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Authors: Linda Buckley-Archer

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Gideon the Cutpurse

BOOK: Gideon the Cutpurse
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Gideon the Cutpurse
Being the First Part of The Gideon Trilogy
Linda Buckley-Archer
SIMON & SCHUSTER BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS

New York London Toronto Sydney

COPYRIGHT

Copyright © 2006 by Linda Buckley-Archer

All rights reserved.

SIMON & SCHUSTER BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Simultaneously published in Great Britain in 2006 by Simon and Schuster UK Ltd.
SIMON & SCHUSTER BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS is a trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Buckley-Archer, Linda.
Gideon the cutpurse : being the first part of the Gideon Trilogy / Linda Buckley-Archer.--1st U.S. ed.
p. cm.
Summary: Ignored by his father and sent to Derbyshire for the weekend, twelve-year-old Peter and his new friend, Kate, are accidentally transported back in time to 1763 England where they are befriended by a reformed cutpurse.
ISBN: 978-1416915263
[1. Time travel--Fiction. 2. Robbers and outlaws--Fiction. 3. Great Britain--History--George III, 1760-1820--Fiction. 4. Fathers and sons--Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.B882338Gid 2006
[Fic]--dc22
2006042204
Visit us on the World Wide Web:
http://www.SimonSays.com

For R., L., and I.

Contents
TO THE READER
1. The Birthday Treat
2. Peter Misses an Important Telephone Call
3. The Three-Cornered Hat
4. The Howl of a Wolf
5. A Breakfast of Grilled Trout
6. Lost in Time
7. The Hospitality of the Honorable Mrs. Byng
8. The Tar Man's Tale
9. The Journey Begins
10. Attack!
11. Lord Luxon's Tragedy
12. A Parliament of Rooks
13. Pandora's Box
14. Gideon's Strategem
15. A Pact Made in Blood

16. Two Covent Gardens
17. Queen Charlotte's Promise
18. Into the Net
In which the children answer some difficult questions and Gideon walks into Lord Luxon's net
19. A Race Against Time
20. Newgate
21. The Straw Men
22. Tyburn
AUTHOR'S NOTE
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

To the Reader

When I talked to Peter Schock about the part he played in all these events, he asked me to include some passages from the book that Peter himself found at Hawthorn Cottage in Derbyshire. Its title is
The Life and Times of Gideon Seymour
. It was written between 1790 and 1792, but it was never published, at least as far as I can tell.
Peter grew to love Gideon's stories. Lying on the grass under the shade of the oak tree at Hawthorn Cottage, Peter would let Gideon's soft voice take him to places and times he would never see for himself--and some of them he would not wish to. Peter told me that as there would not have been a story without Gideon, it was only fair that he be allowed to speak from time to time. I have therefore added some passages from Gideon's book to show his side of the story.
As for the writer of these volumes--the witness to whom the narration of these events, of such great consequence for so many, has been entrusted--until you have heard the entire story, it will be impossible for you to understand either my part in it or why this painstaking task fell to me. I have pieced together its many interweaving strands in the hope that its telling will serve not only as a grave warning but also as a celebration of mankind's infinite curiosity about his universe and the greatness of the human heart.
Peter asked if these books could be dedicated to Gideon's memory, and this I am very happy to do, for his part in all of this must not be underestimated.

IN MEMORY OF A GOOD AND BRAVE MAN
WHO SHALL BE REMEMBERED BEYOND HIS TIME:
GIDEON SEYMOUR, CUTPURSE AND GENTLEMAN

DURING THOSE FIRST DAYS AT HAWTHORN COTTAGE, PETER FELT ABANDONED BY HIS FATHER. IT GRIEVED ME TO SEE IT, FOR I COULD UNDERSTAND THE PAIN HE FELT. THE RAGE HE SOMETIMES KEPT LOCKED INSIDE HIM WAS SLOW TO LIFT, AND HE REFUSED TO GIVE HIMSELF THE COMFORT OF SPEAKING OF IT.
ONCE HE SAID HE WISHED THAT I HAD BEEN HIS FATHER. THEN IT WAS MY TURN TO BE ANGRY. "WHAT MADNESS IS THIS?" I CRIED. "WHAT CRIME HAS YOUR FATHER COMMITTED THAT YOU WOULD TRADE HIM FOR A CUTPURSE?"
"HE HAS COMMITTED NO CRIME," PETER REPLIED, "UNLESS A FATHER CAN BE PUNISHED FOR NOT LOVING HIS SON."

