The thirteenth birthday of Lady Grace Cavendish, Maid of Honour to Queen Elizabeth I, has come and the Queen has decided that it is time for Grace to select the man she will marry upon her sixteenth birthday. The Queen herself handpicks three suitors for Grace to choose from at the St. Valentine's Ball.
The first, Sir Charles Amesbury, is a portly and jovial older man who loves horses and singing. He is perhaps the suitor Grace feels closest to, as he is her riding instructor, but the only affection Grace has for him is that of a daughter for a father. Her next suitor, Sir Gerald Worthy, is the nephew of Lord Worthy, who is the guardian of Grace's estate. Sir Gerald is young and handsome, and all of Grace's fellow Maids of Honour believe him to be the best choice. However, Grace finds him irritating and arrogant. The last suitor is Lord Robert Radcliffe. He is also young, but unlike Sir Gerald, Lord Robert is impoverished and lacks confidence. He stammers uncontrollably, which causes him to be self-conscious. Despite this, Grace favors him, thinking him to be the best of two worlds; he is kinder than Sir Gerald and younger than Sir Charles.
At the St. Valentine's Ball, all three suitors present Grace with a gift, and the gift she chooses will decide the man she marries. Sir Charles gives her an ivory hunting flask, Sir Gerald a gilded knife, and Lord Robert a rope of pearls. Grace, reluctant to marry at all, wittily refuses all three gifts, saying she does not need a husband at the moment. But, of course, the Queen does not allow this, and Grace chooses Lord Robert.
Sir Gerald takes this badly and starts to drink hard. When an attendent refuses to get him more alcohol because he is drunk, Sir Gerald makes a scene until the Queen herself intervenes and tells Lord Robert to give Sir Gerald his own goblet. Sir Gerald leaves, and peace is restored.
However, when Grace wakes up the next morning, she finds that Sir Gerald has been murdered in his bed with the same knife he was going to give Grace, and that Lord Robert's aiglet (an ornamental trimming found on clothing) is found on Sir Gerald's pillow. Despite Grace's protest, Lord Robert is taken under arrest to await trial. Grace, sure that Lord Robert is innocent, decides to find out for herself who really murdered Sir Gerald.
(can someone plz write more! x)