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Araminta Spookie 2: The Sword in the Grotto SNY
Spookie House, which is where I live with my aunt Tabitha and my uncle Drac, has recently gotten pretty crowded. First of all I found two ghosts living here, and then the Wizzards turned up and decided to live here too. So now that makes eight of us, as there are three Wizzards Wanda and her mom and dad, Brenda and Barry.
Our two ghosts are Sir Horace and Edmund. Most people think that Sir Horace is just a boring old suit of armor which is what I thought for ages but he is our biggest ghost. Then there is his faithful page, Edmund, who is shy and acts like he's a bit of a wimp. Wanda really likes him, but she would, as she can be a bit of a wimp too, as you will see.
Sometimes I think Sir Horace likes Wanda better than me. Not that I am jealous or anything, even though Sir Horace was my ghost first. But after the Wizzards came to live here, they repaired Sir Horace so that he looked almost like new, and Wanda got rid of all Sir Horace's rust with her bike oil, which he was really pleased about. After that, Sir Horace walked around a lot more than he used to. He didn't creak anymore either, which was a bit weird, as sometimes you might be just hanging around planning an ambush for Aunt Tabby or something, and suddenly there would be Sir Horace, standing right behind you.
But last month Sir Horace stopped walking around and started getting sulky. He took to lurking behind some revolting old curtains on the landing, and one night he really frightened Uncle Drac when he let out a horrible groan just as Uncle Drac was coming outof his turret.
Another time Sir Horace deliberately took his head off and left it on the stairs. Aunt Tabby tripped over it and blamed me. When I gave him his head back, he was not polite at all. He told me that he was trying to forget something and he didn't want his head just then, thank you very much. But I made him put it back on. After that he disappeared. We looked everywhere, but we couldn't find him, so Wanda and I went down to his secret room to see if he was there.
To get to Sir Horace's room, you have to go through a secret passage and then down in a funny old elevator, called a dumbwaiter, which you have to work yourself by pulling on a rope. Wanda and I are not allowed to go there, as Aunt Tabby says the elevator is dangerous, and she does not like us hanging around in secret passages. But the real reason is that Aunt Tabby does not like people being anywhere where she cannot see what they are doing, as she is extremely nosy.
But even though Aunt Tabby is so nosy, she does not know everything. For example, she does not know that I have the key to the door to the secret passage. So yesterday, when Wanda and I were sure that Aunt Tabby was safely out of the way, we opened the secret door, which is in the paneling under the attic stairs. We walked along the secret passage. I had to go first because of the spiders which Wanda does not like then we went down in the creaky elevator which Wanda does not like and went into Sir Horace's room.
The room was very small and dark Wanda did not like that, either. But I don't know what else she expected, as there are no windows in it because it is a secret room in the middle of the house. I shone my flashlight into all the corners to see if Sir Horace was sulking there while Wanda looked scared.
"He's not here," said Wanda. "I hope he hasn't run away."
"Why would he do that?" I asked. "He likes it at our house. Can I have the cheese and onion chips?"
Wanda was carrying our Secret Passage Kit, and she gave me my bag of cheese and onion chips. Then she lit the two candles above the fireplace. They cast strange shadows on the walls, and I made a big monster shadow loom over her.
Wanda, who is even more nosy than my aunt Tabby, started looking through all the old books that were piled up. They were very boring, and I didn't know why she was bothering, but Wanda likes boring old stuff which is why she likes Sir Horace, I suppose. Anyway, suddenly Wanda snorted like a pig inhaling its food and started rolling around the floor. I didn't take any notice, as I know that this is Wanda's way of laughing. So I let her do her pig impression for a bit, and then I asked her what was so funny.
"Oink oink oink," snorted Wanda, "oh, oink!"
"Oh, come on, Wanda. Tell me."
Wanda shoved a funny old book into my hands. "Shirley," she snorted. "Oink oink. Shirley!"
Inside the book was an old piece of paper with a picture someone had drawn of a cute baby lying on a rug. Underneath the picture was some spidery writing. It was not very easy to read.
"Go on . . . oink," snorted Wanda. "Read it."
"Er . . . 'Horace Cuthbert Shirley George, age foure monthe,'" I read out. "Their spelling was terrible in the old days, wasn't it?"
"Not as bad as yours," oinked Wanda. "See? He's called Shirley."
"Well, maybe his mom wanted a girl or something. Anyway, I think he looks sweet. But that can't be Sir Horace. He was never a baby."
Wanda managed to sit up. "Everyone was a baby once," she said. "Even my dad was a baby once, although that was ages ago. Probably about the same time as when Sir Horace was a baby."
"Your dad may be old, but I don't think he's nearly five hundred years old," I said, staring at the date in the book.Araminta Spookie 2: The Sword in the Grotto SNY. Copyright © by Angie Sage. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.