03 The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau

03 The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau

Author:Jeanne DuPrau
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub
Published: 2008-01-24T07:00:00+00:00

CHAPTER 17 - Hoyt McCoy’s Horrible House

Nickie headed back toward Greenhaven by way of Raven Road. She hadn’t really planned to go that way; her mind was on what she’d just seen in Grover’s shed. But when she found herself passing the gravel drive that led back into Hoyt McCoy’s overgrown acres, she hesitated. She thought about what Grover had said—that Hoyt McCoy cracked open the sky. Surely that couldn’t be true. But whatever he’d seen might have been a sign of wickedness. Mrs. Beeson thought there was something strange about this man, that he was probably a trouble spot. And Nickie had promised to help her. So maybe, while she was here, she should check on Hoyt McCoy. She didn’t really want to; even her strong curiosity didn’t extend to creepy isolated houses and people with a whiff of wrongness about them. But if she was going to do her part to root out badness so that goodness could win, she had to be brave.

She gritted her teeth and took a deep, shaky breath. She would just dart in and have a quick look around, hoping to see something that would let her take back a clear report to Mrs. Beeson.

She started up the driveway. Brown, shriveled blackberry vines grew along the edges; weeds sprouted up through the gravel. Tall pine trees on the left cast a spiky line of shadows, and Nickie stayed within these shadows as much as she could. She rounded a curve, and there, up ahead, was the house, a mud-colored two-story building tucked back among great looming oaks and pines, its paint worn off, drifts of old leaves on its peaked roof. She stopped and looked for signs of movement. Three birds shot up from a clump of grass, but other than that, she saw nothing stirring, either outside the house or behind its windows. So, cautiously, she moved forward again.

What was she looking for? She didn’t really know. Something truly awful, like freshly dug graves or human bones? Signs of craziness, like Hoyt McCoy dancing around naked? Disgusting filthiness, like a smelly outhouse or rat-swarmed garbage? She didn’t see anything like that—nothing but a dusty black car parked at the head of the drive. Maybe bad things happened inside that dark, silent house, but she certainly wasn’t going to go close enough to peer in the windows. She would go up to the beginning of the brick path that led to the front door, she decided, and if she didn’t see anything notable by then, she’d leave.

So she crept away from the protective shadow of the trees and tiptoed across the open space in front of the house. She stood at the foot of the path. Her gaze scanned the front door, the windows to the left and right of the front door (heavily curtained), the windows on the second floor (where the blinds were closed), and a window in a gable above them, where—she took a sudden step backward, and her knees went weak—the barrel of a gun pointed at the sky.


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