Kidnapped at birth, p.1
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         Part #1 of Marvin Redpost series by Louis Sachar
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Kidnapped at Birth?


  Could Marvin Redpost be a prince?

  He knew in his bones it was true. He could feel his royal blood swirling around inside him.

  “I was kidnapped the day I was born,” he said. “I was just a baby but I can remember now. The kidnappers hid me in a hospital. Mr. and Mrs. Redpost took me home from the hospital by mistake.”

  “You remember this?” asked Mrs. North. “From when you were one day old?”

  “It’s kind of a haze,” Marvin admitted. “I don’t remember exactly what the kidnappers looked like. One of them had a big black mustache.”

  The Marvin Redpost series by Louis Sachar

  Marvin Redpost #1 Kidnapped at Birth?

  Marvin Redpost #2 Why Pick on Me?

  Marvin Redpost #3 Is He a Girl?

  Marvin Redpost #4 Alone in His Teacher’s House

  Marvin Redpost #5 Class President

  Marvin Redpost #6 A Flying Birthday Cake?

  Marvin Redpost #7 Super Fast, Out of Control!

  Marvin Redpost #8 A Magic Crystal?

  More books by Louis Sachar!

  The Boy Who Lost His Face

  Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes

  Holes

  Stanley Yelnats’ Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake

  There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom

  Text copyright © 1992 by Louis Sachar.

  Illustrations copyright © 1992 by Neal Hughes.

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.

  Published in the United States by Random House Children’s Books, a division of

  Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House

  of Canada Limited, Toronto.

  www.randomhouse.com/kids

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Sachar, Louis. Marvin Redpost : kidnapped at birth? / by Louis Sachar;

  illustrated by Neal Hughes.

  p cm. A stepping stone book.

  SUMMARY: Red-haired Marvin is convinced that the reason he looks different from the rest of his family is that he is really the lost prince of Shampoon.

  eISBN: 978-0-307-79714-8

  [1. Redheads—Fiction. 2. Princes—Fiction. 3. Family life—Fiction.

  4. Humorous stories.]

  I. Hughes, Neal, ill. II. Title.

  PZ7.S1185Ki 1992 [Fic]—dc20 91-51105

  Random House, Inc. New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, Auckland

  RANDOM HOUSE and colophon are registered trademarks and A STEPPING STONE BOOK and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

  v3.1

  Dedicated to Rebecca and Sam,

  with special thanks to their parents

  Contents

  Cover

  Other Books by this Author

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  Dedication

  1. Royal Blood

  2. You Can Do Anything!

  3. Marvin Sees the King

  4. Marvin Redpost Is Dead

  5. The Duchess of Bathwater

  6. A New Car for Mrs. Redpost

  7. They’re All Exactly Like You!

  8. Number 812

  9. Blood Test

  10. One in a Million

  About the Author

  1

  Royal Blood

  The End

  Marvin Redpost put down his pencil. He was the first one done.

  He took his report to Mrs. North.

  Mrs. North looked at it. “I can’t read this,” she said.

  He had to copy it over. “Neater this time, Marvin,” said Mrs. North.

  Marvin frowned.

  He was in the third grade. His class had been learning cursive writing.

  “It’s because I’m left-handed,” Marvin complained. “It’s impossible to write neatly when you’re left-handed. Everything is backwards.”

  “I’m left-handed,” said Mrs. North.

  “Oh,” said Marvin.

  “We’re lucky to be left-handed,” said Mrs. North. “It means we have royal blood.”

  She smiled at him.

  “You’d write neater if you slowed down,” she said. “It isn’t a race.”

  He returned to his seat.

  He picked up his pencil and wrote as fast as he could.

  He had to write twice as fast this time, just to catch up with everyone else.

  He had to write a report on something he read in Current Events. Current Events was a newspaper for children.

  This is what Marvin wrote.

