Read Inkheart Online

Authors: Cornelia Funke

Tags: #Fantasy Fiction, #Juvenile Fiction, #Magic, #Fantasy & Magic, #Europe, #People & Places, #Inkheart, #Created by pisces_abhi, #Storytelling, #Books & Libraries, #Children's stories

Inkheart

BOOK: Inkheart
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Inkheart 01

Inkheart

By Cornelia Funke

(Translated from the German by Anthea Bell)

1

Dedication

For
Anna, who even put
The Lord of the Rings
aside for a while to read this book. Could anyone ask
more of a daughter?

And for Elinor, who lent me her name, although I didn't use it for an elf queen.

* * *

You are a dreamer, come in

If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,

A Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer,

If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire

For we have some flax-golden tales to spin

Come in! Come in!

- Shel Silverstein

2

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – A Stranger In The Night ................................................................ 5

Chapter 2 – Secrets .................................................................................................. 11

Chapter 3 – Going South ....................................................................................... 16

Chapter 4 – A House Full of Books .................................................................... 21

Chapter 5 – Only A Picture ................................................................................... 29

Chapter 6 – Fire And Stars ................................................................................... 36

Chapter 7 – What The Night Hides .................................................................. 43

Chapter 8 – Alone ..................................................................................................... 44

Chapter 9 – A Poor Exchange ............................................................................. 47

Chapter 1O – The Lion’s Den ............................................................................... 53

Chapter 11 – A Coward .......................................................................................... 56

Chapter 12 – Going Farther South ................................................................... 58

Chapter 13 – Capricorn’s Village ...................................................................... 62

Chapter 14 – A Mission Accomplished ............................................................ 70

Chapter 15 – Good Luck and Bad Luck .......................................................... 74

Chapter 16 – Once Upon A Time ........................................................................ 77

Chapter 17 – The Betrayer Betrayed .............................................................. 85

Chapter 18 – Treasure Island ............................................................................. 96

Chapter 19 – Gloomy Prospects ...................................................................... 103

Chapter 2O – Snakes and Thorns ................................................................... 112

Chapter 21 – Basta ............................................................................................... 118

Chapter 22 – In Safety ......................................................................................... 125

Chapter 23 – A Night Full of Words .............................................................. 129

Chapter 24 – Fenoglio ......................................................................................... 136

Chapter 25 – The Wrong Ending ................................................................... 142

Chapter 26 – Shivers Down The Spine and A Foreboding .................. 145

Chapter 27 – A Good Place to Stay ................................................................ 149

Chapter 28 – Going Home.................................................................................. 151

Chapter 29 – Only An Idea................................................................................. 153

Chapter 30 – Talkative Pippo .......................................................................... 156

Chapter 31 – In The Hills ................................................................................... 166

Chapter 32 – Back Again ................................................................................... 171

3

Chapter 33 – Capricorn’s Maid ....................................................................... 175

Chapter 34 – Capricorn’s Secrets ................................................................... 180

Chapter 35 – Different Aims ............................................................................. 185

Chapter 36 – In Capricorn’s House ............................................................... 189

Chapter 37 – Carelessness ................................................................................. 191

Chapter 38 – A Quiet Voice ............................................................................... 194

Chapter 39 – The Punishment for Traitors ............................................... 199

Chapter 40 – The Black Horse of the Night ............................................... 204

Chapter 41 – Farid ................................................................................................ 207

Chapter 42 – A Furry Face on the Windowsill ......................................... 211

Chapter 43 – A Dark Place ................................................................................ 217

Chapter 44 – Farid’s Report ............................................................................. 221

Chapter 45 – Telling Lies to Basta ................................................................ 225

Chapter 46 – Woken in the Dead of Night ................................................. 227

Chapter 47 – Alone ............................................................................................... 231

Chapter 48 – The Magpie................................................................................... 235

Chapter 49 – Basta’s Pride and Dustfinger’s Cunning ......................... 241

Chapter 50 – No Luck for Elinor ..................................................................... 248

Chapter 51 – A Narrow Escape ....................................................................... 253

Chapter 52 – A Fragile Little Thing .............................................................. 255

Chapter 53 – The Right Words ........................................................................ 258

Chapter 54 – Fire ................................................................................................... 263

Chapter 55 – Treachery, Loose Talk, and Stupidity .............................. 268

Chapter 56 – The Shadow.................................................................................. 271

Chapter 57 – A Deserted Village ..................................................................... 277

Chapter 58 – Homesickness .............................................................................. 282

Chapter 59 – Going Home.................................................................................. 286

Sources & Acknowledgements ......................................................................... 290

4

Chapter 1 – A Stranger In The Night

The moon shone in the rocking horse's eye, and in the mouse's eye, too, when Tolly
fetched it out from under his pillow to see. The clock went tick-tock, and in the stillness
he thought he heard little bare feet running across the floor, then laughter and
whispering, and a sound like the pages of a big book being turned over.


