The Spy and the Seamstress
by Scott M. Smith

Published: 2023-03-08T00:0
Paperback : 512 pages
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"I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

Captain Nathan Hale, America's first spy, uttered these immortal words while staring at a hangman's noose in a leafy New York City park in September 1776.

When a patriot mob threatened to lynch her father, a staunch ...

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"I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

Captain Nathan Hale, America's first spy, uttered these immortal words while staring at a hangman's noose in a leafy New York City park in September 1776.

When a patriot mob threatened to lynch her father, a staunch supporter of the British crown, Anne Wheaton tossed her needles and threads aside to become a soldier in her own right.

In The Spy and the Seamstress, Nathan and Anne must navigate duty and sacrifice, freedom and bondage, love and lust.

Their Revolutionary tale rollicks with action, suspense, and romance, while also probing deeper moral issues that still resonate in the twenty-first century.

The Spy and the Seamstress unearths centuries-old correspondence, diaries, and maps to portray this tumult in rich detail.

Dive into the churning cauldron of life in colonial America. Start reading The Spy and the Seamstress today.

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Anne Wheaton, eighteen years old, sat patiently at the table watching her younger brothers, Caleb, Phineas and Richard, drool in anticipation of the feast set before them. It was unusual to have such lavish fare mid-week, but, her mother, Abigail, had hastily organized the meal as soon as she learned of Father’s ordeal that afternoon.

Located just off Water Street, their weathered gray clapboard house featured a keeping room, open to the kitchen, and parlor on ground level and two bedrooms upstairs. As the family’s fortunes rose, Father had framed the hearth with pine panels and decorated the parlor with floral wallpaper imported from England. His prized possession, a Simon Willard tall-case clock personalized with the Wheaton name scripted on the face, stood against the far wall. To rectify the shortage of females in the household, he also purchased Becky, a matronly Black.

Anne was at least as hungry as her siblings.  She had risen before sunrise to feed the chickens before heading to school. After class, she scrubbed yesterday’s clothes in a tub of boiling water and mended Richard’s coat. Then, she helped Father at the store, fitting Mrs. Goldsmith, one of their most finicky customers, into her new dress just arrived from London with a waistline two inches too tight.

“Anne, I believe tonight is your turn to say grace,” Mother said, bowing her head. Her once crimson hair had grayed after the pox claimed her last two children, Grace and Phebe, before their fifth birthday, but she maintained a pleasant face and ready smile that always attracted greetings when she strolled along the harbor.

Anne waited for her family to link hands before offering thanks for their bounteous meal, good health, and the safe return of her father from the hands of the rebel mob. She paused, then added a word of gratitude for Schoolmaster Hale.

“You fancy him,” Richard teased.

“I fancy learning,” she replied, looking up and down the table, challenging any of the males in her family to dispute her right to exercise her mind.

“And what have you learned from that Yale dandy?” Caleb asked, tossing his unruly mane of flaming red locks. Sixteen and apprenticed to a New London tailor in preparation to take over the family business one day, he was fast becoming a man of the world. “I saw the way he gaped at you at the winter frolic at Miner’s.”

“He did look sweet on you when he supped here last month.” Mother added with a coy smile. Father just huffed as he reached for the meat.

Anne dipped her head, staring at her empty plate to hide her blush. With a lashing tongue, petulant face and bosom as flat as a washboard, she was hardly a magnet to the young men in town. Did Nathan really fancy her? There were so many prettier girls in her class.

“No one kicks a ball as far as Schoolmaster Hale,” Richard added, oblivious to the tenor of the conversation. “He cleared the trees…”

“Are you two going to bundle?” Phineas interrupted. A teenager himself now, he was just beginning to show an interest in the opposite sex.

Anne’s face flushed as an image of Nathan, striding towards her, his queue of tawny hair swinging between his broad shoulders, ignited an urge that was completely inappropriate for a God-fearing, Christian woman. Since the first day of class last summer, she had harbored the fantasy of spending the night with her schoolmaster - even if they were both bundled in separate down quiltings with a board between them. Did her countenance reveal her thoughts? She glanced at Father, relieved to see him gnawing his fowl. view abbreviated excerpt only...

Discussion Questions

From the author:

1. How does the political/social climate today compare to 1776?

2. Are Anne Wheaton’s intellect and willfulness a liability or benefit in shaping the course of her life in colonial America?

3. Which way will Anne turn next? Politically? Socially?

4. Why did Nathan Hale volunteer to spy?

5. What aspect of life in colonial America did you find most surprising?

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