The Traitors' Gate (Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Hardcover))

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9780689853357: The Traitors' Gate (Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Hardcover))

John Huffam is sure the tall man's beard is false. He's sure of little else in November 1849, the year he is fourteen, the year his father is sentenced to London's Whitecross Street Prison.

Maybe the man following John -- who claims to be one Inspector Copperfield -- can explain why. Surely, Pa isn't prepared to reveal the truth, any more than the jovial bailiff, Mr. Tuckum, who knows something, but remains mum. Or the little Frenchman, Mr. Farquatt, who courts John's sister but seems most keen on Pa's work at the Naval Ordinance Office. Or Mr. O'Doul, the Irishman who insists Pa owes him the unimaginable sum of three hundred pounds.

Or what of the one-legged, single-mindedly fierce Sergeant Muldspoon, John's teacher? What about the boy's great-great-aunt, Lady Euphemia Huffam, who could pay the debt but won't for reasons of her own? What about the secretive Mr. Snugsbe of All Hallows Church, who hides himself away in the City's most voluminous coat?

Then there's Chief Inspector Ratchet of Scotland Yard, who is after somebody for some crime or other. True, John has a new friend and ally in Sary the Sneak...but what has even she got up her sleeve?

What John learns on his own is that there's a traitor on the loose, somewhere. And he must uncover the villain -- no matter who it might be.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Avi is the author of more than seventy books for children and young adults, including the 2003 Newbery medal winner Crispin: The Cross of Lead. He has won two Newbery Honors and many other awards for his fiction. He lives with his family in Denver, Colorado. Visit him at Avi-Writer.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Prologue

"Don't speak!"

"But -- "

"I'm warning you, don't speak! Yer life may depend upon it!"

Midnight on the River Thames: A rowboat in which two men sit. Water stinking of dead fish, sewage, and brackish sea. Fog so clotted with coal dust that the men, though a few feet apart, cannot see each other, no more than they can see the stars in heaven or the gas lamps of London less than a quarter of a mile away.

A paddle wheeler passes by. The churning water causes the rowboat to dip and bob. The first speaker rests on his oars. But once the wheeler is gone, he leans over his oars and whispers, "River police."

"How do you know?"

"It's my job to know, ain't it?" His voice is low and husky.

"Do they know we're here?"

"Maybe."

"How could they?"

"Them Metropolitan Police 'ave detectives now."

"A dumb lot they are, I suppose."

"Think so? Then 'ere's some advice: Keep away from Chief Inspector Ratchet. You never know when 'e'll show up. All right, then, 'ow are things back where you come from?"

"Couldn't be worse."

"And you're 'ere to even things up, right?"

"We're going to defend ourselves, that's all."

"So you called on me for 'elp, did you?"

"Right."

"'Ow you get my name?"

"A girl said you'd help me."

"Then she done 'er job fine. Now listen 'ard. I'm about to provide that 'elp you want. Then I'll get you back on shore quick as winks."

"Why did you bring me out here?"

"You paid me for information. And you're brand-new 'ere, ain't you? People won't know you. But me, I've been round this city some. So let me tell you, London 'as more eyes and ears than any city. If them Peelers see you with me, it's over. Lot safer out 'ere on the river."

"What about that police boat?"

"Just 'ope it's a coincidence."

"All right. Go on. I'm listening. What's your information?"

"It's this: There's this clerk, Wesley John Louis 'Uffam."

"Huffam?"

"If you like."

"Why, I know about him!"

"Do you? Who told you?"

"That's my business. Go on."

"If you know 'im, I guess you also know 'e works in the Naval Ordinance Office. 'E's seen the wery plans you want. And 'e's more than seen 'em. 'E's copied 'em."

"For whom?"

"Who do you think? The Royal Navy. 'Ere's the point: There's reason to think you can get the information from 'im."

"Is he willing?"

"That's the word. The man's either a fool or too clever by 'alf. But 'e's surely got what you're looking for -- in 'is 'ead. The best military invention in a 'undred years. Changes everything. Better yet, 'e's let word slide that 'e's willing to sell it to the 'ighest bidder. Why? Cause 'e needs money. Needs it bad. All right, then: Apply the right squeeze and you should 'ave no trouble getting what you want out of 'im. 'E's an easy mark."

"How much time do I have?"

"What's it now, August? I'd say you got till November."

"I have someone close to the man."

"Who?"

"You have your business, I have mine."

"You talk like a real spy."

"If you're asking if I'm willing to take risks? Well, I am."

"A real gambler, ain't you?"

"A man has to survive someway, don't he?"

"Fine, but from this point on," says the rower, "you're on yer own. Understand? I don't want to see yer face, and I don't want you to see mine."

"Don't worry. The bloody fog is so thick, I can't see anything."

