Authors: Frances Watts
Tags: #ebook, #book
AND ILLUSTRATED BY
The Secret of the Swords
The Poison Plot
First published in 2012
Copyright Â© Text, Frances Watts 2012
Copyright Â© Illustrations, Gregory Rogers 2012
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. The Australian Copyright Act 1968 (the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or ten per cent of this book, whichever is the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) under the Act.
Allen & Unwin
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Crows Nest NSW 2065
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A Cataloguing-in-Publication entry is available from the National Library of Australia
ISBN 978 1 74237 990 6
Cover design by Seymour Designs
Cover illustration by Gregory Rogers
Text design by Seymour Designs
Set in 16/21 pt Adobe Jenson Pro by Seymour Designs
This book was printed in July 2012 at McPherson's Printing Group,
76 Nelson St, Maryborough, Victoria 3465, Australia.
10Â Â 9Â Â 8Â Â 7Â Â 6Â Â 5Â Â 4Â Â 3Â Â 2Â Â 1
For Claire, with thanks for the paper
Everyone at Flamant Castle had poured out of the castle gate to see off the knights.
Tommy waved until her arm hurt, then leaned against the railing of the bridge and watched till the knights were out of sight. Sir Walter the Bald, the nobleman who owned Flamant Castle, rode at the head of the procession. Sir Benedict, the castle's bravest knight, was at his right hand. They were on their way east to Roses Castle. A month ago, Sir Percy and the knights of Roses had come to Flamant for a tournament. Now Sir Percy was holding a tournament at his castle, and nearly all the knights and squires of Flamant would be competing.
âI bet Sir Hugh is disappointed about being left behind,' Tommy said as the knight escorted Sir Walter's wife, Lady Beatrix the Bored, back inside the castle walls.
âSomeone has to guard Flamant Castle and its lands,' Lil pointed out. âBut you're right. Nothing much will happen around here until the knights return â which suits me just fine.' The black and white cat stretched and yawned. âThere's been too much activity for my taste. I'm looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet and a warm patch of sun in the great courtyard.'
She began to pad across the bridge towards the castle gate and Tommy fell into step beside her.
âWhat about you, Tommy? The armoury will seem very quiet after all the hustle and bustle of getting the knights' swords ready for the tournament.'
âWhat I'd really like to do is spend some time looking after the Old Wrecks,' Tommy confided. âI've been so busy with the other swords I feel like I've neglected them.'
âI'm sure they wouldn't agree,' said Lil. The Old Wrecks had been neglected for a long time, sitting dusty and unused in the darkest corner of the sword chamber. But when Tommy had become Keeper of the Blades she'd polished and sharpened them and found, to her astonishment, that the swords were inhabited by the spirits of their last owners.
For once the armoury was silent when Tommy entered. Smith had gone into town to see the blacksmith about some new shields, and there was no sign of lazy Reynard, the Keeper of the Bows.
Tommy went through the doorway to the left of the forge and into the sword chamber.
âSir Walter and the knights have left for Roses,' she announced to the Old Wrecks.
âWhat a pity you couldn't go with them, dearie,' said a sabre from the rack in the corner.
Tommy, who had fought in the tournament at Flamant when one of the squires was injured, shrugged. âI'm of more use here, Nursie,' she said as she pulled the sabre from the rack. âAfter all, Sir Hugh and his men will still need their swords cared for.'
âOur sword girl has an admirable devotion to duty,' said the dignified voice of Bevan Brumm, a long-handled dagger.
âShe does,' said the slender, slightly curved sword that was Jasper Swann. Jasper had been a squire, and was close to Tommy's own age when he'd fallen ill and died. âBut tell us again about how you won your jousting bout at the tournament, Sword Girl.'
So Tommy settled down with her file and whetstone for sharpening, and a pot of clove-scented oil for polishing, and described her victory.
âOoh, well done, Sword Girl,' said Nursie appreciatively. âOf course, my little darling won every bout he entered â¦'
Tommy thought she heard a groan from Bevan Brumm.
Nursie loved telling stories about her âlittle darling', which was what she had called Sir Walter the Bald when he was a boy and she was his nursemaid.
âHe had so much energy, you see,' she recalled fondly. âHe was always up to something. Oh, the mischief! One time he went missing for a whole day. My stars, I was in such a panic. I finally found him in the cellar. He said he'd been playing in an old tunnel. He told me it ran under the castle walls and underneath the town and came out in Skellibones Forest. Playing in dark, dirty tunnels was not at all what a young nobleman should be doing, I told him.'