The Paper Boat

The Paper Boat

by Trisha Priebe, Jerry B. Jenkins

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683221791
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/01/2017
Series: Thirteen
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 255,533
File size: 845 KB
Age Range: 10 - 15 Years

About the Author

Trisha White Priebe is a wife, mom, writer, and shameless water polo enthusiast. She serves as an assistant to Jerry B. Jenkins, speaks at retreats, and enjoys assisting her husband in youth ministry. She wrote Trust, Hope, Pray: Encouragement for the Task of Waiting and A Sherlock Holmes Devotional: Uncovering the Mysteries of God.   

Read an Excerpt

The Paper Boat


By Trisha White Priebe, Jerry B. Jenkins

Barbour Publishing, Inc

Copyright © 2017 Trisha White Priebe
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-68322-178-4


CHAPTER 1

Risk!

Avery froze at the back of the chapel, barely able to breathe.

She had come to meet with Tuck and show him the secret she and Kendrick discovered, painted in vivid color on the ceiling.

Instead she found herself staring at the most powerful man on earth. Fortunately, he was kneeling with his back to her and couldn't know she was there, but it was him all right.

No matter how many times she had imagined meeting the king, Avery had never dreamed it might happen by accident.

Candlelight danced on the gold-gilded walls and illuminated the stained-glass windows.

You have one chance.

She held her breath and started down the aisle, determined to not let this opportunity pass. Every silent step reminded her that a thirteen-year-old discovered in this castle was as good as dead.

But not talking to the king could mean a death sentence for everyone she loved.

His highness looked thinner than ever, his shoulders slumped. His once-thick silver hair was wispy, and even from behind he appeared older and sicker than when she had seen him at the race. His time — like hers — was running out.

She would tell him everything, beginning with the fact that Queen Angelina was poisoning him.

Avery quickened her pace down the crimson carpet, eager to announce herself, when suddenly a massive, leathery hand clamped over her mouth and someone lifted her off the ground.

She kicked furiously and tried to scream, willing the king to hear. But as if in a dream, no sound came.

The king stirred and rose from his prayers.

When he turned, dread washed over her. It wasn't the king at all — just an old man in royal clothing. "Nice work!" he hollered. "Now make sure she's never heard from again."

Still thrashing, Avery was carried out into the stairwell, and her captor entered a long, dark corridor, hand still covering her mouth. She wished with everything in her that she still had her jeweled dagger.

The farther he carried her, the more certain she became —

Today is the last day of my life.

Up endless stairs they flew as the faces of those Avery loved crowded her mind. Her father, the hardworking shopkeeper; her mother, the gentle storyteller; and Henry with his big brown eyes.

She wondered which of them might have preceded her in death. Was it possible her entire family waited for her at the throne of God? — a strangely comforting thought as her captor mounted a new stairwell.

Avery gave up trying to resist. She couldn't fight a man with legs and arms the size of tree trunks, and she didn't want a boot to the head, besides a death sentence.

Up they went, the man's heavy steps mingling with her choked sobs. Through a blur of light and shadow, Avery could see where he was headed and panic overwhelmed her.

They arrived at a landing facing thick, barred doors.

The tower prison — where the worst are forgotten.

Her captor called out, and a guard emerged from the shadows with a large key. He unlocked the door, and before she knew what was happening, Avery soared through the air and thudded on the cold stone floor. She didn't even have time to get a look at her abductor before the door slammed, its thunder rattling ancient hinges and shaking the stall.

Avery sat in the miserable, terrifying silence, aware that no one could help her now.

She rolled onto her back and stared at the ancient wooden crossbeams. A tiny window high on the wall cast a weak light, and Avery wondered if there was any chance she could scale that wall and squeeze through.

Unlikely.

Would her friends, Tuck and Kate, risk their safety in the tunnels to come find her?

She actually hoped not.

She closed her eyes, allowing hot tears to fall, when she was startled by a low, heavy moan. Avery leapt to her feet. That's when she smelled it — dead fish.

Eyes now adjusted to the darkness, she saw the outline of someone on the floor, directly beneath that high window.

