Traitors at the Gate
By Sally Madison
Mary stood near the window, peering around the gold fringe of the emerald green velvet draperies that hung on the tall windows in the parlor of the mansion where she and her husband, the Lord Mayor, lived. Her handkerchief turned slowly, as she fingered the embroidered ‘M’ on each corner, as she watched a crowd gather outside the gated walkway.
Looking for comfort, she was drawn to the fireplace, her slippers bumping the hem of her ermine-trimmed, blue and silver brocade gown as she walked. Normally, she would not wear this ornate gown, but it was the only one that fit her atrophied body. “I must visit my dressmaker… one of these days,’ she thought. She plunked down on her favorite chair and stared at the fire. The mesmerizing flames brought tears of sadness, depression, frustration and, now, fear. For a few minutes, she wept, then dabbed her eyes.
A slight knock at the door announced the butler. “A message for the Lord Mayor, from the governor’s messenger, Miss, I brought it to you in his absence,” he explained, handing the envelope to Mary.
“TRAITORS HAVE BEEN PERFOMING TREASONOUS ACTS. BE ON YOUR GUARD,” it read.
She sat straight upright in the chair. Her jaw clenched, her eyes bore into the flames, matching fire with fire. Her hands began to twitch, as she gathered her handkerchief, crushed it, and then tugged it, again. Over and over, she crushed and tugged, faster and faster. A soft knock at the door announced the butler with the tea service. Setting the tray down on the side table, he asked, “Is there any…” She jumped to her feet.
He was stopped with gaping mouth, as she shouted, “They should shoot Thomas Paine for instigating this friction! Don’t people realize Cousin George could have his British Army crush them, in an instant?!”
The butler remembered the words of his wise grandfather who said, “Sometimes the right answer is: no answer”. He took two large steps backwards and left, unnoticed.
Mary had returned to the window and was looking out. The crowd had now become a mob. “There she is!” she heard a man shout. “Where is the Lord Mayor? We want him, too!” yelled another. The blood drained from her face, her flesh turned clammy, her heart beat raced, pounding in her ears, and her hands trembled. Quickly turning on her heel, nauseated, she backed out of view, into the velvet drapery.
Her husband entered the room. Seeing her distress, he rushed to embrace her. When he crossed in front of the windows, a shout rang out, “There he is!” The shattering of glass was heard when the first stone broke the window, then a second and a third flew into the room. Now inside the gate, they pounded on the door and stormed through the broken windows. “Tar and feathers is good enough for the likes of them!”