Miri, heroine of Shannon Hale’s Newbery Honor winner Princess Academy and the newly released The Forgotten Sisters returns for a charming third story—and this time, she’s creating a princess academy of her very own.
The sunlight on the water flashed and glared. Miri squinted, her head pounding. The straps of her pack cut into her shoulders. The ground was slippery, her boot soles thick with mud. She could not spare a hand to wipe the sweat dripping onto her cheeks.
You are a tutor, she told herself. You have to be imposing!
The wooden door in its frame looked swollen and misshapen, though perhaps years ago it had fit properly in the cut stone. It swung inward at her first knock, squeaking on its hinges.
“Hello?” Miri called out. She stepped inside.
The building was only one room, and it was nearly empty. The polished stone floor tilted to one side, some stones jutting higher than others, as if over the years the ground had settled.
A girl was climbing in through one of the open windows, followed by two others. They wore loose brown shirts and leggings, stained even browner up to the knees, and held sticks and poles.
“Who are you? What are you doing in our house?” asked the tallest one.
In their house? These wild girls were the royal cousins? Miri guessed the tall one was Astrid, the eldest girl.
“Call the village,” the middle one whispered—probably Felissa.
“She doesn’t look like a bandit,” said the shortest. Susanna.
Miri worked her tongue in her mouth, but it was so dry. They would notice how young she was, and her short stature made her seem even younger. They would see she was a fraud and not a real tutor at all. She had to be strong, speak firmly, demand respect. Be imposing.
“I am your tutor. You may call me Tutor Miri.”
“Who?” asked Astrid.
“You should raise your hand if you . . . when you want to talk . . . or ask something. Though I may not answer. Immediately.”
The girls looked at one another, baffled. Miri’s head felt funny, her legs kind of tingly, but if she sat, she would seem weak.
Astrid raised her hand and said, “You’re in our house.”
Miri looked around. “There aren’t any books. I don’t see a single book.”
“I don’t see a single snake in here either,” said Astrid. “I don’t see a single lot of things. Who are you?”
“I only brought three books because I thought . . .” Her head felt as tilty as the floor. “There’s no furniture either. Why do you live here? You’re the king’s cousins. You’re royalty.”
“So we’ve heard,” Astrid said and stepped in front of her younger sisters, still gripping her long, sharpened stick.
“I’m feeling a little . . . muddled. There was a long walk and so hot and the ground’s still leaning as if it wants to be water—” Miri giggled. “I sound crazy, don’t I? I don’t mean to. I’m just . . . thirsty . . .”
Miri watched the floor swell like a white ocean, leisurely, pleasantly. Her limbs felt wonderfully light, and she sighed right before the floor rose up to meet her.