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Authors: Lissa Evans

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Horten's Incredible Illusions

BOOK: Horten's Incredible Illusions
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HORTEN’S
INCREDIBLE ILLUSIONS

MAGIC, MYSTERY &
ANOTHER VERY STRANGE ADVENTURE

BY LISSA EVANS

STERLING CHILDREN’S BOOKS and the distinctive Sterling Children’s Books logo are trademarks of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

© 2012 by Lissa Evans

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher.

ISBN 978-1-4027-9871-9

Published in 2012 in Great Britain as
Big Change for Stuart.

For information about custom editions, special sales, and premium and corporate purchases, please contact Sterling Special Sales at 800-805-5489 or [email protected]

2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1

www.sterlingpublishing.com/kids

For my mum
Who read like the wind and loved books
And who was always the first to read mine.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1
CHAPTER 2
CHAPTER 3
CHAPTER 4
CHAPTER 5
CHAPTER 6
CHAPTER 7
CHAPTER 8
CHAPTER 9
CHAPTER 10
CHAPTER 11
CHAPTER 12
CHAPTER 13
CHAPTER 14
CHAPTER 15
CHAPTER 16
CHAPTER 17
CHAPTER 18
CHAPTER 19
CHAPTER 20
CHAPTER 21
CHAPTER 22
CHAPTER 23
CHAPTER 24
CHAPTER 25
CHAPTER 26
CHAPTER 27
CHAPTER 28
CHAPTER 29
CHAPTER 30
CHAPTER 31
CHAPTER 32
CHAPTER 33
CHAPTER 34
CHAPTER 35
CHAPTER 36
CHAPTER 37
CHAPTER 38
CHAPTER 39
CHAPTER 40
CHAPTER 41
EPILOGUE

CHAPTER 1

Stuart Horten sat at the kitchen table and looked at the front page of the crummy little newspaper he’d just been given. Then, with a feeling of foreboding, he began to read.

BEECH ROAD GUARDIAN EXCLUSIVE!!!

Beech Road resident Stuart Horten, (aged 10, but looks younger) discovers his lost great-uncle’s hidden magician’s workshop under the bandstand in Beeton Park!!
Stuart Horten (10, but looks younger) moved to Beeton at the start of the summer vacation, less than a month ago, but already claims to have made a huge discovery. His great-uncle Tony Horten (known as “Teeny-Tiny Tony Horten” because he was very short) was a famous stage magician who disappeared in 1944, leaving the whereabouts of his workshop unknown.
It turns out that it is in a huge underground room beneath the bandstand in Beeton Park. This was revealed during last week’s Beeton Festival children’s talent contest, when the floor of the bandstand gave way while a group of ballet students was performing. Stuart admits that the collapse of the floor was his fault, because he turned an underground wheel “by accident.”
Stuart claims that he “figured out” where the workshop was by “following some clues” — though he refuses to tell this reporter what those clues were. He also claims ownership of the contents of the workshop, which consist of various tools and workbenches, and a selection of magic tricks used in his great-uncle’s stage act. “They are definitely mine,” claims Stuart. “My great-uncle left them to me.”
When asked if he could prove this in any way, he thought for a bit, and then admitted he couldn’t.
Beeton Museum has agreed to give a temporary home to the contents of the workshop. The curator, Rod Felton, said, “This is an exciting discovery for Beeton. Though not quite as exciting as if it had been some kind of Roman weapon, like a ballista.”
Stuart (who is 10, but looks younger) claims that—

“Why do your sisters keep writing that?” asked Stuart indignantly.

“Keep writing what?” asked his friend and next-door neighbor, April Kingley, who’d brought him the paper. “You mean
ten, but looks younger
?”

“No. The word
claims
.
Stuart claims this, Stuart claims that.
As if I were making it all up.”

April shrugged. “Reporters have to have proof.”

