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Authors: The Adventures of Vin Fiz

Tags: #Technology & Engineering, #Magic, #Family, #Action & Adventure, #Aviation, #Juvenile Fiction, #Airplanes, #Fantasy & Magic, #Fiction, #Voyages and Travels, #Twins, #Transportation, #Siblings, #General, #Rescues, #Aeronautics & Astronautics, #Brothers and Sisters

Clive Cussler

BOOK: Clive Cussler
10.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

PHILOMEL BOOKS A division of Penguin Young Readers Group. Published by The Penguin Group. Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street. New York, NY 10014, U.S.A. Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3

(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.). Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England. Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dubli.n 2. Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.).

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Text copyright © 2006 by Sandecker, RLLLP. Illustrations copyright © 2006 by William Farnsworth.

All rights reserved. This book, or pans thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group.

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Published simultaneously in Canada. Printed in the United States of America,

Design by Gunta Alexander. Text set in Wilke. The cover illustration was rendered in oil paint on canvas, interiors in pencil.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Cussler, Clive. The adventures of Vin Fiz / Clive Cussler ; with illustrations by William Farnsworth. p. cm. Summary: Ten-year-old twins Casey and Lacey fly an enchanted, antique airplane, named the "Vin Fiz." across the United States and have several daring adventures along the way. Includes historical notes on the real "Vin Fiz," the name of the airplane that made the first transcontinental

flight in 1911. [1. Airplanes—Fiction. 2. Voyages and travels—Fiction. 3. Rescues—Fiction. 4. Twins—Fiction. 5. Brothers and sisters—Fiction. 6. Magic—Fiction.] I.
William, ill. II. Title. PZ7.C965 Ad 2006 [Ficl—dc22 2005048886 ISBN 0-399-24474-3


First Impression

Bryce & Lauren &
Jason & Amie &
Teri & Dirk & Dayna, who heard it first

1 The Mysterious Stranger

In a time still remembered, there was a quaint little village in California called Castroville. It rested in a valley near the Pacific Ocean and was built on artichokes. Actually, they were not used to build the houses. Artichokes are too soft and do not make good building blocks. They are an edible flower head that is cooked and eaten as a vegetable. Some people like them, some do not. Some call artichokes an idiosyncrasy—a funny word that means odd behavior—because they really are a thistle with stickers whose leaves taste good only when dipped in a yummy sauce.

Every farm and family in the valley harvested artichokes . . . almost every farm and family, but not all. There was one man who did not follow the beat of an artichoke drummer. Ever Nicefolk preferred to grow exotic herbs and spices, valued for their savory taste and wonderful smells, and sell them to gourmet stores and restaurants around the country. On his little sixty-acre farm, he planted and raised licorice, spearmint, mint, figwort, ginseng and many other varieties during the growing season. The only problem was that he did not have enough land to be profitable. One bad year without rain and the Nicefolks would lose their farm.

Ever Nicefolk may sound like a curious name, but he could trace his family tree back five hundred years to an ancestor known as Knot Nicefolk, who was a highwayman in merry old England. A highwayman, you might like to know, was a bandit who held up travelers and stagecoaches. You've heard of Robin Hood, I'll bet—he was a highwayman too. Mr. Nicefolk was a serious man who seldom laughed but had twinkling gray eyes and wore a crooked smile that moved back and forth across his mouth as if unable to settle in one position. He moved and talked slowly, traits that fooled some into thinking he was dull witted, when in fact he was very clever and smart. A good man, an honest man, he was known throughout Castroville for his dedication to growing herbs of extraordinary quality.

Ima Nicefolk was his wife and the mother of his two children. Unlike her husband, she was a jolly soul, always giggling and entertaining the children with funny games and cookies baked with sweet-tasting herbs. A small woman, she fluttered about, like a bird chopping across a lawn.

Then there were Casey and Lacey, who were ten-year-old non-identical twins, since a boy and a girl cannot be identical. Casey was a blond boy with hair as yellow as marigolds, so his mother told everyone. He had sparkling green eyes that darted all about as if always searching for something. Lacey's hair was golden brown and gleamed like amber under the sun; she had eyes as blue as a robin's eggs.

They all lived in a two-story ranch house under a grove of palm trees without a lawn, since every inch of open ground was devoted to raising prize herbs. The farm was known as Nicefolk Landing because it straddled the Pajaro and Salinas rivers where they ran into the ocean at Monterey Bay. It was a fun place for the children to play—water to swim and row boats in, the rivers filled with fish and turtles and frogs. There was even a nearby railroad track where they could watch the trains roll by and wave to the engineers, who tooted their steam whistles, and to the passengers, who never failed to wave back.

How they longed to board the train and see the country. Neither of the children had been more than twenty miles from the farm. The only times they got away from home were the one-or two-day camping trips they took in the surrounding countryside. There was a great, interesting world out there somewhere, and they wanted someday to see it. If only there was a way.

Casey was not overly fond of school. True, he did well, but he was more interested in exploring and building model airplanes and automobiles, of which he had more than a hundred hanging from the ceiling of his room. He loved all things mechanical and rode around the farm on his little motorized scooter. His teachers often wrote on his report cards, much to the irritation of Mr. Nicefolk, "Casey daydreams and does not apply himself."

Lacey, on the other hand, loved school. She diligently did her homework and excelled in English and mathematics. Outside of school, Lacey created scrumptious recipes with the farm's herbs and designed furniture that Mr. Nicefolk built and sold in town after the herb seeds had been sowed.

When harvest time came, everybody pitched in to pick the herbs, which was all done by hand without machines. There were no animals on the farm, only a droopy-eyed, long-eared basset hound called Floopy.

After doing his homework, Casey helped his father tend the crops while Lacey helped her mother in the kitchen. Things around the farm seemed normal enough. But lately, there was a strange feeling in the air that seemed to come from the barn.

Barns are fascinating buildings that have their own spirit and soul. This one was built by Grandpa Nicefolk's own hands from stone he had found in the nearby rivers, until the barn was bigger than the house! The sides had arched windows, and the roof had two fanciful cupolas on either end and a weather vane in the shape of an old sailing ship perched on the peak. The interior was huge and open. Beams and braces supported the typical barn roof with a flattened top half and a steep lower half. It was filled with bins where the herbs were stored after they were harvested until the family packed them into sacks for shipping to their buyers.

The scent of the herbs as they dried rose and swirled throughout the barn, mingling to create a hundred different fabulous smells that tickled the noses of all who inhaled the aromas.

People these days avoided the Nicefolk farm as if there was a hex about the place. It was a sense that something was not quite right, like when you get goose bumps on your arms. What almost no one knew, including Mr. and Mrs. Nicefolk, was that the house and field were not hexed. It was the barn that gave off unusual vibrations after a very strange hired hand had left for the harvest season. Those who entered the barn felt their skin tingle. Ever and Ima Nicefolk simply became used to it. Only Casey and Lacey knew the barn's secret.

It all began one year earlier, when a wandering field-worker stopped at the farm. He came down the road between the herb fields, leading a donkey that pulled a small two-wheel wagon whose contents were covered by a red canvas tarpaulin. He came to a halt in the front yard, walked up on the porch and knocked on the door. Floopy came running across the porch, barking in a deep, melodious tone like a foghorn. Suddenly he stopped and walked up to the stranger, sat on his haunches, tilted his head quizzically and stared as a friendly hand stroked him between the ears.

"Most strange," said Mr. Nicefolk, who opened the front door and peered out. "That dog has never taken to a stranger."

"I have a way with animals," said the stranger softly.

BOOK: Clive Cussler
10.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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