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Authors: Zilpha Keatley Snyder

The Diamond War

BOOK: The Diamond War
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The Diamond War
A Castle Court Kids Book
Zilpha Keatley Snyder

For kids and dogs everywhere


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

The Box and the Bone

A Biography of Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Chapter 1

a Saturday morning and light was just beginning to slant across the cul-de-sac known as Castle Court. Long shadows reached out from each of the seven houses, and a damp fog still drifted under the tall trees that grew on the mysterious vacant lot. In the misty morning light the great jagged crag on the hill above the cul-de-sac looked, more than ever, like an old ruined castle.

The sun was just clearing the hilltops when a back door slammed open at number three Castle Court. Number three was a big new Spanish-style house with a tile roof and an enormous swimming pool, and the person who came out the door was Carlos Garcia.

Carlos was wearing swimming trunks and carrying a Dove bar. He stopped for a moment on the big back deck to look around. Next door, at the Brockhursts’, there was no sign of life. The Brockhursts slept late on Saturdays. But on the other side of the Garcias’ lot something was moving. Just barely. It was the Andersons’ old Shetland pony trudging slowly across his pasture.

Carlos watched the pony absentmindedly as he unwrapped the Dove bar, dropped the wrapper on a bench near the back door, and ran down the steps. But his mind wasn’t really on the pony, or on the Dove bar either. And it certainly wasn’t on the loud sniffing, slobbering noise that came out from under the deck and then followed him as he crossed the lawn. He knew it was only Lump.

Lump, the Garcias’ enormous Saint Bernard, could smell ice cream half a block away. He sniffed and slobbered and whined hopefully as he lurched out from under the deck and followed Carlos and the Dove bar. Carlos was usually a soft touch.

But today Carlos had other things on his mind. He jogged around the swimming pool and out onto the diving board. At the end of the board he lay down on his stomach and went on eating—and thinking.

Lump stood at the other end of the diving board for a minute or two, licking his slobbery lips. Then he sighed loudly, climbed up the stairs, and ate the ice cream wrapper. Carlos didn’t notice that either. He was much too busy thinking about his wonderful idea.

Carlos, who was ten years old and in the fifth grade at Beaumont School, was a good athlete, and he was also good at solving problems. Particularly sports problems—like where to put first base. By the time he’d finished the Dove bar he was pretty sure he’d come up with something that just might work.

As soon as the ice cream was all gone he flipped the stick into the water and dove in after it. It was a professional dive, straight and clean. A minute later he climbed out of the pool with the stick in his mouth. He had grabbed the stick in the water like a shark catching a fish. Carlos liked to do tricks like that, even when there was no one around to watch.

On the back porch he stopped long enough to blot himself a few times with a towel before he hurried to the kitchen telephone. He had to call Eddy immediately to tell him about his great idea. Eddy would be really excited.

Eddy Wong, who lived right across the cul-de-sac at number six Castle Court, was Carlos’s best friend. Except, of course, for Bucky Brockhurst, who was another kind of best friend. But it was Eddy who was going to be really crazy about Carlos’s idea.

The phone rang three times before Eddy’s mom answered. She sounded rushed and a little breathless as she said, “Oh, hello, Carlos. I’m fine, thanks. Yes, I’ll call Eddy but he can’t talk very long. We’re just going out the door. So just a short conversation. Okay?”

“Okay,” Carlos said, but what he was thinking was,
. Eddy had told him they were going to visit relatives today, but he’d forgotten. The Wongs were always visiting relatives in the city.

“Rats,” he said out loud. The trouble was, his great idea wasn’t going to be easy to explain in a hurry. He’d just have to get to the important point right away. He was reminding himself to get to the point in a hurry, when Eddy picked up the phone.

“Hi, Eddy,” he said excitedly. “You know what? There’ll be plenty of room if we put it right in the middle of that little forest. I mean, after we chop it all down.”

“Yeah?” Eddy said in a questioning tone of voice. Then for a few seconds he didn’t say anything. “I don’t get it,” he said finally. “What are you talking about, Garcia?”

Carlos sighed impatiently. He should have known that jumping to the main point wouldn’t work with Eddy. Eddy liked things to be in order. He started over. “It’s about having a baseball diamond,” he said. “Right here at Castle Court.” That would get Eddy’s attention.

