, and two weeks later my mother was stricken with fever. After a courageous fight to live, she died. I decided to leave London and emigrate to America to start a new life. Patience understood my decision to leave, and she gave me some money and a finely dressed colonial doll. She told me to never misplace the doll because one day it would save my life.
After a long and difficult sea voyage, I arrived at a port in New Haven, Connecticut. Since I did not desire to stay in a city but longed for the surroundings of a small rural town, I embarked on a short journey by coach to North Haven. This small agricultural community that became incorporated as a town in 1786 by order of the General Assembly of New Haven was populated with people, some gracious and kind, some not so gracious and kind, with sorrows and joys, stories and secrets. I came to know these strangers and would eventually call them patriots and scoundrels. And now my story begins.
The coach ride from New Haven to North Haven was bumpy and tiresome. The roads were lined with dirt and sand that created mounds of dust when the horses galloped by. Inside the coach was an elderly couple, sleeping in an upright position. Across from me was a distinguished gentleman who engaged in polite conversation. He introduced himself as Reverend Benjamin Trumbull, a minister of the First Ecclesiastical Society. He was returning home to North Haven after attending a meeting for ministers in New Haven. I introduced myself and explained that I was a stranger looking for a place to stay in North Haven. He graciously recommended the Andrews' Tavern whose proprietor, Mary Andrews, was a charming hostess.
He also spoke of a woman by the name of Grace Collins, who worked as a hostess and server at the tavern. Her husband Samuel was killed in 1758 during the French and Indian War at Lake George. Killed with him was his good friend Moses Brockett Jr., a local resident. When I asked Reverend Trumbull about the governing of North Haven, he explained that the town was finally incorporated as its own community free from the rule of New Haven. Most of its residents were farmers, mill workers, shopkeepers, tavern owners, and a small group who made up the privileged class.
"The tavern was originally owned by Timothy Andrews, but he died a few months back and now his widow Mary is in charge of the establishment," said Reverend Trumbull. "Travelers and tradesmen will always remain at Andrews' Tavern or stay at the home of the town physician, Dr. Joseph Foote."
Arriving in the center of town, I saw a meetinghouse, a Church of England, a few houses, and several barns that seemed to be in a shattered state. The roads were wide and sandy with no large public buildings or elegant shops, unlike what I saw in London. When the coach made its stop at the tavern, I gathered my entrapments, thanked Reverend Trumbull for his kindness, and stood outside while the coach continued on its journey. I looked around. In my opinion, the town had nothing inviting to offer in its appearance.
"Hello there. Won't you come in and stay for a spell?" called a voice.
I looked up to see a short stocky woman wearing a white mop cap and apron standing in a doorway, holding a lantern in her hand. She'd invited me to come in, so I accepted her invitation. The inside of the tavern was spacious, with several tables and chairs, and a large stone fireplace slightly off the center of the room. The windows were small with no curtains. I placed my belongings on the dusty wooden planks of the floor and sat at a table.
The woman introduced herself as Grace Collins. Like the Reverend Trumbull had told me, Grace was a hostess and server at the tavern, helping out Mary Andrews. Grace brought me a large, steamy bowl of stew that I enjoyed very much.
While I was eating, she and I engaged in pleasant conversation. I explained my situation to her while she listened, and then she made a few recommendations. She suggested that I should take up lodging in one of the rooms upstairs, and she offered me a job as a server at the tavern.
"I could really use the extra hands. Things get quite busy around here when travelers and tradesmen traveling from Boston or New Haven make their way through," said Grace. "I'm certain that Mrs. Andrews would not mind having a nice young lady like you at her fine establishment."
I had no place to go and no other offers, and Grace seemed genuinely kind. I decided to stay. While Grace went to speak to Mrs. Andrews, I sat in front of the stone fireplace in a large, wooden chair to warm myself. A few moments later, the door to the tavern swung open and in walked two men dressed in farm clothing. They both said hello to me while taking off their tricorn hats. The older man went and sat down at a table near the window while the younger one stood next to me by the fire, warming his hands. At first, there was silence between us, then the young man made the first attempt to speak.
"My name is David Cobb, and that over yonder is Theodore Norton. We have just finished a hard day's work at the gristmill by Muddy River. Mr. Pierpont works us to the bone. And who might you be?"