  The King of Shampoon is looking for his lost son. The son’s name is Prince Robert. Prince Robert was kidnapped the day he was born. That was nine years ago.

  Prince Robert is nine years old. He has red hair and blue eyes. Unless he’s dead.

  The King is going all around the world looking for his lost son. He hopes he isn’t dead. So do I. This week the King is in Washington, D.C.

  The End

  Marvin finished writing just as the bell rang for recess. He gave his report to Mrs. North, then ran outside to play wall-ball.

  Marvin was nine years old. He had red hair. He had blue eyes.

  He lived in a small town, not too far from Washington, D.C.

  2

  You Can Do Anything!

  Marvin had two best friends, Stuart Albright and Nick Tuffle.

  After school they all went to Stuart’s house.

  “Put your dog outside,” said Nick.

  Nick was brave. He once rode his bike full speed down Suicide Hill. But he was afraid of Fluffy, Stuart’s little white dog.

  Marvin petted Fluffy.

  “Careful, he’s going to bite you,” said Nick.

  Fluffy growled at Nick.

  “He’s a good dog,” said Marvin.

  Fluffy licked Marvin’s fingers.

  Stuart put Fluffy outside.

  “Where’d you get that stupid dog?” asked Nick.

  “Fluffy’s not stupid,” said Stuart.

  “He is too,” said Nick. “He looks like a rat that ran through a cotton candy machine.”

  “We got him at the pound,” said Stuart. “I picked him out myself.”

  “Well, you picked the wrong dog,” said Nick.

  “I did not!”

  “Did too.”

  Marvin was afraid they’d get into a fight. Nick and Stuart were always getting into fights.

  “I think my parents picked the wrong baby,” Marvin said.

  “Huh?” asked Nick.

  “What?” said Stuart.

  “At the hospital,” said Marvin. “They took the wrong baby home. They’re not really my parents.”

  He had been thinking about this all day. He didn’t really believe it. He just wanted to keep his best friends from fighting.

  “I was kidnapped the day I was born,” said Marvin.

  “You’re Prince Robert!” exclaimed Stuart.

  Stuart was smart. It sometimes amazed Marvin how quickly he caught on to things.

  “Say what?” asked Nick.

  “Marvin’s parents are really the King and Queen of Shampoon,” Stuart explained.

  “Wait a second,” said Nick. “Mr. and Mrs. Redpost? No way!”

  “No,” said Stuart. “Don’t you remember what we read in Current Events? The Prince was kidnapped at birth.”

  “So?” said Nick.

  “So Marvin is really Prince Robert,” said Stuart.

  “Say what?” said Nick.

  “I have red hair and blue eyes,” said Marvin. “Everyone else in my family has brown hair and brown eyes. And I’m left-handed. That means I have royal blood.”

  “Wait a second,” said Nick. “If your parents are the King and Queen of Shampoon, then how
did you end up in the hospital here?”

  Marvin thought a moment. He hadn’t figured that part out.

  “Simple!” said Stuart. “The kidnappers had to hide the baby somewhere. Well, what better place to hide a baby than with a bunch of other babies in a hospital?”

  “That’s right!” said Marvin.

  “Or,” said Stuart, “maybe your parents didn’t get you at the hospital. Maybe you’re adopted. They just haven’t told you.”

  “I bet you that’s it!” said Nick. “The kidnappers left you in a garbage bin. Then a policeman found you and took you to an orphanage. And then Mr. and Mrs. Redpost adopted you.”

  “Or else,” Stuart whispered, “Mr. and Mrs. Redpost might be the kidnappers.”

  “You’ll get to live in a castle!” said Nick. “And you’ll have a hundred servants. You’ll never have to make your bed again.”

  Marvin shrugged.

  “You’ll have so much money,” said Nick. “You could buy anything you want. You walk into a store. You see something you want. You just buy it. You could buy a car!”

  Marvin laughed.

  “I’m too young to drive,” he said.

