The Teatime Tattler, October 21, 1815 Dearest Readers:
In my unrelenting desire to keep you all informed of the news in Town, this writer would be remiss if I failed to report on the latest breeze shaking the Ton.
As we all know, the Kerrington family has provided this column with never-ending tales of scandal and strange doings in the past. We all know of the notorious life and embarrassing death of the late Earl of Dayton. I recently reported about the eccentric behavior of the elderly Countess,who deliberately mashed Sir Broderick’s foot with her cane at the Duchess of Brundsbury’s Soiree. He limped for a wee
There was hope that in returning from his brave service at Waterloo, Colonel Kerrington would take up the mantle of Earl and bring a much- needed discipline and normalcy to the family. That hope may have been in vain.
It seems just this last week, a strange Italian woman unexpectedly has taken up residence at the Kerrington estate, a Contessa Cassandra Sinatore. Appearing out of nowhere, she is said to be the companion to Lady Kerrington and under the protection of the new Earl of Drayton. Tall and dark, her presence has set tongues to dancing. Yet, that was only the beginning.
Not four days in residence, this mystery woman climbed forty feet straight up a manor wall to save a small child from falling off the tin roof, astounding the family and servants who witnessed it.
The Countess exclaimed she scaled the wall like a ‘cursed spider.’ While accounts of this miraculous, heroic feat have been circulating Town, rumor has it that she wasn’t wearing a dress when she saved the child. The term roof dancer has also been whispered about.
Happily, we will all have an opportunity to see this enigmatic acrobat and ask our questions of the Kerrington family, for they are all coming to Town. The Duke of Devonshire is hosting a ball and because of her derring- do, the Contessa Sinatore is the guest of honor. Will the Kerringtons and their mysterious guest supply more scandals or has their reputation taken a turn for the better? Whatever the answer, you all read it first here at The Teatime Tattler!
About the Book
A Cat Burglar is Thrust Back in Time
Art Thief Cassie Sinatore: Shackled and dressed in a neon orange jumpsuit, she awaits extradition at Heathrow Airport. An accident with a nearby experimental radar plane throws Cassie back in time, dumping her in a wooded countryside. The rider who discovers her is charismatic, more compelling than any man she has ever met. She chalks up the man’s Regency outfit and odd behavior to the eccentricity of the rich. Or maybe he is just a nutbar, but the man is offering a ride.
Lord Ross Kerrington: The new Earl of Drayton, having returned from the wars in 1815, finds the Kerrington family in turmoil, lunatic women who make him consider returning to the army. The alluring woman he discovers in the estate’s Greyfield Woods strikes him as equally mad. The woman wears bizarre attire, acting with a peculiar cheekiness that borders on insolence. Considering the very real dangers a madwoman faces encountering the surrounding inhabitants, he decides to bring her home to safety until he can decide what to do with her. Unexpectedly, his family has other ideas.
Meeting the Kerrington family, Cassie finally realizes she is trapped 200 years in the past. Faced with the frightening situation, she resolves to win her independence using her cat-burglar skills. Then things get complicated.
Against her will, she finds herself caring about the Kerrington family, fighting a powerful attraction to the very proper Ross. Dependent on the Kerringtons’ good will, Cassie finds it increasingly difficult to navigate London society, the family, and even more, her growing passion for Ross.
Besides, someone is trying to kill him.
Stealing Time will be available on Amazon Kindle July 15th.
bwhaggart.com will premier at the same time offering more information, blogs and book reviews.
Though it is not in my gentle nature to speak ill of those in the highest of society’s ranks, I feel it my duty to report a most shocking miscarriage of justice. The Amesbury family, those who are relations of my lord, the Earl of Tarrington, may not be all they seem. In fact, they are, in fact, secretly villains. You see, good sir, I have information, nay, verily proof, that while they appear all that is proper and noble, with two of the family’s sons serving His Majesty’s’ army and navy, scandal and danger follow in their wake. You see, sir, I know for a fact that the current earl married his wife under false pretenses almost too shocking to utter. Although they seem blissfully wedded now, they had most unbecoming beginnings including a false identity. Is their marriage even valid? Is their infant son a legitimate heir?
As far as the second son, it’s a well-known fact that he served as a privateer during the war. However, I have it on good authority that he was, in truth, a pirate! He was captured by His Majesty’s Navy, stood trial, and nearly met his doom at the gallows. Oh, he used an assumed name—that seems to be a family trait—but I know it was him.
