Forging Forever

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Chapter 49

New York City

Christmas Day 1780

Mary left behind the Christmas celebration and walked up to her room. She was not in a particularly festive mood today. Once she entered her room she sat down at the desk and looked at the note that she had received early that morning. Its succinct message seemed an insult to the lives it was referring to.

Agent 355 and Daniel Moore captured by British troops on Dec. 5. Deaths confirmed Dec. 22.

Samuel Culper

Annie and Cameron were dead, captured by the British and either executed for spying or died of some sort of disease on one of the British prison ships in the harbor, the note did not specify. She had heard tales of the squalor and disease on the boats. People died every day from a variety of ailments ranging from dysentery to smallpox. She hoped, for Cameron and Annie’s sake, that they had been spared that experience and merely shot. It was a far less tortuous way to go.

The past weeks had been depressing to say the least. The absence of Annie and Cameron had hit her hard. Annie’s departure had been the most difficult to bear. She missed their early morning chats and shopping trips. Her natural exuberance and internal strength had touched Mary in a way that she had not anticipated on their first meeting. Her disappearance had made Mary melancholy, but she comforted herself with the hope that one day they would meet again. Now, with this note, even that hope had been dashed.

Mary reached into her desk and pulled out the letter that Annie had given her before she left. Annie instructed her to only open it in the event of her death. Carefully, she unfolded it and read the note:

My dear friend Mary,

If you are reading this note then it stands to reason that I am no longer a part of this world. I had hoped that I would be able to say these words in person, unfortunately current circumstances prevent that. With that being said, let me tell you the words that I need to say and you need to hear.

Mary, knowing you has been an incomparable blessing. You have been a bright light in my often dark and tumultuous life. Your infallible presence and friendship have been essential in pulling me out of the depths of despair that I have felt over the last few months. In all ways I consider you to be the sister that I have always wanted. I hope that you feel the same way.

It pains me that we will not meet again. It had been my fervent hope that you would be a part of mine and Cameron’s life. I had hoped that you would be an aunt to our child and a frequent visitor to our home. Unfortunately fate had other plans. Please know that you will always be an important and irreplaceable part of my life. Please do not mourn my passing. Remember the good memories and disregard the bad. Somehow, someway, we will meet again. Until then know that I love you with all my heart. Be happy with Amos and lead a wonderful, fulfilling life.

Your friend,

Annie Elizabeth Johnson

Tears streamed from Mary’s eyes after she finished the note. Oh how she wished she could respond to it, to tell Annie how much she had meant to her. “You were the sister I never had, Annie,” she whispered aloud. She resolved to follow Annie’s directions and remember the joy they had shared. Before she could do that, however, she had one thing she needed to do. Mary pulled out the new leather bound journal that Amos had bought her for Christmas and opened it to the first page then began to write.

December 25, 1780

It was a warm summer day when I met a woman who would irrevocably change my life. She had a bright and sunny disposition. It was impossible not to like her. She was brought to me by a dear friend and immeasurable confidant, Cameron Michael Evans. The woman, Annie Elizabeth Johnson, had recently joined our secret ring of informants that provided information to General Washington. It was her goal to strike up a relationship with Major John Andre and discover what information he possessed.

I tried to distance myself from her at first, not because she was unlikable, but because I knew that with our activities came danger and the possibility of discovery. I did not want to risk losing a friend, so I simply chose not to be friends. However, after a week in each other’s company I could not help but become close to Annie. I noticed the burgeoning feelings between her and Cameron before anyone, even themselves, had. But that I will save for later. For now I’d like to record the events as they happened, to tell Annie’s tale and her invaluable contributions to the war effort.

Mary sat at the desk for hours. The sun had long since set when she finally gave in to the need to stretch. For a moment she walked about the room, loosening her muscles and stretching her hands. A little while later she sat back down at the desk and continued to write the bittersweet tale of the lives of her two dearest friends.

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