Alone in his teachers ho.., p.1
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       Alone in His Teacher's House, p.1
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         Part #4 of Marvin Redpost series by Louis Sachar
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Alone in His Teacher's House


  Contents

  Dedication

  1. Teacher’s Pet

  2. The Key

  3. Mature and Responsible

  4. The Substitute

  5. Nothing In—Nothing Out

  6. Some Dog Food Is Eaten

  7. Liver

  8. Where’s Waldo?

  9. Do Something!

  10. Ma

  11. Waiting

  12. I’m Sorry

  About the Author

  Copyright

  Dedicated to François, Xavier, Myriam, and Bruno.

  In memory of Cartouche.

  Chapter 1

  Teacher’s Pet

  “You will have a substitute teacher tomorrow,” Mrs. North told her third-grade class.

  “All right!” shouted Nick.

  Mrs. North stared at Nick.

  Marvin Redpost looked down at his desk and smiled. Nick Tuffle was Marvin’s best friend. Marvin had two best friends. His other best friend was Stuart Albright.

  “I will be gone for one week,” said Mrs. North. “I won’t be back until next Thursday. A week from tomorrow.”

  “Hot dog!” exclaimed Nick.

  Mrs. North glared at Nick. “I will leave detailed instructions for the substitute,” she warned. “And if any of you misbehave, I will know about it. That means you, Nick.”

  “Hey, why pick on me?” asked Nick.

  When it was time to go home, Nick and Stuart gathered around Marvin’s desk.

  “A substitute for a week!” said Nick, rubbing his hands together. “This is going to be great.”

  “Let’s pretend we’re each other,” said Stuart. “I’ll be Marvin. Marvin, you be Nick. And Nick, you can be me.”

  “I don’t want to be you,” Nick said to Stuart. “I’ll be Marvin, and you be me.”

  “I don’t want to be you!” said Stuart.

  It made Marvin feel proud that both his friends wanted to be him.

  On the other hand, he wasn’t sure he wanted either of them to be him.

  “Marvin, may I talk to you for a moment?” asked Mrs. North.

  “What’d you do?” asked Stuart.

  Marvin shrugged. He didn’t think he did anything.

  And even if he did, what could Mrs. North do about it? She was going away for a week.

  He walked to her desk.

  “Do you like dogs?” asked Mrs. North.

  “Sure,” he said.

  “I’m going to need someone to take care of Waldo while I’m away,” said Mrs. North.

  “Waldo?” asked Marvin.

  “I was going to put him in a kennel,” said Mrs. North. “But he’s such an old dog. It would be so much nicer if he could stay home.”

  Marvin could hardly believe his ears.

  “I’ll pay you three dollars a day,” said Mrs. North. “Times seven days. That’s twenty-one dollars. Tell you what. I’ll give you a four dollar bonus if there are no problems. Twenty-five dollars.”

  Marvin nodded his head. He was too shocked to speak.

  “Good,” said Mrs. North. “You want to come to my house now and meet Waldo?”

  Marvin stared at her. “Okay,” he said.

  “I’ll call your mother,” said Mrs. North. “And I’ve got a few things to finish up. I’ll meet you in the parking lot in twenty minutes.”

  “Okay.”

  Stuart and Nick were waiting outside for him.

  “Did you get in trouble?” asked Nick.

  “No,” said Marvin, still in shock.

  “You want to play soccer?” asked Stuart.

  “I can’t,” said Marvin. “I have to meet Mrs. North in the parking lot. She’s going to drive me in her car.”

  “Her car!” said Nick.

  “To her house,” said Marvin.

  “Her house!” said Stuart.

  “She’s going to pay me to take care of her dog while she’s away.”

  His friends stared at him wide-eyed.

  “Three dollars a day. Plus a bonus of four dollars if there are no problems.”

  “Twenty-five bucks,” said Stuart. He was good at math.

  “You are so lucky,” said Nick. “You’re the luckiest kid in the whole world.”

  Chapter 2

  The Key

  Marvin’s friends waited with him in the parking lot.

  “Which one do you think is her car?” asked Stuart.

  “I don’t know,” said Marvin.

  “I can’t believe you guys are so dumb!” said Nick. “She drives that yellow Fire-bird. Over there, next to Mrs. Grant’s red Cougar. The pick-up truck is Mr. McCabe’s. The van is Mr. Gurdy’s. I can tell you every teacher’s car.”

  “But you’ve never driven in one,” said Stuart, patting Marvin on the back.

  Mrs. North came out of the office. She held a folder filled with papers.

  “Are you ready, Marvin?” she asked.

  He nodded.

  “We just wanted to watch him get into your car,” said Stuart.

  Mrs. North smiled. “Well, it’s that yellow one, over there.”

  “I know,” said Nick.

  Mrs. North and Marvin walked across the parking lot.

  “May I carry that for you?” Marvin asked.

  “Thank you, Marvin,” said Mrs. North. She handed him the folder. “It’s my homework,” she told him.

  “You have homework?”

  “Sure. I have to correct your homework. In fact, I have a lot more homework than you. I have to correct your homework, plus the homework of every student in the class.”

