took the sheet of paper back with an awkward smile. "I can't promise
that it'll be the same time of day there," he said in a muted voice.
"The laws of my art are difficult to understand, but believe me, no
one knows more about them than I do. Fore instance, I've discovered
that if you want to change or continue a story, you should use only
words that are in the book already. Too many new words and nothing at
all may happen, or alternatively something could happen that you
didn't intend. Perhaps it's different if you wrote the original story
"In the name of all the fairies, you're fuller of words than a whole library!" Dustfinger interrupted impatiently. "How about just reading it now?"
Orpheus fell silent as abruptly as if he had swallowed his tongue. "By all means," he said in slightly injured tones. "Well, now you'll see! With my help, the book will welcome you back like a prodigal son. It will suck you up the way paper absorbs ink."
Dustfinger just nodded and looked down the empty road. Farid sensed how much he wanted to believe Cheeseface --- and how afraid he was of another disappointment.
"What about me?" Farid went up to him. "He did write something about me, too, didn't he? Did you check it?
Orpheus gave him a rather nasty look. "My God," he said sarcastically to Dustfinger, "that boy really does seem fond of you! Where exactly did you pick him up? Somewhere along the road?"
"Not exactly," said Dustfinger. "He was plucked out of his story by the man who did me the same favour."
"Ah, yes! That...Silvertongue!" Orpheus spoke the name in a disparaging tone, as if he couldn't believe that anyone really deserved it.
"Yes, that's what he's called. How do you know?" There was no mistaking Dustfinger's surprise.
The hell-hound snuffled at Farid's bare toes. Orpheus shrugged. "Sooner or later you get to hear of everyone who can breathe life into the letters on a page."
"Indeed?" Dustfinger sounded skeptical, but he asked no more questions. He just stared at the sheet of paper covered with Orpheus's fine handwriting. But Cheeseface was still looking at Farid.
"What book do you come from?" he asked. "And why don't you want to go back into your own story, instead of his, which is nothing to do with you?
"That's none of your business!" replied Farid angrily. He liked Cheeseface less and less. He was too inquisitive --- and far too shrewd.
But Dustfinger just laughed quietly. "His own story? No, Farid isn't in the least homesick for that one. The boy switched from story to story like a snake changing its skin." Farid heard something like admiration in his voice.
"Did he indeed?" Orpheus looked at Farid again, so patronizingly. That the boy would have like to kick his fat shins, but the hell-hound was still glaring hungrily at him. "Very well," said Orpheus, sitting down on the wall. "I'm warning you, all the same! Reading you back is easy, but the boy has no business in your story! I can't put his name into it, I can only say, "a boy", and as you know, I can't guarantee that it will work. Even if it does, he'll probably just cause confusion. He may even bring you bad luck!"
From Inkspell by Cornelia Funke. Copyright 2005 by Cornelia Funke. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, The Chicken House/Scholastic.
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Southern Gothic fantasy with a contemporary flare set in Savannah
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