Authors: Geoff Rodkey
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
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Copyright © 2012 by Geoff Rodkey. Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Iacopo Bruno.
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Published simultaneously in Canada. Printed in the United States of America.
Design by Ryan Thomann. Text set in Minister.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Rodkey, Geoff, 1970– Deadweather and Sunrise / by Geoff Rodkey.
p. cm.—(The chronicles of Egg; bk. 1)
Summary: Thirteen-year-old Egbert, a planter’s son on a pirate-infested Caribbean island chain, is on the run from a wealthy and powerful villain trying to kill him for his connection to a hidden treasure.
[1. Adventure and adventurers—Fiction. 2. Islands—Fiction. 3. Buried treasure—Fiction. 4. Good and evil—Fiction.] I. Title. PZ7.R61585De 2012 [Fic]—dc23 2011033411
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obody lived on Deadweather but us and the pirates. It wasn’t hard to understand why. For one thing, the weather was atrocious. Eleven months out of twelve, it was brutally hot and humid, with no wind at all, so on a bad day the air felt like a hot, soggy blanket smothering you from all sides.
And the other month was September, which meant hurricanes.
Then there was the volcano. It hadn’t actually blown in ages, but it belched smoke and shook the earth enough to scare away anybody who might’ve overlooked the pirates and the weather. The only reason it didn’t scare me, even though plenty of things do, was because I’d been born and raised halfway up its slope and didn’t know any different.
That’s how I felt about the pirates, too. There were two kinds on Deadweather: the normal ones, who hung around down in Port Scratch, drinking and getting into knife fights whenever they weren’t off raiding Cartager gold ships; and the busted-down,
broken ones, who’d lost too many limbs or eyes or organs to crew a ship, but not enough to kill them outright. A few of those stayed in the Scratch, patching together a living in the taverns and the gun shops, but most of them hobbled up the mountain to work for Dad on the ugly fruit plantation.
I don’t know what he paid them—it couldn’t have been much, because we didn’t have much. But I guess it was enough, since none of them ever staged a mutiny or tried to kill us all in our sleep.
They slept down in the barracks and mostly kept to themselves in the orchards, except for Quint the house pirate, who cooked for us and did some occasional sewing. Dad had his hands full running the plantation, so he left the rest of the housework to the kids—the kids being me, my sister Venus, and my brother Adonis. I was the youngest, which I didn’t much like. Adonis whaled on me every chance he got, and even though I fought back as best I could, he had three years on me, so I usually got the short end of it—especially after he turned fifteen and shot up past six feet, with shoulders almost as wide and thick as Dad’s.
Fortunately, as Adonis got bigger, he also got more lumbering, so eventually I figured out I could duck the beating by running to the orchards and climbing an ugly fruit tree, way up to where the branches got too thin to bear his weight. He knew Dad would skin him if he hurt one of those trees, so he’d just glower at me from under his heavy, black eyebrows, and shake his fist, and bellow that he could wait for me forever. Then he’d get bored and wander off.
Venus used to knock me around, too, right up until the day I got big enough to take her in a fight. She backed off for good after that, except to constantly tell me how stupid I was, and how Dad
had tried to sell me but couldn’t find a buyer at any price, and how someday she was going to marry a Rovian prince, and the prince would have me ground up and fed to his horses.
“They’ll gobble you up, Egbert, bones and all,” she’d say, sneering down her long, sharp nose at me.
At some point, I found out horses don’t eat meat, but I never bothered to tell Venus. Just like I never bothered to tell her no prince of Rovia would ever marry a commoner, let alone try to find a wife by leaving the Continent and sailing thousands of miles across the Great Maw to a sweaty little pirate-infested island so unimportant it didn’t even show up on the maps of the New Lands in
Geography of the World.
There was no point in telling her any of that, because Venus ignored any fact she didn’t like, and the ones she couldn’t ignore, she screamed at. And whenever she screamed, Adonis would come running—not because he cared about Venus one way or another, but just for the excuse—and I’d get slugged, unless I got to a tree fast enough.
And if I did, he’d stand under it and yell the same fist-shaking curse every time: “Treat a lady like that, I’ll ’ave the pirates cut yer tongue out!”
Venus was hardly a lady, except in her own mind—she belched when she ate, and picked her nose at the table—and anyway, it was an empty threat. None of the field pirates could stand Adonis, so if he’d ever ordered them to cut my tongue out, the ones who still had legs would have kicked him in the shins.
But Adonis wasn’t much for facts, either. Or any kind of learning—I’m not even sure Mr. Sutch managed to teach him how to read properly.
Mr. Sutch was our first tutor, and the only good one, which was probably why he didn’t last. This was years back—I was just seven when he showed up, which would have made Venus nine and Adonis ten. I guess Dad had figured out by then that we weren’t going to learn to read and write by ourselves—especially since the only book in the house was a chewed-up copy of
Principles of Citrus Cultivation
—so he’d sent out a flyer with the captain of the cargo ship that hauled the ugly fruit harvest up to the Fish Islands.
When the ship came back six months later, Mr. Sutch was on it—all bony and worried-looking, and pulling out a handkerchief every two minutes to wipe the sweat-fog from his glasses. Right from the start, it was obvious he was a bad fit. The volcano and the pirates had him scared out of his pants, and on his first night, I overheard him out on the porch with Dad, complaining in his reedy voice that he’d been lured to Deadweather under false pretenses.
Dad snorted. “Stuff! Don’t even ’ave one.”
“A wot-ye-say. A faults pretenses.”
“What I mean… is that your advertisement specifically indicated this position was on Sunrise Island.”
“Nah, it didn’t.”
“Sir, if I may—” I was inside, listening from under the sitting room window, so I couldn’t see them, but I heard a crinkling of paper as Mr. Sutch unfolded what must have been Dad’s flyer. “Right here, line three—it says ‘Sunrise Island.’”
“Nah, look—says ‘
“No, it… that word there? It’s ‘roundabout’?”
“Wot ye think it was?”
“I honestly didn’t know what that word was.”
“Now ye do. Says ‘roundabout.’”
“That’s not even remotely correct spelling!”
“Quint read it fine.”
“House pirate. In the kitchen. Got stumps fer legs. Smart one, he is. Reads AND writes.”
“Look, sir… spelling issues aside, this island is HARDLY ‘roundabout Sunrise’!”
“Wot ye mean? Head down to the Scratch, ’op a boat, east nor’east… catch the wind right, be there in three hours. ’At’s roundabout, seems to me.”
“Well, I’d very much like to do that. And as soon as possible—I think it’s the least you can do for me under the circumstances.”
“Wot? Put ye on a boat? Can’t. ’Aven’t got one—I’m a farmer. And the cargo ship’s sailed, won’t be back till next season… Might get one o’ the pirates to take ye, fer the right price. ’Ave ye got a gun?”
“What? No! I’m a man of learning.”
“Wouldn’t chance it, then. Man shows up in the Scratch with money in ’is pocket and no gun, not likely to go well for ’im… Looks like yer stuck ’ere, then. So—gonna teach me kids? Or ye gonna pick fruit? ’Cause them’s the only jobs need doin’ round ’ere.”
Once he realized he wasn’t going anywhere soon, Mr. Sutch did his best to educate us. But it was a tough job. When he started, none of us could read a word or add higher than our fingers, and when we talked, we all sounded like pirates. That particularly bothered him, because he was a very formal sort, and he couldn’t
abide the fact that we not only didn’t speak what he called “proper Rovian,” we couldn’t even see the point of it.
“Ye understan’ us, yeh?” said Venus. “So wha’s the need fer all these