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All his money went into a tin walrus in his bedroom. You pressed its tail and it opened its mouth and you put the coin in between its tusks, one of which had been broken off and glued back on.

In the meantime, he got used to the ways of travelers, both common and rare. There was probably nowhere, he thought, where anyone could learn so much about the world as this little bend of the river, with the inn on one side and the priory on the other. He was fairly happy about that.

It would be much better running the Trout than many other inns, because the great world came through, and scholars and people of consequence were often there to talk to. But there was little likelihood of that; Ulvercote Elementary School prepared its pupils for craftsmanship or clerking, at best, before passing them out into the world at fourteen, and as far as Malcolm knew, there were no openings in scholarship for a bright boy with a canoe.

One evening in the middle of winter, some visitors came to the Trout who were out of the usual kind. Three men arrived by anbaric car and went into the Terrace Room, which was the smallest of all the dining rooms in the inn and overlooked the terrace and the river and the priory beyond.

Malcolm had finished his meager homework geometry and wolfed down some roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, followed by a baked apple and custard, when his father called him to the bar. Want to be waited on, I expect. Pleased by this novelty, Malcolm went down to the little room and found three gentlemen he could tell their quality at a glance all standing at the window and stooping to look out.

They turned at once.

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Malcolm was the landlord's son, an only child. He was eleven years old, with an inquisitive, kindly disposition, a stocky build, and ginger hair. A witty acquaintance thought it amusing to scrawl an S over the V, and Malcolm patiently painted it out three times before losing his temper and knocking the fool into the water, at which point they declared a truce.

Like every child of an innkeeper, Malcolm had to work around the tavern, washing dishes and glasses, carrying plates of food or tankards of beer, retrieving them when they were empty. He took the work for granted.

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The only annoyance in his life was a girl called Alice, who helped with washing the dishes. She was about sixteen, tall and skinny, with lank dark hair that she scraped back into an unflattering ponytail. Lines of self-discontent were already gathering on her forehead and around her mouth. She teased Malcolm from the day she arrived: "Who's your girlfriend, Malcolm?

En't you got a girlfriend? Who was you out with last night? Did you kiss her? En't you ever been kissed? She complained bitterly to Malcolm's mother, who said, "Serves you right.


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I got no sympathy for you. Keep your nasty mind to yourself. She and Malcolm took not the slightest notice of each other; he put the glasses on the draining board, she washed them, and he dried them and took them back to the bar without a word, without a glance, without a thought.


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  • But he enjoyed the life of the inn. He especially enjoyed the conversations he overheard, whether they concerned the venal rascality of the River Board, the helpless idiocy of the government, or more philosophical matters, such as whether the stars were the same age as the earth. Sometimes Malcolm became so interested in the latter sort of conversation that he'd rest his armful of empty glasses on the table and join in, but only after having listened intently.

    He was known to many of the scholars and other visitors, and was generously tipped, but becoming rich was never an aim of his; he took tips to be the generosity of providence, and came to think of himself as lucky, which did him no harm in later life. If he'd been the sort of boy who acquired a nickname, he would no doubt have been known as Professor, but he wasn't that sort of boy. He was liked when noticed, but not noticed much, and that did him no harm either.

    Malcolm's other constituency lay just over the bridge outside the tavern, in the gray stone buildings set among green fields and neat orchards and kitchen gardens of the Priory of St. The nuns were largely self-sufficient, growing their vegetables and fruit, keeping their bees, sewing the elegant vestments they sold for keenly bargained gold, but from time to time there were errands a useful boy could run, or there was a ladder to be repaired under the supervision of Mr.

    Taphouse, the aged carpenter, or some fish to bring from Medley Pond a little way down the river. La Belle Sauvage was frequently employed in the service of the good nuns; more than once Malcolm had ferried Sister Benedicta to the Royal Mail zeppelin station with a precious parcel of stoles or copes or chasubles for the bishop of London, who seemed to wear his vestments very hard, for he got through them unusually quickly.

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    Malcolm learned a lot on these leisurely voyages. How d'you make 'em so neat? Malcolm admired the nuns for their neat ways in general, for the manner in which they laid their fruit trees in espaliers along the sunny wall of the orchard, for the charm with which their delicate voices combined in singing the offices of the Church, for their little kindnesses here and there to many people.

    He enjoyed the conversations he had with them about religious matters. Look, I'll be finished before you will. The old ones are sharper. Pass me the sugar now. Priests wear them over their albs. Again it happens when Alice and him have lost Lyra and they see the place she is being kept high on a hill. Could Asriel be guiding Malcolm to help him protect Lyra and reunite them and this aurora is the signal? We've never seen what Asriel's will looks like from the one it's being acted on. Could it be a simple corona of light in the eye?

    Could it have origins with the fairies? Or could this be a gift of Lyra's Well, only time and Philip Pullman's next book can answers these questions. So I will stew on them until the next book. And no, I'm not going to stew patiently. Posted by Miss Eliza at AM. Post a Comment. Newer Post Older Post Home. If you are either an author or a publisher and would like me to review your book please feel free to contact me at any time.

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