Bridie Vail agreed to allow me to use her in this short introduction. I've always loved reading about the Revolutionary War and since Miss Vail is the person I know who most closely reminds me of Maureen O'Hara, it seemed natural to set her story here. My apologies for any historical inaccuracies! Enjoy and happy Fourth of the July!
The occupation of Boston and the closing of the port had been done in a gentlemanly and efficient manner. The locals, clearly resentful, were for the moment keeping their distance. The other officers in Townhend's circle were hopeful that this would be an easy assignment, with nothing much more to do than drill the troops, collect their pay, and enjoy themselves.
But though initially events seemed to confirm their optimistic outlook, Captain Townshend couldn’t shake the feeling that things were not as secure and calm as they appeared. Perhaps it was the weather, which was foggy and cold. Perhaps it was the miserable city of Boston itself, with its filthy crooked streets, dreadful little houses, and lack of anything even remotely resembling culture, cultivated minds, or art. Perhaps it was in the very silence of the inhabitants, who appeared watchful and calculating, even for disgruntled, ungrateful colonials.
It might have been any one of those factors. But the truth of the matter was, it was something else entirely that kept him worrying.
The Quartering Act was, of all the acts, perhaps the one most keenly resented by the colonists and no one could be more resentful than the Vails of Blank Street, where Captain Townshend had taken up his residence.
Townshend prided himself of his good manners and clean living, on making himself the least possible bother to his reluctant landlords, but this made not one whit of difference to the Vails. They were Irish, of course. (It seemed that the entire nation consisted entirely of either disgruntled Irishmen or self-important Puritans, neither of which were particularly endearing.) The husband had worked on the sea, the wife was seamstress, and there were two sons who’d left before the occupation.
The husband and the wife were quiet and Townshend could have left them well enough alone. But it was their daughter, a young, slender woman with stick straight hair and a proud carriage that would have cowed the Duchess of Marlborough, that really got under his skin.
From a brief glance, Bridie Vail would not have seemed a rebel. She was generally demur, lady-like, even gentle. But prick her and she bled the colonist’s cause. Townshend had been in the house all of ten minutes before he realized this.
He’d been gently but firmly introducing himself to the family, explaining the law and their duties to it and the crown. Mr. and Mrs. Vail had subsided into the resentful silence that he’d come to expect from these unreasonable Bostonians.
“We expect that every subject will do his duty, as due his sovereign lord,” he said, finishing the little speech he crafted for all such occasions.
It was Bridie who answered. “And I suppose you’ll be wanting meals, too.”
He was a little surprised. She’d been silent until now and her voice was as gentle and soft as her appearance. He should have known it was misleading.
“Yes,” he said. “That’s generally expected.” “
I see,” she nodded, her arms crossed in front of her pale green dress. “I suppose it does make sense to force the people you’re starving into submission to provide not only a roof over your head, but their own food to fill your stomachs. Gets the job done quicker, you might say.”