Authors: Andre Norton
Judy moved forward, down the path which led around the pool straight for the house. Holly thought she could see a faint trail of smoke curling upward from that very large chimney. It was plain someone lived here. The garden was very well tended, there were the beesâbut whoâ And why didn't Grandma know or tell them about this near neighbor?
“I just don't get it.” Crock threw his jacket on the ground. “I just don't get it! This is summer, not October! And whoâ”
Crock was right. It was summer, only Holly refused to admit it. She did not dare think what
might mean. This was a dream, it had to be a dream!
THE MAGIC BOOKS BY ANDRE NORTON
Coming soon from Starscape:
Red Hart Magic
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright Â© 1974 by The Estate of Andre Norton
Reader's Guide copyright Â© 2006 by Tor Books
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
A Starscape Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
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New York, NY 10010
TorÂ® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
First Starscape edition: November 2006
Printed in the United States of America
0Â Â Â 9Â Â Â 8Â Â Â 7Â Â Â 6Â Â Â 5Â Â Â 4Â Â Â 3Â Â Â 2Â Â Â 1
For Mrs. Lena May Lanier,
who through her stories
introduced me to the Wades
Rain beat against the windows of the bus so hard one could barely see out. The wind was so strong that sometimes the whole of the big coach shivered when a blast caught it head on.
Inside, those same windows were all steamed. And it smelled. It smelled of the banana the little boy in the seat ahead of Holly had been eating, of wet clothes belonging to the people who had gotten on at the last two stops. It smelled just of people.
Holly wanted to be sick but she was not going to let herself. Only babies got travel-sick. She held her mouth tight shut, swallowing and swallowing. As she pressed her hands forcibly against her middle, she scowled fiercely at the world.
It was easy to scowl, everything was so hateful. Not only the storm outside but the bus, why they were on it, everything in the worldâthat world which had come to pieces all around them so that there was nothing safe or happy or as it should be
any more. She swallowed again. No, she was
going to be sick, and she was not going to cry as Judy had been doing off and on for what seemed like days now, weeks, monthsâ
Crock, Crockett Wade, had been trying to see through the steamed window, wiping impatiently to clear a pane which almost immediately fogged over again. Now he thumped back in his seat, turned his head to regard his sister Holly.
“What's the matter with you?” he demanded.
She dug her elbow into his ribs, banging her arm on the seat divider between them in the process.
“Nothing!” She gestured warningly at the two seats behind, where Mom and Judy sat. “Nothing at all.”
He stared at her and then appeared to get the message. “Sure,” he said in a lower voice, “Sussex stop can't be much farther now.”
Holly did not know whether he was trying to raise his own spirits by that hope, or hers. At that moment she did not care. All that mattered was that she was
going to be sick! Not Holly Wade, who was no baby.
Then she heard Mom's voice from behind, though she would not turn to look, for fear Mom would guess how she felt. Mom had enough on her mind without having to worry about a girl who was already in the sixth grade and surely old enough to look after her ownself.
“Next stop, Holly, Crock. I wish this rain would let up a little.”
Suddenly Holly did not want it to be the next stop, in spite of how she felt; she wanted to ride on and on because when they got off, why, they would be there. Not at home any
moreâbut among strangers in a place where they would have to stay whether they liked it or not.
Ever since that telegram had comeâ
Holly squinted her eyelids together, hard. Just as she was not going to be sick, she was not going to cry, either. Only she could not push away the memory of the telegram. MomâMom had sat down so quick with it in her hands, as if she were afraid to open it. And when she hadâno, Holly would
remember how Mom had looked when she read it.
“Staff Sergeant Joel Wade missing in action”âthat's how it had read. Mom seemed to shrink down in her chair just as if she had the “miseries” inside her, as old Auntie Ada was always saying. Then she straightened up again, and there were calls to the Red Cross, and to other people who just might know something. Only nobody did.
Finally Mom told them they would have to make plans. She was going to be a nurse again and she had a place in the Pine Mount Rest Home. That was not in Boston, where they had been living ever since Daddy had gone to Vietnam, but in the country farther upstate.
Judy was the one who had asked the question which had been in all their minds after Mom had told them that: “Doâdo we go to live there too, Mom?”
Mom had been smiling, as if she wanted them all to know that her getting the job was a good thing, one to be glad about. Nor did she stop smiling when she shook her head and told them of the rest of the hateful, hateful plan.
“No. It is a place for older people, Bunny.” (Bunny was a joke name Daddy had given Judy because she was born on
Easter, and he said the Bunny must have forgotten his basket of eggs and brought her instead.)
we going?” Crockett wanted to know. Holly just stood there, an awful coldness inside her making her feel as if she were out in the winter winds without any clothes on.
“You are going to live with Grandpa and Grandma Wade in Sussex. It is close enough to Pine Mount so I can come and see you when I have my time off.”