Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves

Free Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves by James Matlack Raney

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Authors: James Matlack Raney
still as a statue, staring at the Morgan house as though he could burn it down with his eyes. James wasn’t sure why, but the mere sight of the man terrified him. It terrified him like the thoughts of Bartholomew Cromier coming to get him.
    James forgot all about his painful feet and his desire for his warm bed. He crawled back the other way, heading toward the street on the backside of his house. The moment his feet touched the cobblestone road he ran as far and as fast as he could. Night was coming. It was obvious to James that no place his family owned was safe and his only hope was to make it to the palace on his own and find the king. The king would make things right. Perhaps he could even find a way to open the magically locked box. Then James could find the treasure. Then he could get revenge.

TEN

    ames ran just a few blocks from the house before what little strength he had failed him, then he all but sleepwalked the rest of the way toward the palace, the servants’ condemning words still ringing in his ears, anger burning in his heart, and a thick knot lodging itself once more in his throat. James harrumphed and hocked as best he could to dislodge the knot, but it refused to budge. Fortunately for James, the palace appeared around the next corner, and the need to create a plan distracted him for a few blessed moments.
    It had suddenly occurred to James that the King of England had never met him in person (though James had often imagined him doing so, and at his greatest pleasure no less) nor had anyone in the king’s court ever seen James’s face. This would be a problem, James imagined, considering the fact that he practically looked, and smelled, likea gypsy, and it was doubtful that anyone would simply take his word that he was the Lord Morgan’s dead son come back to life – and could he please have an appointment with the king, if you’d be so kind? Westminster Palace wasn’t exactly a barbershop after all, it did have guards who carried particularly sharp swords and rather intimidating muskets.
    As he came to stand before Westminster Palace, within a stone throw of the entranceway, James cursed his bad luck once more for Phineus’s failure to teach him any strategy, though in his heart he knew it was he who’d ignored the old man. James pulled the box out of his pocket, nervously gripping it, trying to put together the first words he would say to the guard at the gate, and then to the king.
    While James pondered all of this, he lost track of where he was walking, as people who ponder and walk at the same time often do, and unfortunately (or fortunately, as what happened next affected the entire course of James’s adventure) ran smack into the back of a burly boy and a couple of his lunkish friends.
    “Oy!” the burly boy exclaimed, whirling on James. He was big for his age, freckles running wild over his cheeks and nose, a homespun cap atop his head, and out from underneath the hat’s edges sprouting the curly puffs of the brightest red hair James had ever seen. “Watch where you’re walkin’, mate!”
    “Maybe you should watch where you’re standing!” James snapped back with apparent agitation. He was very busy thinking of how best to approach the palace gates, and he really had no time for stupid, redheaded street ruffians. However, James immediately regretted his quick temper, for these young men were hardly James’s frightened house servants, and quite disinclined to quail before James’s sharp tongue. The red-haired tough’s mates surrounded James, firm jaws and the set looks of boys who had been in enough fights to always be ready for the next one.
    “Well, well, well chums,” the red-haired boy, who was obviously the leader of the pack, crowed to his friends. He looked James over, an unimpressed smirk on his lips. “What sort of strange bird do we havehere? By his plumes and his cheeks I’d say he was as dandy as Gentle Jack, but from the smell of him by gawd I’d say he was

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