Eddy was the one who had been wanting a baseball diamond more than anything—and Carlos knew why. Here at home there had never been enough room for a diamond, so Eddy and Bucky and Carlos had played other games. Or game, really. Like, nothing but basketball for years and years and years. And Eddy, who was a great batter and pitcher and all-around good athlete, just happened to be a little bit short.

Short doesn’t matter in baseball, but it certainly does in basketball, particularly when you’re playing with Bucky Brockhurst. Carlos didn’t blame Eddy for being tired of basketball. He himself got a little tired of losing every tip-off and rebound to Bucky—and he was two inches taller than Eddy.

“What baseball diamond?” Eddy said. “Where?”

Carlos knew that would get him. “The Weed-patch,” Carlos said. “At Dragoland.”

“But there’s no room,” Eddy said. “Remember? We measured it. If you put home plate near the basement, the creek is in the outfield. And if you go the other way, there’s no place for first base.”

“I know,” Carlos said triumphantly. “That’s just it. There will be lots of room for first base if we just chop down—”

“Eddy! Come on. Right now!” It was Mr. Wong’s voice and he sounded like he meant it. Eddy yelled good-bye and hung up the phone.

“Rats,” Carlos said again. With Eddy gone he had only one other PRO to talk to—and that was Bucky Brockhurst.

Chapter 2

a special club. A club just for guys who played sports a lot and who were all planning to be “PRO-fessional” athletes when they grew up. Actually there were only three full-time PROs, plus a bunch of part-timers. The part-timers were mostly guys from other neighborhoods, plus a couple of Anderson grandkids. But Anderson grandkids were around only on weekends and holidays. So the only real, original, full-time Castle Court PROs were Carlos Garcia, Eddy Wong, and Bucky Brockhurst.

Carlos sighed. The thing was that even though Bucky was just about the greatest athlete at Beaumont School, and you couldn’t help being a little bit proud to be his best friend, he wasn’t always all that great in some other ways.

Like, for instance, you never knew what Bucky was going to do. He might be all for Carlos’s plan or he might not. It all depended on the mood he was in. He might get all excited and want to start chopping down everything in sight. Or, on the other hand, he might decide he wasn’t interested at all. He could even go back to saying what he’d said when Carlos and Eddy first started talking about having a baseball diamond at Castle Court.

“It’ll never work,” Bucky had said. “The Weed-patch isn’t wide enough. And no other place around here is deep enough for a diamond. Not if you have any real sluggers anyway. Like me, for instance. You remember what happened that time we tried to play out in the street, don’t you?”

Carlos remembered, all right. He’d pitched the ball and Bucky had batted it right through the Nicely’s picture window. “Yeah,” Carlos said. “How could I forget? I got my allowance taken away for a month. Playing baseball was Eddy’s idea, and you hit the ball, but I was the one who lost my allowance.”

“Well, poor old you,” Bucky said. “I lost my allowance too.”

“No, you didn’t. You had lots of money the very next day. Remember all that stuff you bought at my dad’s restaurant?”

“Oh, that,” Bucky said. “That wasn’t my allowance. That was just blackmail money. I was blackmailing Muffy.”

“Oh yeah?” Carlos said. He should have guessed. Muffy was Bucky’s sister, and the “pay up or I’ll tell” routine was something they used on each other a lot.

“Yeah,” Bucky said. “But Muffy’s getting real sneaky lately. I haven’t gotten anything good on her for a long time. So I sure can’t afford to lose my allowance. So you better just forget about playing baseball around here. There’s just no place big enough for—”

Carlos sighed. “Yeah, I know. There’s no place big enough for a slugger like you.” He might have gone on to say that Bucky just wanted to keep playing a game where he had a natural-born edge on everybody else. Like, being a lot taller than most people in the fifth grade.

That had been the end of that conversation. So there probably wasn’t much use calling Bucky. But with Eddy gone, Bucky was the only real PRO left to talk to. Carlos pretty much had to tell Bucky about his great idea, or nobody. He picked up the phone again and dialed the Brockhursts’ number.

Bucky answered the phone on the second ring, and he seemed to be in one of his better moods. He actually seemed to be listening while Carlos explained his idea about how to solve the first-base problem.

“Sounds okay to me,” Bucky said. “A lot of work though. Hey! Unless we had a chain saw. That’s what we need. A big old chain saw.”

“Yeah,” Carlos agreed. “A chain saw would be great. But I guess axes and lots of muscle power would do the job.”

“Well, maybe,” Bucky said. “Your dad got any axes?”

BOOK: The Diamond War
7.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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