"Don't underestimate him!" she heard Dustfinger say. His
voice was so different from Mo's. No one else in the world had a
voice like her father's. Mo could paint pictures in the empty air
with his voice alone.
"He'd do anything to get hold of it." That was Dustfinger
again. "And when I say anything,' I can assure you I mean anything."
"I'll never let him have it." That was Mo.
"He'll still get his hands on it, one way or another! I tell you,
they're on your trail."
"It wouldn't be the first time. I've always managed to shake
them off before."
"Oh yes? And for how much longer, do you think? What
about your daughter? Are you telling me she actually likes moving
around the whole time? Believe me, I know what I'm talking
It was so quiet behind the door that Meggie scarcely dared
breathe in case the two men heard her.
Finally, her father spoke again, hesitantly, as if his tongue
found it difficult to form the words. "Then what do you think I
ought to do?"
"Come with me. I'll take you to them." A cup clinked. The
sound of a spoon against china. How loud small noises sound in a
silence. "You know how much Capricorn thinks of your talents.
He'd be glad if you took it to him of your own free will, I'm sure he
would. The man he found to replace you is useless."
Capricorn. Another peculiar name. Dustfinger had uttered it
as if the mere sound might scorch his tongue. Meggie wriggled
her chilly toes and wrinkled her cold nose. She didn't understand
much of what the two men were saying, but she tried to memorize
every single word of it.
It was quiet again in the workshop.
"Oh, I don't know," said Mo at last. He sounded so weary it
tore at Meggie's heart. "I'll have to think about it. When do you
think his men will get here?"
The word dropped like a stone into the silence.
"Soon," repeated Mo. "Very well. I'll have made up my mind
by tomorrow. Do you have somewhere to sleep?"
"Oh, I can always find a place," replied Dustfinger. "I'm
managing quite well these days, although it's still all much too
fast for me." His laugh was not a happy one. "But I'd like to know
what you decide. May I come back tomorrow? About midday?"
"Yes, of course. I'll be picking Meggie up from school at one-thirty.
Come after that."
Meggie heard a chair being pushed back and scurried back to
her room. When the door of the workshop opened she was just
closing her bedroom door behind her. Pulling the covers up to
her chin, she lay there listening as her father said good-bye to
"And thank you for the warning anyway," she heard him add as
Dustfinger's footsteps moved away, slowly and uncertainly, as if he
were reluctant to leave, as if he hadn't said everything he'd wanted
to say. But at last he was gone, and only the rain kept drumming its
wet fingers on Meggie's window.
When Mo opened the door of her room she quickly closed her
eyes and tried to breathe as slowly as you do in a deep, innocent
sleep. But Mo wasn't stupid. In fact, he was sometimes terribly
"Meggie, put one of your feet out of bed," he told her. Reluctantly,
she stuck her toes out from under the blanket and laid
them in Mo's warm hand. They were still cold.
"I knew it!" he said. "You've been spying. Can't you do as I
tell you, just for once?" Sighing, he tucked her foot back underneath
the nice warm blankets. Then he sat down on her bed,
passed his hands over his tired face, and looked out of the window.
His hair was as dark as moleskin. Meggie had fair hair like
her mother, whom she knew only from a few faded photographs.
"You should be glad you look more like her than me," Mo always
said. "My head wouldn't look good at all on a girl's neck." But
Meggie wished she did look more like him. There wasn't a face in
the world she loved more.
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...