Eve Bunting Forbidden

ISBN 13: 9780544938816

Forbidden

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9780544938816: Forbidden

In early-nineteenth century Scotland, sixteen-year-old Josie, an orphan, is sent to live with an aunt and uncle on the rocky, stormy northwest coast. Everything and everyone in her new surroundings, including her relatives, is sinister, threatening, and mysterious. She's told that Eli, the young man she's attracted to, is forbidden to her, but not why. Spirited, curious, and determined, Josie sets out to learn the village's secrets and discovers evil, fueled by heartless greed, as well as a ghostly presence eager for revenge. An author's note gives the historical inspiration for this story.

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About the Author:

Eve Bunting has written over two hundred books for children, including the Caldecott Medal-winning Smoky Night, illustrated by David Diaz, The Wall, Fly Away Home, and Train to Somewhere. She lives in Southern California.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One
 
We had arrived.
 
I’d taken two traps, a coach, and a carriage to get here from my old, beloved home in Edinburgh. It was sad and strange to think of myself as an orphan now that my parents had died. But that was what I was. Sorrow threatened to overwhelm me. But I told myself to be brave and to consider myself fortunate to have an aunt and uncle to go to. Though an orphan, I would have a family again.
 
We’d traveled through wind and rain that grew fiercer the closer we got to the coast. The journey had been tiring and difficult. And then there’d been the strangeness of the last village we’d gone through, where all the shops and houses were brightly lit, people stood around the street, music played loudly through the open doors of one of the establishments. It had seemed to me at first to be filled with gaiety. But only at first. There was a wrongness about it.
 
Robert, the carriage driver, rushed through it fast, the collar of his greatcoat half hiding his face, his gaze fixed on the road. The carriage bounced and shook so that I feared a wheel might come loose.
 
When he slowed to avoid a woman singing in the street, I’d gazed at the people around us. They had paused in their conversations and were staring at our carriage, staring at me, with such malevolence that my blood chilled. One man wearing a stained hat shouted, “What’s your business here?” in a truculent voice.
 
A woman yelled, “Go back where you’ve come from!”
 
Robert cracked his whip, and we were rattling away, the carriage swaying from side to side.
 
“This is Brindle?” I’d shouted up to him.
 
“It is, Mistress.”
 
“The people do not seem friendly,” I shouted, holding on to my bonnet to keep it from being blown away. I was going to Brindle Point, a more distant part of the town. Perhaps it would be better.
 
I’d thought Robert was not going to speak but then he shouted, “I do not know the people here, Mistress. I don’t come this way often.” He’d muttered something else, but I could not distinguish the words.
 
The wind had risen to a roar, shaking the sides of the carriage, flailing against the windows. It was difficult to make myself heard as I tried to communicate with him.
 
“How far now to my uncle’s house?”
 
“No more than a mile, Mistress. Maybe more or maybe less. I’m not from around here.”
 
We were quiet then, rolling unevenly on a road that seemed to grow steadily more narrow. Now and then, I heard the horses whinny, and I wondered about them. Could they see through the dark and wind? Were they exhausted? They needed to rest.
 
But now Robert was reining them in and the carriage was rumbling to a stop. He helped me to the ground, and I stared in dismay.
 
“This is the house?”
 
“It is, Mistress.” He tied the strings on his hat more tightly and wrapped his greatcoat more closely around himself before he lifted out my two boxes and my trunk and set them beside me. “If you’re sure you want to stay,” he said.
 
What was the matter with him? He had become jittery, casting anxious looks about him, hurrying in a way that told me he was eager to be off. Certainly the surroundings were not inviting. There was heather with no bloom on it, beaten a brickly brown. There was scrub grass, a tree snarled and crooked, bare rocky ground, clouds that hung low and menacing.
 
The rain had stopped falling, but the sky was still full of it.
 
“If that’s all, Mistress, I’ll be on my way,” Robert said.
 
I could scarcely hear him, for along with the roar and snarl of the wind, there was a boom of waves in the sea below us.
 
“Wait,” I shouted. “You are sure this is Brindle Point? And this is the house of my uncle, Caleb Ferguson?”
 
“It is, Mistress Josie. I made inquiries at the inn. See the name on the doorpost? Raven’s Roost?”
 
There was no hanging lamp at the door, but when I peered closely, I could make out the name and a date carved into the piece of plank: RAVEN’S ROOST 1707. The house had been there for exactly one hundred years. The board swung in the wind, banging itself against the door that was heavy and studded with nails, not at all in keeping with a house that I could already tell was battered and run-down.
 
A heavy bell hung on a rope beside it. When I looked up, I saw smoke twisting from the top of a chimney.
 
“But . . . but . . . my uncle is a professional man,” I shouted. “We passed the town a mile back.”
 
