Excerpt from Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. (Joanne) Rowling, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

Book 2

by J.K. (Joanne) Rowling

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. (Joanne) Rowling X
Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. (Joanne) Rowling
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  • First Published:
    Jun 1999, 341 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2000, 352 pages

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"Oh, yeah -"

"She did -"

"Don't lie to me," Myrtle gasped, tears now flooding down her face, while Peeves chuckled happily over her shoulder. "D'you think I don't know what people call me behind my back? Fat Myrtle! Ugly Myrtle! Miserable, moaning, moping Myrtle!"

"You've forgotten pimply," Peeves hissed in her ear.

Moaning Myrtle burst into anguished sobs and fled from the dungeon. Peeves shot after her, pelting her with moldy peanuts, yelling, "Pimply! Pimply!"

"Oh, dear," said Hermione sadly.

Nearly Headless Nick now drifted toward them through the crowd.

"Enjoying yourselves?"

"Oh, yes," they lied.

"Not a bad turnout," said Nearly Headless Nick proudly. "The Wailing Widow came all the way up from Kent. . . . It's nearly time for my speech, I'd better go and warn the orchestra. . . ."

The orchestra, however, stopped playing at that very moment. They, and everyone else in the dungeon, fell silent, looking around in excitement, as a hunting horn sounded.

"Oh, here we go," said Nearly Headless Nick bitterly.

Through the dungeon wall burst a dozen ghost horses, each ridden by a headless horseman. The assembly clapped wildly; Harry started to clap, too, but stopped quickly at the sight of Nick's face.

The horses galloped into the middle of the dance floor and halted, rearing and plunging. At the front of the pack was a large ghost who held his bearded head under his arm, from which position he was blowing the horn. The ghost leapt down, lifted his head high in the air so he could see over the crowd (everyone laughed), and strode over to Nearly Headless Nick, squashing his head back onto his neck.

"Nick!" he roared. "How are you? Head still hanging in there?"

He gave a hearty guffaw and clapped Nearly Headless Nick on the shoulder.

"Welcome, Patrick," said Nick stiffly.

"Live 'uns!" said Sir Patrick, spotting Harry, Ron, and Hermione and giving a huge, fake jump of astonishment, so that his head fell off again (the crowd howled with laughter).

"Very amusing," said Nearly Headless Nick darkly.

"Don't mind Nick!" shouted Sir Patrick's head from the floor. "Still upset we won't let him join the Hunt! But I mean to say - look at the fellow -"

"I think," said Harry hurriedly, at a meaningful look from Nick, "Nick's very - frightening and - er -"

"Ha!" yelled Sir Patrick's head. "Bet he asked you to say that!"

"If I could have everyone's attention, it's time for my speech!" said Nearly Headless Nick loudly, striding toward the podium and climbing into an icy blue spotlight.

"My late lamented lords, ladies, and gentlemen, it is my great sorrow . . ."

But nobody heard much more. Sir Patrick and the rest of the Headless Hunt had just started a game of Head Hockey and the crowd were turning to watch. Nearly Headless Nick tried vainly to recapture his audience, but gave up as Sir Patrick's head went sailing past him to loud cheers.

Harry was very cold by now, not to mention hungry.

"I can't stand much more of this," Ron muttered, his teeth chattering, as the orchestra ground back into action and the ghosts swept back onto the dance floor.

"Let's go," Harry agreed.

They backed toward the door, nodding and beaming at anyone who looked at them, and a minute later were hurrying back up the passageway full of black candles.

"Pudding might not be finished yet," said Ron hopefully, leading the way toward the steps to the entrance hall.

And then Harry heard it.

". . . rip . . . tear . . . kill . . ."

It was the same voice, the same cold, murderous voice he had heard in Lockhart's office.

© 1999 by J. K. Rowling. Reprinted by permission of Scholastic Inc.

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