She tiptoed toward the figure. "Excuse me," Avery whispered.

Ever so slowly the silhouette turned a hooded face toward her.

Avery recoiled, rolling her ankle.

The figure raised an old, bony finger to its lips. "Shh."

CHAPTER 2

Cell Mate

I'm dreaming, Avery told herself, keeping her distance from the staring hooded figure. "You're dead," she said. "Move away."

The ancient woman who had snatched her from the woods so long ago cackled and rasped, "Which is it? Am I dead, or do you want me to move?"

Avery narrowed her eyes, ready to defend herself.

"Relax," the woman said. "You're not going anywhere anytime soon, and neither am I. Sit."

"I don't have to do what you say."

The woman pulled her hood lower, but Avery could still make out the dark, bulging eyes, wiry white hair, and wrinkled skin — as terrifying a face in the dark as it had been in the light of day. Especially when Avery was convinced she was seeing a ghost.

"Sit!" the woman hissed.

Avery folded her arms and planted her feet.

"At least listen carefully," the woman said.

Avery slipped a hand into the pocket of her dress and curled her fingers around her brother's paper boat, which Edward had given her in the tunnels. "If you tell me what you did with my brother."

"We don't 'ave time —"

Avery charged the woman, shaking her bony shoulders as hard as she could.

"I didn't do anything to 'im! I left 'im in the woods!"

Stunned, Avery let go and stepped back.

The woman smiled absently. "It was you I came for."

Avery shook her head. "You told me Henry was in another cart."

"I 'ad to make you do as you were told. Told 'im to go collect blackberries. That was the last I saw of 'im." She licked a finger and crossed her heart.

He was so little. Who knows what could have happened to him by now?

"I'll say no more of 'im," the woman continued, eyes darting. "My time is near, but I have a job for you that will save your life, if you do as I say."

Avery glowered at her.

"You must find a way out of 'ere, get to the king, and tell 'im I sent you. Understand?"

"And then what?"

"Tell 'im my mission is done. You want to see your brother again, you'll do it."

"This makes no sense. You don't even know if my brother is alive."

The old woman put a hand to her mouth as a storm of fat tears pooled on her cloak. Avery thought she was acting until her sobs grew so thick Avery could barely understand her. "Need 'im to forgive me."

"For what?"

"Stealin' 'is only son." She rocked like a child.

Kendrick.

Avery wondered where her friend was and whether he was safe. Last time she saw him, he was in the boat, slowly bobbing out to sea on the foam. He should have reached the Forbidden City by now.

With a sigh, Avery sank to her knees next to the old woman. "If I'm going to risk my life for you, I need to know exactly what happened — everything from the beginning."

CHAPTER 3

Day of Reckoning

The old woman folded her hands and spoke in a singsong tone. "I first came to this castle when my granddaughters were small."

"Kate and her older sister, Edith."

"Are you tellin' the story or am I?" the woman snapped. "They were 'ungry and I had nothing to give 'em. Queen Elizabeth promised me a job, but her sister Angelina promised me the world."

"So you served Angelina?"

The woman shrugged. "She told me if I helped her get to the throne, she'd give my granddaughters titles and fortunes. I didn't realize 'elping Angelina meant 'urting Queen Elizabeth."

Avery glanced at the cell door, fearing guards might burst in and drag the woman away. "Get to the point."

"It was I who attended the birth. Nobody expected a problem. Elizabeth 'adn't been sick or even in pain for the duration. All was well."

That was what Edward had told Avery in the woods.

"We never expected twins," the woman continued.

That explained the queen holding two babies in the mural on the chapel ceiling.

Here the woman's voice grew loud and grim.

"The king's advisors told 'im twins were an omen of great misfortune that would destroy his kingdom. They said a rebel army would rise up and take the throne. So the advisor in the fire-red robe pulled me aside and told me to take the babies to the Salt Sea and discard them."

That horrible word again — discard.

With distant, watery eyes, the woman whispered, "Two of the queen's ladies- in-waiting and I went down to the sea and took a raft to the other side. There I gave each of them one of the babies and a purse of coins. Told 'em to flee, I did, and never be seen again —"

"And —?" Avery said. But the woman swatted the question away with a gnarled hand. "Then why do you need the king's forgiveness? He can't blame you. His advisors ordered you to ... to ... discard the babies."

