|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.57(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 17 Years|
Read an Excerpt
The Boy With Golden Eyes
By Marjorie Young
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Marjorie Young
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThis day, without warning, Rupert's life would change forever. For as long as he could remember, he had forever lived deep in the forest with his grandparents. This was most strange because he never had met anyone else. His father had died before his birth and his mother soon after. His grandparents never permitted him to leave the wood, yet always refused to speak of the world outside.
Rupert was extraordinarily smart and curious. By the age of two, he'd discovered his grandparents' books and soon taught himself to read. By age five or six, he'd read everything in the little cottage. But then, new books would appear.
Rupert understood the mystery, but only in part. Every few months, his grandfather would vanish in the middle of the night. Yet his grandmother would offer no explanation. He'd return within two weeks' time; again while Rupert slept. So the boy would awaken to find his grandfather home bearing new books as well as food, and other necessities.
Thus Rupert concluded there must be some town, or at least a village, about a week's journey away. But his grandfather would refuse to reveal where he'd gotten the supplies, or how he'd managed to transport his heavy load through the forest. The little family possessed neither horse nor cart, nor were there any roads that Rupert had ever discovered. When the boy begged for an answer to this puzzle, the cryptic reply would be, "It's not difficult if you put your mind to it." However, that told him less than nothing.
Of course, having read many books, Rupert was aware that most people didn't live as he did. They dwelt in small towns, great cities ... or even castles or fortresses. He knew many kingdoms existed with different languages and customs. And how Rupert longed to experience these fascinating possibilities himself; to see the world or at least the village he suspected was tantalizingly close! But when he questioned his grandparents, they merely sighed and sent him off to play.
Rupert did love the forest. Having no human playmates, he was friends with almost all the animals and trusted them, knowing they would never be untruthful or evasive as he suspected his human companions often were.
He had special whistles to summon his comrades; one for the wolves, another for the rabbits and so on; though he could also communicate with the power of his unspoken thoughts. The boy somehow possessed an instinctive understanding of the woodland creatures, and was always most grateful for their company.
His most beloved companion was a glorious red fox he called Kara. Fellow orphans, they shared a special communion which brought them both joy. Rupert managed to spend a portion of almost every day with her, and they were among his happiest moments.
The only exception to this fellowship was the bears. Though powerful and majestic, the boy sensed they preferred their own kind and would not welcome his intrusion into their world.
He had also received knowledge of the wild things that grew in the forest, having been taught to prepare healing remedies from many plants and trees. Rupert enjoyed this instruction, because so often his kin were taciturn and remote.
One day a most violent storm arrived, and Rupert was ordered indoors. The tempest continued for four days, and the confinement was making him restless indeed. He glared resentfully at his grandfather calmly sorting dried herbs at the small table by the fireside; his grandmother placidly kneading bread nearby. They seemed content to remain endlessly indoors. Perhaps that was because they were old, he thought. But as for Rupert, he felt imprisoned.
Finally the unprecedented rain and wind ceased, and he immediately begged permission to go out. His grandparents turned toward him in unison, sharing a quiet, unsettling stare. Finally, his grandfather spoke. "Yes, it is time. And so, fare thee well, boy." A puzzled Rupert then regarded his grandmother, who gave him a small, enigmatic smile. "Off with you then, and don't forget ... keep a clear head."
Rupert hesitated at their strange demeanor, and then shrugged. He turned and dashed out, thinking only that he was at last free and longing for his beloved Kara. While the storm raged, he'd envisioned her safe in a small cave she'd once shown him.
He raced in that direction for almost two miles, blissfully inhaling the marvelous scents of the moisture-laden trees, entranced by the melody of their branches swaying in the still-powerful breeze. Finally coming to a halt, laughing with delight at his mud-spattered tunic and leggings, he called out silently to Kara. Before long, the glorious sight of his fox friend speeding towards him greeted his eyes, and in another instant, she had leapt into his outstretched arms.
It was a fine reunion, and Rupert was relieved to know his friend survived the storm without incident. She rubbed her beautiful soft face against his again and again until he at last placed her back upon the soggy earth. He took off at a trot, knowing she would keep apace. The boy hardly had a destination, but simply wished to exert himself after a confinement longer than he'd ever known.
It was some time later that he found himself at a part of the forest normally avoided; a small clearing with one gigantic oak at its center. Surrounding it, at some distance, were half a dozen smaller trees. There had always been something eerie and unsettling about this place to Rupert, as all the branches of the circling trees grew away from the huge oak.
But this day, what the boy saw made him stare in disbelief. For now he observed that all six of those trees had their branches pointing towards the one towering at their center.
"How could this be?" he wondered aloud to Kara, most bewildered. Perhaps it was a result of the storm? Yet something else was occurring; a strange sensation drawing him to that very oak like a powerful magnet pulling at the center of his being.
