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Authors: Gary Paulsen

The Case of Dunc's Doll

BOOK: The Case of Dunc's Doll
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YEARLING
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YOUNG
YEARLINGS
/
YEARLING
CLASSICS
are designed especially to entertain and enlighten young people. Patricia Reilly Giff, consultant to this series, received her bachelor's degree from Mary-mount College and a master's degree in history from St. John's University. She holds a Professional Diploma in Reading and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hofstra University. She was a teacher and reading consultant for many years, and is the author of numerous books for young readers.

For a complete listing of all Yearling titles,
write to Dell Readers Service,
P.O. Box 1045, South Holland, IL 60473.

Published by
Dell Publishing
a division of
Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
666 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10103

Copyright © 1992 by Gary Paulsen

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.

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The trademark Dell
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eISBN: 978-0-307-80412-9

v3.1

Contents
•
1

Duncan—Dunc-Culpepper and Amos Binder were sitting on the bench in Dunc's garage. Dunc's bike crank was loose, and he was taking it apart and tightening it, greasing the bearings carefully as he fit them back into the clean housing, sitting in new grease. He put each steel ball in separately, gently.

Amos was frustrated. “Come on—you'll be all day with that. I want to get down to the mall. We haven't tried that new video game—Splatter Space Defense. It's in high-definition
color, and you can actually see pieces of the aliens flying off if you hit them right.”

Dunc stopped, looked up. “A job worth doing is worth doing right. It might be ten years before I have to take this crank apart again.”

“Ten years?” Amos snorted and picked at a scab on his chin. “I've
never
taken the crank off my bike.”

Dunc looked at Amos's bike, leaning against the wall. It looked like a car had been parked on it for a week. “I can see that.”

“In ten years,” Amos said, “I'll have a car, and Melissa and I will be happily married, and you can come over and teach my kids how to take their cranks apart. But for now, let's get
going
. You want to spend your whole life in a garage?”

But Dunc didn't hurry, and he didn't pay any attention to Amos's pushing. They'd been best friends for as long as he could remember, and for at least that long Amos
had been pushing at him. “How did you cut your chin?”

“It happened last night. I was home alone, or thought I was, reading in the tub, and the phone rang. I was certain it was Melissa's ring—it had that sound. You know, that kind of ring she has, followed by another ring?”

Dunc nodded. Amos had been waiting for a call from Melissa as long as he had known Amos. Melissa didn't show any sign that Amos was alive. It was like, Dunc thought, like he was invisible. Like she could read a book through him.

“Well, you know I like to get it on that all-important second ring. So I cleared the tub still wet and naked and hit the hallway and hung a left trying to get to the phone in the front hall.” Amos shook his head. “Man, I had it all—my balance was working right, I was in good stride, had some form, and I think I would have made it.”

“What happened?” Dunc put the last
ball bearing back into the crank and fit the shaft through the hole. Carefully.

“Mother came home. She'd been doing Welcome Wagon and had three Welcoming ladies with her. They were all by the hall phone.”

“Bad,” Dunc said, shaking his head, trying not to smile. “Bad style—you naked and all.”

Amos nodded. “I tried thinking of an excuse, but I was moving too fast. I did manage a grab at the phone—it was just instinct—and that threw me off, and I hung a foot on the doorjamb. That's”—he took a breath—“when things started to go bad.”

“Not until then?”

Amos shrugged. “Well, I was a little embarrassed, but I still hadn't been injured.”

“So how did it go bad?”

“I lost it. I was still going at a full run, and I went down. I was so wet I was slippery and I kind of scooted across the carpet on my stomach. Like a dead fish. I hit a dining-room
chair headfirst and caught my head between two rungs on the bottom.”

“How did you get out?”

“Mother had to grease my hair.” Amos sighed. “All in all I had a pretty bad night. You ever try to get dressed with a chair stuck on your head?”

Dunc shook his head and finished tightening the crank. “No—there, it's done. Let's get going—you going to mess around all day?”

•
2

Pioneer Mall was on the way toward town. Dunc's home was on the outskirts in a development, and it took the two boys just fifteen minutes to bike to the mall.

Out in front there was a large signboard, and they always had something different on the sign—some activity or message.

This time it read:

“Happy Birthday Carl and
may you have forty more.”

And:

“DOLLS, DOLLS, DOLLS—

antique collections.”

“Oh great,” Amos said as they pedaled into the parking lot. “Dolls.”

“I think they're kind of interesting.” Dunc locked his bike in the rack.

“You do? You mean dolls?”

Dunc nodded. “Antique dolls. This collection has dolls that belonged to famous people. There's one that belonged to Charles Dickens's daughter.”

“You mean the guy who wrote
A Christmas Carol
?”

Dunc nodded. “Yeah.”

“He had a family?”

“Sure—at least, he must have. He had a daughter. They've got her doll in here.”

“Well—I'm going to the video arcade. Are you coming?”

Dunc nodded, but he didn't head for the arcade. Once inside the mall he walked toward the end, where the doll collection was on exhibit.

“Oh, come on,” Amos said. “What if somebody we know sees us?”

Dunc stopped. “Another way to look at it is—what if Melissa sees us? I just saw her down at the other end of the collection.”

“You did?” Amos caught up. “She's probably looking for me—wants to know why I didn't answer the phone last night.”

“Don't tell her,” Dunc said, smiling. “Don't tell anybody.”

But Amos wasn't listening. He'd seen Melissa.

Dunc wandered past the dolls. He was looking for the Dickens doll and finally found it at the end of the table. It was in a special glass case with a light on top shining down inside the glass.

It was a doll of a small man in a black suit, wearing a tie and a hat.

“It's called a father doll,” the man behind the counter said. He wore a name tag that said
Carruthers
. “Are you interested in dolls?”

Dunc shook his head. “No, not really.
Just this one. I read about it in the newspaper and thought it might be nice to see it.”

“The face is hand painted,” the man said. He was tall and thin and stooped with a soft smile and a pocket full of felt-tip pens. “And the suit is hand stitched, probably by child labor—which is ironic, isn't it?”

Dunc frowned. “Why?”

“Because Dickens worked hard to end child labor and yet bought a doll that was probably made using children.”

The face on the doll was crude, but considering how it was made, it wasn't so bad. “How old is it?”

“I'm not certain—it was probably made in the mid-1850s.”

Amos had come up. “She was busy with friends,” he said to Dunc's unasked question. “I didn't want to bother her.” He looked at the doll. “Ugly, isn't it?”

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