The old woman lowered her head and looked away. "I'm not seeking 'is forgiveness for takin' 'em to the sea, but for not drownin' 'em as I was told. That's why the prophecy is comin' true. You'll see. Because those babies survived, great misfortune will destroy this kingdom. An army'll rise up and take the throne."

Pinpricks raced up Avery's arms. She leaned forward with the question she had to ask. "So, why bring all us thirteen-year-olds here?"

The old woman's face hardened. "Figured two of 'em had to be the ones, and I was 'oping to make amends by destroyin' the king's heirs. Now I've run outta time, so Kate's gonna finish the job I was s'posed to do so many years ago. She's smart and she'll do what I say. And she knows a title and riches are hers if she succeeds."

Avery swallowed hard as the rest of her questions died.

The old woman peered up at her, and a wheezing laugh gushed from her to fill the silence. Though she covered her mouth, it grew louder and more piercing.

Avery tried to shush her, urgently whispering, "Why are you in prison?" But before the woman could respond, thunder crashed, its roar overwhelming. Avery bolted for a dark corner — as far from the woman as possible.

The cell door flew open and banged the wall as guards rushed in.

Avery found herself both relieved and horrified as they grabbed the gleeful old woman and shoved her toward the door.

"My day of reckoning!" she called as they dragged her out. "Yours is next, my dear. Be brave!"

"Wait!" Avery called after her. "I need to know if my mother is still alive!"

The old woman wrenched around to face her. "Alive and well! You'll see!"

The guards hustled the woman away, and one slammed the door, locking it with a terrible click. As the old woman's laughter faded to silence, Avery slumped to the floor again, her thoughts a jumbled heap.

So much had happened so fast — from living in the children's quarters to moving into the tunnels. From the strange disappearances of several of the kids to this sudden reappearance of the old woman. From learning Kendrick was the king's heir to learning he had set sail for the Forbidden City.

Avery leaned her head against the wall and closed her eyes.

"She was dead," she whispered, recalling spying on the old woman through the grate and seeing the adult staff around her body talking in hushed tones. Something hadn't felt right then, and now she understood.

But why pretend the woman was dead?

More important, who was Kate, really? And what did she know?

From the day Avery arrived, she'd been sure her father was looking for her and that her brother Henry was also being held somewhere. But after returning to find squatters had invaded her family's cottage and now learning the old woman had never kidnapped Henry, she couldn't be sure of anything.

And my mother. Could it be true? Did the old woman really know?

That ray of hope gave Avery the courage to go on. She needed a way out of the cell before the guards returned.

And she needed to find Kendrick before Kate did.

CHAPTER 4

A Secret Message

Avery awoke the next morning to cheering outside her window. The crowd seemed to grow more excited, and she realized what they were celebrating.

The old woman is dead.

But what had she done?

Avery's stomach twisted, and she staved off thoughts of food by praying for Henry — that he was healthy and happy, and that, if he couldn't grow up with his family, he would grow up surrounded by people who loved him.

More cheering outside.

Avery cringed.

I will be next.

* * *

The answer came sooner than expected.

Avery heard the heavy footsteps outside her cell and braced herself, her heartbeat racing at the sound. She stood at the jangle of keys and clutched the ruby flower necklace her mother had given her.

The heavy door swung open and a behemoth guard set a tin plate of food on the floor.

"Eat," he grunted. "Never know if you'll get more."

Whatever it was looked shapeless next to a cold bowl of thin gruel, certainly nothing she wanted to taste.

Careful not to anger him, she just thanked him as he turned to leave. He hesitated and turned, as if he had something to say. But then he turned again and disappeared.

Not even hunger made the slop look edible. Even thick pea pottage from home would be a better choice.

Slowly Avery knelt before the plate and reached for the spoon, praying it wouldn't be as bad as it looked.

But just as she dipped the spoon into the gruel, a rat scurried across the floor, perched on the edge of the bowl, and fell in.

