Sample text for Pagan in exile / Catherine Jinks ; [map illustrations by Tim Stevens]

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What's everybody staring at? . . .

Look at that fellow there, gawking away. Face like a gob of spittle, he's staring at me! Why don't you get yourself a mirror, Spitface, if you really want something to stare at.

A one-armed child makes a rude gesture. Runs away as I poke out a viciously threatening tongue. No backbone, little coward.

"Pagan." Roland's voice is cold and stern. (Doesn't want his squire eroding the dignity of his arrival.) "Please behave yourself."

"It's not my fault. What's wrong with them? They don't seem very pleased to see you."

"It's been a long time, Pagan. Six years. They may not remember who I am."

Six years. Imagine what it must be like, coming home after six years. A quick glance at his profile, jolting along not two arm-lengths away. . . . But there's no expression on Roland's chiseled face. His eyes aren't even misty. Not that I was expecting anything different: you'd see a pig become Pope before you'd ever see Lord Roland Roucy de Bram in tears.

He twitches his reins and it's time to turn right. Another narrow little street lined with pale sandstone houses, all sporting those funny peaked roofs. . . .

People clustered on doorsteps, staring.

They're staring at Roland, too, of course. You have to admit he's worth a look. The golden-haired knight on his glossy black horse with his blue eyes and wide shoulders and white tunic (well, off-white really, I haven't washed it in weeks), and the distinctive red cross on his chest. You don't often see a vision of Saint George wandering past your scrap bucket on an overcast afternoon in the middle of nowhere. It's like watching a stained-glass window come to life. People push and whisper and cross themselves. A sort of hush seems to follow us down the street.

This is really embarrassing.

PAGAN IN EXILE by Catherine Jinks. Copyright (c) 2004 by Catherine Jinks. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Knights and knighthood -- Fiction.
Orphans -- Fiction.
Religious life -- Fiction.
Heretics, Christian -- Fiction.
Middle Ages -- Fiction.
France -- History -- Medieval period, 987-1515 -- Fiction.