The Penderwicks at Point Mouette

BOOK: The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are 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.

All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf,
an imprint of Random House Children’s Books,
a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request

eISBN: 978-0-375-89898-3

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For Quinn

Going, Going …

was being torn apart. The tearing wouldn’t last long—only two weeks—but still it was uncomfortable. Mr. Penderwick was the first to go, flying off to England with his new wife, Iantha, for scientific conferences and a bit of a honeymoon. With them went Ben, Iantha’s son, who was too small to be without his mother, honeymoon or not.

That had been two days earlier, and now the remaining Penderwicks—four sisters named Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty—were about to tear apart even more. Early the next morning, three of them would leave for Maine with the sisters’ favorite relative, Aunt Claire, while the fourth headed to New Jersey with her best friend. The girls had never been apart for an entire two weeks, and though all of them were
nervous about it, the one going off on her own was the most nervous. This was the oldest, thirteen-year-old Rosalind, and she was having a terrible time accepting that her sisters could survive without her.

Right now she was waiting in her bedroom for them to arrive. She didn’t want to be in her bedroom—she wanted to be with five-year-old Batty, getting her ready for bed just like she always did. But tonight Skye and Jane, the two middle sisters, were helping Batty with her bath and pajamas. Practice, Aunt Claire called it, or a dry run. She’d thought it would calm Rosalind to see that indeed she wasn’t absolutely needed when it came to Batty. And Rosalind would have been calm, except that the others were supposed to come to her room as soon as they were finished, and that should have been at least ten minutes ago. How could a simple bath take so long? They knew she wanted to have one last MOPS—that is, Meeting of Penderwick Sisters—before Batty had to go to sleep. One last MOPS before they were all separated for two weeks.

“Two whole weeks,” groaned Rosalind, then looked up hopefully, because she heard footsteps in the hall. They were here.

But it was only one of them—twelve-year-old Skye, the second sister—and she didn’t have the look of someone who’d just conducted a successful bath. Her blond hair was hanging in damp clumps, and there were wet spots on her T-shirt.

“It’s not as bad as it looks,” she said. “Batty’s fine. She didn’t drown or anything.”

“Then what happened?”

“Hound got into the tub with her.”

That explained why Skye was so wet. The Penderwicks’ large black dog was clumsy and enthusiastic—getting him out of a bathtub would make anyone wet. But it didn’t explain why he’d been in the bathroom in the first place.

“Hound always tries to get into the tub,” said Rosalind. “That’s why he’s not allowed near Batty at bath time. Didn’t you know that?”

“Nope, and neither did Jane. But we know it now, and we’ll clean up the bathroom later. I promise.”

A dry run! The irony wasn’t lost on Rosalind. She was determined not to scold, though, not this very last night. “Where are the others?”

“Jane is helping Batty with her pajamas. They’ll be here soon.” Skye shook her head violently, tossing droplets of water across the room. “Where’s your Latin dictionary? I need to look up

“On my bookshelf, though I wish you wouldn’t.” Rosalind knew why Skye was thinking about revenge, and that she’d been thinking of little else for the last twenty-four hours. Which was absolutely not the best way to prepare for the next two weeks. With Rosalind off in New Jersey, Skye would be the OAP—Oldest Available Penderwick—and she needed to concentrate
on taking care of her two younger sisters, not on carrying out revenge. “Daddy says the best revenge is to be better than your enemy.”

“I’m doing that, too. Almost anyone could,” said Skye, leafing through the dictionary. “Here it is. Revenge:
. Then it says: to take revenge on is
se vindicare in. Se vindicare in
Jeffrey’s loathsome mother. How do I say ‘Jeffrey’s loathsome mother’ in Latin?”

Skye’s desire for revenge was justified—Rosalind knew that. Jeffrey was Jeffrey Tifton, a boy the Penderwicks had met the previous summer while renting a cottage at his mother’s estate, called Arundel. By the time that vacation was over, Jeffrey was their excellent friend and honorary brother, and since then the sisters had seen him as often as they could, which was nowhere near often enough. He was always too far away—either at Arundel, a couple of hours west of the Penderwicks’ home in Cameron, Massachusetts, or at his Boston boarding school, a couple of hours east of Cameron. It had been natural, then, for the younger three sisters to want Jeffrey in Maine with them, and with great hope they’d invited him.