The third son, alas, has always been the black sheep. He shuns society, snubbing conventions, and wearing shockingly low apparel. But this is not all; he even works—works!—with the Bow Street officers to solve cases that are best left to those of the working class. To be fair, he has saved lives, but has also taken a good many under the excuse that it was all in the line of duty. But does that include shooting peers without trial?
Though hailed as society’s golden child, the youngest Amesbury son, who most closely resembles the late earl, has the most shocking secret of all. He not only may have participated in arranging the death of a peer with the help of his brothers, but more shocking still, he even married the widow within mere weeks of the ghastly deed.
Now, I ask you, does this not bear further inquiry into the Amesbury family? Do we demand that this family answer to the laws of justice or do we let them live above the law?
The Amesbury sisters, it seems, are perfectly respectable, although one is estranged from her husband, and the other, a bluestocking spinster. This suggests that something went terribly wrong in their upbringing, does it not?
With regards to the men (I refuse to use the word “gentlemen”) of this family, I beseech you to consider my words. Since Bow Street has discounted my concerns—likely due to their familiarity with the aforementioned brother who works with Bow Street—perhaps this public revelation will put pressure on the law to do the right thing. If nothing else, the opinion of society may deliver its own form of justice.
A concerned neighbor
About the Book
The Stranger She Married
When her parents and only brother die within weeks of each other, Alicia and her younger sister are left in the hands of an uncle who has brought them all to financial and social ruin. Desperate to save her family from debtor’s prison, Alicia vows to marry the first wealthy man to propose. She meets the dashing Lord Amesbury, and her heart whispers that this is the man she is destined to love, but his tainted past may forever stand in their way. Her choices in potential husbands narrow to either a scarred cripple with the heart of a poet or a handsome rake with a deadly secret.
Cole Amesbury is tormented by his own ghosts and believes he is beyond redemption, yet he cannot deny his attraction for the girl whose genuine goodness touches the heart he’d thought long dead. He fears the scars in his soul cut so deeply that he may never be able to offer Alicia a love that is true. When yet another bizarre mishap threatens her life, Alicia suspects the seemingly unrelated accidents that have plagued her loved ones are actually a killer’s attempt to exterminate every member of her family. Despite the threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger of all, a danger to her heart.
As Cole looked down into Alicia Palmer’s face, he knew of a surety she was worth any risk. She touched him in a place he’d thought long dead.
A younger man wearing a saucy grin approached Miss Palmer. “Did you save me a dance, Lissie?”
Cole’s initial irritation for the man’s cheekiness faded to puzzlement. He knew him from somewhere. A vague unease arose.
When the young man’s gaze moved to Cole, he paled visibly. “You!”
Miss Palmer gasped. “Robert Palmer, where are your manners?”
Of course. Robert Palmer. From London. Cold dread trickled across his heart as he considered the ramifications.
Palmer pinned him with a dangerous glare. “Stay away from my cousin.”
“Your cousin?” Cole looked from him to the lovely Miss Palmer and understanding dawned. He cursed under his breath. He hadn’t been aware Armand Palmer had a sister. Not that he’d bothered to find out. The possible ramifications took a more serious turn.
Miss Palmer sent Cole a look of apology and turned to her cousin. “Robert, explain yourself.”
In a cold sweat, Cole waited for her condemning stare.
Palmer trembled in rage. He spoke quietly, but each word shot through Cole like bullets fired at close range. “He’s the scoundrel who shot your twin.”
About the Author
Multi-award-winning author of more than twenty best-selling Regency Historical Romances, Donna Hatch is a hopeful romantic and an adventurer at heart. Each book she writes is filled with wit and heart and plenty of swoon-worthy romance. Donna sings, plays the harp, and loves to ballroom dance. Her family, including six children and two cats, recently left their native Arizona for the US Pacific coast. No matter where they live, she and her husband of over twenty years are proof that there truly is a happily ever after.
To find out more about this author and her books, visit her at:
A most scandalous display of courtship occurred yesterday on the stoop of Lady R’s townhome. The dashing Lord B swept the innocent debutante Lady D into his embrace for a scorching kiss. The neighbor’s windows steamed over from the passionate heat. It was said that the lady did not protest the affectionate gesture, but wrapped her arms around the gentleman pulling him closer. The kiss was soon broken-up by the reformed rakes The Duke of S and Lord W.
