Read The Book of Bones Online

Authors: Natasha Narayan

The Book of Bones

BOOK: The Book of Bones
13.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

The Book of Bones

Natasha Narayan was born in India but emigrated to England at the age of five. She has had many jobs in journalism including working as a war correspondent in Bosnia. Like Kit Salter, Natasha loves exploring new places. She hopes to see the Great Wall of China one day, probably by plane and bus rather than steamship and horse. She lives in Oxford.

The Book of Bones

A Kit Salter Adventure

Natasha Narayan

New York • London

© 2010 by Natasha Narayan

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by reviewers, who may quote brief passages in a review. Scanning, uploading, and electronic distribution of this book or the facilitation of the same without the permission of the publisher is prohibited.

Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

Any member of educational institutions wishing to photocopy part or all of the work for classroom use or anthology should send inquiries to Permissions c/o Quercus Publishing Inc., 31 West 57
th
Street, 6
th
Floor, New York, NY 10019, or to
[email protected]
.

ISBN 978-1-62365-278-4

Distributed in the United States and Canada by Random House Publisher Services
c/o Random House, 1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, institutions, places, and events are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons—living or dead—events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

www.quercus.com

The Kit Salter Adventures by Natasha Narayan

The Mummy Snatcher of Memphis
The Maharajah's Monkey
The Book of Bones

To Lulu, for all your kindness

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

An Interview with the Author

Chapter One

“Enemy advancing!” Waldo cried, leaning out of the window.

“Are you sure?”

“Carriage stopping. Lady in red hat getting out and approaching house. Ringing doorbell.”

As if on cue, the doorbell chimed.

“Right. Troops on standby.”

The front door slammed. We heard the faint murmur of conversation. My father's bleating voice mingled with that of a shrill female. Any moment now our new governess would walk into the classroom and demand to take over. We couldn't let this happen. As every schoolchild knows, teachers are a lot like puppies. They must be taught who is in charge, or all hell breaks loose.

Instead of “puppy training” we had planned a spot of “teacher training” for our new governess. All right, we were going to play some practical jokes on her. These tricks would show Mrs. Glee who she was dealing with. First, we had balanced a bucket of water on top of the
door. It was just waiting to topple down and splatter the woman as she entered the schoolroom. Second, a gold coin glittered on the floor. When Mrs. Glee tried to pick it up, she would find it mysteriously stuck! Hopefully, she would become all flustered, not realizing we had glued it to the floor. Best of all was the “hat trick”: a raw duck egg sewn into the lining of the new bonnet we had bought her as a present.

When our Mrs. Glee put on the hat she would literally have egg all over her face.

Your friend Kit Salter had thought up the plan, but my allies Waldo and Isaac had taken it up enthusiastically. Indeed the egg was Isaac's idea. Everyone was behind the escapade, as we waited for my father and Mrs. Glee to appear. Everyone but goody-two-shoes Rachel.

“Every time you do something like this it blows up in your face!” Rachel snapped, glaring at me. “Why are you always so
childish
?”

“Perhaps because,
technically
, I am a child,” I snapped back, while Isaac and Waldo grinned sympathetically at me.

Rachel was playing her familiar role of wet blanket, her face as sour as an old lemon. She was overreacting, as usual. The tricks we'd planned to welcome Mrs. Glee to 8 Park Town, Oxford, were harmless enough. Just a few jolly jokes.

I don't want you to think we were being cruel. Hard
experience has taught me that I “learn” better without a governess. Our last teacher, a Miss Minchin, had left us to become engaged to the younger son of a baronet. My heart had leaped at the news. I thought I would be rid of all those boring attempts to turn me into a nice young lady. Plus lessons. I have never been all that keen on lessons.

I would be free. Gloriously free! At liberty to gallop about on my mare Jesse, have adventures and generally “educate” myself. Instead disaster struck. My father, Professor Theodore Salter, insisted we have a new governess. Luckily, I had been able to sit in on the interviews and dismiss all the candidates so far, for one reason or another. Finally, he had lost his patience. He proclaimed that if we didn't accept this Mrs. Glee, who was due to arrive any moment now, we would all be packed off to boarding school.

Boarding school was impossible. For a start you had to get up before dawn—and the food was said to be worse than prison.

So I had to think on my feet. Of course, Rachel warned, we would be punished, but I wasn't worried. Usually poor Father threatens us with various horrible punishments—and then he is so absentminded he simply forgets.

We heard a footfall on the landing. The dreaded governess-to-be had arrived.

“Enter the dragon.” I muttered. “Everyone ready?”

“Aye, aye, sir,” said Waldo, with a mock salute.

“Then let the games begin.”

Our tormentor appeared on the threshold. The sight gave me pause. Anyone less like a dragon than the gray-haired person chattering to Papa I could not imagine. Mrs. Glee was a tiny old thing, at least forty years old, dressed in widow's weeds, who was drifting toward us like a wisp of thistledown. Everything, from the faded red bonnet she carried, to the monocle she wore dangling around her neck, suggested genteel poverty. Her watery blue eyes exuded meekness. She was probably the relict of a vicar, I decided. I am a good judge of people, and there and then I decided she was a gentle, dreamy poppet.

“How lovely to meet you,” the lady trilled out as she glimpsed the four of us sitting at our desks. “I'm Vera Glee. But you can call me Vera, dears, for I don't like to stand on ceremony.”

“Call her Vera?” Who'd ever heard of calling a teacher by their first name?

As she advanced to the half-open door, I had an awful vision of the bucket crashing down on her head. We had made a dreadful mistake. This old lady looked too frail for jokes. We might knock her out. She might need a doctor, or to be rushed to hospital. Even
my
father would
remember to punish us if we actually
killed
our new governess.

“STOP!” I yelled, rising from my seat.

Too late. Father pushed open the door for Mrs. Glee and, forgetting that it is “ladies first,” advanced into our schoolroom. I froze as the bucket fell from its perch, just missing the side of his head. A stream of water poured over his hair.

“Kit!” he bleated, looking up at the ceiling. “It's raining indoors.”

“It's … er … the leak in the roof,” I said, desperately running to them, while Waldo and Isaac jumped up and tried to hide the bucket.

“But it's not raining outside,” he replied, glancing out of the window. Father is one of the cleverest men in England, if you want an opinion about the Petrarchan sonnet. Sometimes he's also reasonably sharp.

“Drains must be blocked,” Waldo jumped in.

“Must get that old oak chopped down,” Father muttered, while Rachel, who had grabbed a towel from the basin, dabbed at his sodden jacket.

Mrs. Glee had walked into the schoolroom and was peering dreamily at the gold sovereign glittering in the middle of the floor. She looked as if she had spotted a rainbow. Really the coin looked very inviting, gleaming on the bare boards.

BOOK: The Book of Bones
13.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Season of Change by Lisa Williams Kline
The Laws of Average by Trevor Dodge
Toad in the Hole by Paisley Ray
The Poetry of Sex by Sophie Hannah
Sacrifice by John Everson
Hold Me by Talia Ellison
Belinda Goes to Bath by M. C. Beaton
Dead Reckoning by Mike Blakely
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez