Be the first to review this item. More About the Authors. Trenton Lee Stewart. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas. Back to top. Get to Know Us. Amazon Payment Products. English Choose a language for shopping. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. Amazon Advertising Find, attract, and engage customers. Amazon Drive Cloud storage from Amazon. Alexa Actionable Analytics for the Web.
Sell on Amazon Start a Selling Account. AmazonGlobal Ship Orders Internationally. Amazon Inspire Digital Educational Resources. Amazon Rapids Fun stories for kids on the go. ComiXology Thousands of Digital Comics. DPReview Digital Photography. East Dane Designer Men's Fashion. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. Youre welcome, he said impatiently. Now lets go! Still she resisted. No, I really want to thank you. If it werent for you, I couldnt have taken this test, and do you want to know something? Glancing around to be sure they were alone, Rhonda whispered, I have the answers.
Im going to make a perfect score! No time to explain. But if you sit right behind me, you can look over my shoulder. Ill hold up my test a bit to make it easier. Reynie was stunned. How in the world could this girl have gotten her hands on the answers? And now she was offering to help him cheat! He was briey tempted he wanted desperately to learn about those special opportunities. But when he imagined returning to tell Miss Perumal of his success, hiding the fact that hed cheated, he knew he could never do it. No, thank you, he said.
Id rather not. Rhonda Kazembe looked amazed, and Reynie once again felt the weight of loneliness upon him. If it was unpleasant to feel so different from the other children at Stonetown Orphanage, how much worse was it to be seen as an oddball by a green-haired girl wearing her own personal fog bank? Okay, suit yourself, Rhonda said as the two of them started for the front doors. I hope you know what youre in for. Reynie was in too much of a hurry to respond.
He had no idea what he was in for, of course, but he certainly wanted to nd out. Inside the Monk Building, conspicuously posted signs led them down a series of corridors, past a room where a handful of parents waited anxiously, and at last into a room crowded with children in desks. Except for the unusual silence, the room was just like any schoolroom, with a chalkboard at the front and a teachers desk upon which rested a pencil sharpener, a ruler, and a sign that said: no talking. Only two seats remained empty, one behind the other.
To guarantee he wouldnt be tempted to cheat, Reynie chose the one in front. A clock on the wall struck one just as Rhonda Kazembe dropped into the desk behind him. That was close, she said. There will be no talking! She strode briskly to the front of the room, carrying a tall stack of papers and a jar of pickles. If any child is caught cheating, then he or she will be executed The children gasped. Im sorry, did I say executed? I meant to say escorted.
Any child caught cheating will be escorted from the building at once. Now then, are you all relaxed? Its important to be relaxed when taking such an extremely difcult test as this, especially considering how long it is and how very little time youll have to complete it. In the back of the room someone groaned in distress. You there! Every head in the room swiveled to see who had groaned.
Pencils, Erasers, and Disqualication It was the same girl who had abandoned Rhonda Kazembe on the plaza. Under the savage stare of the pencil woman, the girls face went pasty pale, like the underbelly of a dead sh. I said no talking, the woman barked. Do you wish to leave now? But I only groaned! The pencil woman frowned. Do you mean to suggest that saying, But I only groaned! The girl, frightened and perplexed, could hardly muster a shake of the head.
Very well, let this be a warning to you. To all of you. From this moment on there will be no talking, period. Now then, are there any questions? Reynard Muldoon, you have a question? Reynie held up his broken pencil and made a pencilsharpening motion with the other hand. Very well, you may use the pencil sharpener on my desk. Reynie hustled forward, sharpened his pencil he felt all eyes upon him as he ground away, checked the tip, and ground away again and hurried back to his seat. As he did so, he noticed Rhonda Kazembe slipping a tiny piece of paper from the sleeve of her cloud-dress: the list of test answers.
She was taking quite a risk, Reynie thought, but he had no chance to reect on it further, as the pencil woman now launched into the rest of her speech. You shall have one hour to complete this test, she barked, and you must follow these directions exactly. First, write your name at the top of the test.
