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Authors: Emily Fairlie

The Magician's Bird

BOOK: The Magician's Bird
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DEDICATION

To Desmond,
the newest Fairlie

CONTENTS

Dedication

Part One: Keep Behind the Line

Part Two: The Secret Room

Part Three: The Marchetti Case

Part Four: Hard Evidence

Part Five: Double Your Fun

Part Six: Tuckernuck Undercover

Part Seven: The Marchetti Bird Reveals All

Part Eight: Show Time

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Credits

Copyright

Back Ad

About the Publisher

PART ONE
KEEP BEHIND THE LINE

Laurie flattened herself against the wall and wished she was invisible. She didn't think she'd been spotted, but she couldn't be sure. That last dash across the hall had been pretty risky.

Laurie took a deep breath and let it out slowly. If she breathed really shallowly, they probably wouldn't hear her. Of course, if she breathed too shallowly, she would pass out, which would kind of defeat the purpose. It's hard not to notice an unconscious kid sprawled out on the floor.

Of course, it didn't really matter how she breathed with Bud Wallace right next to her, panting like a winded water buffalo. Bud Wallace obviously didn't know anything about breath control.

“Shut up, Bud,” Laurie hissed. “They'll hear you!”

Bud nodded and panted slightly less loudly, making him sound more like a wheezy donkey or an asthmatic Shetland pony. Laurie was too preoccupied to decide which.

The footsteps were coming closer.

“Now follow me, and I'll show you how it all began.”

Laurie pressed herself closer to the wall. There was no going back now. They were here. It was the tour.

Flyer taped to every telephone pole on Main Street and tucked under the windshield wiper of every car at the strip mall

TUTWEILER TOURS!

Tour TUCKERNUCK HALL, ancestral home of
MARIA TUTWEILER and the spirited
TUCKERNUCK CLUCKERS, and the site of
her world-famous treasure hunt!

SEE
long-lost works of art by Pablo Picasso!
Alexander Calder! Henry Moore! James Earle Fraser!

FOLLOW
the mysterious clues laid out by
legendary town celebrity MARIA TUTWEILER!

HEAR
never-before-known information about the
harrowing treasure hunt!

BE A PART OF HISTORY!

Tours given by local history expert
Candy Winkle, wife of Tuckernuck Hall's own
Princi“PAL” Martin Winkle.

Discounts for groups of ten or more;
tours given twice daily and on appointment.

Call for reservations/information.

Great for Birthdays! Anniversaries!
Visiting Grandchildren!

“Now if you'll turn your attention to the small gap in the frame here, you'll see where Maria Tutweiler cleverly hid the first clue. Mind the ropes, now, don't get too close. And remember, our number one rule here at Tuckernuck Hall is
no touching
!”

Laurie rolled her eyes at Bud. No touching, what a laugh. When she and Bud had been trying to find the treasure at the beginning of the year, half of the clues had spent time in the bottom of her gym bag. Bud had even stuck one of them down the back of his pants. But now that the treasure was the salvation of Tuckernuck Hall, everything was off-limits—the clues, the treasure, everything. It seemed like half of the school was behind velvet ropes now. On the last day of school, Misti Pinkerton had accidentally bumped into the bust of Homer in the English hall while retrieving a dropped pencil—and sent the whole school into lockdown. Complete with alarms, flashing lights, the whole shebang. It was pretty embarrassing.

Ever since the word “treasure” had appeared in the paper, gawkers had started hanging around the school to see what the fuss was about. And it didn't take long for Principal Winkle and his wife, Candy, to smell a moneymaker. And apparently moneymakers had to be
protected at all costs.

It hadn't been that bad when school was going on, since creepy adults weren't generally allowed to lurk on school grounds. But ever since summer break had started, creepy lurking had been encouraged, and since Laurie and Bud were supposed to be at school planning the new scavenger hunt, they'd been spending more and more time crouching in doorways, hiding behind desks, and generally trying to become invisible.

It wasn't working.

Laurie could hear Candy Winkle's piercing voice just around the corner. She cringed. Laurie hadn't even known Principal Winkle was married until Candy showed up to start giving tours. It was true what they said—sometimes ignorance really was bliss.

“Now, the
amazing
thing about the discovery is that at this school, with a faculty and staff of intellectuals and scholars . . .”

Bud stifled a snort. Laurie glared at him, but she couldn't blame him. That part about intellectuals and scholars was pretty funny.

“. . . it was a couple of sixth graders who found the first clue.
Sixth
graders. Isn't that the absolute end?” Candy gave a trilling laugh that made Laurie want to
punch her in the face. “Personally, I'm amazed the clues actually got solved, and didn't just end up in the bottom of a locker somewhere!” She laughed like it was the world's funniest joke, which maybe it was to Candy Winkle.

The tour group laughed too. Laurie clenched her fists. Bud shook his head. “They're not worth it,” he whispered. Not that Laurie would really punch Candy Winkle. At least he didn't think she would. She was all talk.

“And as you may have heard,” Candy continued, “those sixth graders are responsible for putting together a new scavenger hunt for next year's students. Sixth graders! So you know what that means! You'd all better study up on your gummi-bear and video-game trivia!” She laughed again.

