A tangle of gold, p.1
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       A Tangle of Gold, p.1

           Jaclyn Moriarty
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A Tangle of Gold


  ABOUT A TANGLE OF GOLD

  The Kingdom of Cello is in crisis. Princess Ko’s deception has been revealed and the Elite have taken control, placing the Princess, Samuel and Sergio under arrest and ordering their execution. Elliot is being held captive by the Hostiles and Colour storms are raging through the land. The Cello Wind has been silent for months.

  Plans are in place to bring the remaining Royals home from the World but then all communication between Cello and the World will cease. That means Madeleine will lose Elliot, forever.

  Madeleine and Elliot must solve the mystery of Cello before it is too late.

  The dazzling conclusion to the award-winning ‘The Colours of Madeleine’ trilogy.

  CONTENTS

  Cover

  About A Tangle of Gold

  Dedication

  Map

  Epigraphs

  Part One

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Part Two

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Part Three

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Part Four

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Part Five

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Part Six

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Part Seven

  Chapter One

  Part Eight

  Chapter One

  Part Nine

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Part Ten

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Part Eleven

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Part Twelve

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Part Thirteen

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Part Fourteen

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Part Fifteen

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Part Sixteen

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Acknowledgements

  About Jaclyn Moriarty

  Also by Jaclyn Moriarty

  Copyright page

  This book is dedicated to my dad,

  the best dad in this and all adjoining universes.

  FROM THE QUERIES

  BY ISAAC NEWTON (QUERY 22)

  ‘Eggs grow . . . & change into animals, Tad-poles into Frogs & worms into Flyes. All Birds Beasts & Fishes Insects Trees & other Vegetables with their several parts, grow out of water . . . And among such various & strange transmutations why may not Nature change bodies into light & light into bodies?’

  FROM THE QUERIES

  BY ISAAC NEWTON (QUERY 14)

  ‘For some colours are agreeable as those of Gold & Indigo, & others disagree.’

  FROM LETTER OF MR ISAAC NEWTON, CONTAINING

  HIS THEORY ABOUT LIGHT AND COLOURS

  (PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS, NUMBER 80)

  ‘. . . but if any one [colour] predominate, the light must incline to that colour; as it happens in the blue flame of brimstone; the yellow flame of a candle; and the various colours of the fixed stars.’

  FROM WILLIAM WORDSWORTH,

  THE PRELUDE, BOOK 3

  ‘And from my pillow, looking forth by light

  Of moon or favouring stars, I could behold

  The antechapel where the statue stood

  Of Newton with his prism and silent face,

  The marble index of a mind for ever

  Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.’

  FROM

  THE KINGDOM OF CELLO: AN ILLUSTRATED TRAVEL GUIDE,

  BY T.I. CANDLE, 7TH EDITION, © 2012

  REPRINTED WITH KIND PERMISSION,

  BRELLIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, T.I. CANDLE.

  THE WINDS OF CELLO

  The Winds of Cello are a hoot. I mean that literally. Sometimes they sound exactly like a cross between a car horn and an owl. No, it’s more like a car horn and an owl engaged in chat:

  Toot hoot.

  Hoot toot?

  Toot.

  Ho-o-t?!

  Then, just when you’re not expecting it—just when you’re sniggering and turning to your books—the Cello Winds switch. Something surges forward like a sailboat on a wave; springs at your heart with claws of gold. The Wind finds its feet—or its wings, or its voice—and the music that it sounds! How to describe it? Exquisite does not even come close!

  Try this. I have a friend (Albert) who once suggested that the music of the Winds is ‘that elusive thing that lies beyond all beauty; the aesthetic heart and soul of grief and love.’ I’ll be honest, I often find Albert quite insufferable, but here, somehow, he almost hits the mark.

  Of course, the Cello Winds do more than play their music: They also blow away disease. In our Kingdom, no pestilence takes hold.

  No doubt you’ll arrive in Cello determined to hear the Winds. Your determination counts for nothing. Indeed, you could spend a lifetime in Cello and never hear them once. (On the other hand, I am acquainted with a woman (Sophia) who has only ever been to Cello once—and that, very briefly, in transit—yet for the entire fifteen minutes she was regaled by Winds. So. You know. Go figure.)1

  1 In the 17th century, instrument makers in Bologna, Italy, the World, modified the bass violin to create a large, stringed musical instrument. Someone who had once visited Cello observed that the instrument’s melancholy tone resembled the Cello Winds. Hence, the instrument was named
the violoncello. These days, it is simply known as the ‘cello’.

  1

  When Elliot Baranski came to Cambridge, England, he only stayed for just over two weeks.

  Which was preposterous.