Second, read all the questions and answers carefully. Third, choose the correct answers. The Mysterious Benedict Society by circling the appropriate letter. Fifth, bring the completed test to me. Sixth, return to your seat and wait until all the tests have been graded, at which time I will announce the names of those who pass. The children were shifting uneasily in their seats. What had happened to the fourth step? The pencil woman had skipped from third to fth. The children looked at one another, not daring to speak. What if the fourth step was important?
Reynie was waiting, hoping someone else would raise a hand for a change. When no one did, he timidly raised his own. Yes, Reynard? He pointed to his mouth. Yes, you may speak. What is your question? Excuse me, but what about the fourth step? There is no fourth step, she replied.
Any other questions? Utterly bafed now, the children held their tongues. To pass this test, the pencil woman went on, you must correctly answer every question, by which I mean every question. If you skip even one question, or answer one incorrectly, you will fail the test. No problem, whispered Rhonda Kazembe from behind Reynie. The pencil womans eyes darted to their side of the room. She stared hard at Reynie, whose mouth went dry. Why on earth didnt Rhonda keep her mouth closed? Was she trying to get them thrown out? You may begin the test as soon as you receive it, said the pencil woman, turning away at last, and Reynie resisted the urge to sigh with relief even a sigh might disqualify him.
Pencils, Erasers, and Disqualication Besides, what relief he felt didnt last long: The pencil woman had begun handing out the tests. The rst child to receive one was a tough-looking boy in a baseball cap who eagerly grabbed it, looked at the rst question, and burst into tears. The girl behind him looked at her test, rubbed her eyes as if they werent working properly, then looked again. Her head wobbled on her neck. If you begin to feel faint, said the pencil woman, moving on to the next child, place your head between your knees and take deep breaths.
If you think you may vomit, please come to the front of the room, where a trash can will be provided. Down the row she went, distributing the tests. The crying boy had begun ipping through the test now there appeared to be several pages and with each new page his sobs grew louder and more desperate. When he reached the end, he began to wail. Im afraid loud weeping isnt permitted, said the pencil woman. Please leave the room. The boy, greatly relieved, leaped from his desk and raced to the door, followed at once by two other children who hadnt received the test yet but were terried now to see it.
The pencil woman closed the door. If any others ee the room in panic or dismay, she said sternly, please remember to close the door behind you. Your sobs may disturb the other test-takers. She continued handing out the test. Child after child received it with trembling ngers, and child after child, upon looking at the questions, turned pale, or red, or a subtle shade of green. By the time the pencil woman dropped the pages upon his desk, dread was making Reynies stomach op like a. The Mysterious Benedict Society sh. And for good reason the questions were impossible.
The very rst one read: The territories of the Naxcivan Autonomous Republic and the Nagorno-Karabakh region are disputed by what two countries?
The Mysterious Benedict Society (series)
Bhutan, which under the Treaty of Sinchulu ceded border land to Britain; and Britain, which in exchange for that land provided Bhutan an annual subsidy, and under whose inuence Bhutans monarchy was established in Azerbaijan, whose territory in was divided between Russia and Persia by the Treaty of Turkmenchay; and Armenia, a nation founded after the destruction of the Seleucid Empire some two thousand years ago, likewise incorporated into Russia by the aforementioned treaty.
Vanuatu, which having been administered until its independence by an Anglo-French Condominium, retains both French and English as ofcial languages in addition to Bislama, or Bichelama ; and Portugal, whose explorer Pedro Fernandez de Quiros became in the rst European to discover the islands Vanuatu comprises. Although there were two more answers to choose from, Reynie didnt read them.
If every question was like this one, he had absolutely no hope of passing. A quick glance at the next few questions did nothing to encourage him. If anything, they got worse. And this was only the rst page! All around him children were shivering, sighing, grinding their teeth. Reynie felt like joining them. So much for those special op-. Pencils, Erasers, and Disqualication portunities.
Back to the orphanage he would go, where no one not even good Miss Perumal knew what to do with him.
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It had been a nice idea, but apparently he did not have what it took. Even so, he wasnt ready to leave. He had yet to follow the directions, and because he was determined not to quit until he had at least tried, he proceeded to follow them now. Dutifully he wrote his name atop the rst page that was the rst step. Well, youve accomplished that much, he thought. The second step was to read all the questions and answers carefully.
Reynie took a deep breath. There were forty questions in all. Just reading them would take him most of the hour. It didnt help that the pencil woman now sat eating pickles they were especially crisp ones, too as she watched the children struggle. The second question wanted to know where the common vetch originated and to what family it belonged.
Reynie had no idea what a common vetch was, and the possible answers offered no helpful clue it might be an antelope, a bird, a rodent, or a vine. Reynie went on to the third question, which had to do with subatomic particles called fermions and an Indian physicist named Satyendranath Bose. The fourth question asked which church was built by the emperor Justinian to demonstrate his superiority to the late Theodorics Ostrogothic successors.
On and on the questions went. To his credit, Reynie recognized the names of a few places, a few mathematic principles, and one or two important historical gures, but it wouldnt do him any good. He would be lucky to answer a single question correctly, much less all of them. When he was exactly halfway through the test he was on question twenty, regarding the difference between parataxis. Was she already nished? Well, of course! She had all the answers. Reynie grimaced in irritation, and as Rhonda stepped forward to turn in her test, the other children gasped in amazement.
But the pencil woman seemed not the least bit suspicious. If anything, she was absorbed in Rhondas bizarre appearance and hardly glanced at the test as she took it. Reynie had a sudden insight: Rhonda was calling attention to herself on purpose. It was a trick. No one would suspect her of cheating, because who in her right mind would make such a spectacle of herself if she intended to cheat? The green hair it must be a wig , the poofy dress, the whispering they were all meant to distract.
Most people would assume that if a child intended to cheat, then surely she would call as little attention to herself as possible, would be as quiet as a mouse and as plain as wallpaper. Reynie had to hand it to Rhonda: She might not be smart enough to pass the test, but she was clever enough to get away with cheating on it. He felt a pang of jealousy. Now Rhonda would move on to experience those special opportunities, while Reynie would mope his way back to the orphanage, defeated. As Rhonda passed by him on the way to her desk, she winked and let fall a tiny slip of paper.
It drifted down like a feather and settled lightly upon Reynies desk. The test answers. Reynie peeked over at the pencil woman, but she hadnt noticed she was busy grading Rhondas test now, making check mark after check mark and nodding her head. So the answers were indeed the right ones.
And here they sat on his desk. If hed felt tempted before, when hed had no idea how hard the test would be, that temptation was nothing com-. Pencils, Erasers, and Disqualication pared to now. No matter that hed resisted, no matter that hed chosen this seat precisely to avoid this situation, here he was, staring at a slip of paper that contained the key to his hopes. All he had to do was turn it over and look at the answers.
The other children were too busy snifing and biting their ngernails to notice, and if he hurried, he might even copy the answers down before the pencil woman looked up again. She had nished grading Rhondas paper and was concentrating on the nearly empty jar of pickles, trying to sh out the last one. Reynie stared a long moment at the paper, sorely tempted.
Then he reached out and icked it from his desk and onto the oor. What good would those opportunities do him if he wasnt qualied to be given them? And where was the pleasure in cheating? If he couldnt pass fairly, he didnt want to pass. He thought this and mostly believed it and felt his spirits boosted by the decision. But even so, a few seconds passed before he could tear his eyes from the paper on the oor. All right, he told himself, returning to the test. Get a move on, Reynie, and dont look back. Theres no time to waste.
Indeed there wasnt, as a glance at the wall clock conrmed. Less than half an hour remained, and Reynie had more than half the test yet to read. He nished reading about parataxis and hypotaxis they either had something to do with writing or else with futuristic transportation, but he couldnt decide which , and moved on to question twenty-one, which read: After the fall of the Russian Empire, when a failed attempt to create a Transcaucasian Republic with Georgia and Armenia led to the creation of the country Azerbaijan which currently disputes with Armenia the territories of the Naxcivan.
Reynie stopped. Something about the question seemed awfully familiar so familiar that he felt pressed to think about it. Hadnt he seen those names before? Flipping back to the beginning of the test, Reynie read the very rst question again: The territories of the Naxcivan Autonomous Republic and the Nagorno-Karabakh region are disputed by what two countries? He blinked, hardly believing his eyes. Armenia and Azerbaijan. The answer to question one lay hidden in question twenty-one. This wasnt a test of knowledge at all it was a puzzle!
Reynie looked at question twenty-two, which began: Despite having originated in Europe, the vine known as the common vetch a member of the pea family , is widely. There it was! The answer to question two! With mounting excitement, Reynie read the next one, and sure enough, although the question itself made no mention of subatomic particles or Indian physicists, there was a long discussion of them in answer D. Not only were all the answers buried in the test, he realized, they were listed in order. Number ones answer was found in number twenty-one and vice versa , number twos answer was found in number twenty-two, and so on, all the way up to number forty, which cleared up the mystery of parataxis and hypotaxis raised in question twenty.
Reynie was so delighted he nearly leaped from his desk and cheered. Still, he couldnt spare even a moment to congratulate himself time was running short. Eagerly he set to the task of nding the correct answers. This took a good while, as it was necessary to ip back and forth between pages and read a great deal of text, and in the end it took Reynie al-.
Pencils, Erasers, and Disqualication most exactly one hour to nish the test. He had only just circled the last answer, placed his test on the pencil womans desk, and looked around at the other children some were furiously circling numbers at random, hoping to get lucky; and some were not to be seen at all, having crept out of the room in bleak despair , when the pencil woman shouted: Pencils!
Times up, children. Lay down your pencils, please. After a certain amount of blubbering and wiping away tears, the children stacked their tests on top of Reynies and returned to their seats. In exhausted silence they waited as the pencil woman ipped through the tests. This took but a minute she had only to look at the rst question, after all. When she came to Reynies at the bottom of the stack, she ran through the pages, making checkmarks and nodding.
Nice work, Rhonda whispered from behind him. You managed it on your own. She seemed genuinely pleased that he hadnt cheated, despite having encouraged him to do just that. She certainly was a strange one. I shall read now the names of those who passed the test, announced the pencil woman. If your name is called you will advance to the third stage of testing, so please remain seated and await further instructions. Those whose names are not called are free to go. Reynies ears perked up. There was a third stage? The pencil woman cleared her throat, but this time she didnt bother looking at the paper in front of her.
On her way out of the room, she added, That is all. Why hadnt Rhonda Kazembes name been called? Was it because she cheated? Did she have the wrong answers, after all? And where did she get those answers in the rst place? It was all very mysterious, and not the least intriguing was Rhondas behavior when she was dismissed along with the others: Well, best of luck, kid, shed chirped, playfully mussing his hair and scudding from the room in her cloud-dress, apparently not the slightest bit confused or disappointed that she hadnt passed. The Mysterious Benedict Society Reynies musings were interrupted by the pencil woman poking her head in through the doorway: Weve nally gotten rid of the other children, Reynard.
Had to give them consolation doughnuts and hugs and whatnot. Only a few more minutes now to wait. She was already withdrawing again when Reynie called after her. Excuse me! Miss, uh Miss? Im sorry, you never told us your name. Thats ne, Reynard, she said, stepping into the room. Youve nothing to be sorry for. Reynie waited for her to give her name. Instead she simply wiped doughnut crumbs from her lips and said, You had a question?
Oh, yes. May I please telephone Miss Perumal, my tutor? No one has any idea where I am. Im afraid shell be worried. Very good of you, Reynard, but dont worry. Weve already called Miss Perumal, so all is taken care of. The pencil woman began once again to retreat. Excuse me, Miss? She stopped. Yes, what is it now, Reynard? Forgive me for asking this, Miss. I wouldnt ask if it werent important, but.
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Lying to you? Im sorry to ask it. But, you know, you did tell Miss Perumal this morning that I could use your phone, and then later you told me there was no phone. So you see why Im concerned. Its just that I dont want Miss Perumal to worry. The pencil woman seemed unperturbed. Thats a perfectly reasonable question, Reynard. A perfectly reasonable question. She gave him an approving nod and made as if to leave.
Buckets and Spectacles Miss, but you didnt answer my question! The woman scratched her head, and Reynie began to suspect that she was either a little daft or a little deaf. After a moment, however, she said, I suppose you want the truth? Yes, please! The truth is I havent called Miss Perumal, but I will do so immediately. In fact, I was about to call her when you asked me if I had called her yet. Does this satisfy you? Reynie hardly knew what to say. He didnt wish to offend the woman, but he could hardly trust her now, and it was more important to know that Miss Perumals mind was at ease.
Im sorry, Miss, but may I please just call her myself? Ill only take a minute. The pencil woman smiled. When she spoke this time her voice was quite gentle, and she looked Reynie in the eyes. You are very good to be so concerned about Miss Perumal.
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What would you say if I told you that I have in fact called her already? No, dont answer that. You wont believe me. How about this? Ill relay her message to you: Do you see now that you didnt need luck? Im glad you wore matching socks. That is what she told me to tell you. Are you satised? Before Reynie could make up his mind how to answer, she slipped out of the room, leaving him to puzzle over her mystifying behavior. The message from Miss Perumal was obviously real, so why hadnt she told him in the rst place? As he pondered this, he heard footsteps in the hall, followed by a timid knock at the half-open door.
A young boys face appeared in the doorway. Hello, the boy said, adjusting his spectacles, is this where Im supposed to wait? He spoke so softly that Reynie had to strain to hear him. I have no idea. Its where Im supposed to wait, though, so. The Mysterious Benedict Society maybe it is. Youre welcome to join me, if you like. Im Reynie Muldoon. Oh, the boy said uncertainly. My name is Sticky Washington.
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Im just wondering if this is the right place. The yellow lady told me to come down the hall and sit with someone named Reynard. Thats me, Reynie said. People call me Reynie for short. He put out his hand, and after a moments hesitation Sticky Washington came and shook it. Sticky was a notably skinny boy which Reynie suspected was how he got his nickname he was thin as a stick with light brown skin the very color of the tea that Miss Perumal made each morning.
He had big, nervous eyes like a horses, and, for some odd reason, a perfectly smooth bald head. His tiny wire-rimmed spectacles gave him the distinguished look of a scholar. A dgety scholar, though: He seemed quite shy, or at the very least anxious. Well, why shouldnt he be anxious, if hed been through what Reynie had been through today? Are you here for the third test? Reynie asked. Sticky nodded. Ive been waiting all day. I had to be here at nine oclock this morning, and the test was over at ten. Since then Ive just been sitting around in an empty room.
Lucky I had a pear with me or I might have starved. I think all the other children got doughnuts. Why didnt we get doughnuts? I wondered the same thing. Were you the only one who passed, then? The rst test, no. A little girl passed it, too, but I havent seen her since yesterday. Maybe they told her to come at a different time theyve had tests here all day. Was there an extremely small girl in your group, about half our size? Buckets and Spectacles Reynie shook his head.
He would have remembered anyone so tiny. Maybe shes coming later. Anyway, as for the second test, yes: I was the only one who passed. Which surprised me because Sticky stopped himself with a glance at the doorway. He opened his mouth to continue, thought better of it, and at last pretended to notice something on the ceiling, as if he hadnt been about to say anything at all.
Obviously he had a secret. Reynie had a sudden suspicion what it was. Because there was a girl who cheated? Stickys eyes widened. How did you know? The same thing happened to me. I think its a trick of some kind. Tell me, this girl didnt happen to drop her pencil on the way into the building, did she?
Out on the plaza? I couldnt believe anybody would take such a chance. We were only allowed to bring one pencil, you know. What did you do? I tried to help her. A few other kids said they were sorry but they didnt want to be late, and one boy even laughed. I felt awfully sorry for her, so I had her hold onto my feet and lower me down through the grate. She was strong as a bear and had no trouble doing it, and Im so skinny I t right through the bars. It was terrifying, though, I dont mind admitting it, hanging upside down, scrabbling around in the dark.
I think something even nibbled at my nger, but maybe I imagined it. I can get a little mixed up when Im scared. You were lucky to nd her pencil, Reynie observed. It was pitch-black down in that drain. Oh, no, I didnt nd it. But you know what she did? She hauled me back up through the grate and said, Oh well,. The Mysterious Benedict Society never mind.
