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Sophie's Secret Copyright © 2004 by Nancy Rue
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are products of author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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ISBN: 0-310-70757-9 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other - except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
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Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc., 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.
Photography: Synergy Photographic/Brad Lampe Illustrations: Grace Chen Design & Illustration Art direction/design: Michelle Lenger Interior design: Susan Ambs Interior composition: Pamela J. L. Eicher
Printed in the United States of America
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So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4:18
1 You can't IMAGINE what it was like!" the tour guide said in a voice that echoed over the James River like a cranky old aunt.
Huh, thought Sophie. Maybe YOU can't imagine it, Mister Mouth - but I can!
Sophie LaCroix pulled her black wool cape around her - the one Mama had made her just forthis sightseeing trip - and tried to bunch her long, not-quite-blonde-not-quite-brown hair into the hood to muffle Mr. Mouth's voice. How was she supposed to concentrate on the delicious realness of Jamestown Island, with this guy barging into the quiet, telling her that she, Sophie LaCroix, "- couldn't imagine?"
Imagining is my specialty, she wanted to inform him. Have YOU ever imagined YOURself back in the eighteenth century, acted it out, and made a film of it? Sophie sniffed. Probably NOT.
She edged away from the guide and gazed across the river. In the film they'd just watched in the Visitors' Center - well, SHE and Mama had actually watched it while her thirteen-year-old sister Lacie and Aunt Bailey had made fun of the narrator talking like he had a chip bag clip on his nose - the narrator's voice had described the river as "a salty brine at high tide and a blend of slime and filth at low." Sophie wanted to repeat this to her best friend, Fiona, back at school, and maybe they could start saying that about the Poquoson River in THEIR town. It would sound so cool. So would "the drear dark sky" - which did stretch over the river on that day-after-Thanksgiving and slowly soak them with drizzle. Mama had wanted her to put on a plastic poncho, but that would totally ruin the effect of the cape.
Besides, Sophie thought, I'm sure Captain John Smith didn't have a plastic raincoat back in 1607. No, this experience had to be as real as she could make it - so she and Fiona and Kitty could develop their next movie about it.
Because, of course, that's what they - the Corn Flakes - would have to do as soon as Thanksgiving vacation was over. A "cheerless sky" and the possibility of cruel diseases "such as swellings, fluxes, and burning fevers" like the film had described: that stuff was too good to waste. Sophie stretched out her hands to the river.
Antoinette called silently to God to help her know the secrets that lay at the slimy, filthy river bottom. Antoinette's heart began to pound as she found herself at the brink of some new mission - some fascinating adventure - some brilliant endeavor that would make Papa see once and for all that she was worthy of his honor and respect -
"Soph - what are you doing?"
Sophie felt a heavy hand on her shoulder, and she had to scurry back from Antoinette's world to focus up at her father. He was towering over her, and nobody could tower like way-tall Daddy with his broad, I-used-to-be-a-football-star shoulders and his sharp blue eyes, so unlike Sophie's soft brown ones. In fact, Sophie always thought that if somebody lined up a dozen fathers and asked a stranger to pick out which one was hers, they'd never get the right one.
"We're all headed up to the fort," Daddy said.
"Can't I just stay and look at the river for a couple more minutes?" Sophie said.
Daddy shook his big dark head. "No, because next thing I know you'll be in it. We're working as a team today."
Sophie muttered an "okay" and tried to wriggle her shoulder out of his hand, but he had the Daddy Grip on it.
"No way, Soph," he said. "I don't want a repeat of that Williamsburg thing."
Sophie didn't remind him that she had grown WAY up since THAT happened back in September. What would be the point? she thought as she broke into a jog to keep up with him. He thinks I'm the biggest ditz in the universe and he always will. And it's SO not fair!
"I wish you would've let me bring my video camera," she said.
Daddy gave a grunt. "Uh-huh - then I'd have to keep you on a leash." He stopped about six feet from a statue where Mama, her little brother Zeke, Lacie, and Aunt Bailey and Uncle Preston were gathered.
Wonderful, Sophie thought. He's going to give me a lecture right here where they can all hear. She wished she'd never asked the question.
At least Daddy squatted down in front of her, so his voice wouldn't boom down to her tiny height, but he still didn't let go of her shoulder. It was all she could do not to squirm.
"Look, we've had this discussion before," he said.
Yeah, about sixty bajillion times, Sophie thought.
"Everything is not always all about you," he went on. It NEVER is!
"We're here to do what Aunt Bailey and Uncle Preston want to do, because they're our guests. I don't think that includes standing there watching you stare at the river for an hour, dreaming up trouble."
Sophie straightened her thin shoulders under Daddy's hand. "I was starting an idea for our next film."
"Well, take notes or something." Daddy stood up. "Are you going to stay with the team, or do I have to hold your hand like a little kid? That would be pretty embarrassing for an eleven year- old."
That was actually a tough question. Sophie did NOT want to be on any kind of "team" with her own sister, much less her aunt and uncle. But the thought of trailing behind her father all day was worse. She gave a sigh from her heels that blew the little wisps of hair on her forehead. It wasn't wasted on Daddy.
"Don't be a drama queen about it," he said, his eyes narrowed. "Just think of it as taking a hit for the team." He nodded toward the statue. "Let's go."
Sophie waited until he finally let go of her shoulder, and then she squared herself off again and headed toward the "team."
Antoinette tossed back her long, luxurious hair and put on a smile. She couldn't let Papa take away the chance to pay her respects to her ancestor, Captain John Smith. He wasn't French like she was, of course, but she thought of him as her forefather because he, like her, had been a pioneer, a taker of risks, a person who stood up against things more evil than good -
"Oh wow - he was a total BABE!"
Sophie glared at Lacie.
"I mean, look at that BODY," Lacie said. She was gaping up at the statue.
Aunt Bailey sidled up next to Lacie. "That's what I'M talkin' about."
Five-year-old Zeke furrowed his little dark brows at Aunt Bailey. "WHAT are you talkin' about?" he said.
Mama cocked her head, all curly with frosted hair, and gave Sophie's aunt a hard look. "Thank you, Bailey," she said.
Aunt Bailey covered her very-red lips with her hand - with its nails all squared off and white at the tips - and giggled in Lacie's direction. Although Aunt Bailey was OLD, like probably thirty, Sophie thought she acted like she was Lacie's age.
"That's John Smith, Z," Daddy said to Zeke. "You remember him from Pocahontas?"
"Oh, yeah," Zeke said. He cocked his head just the way Mama did, though his hair was dark like Daddy's, and it stood straight up in coarse, little spikes on his head. "Did they get married?"
"Nah," Daddy said. "They might have gone out a few times, but she married somebody else."
"She married John Rolfe, Daddy," Sophie said. "And I'm SURE she never went on a date with Captain John Smith."
Uncle Preston gave Daddy a nudge with his elbow. "Silly you," he said to him.
Then Daddy gave one of those only-one-side-of-his-mouth-going-up smiles that made Sophie want to punch something. He might as well just come right out and SAY I'm a little know-it-all, Sophie thought. Because that's what he thinks.
"Watch your tone, Sophie," Daddy said.
WHAT tone? Sophie thought. I was just sharing information!
"All right, folks, now if you'll just follow me," Mr. Mouth was saying. "I'm going to take you to the 1607 James Fort site. I think you'll be fascinated by what I have to tell you." He puffed up his chest.
"Now, the question many folks ask me is why do we need to dig up remnants of a civilization that no longer exists?"