‘On the book tour for Evie Grace’s new book called ‘The Golden Maid’, which is part of ‘The Smugglers Daughters’ series, sit back and relax an extract from the historical novel.
Deal, December 1812
‘Miss Winifred Lennicker of Compass Cottage, Cockle Swamp Alley, Deal. You are charged that on the eighth day of December 1812, you were found in possession of goods illegally imported from France, namely a half-anker of cognac hidden in a handcart. Furthermore, you obstructed a Riding officer whilst he was carrying out his duties in accordance with the law.’
Trembling, Winnie stood listening from the dock as Reverend North, a well-fed gentleman in his fifties, wearing a cassock and Canterbury cap from which dangled strands of powdered grey hair, gazed at her from the Bench in the crowded courtroom. She glanced from the vicar to his fellow magistrates, Mr Norris, a portly figure with a florid complexion who had placed his whip and gold watch on the table in front of him, and Mr Causton, landlord of the Waterman’s Arms. Standing to their left was Officer Chase who was bringing the case against her on behalf of the Revenue, watched by an audience of Winnie’s family, and many of the townspeople of Deal, both friends and strangers.
The stench of sweat and filthy clothes cut through the perfume of rosewater and the herbs that had been scattered across the floor, making her retch. She was in deep water and it wasn’t her fault.
‘How do you plead?’ the vicar went on.
‘Stop!’ interrupted Officer Chase. ‘There is another charge to be included.’
Reverend North gave a weary sigh. ‘I understand that you are keen to obtain a conviction and hold this young woman up as an example to those who are involved in the free trade, sir, but may I suggest that your enthusiasm has as much to do with your desire for pecuniary reward as it does for your wish to see justice carried out.’
‘You may suggest no such thing,’ Officer Chase protested as a ripple of laughter spread through the courtroom. Everybody knew that he would receive a bonus if the case that he’d brought against Winnie was proven.
‘These are summary offences that can be dealt with quickly and quietly by the Bench here,’ Reverend North said haughtily.
‘The prisoner –’ Winnie didn’t like the way the officer lingered on the word ‘– tried to deceive me by pretending to be someone else. Impersonation is a capital offence. Miss Lennicker must go to trial at the Assizes in front of a judge and jury. I am determined on this course – I will not be gammoned by the villains of Deal any longer. They have led the Revenue a merry dance for long enough.’ Officer Chase was a young man, of not more than five and twenty, who stood tall and straight-backed in his riding clothes, his spurs flashing at his ankles. ‘Of course, we all know why you won’t consider this latter charge, Reverend . . .’
If that extract wasn’t enough to wet your appetite, you can buy ‘The Golden Maid’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops.