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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 Twelve (part b)


A mile or so later the horse slowed down to a trot with only occasional peeks back over his shoulder. Then finally he stopped entirely.

"So much for trolls," he said with a grin.

As he spoke the porcupine started to snore loudly.

'What should we do with him?" asked Rachael.

The horse considered this for a moment.

"If there's a mailbox handy we could mail him somewhere," he suggested. "Third class. The long way."

The porcupine gave another loud snore. The horse looked back at him and shook his head in disgust.

"No way we're going to the new-moon stones today," he said. "He likes to say that we might but we never quite do. This is as close as we ever get."

Jennifer took out the pendulum and let it swing free. "I guess we should get off the wagon then," she said. The pendulum nodded yes.

"Which way?" asked Jamie and he pointed to the left.

The pendulum continued to swing over to no.

"This way," said Rachael and she pointed to the right.

The pendulum went back to nodding yes again. The children got down from the wagon and said goodbye.

"Thanks for the ride," said Jamie. "Thank the porcupine too, when he wakes up."

"I will", said the horse. "Prop him up a bit before you go. I've got to keep up appearances you know."

Rachael and Jamie sat up the sleeping porcupine and Jennifer placed the empty penny jar in his paws.

"Take good care of him now," she told the horse.

"Always do, " said the horse and he broke into a brisk trot. The wagon lurched off down the road with the porcupine swaying precariously in the driver's seat. "If you see any good bags along the way, just set them aside for me, all right? Be seeing you."

"Goodbye!" said Jennifer and everyone waved.

Then they turned away from the road and followed the pendulum off into the woods. The trees began to thin out and the ground got softer and even at times a bit damp. It was soon apparent that they were approaching water.

"Oh wonderful," said Rachael. "Just what we need. A nice big swamp."

The footing got worse and worse, and Jennifer had to keep checking the pendulum to make sure they didn't step into the mud and ooze. Then all at once they found themselves on the edge of a wide river.

"Great," said Rachael. "Which way does it say now?"

Jennifer consulted the pendulum. It didn't swing yes until she pointed out into the water.

"Get serious!" said Rachael. "I'm not going out there!"

Even Jamie didn't have much enthusiasm for the idea.

"I don't think we better go swimming or anything," he said. "There might be sharks or maybe crocodiles!"

"But it must be the best way to go," said Jennifer. "The pendulum says so and it's always been right."

"So far", said Rachael.

"Maybe there's a way for us to get across," suggested Jennifer, but she didn't see how there could possibly be. The river looked impossibly wide.

continue on to part three of Chapter 12

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