With caution yet tremendous curiosity, Rupert moved forward, helpless to resist. Kara moved cautiously by his side, sensing something was afoot. He circled slowly round the mighty tree, and then stared amazed at what he beheld: the edge of a wooden box protruding from the earth. How long it had been concealed there, he could not imagine. For decades? Centuries? An irresistible power had brought him to its side. Rupert was convinced that he was surely meant to make this discovery. Somehow he had been born for this moment.
Falling to his knees, Rupert began to frantically dig at the drenched earth to free the box from its tomb. Kara, using sharp claws, eagerly lent aid. The boy's thoughts were wild, for surely he'd uncovered a treasure! His grandparents must be very poor to live as they did. What if the box was filled with riches? They could live in a beautiful home in a marvelous city! And even have horses to ride and partake of the chocolates and cakes he'd read of and dreamed about.
Progress was too slow for the frenzied lad. Looking about, he found a sharp stone and grabbing it up began to pound at the rotting wood. A jagged opening was soon created. Then, in a slow-motion and dream-like moment that would change his life forever, Rupert reached in and drew out a sword.
It was magnificent - a scabbard of gold covered with rubies and sapphires. It felt very heavy in Rupert's ten-year-old grasp. In disbelief, he drew the blade. It gleamed inexplicably, despite its long burial.
The boy was overcome with an alien emotion, an overwhelming connection to this resplendent object. Rupert knew with certainty that exhilarating triumph and overwhelming sorrow were somehow attached to it. Gripping it fiercely as his heart pounded, he fought back tears whose source he could not name.
After a long while, he gently kissed the sword and lay it down upon his cloak to protect it from the wet earth. He then turned eagerly back to the box and again reached in.
This time, a fabulous necklace emerged: a gorgeous red ruby of enormous size surrounded by a circle of sparkling diamonds on a long chain of heavy silver. It was indeed dazzling and Rupert had seen nothing like it. He felt the same emotional tie as he had towards the sword, and examined it reverently for a long moment before laying it carefully upon his cloak as well.
There was yet another article awaiting Rupert's discovery. He pulled it out, at first uncertain as to what it might be. It was a beautifully carved large silver oval with a hand grip, three sapphires forming a triangle upon it. Intrigued, he turned it over to suddenly realize that the object was a looking glass!
He had never seen his own reflection and what he beheld startled him greatly. His face was of astonishing beauty, with striking and harmonious features rarely to be seen. His hair was thick, black, lustrous, and wavy, falling to his shoulders, his complexion deeply tanned. But Rupert, having never encountered other children, had no one to compare himself to, and vanity was not in his nature.
No, what astonished him were his eyes! Framed by bold black brows, surrounded by bristling black lashes, they were extremely large, and of an amazing, blazing golden color. They almost seemed to glow like beacons of light.
His thoughts raced to his grandparents' eyes; they were brown, ordinary, normal. The boy sensed that his own must be special - in a manner he could not truly fathom. So the treasure was not the only mystery he'd uncovered that day.
Rupert had never been as amazed, astonished, or overwhelmed in all his life. He must fly to his grandparents and tell them immediately. Why, now they might be rich and live so very differently. A thousand alluring prospects raced through his thoughts. Perhaps he might be properly educated, have friends, and travel the world!
Gathering the sword, necklace, and mirror in his cloak, the boy raced toward the cottage, Kara at his side. He tried to envision his family's reaction when he displayed his find. They'd lived in the forest all their lives and yet never knew of this treasure themselves. How proud of him they'd be! Or such was Rupert's hope. They could be most unpredictable. But this was too great a secret to keep. It was astounding!
As the boy approached home he bid Kara farewell; his grandmother never permitted his friends inside. The fox departed, but drawing nearer, Rupert became wary and slowed to a halt. The forest hares and squirrels that usually greeted his return were nowhere to be seen. The familiar sounds: his grandfather planting in the garden or chopping wood; his grandmother cooking or washing in the stream ... nothing of that reached his sharp ears.
Rupert grew most uneasy. Something was surely amiss. As he advanced toward the cottage, treasures under his arm, his apprehensions grew. He called out to his grandparents. But for the first time in his life, no answer came. In disbelief, the boy pushed open the cottage door. He called out yet again; but only an eerie silence greeted him.
The boy with golden eyes stood stock still in the doorway of the only home he'd ever known. At that moment Rupert knew the truth. It struck him like a terrible blow. His grandparents were gone. They weren't ever coming back!
Chapter TwoRupert stood frozen at the cottage threshold. The knowledge that his grandparents were gone forever made him tremble with bewilderment. It was a long moment before he could force himself inside. Cautiously, the boy placed his treasures by the fire and looked about. He could not bring himself to call out again, for he knew there would be no answer.