--THE LIFE AND TIMES OF GIDEON SEYMOUR,
CUTPURSE AND GENTLEMAN, 1792

ONE
The Birthday Treat
In which Peter looks forward to his birthday treat and subsequently argues with his father

It was early morning on Saturday, the sixteenth of December, the first day of the Christmas holidays. In a large house on the edge of London it was beginning to get light. Peter jumped out of bed and stuck his head underneath the curtains to look outside. The sun glowed behind the houses on the other side of Richmond Green, and the cloudless sky was palest blue--not even a wisp of a cloud. "Yes!" exclaimed Peter, and flung himself as hard as he could onto the mattress to get a good bounce.
Even torrential rain could not have spoiled this day, but crisp sunshine was better. When it was actually Peter's twelfth birthday, back in September, his father had been delayed in Venice on business and could not get back home in time. He postponed the birthday treat again at half term because of a business trip to New York, and had inked it in his diary for the first day of the Christmas holidays. Nowadays it was mostly like this with his father's promises. They hung, like mirages, shimmering in the future, and the closer you got to them the more you expected them to disappear. When his mother had gone over to work in the States for the first time and his father was supposed to have been making a special effort, Mr. Schock had still managed to turn up at Sports Day
after
Peter's big race. There was always another meeting, another client, another urgent matter demanding his attention.
But today was the day: sleighing on the dry ski slope, followed by lunch up in town, followed by a Premiership football match--a whole day with his dad, doing his favorite things! And nothing could stop it happening now. The smell of frying bacon and sausages that was drifting up the stairs confirmed it. You never got cooked breakfasts on ordinary days in the Schock household. Peter snuggled back under his stripy duvet, relishing the moment, and pretended to be asleep when the door opened.

* * *

"Wake up, Peter, time to wake up." Margrit was definitely the best in the long line of au pairs his father had employed since his mother had gone to work in Los Angeles. She was German and made brilliant meatballs. Her
W
s sounded like
V
s. "Peter," Margrit whispered into his ear. "I know that you are awake. We go on a journey this morning. You must get up now. Your father must speak to you."
She tickled Peter until he wriggled and his face cracked into a grin. But when his eyes met hers, she was not smiling. She looked uncomfortable.
"What journey?" he demanded. "What do you mean?"
When Margrit did not answer straightaway, he shot out of bed and flew down two flights of stairs to confront his father, who was cooking eggs in the kitchen. His father was already dressed in smart clothes chosen to impress. One look at his expression and Peter knew.
"It's not happening, is it?"
"I'm sorry, Peter, I really am. I'll make it up to you, I promise. I've just had a phone call. I have to meet the head of the studios, who is flying back to the States this afternoon."
Peter felt numb. This was not possible. Even his father could not do this to him a third time.
"But the good thing is that Margrit can take you up to spend the weekend on her friends' farm in Derbyshire. We'll do this when you get back. I know how disappointed you must be, but you've got to understand.... A lot of people's livelihoods depend on this meeting."
Father and son stood looking at each other over opposite sides of the kitchen table. All the morning's happiness started to seep out of Peter like a puddle onto the kitchen floor. But when his father walked around the table to put a hand on his shoulder, Peter quickly stepped backward out of reach. The adrenalin rush of sudden fury made Peter's fingers clench and his heart pound. He did not want to be understanding. He did not want to go and visit some strangers with Margrit. He wanted his father to cancel the meeting. He wanted to hammer his fists against his father's chest and tell him never, ever, ever again to break a promise he had made to him.
"I don't know why you bothered having a kid," he shouted. "You never want to do anything with me--I just get in the way!"
"If you're going to be like that, there's nothing I can say," snapped his father. "You know I'm here for you as much as I can be, but someone's got to earn the money to pay for all this." He gestured vaguely at the gleaming stainless steel kitchen and Margrit, who was polishing Peter's shoes. Margrit looked as if she wished she were somewhere else.
"Wait till you're a grown-up with responsibilities. You'd do exactly the same if you were in my place."
"No, I wouldn't! If Mum were here, she wouldn't let you do this to me."
This was a bad move and Peter knew it. But the words slipped out before he could stop them.
"Don't you
dare
take that tone with me." His father's voice had become steely with barely controlled rage. "How dare you say that, when it's your mother who's chosen to work on the other side of the planet." He picked up the frying pan and shoveled the now overcooked eggs angrily into the bin. "You'll go with Margrit. End of story. And I'll think about rescheduling your birthday treat
when
and
if
you stop acting like a spoiled brat."
Peter hurtled upstairs, unable to cope with the feeling of helplessness, the sense of injustice that surged up inside him. When he reached the first-floor landing, he turned round and leaned over the banister.
"I hate you!"
And those were the last words that passed between them.

BOOK: Gideon the Cutpurse
9.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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