  “Hmm,” said Marvin. He never thought of that before.

  She unlocked the door of her car, got in, then reached over and unlocked Marvin’s door.

  He sat down next to her.

  “You have a very nice car,” he said.

  “Thank you,” said Mrs. North.

  “The seat is very comfortable.”

  “I’m glad you like it,” said Mrs. North.

  He tugged gently on the seat belt. “The seat belt seems nice and strong,” he said.

  “Good,” said Mrs. North. “In case I crash.”

  She started the engine. They drove off.

  Marvin waved out the window to his two best friends. Then he leaned back and enjoyed the ride.

  From the outside, Mrs. North’s house just looked like a normal house. Marvin didn’t know what he expected. Maybe a flagpole in front? He wondered if her neighbors even knew she was a teacher.

  They parked in the garage and walked inside through the laundry room.

  Waldo was waiting for them. His long black tail swished slowly behind him.

  He was a big dog with graying black hair. His face was covered with long gray whiskers, almost white.

  He looked like a walrus.

  “Waldo, I’d like you to meet Marvin,” Mrs. North said very politely. “Marvin, this is Waldo.”

  “Nice to meet you, Waldo,” Marvin said.

  “He’s seventeen years old,” said Mrs. North. “That’s a hundred and nineteen in dog years.”

  Marvin petted the old dog and scratched him behind the ears.

  Mrs. North showed Marvin around her house. Waldo followed. He waddled like a walrus when he walked.

  “You just live in a regular house,” said Marvin.

  Mrs. North laughed. “What did you expect?
A blackboard in the living room?”

  He laughed.

  Waldo made a whining noise. It was almost like he was singing.

  Mrs. North bent down and petted him. “Oh, Wa-wa-wa-Waldo,” she said, her nose almost touching his. “I’m going to miss you, Wa-wa-wa-Waldo!”

  Waldo licked her right on the mouth.

  Marvin couldn’t believe it. Mrs. North was almost like a real person.

  “Would you like something to eat?” she asked. “I’ve got chocolate chip cookies.”

  “No, thank you.”

  “I’ll be gone a week. They’ll go stale if nobody eats them.”

  “Okay,” said Marvin.

  While Marvin had cookies and milk, Mrs. North showed him where she kept Waldo’s bowls, the leash, and the bag of dog food.

  He had to fill the bowls whenever they got low. And he had to walk Waldo three times a day. Before school, after school, and in the evening.

  “Oh, and here’s his pooper-scooper,” said Mrs. North. “You know what this is for?”

  Marvin nodded as he swallowed a cookie.

  She wrote down the phone number of Waldo’s vet, just in case.

  She also asked Marvin to bring in her mail and newspapers.

  “So, any questions?”

  Marvin only had one question. “Why’d you pick me?”

  Mrs. North smiled. “You don’t think I’d let Nick alone in my house, do you?”

  Marvin smiled.

  “I don’t know,” Mrs. North said, more seriously. “I feel I can trust you, Marvin. I think you are mature and responsible.”

  Marvin suddenly felt very mature and responsible.

  “Oh, I almost forgot,” she said. “The key.”

  She gave Marvin the key to her house.

  Chapter 3

  Mature and Responsible

  Marvin woke up early, got dressed, brushed his teeth, and made his bed. He had a job to do.

  The key was in his pocket.

  He was already downstairs, eating breakfast, when his mother knocked on his bedroom door and said, “Marvin, time to get up.”

  His father smiled at him across the kitchen table. “I’m very proud of you, Marvin,” he said. “You seem to be taking your job very seriously.”

  Marvin nodded. But he knew it was not yet time to feel proud. Wait seven days. If he didn’t lose the key. If Mrs. North’s house didn’t burn down. If Waldo wasn’t dead. Then he’d be proud.

  He finished eating, rinsed his dishes, and put them in the dishwasher.

  “Oh, here you are,” said his mother, coming into the kitchen. “What would you like for breakfast?”

  The whole family stood by the door as Marvin left for work. Marvin had one brother and one sister. Jacob was eleven. Linzy was four.

  “Twenty-five bucks! All right, Mar!” said Jacob.

  Marvin slapped his big brother’s hand.

  It was odd. Marvin had always looked up to Jacob. He wanted to be just like him.

  But Jacob never had a job.

  “I’m going to miss you, Marvin,” said Linzy.

  “I’m not moving away,” Marvin told her. “I’ll be home after school, just like every other day.”

  “I’ll still miss you,” said Linzy. “I miss you every day.”

  “I’ll miss you too,” said Marvin. He walked out the door.

  There was a fence around the Redpost house. The fence was all white except for one red post.

  Marvin tapped the family post—for luck—then rode his bike to Mrs. North’s.

  He could hear Waldo whining—or singing—as he took the key out of his pocket.

  “Hi, Waldo,” he said through the door.

  He unlocked the door, then carefully opened it so the dog couldn’t run out.

  Waldo was sitting on the other side of the door. His big tail swept back and forth.

  “How ya doin’, Whisker-face?” said Marvin. He petted the old dog.

