A Parcel for Prudence is exciting and suspenseful part 4 of the Virtues and Valor series by best-selling inspirational novelist, Hallee Bridgeman. Code-named PRUDENCE, royal blooded MURIEL TOLSON speaks French like any native, allowing her to infiltrate Occupied France where she works as a courier, carrying messages, money, and sometimes people through the secret resistance network, aiding the allies to accomplish very dangerous missions behind enemy lines.
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A Parcel for Prudence can be purchased in e-book format at the following booksellers:
Olivia Kimbrell Press
EBook ISBN: 978-1-939603-48-7
The Back Cover:
MURIEL TOLSON grew up with all of the luxuries life could offer. As the daughter of a duke, she married the second son of an earl and lived in style on his family’s estate. When her husband ships off to fight the Nazis in Africa, Muriel heeds his request to use her intelligence and language skills to help with the war effort. She approaches the British secret services and soon finds herself recruited into an experimental all female cohort dubbed the Virtues, a collection of seven extraordinary women with highly specialized skills.
Assigned the code name of PRUDENCE, her natural French allows her to infiltrate Occupied France where she works as a courier; carrying messages, money, and sometimes people through the secret resistance network aiding the allies to accomplish very dangerous missions behind enemy lines.
When Nazis capture the agent code named TEMPERANCE, the team shucks previously laid plans and fast-forwards operational timelines. Is the team ready for this daring mission, or will the Third Reich thwart their plans before they can even get started?
A PARCEL FOR PRUDENCE is part four of seven serialized novellas entitled the Virtues and Valor series.
Seven valorous women — different nationalities, ethnicities, and social backgrounds — come together as a team called the Virtues.
In 1941 Great Britain a special war department assembles an experimental and exclusively female cohort of combat operatives. Four willing spies, a wireless radio operator, an ingenious code breaker, and a fearless pilot are each hand-picked, recruited, and trained to initiate a daring mission in Occupied France. As plans are laid to engineer the largest prison break of Allied POWs in history, the Nazis capture the Virtues’ radio operator. It will take the cohesive teamwork of the rest of the women to save her life before Berlin breaks her and brings the force of the Third Reich to bear.
THE bright light shone directly into Muriel Tolson’s eyes and the heat of the bulb thoroughly exhausted her. She could barely see through the glare to the shadowed figures sitting at the table in front of her, so she quit trying and looked away. She found a spot on the far wall on which to focus her vision and tried to find relief from the glare. She tried to ignore the fact that she sat in this room full of men wearing nothing but her cotton slip. Her face burned with heat, but the rest of her body reacted to the chill. The stone floor felt ice cold against her bare feet, and only the heat from the light kept her from shivering in the otherwise chilly room.
“Let’s go over this once again,” her interrogator suggested in French thickened with a strong German accent. “How long have you known the Englishman who uses the code name Praetorian?”
Muriel sighed and closed her eyes, seeking a brief relief from the harsh lights. In perfectly unaccented French, she answered, “I’ve already told you, Monsieur. I don’t know any Englishman.”
He pounded the table with his fist, causing her to jump and open her eyes. “Lies!”
“No,” she said, “I swear. I don’t know anyone English.”
“You were seen speaking to him outside of the train station in Montoire. Witnesses identified you.”
Mind reeling, she tried desperately to give a good enough answer to end this ordeal. “In Montoire? The train station in Montoire? I did speak to a man there. He approached me. But the man was French, not English.”
“This man, he gave you a package.”
“No! No! He asked to see the newspaper I carried with me. But he gave it back to me!”
“Yes, he did. He also passed you a map of our prison in Valeurville, did he not?”
The glare of the lamp weakened her resolve. Her throat felt so dry that she thought she might gag if she tried to swallow again. Her lips cracked and her tongue felt like sandpaper in her mouth. “I had nothing to do with that. I didn’t even know what it was! Monsieur, please. Please, Monsieur. I beg of you. I don’t know how that got into my paper. I don’t know this man.”
“We know you are lying. Witnesses saw you trade newspapers with him. You were going to give the map to someone else. Who? Praetorian? Where is your drop point? Who is your controller?”
A deep headache thumped behind her eye. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she whispered.
