"Halt!" he barked. Nicko started to cry.
Silas stopped and told the boys to behave.
"Papers!" shouted the Guard. "Where are your papers?"
Silas stared at him, "What papers?" he asked quietly, not wanting to cause trouble with six tired boys around him needing to go home for supper.
"Your papers, Wizard scum. The beach area is forbidden to all without the required papers," sneered the Guard.
Silas was shocked. If he had not been with the boys, he would have argued, but he had noticed the pistol that the guard was carrying.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't know."
The Guard looked them all up and down as if deciding what to do, but luckily for Silas he had other people to go and terrorize.
"Take your rabble out of here and don't come back," snapped the Guard. "Stay where you belong."
Silas hurried the shocked boys away up the steps and into the safety of The Ramblings. Sam dropped his fish and started to sob.
"There there," said Silas, "it's all right." But Silas felt that things were most certainly not all right. What was going on?
"Why did he call us Wizard scum, Dad?" asked Simon. "Wizards are the best, aren't they?"
"Yes," said Silas distractedly, "the best."
But the trouble was, thought Silas, there was no hiding it if you were a Wizard. All Wizards, and only Wizards, had them. Silas had them, Sarah had them and all the boys except Nicko and Jo-Jo had them. And as soon as Nicko and Jo-Jo went to the Magyk class in school they would have them too. Slowly but surely, until there was no mistaking it, a Wizard child's eyes would turn green when he or she was exposed to Magyk learning. It had always been something to be proud of. Until now, when suddenly it felt dangerous.
That evening, when at long last all the children were asleep, Silas and Sarah talked late into the night. They talked about their Princess and their Wizard boys and the changes that had overtaken the Castle. They discussed escaping to the Marram Marshes, or going into the Forest and living with Galen. By the time dawn broke and at last they fell asleep, Silas and Sarah had decided to do what the Heaps usually did. Muddle through and hope for the best.
And so, for the next nine and a half years, Silas and Sarah kept quiet. They locked and barred their door, they spoke to only their neighbors and those they could trust and, when the Magyk classes were stopped at school, they taught the children Magyk at home in the evenings.
And that is why, nine and a half years later, all the Heaps except one had piercing green eyes.
The Supreme Custodian
It was six in the morning and still dark, ten years to the day
since Silas had found the bundle.
At the end of Corridor 223, behind the big black door with the number 16 stamped on it by the Numerical Patrol, the Heap household slept peacefully. Jenna lay curled up snugly in her small box bed that Silas had made for her from driftwood washed up along the river bank. The bed was built neatly into a big cupboard leading off a large room, which was in fact the only room that the Heaps possessed.
Jenna loved her cupboard bed. Sarah had made some bright patchwork curtains that Jenna could draw around the bed to keep out both the cold and her noisy brothers. Best of all, she had a small window in the wall above her pillow that looked out onto the river. If Jenna couldn't sleep, she would gaze out of her window for hours on end, watching the endless variety of boats that made their way to and from the Castle, and sometimes on clear dark nights she loved to count the stars until she fell fast asleep.
The large room was the place where all the Heaps lived, cooked, ate, argued and (occasionally) did their homework, and it was a mess. It was stuffed full of twenty years' worth of clutter that had accumulated since Sarah and Silas had set up home together. There were fishing rods and reels, shoes and socks, rope and rat traps, bags and bedding, nets and knitting, clothes and cooking pots, and books, books, books and yet more books.
From Magyk: Septimus Heap Book 1 by Angie Sage. Copyright Angie Sage 2005. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Harper Collins. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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