I am currently writing a charming novel titled The Queen’s Messenger. In nineteenth century England, Lady Sawyer Princeton lives outside of London in a beautiful manor. However, everything is not as pleasant as it seems. Her father is secretive. Her mother is judging. Her eldest sister, Lillie Shire, has moved away with her husband, leaving Sawyer with her mischievous sister Margret and her younger sister Aggie. Living in the time of the Napoleonic Wars, Sawyer is exposed to rumors of Queen’s Messengers, who are secret agents for the Queen herself. Determined to help England and become the first female Queen’s Messenger, Lady Sawyer Princeton ventures into an adventure of danger, love, and secrets.
Will she emerge out of her adventure alive?
Please, dive into the world of England. Perhaps you will find a clue to the Quest for Publishment.
The Queen’s Messenger cover.
Preview of Chapter 1:
The sky was blue. The grass was enthusiastically green, and her horse leaned down to nibble on some of it. Letting out a short laugh, she patted him on the neck, feeling his coarse, splotchy mane.
“We must keep going, Augusta,” Sawyer Princeton told him with impatience.
He whinnied with protest, but his hoofs began making imprints on the ground once again as he lumbered through the dense forest. Smiling, Sawyer looked up, the cascades of her black hair shifting as she did so. The sun’s rays caused her thick curls to appear shimmery, and her azure eyes sparkled in the welcoming sunlight. Her pale skin soaked in the warmth, and she sighed contentedly. This was all she desired, really. Uncomfortable, Sawyer shifted in her light blue dress. A bow decked her chest, and a few more were placed at her hips. White lace fringed its bottom, which flowed down the side of Augusta and contrasted from his beige body. His fluttering white and black mane blew along with the faint wind, and he flicked his tail to keep the flies away on such a stifling summer day. Shielding her eyes, Sawyer watched a flock of birds fly by, thinking, Why cannot I be as free as those birds?
The thick cotton material of her dress clung to her sweaty body, and she decided, with great regret, that she should turn home, for her stomach let out a gurgling growl. She clicked her lips, and Augusta turned around at the direction of the reins. She dreaded heading back to the dismal confines of her home. However, she knew that she must turn back if she wished to be allowed on such excursions.
As they exited the forest, Sawyer saw before her an expanse green lawn that led to the mansion that was her home. The sun was now lowering, casting its rays of orange upon the lightly colored bricks of the home. Daunting, the house stood upon the hill, overlooking the valley of peasants. Now, the workers were dispersing at the ending of the day. Augusta trotted across the lawn and onto the pebbly walkway, his head held high. He shook his head indignantly when the servants came to take him to the stables. Sawyer watched after him affectionately. Then, the sound of a yappy bark permeated her ears, and she embraced her dog, Lucy. She was a bundle of auburn, brown, and white. Her docked tail wagged excitedly, and her big brown eyes stared up at her with extreme adoration. Standing back up, Sawyer walked up the steps of the great castle with Lucy at her heels. Immediately, the servants opened the doors and greeted, “Good evening, Lady Sawyer. Do you need anything, Lady Sawyer? Would you like a bath, Lady Sawyer?”
“No thank you,” she replied hastily, making her way through the first sitting room and entryway.
The servants were beginning to light the candles, and dinner was being prepared downstairs. Men and women rushed to and fro, and Sawyer weaved through the house to her bedroom. Greeted by a semi-lit room with a white-sheeted bed and a brown dresser, Sawyer sat down in front of her mirror and examined her disheveled appearance. Her face was sun-kissed. Her black hair was frizzy. The bottom of her dress was wrinkled. Oh, mother would be shocked if she saw her in such a state. Suddenly, her maid appeared at the door.
“Sarah,” Sawyer nodded at her, for her tiredness had overwhelmed her and she did not speak with muster.
“Lady Sawyer,” she smiled, her skin crinkling as she did so. Her small frame fit in the black and white dress, and her short black hair framed her pale face. She fetched her a new dress and Sawyer clumsily changed into it, her reflexes slow. Settling back into the chair in her violet attire, she allowed Sarah Miller to fix her hair.
“Have a nice outing, m’lady?” she inquired timidly.
“Very nice,” Sawyer yawned, “I just wish I did not have to return.”
Sarah did not reply. Instead, she bit her lip and continued to work on her hair. Finally, Sawyer’s bundle of black curls was placed strategically around her angled face and high cheekbones.
“Thank you, Sarah,” Sawyer dismissed her.