  “Duh,” said Nick. “No one’s going to give the Prince a ticket! You can do anything. Darn, I wish I had red hair and blue eyes! You’re so lucky, Marvin. Man, some people have all the luck!”

  “I’m not lucky,” Marvin reminded him. “I was unlucky to be kidnapped.”

  “We just have to figure out a way to tell the King,” said Stuart. “And you can’t let your parents know. If they’re the kidnappers, they’ll kill you for sure.”

  3

  Marvin Sees the King

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

  He slapped the red post as he walked through the gate.

  He had an older brother, Jacob, who was eleven, and a younger sister, Linzy, who was four.

  Jacob met him at the front door. “Watch out, Mar,” he said. “Mom’s mad.”

  “I’m not mad!” said their mother, coming up behind him.

  She sounded mad.

  “Go clean your room,” she told Jacob.

  “I already cleaned my room,” said Jacob.

  “Clean it again,” she said. “Then help Linzy with hers.”

  Jacob was right. She was mad.

  “And where have you been?” she asked Marvin.

  “At Stuart’s,” he said.

  “Grandma and Grandpa are coming over.”

  “I forgot.”

  “You should have called,” said his mother. “You didn’t tell me you were going to Stuart’s house. I had no idea where you were!”

  “I always go to Stuart’s. Or Nick’s,” said Marvin.

  “You are supposed to call,” said his mother. “You could have been kidnapped, for all I knew!”

  “Okay, okay. I’m sorry,” said Marvin.

  He went upstairs to his room. “I was kidnapped, for all you know,” he muttered to himself.

  He wondered if his mother would say that if she was really a kidnapper.

  Probably not.

  “I want you to do your homework!” his mother yelled up to him. “Before Grandma and Grandpa get here!”

  “Okay, okay,” Marvin muttered.

  Marvin had a pet lizard named General Jackson. General Jackson lived in a glass cage next to Marvin’s desk.

  “She probably has no idea I’m Prince Robert,” Marvin told the General. “If she did, she wouldn’t yell at me. She’d serve me breakfast in bed every morning.”

  General Jackson stuck out his tongue.

  For homework, Marvin had to practice his handwriting. He wrote as fast as he could.

  “If I was a prince,” he said, “I wouldn’t have to do homework. A servant would do it for me.”

  He finished his homework, then walked downstairs. His grandparents still had not arrived.

  His father was watching television in the den.

  “Dad,” said Marvin. “Was I adopted?”

  “What? No, of course not.”

  “Would you tell me if I was?”

  “Yes, but you weren’t.”

  Marvin rubbed his chin. His father seemed to be telling the truth.

  “What happened when I was born?” he asked.

  “What?”

  “Did anything unusual happen?”

  His father looked away from the television. “Um, it seems there was something,” he said. “I forget what it was. But it was a false alarm. You were fine.” He turned back to the television.

  “Did they take me away?” asked Marvin. “Or was I with Mom every single second?”

  His father sighed. “No, you weren’t with Mom every single second. Can we please talk about this later? I’m trying to watch the news.”

  “Well, when I came back,” said Marvin, “did I look different?”

  “What?”

  “Okay,” said Marvin. “Like three days after I was born. Did I look exactly the same as the day I was born?”

  “I don’t remember. Probably not. Babies change quickly.”

  “What did I look like when I was born?”

  “You looked like a baby. All babies look pretty much the same. Now, please, Marvin. I want to watch this.”

  The doorbell rang.

  Marvin heard his grandparents enter.

  His father got up. “C’mon, Mar,” he said.

  But now Marvin was watching TV.

  The King of Shampoon was on the news. The King had wavy red hair underneath his gold crown.

  “I don’t know if my son is alive or dead,” said the King.

  Except he spoke with a strange accent. So it sounded like “I don’t know eef my son ees alive or dead.”

  The King’s face filled the TV screen. He spoke. “Robert, if you’re listening out there, please call me. Return to your rightful place on the throne. We need you. Your kingdom awaits you.”

