The Children of the King
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Internationally acclaimed author Sonya Hartnett tells a hauntingly beautiful story set during World War II.
Cecily and Jeremy have been sent to live with their uncle Peregrine in the English countryside, safe from the war, along with a young refugee named May. But when Cecily and May find two mysterious boys hiding in the ruins of a nearby castle, an extraordinary adventure begins.
the big rooms proved empty, however, and finally Cecily stopped, confused. A puzzled part of her put forward the idea that she’d invented the evacuee’s entire existence. Byron barked, far away. Cecily spun like a rabbit and ran. By the time she reached the cobbled yard, May and Byron were already way across the field, heading in the direction of the woods from which they had emerged that morning. “Wait!” Cecily shouted. “Wait for me!” She ducked past the gate and hared off over the grass,
laughed Cecily. “The King in his youth had been a majestic specimen, tall, broad, hale. But by the time he was forty — an age that is elderly only to children — the years of extravagance had taken their toll. The King was as fat as a barrel, as lazy as a swine, as breathless as a cod. He was a burping, farting, flabby disgrace to behold. He’d become too lazy to think for himself, and was bossed about by his wife and her relatives. He’d handed the upbringing of his heir, little Edward, into the
if one boy’s death amid tens of thousands isn’t hateful and pointless but heroic, and, God help me, noble . . .” “Mama!” Peregrine said, “Jeremy’s young. He’s clearly a child. If he tried to enlist, they’d simply turn him away.” “Good!” Heloise gave a crumpled laugh. “Let them turn him away! Let them send him packing. He doesn’t belong to the country. I won’t give him to those bloodthirsty generals and their army, their tanks, their shooting, their bombs. He isn’t yours to kill, Peregrine!”
usually you do.” There was a rough tone in her voice which both May and Peregrine noticed but neither commented on. She snatched some toast and buttered it so severely that the slice cracked like an ice floe. She saw, again, her brother in tears on the first-floor landing. Words came to her that she’d forgotten: I would like to be true. Loyal. Brave. It was sad that he expected such grand things from himself when he was merely a boy. Bluntly she said, “I think Mama is right. Jeremy’s run away to
ordinary thing. That doesn’t mean that life is drear. It simply means you can trust it never to fall below expectation; and sometimes, very occasionally, to soar into the realm of the incredible.” He did something, then, that May would never forget: he winked at her as a conjurer on a stage might wink to a child in his audience, as though nobody existed but they two. Then he got to his feet and, followed by his dog, limped from the room, a man who lived, who would live forever, in a house which