Authors: Jerri Hines
The Cry For Freedom
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The Cry For Freedom
Book One, Winds of Betrayal Series
Copyright @ 2013 by
Cover Art by Erin Dameron-Hill
Previously published as Patriot Secrets
by Wild Child Publishing
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or distributed without permission. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.
This is a historical work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
For allowing me to follow my dream.
At this moment Hannah Corbett wished nothing more than to be invisible. It wouldn’t happen, of course. Hannah’s nature would never allow such a thing. Despite the allure of the crowded ballroom, the sole of her attention centered on the closed door in front of her, tightly shut from her prying eyes. Oh, the injustice of not being born male!
Never would she give up the hope that one day her father would take her into his confidence and divulge his innermost reflections of the turmoil that surrounded the colonies. Impossible thoughts. Who was she to think a woman could reason and feel fervently as a male for the cause before them! How dare she feel that she too could be courageous enough to take a stand for what she believed in—to dream that she could revolutionize the world.
The winds of change brewed over the colonies, none stronger than in Williamsburg. Tension against the crown mounted daily. Spurred by leaders such as Patrick Henry, Virginians prepared to protect their rights. Hannah’s father, John Corbett, whom she deeply loved, stood firmly behind the fervid belief of liberty for all, instilling the passionate emotion in all three of his surviving children. Unfortunately for Hannah, unlike her brothers, she wasn’t allowed access to the endless meetings at Raleigh Tavern, or to retire with the men to the study during a stifling dance.
Of course, Hannah wouldn’t find the dance stifling if Gabriel was present. Her heart raced
with the thought of Gabriel Witherspoon, who’d only just returned from his extended European tour. She’d forgotten for the moment how perturbed she was with him for deserting her so soon after coming back from Europe. The nerve! He had left her to visit his best friend, her own brother, Jonathan, in Philadelphia.
She sighed heavily. It was going to be a long night. She bit her bottom lip and mulled over her thoughts. She stared at the door completely unaware of all around her
, lost deep in one of her imaginings. Startled momentarily by a tap on her shoulder, she turned abruptly. “Oh, it’s you, William.”
“I thought you might want to dance instead of gazing at a closed door all night.” He smiled wryly. Her eyes softened in his attempt to exercise his brotherly duty toward her. She accepted his hand and let him lead her to the dance floor.
Not exceedingly tall, he stood only a couple of inches more than Hannah. The eldest of her brothers, he looked like their father and most times shared his serious disposition. Behind him, she glimpsed her sister-in-law, Lydia, watching mindfully. Without question, Lydia had put William to the task of diverting her attention.
“I’d have thought you’d be within,” Hannah said to her brother. She glanced over his shoulder toward the door. “I would be if given the chance.”
“It is without a doubt where you would be.” William chuckled. “But to add to your dismay, little sister, I have heard the arguments on a daily basis. I want only to enjoy my wife’s company this night.”
“And what do you want me to do?” Hannah pouted, following William’s movements when the dance began. “To sit demurely with folded hands, waiting for some gentleman to ask me for a turn around the floor?”
“You, demure? Never!” he teased. Reacting to the music, his hand directed her waist. “But I wish to make Mother Agnes happy if only for a moment, thinking you’re on your best behavior…”
Poor Mother Agnes, thought Hannah, for that was what Hannah called her after having married Hannah’s father almost seven years earlier. Her mother’s unfortunate death at Hannah’s birth had left her motherless until Agnes arrived. From Hannah’s perspective, Agnes’s one object in life was to amend Hannah’s sorely neglected upbringing. The problem lay with the differing views Hannah and Mother Agnes had on what each considered proper
“Besides,” William added, seizing her attention once more, “since Uncle Richard has descended upon us, Father wants me to keep an eye on you. With Gabriel away, it’s not the pressing problem it would have been, but all the same, keep your distance from our uncle.”
Hannah rolled her eyes. How many times did she have to assure her father she had absolutely no designs on leaving Williamsburg and going to New York? She didn’t care a whit for what her uncle kept insisting her grandparents could give her. She had all she wanted here.
“If Father distrusts Uncle Richard so much, why is he here?”
family, I suppose,” William answered.
The music came to an end.
. Hannah smiled broadly at her brother while he escorted her off the floor. They halted close to Lydia. William had married a local girl, no classic beauty, Hannah supposed. Too tall and lean. Still, she had huge, telling eyes, and more importantly to Hannah, she was like a sister.
“Lydia,” cried Hannah, feigning offense, “Pray take my brother away. He refuses to stop lecturing me!”
“That I will do with pleasure,” Lydia said, smiling over at her husband. He quickly returned her smile, and her eyes shone.