  Except it sounded like “Vee need you. Your kingdom avaits you.”

  The newsman came on. “If you think you may know someone who is Prince Robert, you should—”

  The television shut off.

  Mr. Redpost put down the remote-control switch. “Let’s not keep Grandma and Grandpa waiting,” he said.

  Marvin’s grandparents were making a big fuss over Linzy.

  “You’re so pretty, Linzy,” said his grandmother. “You look more and more like your mother every day. And Jacob, you are the spitting image of your father.”

  “Who do I look like, Grandma?” asked Marvin.

  His grandmother smiled at him. “You look like—” She stopped and thought a moment. “You look like both your parents,” she said.

  But Marvin knew she was just saying that. She really meant he didn’t look like either of them.

  He knew whom he looked like. He had just seen his face on television.

  He looked like the King of Shampoon.

  4

  Marvin Redpost Is Dead

  “Are you really the Lost Prince of Shampoon?” Judy Jasper asked Marvin as he walked into class.

  “What?” asked Marvin. “Uh … I don’t think so,” he muttered.

  “Nick said you were,” said Melanie.

  Travis and Kenny hurried over.

  “Nick said you’re the Lost Prince of Shampoon,” said Kenny.

  “Is that true?” asked Travis.

  Before Marvin could answer, someone shoved him.

  It was Clarence.

  “You’re not a prince!” said Clarence.

  Clarence was the meanest kid in Marvin’s class.

  “I didn’t say I was,” said Marvin.

  “You shouldn’t push a prince, Clarence,” said Judy. “He’ll throw you in the dungeon.”

  “That’s right,” said Melanie.

  “You’re in big trouble, Clarence,” said Travis.

  “I’m not scared,” said Clarence.

  Nick pu
t his arm around Marvin. “Hey, everybody,” he said. “This is my best friend. Prince Robert.”

  Marvin took his seat. He wished Nick hadn’t told everybody he was Prince Robert.

  Casey Happleton sat down next to him. “Good morning, King Marvin,” she said.

  Marvin didn’t answer.

  “How are you today, King Marvin?” she asked.

  Casey had a ponytail that stuck out of the side of her head. Not the back.

  “Did you do your homework, King Marvin?” asked Casey.

  “I’m not King Marvin!” Marvin snapped.

  “I’m Prince Robert!”

  He said it.

  It felt right. I’m Prince Robert! He had never liked the name Marvin.

  Everyone was staring at him.

  “Marvin?” asked Mrs. North.

  He stood up. “My name’s not Marvin,” he said. “I’m Prince Robert, the Lost Prince of Shampoon.”

  He knew in his bones it was true. He could feel his royal blood swirling around inside him.

  “I was kidnapped the day I was born,” he said. “I was just a baby, but I can remember now. The kidnappers hid me in a hospital. Mr. and Mrs. Redpost took me home from the hospital by mistake.”

  “You remember this?” asked Mrs. North. “From when you were one day old?”

  “It’s kind of a haze,” Marvin admitted. “I don’t remember exactly what the kidnappers looked like. One of them had a black mustache.”

  “Marvin has red hair,” said Stuart. “Mr. and Mrs. Redpost have brown hair.”

  “How do you explain that?” asked Nick.

  “Well, do any of your grandparents have red hair, Marvin?” asked Mrs. North.

  Marvin thought a moment. “No. They all have gray hair. Or else they’re bald. And I’m left-handed. You said that meant I have royal blood.”

  His teacher smiled. “Well, let me ask you a question, Marvin. Excuse me. I mean, Prince Robert. What ever happened to the real Marvin Redpost?”

  “Huh?” said Marvin.

  “Nine years ago Mr. and Mrs. Redpost had a baby. You say they took you home from the hospital by mistake. After the kidnappers hid you in the hospital. What happened to their real baby?”

 
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