This week’s Friday Freebit is again from The Partisan’s Wife, the final book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy. In this excerpt, Peter Marlowe, who has been spying for the American army, is about to receive what may prove to be his final assignment. (Apologies for including a bit more than six paragraphs.)
4 Stars “The story itself was wonderful. It was beautifully told with lots of detail and exciting pace. I found myself staying up late at night just to see what was going to happen next, and in the moments that I couldn’t read I was always thinking about it. The Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy is an excellent read that you shouldn’t let pass you by!” — Unabridged Chick
General Washington’s gaze settled on Peter with an aspect of judicious satisfaction. “You suffered greatly on account of this ‘mistake,’ did you not? You lost your home, your land, and your good name. You needn’t explain, Captain. I am by now familiar with all the particulars. My one concern is that your purpose in the execution of your duties as an officer is not so much predicated on vindictiveness as it is on honor.”
Peter looked up. “Whatever my reason, I am prepared to give my life to the success of our cause. This matter…” He placed the broadside face down on the desk. “…is now finished. There is no longer a basis for personal vengeance on my part. I am here because my conscience commands me.” His hands, clasped tight together in his lap, were white with cold and tension.
Leafing through the papers on his desk, Washington appeared pleased by Peter’s reply. “Loyalty is an indispensable quality in a soldier…and in a man, Captain,” he said quietly. “On the other hand, absolute loyalty, to the detriment and denial of one’s personal needs, is a thing most rare. I tend to be skeptical of it.” He unfolded a sheet of pale blue foolscap and scanned the writing. Silence filled the tent, save for the hum of muted voices arising from the knot of generals reviewing the charts and maps. “I understand that you have a wife, Captain.”
Peter swallowed hard. “I am hardly alone in that. If I may be so bold, your Excellency has a wife, as well.”
The general smiled. “A most uncommon woman. Wives of soldiers are, for the most part, uncommon women.”
Peter shifted in his chair. “They carry an uncommon burden.”
“I understand also that your wife is in Philadelphia.” Washington turned over the sheet of foolscap and read the remainder of the writing. “I imagine you must be distressed over the deplorable conditions in that city.”
Peter looked up in surprise as Washington handed him the note without ceremony. To his astonishment, the writing was in Anne’s hand, the salutation addressed to him. “My Beloved Husband….” It was all he could decipher. Everything else was a blur, moving and changing on the page. All at once, his awareness centered solely on the aching in his heart.
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Friday FreeBits is a regular feature on Ginger Simpson’s blog, Dishin’ It Out. To read more excerpts from some great authors, click here.
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