As Lord B was dragged away by Lord W, he drunkenly declared his apologies. While The Duke of S offered an explanation for his friend’s actions to Lady D. (Who I might add had also courted the lady himself before he wed the lovely Lady S.) A smile of pleasure graced the lady’s face before she closed the door.
But wait, there is more to this story readers. My sources tell me that earlier in the day while at his club, Lord B laid Lord P to the floor with a planter. He threatened him with more punches if he ever approached Lady D and his sister again. It leaves me wondering who the Earl tried protecting more, his sister or the red-haired beauty, Lady D.
Well readers, does the impoverished Earl mean to ruin Lady D for financial gain? Or is he smitten with her charms? While most ladies would have slapped a gentleman stepping over the bounds of propriety, Lady D did not. Which leads me to believe that she welcomes this scandalous courtship. I for one, will enjoy watching this scandal unfold.
About the Book: I Shall Love the Earl (Tricking the Scoundrels #3)
How many times must a gentleman ruin a lady before he offers for her hand….
She waited for the temptation held in his gaze. He refused to give into his desire to court her. Can a ruination of a lady lead toward a love to last a lifetime?
Every ball Dallis MacPherson attended, she saved a spot on her dance card for a certain gentleman. Many balls later and still no offer, prompts her to pursue the earl. When she encounters him on a darkened balcony, he steals a kiss and warns her away. His stolen kiss promises a passion she wants to explore. At every occasion he attends, she tempts him with her own promise. Soon the earl falls for her charms and sends her down a path of ruination with one incident after another. Can Dallis overcome the scandal of the earl’s pursuit?
Roderick Beckwith watched the Scottish beauty from afar. He lost his heart the moment he set eyes upon her. Throughout the season every gentleman offered her a dance, but him. With his financial affairs on the brink of disaster, he couldn’t provide her with the life she deserved. When his mother introduces his sworn enemy to his heart’s desire, he must set aside his pride. However, his courtship is less than ideal. At every opportunity he brings scandal to her name. Can Rory redeem himself and prove to Dallis that he is a gentleman worth loving?
With every glance, Dallis pulls Rory in deeper. His stolen kisses forces him to make her an offer of marriage. As they prepare for their wedding, he acts as the perfect gentleman. However, the proper gentleman was not who Dallis desired. Will her scoundrel show himself before they say I do?
I Shall Love the Earl is the third book in Laura A. Barnes’s romantic historical romance series. If you love a novel filled with a scandalous courtship set in Regency England, then you will enjoy Rory enticing Dallis with promises of love.
Devour I Shall Love the Earl, the third novel in Laura’s Tricking the Scoundrel series today.
Dallis heard the pounding on the door and realized that for some reason Shaw wasn’t going to answer the caller. Even though it was highly improper, Dallis opened the door herself. She stood in surprise at who stood on her doorstep. Lord Roderick Beckwith swayed back and forth, trying to fight for his balance. His eyes glazed over as his lips pulled into a lopsided smile.
“Yous is sooooo betiful.”
He was drunk. The ever-proper, keeping his temper in a tight control, protective Rory Beckwith, was blazing drunk. He reached out to wrap his finger around a stray curl.
“Soooo soft. Knew wods be.”
Rory’s touch stilled Dallis from helping him stand. The gentle caress caught her unaware. His thumb brushed across the loose strand. Rory continued to sway and soon lost his balance. He fell into the doorjamb, where he decided to lean. When Dallis didn’t respond to Rory, he took his touch one step further and brushed his thumb across her lips. The jolt propelled Dallis closer to him, her mouth opening at his touch.
“Soft engf to kiss.”
Dallis didn’t know how to react. Rory was finally near and touching her. Her body took over, responding to his need. Her tongue slowly slid out to lick his thumb. At her reaction, he groaned and pulled her into his arms.
“See, I tolds you I’s dangerous.”
Rory’s lips devoured hers passionately, exploding her senses. His mouth pulling kiss after kiss from her soul, while his hands dived into her hair causing her hair pins to scatter across the foyer. As he sensed her desire, the kiss turned more urgent. Everything she ever read about was coming true at this moment. Still, Dallis held back from responding due to her naivety. Until he groaned and tightened his embrace, giving her the encouragement to return his kiss and match him stroke for stroke.
