A Freedom Fighter In Chains

She saw it in his eyes, but didn't believe it--didn't want to believe it, couldn't bear to think that it might, possibly, be true, for if that was true what was her life, and what was everything that she hoped for? Nothing, that was what, and she wanted something to aim for, something that would be worth the wait; the wait of many hours, many days that stretched into weeks, into months, into years.

"I will not give in," she would tell herself, looking up at the window with its three bars across the bottom and the snow piling up outside, as it was February and cold. "I will not give in." The cold air permeated the bedroom, making the plain iron bedstead and single black blanket even more bare and impersonal: the lack of pictures and books and decorations was suddenly conspicuous. 

That hourly knock at the door, and she would get up, go to open it, find as usual the plate of uninteresting, barely nourishing food which for years she had been enduring. What was another day? What was another year? Since her thirteenth birthday, she had known nothing else, and that was fast approaching seven years. But still her spirit would not be bowed, and she whispered to the night that, "I will not give in," which was the very reason for her captivity.

Her name was Marianne. She was half French and half Irish, with striking chestnut hair and dark, dark eyes, her skin pale from lack of exercise and fresh air although as a child she had sported a healthy tan, and her figure slim. This was not from lack of food but rather that she had always been so, and her mother before her, the mother she could hardly remember.

This room was in the attic of her father's house. Her father did not support the causes for which she fought and, in the year of 1804, there was very little she could do to protest for as a minor and a girl she had no rights. "You will not disgrace me," he had said, when she announced her intentions of joining the freedom march that Saturday, but she had disobeyed and he had locked her away ever since. Even so, she continued to write letters of encouragement and letters of petition, continued to support the cause that had cost her her teenage years.

In return, they supported her through her trials. Many of them were in prison too, and sent her letters as from a fellow-prisoner. Her father had tried to intercept them, but the revolutionaries were clever and made sure that the servants were on their side--which was not hard, for many of them were little more than slaves and greatly admired The Man himself, who led the campaigns and spoke out for the rights of sold workers. He was, of course, William Wilberforce.

But each week when he came to visit his wilful daughter, Peter McMahon showed clearly in his face that he thought this was protest was for nothing, and that it would not succeed. Marianne saw this and almost despaired, but she would not.

"I will not give in." And for seven years, she had not.

The End

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