A big man in brown, sitting behind a table. Big hands. Big chest. Short and broad. Head like a rock, face scarred like a battle axe. He looks up and sees–what’s this? A street urchin? Whatever it is, it’s trouble. Trouble advances cautiously.
"They said I should report to the Standard-Bearer."
The big man nods.
"You can call me sir," he says. (Voice like gravel rattling in a cast-iron pot.) He pulls out a quill pen. "Name?" he says.
"Pagan Kidrouk, sir."
(Hell in a handcart.)
"Pagan Kidrouk, sir."
Scratch, scratch. He writes very slowly.
Rockhead looks up. The brain peeps out from behind the brawn.
"Don’t worry, sir. It didn’t happen in a stable."
Clunk. Another jest falls flat on the ground.
"Rule number one, Kidrouk. In the Order of the Temple you speak only when you’re spoken to."
Rockhead smells rich and rare, like a well-matured piece of cheese. No baths for the Templars. Hot water is for girls and porridge and other soft, wet things. If a Templar wants a bath he can go and stand in the rain. That’s what God put it there for.
"And where did you come from, Kidrouk?" (The unspoken question: out of a slop bucket?) Rockhead is highly suspicious. You can see what he’s thinking. Just look at this runt! Smells like the Infidel, and looks like a Bedouin boy. Skin the color of braised almonds. Built like a horsewhip. Black hair. Black eyes. What in the name of God is this Order coming to? We’ll be recruiting stray dogs next.
"I’m a local, sir. I served in the Jerusalem garrison."
"The night watch. I patrolled the northern beat. Between the Postern of Lazarus and the Postern of Saint Magdalene."
"You mean the Jewry quarter?"
"That’s the one. Sir."
"And why did you leave?"
"Well, sir . . . it was the jokes."
Pause. Rockhead’s brows roll together like gathering thunderclouds. But the storm doesn’t break.
"It was the what?"
"It was the jokes, sir. In the guardroom. Not that I object to jokes as such. Some of my best friends are complete jokes. But I don’t like leper jokes. Or dysentery jokes. Especially when I’m eating."
Rockhead puts his pen down. Game’s over.
PAGAN'S CRUSADE by Catherine Jinks. Copyright (c) 2003 by Catherine Jinks. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
Catherine Jinks is a medieval scholar and author of young adult books - a background that is evident in this first of four stories about Pagan Kidrouk. Catherine Jinks’s books have garnered numerous awards, including the prestigious Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year. Pagan grew out of a university course Catherine Jinks took about the Crusades, and her fascination with the real Order of the Templar. She was also heavily influenced by British comedies like MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL. She didn’t expect, however, that she would end up writing four books about Templar squire Pagan Kidrouk. "He was such a strong character," she explains, "that he sprang into my head fully formed, and wouldn’t go away until I’d worked out his entire life span. He’s certainly the strongest character I’ve ever written about. The cutest, too, I think."
Peter de Sève, who created the striking die-cut cover for PAGAN'S CRUSADE, is a NEW YORKER cartoonist and the Oscar-nominated designer of animated characters for the feature film ICE AGE.
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Description du livre Collins 2004-02-02, 2004. Paperback. État : New. 0007153163. N° de réf. du libraire Z0007153163ZN
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