Journey of the Pale Bear

Journey of the Pale Bear

by Susan Fletcher

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781534420779
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date: 10/02/2018
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 124,686
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Susan Fletcher is the acclaimed author of Journey of the Pale Bear; as well as the Dragon Chronicles, composed of Dragon’s Milk, Flight of the Dragon Kyn, Sign of the Dove, and Ancient, Strange, and Lovely; and the award-winning Alphabet of Dreams, Shadow Spinner, Walk Across the Sea, and Falcon in the Glass. Ms. Fletcher lives in Wilsonville, Oregon. Visit her at Susan Fletcher.com.

Read an Excerpt

Journey of the Pale Bear

CHAPTER 1

Thief


Bergen, Norway

Spring, 1252

IT WAS THE smell of roasting meat that roused me.

A small rain had begun to fall, and though I had curled up beneath the eaves of a cobbler’s shop, the ground soaked up the damp and wicked it through my cloak and tunic, into my shirt. Now a wave of talk and laughter met my ear, but I knew that wasn’t what had wakened me.

No, it was the smell.

It teased me, growing stronger and then fainter—so faint I thought, for a moment, that I had dreamed it. But then it was back again, a rich, deep, meaty aroma that set all the waters in my mouth to flowing. I rose to one elbow and breathed it in, imagining tearing into a hunk of my mother’s roasted mutton, feeling the warmth of it going down and the heavy, drowsy ease of a full belly.

I straightened my cap on my head, hitched my knapsack to my shoulder, and wobbled to my feet. It had been two days since I had finished the last of my provisions, and hunger had made me weak.

The voices dimmed and then swelled again. It was dark; even the stars had vanished. The crowds had thinned, and the men who passed me now seemed somehow sinister, their faces distorted by the shadows of the lanterns that had begun to flicker to life. Beyond the quays the shops and houses of Bergen stood resolutely shoulder to shoulder, solid and prosperous, leaving no room for a starveling waif such as I.

I crept down the street and rounded a corner into an alley, where I spied an inn before me, light blazing from its windows. The rich fragrance of meat assailed me more powerfully than before, flooding my nose and mouth and throat. I told myself that it was fruitless to torture myself with tantalizing aromas. That, without coin, I would be unwelcome in a place such as this. That I might even find myself in peril.

I pushed open the door. I stepped within.

The inn was dim and crowded, rank with the commingled odors of sweat and sour ale and wet wool and mud. But the smell of warm meat wafted all about and underneath the other smells, and it lured me in deep. A serving maid brushed past me bearing a tray above her head. She slapped it down on a table: a mound of roasted rabbit sitting in a puddle of gravy and blood. Men in blue, sailor’s garb thronged in about it, digging in with hands and knives. The meat vanished from the platter so quickly it was hard to credit, until a single leg joint lay there alone.

I didn’t think; I moved.

I slipped between two seamen who were reaching for it, snatched up the rabbit haunch, and ran hard for the door.

A shout: “Hey! You, boy!” Then more shouts, and curses, and a scraping of benches behind me. “Halt, thief!”

Someone seized my cloak from behind, nearly toppling me. I twisted round and laid eyes on him—a blond, brawny sailor of maybe fifteen years; maybe three years older than I. I kicked his shin and then tore myself away. I scrambled up onto a table and stumbled toward the other side, knocking over a row of flagons and a pitcher of ale.

“Hey!”

Hands reached for my legs. I dodged, stumbling into a trencher full of meat, then leaped from the table and made for the door. I pushed it open. Knocked into a man coming in. Slipped and fell to the ground—all without releasing my grip on the rabbit haunch. I scrambled to my feet and headed into the darkness, praying that the sailors behind me would be too lazy or too drunk to follow.

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