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Authors: Lian Tanner

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Meanwhile
, two hundred miles to the south . . . 
In the middle of the ocean, a man and a woman were clinging to a scrap of wreckage. They were alive, but only just. Their clothes were in rags and their faces were bruised beyond recognition. The storm was gone, but they were both terribly weak, and they knew that they couldn’t hold on for much longer. Soon the deep water would claim them.

At first, they thought that the fishing boat was a mirage. The shocked cries, the strong hands that dragged them out of the water onto the streaming deck – surely it was all just a cruel trick played by their feverish minds.

It wasn’t until half an hour later, when they were swathed in warm blankets with a circle of curious fishermen around them, that they let themselves believe they were saved.

‘You’re lucky we saw you when we did,’ said the tallest fishermen, who seemed to be in charge. ‘Way out of our waters, we are. Blown off course by that big wind. Just turnin’ south again when we spotted you.’

‘Clingin’ to that board like a couple o’ drowned rats, you were!’ said another man.


Still
look like drowned rats to me!’ said a third man, and they all laughed, a loud booming sound.

The woman struggled to raise herself on one elbow. ‘Show some respect,’ she croaked, in a voice hoarse with fever and salt water. She pointed to her companion. ‘Don’t you know who this is? This is—’

‘No one!’ said her companion quickly. He waved an apologetic hand at the watching men. ‘Please forgive my friend, she is confused. I am no one important.’ And he smiled at the fisherman. In spite of his bruises, it was a particularly charming smile . . .

Many thanks to the generous people who read all or part of earlier drafts of the book and helped me make it better: Mrs Holton’s Grade 5 class, Lauderdale Primary School (2006); Essie and Fin Kruckemeyer; Peter Bishop; Mark O’Flynn; Lyn Reeves and Helen Swain. Particular thanks to Peter Matheson, dramaturg and manuscript assessor, who has such a fine eye for a story.

 

Thanks also to my exceptional agent Margaret Connolly, and to the wonderful people at Allen and Unwin Children’s Books, especially Eva Mills and Susannah Chambers.

Museum of Thieves
was written with the support of a Developing Writers’ Grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council.

Lian Tanner is a children’s author and playwright. She has worked as a teacher in Australia and Papua New Guinea, as well as a tourist-bus driver, a freelance journalist, a juggler, a community arts worker, an editor and a professional actor. It took her a while to realise that all of these jobs were really just preparation for being a writer. Nowadays she lives by the beach in southern Tasmania, with a small tabby cat and lots of friendly neighbourhood dogs. She has not yet mastered the art of Concealment by the Imitation of Nothingness, but she is quite good at Camouflage.

BOOK: Museum of Thieves
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