"My name is Charity Chastine. I have just arrived in town. I was offered lodging and a job here at the tavern by Grace Collins."
David was very gracious despite his unkempt appearance. He explained that Grace was a widow whose her husband died during the French and Indian War. I thought it was a bit improper of him to engage in conversation with me, a person whom he did not know. Since there was no place for me to go, and I did not want to be rude by leaving abruptly, I stayed and listened.
David continued to ramble on about some of the other residents, to which I paid little mind, but then one story caught my attention. He told me the story of Elizabeth Higgins, a local girl, who fell in love with a Redcoat during the Revolutionary War. They were going to run away together to Canada, but they never made it. One night they met on the bridge over Muddy River, and the next day their bodies were found by workers at one of the gristmills on the banks of the river. Both had met a violent death, and just a few years before, three men who were searching for a hidden treasure in the nearby countryside mysteriously disappeared. As David was about to continue, Grace interrupted.
"Are you telling tales out of your hat? Pay no mind to him," said Grace, with her hands on her hips. "Everything is all set. Come, my dear, let me show you to your room."
I said good night to David and followed Grace upstairs. After showing me my new dwelling place, she left me to settle in. The room was cozy, with a bed, a chest for my clothes, a washbasin on a table, and a chair in the corner. It reminded me of the room that I shared with my mother above Patience's studio in London.
I opened my trunk and began to go through my belongings. I held the doll Patience gave me. After hearing David's stories of the disappearance of those unfortunate treasure seekers and the deaths of the local girl and her lover, I became frightened. A terrible chill engulfed my body. At that moment, I longed for my mother and for Patience to be with me. I felt alone in a strange place surrounded by mystery, uncertainty, and a few kind faces that were still strangers to me.
Feeling exhausted from my long journey and the lateness of the hour, I got undressed and went to bed. Before falling asleep, I tossed about for some time. I must have dozed off because suddenly, I was awakened by the wind blowing outside my window. I rose from my bed, and looked out the window. There was a full moon in the sky, and by its light, I thought I saw a man and a woman walking into the woods. As I looked intently, the figures moved about in a confused manner. I thought to myself perhaps they are in need of assistance, so I wrapped a shawl around me and hurried outside. As I approached the start of the woods, the man and woman disappeared. I called out to them, but no one answered. Suddenly, I heard footsteps and the snapping of branches from behind. As I tried to make my way back, I felt someone or something was watching me. Then a body pressed up against me, a cold and clammy hand covered my mouth, and I fell into a state of terror.
Chapter TwoI struggled to set myself free from whoever had me. The cold and clammy hand withdrew from my mouth, and a voice softly whispered, identifying himself as David Cobb.
"I'm sorry to have frightened you," said David. "What are you doing out here alone and vulnerable to the elements of the night?"
I thought quickly and told him that I needed a breath of fresh air. I did not tell him the truth for fear that he would think that I was mad. He escorted me back inside. While walking back to the tavern, I glanced over my shoulder at the entrance to the woods and saw nothing, but at the same time, I had the strangest notion that whatever I had seen was not my imagination.
Once inside, I thanked David, and he went on his way. After shutting and bolting the tavern's large wooden door, I made my way upstairs. In my room, I held the doll that Patience had given me and burrowed under the quilt on my bed. By holding the doll, I felt as secure as if Patience were with me, and soon fell asleep.
The next day I met Mrs. Andrews, and she made me feel right at home. She reminded me of Patience, a strong and wise woman with a kind heart.
"I am glad that you are here, my dear Charity. Since my husband's passing, I have taken ownership of the tavern, and I hope one day that my son Jesse will take over," replied Mrs. Andrews. "We are a small town with many kind people. Mrs. Collins and I will make it our duty to introduce you to them all."
I told her that I was grateful for her kindness and explained that I came to her place upon the recommendation of Reverend Benjamin Trumbull, whom I had met on the coach ride. Mrs. Andrews spoke highly of Reverend Trumbull and told me that he came to North Haven in 1760. He was a schoolmaster, and now minister of the First Ecclesiastical Society, a very scholarly man with a magnificent collection of books in his library. He had joined the American forces during the Revolutionary War as a regimental chaplain, writing in his journal an account of the war by the loss of life he had witnessed.
"Reverend Benjamin Trumbull is a good man to have on your side," said Mrs. Andrews.
In the afternoon, Grace and I were tidying up the dining hall when a young woman dressed in a lovely blue gown with a lace cap entered. Grace introduced her as Constance Singleton, the daughter of William Singleton, a former ambassador to France and a member of the upper class residing in North Haven. She had recently returned from a three-month holiday in New York City. While in the city, she witnessed the swearing in of George Washington as the country's first president. She described the entire event to Grace and me, telling us that Washington rode on a white horse, as cheering crowds greeted him along the route. Townspeople built triumphal arches, women in flowing white gowns spread flowers in his path, while local people rode their horses behind him. When he took the oath of office on the balcony of New York City's Federal Hall, the crowd roared, cannons boomed, and church bells clanged.
"It was a glorious event to witness," exclaimed Constance. "With Washington as our president, the days of the Revolutionary War and England's rule are behind us."
Constance and I seemed to make a connection. She was a young woman of good breeding and elegance, but also very polite and pleasant in her mannerisms. Constance told us that while in New York City she and her father heard talk about possible rebellion and revolution occurring in Paris. She explained that the peasants had grown very angry with King Louis XVI and his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, blaming them for the poverty and suffering of the French people. She went on to say that the aristocrats were targets of angry mobs, and Paris was no longer safe for them.
"My father is afraid for his good friend, the Marquis de Lafayette, and his family. My father is hoping that he and his family will leave Paris before something terrible happens," said Constance in a troubled voice.
Constance stayed for quite some time and then left. After her departure, Grace and I began to get ready for the supper crowd. Dr. Joseph Foote, who I remembered Reverend Trumbull mentioning, entered the tavern. He was a well-dressed gentleman with a kind smile. Grace explained that the good doctor made it a habit to dine at the tavern as often as he could because he enjoyed their delicious meal of veal cutlet and broiled chicken with green peas. Grace believed that the best way to keep a man satisfied was to satisfy his stomach.
"Let our men eat, drink, and be merry, and stay out from under the heels of us women," joked Grace with a smile.
The dining hall began to fill up quickly with dinner guests. David Cobb and his coworkers from the gristmill arrived to partake in a drink or two of ale. Lighted candles were on all the tables and the lit fireplace gave off a warm glow that felt good on a chilly night. The room was filled with conversation and smiling faces. For the first time since my arrival, I felt at peace.
Unbeknownst to all at Andrews' Tavern, several thousand miles away, across the Atlantic Ocean, in the world-renowned city of Paris, peace was fading rapidly. A sinister uprising was forming that threatened the welfare of countless individuals, mostly of the aristocracy. The horses galloped down the cobbled streets pulling the coach with the Marquis de Lafayette, his wife Madame de Lafayette, and his daughter Jacqueline inside. The Marquis and his family were fleeing Paris under the cover of darkness in an attempt to escape an impending and deadly disaster. He was exceedingly troubled, and his plan was to leave Paris and come to the United States to seek the assistance and generosity of his good friend, William Singleton.
The Marquis was instrumental in aiding William Singleton, George Washington, and the patriots during the Revolutionary War. William Singleton was so grateful for the Marquis' assistance that he promised him that one day he would return the favor. Now the Marquis was hoping to collect on that promise, because the lives of he and his family depended upon it. Their journey took them to a harbor where they boarded a ship bound for the United States.
Back at Andrews' Tavern, everyone was drinking and eating while Grace and I were busy as bees attending to our patrons. Suddenly, a tall, lanky man wearing a hat entered. His hat and his clothes were tattered and he looked a fright. At first, he stood still like a statue while his eyes moved about the room. Then he took off his hat and placed it on a nearby table before making his way toward me. He stretched out his arms and spoke.
"Lizzie! My beloved Lizzie, where have you been? Why haven't you come home? I've been so worried about you," he said.
Excerpted from Patriots and Scoundrels: Charity's First Adventure by Paul C. Colella Copyright © 2010 by Paul C. Colella. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It's an interesting and well told story that captures the readers imagination through mystery, supsense, cliffhangers at the end of every chapter and creative characters. The author intertwines the major character Charity in the middle of a grown-up world filled with power plays and melodrama. It's an easy and enjoyable read. I look forward to future books written by this author.