Today we welcome Mercy from Heidi Chiavaroli’s The Hidden Side.
Novel PASTimes: I’ve always been inspired by the late Revolutionary Spy Nathan Hale, but I never realized he planned to marry! Please, tell me your name and how you met the late Mr. Hale.
Mercy: My name is Mercy Howard. I met my beloved Nathan through a mutual friend of ours, Benjamin Tallmadge. He and Nathan attended Yale together and when Nathan visited Ben on Long Island…well, I am not certain I believe in love at first sight, but ’twasn’t long before we were sending letters across the Sound and planning a future together.
Novel PASTimes: How sweet! You mentioned Benjamin Tallmadge. Wasn’t he the head of the Revolutionary CIA?
Mercy: CI—forgive me, I’m not familiar with that.
Novel PASTimes: The Central Intelligence Agency…you know, spies?
Mercy: Oh my! One does not openly talk of such things where I come from. Spying is a business best suited for blackguards and scoundrels. Cheats and cowards. Are you certain ’tis safe to mention here?
Novel PASTimes: I assure you it is.
Mercy: Very well, then. If you insist. I’ve been wanting to unburden myself with my secret for some time.
Novel PASTimes: Secret?
Mercy: I suppose it all began with Nathan…nay, perhaps before that. My uncle, William Howard, betrayed the Patriots when he led General Howe through Jamaica Pass. If not for his disloyalty, General Washington may have stood a chance at the Battle of Brooklyn, and New York wouldn’t be occupied by the King’s Army as it is now.
Novel PASTimes: Ouch. I can see why that would bother you. And what about Nathan? Did you know of his espionage activities?
Mercy: My, you are bold! What must people in the 21st century be like to speak so openly of such things! Do you promise you won’t think less of him?
Novel PASTimes: Dear Mercy, I think you would be happy to know that many look on your Nathan as a hero.
Mercy: Truly? That does lighten my heart! Very well, then. Though ’tis rather intimate, I will share some…. Nathan did not impart his mission to me, though I wish he had. I saw him two nights b-before he met his demise. He acted oddly, but I thought him only nervous. My poor Nathan. He should have never been behind enemy lines. He was too open, too honest to excel in a profession that requires dishonesty.
Novel PASTimes: And what about you, Miss Howard? How did you become involved in the Culper Spy Ring—General Washington’s intelligence circle, that is?
Mercy (lowering her voice): You see, when my childhood friend, Abraham Woodhull—
Novel PASTimes: Abraham Woodhull? I love watching him on AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies!
Mercy: I’m afraid I haven’t an inkling of what you speak. Nevertheless, when Abraham first asked me to be a part of his…endeavors, I refused. ’Twas only after my sister suffered at the hands of a soldier quartering in our house that I decided I simply must do something. First Uncle William’s betrayal, then Nathan’s death, then my sister’s suffering. ’Twas more than I could stand to watch! Beneath Abraham’s urging, I decided to pay my Aunt Beatrice an extended visit in York City.
Novel PASTimes: She is a loyalist, isn’t she?
Mercy: Aye. ’Tis…complicated. Yet Aunt Beatrice is in a position that is beneficial for my—uh, activities.
Novel PASTimes: And while in Manhattan, you met a certain Major in the King’s Army, is that right?
Mercy: John Andre…yes. I do wish he was not quite so charming. In many ways, he reminds me of my Nathan. Yet I have business to do. General Washington depends upon me, as does my family, burdened by the presence of those redcoats. Why, even Nathan’s memory bids me to hasten forth for the sake of the Patriot cause. I absolutely refuse to disappoint them.
Thank you, Mercy, for sharing so openingly here on PASTimes. We do hope you aren’t fearing too much for the survival of the Revolution. (Yes, that’s a hint.)
Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner and grace-clinger. She loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. Heidi’s debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a Romantic Times Top Pick and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. Visit her online at heidichiavaroli.com