"Good."

"Anything else?"

"Just this: From the way this 'ere 'Uffam put out 'is word, I'll bet there's others trying to get what you want. You're not likely to be the only one in the game."

"Who else?"

"The usual mob. The French. The Russians, per'aps. Maybe the Prussians, Turks, or Spanish. Could be Americans for that matter. Take yer pick."

"No idea which?"

"It could be all. Or some. Or none. Best be on yer guard. Now I'll take you back to the riverbank. No more talk."

"One more question."

"Go on."

"What's your interest?"

The rower leans forward and, guided by the voice, manages to tap on the other man's chest as if to punch a mark on it. "I can 'ave my own business too, can't I?"

"Suit yourself," says the passenger, pushing the hand away with a walking stick.

The rower leans back and begins to propel the rowboat with powerful strokes. All is quiet save for the splash of oars.

"Fog lifting," he says, shifting his head so that his oilskin cloak covers him up to the eyes.

"Where are we?"

The rower peers through the murk. "There's the Tower of London. You can just make out Traitors' Gate."

"I'd rather not land there," mutters the other.

"Fitting...in its way."

"If that's a joke, I don't like it. Just get me on shore."

The little boat scrapes the riverbank where a narrow city street -- Cousin Lane -- runs down to the water.

The passenger clambers out.

"Mind the muck!"

"I'm fine."

"Good luck."

"I assure you," the man calls back as he vanishes into the fog, "luck will have nothing to do with it."

"Maybe," murmurs the oarsman as he pushes back into the foggy river, "just maybe I should 'ave taken 'im straight to Traitors' Gate. Might 'ave saved time. Well, I guess I'll find out soon enough."

He rows right to Old Swan's Pier, where the police paddle wheeler is waiting for him. "All right, then," he announces as he climbs aboard. "Our pretty little fishing expedition 'as commenced. By November we'll see what our net brings in."

Among those who hear him is a girl. She puts a dirty hand over her mouth and does a little jig of delight to keep from laughing out loud.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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Book Description ATHENEUM BOOKS, United States, 2007. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Karina Raude (illustrator). Language: English . Brand New Book. John Huffam is sure the tall man s beard is false. He s sure of little else in November 1849, the year he is fourteen, the year his father is sentenced to London s Whitecross Street Prison. Maybe the man following John -- who claims to be one Inspector Copperfield -- can explain why. Surely, Pa isn t prepared to reveal the truth, any more than the jovial bailiff, Mr. Tuckum, who knows something, but remains mum. Or the little Frenchman, Mr. Farquatt, who courts John s sister but seems most keen on Pa s work at the Naval Ordinance Office. Or Mr. O Doul, the Irishman who insists Pa owes him the unimaginable sum of three hundred pounds. Or what of the one-legged, single-mindedly fierce Sergeant Muldspoon, John s teacher? What about the boy s great-great-aunt, Lady Euphemia Huffam, who could pay the debt but won t for reasons of her own? What about the secretive Mr. Snugsbe of All Hallows Church, who hides himself away in the City s most voluminous coat? Then there s Chief Inspector Ratchet of Scotland Yard, who is after somebody for some crime or other. True, John has a new friend and ally in Sary the Sneak.but what has even she got up her sleeve? What John learns on his own is that there s a traitor on the loose, somewhere. And he must uncover the villain -- no matter who it might be. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9780689853357

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Book Description ATHENEUM BOOKS, United States, 2007. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Karina Raude (illustrator). Language: English . Brand New Book. John Huffam is sure the tall man s beard is false. He s sure of little else in November 1849, the year he is fourteen, the year his father is sentenced to London s Whitecross Street Prison. Maybe the man following John -- who claims to be one Inspector Copperfield -- can explain why. Surely, Pa isn t prepared to reveal the truth, any more than the jovial bailiff, Mr. Tuckum, who knows something, but remains mum. Or the little Frenchman, Mr. Farquatt, who courts John s sister but seems most keen on Pa s work at the Naval Ordinance Office. Or Mr. O Doul, the Irishman who insists Pa owes him the unimaginable sum of three hundred pounds. Or what of the one-legged, single-mindedly fierce Sergeant Muldspoon, John s teacher? What about the boy s great-great-aunt, Lady Euphemia Huffam, who could pay the debt but won t for reasons of her own? What about the secretive Mr. Snugsbe of All Hallows Church, who hides himself away in the City s most voluminous coat? Then there s Chief Inspector Ratchet of Scotland Yard, who is after somebody for some crime or other. True, John has a new friend and ally in Sary the Sneak.but what has even she got up her sleeve? What John learns on his own is that there s a traitor on the loose, somewhere. And he must uncover the villain -- no matter who it might be. Bookseller Inventory # FLT9780689853357

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