Stuart rolled his eyes. The Kingley triplets were always referring to themselves as “reporters,” as if they were writing for some important national newspaper, instead of a flimsy four-page hand-out, invented as a vacation project, printed out in their bedroom, and forced on the neighbors.

“I couldn’t exactly tell them the truth, could I?” he asked. “I couldn’t tell them that I found a stash of magic threepennies, hidden by my great-uncle, together with a note telling me to try and find his lost workshop. I couldn’t tell them that I put coins in old slot machines all over Beeton—which led me to the room under the bandstand. I couldn’t tell them that one of the stage illusions I found there was called the Well of Wishes, and it actually
did
grant wishes when you chucked in a coin. They’d think I was mad.”

He couldn’t face reading the rest of the article, and instead turned the paper over and looked at the back page.

LADY MAYORESS DISAPPEARS

Jeannie Carr, mayoress of Beeton (and owner of the Tricks of the Trade magic trick factory and school of stage magic), has not been seen since she went to investigate the room underneath the bandstand. Her assistant, Clifford Capstone (42), claims she was so upset by the damage to the bandstand floor that she decided to resign as mayoress immediately and go on vacation—though he was unable to say where, or for how long.

“Longer than you think,” muttered Stuart. Yet another thing he couldn’t tell the other two Kingley sisters was that the “vacation” Mayoress Jeannie Carr had gone on was likely to be permanent, seeing as the Well of Wishes had transported both her and Stuart back to the 1880s, and only Stuart had returned.

“I wonder what Clifford will do now?” April asked idly. “I know he was desperate to be a magician, but I don’t think Jeannie ever taught him anything useful.”

“Just took loads of his money,” said Stuart. “And kept failing him on Grade Two Basic Magic Skills.”

There was no other news in the paper—only a list of special sales and trash collection times. Right at the bottom of the back page was a photograph captioned:
Our ever-ready staff, April, May, and June Kingley
. The three clever-looking faces were identical, apart from the fact that April wore glasses.

“Is the photo going to be changed,” he asked her, “now that you don’t write for it anymore?”

She shook her head. “I might stay on. I told June that I didn’t want to be the crime reporter anymore, but then she said they were looking for an arts correspondent.”

“A what?”

“Someone who’ll write about local plays and exhibitions and things. And I thought it might be quite interesting so I’ve applied for the post. I’ve got an interview this afternoon.”

Stuart gaped at her. “An
interview
?”

“Yes. We like to do things professionally. It’s at three o’clock, and they’ll let me know the result at four.”

Stuart tried not to laugh. In the short time he’d known April she’d proved to be clever, resourceful, courageous, and loyal, the absolute best sort of friend to have if you were in trouble or in danger. But she was also (he had to admit) a bit of a know-it-all and one of the bossiest people he’d ever met in his entire life. And her sisters were even worse.

“What are you smirking at?” asked April.

“Nothing.”

She looked at him suspiciously, and then the door opened and Stuart’s very tall father came into the kitchen.


Salve, o fili
,” he announced, just as the phone in the hall started to ring. He turned back to get it.

“What did your dad just say?” whispered April.


Salve, o fili
. It’s Latin for ‘hello, son.’ You know what he’s like.”

April nodded. Stuart’s father compiled crosswords for a living, and never used an ordinary, modern word if there was a medieval fourteen-letter alternative.

He reappeared after a few seconds. “A Mr. Felton is desirous of communication with you,” he said.

“Hello,” said Stuart cautiously, taking the phone.

“Rod Felton, head curator at Beeton Museum here. You’re the youngster who claims to have found the magic tricks, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” said Stuart. “They belonged to my great-uncle.”

“Well, we’ve had an idea that might interest you. As a matter of fact, it’s a job offer. You’re still on your summer vacation, aren’t you?”

“Yes. For another two weeks.”

“Excellent. If you come to the museum this afternoon, I’ll explain….”

 

BOOK: Horten's Incredible Illusions
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