Chapter 1.6

726 93 10

A book.

Ward had seen only one book in his life. It belonged to Jaggles, and was kept on the highest shelf in the shack. It was the Biblia Magna, or Great Book of the Hattoists, and children were not allowed to read it. For this reason Great Books came fitted with brass clasps, a lock on the front, and a small key with which to open the lock. Ward had never even seen Jaggles open his copy, let alone read it. Sometimes he wondered if that learned soul, George Jaggles, could read at all.

The only things Ward had ever read were the scrolls of parchment in the cellar. These were distributed to the furthest corners of the Republic, and related the story of Hatto, without subjecting young eyes to the more serious content of the Great Book itself. They made for unexciting reading, but they did teach Ward how to read. There is, after all, no better classroom than a cellar containing nothing but soup cans and broken fishing rods, and no better teacher than sheer boredom. All other books were forbidden objects. Unauthorised possession of them was a capital crime.

And there was not one, but three books in the bag, and none of them had locks. What's more, he couldn't understand the words on the covers. Books written in foreign languages were forbidden above all, and his heart thumped as he lay them out on the floor.

The cover of the first book showed a white creature wearing a lopsided hat and a red bow tie. The book was very thin, and full of peculiar pictures.

The second was some kind of catalogue. There were no pictures inside. It was very thick – what it was cataloguing must have been extensive.

The last book had a picture of a slough on the cover. The slough was standing on its hind legs, its snout thrust in the air and its front trotters buried in the pockets of the waistcoat it wore. He wondered if it was a story. Perhaps, he thought, it was a story about sloughs.

There seemed to be nothing else in the bag, but then Ward spied a pocket on the front that he hadn't seen at first. There was an old leather pouch inside the pocket. The leather was as soft as a dog's ear. He opened the pouch, turned it upside down, and two cubes tumbled out onto his open hand.

Oops! This image does not follow our content guidelines. To continue publishing, please remove it or upload a different image.

Which books has Ward found?

Guess correctly below and I won't say anything nasty for five minutes.

The Seven Sleepers | The Cave of Wonders: Book 1Where stories live. Discover now