  Waldo didn’t want Marvin to stop petting him. Every time Marvin stopped, Waldo whined and nuzzled Marvin for more.

  “Oh, Waldo,” said Marvin. He rubbed Waldo’s head and scratched him behind the ears. “You want to go for a walk?”

  He got Waldo’s leash and the pooper-scooper.

  They walked around the block.

  It was only a little gross using the pooper-scooper. Marvin didn’t let it bother him. It was his job. He was mature and responsible.

  When they got back, he checked Waldo’s bowls. Waldo still had plenty of food and water.

  Before leaving, Marvin made sure the key was in his pocket.

  Waldo whined.

  Marvin petted him. “I’ve got to go now, Waldo,” he said.

  Waldo nuzzled him.

  Marvin petted him some more. “I’ll be back right after school,” he promised.

  Waldo lifted his big paw and put it on Marvin’s arm.

  “Okay, just a little longer,” said Marvin.

  Waldo rolled over and Marvin rubbed his tummy.

  Chapter 4

  The Substitute

  “You were alone in her house?” Stuart exclaimed.

  Marvin nodded.

  “Oh, man, what’d you do?” asked Nick.

  Marvin shrugged.

  They were out on the playground. School hadn’t started yet.

  “Let me see the key,” said Stuart.

  “Did you look in her closet?” asked Nick.

  “No,” said Marvin. Why would he look in her closet?

  “How about her refrigerator?” asked Nick. “Did you at least look in her refrigerator?”

  “Let me see the key,” Stuart said again.

  “How about her bathroom?” asked Nick.

  “I don’t remember,” said Marvin.

  “You don’t remember if you saw her bathroom?” asked Nick.

  “Let me see the key,” said Stuart.

  Marvin fished the key out of his pocket.

  Stuart took it from him. “Wow,” he said, then handed it to Nick.

  “Hey, everybody!” Nick shouted. “I have the key to Mrs. North’s house!”

  Kids came running from all directions.

  “Marvin was alone in her house!” said Nick as he gave the key to Kenny.

  “Did you look in her closet?” asked Clarence.

  “What for?” asked Marvin.

  “To see her clothes!” Nick and Clarence answered together.

  “Did you turn on her television?” asked Melanie.

  Marvin couldn’t tell who had the key anymore. It was being passed around.

  “Did you use her bathroom?” asked Casey.

  “He doesn’t even remember if he saw her bathroom!” said Nick.

  “What if you were alone in her house?” asked Casey. “And you had to go to the bathroom. Real bad. What would you do?”

  “I’d use her bathroom,” said Marvin.

  Everybody laughed.

  “She didn’t say I couldn’t,” said Marvin.

  They laughed harder.

  The bell rang.

  Everyone started to class.

  “Wait!” called Marvin. “Where’s—”

  “Here, Marvin,” said Patsy Gatsby, behind him.

  She gave him the key.

  As he walked into class, he heard Melanie announce, “Marvin’s going to use the bathroom in Mrs. North’s house!”

  Several kids laughed.

  “Who’s Marvin?” asked the substitute teacher, standing at the front of the room.

  Melanie and Warren pointed at Marvin as he made his way to his desk. He sat down.

  The teacher stared at Marvin a long
time. “I don’t appreciate that kind of talk, Marvin,” she said.

  Marvin didn’t know why she was picking on him. It was Melanie who said it.

  Her name was Miss Hillway. She wrote it on the board.

  “I’ll be your teacher for a week,” she said. “So let’s all try to get off to a good start. That includes you, Marvin.”

  Patsy Gatsby sneezed.

  “Bless you,” said Miss Hillway.

  “Thank you,” Patsy said shyly, wiping her nose on her sleeve.

  Nick leaned back in his chair, took a great big breath, then sneezed as loud as he could.

  Miss Hillway smiled at Nick. “Bless you,” she said.

  Casey Happleton sat next to Marvin. She had a ponytail that stuck out of the side of her head. Not the back.

  Casey held her nose and said, “Ah-ah-ah-CHooooooooooo!” Her sideways pony-tail bounced up and down.

  Miss Hillway didn’t bless her.

  Stuart sneezed. Travis sneezed.

  “Sneeze, Marvin,” whispered Casey.

  “Why?”

  “It’s funny,” said Casey.

  “No, it isn’t,” said Marvin. It was silly. No wonder Mrs. North asked me to take care of Waldo, he thought.

  “You think you’re so great,” whispered Casey. “Just because you went to the bathroom in Mrs. North’s house!”

  Gina sneezed. Heather sneezed.

  “My, there must be a terrible cold going around,” said Miss Hillway.

  Everyone—except Marvin—laughed.

  Kenny sneezed.

  Then, Miss Hillway sneezed!

  A whole bunch of kids blessed her.

  “Okay, that’s enough,” Miss Hillway said. “I hope we all got our sneezes out. Now, let’s get back to work.”

  Clarence sneezed.

  Miss Hillway didn’t smile. “I’m serious now. I don’t want to hear another sneeze,” she warned.

  “But what if you really have to?” asked Melanie.

 
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