“Be that as it may, Mistress. This is his house. I’ll clang the bell for you, if you like, and then I’ll be off.” His soft Scottish burr blurred the words, and the force of the wind blew them away from me. He put a hand on my shoulder. “I was loath to bring you. And you can choose to turn around and come back with me. I’ll find you rooms—”
 
“Thank you,” I shouted. “That is kind of you.” My hair came loose from my bonnet, which, heaven knew how, was still on my head. I tried to push the long brown curls underneath it. “If I went back, what would I do then?” I held out my hand for him to shake. “Thank you, Robert. You have already been paid for taking me on this long trip?”
 
“Aye, Mistress. Your solicitor arranged all that. Would you no’ write to him and tell him you cannot stay and—”
 
The door behind us opened. Heat and smoke and light surged out. “I thought I heard you,” the man in the doorway said. “You’ll be Josie.” He addressed Robert. “Bring the lady’s valises inside and be quick about it. Is that her trunk? Make haste with it. The cold is perishing.”
 
“I can take the portmanteau . . .” I began, but the man, who I surmised was my uncle Caleb, said, “Let him do it and be on his way.” He walked ahead of me into the house.
 
For a time I could not get my bearings. The room was a blur, and I had to support myself with a hand on the wall. Behind me I heard the scuffle of Robert’s feet as he brought in my belongings. I heard the slide of my trunk being dragged across the lintel. I blinked hard. The smoke in the room was like a fog that stung my eyes and my throat. A woman in a plain black pinafore sat close to a fire that burned in an open hearth. Smoke billowed from it into the room. A steaming pot hung low over the flames. I stood uncertain.
 
“Here’s your niece, Minnie, come all this way to visit us,” my uncle said.
 
The woman was tall and bony, bent at the back as if used to standing under too low a roof. Her gray hair was fixed in a straggly bun. She moved toward me, and I held out my hand. My dear mother had always told me that ladies curtsy and men shake hands, but I could never bring myself to do that. Even though Mrs. Chandler’s Book on Etiquette for Young Ladies was strict on the subject.
 
My aunt did not take the hand I offered, merely stepped back. Her eyes were a glittering golden brown, small and hard as brandy-ball sweets. She was examining me the way a man examines a horse he’s thinking to buy.
 
“Mistress Josie?” That was Robert’s voice. I turned and saw him standing by my trunk, and I went toward him.
 
“Don’t forget,” he muttered. “My wife and I are in Glenbrae, eighteen miles back. Ask anyone the way. But be sure not to tell them you are niece to Caleb Ferguson.”
 
“Thank you, Robert. Thank you for your kindness.”
 
“Why are you standing blathering, man?” my uncle called out. “Are you expecting to be paid more money for your trouble? You’re not getting a penny farthing, for I’m sure that solicitor paid you handsomely for your duties.”
 
“He did, thankee.” Robert’s voice was polite. A crash of wind took the door when he opened it to leave and slammed it shut behind him.
 
Never in my sixteen years had I felt so desolate. And so alone.
 
I listened to hear the carriage roll away, but I could hear nothing save the whip of the wind in the chimney, the force of it beating against the outside walls. And the crash of the sea.
 
“So. You’ve arrived,” my uncle Caleb said, and I looked at him properly for the first time.
 
He was tall, too, and straight, clean-shaven. His eyes were dark and close set and his dun-colored hair was tied back with a frayed ribbon. There was something about his ears that drew my eyes, though I tried not to stare. They were badly formed, protruding from his head and covered with white scabs, like small hard pearls.
 
He gave me a smile that had no warmth in it. “You see a resemblance to Duncan?” he asked. “Your late father?”
 
“No,” I whispered, unable to speak more.
 
“People did say we looked alike when we were bairns, but as you know, he was the elder by a year. We were close in age. But not, I fear, in disposition.”
 
My aunt Minnie gave a snort. My attention swiveled to her and then back to my uncle.
 
“And then there were these.” My uncle paid no mind to her. He raised both hands to cup his ears as if he were hard of hearing. “A strange skin condition that afflicted me at an early age. I venture to say it ruined my life. There is no cure. Stare at them if you want. You must take me as you find me.”
 
“Of course.” I tried to smile. No point in saying I hadn’t noticed. A person would have to be blind or in the dark not to see what was there.
 
“Take off your cloak and bonnet, then,” my aunt Minnie said. “I’ve made a stew.” Her words were strong and deep, with a coarseness to them that one would not expect from a woman.
 
I laid my heavy cloak and my bonnet on a high-backed chair.
 
My uncle indicated a table that almost filled the entire living space. It was oaken, carved at the edges with a design of leaves and fruits, the thick legs ending in clawed feet. It was set with wooden bowls and spoons that shone like silver.
 
“Be quick with the victuals, Minnie,” he called. “The lass is hungry.”
 
“Thank you,” I said politely. “There is no need for haste on my account. The coach driver and I ate at the inn before we made this last leg of the journey. But the stew does smell delicious,” I added.
 
“It’s ready,” my aunt Minnie said.
 
