I can guess, he told himself sternly. He'd say, "Keep your heart up, Peer!" Like Ingrid said, I've got another uncle at the mill, and he can't be as bad as this. There can be only one Uncle Baldur. Maybe Uncle Grim will take after my side of the family. Maybejust maybehe might even be a little bit like Father!
The cart rattled down one last slope and trundled over a shaky wooden bridge. Peer looked down apprehensively at the black glancing water hurtling underneath. "Gee!" howled Uncle Baldur, cracking his whip. The sound was lost in the roar of the stream. On the other side of the bridge, Peer saw the mill.
It crouched dismally on the bank, squinting into the stream, a long black building that looked as if it had been cold for ages and didn't know how to get warm again. Wild trees pressed around it, tossing despairing arms in the wind. Uncle Baldur drove the cart around the end of the building, into a pinched little yard on the other side. As the sky lit up again with lightning, Peer saw to his right the stained frontage of the mill, with dripping thatch hanging low over sly little black windows. To his left lurked a dark barn, with a gaping entrance like an open mouth. Ahead stretched a line of mean-looking sheds. The weary oxen splashed to a halt, and a wolflike baying broke out from some unseen dog. Uncle Baldur dropped the reins, stretching his arms till the joints cracked.
"Home!" he proclaimed, jumping down. He strode across to the door of the mill and kicked it open. Weak firelight leaked into the yard. "Grim!" he called triumphantly. "I'm back. And I've got him!" The door banged shut behind him. Peer sat out in the rain, shivering with hope and fear.
"Uncle Grim will be different," he muttered aloud desperately. "I know he will. There can't be another Uncle Baldur. Even his own brother couldn't"
The latch lifted with a noisy click, and he heard a new, deep voice saying loudly, "Let's take a look at him, then!"
The mill door swung slowly open, shuddering. Peer held his breath. Out strode the burly shape of Uncle Baldur. At his heels trod someone elsesomeone unbelievably familiar. Flabbergasted, Peer squinted through the rain, telling himself it couldn't be true. But it was. There was nothing left to hope for. He shook his head in horrified despair.
From Troll Fell. Copyright 2004 by Katherine Langrish. All rights reserved. Excerpt reproduced by permission of the publisher, Harper Collins. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
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