I have an extra one. And she pulled another pencil right out of her sleeve! Can you believe it? Why she would let me go down into that awful drain when she had an extra pencil, I cant imagine. Then, to top it off, she offered me the answers to the test, to repay me for trying to help her. Apparently they didnt do her any good, though.
Im glad I refused. Me, too, Reynie said. I think refusing was part of the test. If wed cheated, they would have known it, and I doubt either one of us would be here. From his shirt pocket Sticky took out a thin piece of cotton cloth and polished his spectacles with it. If youre right, its a little creepy that theyre tricking us like that. He put the glasses back on and blinked his big, nervous eyes.
But I shouldnt complain. They were very nice to let me continue to the third stage even though I missed a few questions. Very generous of them Wait a minute, Reynie said. How could you possibly have missed any? Did you circle the wrong letters by accident? Sticky seemed embarrassed. He shufed his feet as he spoke. Oh, well, I suppose the questions were easy for you, but for me they were rather difcult. Time ran out before I could answer the last three, so I had to just circle some answers and hope Id get lucky. I didnt, of course. But as I said, they were very forgiving.
Reynie couldnt believe what he was hearing. You mean you knew the answers to those questions? Sticky grew more dejected with Reynies every question. Tears brimmed in his eyes as he said, Well, yes, I suppose I do look rather stupid, dont I? I look like a person who doesnt know any answers. I understand that. Buckets and Spectacles Reynie interrupted him. No, no! I didnt mean that! I meant that Im surprised anybody knew the answers. One or two, maybe, but certainly not all of them. Sticky brightened, smiling shyly and straightening his back.
Well, yes, I suppose I do know a lot of things. Thats why people started calling me Sticky, because everything I read sticks in my head. Its perfectly amazing, Reynie said. You must read more than anybody Ive ever met. But listen, once you gured out the test was a puzzle, why didnt you just solve it that way? It would have saved time you could have nished it. A puzzle? You didnt notice that the answers were all right there in the test? I did notice that a lot of information was repeated, Sticky reected, but I didnt really pay attention to it.
I was concentrating too hard on getting the answers right. That question on colloidal suspensions really had me sweating, I can tell you, and as I said, when Im anxious I can get mixed up. After a pause, he sighed and added, I tend to get anxious a lot. Reynie laughed. Well, you didnt know it was a puzzle, and I didnt know any of the answers, but were both here now. Wed make a good team. You think so?
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He grinned. Yes, I suppose we would. The boys waited there for some time, discussing the curiosities of the day. Sticky was more relaxed now, and soon the two of them grew comfortable together, joking and laughing like old friends. Sticky couldnt stop giggling about Rhonda Kazembes crazy getup, and Reynie smiled until his face hurt when Sticky told him more about hanging upside down in the.
The Mysterious Benedict Society storm drain. My shoes started to slip off in her hands, Sticky recounted, and for a second I thought she was going to take them and leave me down there under the grate. I panicked and started wriggling like crazy I think it was all she could do to pull me back up without dropping me! Then Reynie told Sticky about the pencil womans sneakiness regarding the phone call to Miss Perumal. Instead of laughing, as Reynie had expected, Sticky slipped back into his nervous behavior.
He began polishing his spectacles again, even though hed just done it minutes before. Oh, yes, he said. Yes, I tried to call my parents, too. Same thing happened. But in the end it was ne. She called them. Nothing to worry about. Reynie nodded politely. He saw perfectly well that Sticky was trying to hide something. Maybe he hadnt thought of calling his parents and felt guilty about it now?
But Reynie decided not to press him on the matter Sticky seemed uncomfortable enough as it was. So where do you live? This only made Sticky polish all the harder. Perhaps he simply disliked personal questions. Well, he began. Well Just then the door ew wide open, and a girl raced into the room carrying a bucket. She was extremely quick: One moment she was bursting through the door, golden-blond hair ying out behind her like a horses mane, and the next she was standing right beside them. Sticky leaped back in alarm. Whats the matter? Whats the matter with you? Buckets and Spectacles From?