  He was from the Kingdom of Cello, he had stumbled into the World when he fell into a ravine and landed in a BP petrol station, he’d walked from this petrol station to Cambridge, so as to find his friend Madeleine Tully but, unexpectedly—a real bonus—the first person he’d run into was Abel Baranski, who was only Elliot’s long-lost dad.

  All of which was perfectly reasonable.

  Brilliant, even.

  But this! Leaving after just over two weeks!

  Well, it was preposterous. It was so preposterous it was making Madeleine’s nose bleed.

  *

  Madeleine was standing on the platform at the Cambridge Railway Station with a bleeding nose. Around her, the others were talking about flight times, and how Abel and Elliot felt about turbulence, and whether Abel had remembered to drop off the key to his flat, and where the dog, Sulky-Anne, would live now, and whether her new owners had been informed about Sulky-Anne’s fear of marshmallows. And so on.

  Abel was taking each of the questions in mild, thoughtful turn. Elliot, meanwhile, was standing apart, watching the tracks.

  That was Elliot Baranski in his overcoat and his woollen hat. That was Elliot’s bare hands and wrists. That was Elliot kicking a suitcase lightly with the toe of his boot.

  He glanced towards Madeleine. She caught his glance and held it, trying to convey a lot of things—well, primarily one thing: This is preposterous!—in her expression. But Elliot scratched at the edge of his wool hat and turned away again. She hadn’t conveyed anything. The blood-soaked tissues pressed against her face had probably interfered.

  Madeleine ran through the events of the past just-over-two-weeks. Fiercely, she counted them. There were eight.

  *

  First, Abel held a party to introduce his long-lost son to everyone.

  Everyone consisted of Madeleine’s friends, Belle and Jack, and their assortment of homeschooling teachers: Madeleine’s mother, Belle’s mother, Jack’s grandfather, and Darshana Charan (who taught them Science and Mathematics in exchange for babysitting of her daughters). Abel himself was their ICT and Geography teacher. He lived in the flat downstairs from Madeleine and her mother.

  Madeleine came down early, to help tidy up, but Belle and Jack turned up while the place was still a mess.

  ‘So, this is Elliot?’ Belle said.

  ‘It is,’ Elliot himself agreed.

  ‘From the parking meter.’

  ‘From the Kingdom of Cello,’ Madeleine corrected her. ‘We just wrote to each other through a crack inside the parking meter. Remember, I told you—’

  ‘Shut it. I’m trying to appraise him.’

  There was a pause while Belle stared at Elliot.

  ‘He’s hot,’ she concluded, turning to Madeleine. ‘Respect.’ She offered Madeleine a fist bump, which was not Belle’s style. It might have been ironic.

  ‘Nice aura, too,’ Belle tossed back at Elliot as she moved into the flat, looking for food.

  ‘Well, thanks,’ Elliot said.

  Jack said, ‘Hiya!’ and asked Elliot if he’d ever visited Cambridge before.

  ‘You tosser,’ Belle said from the kitchenette. ‘He’s from another dimension.’

  Jack shrugged. ‘In a former life, then? Have you got memories of your former lives, Elliot? And did you ever, in a former life, live in our dimension and visit Cambridge?’

  Elliot was still considering this when the others arrived—everyone was early, wanting to meet the long-lost son—and things became a chaos of pouring drinks, opening biscuits, pulling trays of chocolate-pecan brownies from the oven, clearing spaces on Abel’s workbenches, tripping over the dog, and trying to prevent Darshana Charan’s little girls from electrocuting themselves. Someone switched on some music, but Abel reached out and turned it off.

  ‘Hang on,’ he said. ‘I have to make my speech.’

  He had already decided not to mention the Kingdom of Cello. It was true that Belle and Jack knew about Cello, but if he tried to explain it to the adults, it would only end in—

  ‘Tears,’ Madeleine had offered.

  ‘Skepticism,’ Abel had said. ‘And if there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s skepticism.’

  So, instead, he announced to the room that he’d been suffering amnesia the whole time he’d known them (which was true), and that his name was not Denny, as he’d thought, but Abel Baranski, and that here was his lost son, Elliot, all the way from the U, S of A.

  ‘Stand up, Elliot,’ he said, ‘so they can see you.’

  ‘No need,’ somebody pointed out. ‘He’ll be the only stranger in the room. There. That one.’

  ‘Ah, he’s proud of his son,’ another voice put in, indulgently, and Elliot obliged them by standing so everyone could continue smiling at him.

  ‘Our plan is to see if we can figure out how to get ourselves back home to the U, S of A,’ Abel continued.

  ‘You could buy plane tickets,’ someone suggested. ‘That’d be your best bet.’

  Abel switched the music on again and it turned into a party.

