Table of Contents
For Aaron, Alec, Alexander, Daniel, David, Dominique, Eleanor, Emma, Henry, James, Jamie, Joachim, Journey, Julia, Kaya, Reece, River, Sage, their wonderful teacher, Anne Bukowsky, and especially for Henry who said, “dragon ghost”—K. McM.
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Text copyright © 2004 by Kate McMullan. Illustrations copyright © 2004 by Bill Basso. All rights reserved. Published by Grosset & Dunlap, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. DRAGON SLAYERS’ ACADEMY and GROSSET & DUNLAP are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. S.A.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The ghost of Sir Herbert Dungeonstone / by Kate McMullan ; illustrated by Bill Basso. p. cm. - (Dragon Slayers’ Academy ; 12)
Summary: While Headmaster Mordred is trying to impress a new student, who he believes to be the first female at Dragon Slayers’ Academy, the ghost of one of the school’s founders besieges the halls seeking his stolen gold.
eISBN : 978-1-101-14215-8
[1. Ghosts-Fiction. 2. Knights and knighthood-Fiction. 3. Sex role-Fiction. 4. Schools-Fiction.] I. Basso, Bill, ill. II. Title.
eady, Wiglaf?” Erica called from the far end of the Class I dorm. “Step on it, Angus,” she added. “We do not want to be late for the feast.”
“There won’t be any feast,” Angus said as he pulled on a semi-clean DSA tunic. “Uncle Mordred will give us the same supper as always—eel casserole and lumpen pudding.”
No doubt Angus was right, Wiglaf thought as he stepped into his breeches. But he didn’t mind. His mother’s cooking back home was much, much worse.
Angus went on. “I wonder what’s happened to the latest goodie box Mother sent. It should have come.”
Erica hurried over to the boys. “Are my braids sticking out from my helmet?” she whispered, turning around.
Wiglaf checked. “No,” he told her. “No one would ever guess you are a girl.”
“Shhh!” Erica looked around to make sure no one had heard. “Do not say that! Mordred will kick me out of DSA if he finds out.”
“Your secret is safe with us,” Wiglaf said.
Angus nodded. “My lips are sealed.”
Erica sighed as she buckled her tool belt. “I do get tired of being the only girl at DSA. And of wearing this disguise.”
Wiglaf pulled his helmet over his carrot-colored hair. He followed his friends out of the dorm and down the wide staircase.
“Was not that moaning last night awful?” Erica said as they went.
“Moaning?” Angus asked. “I heard nothing.”
“Nor did I,” Wiglaf added. ear not mg. “Nor did I,” Wiglaf added.
“Really?” said Erica. “Oh, it was terrible. I hardly slept a wink.” They reached the first floor and headed for the dining hall. “I have very sensitive hearing. Sir Lancelot is the same way. In his book, A Knight Like I, he tells how he can hear even the faintest sound.”
Angus rolled his eyes. But Wiglaf smiled. He knew that Erica’s fondest wish was to be a noble knight just like Sir Lancelot.
The three walked under a wide stone arch into the crowded DSA dining hall.
In the glimmering flames from wall-mounted torches, Wiglaf spotted the big Marley brothers—Barley, Charlie, Farley, and Harley. They were bigger and taller than any of the DSA teachers. At another table nearby, Wiglaf saw Coach Plungett, the slaying teacher. And the weapons teacher, Master X. He was an ex-executioner who still wore a black hood over his head. He saw Brother Dave, the DSA librarian. And Mordred’s sister, Lady Lobelia. She wore a purple gown trimmed in feathered plumes.
Wiglaf also spied three big-boned, yellow-haired strangers sitting at the head table. A father, mother, and daughter. The father had many gold chains around his neck. The mother sported a necklace with a huge blue stone. The girl wore pearls and a fancy gown.
The girl was also chomping on a bright green wad of what could only be Smilin’ Hal’s Tree Sap Chewing Gum. Wiglaf quickly looked around for Mordred. He always sent gum chewers straight to the dungeon for a time-out.
“Who are they?” Wiglaf asked Angus.
Angus shrugged. “They look rich.”
“Hey!” said Erica, pointing. “Look at that!”
A black cloth was draped over the arch at the back of the room. It hid words carved into stone that said DRAGON SLAYERS’ ACADEMY FOR LADS.
“All stand for the headmaster!” called Yorick, Mordred’s scout. “All stand!”
Everyone rose. Mordred strode to the head table where the three guests were seated. He was decked out in a rich purple velvet robe with gold trim. And a matching hat with a golden tassel.
Mordred smiled. His gold tooth gleamed in the torchlight. His violet eyes shone.