The lad attempted to calm himself, to think. Perhaps they were merely out gathering herbs or the like? But no, something deep within his soul declared this was untrue. Though he could not explain it, realization struck that finding the long-concealed treasure had caused his grandparents to depart.
Had they mysteriously disappeared like spirits in tales of old? Or had they taken up their possessions and willingly abandoned him? Neither possibility made sense. But he was faced with the undeniable truth that he was ten years old and truly alone.
Rupert examined the dwelling. As far as he could judge, nothing was missing. His grandparents' few belongings remained untouched. A friendly fire burned as the kettle above it boiled. The enticing scent of freshly baked bread perfumed the surroundings. Yet the haunting image of his kin vanishing into thin air remained. It was all most incomprehensible.
Dusk was approaching and the boy realized he had not eaten since dawn. He shakily made himself a cup of hot tea, then tore off a chunk of fresh bread, and spread it lavishly with honey; something his grandmother had frowned upon.
Rupert sat by the fire to eat. It proved exceedingly difficult: a painful knot dwelled in his stomach. When he attempted to sip the tea, one teardrop plopped into the cup.
The boy roused himself from this sign of weakness. After all, his grandparents had abandoned him without a second thought. He must strive to forget them, before pain overwhelmed him. But he felt lonely as never before.
Rupert arose with a start. Surely his animal companions had not deserted him! He rushed to the door and whistled for his rabbit friends. Within moments, four brown forest hares appeared, though not without confusion, as they had never been summoned at night. But this night seemed to be different. And so, after a moment's hesitation, into the cottage they came. Rupert embraced each in turn, and gave them carrots from his grandmother's small garden.
And then he called out to his beloved Kara. She arrived with little delay, and she too was welcomed indoors for the first time, maintaining a respectful distance from the hares. The boy explained matters with his thoughts. Kara did her best to comfort her companion, for which Rupert was most grateful. And at last, he remembered the treasures.
Dashing to the fireside, he unwrapped his cloak. The sword, necklace, and mirror had not vanished as he'd half-feared. For this day had been so overwhelmingly strange he could hardly imagine what bizarre event might next occur.
Joy and energy again coursed through his being, sorrow for the moment forgotten. The treasure was very real and he took each amazing object up one by one, his heart racing almost unbearably. "They must belong to royalty," he breathed to Kara, for whom else might possess such wonders. He knew he could never sell them, as he'd briefly imagined, for he now wished never to part with them.
Examining each gorgeous article in turn, he could not resist peering at his reflection once again. Yes, those astounding golden eyes still shone back at him, filling his being with wild hope and much uncertainty. Intuition still proclaimed that his grandparents' betrayal must be connected to the treasure's discovery. It was a bewildering yet tantalizing mystery.
Then, another thought struck him with great force: He was free! At long last he could leave the forest, see the world! He would depart at once, for there remained no reason to stay.
Rupert turned to Kara, explaining his decision. The forest was her home, and he had no right to believe she'd willingly abandon it. But to his joy, she consented to accompany her friend, at least for a time. And that was all he could wish for.
Exhaustion from this unforgettable day suddenly overwhelmed him. He curled by the fire, Kara on one side, his treasures on the other, the forest hares grouped at his feet. It was only moments before a deep sleep overtook him. Strangely, no dreams of his grandparents haunted him through the night. And Rupert was no longer afraid.
He awoke before dawn as was his custom, alert, alive, and filled with a powerful vigor. True, the day before had been no dream. There was no sign of his grandparents' return. Yes, they were truly gone forever.
However, this grim reality did not appear as dark in the light of the morning. He embraced his freedom as a magnificent gift. He must depart away! He, who loved books so much, felt he'd come to the end of one chapter - that of the forest and his grandparents - and was to begin again with the unknown.
His animal companions bounded outdoors to gather their breakfast as he prepared his own; a huge portion of porridge into which he tossed large quantities of dried fruit, nuts, and honey. That done, he looked about, wondering what he might wish to take with him on his sublime journey. With startling clarity, Rupert realized there was little he wished to bring. Everything here belonged to his old life. From this day, his existence would begin anew.
Excerpted from The Boy With Golden Eyes by Marjorie Young Copyright © 2010 by Marjorie Young. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Although particularly suitable for older children, this adventure novel will thrill many readers of all ages. The plot is suspenseful, the characters believable, the settings fascinating and the narration captivating from start to finish.Warning: it's a cliffhanger, and you'll find it hard to wait for the sequel.
This book is magical. With words that jump off the page and an exciting and original plot, this book can attract anyone's attention, no matter what their age. It is full of twists and turns, friendships, traitors, and a knowledge about who the boy with golden eyes really is. Read this at all costs.
With amazing characters and an original and mesmerizing plot, this book is one of the best I've ever read. The way Marjorie Young makes the words jump off the page is just magical. This book will appeal to all ages and keep you up all night reading it cover to cover!