Avery leapt to her feet and kicked the tin plate to the wall, where it left a foul heap as the rat raced away.

And on the floor before her, where the plate had been, lay a folded sheet of parchment.

The guard had delivered more than food.

CHAPTER 5

Into the Blackness

Trembling, Avery unfolded the parchment.

Take courage. He made it to the Forbidden City and is bringing back someone who will make everything right.


Not recognizing the handwriting, she turned the note over and searched for any clue, willing herself to see words that weren't there.

She folded the page and slid it into her pocket, comforted to know that someone in her inner circle knew where she was. After all, only those closest to her knew Kendrick had left for the Forbidden City.

She only hoped she had enough time to learn who sent it.

Avery tried to nap, but fear and hunger made that impossible. Days passed with her constantly on edge, convinced she would be hauled off to the gallows any minute.

The guards in the hall bantered with castle gossip. Avery closed her eyes and pretended she was in her castle tree house back home. She prayed for her brother and friends, wondered about Kate, and rehashed everything the old woman had said.

If only Tuck had arrived at the chapel in time to rescue her. She hoped he was safe.

She sang until she ran out of songs.

And on and off she slept.

Two plates of gruel were delivered every day, which she picked at, gagging, just to stay alive.

Every evening she watched the light from the window creep along the floor until the sun set.

And finally she quit begging God for her release and started praying the end would come, even if it meant execution.

* * *

Avery was sleeping deeply when she heard someone whistling. Was she dreaming? She shook herself fully awake and realized it was the tune she had played for Queen Angelina, the one that had caused her to pass out.

She lay on her back, wondering who would be bold enough to whistle that tune while Angelina sat on the throne.

She bolted up in the darkness, dizzy from too little food and water, as she remembered that Babs always whistled that tune as he plodded through the tunnels at night.

She pounded on the cell door with all her might. "Babs!" she called. "Is that you, old friend?"

The whistling stopped, and two men spoke quietly.

She backed against the wall and slid to the floor as footsteps approached, followed by jangling keys.

A guard appeared and said, "Good day!" His dim-witted grin revealed gaps in his teeth that made Avery wonder if working the night shift guarding a thirteen- year-old was all he was capable of. Like a puppy, he looked overeager to please.

"Good day to you," Avery said, deciding any human contact was better than none.

"You know Babs?" the guard asked.

Avery nodded. "How do you know him?"

"As a prisoner sent here for stealin' the queen's jewels."

"Was he sent to the Forbidden City?"

The guard laughed. "No! Found innocent! Never seen anything like it. No one leaves here alive."

Avery's eyes filled. She had been praying for Babs's release since the day he had been dragged from the tunnel by the guards who had framed him.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Paper Boat by Trisha White Priebe, Jerry B. Jenkins. Copyright © 2017 Trisha White Priebe. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Paper Boat 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
EmilyAnneK17 More than 1 year ago
Avery and her friends, now hidden in the secret tunnels under the castle, continue to uncover secrets and thwart plots, some of which they started. And the question always comes back to this: Who is the king's heir? They discovered the king's son, but the portrait of the queen after her birth showed twins. Is it possible there is a daughter ... Avery? Kate? The Paper Boat is the intriguing conclusion to the Thirteen Series. It is first and foremost a mystery. It is short and easy to read, fitting the middlegrade age group. As in the previous books, the story moves quickly from one situation to the next, the characters barely blinking in adjustment. The quickness wasn't something I liked, but it worked well for the story. The question is asked: Is it actually good to be a princess? There are constant plots to dethrone and kill the king, queen, and the royal children. Who wants to live that way, always looking over one's back and not trusting anyone? Sure, the luxury is great, but there is a lot of responsibility accompanying it. Some of the responsibility can be used to help others, a possible redeeming factor. But if given a choice to be a princess or an ordinary girl in a loving family, what is the best decision? The story also explores what it means to be family. What if your parents aren't actually your birth parents? Can a group of friends be family too? These and other questions are touched on through the experiences and actions of the characters. I enjoyed this book and recommend it as an appropriate, Christian, middlegrade fantasy. I received a complementary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.