Bowing, she left the room, and Sawyer was again alone. She only had moments before she must go to supper and see her family. Her married sister, Countess Lillie Shire, was coming with her husband, Duke Kevin Shire, that night for supper. Sawyer loved Lillie the most of her three sisters, the other two being Margret and Aggie, who was just sixteen. Lillie understood Sawyer more than anyone did, although even Lillie had her limits of comprehension when it came to Sawyer’s rebellious plans. Sawyer was just freshly nineteen and full of vigor. All of her life, Sawyer had longed to escape Princeton Manor but had failed to do so in every way. When she was a child, she had locked herself in her bedroom once, refusing to come down to breakfast in her new dress. When her mother had inquired why, Sawyer had replied shortly, “I believe it is preposterous that girls must dress up for breakfast. I believe that girls should rise promptly at five and eat in their nightgowns.” As silly as this statement sounds, this reflects her personality well, for Sawyer had always been considered the queer one. Little things she would rebel in and all of her large rebellions ended in punishment and no change in her parents’ stubborn ways. Once, she had tried to argue with her father why women should be allowed in Parliament, and another time she had tried to tell her father that girls should not be chained to their studies. At the end of both of these conversations, she was sent to her room with an empty stomach and an unmoved heart. Many times she had gotten into a fight with her instructor, Lady Heart. For example, Sawyer had once been learning to properly wave, sit, and act like a duke’s daughter. She had been preparing for the summer ball where she would meet other boys like herself who had wealthy fathers. Sawyer saw no sense in all of this, and she believed that all of the wealthy sons were snobs and completely uneducated in matters of practicality. She told her instructor this, and her instructor spat, “You will be lucky if a farmer’s boy marries you!” Sawyer was infuriated and leapt upon Lady Heart. In a tangle of dress and hair, they wrestled each other on the floor. One of the servants heard the commotion and alerted their mistress at once. By the time Countess Princeton appeared, Sawyer and her instructor were in a heated argument on the floor. Quickly, Countess Princeton’s regal air dissolved, and she exploded, “Stop it, both of you!” Immediately the two ceased their skirmish, for Lady Princeton’s voice was full of malice and agitation. A shiver ran down her daughter’s spine, and even she was at a loss for words. “Now,” her mother said, “You are both look like pigs. Go get washed up.” She gave a glaring look at her daughter; Sawyer’s voluminous hair was piled upon her head like a tangled rat’s nest. Then, she flashed a dart of seething disappointment at Lady Heart, for the elderly woman’s dress was wrinkled and her petticoat was twisted and flattened so that her lower half looked deformed. With a curt nod, Countess Princeton left the room. Many occasions occurred such as this, and each one left a smoldering mark like from a heated branding iron on Sawyer’s heart. With each passing day, Sawyer was more and more positive that she would never escape.
With burdensome dread, Sawyer rose in her flowing attire and exited her room.
She sat in one of the cushioned chairs. Her full lips were set in a firm line, and she kept quiet. Her father sat at one end of the table, and her mother at the other. She sat beside her older sister Margret with Aggie across from her. Margret could be described in two words: egotistical and jealous. Sawyer was but two years older than her, and Margret was surly since Sawyer received more privileges than she. Margret regarded Sawyer with stiffness and only formality. She talked behind her back, telling Aggie things about Sawyer that was melodramatic or not even true. Margret’s beady blue eyes glanced at Sawyer with malice. Her blonde hair was arranged strategically about her round head, and she was decked with pearls and a black dress as dark as her heart’s thoughts were at that moment. Aggie, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. Innocent, she was the victim to Margret’s revolutionary words. She looked at Sawyer with a sort of confused expression, as if she did not know whether to be angry or glad at her presence. She had dark black hair that was arranged with pins, and she had dark hazelnut eyes that always appeared sad. She wore a green dress with ribbons and lace, and she was tapping the table uncomfortably.
“Aggie, dear, stop that,” Countess Daisy Princeton commanded with her loud voice.
In many ways, Sawyer looked like her mother. They had the same red lips, an identical shade of black in their thick hair, and the same stubbornness in their ways. She cast a reprimanding glance at Sawyer, although Sawyer knew she had not done anything wrong. Her mother always blamed her for any accident or mishap. Even if she was in town or far away, she was always somehow accused to causing some wrong.
Her father was not much better. He was always busy; in fact, he was wearing at that moment an expression that said he would rather be musing over some documents. However, he did love mother and agreed with her in every way.
“How was your day, dear?” Countess Princeton asked her husband.
“Mhmm,” He moistened his lips as more food was set on the oaked table, “Fine, I suppose.” He had replied with a disinterested air. Then, his eyes lazily moved toward Sawyer, and he managed a somewhat concerned tone, “And how was your afternoon, Sawyer?”
Margret wore a smirk that seemed to bury Sawyer under a smoldering weight. “Fine,” she replied curtly; she knew that no one really cared.
A knock sounded at the door before Countess Princeton could question her daughter. It opened and in entered Sawyer’s sister and brother-in-law.