Hannah watched the two disappear onto the dance floor. Left alone, she eased back against the wall. Hopefully, she would garner no more notice than the potted plant she stood beside. The sounds of laughter, polite conversation, and the undertone of music echoed around her. She surveyed the floor and spied the open French doors onto the bricked veranda. Her mood soared with the emergence of a plan within her mind. She had only to slip out the doors undetected. Escape beckoned!
One step. Then another. She glanced over her shoulder. She moved toward the doors, skirting one dance pair after another. She paused for a moment in front of a group of Mother Agnes’ friends who sat and intently watched all around them. The music had ceased between songs, and Hannah could hear the old biddies whispering, gossiping.
“Poor Agnes. She’s done all she can for the child—trying to instill in her that she’s a girl, for goodness’ sakes.”
“Have you ever seen such? She rides like a boy, shoots like a boy.… Why, when she was thirteen she actually beat the Drake’s boy, Virgil, in the turkey shoot,” whispered a scandalized voice. “Her brother, Jonathan, dressed her up in boy’s clothing to compete so he could win a bet!”
“Oh, but she does look so pretty, all dressed up with her dark hair pulled back so—and those eyes! I remember her dear mother. She looks so like her mother, and Jonathan, also. It’s a shame that she’s too bold by half!” a voice, clearly appalled, uttered.
“But I’ve heard that the Witherspoon boy has asked for her hand, or is about to. And his mother’s having
over the situation! They had such high hopes for the boy…”
Easing ever so quietly for the doors, she fumed. Why should she care a hoot for the biddies’ whispers—but
Gabriel going to ask for her hand? He’d told her he would, but she doubted he’d done so before he left.
Maybe he had, but if so, why wouldn’t Father have told me?
She frowned. If the old biddies thought Gabriel’s mother had difficulties accepting Hannah, they surely didn’t know what her father thought of Gabriel.
Slipping out the entranceway, she took one last look to see if anyone was watching her. She smiled.
Mother Agnes was deep in conversation; Lydia and William were dancing. Her path was clear!
To her advantage, only a few people were scattered on the veranda, and none took note of her. She hurried down the steps onto the garden path. She was free!
Who could quibble if she took a short stroll? And if she strolled under the open study’s window, where the men were talking politics, what fault could be found in her? What was there to interest a mere girl? Turning the corner, her heart sang. Her instincts had been right—men’s voices carried out to the path.
A rebellion was on the horizon and Hannah had begun to suspect that her father was involved deeper in this than he'd let on, especially when he emphasized that Lord Dunmore had his spies.
“Watch all that comes out of your mouth, Hannah,” he cautioned. “All will assume your words come from me.”
“But I have a mind of my own,” she retorted forcibly.
“Of that I have no doubt,” he answered. “But with all that’s commencing around us, we need not stir up troublous issues.”
It would have been easier to know what
to say had she known what her father was doing. She stopped still beneath the window. She glanced around. No one was in sight. To her delight, the men were deep in conversation. Their words echoed clearly out the window.
“Ah, John, you may be right. Peyton has said also, but this I promise you: If it comes, this war with our mother country will hold a price, a steep one which might be too much to bear. I don’t believe you fully understand the consequences of such action.”
Hannah recognized the distinct voice of Samuel Randolph, long considered one of Williamsburg’s most respected citizens.
“But if we do
take this stand, the price could even be higher,” Hannah heard her father’s firm and resonant voice and pride blossomed in her chest. “I know your views well, Samuel, but we cannot sit idly by and be treated thus. The news we’re receiving from Boston isn’t good.”
“They pay us no mind, taxing and taxing us, thinking force will cause us to buckle. You, yourself, are a Virginian, sir. You must admit this is despicable treatment.”
“I have heard all the rights proclaimed, John—life, liberty and property. I may even understand why you’ve arrived at your views, but I, in good conscience, can’t follow down this road.” All knew that Samuel Randolph stood firmly behind the Crown. But pressures on him were great, for all those close to him were Patriots. “I can’t contemplate a war with our own people. I also believe that all Henry has caused
by this speech will stir even greater Patriot fervor.”
“Give me liberty or give me death!” From the window rang out another voice, one Hannah didn’t recognize.
Randolph said sadly, “Young man, I can see from your eyes that you have this rebellion in your blood. But take care. I have found it customary of Mr. Henry to speak often with this passion. Yet if his wish for a war comes true, the reality of it may not hold all that he has promised, and I say again, the price for it may be much higher than any of you can imagine.”
Try as she might, Hannah couldn’t envision who Mr. Randolph was addressing. She glanced around and saw an old elm tree with a
V-shaped trunk standing not more than ten yards from the window.
If I move ever so carefully, I could ease up high enough into the tree to get a look, to see within.
Only for a bit…
just a glimpse…a peek.