“We thought this might be your next destination. C’mon mate, before the neighbors catch sight of your stupidity. I told you, Sheffield, that he would go to her.”
Sheffield and Wildeburg pulled Rory away from Dallis. Her face flamed with embarrassment to be caught so intimately in Rory’s embrace. Dallis held her cheeks as Wildeburg led him away.
“Sorrysss Dallis,” Rory called out.
“For the kiss?” she whispered.
Sheffield answered for him. “No, my dear, for another matter. I am working to quell that problem. But you should be aware that he defended your honor at the club today with Lord Phipps.”
“By a bloody punch to the nose.”
“Oh. More to add to my embarrassment.”
“I am afraid so. Do you remember our conversation in the park?”
“If it is any comfort, you are not the only one suffering from love.”
“Then why does he ignore me?”
“Pride, my dear Dallis. A man’s greatest downfall in life.”
“My sentiments exactly.”
“Thank you, Sheffield.”
“Anything for a friend. Will we see you at the Sambourne Ball?”
“Yes, I am very excited. Lady Beckwith offered to introduce me to Lord Holdenburg.”
“So I have heard. Another reason for our acquaintance’s inebriation.”
Dallis smiled. Rory’s display of drunken affection proved he was jealous. Was he jealous enough to stop the courtship her grandmother proposed? If not, his actions this afternoon secured that he must court her or ruin her reputation. They could have explained away the punch, but the kiss held the most damage. Dallis knew her grandmother’s neighbors watched them. There wasn’t an activity in the neighborhood they didn’t observe.
“Give Sophia my love.”
“Will do. Please save me a dance this evening. We might as well make the bloke so bloody jealous that he will become a pup at your feet, begging for a treat.”
Dallis closed the door as Sheffield entered his carriage. She leaned against the paneling, her smile growing wider, realizing she had Rory right where she wanted him. Her smile turned to astonishment as she remembered the taste of him on her lips. She pressed her fingers to her mouth. Would he recall their kiss after his drunkenness wore off? If not, she would be sure to refresh his memory.
International selling author Laura A. Barnes fell in love with writing in the second grade. After her first creative writing assignment, she knew what she wanted to become. Many years went by with Laura filling her head full of story ideas and some funny fish songs she wrote while fishing with her family. Thirty-seven years later, she made her dreams a reality. With her debut novel Rescued By the Captain, she has set out on the path she always dreamed about.
When not writing, Laura can be found devouring her favorite romance books. Laura is married to her own Prince Charming (who for some reason or another thinks the heroes in her books are about him) and they have three wonderful children and two sweet grandbabies. Besides her love of reading and writing, Laura loves to travel. With her passport stamped in England, Scotland, and Ireland; she hopes to add more countries to her list soon.
While Laura isn’t very good on the social media front, she loves to hear from her readers. You can find her on the following platforms:
My name? Let’s just call me Miss Kitten. I have some of the most wonderful gossip about Lord Belmont!
You see, he’s in town with his mother for the Season and it seems he’s taken a liking to the most inappropriate of women. You probably know who she is, of course. That’s right, Miss Emma Sellars, the bluestocking who fancies becoming a doctor! Now I’m not exactly sure if he knows that about her, but I’m not going to say a word! Her parents are simply desperate to marry her off and once they find out about Lord Belmont they’re going to want to keep it as quiet as possible. I only hope Miss Sellars can keep herself in line long enough for him to ask for her hand!
The Hellion and the Highwayman, now available for preorder at all retailers as part of the A Hellion’s Midnight Kiss boxset!
Emma Sellars wants to be a doctor, but her parents would rather see her as a bride. Her sister Katherine is excited about the upcoming Season, but with her parents’s ultimatum that she either find a suitor or leave their house, Emma is less than enthusiastic about it.
Lord Thomas Belmont recently came into his title as Earl of Arabel when his father died, and in London at his mother’s request. While the balls are a delight, his real interest lies in the pockets of the affluent people coming in on the London highways.
When they meet by chance on an outing with Emma’s sisters, Thomas is immediately taken with Emma but knows his nighttime outings won’t make for a happy courtship. He’ll have to choose between duty and love, or leave Emma to continue her studies penniless.