  Elliot was friendly, shaking people’s hands and smiling at their jokes, but he didn’t say much. Once, he turned towards the sound of Belle’s mother, who was making fun of Belle’s earrings, reaching out to touch them and pretending they sizzled, which made no sense. His face was carefully blank as he watched this, but Madeleine caught a tiny crease of a frown, just above his eye. He turned away again. Another time, she saw him look down and find Darshana’s little girls crouched by his feet.

  ‘You’ve got a scab here on your ankle,’ the girls told him. ‘We’re just picking it off for you.’

  He laughed and crouched down to chat with them, shifting his ankle away from their fingers as he did. But Madeleine didn’t hear what they said.

  *

  Next, Madeleine, Belle and Jack showed Elliot around Cambridge.

  This was the day after the party. Jack had drawn up an itinerary and he led the tour, reciting a lot of historical facts, most of which he invented. Elliot listened, gazing at the architecture. He shook his head in slow admiration sometimes, which made Jack happy.

  They went punting on the Cam that day, and Elliot asked if he could try steering. He stood up on the slippery platform and followed their instructions: You lift the pole out of the water, raise it hand over hand, then let it fall down to the riverbed. At first, Elliot concentrated hard, but then a calm fell over him and you could see it become part of his body, the action of the pole rising and falling, and everything about him seemed to move quietly and smoothly, and he disappeared in thought. Madeleine watched him while the punt moved with its plash, quiet, plash. There weren’t many people on the river, but Elliot nodded, friendly, every time they passed another punt. He never once got the pole caught on a snag.

  *

  Third, they invited Elliot to play tennis with them.

  Elliot watched them warm up. ‘I’ve played a game something like this before,’ he said, half to himself.

  Then he stepped onto the court and returned Belle’s shot with a beautiful, swift, unexpected backhand. He laughed when he heard the scoring—‘forty-love’, ‘deuce’—then he stopped laughing and figured out how it worked.

  He often went quiet, Madeleine noticed, figuring things out. He seemed laid-back, easy-going-farm-boy—like he should be chewing on a piece of straw—but if you looked close, you’d see flickering frowns, and you knew he was studying things from all sorts of angles, trying to piece it all together.

  *

  Fourth, most nights, Madeleine went downstairs to Abel’s flat and hung out with Abel and Elliot, drinking cocoa, eating muffins and talking about how to get them home. Abel was spending his days reading quantum physics, writing copious notes and studying the parking meter. He liked to talk thi
ngs through with Madeleine, and to quiz her about the experiments she and Elliot had done, when the two of them had tried to solve the crack.

  ‘Electricity and magnetism jostled it,’ Madeleine said, ‘but we think a mirror and a light is the best.’ She glanced over at Elliot. ‘Right?’

  Elliot nodded.

  ‘Only, the crack in the parking meter here is too small for people, so we never actually got it open. You need a bigger crack, a people-moving crack, and then we think a mirror and light will work—but we don’t know for sure.’ Again, she looked at Elliot.

  ‘Right,’ Elliot agreed, but said no more.

  Some nights, Madeleine’s mother Holly joined them too. She was doing a fashion design course by correspondence, and she’d bring down the samples she was sewing, and work on zips or buttons while they talked. She thought their conversation about the Kingdom of Cello was a game or a story they’d invented.

  ‘This is better than TV!’ she said. Then she reflected. ‘Well, in all honesty, it’s not. TV’s great these days. Such high production values. But still. This isn’t bad!’

  *

  Fifth, everyone decided that Elliot may as well join in their homeschooling, while he was here.

  So he came along to a History class with Jack’s grandfather, Federico Cagnetti.

  The class was in an office above the porter’s lodge at Trinity College. Federico was crouching by the fireplace, warming his hands, when they arrived. His hands were long and craggy, sprouts of white hair on the knuckles, and these hairs glowed in the gaslight.

  Elliot sat beside Madeleine.

  ‘It is the turn of Belle,’ Federico said abruptly, pressing his hands onto his thighs to raise himself, and scowling around, light from the fire eerie in his eyes. ‘Lucky for Belle.’

  Madeleine was conscious of Elliot’s profile. His shadow was blending with the shadow of his chair. His legs in their jeans stretched themselves out, then changed their mind, and moved back closer to the chair legs. One shoelace was tied in a knotty double bow; the other had come loose and was trailing on the floor. His hand reached up and touched a long, fine scar that ran down the side of his neck.

  ‘In this class,’ Federico said to Elliot, ‘we have the hat. Also, welcome,’ he added, remembering himself with a sudden blink.

  ‘The hat?’

  Federico’s eyes widened. The new kid was an idiot! ‘The hat,’ he repeated, and he gestured towards his own bowler hat, sitting face up on the desk.

 

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