I wasnt running from anything. I was running to this room. Old Yellow Suit told me to come down here and wait with you two, so here I am. My names Kate Wetherall. Sticky was breathing hard and casting glances at the door, as if a lion might y in next, so it fell to Reynie to introduce them. Im Reynie Muldoon and this is Sticky Washington, he said, shaking her hand and immediately regretting it her grip was so strong it was like getting his ngers caught in a drawer.
Sticky noticed Reynies pained expression and quickly thrust his own hands into his pockets. Rubbing his tender knuckles, Reynie went on, I think the question is why you were running instead of walking. Why not? Its faster. Now Im here with you boys instead of trudging along the empty hallway, and its much better, isnt it? You seem like nice fellows. So why do they call you Sticky?
She touched Stickys arm. You dont feel sticky. Its a long story, Sticky said, regaining his composure. Lets have it, then, Kate said. So Sticky told her about his name, and then Kate revealed that she had always wanted a nickname herself. Ive tried to get people to call me The Great Kate Weather Machine, she said, but nobody ever goes along with it. I dont suppose you boys would call me that, would you? It does seem a bit awkward for a nickname, Reynie said mildly. It takes a long time to say.
I suppose it does, Kate admitted, but not if you speak very quickly. Let us think about it, said Sticky. Kate nodded, agreeing. She seemed pleasant enough. She had very bright, watery blue eyes, a fair complexion, and rosy. The Mysterious Benedict Society cheeks, and was unusually tall and broad-shouldered for a twelve-year-old. She announced her age right away, for children consider their ages every bit as important as their names.
In return she learned that the boys were eleven. But what Reynie was most curious about was her bucket. It was a good, solid metal bucket, painted re-engine red. As they were talking, Kate unfastened her belt, slipped it through the bucket handle, and fastened the belt again so that the bucket hung at her hip.
From the way she did this, it was obvious shed done it a thousand times. Reynie was fascinated. Finally he asked her what it was for. She gave him a quizzical look. What kind of person doesnt know what a buckets for? Its for carrying things, silly. Yes, I know that, Reynie said, but why do you have one with you? Most people dont carry buckets around for no particular reason. Thats true, Kate reected. Ive often noticed that, but I cant understand why. I cant imagine not having a bucket. How else am I to tote my things?
What things? Ill show you, Kate said, and began removing things from the bucket. First came a Swiss Army knife, a ashlight, a pen light, and a bottle of extra-strength glue, which Kate examined to be sure its lid was tightly closed. Then she produced a bag of marbles, a slingshot, a spool of clear shing twine, one pencil and one eraser, a kaleidoscope, and a horseshoe magnet, which she yanked with some effort from the metal bucket.
Ive been through dozens of these, she said, holding the magnet up for them to admire. This is the. Buckets and Spectacles strongest Ive found. Finally she showed them a length of slender nylon rope coiled around the bottom and sides of the bucket. Thats a lot of stuff to carry, Sticky remarked. Its all useful, Kate said, putting her things away again. Take this morning, for example. Some crazy-looking girl dropped her pencil down a storm drain out on the plaza Reynie and Sticky looked at each other.
A thoughtful expression came over her face. Hmm, a paddle would be great to have. But no, I suppose it would be too big to haul around. Still, it would come in handy sometimes Did you help Rhonda get her pencil back? Of course I did. I just.
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How did you know her name? Finish your story, Reynie said. Well tell you later. So Kate told them how she had pried up the edge of the metal grate with a screwdriver on her Swiss Army knife. After dragging the grate aside, she tied her rope to a nearby bench and lowered herself into the drain, using her ashlight to nd the pencil in the darkness.
It had rolled down into a crack, she explained, about ten and a half inches deep, so I put a drop of glue on the end of some shing twine thats why it pays to have a pen light, too, you know, so you can hold it in your mouth and point it when you need both hands for something like putting glue on twine. Anyway, I poked the twine down into the crack until it reached the pencil. Gave the glue a few seconds to dry, then pulled it right out. I couldnt have done any of that without my bucket, now could I? The Mysterious Benedict Society Werent you afraid?