About the Author
Rebecca Lovell fell in love with history when she first visited the stockyards in her native Fort Worth and she has been writing and studying different eras ever since. When she’s not writing she enjoys crocheting, running, and playing with her many cats. Find her online at:
It has come to our attention here at the Teatime Tattler that in a certain town in Maine, there is a widow in charge of the lighthouse. Perhaps the population there is so sparse that they must press ladies into occupations better suited to gentlemen?
We have investigated this untoward circumstance thoroughly, to see if there is some suitable explanation. Perhaps she holds domestic sway while a son does the more — muscular, dare we say, — duties? While there is a son, he is to attend medical school, leaving the widow to attend the lighthouse, her home, and take care of the raising of two younger girls.
Those in town report the widow has taken the duties of lighthouse keeper upon herself. We can only imagine her grief at the loss of her husband has rendered her incapable of understanding her feminine limitations. Why, much mechanical work must be done to keep the lens in order. And much courage is needed to keep the light burning during stormsy weather. Reading the list of instructions for a lighthouse keeper, it becomes clear that only a man is up to the task.
You may suggest that we, who do not live in this town, have no business reporting on their lighthouse keeper. But you forget that the lighthouse is all that prevents ships from foundering in the dark, in the fog, and in stormy seas, where Mother Nature wreaks her bad temper on unlucky sailors. Do we want our sailors coming near a lighthouse where a widow is in charge? We think not. It has been reported, but we can scarcely credit it ourselves, that the widow had attended the lighthouse well, in all her duties and the town wishes her to remain in place. If so, we have a suggestion for them: please find that widow a husband, forthwith.
The sight of her new home stole Betsy’s breath away. The lighthouse perched like an ancient warrior goddess atop the throne of rocks that acted as a bulwark against the relentless surf. The sound and scent and feel of the water permeated through everything, enfolding her in its powerful embrace. She breathed in, closed her eyes—then opened them and carefully picked her path up toward the entrance.
The front door was constructed of heavy, unpolished wood, as though it had been salvaged directly from the waves. Its austere beauty reminded her of the duke’s ancient manor home, stalwart and secure. The cracks and peels in the dirty white paint around the base of the massive structure became clear as she approached, but they only added to the picture of a home that would stand through a storm and show little damage for it.
She frowned slightly, looking around. Not that a woman’s hand wasn’t needed here, she was relieved to see. What scrubby grass had managed to pry its way through the stones was left untended. A child’s faded toy ball sat lonely in the center of the footpath, half-deflated. She would make her mark on her new home. Her husband would see that she was a worthwhile addition to his life.
Betsy paused. She gazed at the sun-bleached, wind-worn outer walls, at the two crumbling steps leading up to a bare stoop. The light above the doorway was clouded with grime. She glanced over her shoulder, but the driver was long gone. All she had left by way of companionship was the lighthouse and the sea. Where was her new family? Why had they not come outside to greet her yet.
She sighed, hoping that this lonely doorstep wasn’t the beginning of a huge mistake. Then she steeled herself once more, climbed the stairs, and knocked. It was cool in the shadow of the building; she felt a chill run through her. The crazy notion of running away, simply turning and bolting down the long ocean road, flashed through her mind—but right behind it was something Kate had said to her as they parted — the only impossibility is the possibility you fail to see.
The door began to open. In moments, it would be too late to flee.
Betsy squared her shoulders and plastered a smile on her face. Emile Laverdiere was a possibility she must see before she let fear chase her away.
A wraith of a man stood just inside the threshold, his pale eyes huge in the gaunt frame of his face. Betsy bit her tongue just in time to keep a gasp of surprise from escaping her lips. Though she had not chosen to follow the healer path her mother had taken, with her herbs and potions, she knew this man was gravely ill.
“Betsy Lawton?” he asked in a voice that matched the rest of him—thin, frail, reedy.
“Emile Laverdiere?” She looked into his eyes and saw that he had registered her dismay. No doubt he had been expecting it.
He smiled, and his cheekbones stood out like mountain ridges underneath his sunken eyes. There was humor there, despite the ravage of illness. “The one and only. We have been counting the minutes until your arrival. Though it may be impolite, we must ask what you think of your new home?”
