The Traitors' Gate

The Traitors' Gate


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It’s 1849, the year John Huffman’s father is sentenced to London’s Whitecross Street Prison. He’s been put away for gambling debt—leaving fourteen-year-old John and his family out on the street. But it seems gambling is the least of their problems: Father Huffman is accused of treason. Surrounded by a cast of sinister and suspicious characters, John’s not sure what to believe…or whom.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780689853364
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 09/07/2010
Series: Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Paperback)
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 353
Sales rank: 1,215,979
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
Age Range: 11 - 14 Years

About the Author

Avi is the author of more than seventy books for children and young adults, including the 2003 Newbery medal winner Crispin: The Cross of Lead. He has won two Newbery Honors and many other awards for his fiction. He lives with his family in Denver, Colorado. Visit him at

Karina Raude lives in New Hope, Pennsylvania. The Traitors' Gate
is the first book she has illustrated.

Date of Birth:

December 23, 1937

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964

Read an Excerpt

The Traitors' Gate

By Avi

Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books

Copyright © 2007 Avi
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780689853357


"Don't speak!"

"But -- "

"I'm warning you, don't speak! Yer life may depend upon it!"

Midnight on the River Thames: A rowboat in which two men sit. Water stinking of dead fish, sewage, and brackish sea. Fog so clotted with coal dust that the men, though a few feet apart, cannot see each other, no more than they can see the stars in heaven or the gas lamps of London less than a quarter of a mile away.

A paddle wheeler passes by. The churning water causes the rowboat to dip and bob. The first speaker rests on his oars. But once the wheeler is gone, he leans over his oars and whispers, "River police."

"How do you know?"

"It's my job to know, ain't it?" His voice is low and husky.

"Do they know we're here?"


"How could they?"

"Them Metropolitan Police 'ave detectives now."

"A dumb lot they are, I suppose."

"Think so? Then 'ere's some advice: Keep away from Chief Inspector Ratchet. You never know when 'e'll show up. All right, then, 'ow are things back where you come from?"

"Couldn't be worse."

"And you're 'ere to even things up, right?"

"We're going to defend ourselves, that's all."

"So you called on me for 'elp, did you?"


"'Ow you get my name?"

"A girl said you'd help me."

"Then she done 'er job fine. Now listen 'ard. I'm about to provide that 'elp you want.Then I'll get you back on shore quick as winks."

"Why did you bring me out here?"

"You paid me for information. And you're brand-new 'ere, ain't you? People won't know you. But me, I've been round this city some. So let me tell you, London 'as more eyes and ears than any city. If them Peelers see you with me, it's over. Lot safer out 'ere on the river."

"What about that police boat?"

"Just 'ope it's a coincidence."

"All right. Go on. I'm listening. What's your information?"

"It's this: There's this clerk, Wesley John Louis 'Uffam."


"If you like."

"Why, I know about him!"

"Do you? Who told you?"

"That's my business. Go on."

"If you know 'im, I guess you also know 'e works in the Naval Ordinance Office. 'E's seen the wery plans you want. And 'e's more than seen 'em. 'E's copied 'em."

"For whom?"

"Who do you think? The Royal Navy. 'Ere's the point: There's reason to think you can get the information from 'im."

"Is he willing?"

"That's the word. The man's either a fool or too clever by 'alf. But 'e's surely got what you're looking for -- in 'is 'ead. The best military invention in a 'undred years. Changes everything. Better yet, 'e's let word slide that 'e's willing to sell it to the 'ighest bidder. Why? Cause 'e needs money. Needs it bad. All right, then: Apply the right squeeze and you should 'ave no trouble getting what you want out of 'im. 'E's an easy mark."

"How much time do I have?"

"What's it now, August? I'd say you got till November."

"I have someone close to the man."


"You have your business, I have mine."

"You talk like a real spy."

"If you're asking if I'm willing to take risks? Well, I am."

"A real gambler, ain't you?"

"A man has to survive someway, don't he?"

"Fine, but from this point on," says the rower, "you're on yer own. Understand? I don't want to see yer face, and I don't want you to see mine."

"Don't worry. The bloody fog is so thick, I can't see anything."


"Anything else?"

"Just this: From the way this 'ere 'Uffam put out 'is word, I'll bet there's others trying to get what you want. You're not likely to be the only one in the game."

"Who else?"

"The usual mob. The French. The Russians, per'aps. Maybe the Prussians, Turks, or Spanish. Could be Americans for that matter. Take yer pick."

"No idea which?"

"It could be all. Or some. Or none. Best be on yer guard. Now I'll take you back to the riverbank. No more talk."

"One more question."

"Go on."

"What's your interest?"

The rower leans forward and, guided by the voice, manages to tap on the other man's chest as if to punch a mark on it. "I can 'ave my own business too, can't I?"

"Suit yourself," says the passenger, pushing the hand away with a walking stick.

The rower leans back and begins to propel the rowboat with powerful strokes. All is quiet save for the splash of oars.

"Fog lifting," he says, shifting his head so that his oilskin cloak covers him up to the eyes.

"Where are we?"

The rower peers through the murk. "There's the Tower of London. You can just make out Traitors' Gate."

"I'd rather not land there," mutters the other.

" its way."

"If that's a joke, I don't like it. Just get me on shore."

The little boat scrapes the riverbank where a narrow city street -- Cousin Lane -- runs down to the water.

The passenger clambers out.

"Mind the muck!"

"I'm fine."

"Good luck."

"I assure you," the man calls back as he vanishes into the fog, "luck will have nothing to do with it."

"Maybe," murmurs the oarsman as he pushes back into the foggy river, "just maybe I should 'ave taken 'im straight to Traitors' Gate. Might 'ave saved time. Well, I guess I'll find out soon enough."

He rows right to Old Swan's Pier, where the police paddle wheeler is waiting for him. "All right, then," he announces as he climbs aboard. "Our pretty little fishing expedition 'as commenced. By November we'll see what our net brings in."

Among those who hear him is a girl. She puts a dirty hand over her mouth and does a little jig of delight to keep from laughing out loud.


Excerpted from The Traitors' Gate by Avi Copyright © 2007 by Avi. Excerpted by permission.
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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