An oil lamp swung from a hook on the ceiling, and it and the open fire cast light in the room. I saw a fiddle, gleaming chestnut brown on a stool by the fire. My aunt came to the table, took the bowls, and carried them to the hearth. I watched her lift the big iron pot from its swinging arm, set it down, and ladle stew into each bowl. She moved lithely, competently. Before she sat, she took off her pinafore, and I saw that she wore a heavy dark jumper with a faded red ship’s wheel on the front of it. And . . . men’s rough trousers. I’d never imagined to see a woman in trousers but then I’d never been in the company of a woman like my aunt Minnie before.
 
I pointed to the violin and in an effort to make conversation, asked, “You play the instrument, Aunt Minnie?”
 
“I can make it squawk,” she said.
 
“I can play,” I said. “My mother made sure I had music lessons. I could teach you, if you like. Do you have a bow for it?”
 
She grunted. “I do not want to play it. I just like the looks of it.”
 
“Music lessons!” my uncle muttered. “That is the sort of nonsense Duncan would pay good money for.”
 
“My father always did what he thought best for me,” I said quickly. “My mother, too. I am grateful.”
 
He and my aunt exchanged glances, and I saw her give a small shake of her head.
 
I was not only not hungry, I had no appetite whatsoever. I did not care for this criticism of my father, and I decided I would not tolerate it. Perhaps my uncle had been softer and more sensitive when they were prosperous. But, to hear it, there had always been the ears. That in itself could make a man cantankerous.
 
I surreptitiously gazed around the room. There were signs of wealth and signs of poverty. I quickly decided that my aunt and uncle had come down in the world and lost the apothecary business they had had in Brindle. Perhaps they had once owned a large, fancy house, filled with expensive possessions and had carried some of them with them when they moved.
 
I lifted my spoon.
 
“Before we eat, we are accustomed to bless the food,” my uncle said sternly.
 
“Oh.” I bowed my head.
 
“Some hae meat and canna eat, and some can eat and want it,” he intoned.
 
I half opened my eyes and squinted at his face.
 
It was set in a look of stern piety.
 
I glanced at my aunt Minnie. Her gaze was fixed on me, her brandy-ball eyes narrowed.
 
My uncle was continuing with the blessing, and I quickly bowed my head again and tried to look pious myself.
 
“But we hae meat, and we can eat, so let the Lord be thank-ed.” He peered at the two of us. “Amen,” he said.
 
“Amen,” my aunt repeated.
 
I felt an unbecoming levity rise in me as I whispered, “Amen.”
 
My aunt unfurled a stained serviette from a silver serviette ring by her place. Engraved on the ring was the word BONIFACE. It must have been a family name from better times past. She spread the napkin fastidiously across her lap.
 
Suddenly she asked, “Are you healthy, girl?”
 
“I . . . I . . .” What an odd question. Almost frightening. “I believe I am,” I said. “I did not succumb to the illness that took my dear parents, so I suppose I must be.”
 
“That’s good,” she said.
 
I bent my head over the stew. Are you healthy, girl? were almost the first words she’d spoken to me. I suddenly thought of the old story of the witch who felt the bones of small, trapped children to see if they were worth cooking in her oven. A shiver trembled across my back. What if Aunt Minnie got up from the table and began poking me, checking to find the fat on me? Asking to see my teeth? Peering down my throat? Stop it! I told myself. Stop these foolish and ghoulish thoughts. There is no comparison. My aunt is simply interested in my well-being. That is all. And I remembered that it was the witch herself who had ended up in that oven.
 

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Eve Bunting
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Book Description Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, United States, 2017. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. In early-nineteenth century Scotland, sixteen-year-old Josie, an orphan, is sent to live with an aunt and uncle on the rocky, stormy northwest coast. Everything and everyone in her new surroundings, including her relatives, is sinister, threatening, and mysterious. She s told that Eli, the young man she s attracted to, is forbidden to her, but not why. Spirited, curious, and determined, Josie sets out to learn the village s secrets and discovers evil, fueled by heartless greed, as well as a ghostly presence eager for revenge. An author s note gives the historical inspiration for this story. Bookseller Inventory # AA99780544938816

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Book Description Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, United States, 2017. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. In early-nineteenth century Scotland, sixteen-year-old Josie, an orphan, is sent to live with an aunt and uncle on the rocky, stormy northwest coast. Everything and everyone in her new surroundings, including her relatives, is sinister, threatening, and mysterious. She s told that Eli, the young man she s attracted to, is forbidden to her, but not why. Spirited, curious, and determined, Josie sets out to learn the village s secrets and discovers evil, fueled by heartless greed, as well as a ghostly presence eager for revenge. An author s note gives the historical inspiration for this story. Bookseller Inventory # AA99780544938816

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Book Description Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, United States, 2017. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In early-nineteenth century Scotland, sixteen-year-old Josie, an orphan, is sent to live with an aunt and uncle on the rocky, stormy northwest coast. Everything and everyone in her new surroundings, including her relatives, is sinister, threatening, and mysterious. She s told that Eli, the young man she s attracted to, is forbidden to her, but not why. Spirited, curious, and determined, Josie sets out to learn the village s secrets and discovers evil, fueled by heartless greed, as well as a ghostly presence eager for revenge. An author s note gives the historical inspiration for this story. Bookseller Inventory # BZE9780544938816

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