Betsy somehow kept her smile in place as she took his offered hand and stepped into the lighthouse. Her soon-to-be-husband’s fingers were cold and bony against hers; she feared that if she squeezed at all, his hand would break. “You have a magnificent landscape at your command,” she answered honestly. He had said nothing of illness in his letters. Nor had those who had attested to his honest character and true desire to wed. Could it be recent? Or had she been duped?
His air of acute attention told her he waited for more. There was an air of patient acceptance in his waiting eyes, as if she could tell him the truth. That she did not want to wed a dying man. Did not know if she truly wanted to immure herself on an isolated jut of rock like Rapunzel in one of the duchess’s favorite fairytales.
But she had come all this way, she would not be her practical mother’s daughter to throw everything away without discovering all she could about this place. Her eyes roamed the interior of the lighthouse’s living space, and she found it plain but comfortable. The rounded room was cozy, softly lit, warmed by a small stone hearth. A spiral staircase formed its centerpiece, climbing up and up through the ceiling. Her eyes could not help following it upward into the unknown. She could hear a slight scraping sound, some rustling, a whispered exchange so low she could almost dismiss it as the sound of the wind.
She looked at her soon-to-be-husband. “What is up there?’ Her eyes swept back upward, toward the sound.
He seemed to approve of her question. “Take a look for yourself, if you like.” He gestured upward. “But forgive me for not accompanying you. I will only slow a young woman like you down. It takes me a while to climb up and down, thought I do it three times a day.”
Of course, Betsy thought. That was why he had not been down to greet her quickly. He had come from the top of the lighthouse. She felt a sympathetic ache in her own healthy joints at what he must endure to do his duty three times a day.
She looked upward, walked to the iron railing, and grasped the cold metal. She began to ascend. On the first landing, she paused at what sounded like sudden whispers, but she saw nothing, so she continued upward.
At the very top, she found her answer. The view that had seemed magnificent when she first arrived, had become almost godlike here, above the sea. She could see for miles. She could pick out the people in the village going about their business, but also the sea life in the ocean. Her breath caught. She leaned closer to look. A whale. She could see a whale in the distance, breaching repeatedly like a child at play.
She was careful not to touch any of the instruments that controlled the light. Emile would teach her to use them, she was certain. She had always been an apt pupil. Living in a duke’s household had exposed her to many lessons not always provided to a governess’s daughter. Living with the Fenster siblings had provided her with lessons that went beyond what was possible even in a duke’s household. She had seen one Fenster sister start a business making beautiful high fashion buttons with a cottager, another become an artist of repute, and one a card sharp that others admired. Kate, her best friend and youngest Fenster sister, had won prizes for the roses she created in her greenhouse.
The gleaming brass of the instruments called to her, but she did not touch, except for one, loving stroke. If she accepted the dying man downstairs as husband, this could be hers.
About the Book: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Bride
At long last, Book 8 in the Once Upon a Wedding series has arrived
Raised almost as a sister in a duke’s household, Betsy Lawton has let the duchess’ love of fairytale endings lead her to believe she has a chance at true love with a man far above her station.
Betsy Lawton, the governess’ daughter, dares to give her heart to an earl. When he crushes it under his heel to marry according to his family’s expectations, she turns her back on England and departs for America, where rank and station are no impediment to her dreams. Not that Betsy desires true love any longer. Instead she will be the mail order bride of a lighthouse keeper. It is the lighthouse she will love, she vows.
Matthew Thigpen, Earl of Battingston, had always regretted not fighting hard enough to marry the woman he loved, despite her lack of rank and family. But now he needs to find her. The woman he jilted is the only woman who will understand his predicament and keep his daughter safe.
Now a widow, Betsy must marry again to keep her job at her beloved lighthouse. Matthew offers her a devil’s bargain that will allow her to keep her job at the lighthouse she loves and keep his daughter safe as well. But is his bargain worth the lighthouse, if he breaks her heart all over again?
Kelly McClymer fell in love with Cinderella,
Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White as a child. Her most prized possession
is her copy of The Complete Tales of the Brothers Grimm. These are the
stories which gripped our ancestors as they huddled around the fire at
night, which taught countless children to persevere through hardship and
succeed against the odds. Her favorite fairytale remains “The Six
Swans” — where a young sister must not speak a word for six years in
order to save her brothers from their stepmother’s evil spell.