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New-Moon Stones

 Story by Allen Morgan

 art by Doreen Foster

Full length novel: ages 9 - 12

seventeen chapters - 160 pages


Chapter Seven (part 2)


Moffat was lying awake in his bed, completely surrounded by animals. Jennifer recognized many of them as former tenants of the lower floors. There were mice on the spread and an owl on the bedpost, a mole was digging a hole in a pile of dirty laundry underneath the bed and a bat hung upside down from a lamp shade. The penguin was standing forlornly nearby, posing perhaps as a spare bedpost, ready in case of emergency. There were chipmunks on the shelves, frogs on the radiator and a rather fat porcupine sat on the chair. The black squirrel was hiding chestnuts under Moffat's pillow. There were rabbits everywhere.


"What in the name of Great-Grandmother's gramophone have the two of you been doing downstairs?" asked Moffat.

"We've been cleaning the house," explained Jennifer.

"Cleaning the house?" said Moffat. "Whatever for?"

"I don't know," admitted Jennifer. "It was mostly my mother's idea. She doesn't quite see how easily your house can take care of itself."

"Is she going to try to clean it any more?"

"No," said Jennifer. "She's done now, I think."

"Good," said Moffat. "It's starting to get a bit crowded up here. If the animals gradually move back downstairs again it shouldn't upset her too much."

"She probably won't even notice them," agreed Jennifer. "How's your leg feeling now?"

"Not bad at all, it could have been worse," Moffat told her. "I could have been carrying a piano when I fell."

"Do you think you can walk?" asked Jennifer.

"No," said Moffat. 'At least not very far or for very long. I'm afraid I can't go looking for new-moon stones."

"Oh," said Jennifer and now that her fears appeared to be true she felt suddenly sad. "That's too bad. I know how much you wanted to find one. I wish you could but I guess you can't, at least not this time. I'm sorry."

"So am I," said Moffat. "But that's how it is, it can't be helped. That's why I wanted to see you tonight."

He reached over and gave the pendulum to Jennifer. "What's this for?" she asked in surprise.

"So you'll know how to go to the place in the ravine where the new-moon stones will appear," Moffat told her.

"But I can't go without you!" protested Jennifer.

"I thought you wanted a new-moon stone of your own?"

"Well, I do but... "

"There's only one place to get one," he reminded her. "And the new moon only comes once a month."

Jennifer looked down at the pendulum in her hand. "Are you sure I should go by myself?" she asked.

"Absolutely. Ask the pendulum if you don't believe me. Jennifer let the sprite's new- moon stone dangle on the end of its chain. She tried to decide how to ask.

"Will I be able to find the place in the ravine where the new-moon stones will be?" she asked finally.

For a moment the pendulum stayed completely still. Then slowly it began to sway, up and away and then back again.

"I can!" she cried.

"Of course you can!" said Moffat

"But what do I do when I get there?" asked Jennifer.

"I'm afraid I can't tell you," said Moffat. "I've only known the sprite for a very short while so I haven't had a chance to go looking for new-moon stones yet. But I do know one thing, it's not such a secret. Everything you need to know is already there to see. There are all sorts of odd and unusual things all around you all the time."

He was right about that. Jennifer found herself noticing something unusual already. She tried not to stare.

"Is there something the matter?" asked Moffat.

"There's something on your head!" she told him.

"On my head?" said Moffat. "There is?"

"Yes, and it's kind of unusual."

"Unusual?" asked Moffat and he craned his neck and rolled his eyes as he tried to see just what kind of unusual it was., "Is it a basket?" he asked. "Or some strange kind of hat? A cat perhaps or a catamaran?"

"For heaven's sake, you've got a lizard on!"

As Jennifer spoke the lizard in question crawled farther down Moffat's forehead and looked down over his nose. After a moment he stuck out his tongue and wiggled it in a friendly sort of way. Moffat stuck his tongue out too and returned the greeting.

"Oh the lizard!" said Moffat and he grinned. "That lizard. That lizard's a particular friend of mine and he's not that peculiar at all. He claims it's warmer up there on my head. He's probably right, it probably is so there's no need to stare. Unless I've got something else up there. Do I?"

"No," said Jennifer. "I don't think so. Is there?"

"Certainly not," said Moffat emphatically. "One lizard's enough, anything more would be eccentric. We are all entitled to one; no more, no less and I have mine."

continue on to part three of Chapter 7

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