After much dillydallying and back-and-forthing by his mother, permission had finally been granted, spirits raised, ecstatic phone calls exchanged—until suddenly, just that morning, a mere twenty-four hours before departure for Maine, the permission had been withdrawn.
Jeffrey’s mother had decided that he wasn’t going with the Penderwicks. No reason had been given. He simply wasn’t going anywhere. He was stuck at Arundel for the whole summer.

Even through their agonized disappointment, the sisters weren’t all that surprised. Jeffrey’s mother was capable of endless awfulness—the real surprise was that she had a son as wonderful as Jeffrey. The Penderwicks’ only explanation was that Jeffrey had inherited his good qualities from his father, but this was guesswork, since Jeffrey had never met him, nor did he know his name, or even if he was alive or dead. Which was all sad and terrible enough, but in the last year he’d also been saddled with a stepfather, the selfish and stupid Dexter Dupree.

“Loathsome. Here it is:
,” said Skye. “Jeffrey’s
mother, Mrs. Tifton-Dupree, known to us as
Mrs. T-D. I like it.”

“You need to use the feminine accusative form of the adjective,” said Rosalind, momentarily in the spirit of things.

“An unimportant detail.” Skye wouldn’t study Latin until she started seventh grade in the fall. “Maybe I should include Dexter. Help me translate this:
To take revenge on Dexter and
Mrs. T-D, I consign them to a life of guilt-racked agony, like a serpent in their entrails.

“Guilt-racked agony! Did you write that?”

“No, Jane did, after you shot down her idea about voodoo dolls.”

“As well I should have. And I think we can skip the serpent in their entrails, too.” Rosalind shut the Latin dictionary and slid it back onto the bookshelf.

“But we have to do
, Rosy—it’s Jeffrey!”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

Skye stomped around the room. “I suppose I have to be a good example and all that while you’re gone.”

“Yes. And please stop stomping. Thank you,” said Rosalind. “Now let’s think. Have I told you everything you need to know about Batty? Like brushing her hair?”

“You’ve told me about Batty’s hair a hundred times,” said Skye with great dignity. “And I do know how to brush hair.”

Of course she did, thought Rosalind. It was just that Skye’s own blond, straight hair was so easy to take care of, and Batty’s dark hair—just like Rosalind’s and Jane’s—was thick and curly, and needed serious attention. Especially now that it was getting long, which was Rosalind’s own fault, because she was growing her own hair long, and Jane, then Batty, had decided to follow suit. And Batty seemed to get knots in hers even when standing still, and then she hated having the knots brushed out, so much that sometimes she even cried.

“Oh, Skye, you will be careful with her in Maine,
won’t you? You won’t ignore her while you think about math or stars or whatever it is you think about? And you won’t get frustrated or lose your temper when she cries?”

“I’ve been working on my temper, and I promise to be careful with Batty.” Skye’s dignity was even greater now. “If you’d like, I’ll get my Swiss army knife and take a blood oath.”

“No blood, but thanks.” Rosalind did trust Skye to do the best she could. And of course Aunt Claire, that most wonderful of aunts, would be there, too. Though since Aunt Claire had never had children of her own, her practical experience was limited. While no one had actually expired under her care, when the girls were small, Aunt Claire had once brushed Rosalind’s teeth with shampoo and dabbed Skye’s scraped knee with toothpaste. And she had never quite gotten the hang of putting on other people’s shoes—the right and left were often mixed. Oh! Rosalind had a terrifying image of Batty limping around Maine, shampoo foaming from her mouth.

The bedroom door opened again, and again it was only one sister—this time, Jane. She was even wetter than Skye, her dark curls wild, and she was carrying a pile of books.

BOOK: The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
6.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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