Paper Woman: A Mystery of the American Revolution

BOOK: Paper Woman: A Mystery of the American Revolution
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Paper Woman

A Mystery of the American
Revolution

by

Suzanne
Adair

She expected the redcoats to
solve her father's murder. The redcoats and her father had other plans.

In early June 1780, the village
of Alton, Georgia, is rocked by the triple murder of the town printer and one
of his associates, both outspoken patriots, and a Spanish assassin. Alton's
redcoats are in no hurry to seek justice for the murdered men. The printer and
his buddies have stirred up trouble for the garrison. But the printer's widowed
daughter, Sophie Barton, wants justice for her father. Under suspicion from the
redcoats, Sophie sets out on a harrowing journey to find the truth about her
father—a journey that plunges her into a hornet's nest of terror, treachery,
and international espionage.

Acclaim for Suzanne Adair

Paper Woman

winner of the Patrick D.
Smith Literature Award

"...a swashbuckling good mystery yarn!"

—The Wilmington Star-News

The Blacksmith’s Daughter

"Adair holds the reader enthralled with constant
action, spine-tingling suspense, and superb characterization."

—Midwest Book Review

Camp Follower

nominated for the Daphne du
Maurier Award and

the Sir Walter Raleigh Award

"Adair wrote another superb story."

—Armchair Interviews

Regulated for Murder

"Best of 2011,"
Suspense Magazine

"...Driven by a desire to see justice done, no matter
what guise it must take, [Michael Stoddard] is both sympathetic and
interesting."

—Motherlode

Books by Suzanne Adair

Mysteries of the
American Revolution

Paper Woman

The Blacksmith's
Daughter

Camp
Follower

Michael Stoddard
American Revolution Thrillers

Regulated
for Murder

Paper Woman

A Mystery of the American
Revolution

by

Suzanne
Adair

Copyright © 2006 by Suzanne
Williams

All rights reserved. No part of
this publication may be reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information
storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
The characters, incidents and dialogue herein are fictional and any resemblance
to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

eBook conversion November 2009

Excerpt of
The Blacksmith's
Daughter
© 2007 by Suzanne Williams

Cover design by Pat Ryan

Acknowledgements

I receive help from wonderful
and unique people while conducting research for novels and editing my
manuscripts.
 
Here are a few who
assisted me with Paper Woman:

The 33rd Light Company of Foot,
especially Ernie and Linda Stewart

The Sisters in Crime Internet
Chapter, especially Lonnie Cruse, Marja McGraw, and Jeri Westerson

The folks in the print shop at
Colonial Williamsburg

The Atlanta chapter of ABANA,
especially Tom Davanhall

Dr. Larry Babits

Carl J. Barnett

Marg Baskin

Barclay Blanchard

Karen Breasbois

Dr. Ed Cashin

J. B. Cheaney

Larry Cywin

Bonnie Bajorek Daneker

Peggy Earp

Mike Everette

Jack E. Fryar, Jr.

Tom (Blue Wolf) Goodman

Mark and Sherilyn Herron

John (Winterhawk) Johnson

Nolin and Neil Jones

Geoff Kent

Henry Kinard (a ghost)

Isabel Alcobas Kramer

Judith Levy

Gerry Marcin

John Millar

Patrick O'Kelley

Dr. Betty Owen

John Robertson

Dr. Anthony J. Scotti, Jr.

Dr. Christine Swager

Elaine Terna Weller

Joyce Wiegand

John Mills Williams, Sr.

Mike Williams

Paper Woman

A Mystery of the American
Revolution

by

Suzanne
Adair

Chapter One

IN THE JUNE
twilight, Sophie Barton stopped strolling with her brother to assess the number
of soldiers present by the blaze their scarlet uniforms made along the
perimeter of the crowded, open-air dance ground.
 
One of those redcoats' musket balls could be destined for her
father.
 
More likely, Will St. James
would end his life in the customary manner for rebel spies: his body swaying
from a noose, his face an indigo twist of agony.
 
Either prospect gave her a bellyache the size of a cannonball.

If she kept an
eye on him, maybe she'd limit his antics for one night.
 
She craned her neck in search of him.
 
Burning pine knots in metal baskets on poles
frisked mystery across the faces of soldier and civilian, merchant and farmer,
musician and servant.
 
There was her
sister, Susana, brewing tattle into gossip with the help of several other
goodwives.
 
But Will was nowhere in
sight.

Beside her,
David aped an accent straight from Parliament.
 
"Madam clearly prefers a sedan chair to walking amongst the vulgar
herd."
 
Sophie rolled her
eyes.
 
"Or perhaps Madam prefers a
candlelit ballroom on the Thames?"
 
Mischief reigned in the handsome face of her tall, lanky brother.

"You silly
goose."
 
Who wouldn't prefer London
to Alton, Georgia?
 
Still, she'd never
turn her nose up at one of Zeb's dances, guaranteed to enliven a Saturday
night.
 
She'd even worn her favorite
blue wool jacket for the occasion, the one with enough boning to make her look
buxom.

David scanned
her up and down.
 
"By Jove, you do
clean up nicely."

"The first
such compliment ever you've paid me."

He dropped the
accent.
 
"You don't dress like this
to pull the press.
 
What's the
occasion?"

There
Will was, but damnation, he was talking with stout Zack MacVie, his assistant
chairman for the Committee of Safety.
 
Never mind that Will had formed the Committee to maintain a militia and
promote local trade.
 
Put MacVie and her
father together, and sedition happened.
 
"I'm weary of dressing in ink."
 
Seizing David's hand, she towed him after her.

Near straw
sheaves along the perimeter, they caught up with Will.
 
MacVie saw them coming and slipped away into
the crowd, a scowl on his swarthy face.
 
Ignoring sweat that escaped her mobcap into a wisp of dark hair on her
neck, Sophie prodded trim on her father's green silk waistcoat.
 
"Remind me on the morrow.
 
I shall mend that."

"Thank
you."
 
His voice was taut.
 
Supervising one of his "special
editions" at the printing press all Friday night with his rebel friends
had transformed him into a grizzled and winter-worn wolf — gaunt, yet potent
for his small stature, and gray-eyed like his son and two daughters.

The fresh
lampblack and varnish on his hands might as well be blood.
 
She resisted glancing at her own hands,
likewise stained from setting type on composing sticks and fitting lines and
woodcuts into galleys.

Across the
dance ground teeming with townsfolk, committee treasurer Jonah Hale signaled
Will.
 
Annoyed and alarmed, she turned
and grasped his shoulder.
 
"You
know, I'd
so
enjoy the first dance with my father."
 
Warmth replaced the hunted look in his eyes,
and hope leaped to her heart.
 
Not long
ago they'd listened to each other, supported each other's ideas.
 
Alas, they hadn't discussed much of anything
in recent months.
 
They had to live
under the same roof.
 
The war.
 
The damned, wretched war.
 
"Please," she whispered.
 
"Lie low tonight."

Stubbornness
sealed his expression and drove out the warmth.
 
He passed a critical eye over her attire.
 
"Where's your beau?"

Her blank look
transcended to vexation.
 
How exasperating
that both her father and sister read courtship into chess games and business
discussions.
 
"Major Edward Hunt
isn't
my beau."

With a grunt,
he shrugged off her hold and strutted for the company of Jonah, skeletal
fingers of bitter black smoke from a nearby torch grabbing for and just missing
him.
 
David occupied the void beside
her, but it didn't dull the despair filling her soul.
 
"Father despises me."

"Nonsense.
 
The old man doesn't hear me, either.
 
Take my advice.
 
Don't cluck over him tonight."

"But
—"

"Enjoy
yourself.
 
He's going to do what he
damned well pleases."
 
David's
voice dropped in disgust, and shadows darker than his hair roamed his
expression.
 
"What fools in the
Congress and Parliament."

"Yes, how
unfortunate they won't listen to each other."

"Four
years after fifty-six congressional peacocks strutted around their imagined
independence, it's become a cause of holy proportion for both sides."
 
A roguish grin dispelled the gloom on his
face.
 
"But I know I can dance a
tune with the prettiest lady in Alton, even if she's my big sister."

What a sight
they'd make, too, with David dressed the dandy in lace and fine linen, and she
in her mother's garnets.

"Hah!
 
Quit wrestling that smile off your
face.
 
Makes you look like you've eaten
pickled turnips."
 
David glanced to
the right.
 
"Guess who's back in
town."

The glee on his
face was a clue.
 
"Uncle
Jacques?"
 
Many of the townsfolk
called the old Frenchman "Uncle."
 
She darted a look around, her heart lightening.
 
"Here at the dance tonight?"

David aimed her
for the sidelines.
 
"With Mathias
and Mrs. Flannery."
 
At the sight
of the wiry gnome standing near a sheaf of straw, Sophie tidied her apron,
petticoat, and jacket, self-conscious that she'd flushed.
 
David chuckled.
 
"Do hurry.
 
You just
might claim him for a dance."

Jacques le
Coeuvre packed the Red Rock Tavern to capacity whenever he turned up, for the
community was eager to hear the latest installment of his wild and often
preternatural excursions.
 
Starting with
the Indian massacre of redcoats at Fort William Henry back in '57, he'd landed
himself in the middle of more adventures than any man ought to.
 
In July of '77, he'd finagled his way in to
witness the nineteen-year-old Marquis de Lafayette volunteering his services to
a skeptical and chilly Congress in Philadelphia.
 
Six months later, he'd enthralled listeners with tales of
bloodying his tomahawk at Saratoga.

Sophie kept her
skepticism about scrappy Jacques's "spying" to herself.
 
People who'd lived as long as he had
deserved to embellish their youthful years.
 
Just before she reached Jacques and his half-Creek nephew, elderly Widow
Flannery took her leave of them.
 
A grin
split the Frenchman's weather-beaten face.
 
"Sophie,
belle
Sophie!"

After
exchanging an embrace with Jacques, who smelled of brandy, garlic, and dusty
hunting shirt, she winked at Mathias Hale, a blacksmith like his two
half-brothers.
 
He looked quite polished
that night in a fine brown wool jacket, waistcoat, and breeches.
 
"Your uncle hasn't changed a bit."

"He boasts
of a new scar."
 
Warmth softened
the obsidian of Mathias's eyes.
 
"Jonah brought me his horse earlier and said he was too busy to
replace a shoe, so I shan't have your hoe and pot repaired until Monday."

But he'd walk
all the way across town to give her back the hoe and pot.
 
Sophie returned the warmth of his serene
smile.

"So David
is just back from Wilmington today.
 
How
was his trip?"

Wry amusement
brushed her lips.
 
"The master of
piquet and one and thirty has new tales of glory for you."

"I shall
look him up tonight."
 
Perhaps
Mathias had spotted David charming a smile from a shapely, young widow, because
his tone became droll.
 
"Or
tomorrow.
 
Sophie, may I have a dance
with you later?"
 
She smiled and
nodded assent.
 
"Thank you."
 
He grinned and bowed, then sauntered off.

BOOK: Paper Woman: A Mystery of the American Revolution
8.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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