They all immediately stood when they saw a couple in the doorway. Lillie Shire shone with an unusual beauty, for she possessed not only vivacious black curls and a pair of brown eyes, but she held a high dignity. She stood at her full height beside her husband, who was equally nice to look at. He smiled widely, revealing his white pearly teeth. His blonde hair was set in curls on his tan head, and his toned muscles decked his arms. He wore a black suit, and he surely appeared a Duke. Dawned in an azure dress, Lillie walked toward them, her flowing train brushing the floor behind her. She sat down next to mother, both kissing each other on the cheek. Countess Princeton had always taken a liking to her eldest daughter; this was obvious by her compliments and adoring looks. As everyone sat down, Lillie flashed a smile at Sawyer as if to say, We shall talk later. This gave Sawyer something to look forward to.
They were served their meal, and Sawyer partook little in the idle conversation. Lillie and Mother did most of the talking. Father seemed preoccupied, Aggie was shy, and Margret just appeared bored, occasionally cutting in with her singsong voice. Forcing the steaming soup down her throat, Sawyer nearly engulfed her meal.
“Sawyer,” Margret whispered and nudged her in the ribs, “slow down!”
“I am just hungry,” Sawyer said indignantly. Then, her eyes hovered over to Mother’s, who was peering at her with a wrinkled nose in digust.
“See,” Margret sneered.
Sawyer rolled her eyes but sat up taller and tried to appear unruffled. The dinner rolled on with utter slowness, and Sawyer’s back began to ache from sitting up so straight; her tight bodice rubbed and itched; her eyes began to droop. Lord Kevin and Father were discussing the peasant’s state and the upcoming harvest. Aggie remained quiet still, and Lillie conversed with Countess Princeton about the latest fashions. Deciding to be brave, Sawyer said to Lillie eagerly,
“I do wish they would make the clothes we wear more comfortable.”
Lillie smiled, “I do as well.”
“Maybe we could not wear so many layers,” Sawyer suggested.
“You will do no such thing,” her mother said with gritted teeth and eyes that could send a lion to its den to hide.
Slouching slightly, Sawyer bit her lip to, and Lillie noticed Sawyer’s annoyed state.
“Thank you for dinner, Mother,” Lillie announced. “Might I have a word with Sawyer?”
Countess Princeton wanted to protest, but Lord Princeton cut in, “Of course, Lillie. But let us all go to one of the sitting rooms.”
Father’s interference surprised and pleased Sawyer, for he had not been taking any part in their conversation, and he rarely stood up for her. In unison, they all rose and headed out.
Their main sitting room was adorned in rose wallpaper. Its color was a vibrant red and a creamy white. A tasseled couch sat in the room’s center in front of a blazing fireplace, its flames of orange beginning to dance as they entered. On either side of the couch were several chairs of white oak. The sun had set, and the servants had closed the curtains that now hid the bay window on the west side of the room that overlooked the large lawn of green. As the others sat down, Lillie sneakily pulled Sawyer to the side of the group.
“How have you been dear? Really?” she inquired with a creased forehead and puckered lips. “You look worse than when I last saw you.”
Sawyer glanced behind them at her mother, who was preoccupied talking to Lord Kevin. Lady Margret, fortunately, was looking at the Duke with small, dreamy eyes.
“Never mind them,” Lillie urged.
Sawyer shook her head, “I am dreadful, dear Lillie.”
Lillie sighed, for she had expected this. “Do not do anything drastic. Your time will come.”
“I do not fit here. I never have, not even when you were here,” Sawyer distracted herself with a painting on the wall.
“I know. I do wish you could come with us,” she said.
“Mother would never allow it,” Sawyer replied.
“I know. Just,” she hesitated and changed her chose of words, “Did you go to the forest today?”
She nodded. “I wanted to keep going.”
“I know you did,” Lillie admitted, “but you know the shame you would bring upon us.”
Sawyer wanted to say that she did not care, but she did care for Lillie. How could she betray her? Sawyer kept back her true reply and said, “I cannot stay here for much longer.”
“Then accept a suitor! The summer ball is soon. You can go and find a suitor. You have had offers. I do not know how Mother and Father have allowed it.”
“It is not as simple as that. I do not want to be married. I will be stuck still in this lifestyle. I cannot bear it,” Sawyer rose her voice in anguish.
“Quiet down,” Lillie said. “We must go back to the others. Do hold on a bit longer for me, Sawyer.”
Sawyer agreed, “Fine.”
Lillie turned back, her black hair beautiful, her violet dress swaying, and her bright eyes happy. Sawyer followed her with a smile that was not real. She put on a face of mere politeness and just barely friendly. She sat in one of the chairs, her eyes watching the conversation droll on through the night. Periodically, she would chime in to show that she was awake and to show her mother that she was not broken. She would never show her mother that.
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