“Speak up!” His harsh voice with its guttural German accent sent fear coursing through her veins.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Monsieur,” she repeated a bit louder. “My name is Murielle St. Pierre. I moved here from Creuzier-le-Vieux two months ago. I teach piano –”
“Silence. We know that is not your name. You think we are fools! We also know that you have never even been to Creuzier-le-Vieux. I will hear no more lies, Fräulein. In fact, I want you to see if you can tell when I am speaking the truth. If I promise you that the next time you lie to me, you will regret it for the rest of your life, can you tell if this is true? Am I lying to you or will I keep my promise? Which do you think?”
“Monsieur, I beg you. I’m Murielle St. Pierre –”
Eyes darting back and forth, knowing others waited in the shadows, Muriel stood on shaking legs. Without warning, angry hands grabbed her arms from behind, strong hands that dragged her out of the light and into the dark corner. Her eyes, still dazzled from the glare of the light, couldn’t make out what awaited her there, so when a foot kicked her knees out from beneath her, forcing her to the ground in front of the wooden tub, she had no time to react to the hands against the back of her head, forcing her face under the ice cold water.
The initial reflexive reaction she experienced was to take in a deep breath from the shock of the cold. She very nearly did. Her mouth had flown open in surprise. When the icy water flooded back against her dehydrated throat, she partially regained her senses and did not inhale. Instead, she held her breath.
Her lungs began to burn. Her pulse beat against her tightly shut eyelids. She tried to struggle, but the strong hands painfully gripping her shoulders and forearms forced her even deeper beneath the icy cold water. She felt her legs going weak and wondered if they would let her die. Finally, a fist ripped her head back above the water by her hair and she gasped for breath.
“We can continue this until you are ready to speak the truth, Fräulein,” the man behind her hissed. “I have plenty of time.”
She barely had time to react before the strong hands forced her head back under the water. This time she accidentally breathed in and the pain of the water entering her airway caused her to scream into the water.
With force, hands grabbed her hair and pulled her face from the water. Bits of ice floated on the surface. “How long have you known the Englishman code-named Praetorian?”
“I don’t know any Englishman.”
“Where is your drop point? Who is your controller?”
He repeated the questions. Over and over again. She didn’t know how many times she went under the water, only to come back up again to offer her denials. She started to feel herself long to give in, to tell them what she knew so that they would stop the interrogation. Anything to get the angry hands off of her.
“What are you doing with the map? What are the plans?”
“I don’t know what map!”
Several more rounds of questions and she felt her resistance starting to slip. Maybe she should just give in. What if she did?
The skin on her face no longer tingled, but rather felt completely numb. Her body felt weak, as if she had no strength left in any of her limbs. Above the surface of the water, her ears were filled with her interrogator’s rough voice. Below the surface, she could hear muffled sounds of – was it laughter? Were they enjoying her plight? After several more minutes, Muriel entered a trance like state and she wondered if she were close to death.
When her captors pulled her up, they stood her on her feet and held her upright. Her antagonist swung the light to shine into her eyes again as she stood on weak knees, icy cold water dripping down her body, soaking her thin cotton shift.
“How long have you known Praetorian? Where is your drop point? Who is your controller? You will answer!”
Her voice sounded weak even to her own ears as she spoke through shivering blue lips. “I don’t know what you are asking me. I don’t know.”
She felt herself beginning to pass out until a leather gloved hand slapped her full across her numbed face. “You will learn very soon that your lies are useless,” the man announced. “You think we don’t know exactly who you are? You are Muriel Tolson. You are a British spy and your code name is Prudence. I assure you, we can keep you alive and in pain for a very long time or you can die quickly and with dignity before a firing squad. The choice is yours.”
Muriel heard her pulse roaring in her ears. Her lips moved but made no sound. He leaned closer, close enough that she could smell his spicy, nauseating cologne. He hissed, “Speak up, Fräulein.”
She spit against his cheek.
The man stood straight and retrieved a handkerchief. He wiped the spittle from his face and then screamed, “Tell me what you know! Tell me now!”
A gloved fist punched her hard and fast just under the rib cage, a jab intended to paralyze her diaphragm, the very instant before they plunged her beneath the water once more.
A Parcel for Prudence can be purchased in e-book format at the following booksellers: