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Authors: Terry Deary

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The Knight of Sticks and Straw

BOOK: The Knight of Sticks and Straw
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TERRY DEARY’S
KNIGHT’S TALES

Illustrated by Helen Flook

A & C Black • London

First published 2009 by
A & C Black Publishers Ltd
36 Soho Square, London, W1D 3QY

www.acblack.com

Text copyright © 2009 Terry Deary
Illustrations copyright © 2009 Helen Flook

The rights of Terry Deary and Helen Flook to be identified as the
author and illustrator of this work have been asserted by them in
accordance with the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

eISBN: 978-1-40819-887-2

A CIP catalogue for this book is available from the British Library.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced
in any form or by any means – graphic, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording, taping or information storage
and retrieval systems – without the prior permission in
writing of the publishers.

This book is produced using paper that is made from wood grown in
managed, sustainable forests. It is natural, renewable and recyclable.
The logging and manufacturing processes conform to the
environmental regulations of the country of origin.

Printed and bound in Great Britain
by CPI Cox & Wyman, Reading RG1 8EX.

Table of Contents

Chapter One Bullies and Berbers

Chapter Two Ham and Horse

Chapter Three Boar and Blood

Chapter Four Candle and a Coward

Chapter Five Wood and War

Epilogue

Chapter One
Bullies and Berbers

Castile, Spain, 1099

Cristina hated the feasts at the palace of Valencia.

The knights made a lot of noise and shouted at her. But that wasn’t why she hated the feasts.

The cooks in the kitchen made her run and fetch heavy bags of corn, pots big enough for her to bathe in and logs that were larger than her. But that wasn’t why she hated the feasts.

The maids poked fun at her tattered, woollen clothes and her bare feet, for she only had shoes for church on Sunday. They bullied her. But that wasn’t why she hated the feasts.

The feasts went on deep into the night. By the time Cristina had helped clear the tables, clean the pots and polish the pans, it was dark.

Even in the warm, summer nights, when the stars were like a shower of silver, it was dark in the streets of Valencia when she hurried home.
That
was why she hated the feasts.

Everyone was asleep as Cristina ran home over the stony streets, past snarling dogs, slippery rats and green-eyed cats. And worse.

That first night, she almost lost her way from the palace gates to her home on the hill below. She crashed through the door into the poor, little house and the leather hinges almost snapped.

Cristina’s mother gasped in the blackness. “Who’s there?”

Cristina panted for breath and creaked like the door. “Mama!”

“Cristina?

Are you back?”

“Mama!”

“What on earth is wrong, child?”

“I saw a giant… He tried to catch me, but I ran.

And when I ran, all the dogs started to chase me. He had huge arms and he tried to catch me.

Oh, Mama! Do I have to go back to the palace?” she sobbed and threw herself on her mother’s blanket.

Mama held her trembling young daughter and said, “We are at war, my child. The Berber enemies are at the gates of the city. Your father is in the army. We are alone.”

“I know, Mama.”

“I can’t make enough money to keep you, Cristina. You have to help. You’re big enough now. And when you work at the palace, you are fed for free.”

“I know… It’s not the work … or the girls who are so cruel to me. It’s… It’s the
dark
. I hate the dark. Giants get you in the dark.”

Mama took her daughter by the hand and pulled her to her feet in the soft darkness of the room. She led her to the door and pulled it open. She looked down the street. “See? No giants.”

BOOK: The Knight of Sticks and Straw
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