“Greetings!” he boomed. “Tomorrow is Founders Day. And tonight we feast to honor the school founders...and to welcome a new student. A student who brings a big change to DSA!”
“When I came here,” Wiglaf whispered to Angus, “there was no feast in my honor. My first night at DSA, I washed a mountain of dirty dishes!”
“But I get ahead of myself,” Mordred said. “First, let us hear the heartwarming story of DSA’s founding. Students with poems?”
Wiglaf, Angus, and Erica jumped up. So did Baldrick. Torblad came, too, carrying his trumpet.
“Many years ago,” Mordred began, “inside the Dark Forest’s deepest cave lived the two meanest dragons in the world. On top of the Dark Forest’s highest hill lived the two meanest robbers in the world. Any wayfarer who wandered into the Dark Forest with a bag of gold wandered out empty-handed-if he was lucky enough to escape the fire-breathing dragons. Then one day, into the Dark Forest rode two bold knights.”
Torblad put his trumpet to his lips and blew: TOOT TOOTY TOOT TOOT!!
Erica stepped forward and, in a confident voice, began to read:
“I am Sir Herbert Dungeonstone!
For doing great good deeds I’m known.
I slew two dragons in their cave.
They never more will flame or rave
Or bar-b-que poor passersby
Oh, brave Sir Dungeonstone am I!”
Erica stepped back. Angus cleared his throat.
“I am Sir Ichabod Popquiz,
And slaying robbers is my biz
I snuck up on their hilltop lair
And drew my sword and slew the pair!
I ran them through; that’s not so odd
For me, the brave Sir Ichabod!”
Now it was Wiglaf’s turn. His hands were shaking as he held the piece of parchment.
“The robbers’ lair was filled with loot,
Not that the good knights gave a hoot.
They didn’t care for treasure much,
For gold or gems or coins and such.
it seemed unwise, unfair,
To leave the loot just lying there.
Sir Herbert said, ‘With just one jewel,
We might be bold and start a school!’
‘Oh, let’s!’ Sir Ichabod did say.
‘We’ll teach young lads the proper way
To slay vile dragons in their caves,
And set upon Dark Forest knaves!’ ”
Torblad blew another blast on his trumpet: TOOT TOOTY TOOT TOOT!
Baldrick stepped up. He wiped his runny nose on his sleeve and read:
“That’s how our fair school came to be:
Dragon Slayers’ Academy!”
“Bravo!” cried Lady Lobelia, jumping up.
The yellow-haired daughter took out her gum and gave a loud whistle. TWEEEEEEET!
“All right!” she called. “So, Mordred-when do we eat around here?”
he dining hall grew still. Wiglaf froze. Students didn’t call the DSA headmaster Mordred. They called him sir! Would he send the girl to the dungeon...or worse?
But Mordred only smiled. “Soon, my dear,” he said, “very soon. But first, Coach Plungett! Master X! Forward please!”
The teachers began pushing two gleaming giant-sized statues of noble knights toward the head table.
“Our founders!” cried Mordred. “The old statues of them were...lost in a terrible accident.” Mordred pretended to wipe a tear from his eye. “Now, here are brand-new statues of our noble founders, Sir Herbert Dungeonstone and Sir Ichabod Popquiz!”
“Oh, puh-lease!” whispered Angus. “Like we don’t know the old statues were made of soap and got used up last Bath Day!”
Wiglaf nodded. There was no mistaking Sir Herbert Dungeonstone, he thought, with his eye patch and his little, thin mustache.
As the clapping died down, Erica raised her hand. Mordred motioned for her to put it down. If there was one thing he disliked, it was a student who asked questions. But Erica thought he had called on her.
“Sir?” she said. “What happened to our noble founders
they founded DSA?”
Mordred glared at Erica. “Ah, well, er—in time, Sir Herbert and Sir Ichabod grew too old to run DSA. They talked to thousands of worthy candidates. And they picked me to take over their good work. They retired to the Home for Aged Knights on a palm-tree covered island off the coast of Greece. They are very, very happy.” He smiled.
SNAP! The yellow-haired girl snapped her gum.
Once more, the room quieted.
Students held their breath. Surely now Mordred would send her to the dungeon.
But the DSA headmaster only chuckled. He glanced fondly at the girl and said, “Time to reveal my big surprise!”
Torblad stood and trumpeted once more: TOOT TOOTY TOOT TOOT!
Master X and Coach Plungett yanked the cloth off the stone archway. It fell away and revealed a brand-new sign: DRAGON SLAYERS’ ACADEMY FOR LADS AND LASS.
Erica gasped. “He knows I am a lass!”
“And he is not kicking you out of school!” said Wiglaf happily.
Erica rose to her feet. “Thank you, sir!” she cried. “This is a happy day, indeed!”