Key to the Indianby Lynne Reid Banks, James Watling
He felt a draft of cold air. Instinctively he put his arms around his body. Then he looked down at himself and got a shock. He was naked...His first instinct was to hid. he scrambled over the earth floor of the longhouse and ducked under the curtain. Beyond was deeper darkness, but he could make out a sort of room with a raised section against the wall. On this was… See more details below
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He felt a draft of cold air. Instinctively he put his arms around his body. Then he looked down at himself and got a shock. He was naked...His first instinct was to hid. he scrambled over the earth floor of the longhouse and ducked under the curtain. Beyond was deeper darkness, but he could make out a sort of room with a raised section against the wall. On this was a mountain range covered with fur, in the shape of a sleeping giant.
Omri stared all around, feeling the beginnings of panic. "Dad!" he whispered as loudly as he dared...
There was no answer. Omri felt intensely vulnerable with no clothes on. Cold air embraced his skin from head to foot. He felt a sudden longing to go home. He hadn't reckoned on thisbeing separated from his dad, it being so dark and cold, so strange, so lonely.
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Anyone for Camping?
"Okay, you chaps, I've got an announcement to make." The three boys stopped eating and looked up. Adiel and Gillon exchanged puzzled glances. It was the "you chaps" that did it, together with their father's hail-fellow-well-met manner. He simply was not the "you chaps" type. But stranger was to come.
"What would you say to us all going camping?"
Adiel dropped his jaw. Gillon dropped something noisier, his knife and fork onto his plate. A piece of toad-in-the-hole was dislodged and fell to the floor in a small shower of rich brown gravy.
"Oh, Gillon, don't show off! What a mess!" said their mother, irritated. "Kitsa! Leave it!" as the cat, lurking hopefully under the table, pounced. Gillon wrested it from her and plonked it triumphantly back on his plate. "You're not planning to Eat it now?" She snatched it up and left the room with it, returning at once with a wet cloth. "What are you talking about, Lionel, camping?"
"Camping is what I'm talking about. What do you say, boys?"
Adiel said, quite gently, "Are you feeling all right, Dad?"
"Camping? I mean, are you kidding? Camping? You mean, on our own, without you?"
"No, no, of course not. With me."
There was a silence. Omri glanced at his mother. She had mopped up the splashes of gravy and was crouched beside Gillon, just her face showing above the tabletop as if her head had been cut off like John the Baptist's and stood among the dishes.This disquieting impression was aided by the glassiness of her eyes as she stared at her husband. The two older boys were staring, too.
Only Omri was not reacting with astonishment. He sat with narrowed eyes, only pausing for a moment before hacking into another batter-encrusted sausage. Camping indeed! That'd be the day when his dad even dreamt of such a hearty outdoor pursuit, especially after the one and only time they'd ever tried it, which had ended in total disaster on the same day it began.
Omri grinned secretly at the memory of the four of them trailing home, not from some wild moorland or forest but from the local common, after they had failed to put up the tent and the skies had opened, drenching everything including the food; this had been left exposed after Gillon nicked a premature sandwich out of the cooler and left the lid off. The sunroof on the car had also been left open....Their dad, humiliated by his defeat-by-tent, couldn't say much except, "That's it,boys. Home." Their mother had been very nice she hadn't even laughed, at least not much. It was only later Omri had stopped to wonder why there had been a casserole and five baked potatoes in the oven when she had been told they wouldn't be back for two days.
Now there his dad was at the head of the table, beaming at them, the very picture of a hearty, extrovert father. He was even tilting his chair back and rubbing his hands. Gillon snorted.
The front legs of their dad's chair hit the floor. "What, may I ask, is so funny?"
"You, Dad. Camping. You're not serious you can't be.
"Don't you want to go, then?"
Gillon considered it. Then he said, "Would it be like last time?"
"Of course not," said their father haughtily. "That was just play-camping. You're older now and we'll do it properly we can, now we live in the country."
Adiel said, "But when could we do it?"
"How could you do it?" said their mother. "You'd need a tent big enough for four, a stove, sleeping bags, and God knows what."
"We've got sleeping bags from school trips," said Adiel.
"We could buy lots of new stuff!" said Gillon.
"Anyway, where would you go?"
"From here? There are wonderful camping places in almost every, direction! We wouldn't have to fall back on some suburban common."
Omri looked out of the window. It was true. All around them stretched the glorious Dorset countryside. Hills, woods, fields, rivers and the sea, only a few miles away. It might be fun. The only thing was, there was something behind this. Omri knew, somehow, that this wasn't really about camping. That their father had a hidden agenda.
It had to be something to do with the Indian.
Only two days ago, his dad had found out.
When the family had first moved into this old Dorset farmhouse, Omri had made some makeshift shelves in his bedroom out of raw planks standing on loose bricks. In the hollows of two of these bricks, Omri had hidden his most precious possessions the plastic figures of his friends: Little Bear, his wife Bright Stars, their baby Tall Bear, and, separately, Matron and Sergeant Fickits. They were toys now, but they hadn't always been toys. Through the fantastic magic of an old bathroom cupboard and a key that had belonged to his great-great-aunt and then to his mother, they had come to life. They'd turned into real people, people from the past whom the magic of the cupboard and the key had brought into Omri's life at various times in the last few years.
How carefully Omri had guarded his secret, and how hard it had been to keep from telling anyone! With the two people who already knew his best friend, Patrick, and Patrick's cousin Emma living miles away, there was no one to share it with. He dared not tell his brothers, though there'd been times when it had almost just burst out of him.
Then he'd found the Account, which had changed everything.
The Key to the Indian. Copyright © by Lynne Reid Banks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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