Bud suddenly understood the clenched fist response. “What is she even talking about? Does she understand how this scavenger hunt works
at all
?” Bud said. Like they'd seriously include a clue about gummi bears. Gummi bears weren't even a topic of conversation, as far as he was concerned.

“Rising seventh graders,” Laurie said under her breath, huffing angrily. “We're not
sixth graders
. We're
rising seventh graders,” she said, smacking her fist into her palm.

Unfortunately, it was a loud smack.

Laurie looked down at her hand in horror, and then up at Bud, who was shaking his head.

“Way to go, Bruiser,” he said under his breath. Then he jerked his head in the direction of the tour group sounds.

A pudgy man in an
I HEART MARIA TUTWEILER
shirt and a shapeless hat was leaning around the corner, staring at them like he'd just discovered a couple of rare and exotic animals.

Laurie groaned. Busted.

What to Do When You've Been Busted by a Creepy Tour Member

by Laurie Madison, rising seventh grader

       
1. Smile widely and blink your eyes. It buys you time and makes you look cute, like a baby bunny.

       
2. Identify all escape routes.

       
3. Feign emergency situation—appendicitis, extreme need to pee, projectile vomiting, that sort of thing.

       
4. MOST IMPORTANTLY: AVOID CANDY WINKLE AT ALL COSTS. AVOID EYE CONTACT. DO NOT ENGAGE.

“Is that who I think it is?” High heels clicked across the floor.

Bud smacked Laurie on the arm. “Way to go.”

Laurie's eyes got wide. Escape plan number three, activate. “Quick! Bathroom! I have to—”

“It is!” Candy Winkle appeared around the corner and stopped, putting her hand on her hip and shaking a finger at Bud and Laurie.

Laurie wilted against the wall. Plan number three would do no good now that Candy Winkle had them in her clutches.

In the beginning, Laurie and Bud had made the mistake of thinking that the tour groups were pretty much like squirrels—cute and basically harmless. That was before Laurie had caught some tour woman trying to cut off a piece of her hair as a souvenir, and some guy had stolen half of Bud's sandwich to sell on eBay.

It was just weird. The kids at school had gotten over the whole Tuckernuck treasure thing after a couple of weeks. And it wasn't like Bud and Laurie were actual
celebrities. But try telling that to Candy's tour groups. They were crazy for anything Tuckernuck, and Candy wasn't helping matters.

Candy smirked at them. “Now, you two don't have to hide. Gather round, everyone,” she called over her shoulder to the slow-moving group of tourists. “We've got a couple of celebrities for you to meet!” The tour group jostled forward to get a better look at Bud and Laurie. They didn't look like they were one hundred percent convinced that they were looking at celebrities, but their cameras flashed anyway. Laurie rolled her eyes and was caught midflash. She was going to look awesome in somebody's photo album.

“Now this is Buck and Loni, they're the sixth graders I was telling you about. Isn't that right, kids? You found the treasure?”

The tour pressed closer. Laurie could almost feel their breath.

Bud shifted uncomfortably. “Uh. Right. That was us. Buck and Loni.” He gave Laurie a sideways glance. Laurie bit her lip hard. She was not going to crack up in front of Candy Winkle.

“So are you here to plan the new scavenger hunt? Any secret hiding places you can reveal? Just between us?”

Another camera flash went off.

“Sure, I guess.” Laurie said slowly, sizing up the crowd. If she ducked around the man with the floppy hat, she'd have a clear shot at the door. Bud would have to fend for himself. She couldn't save everybody. “I guess we could tell you . . .”

“That you're ten minutes late for your organizational scavenger hunt meeting? And that you've been keeping Miss Abernathy waiting while you play at being celebrities?”

Laurie felt Miss Abernathy's hand clamp down on her shoulder. She didn't think that was very fair. It wasn't like they'd planned on being late. But they could hardly be expected to just walk up to the office door while there was a tour group there. There was only so much they could take.

Miss Abernathy tightened her grip on Laurie's and Bud's shoulders as she pushed them past the crowds into her office. “Now. Let's get started.”

List of Hiding Places for Scavenger Hunt
by Laurie Madison and Bud Wallace,
rising seventh graders

       
1. Buried in backyard (complete with treasure
map and accessible by treasure mark, X marking spot).

       
2. Underneath a floorboard in cafeteria.

       
3. Hidden in chandelier outside Reynolds Auditorium.

       
4. In dumbwaiter in cafeteria kitchen.

       
5. Hidden behind the dancing frog painting in school entryway (second choice, bowl of fruit).

       
6. In the window seat in the library.

       
7. In the catwalks of the auditorium. (
Bud Wallace does not endorse this suggestion. Too dangerous
.)

       
8. Hidden inside piano, attached to C flat wire.

       
9. Underneath the globe in the library.

      
10.
Hidden in the deluxe gerbil habitat, in Ponch and Jon's food dish. (Laurie Madison does not endorse this suggestion. Too dangerous.)

Tools needed: Shovel, jigsaw, ladder, matte knife, crowbar, hammer, nails, chisel, parchment, quill and ink, etc.

BOOK: The Magician's Bird
11.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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