L. M. Boston,
The Children of Green Knowe

Rain fell that night, a fine, whispering rain. Many years later, Meggie had only to close her eyes and she could still hear it, like tiny fingers tapping on the windowpane. A dog barked somewhere in the darkness, and however often she tossed and turned Meggie couldn't get to sleep.

The book she had been reading was under her pillow, pressing its cover against her ear as if to lure her back into its printed pages. "I'm sure it must be very comfortable sleeping with a hard, rectangular thing like that under your head," her father had teased the first time he found a book under her pillow. "Go on, admit it, the book whispers its story to you at night."

"Sometimes, yes," Meggie had said. "But it only works for children." Which made Mo tweak her nose. Mo. Meggie had never called her father anything else.

That night — when so much began and so many things changed forever — Meggie had one of her favorite books under her pillow, and since the rain wouldn't let her sleep she sat up, rubbed the drowsiness from her eyes, and took it out. Its pages rustled promisingly when she opened it.

Meggie thought this first whisper sounded a little different from one book to another, depending on whether or not she already knew the story it was going to tell her. But she needed light. She had a box of matches hidden in the drawer of her bedside table. Mo had forbidden her to light candles at night. He didn't like fire. "Fire devours books," he always said, but she was twelve years old, she surely could be trusted to keep an eye on a couple of candle flames. Meggie loved to read by candlelight. She had five candlesticks on the windowsill, and she was just holding the lighted match to one of the black wicks when she heard footsteps outside. She blew out the match in alarm — oh, how well she remembered it, even many years later — and knelt to look out of the window, which was wet with rain. Then she saw him.

The rain cast a kind of pallor on the darkness, and the stranger was little more than a shadow.

Only his face gleamed white as he looked up at Meggie. His hair clung to his wet forehead. The rain was falling on him, but he ignored it. He stood there motionless, arms crossed over his chest as if that might at least warm him a little. And he kept on staring at the house.

I must go and wake Mo, thought Meggie. But she stayed put, her heart thudding, and went on gazing out into the night as if the stranger's stillness had infected her. Suddenly, he turned his head, and Meggie felt as if he were looking straight into her eyes. She shot off the bed so fast the open book fell to the floor, and she ran barefoot out into the dark corridor. This was the end of May, but it was chilly in the old house.

There was still a light on in Mo's room. He often stayed up reading late into the night. Meggie had inherited her love of books from her father. When she took refuge from a bad dream with him, nothing could lull her to sleep better than Mo's calm breathing beside her and the sound of the pages turning. Nothing chased nightmares away faster than the rustle of printed paper.

5

But the figure outside the house was no dream.

The book Mo was reading that night was bound in pale blue linen. Later, Meggie remembered that, too. What unimportant little details stick in the memory.

"Mo, there's someone out in the yard!"

Her father raised his head and looked at her with the usual absent expression he wore when she interrupted his reading. It always took him a few moments to find his way out of that other world, the labyrinth of printed letters.

"Someone out in the yard? Are you sure?"

"Yes. He's staring at our house."

Mo put down his book. "So what were
you
reading before you went to sleep?
Dr. Jekyll and Mr.

Hyde?"

Meggie frowned. "Please, Mo! Come and look."

He didn't believe her, but he went anyway. Meggie tugged him along the corridor so impatiently that he stubbed his toe on a pile of books, which was hardly surprising. Stacks of books were piled high all over the house — not just arranged in neat rows on bookshelves, the way other people kept them, oh no! The books in Mo and Meggie's house were stacked under tables, on chairs, in the corners of the rooms. There were books in the kitchen and books in the lavatory.

Books on the TV set and in the closet, small piles of books, tall piles of books, books thick and thin, books old and new. They welcomed Meggie down to breakfast with invitingly opened pages; they kept boredom at bay when the weather was bad. And sometimes you fell over them.

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