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Peter Alan Orchard
A historical adventure for the 9-12s, set in Ancient Greece.
A visit to the marketplace in Athens turns into chaos when Hermippos and his family learn that Tiya, the young Egyptian perfume-seller and family friend, is in trouble. Then Hermippos's determined three-year-old brother Linos is kidnapped. Can Hermippos save the day, and will his rich young rival Strattis help or hinder him? The chase is on!
‘Skylax, you - you - !‘ The girl stopped kicking and hung disconsolately from the branch, looking down. It was a long way down.
‘Do you need some help?’ Hermippos asked, stifling a giggle.
‘Looks like it,’ said the girl, stone-faced. ‘Can you climb?’
‘That? Yes, I can climb.’
‘Well, come on up and help me down,’ she said calmly. ’Skylax knows my legs are too short to reach the branch underneath. That’s why he left me here. You’ll be able to reach.’
Hermippos propped his lyre against the tree trunk and scrambled for a footing on the rough bark.
‘Hurry up,’ the girl hissed, red in the face. ‘My arms won’t hang on much longer.’
‘I’m trying!’ Hermippos answered, stretching for the nearest branch. ’Give me a chance!’ He fought his way up through the damp twigs and dusty leaves to the branch where the girl was hanging and lay along it. ’Go on, grab my hand!’
‘It’s a long way to fall,’ the girl wailed.
‘Then don’t look down,’ Hermippos said. ‘Come on, reach over and take my hand.’
Somehow their hands met and clasped each other. Carefully feeling beneath him for safe footholds on the rough, knotted branches, Hermippos managed to manoeuvre both of them safely to the ground.
‘There,’ Hermippos said, puffing with the effort, clawing leaves and twigs out of his hair, but feeling a bit of a hero. ’You’re safe now.’ He picked up his lyre and smiled at Korinna.
For a second the girl looked blankly up at him, showing crooked teeth and a bruise on her shoulder from carrying too much. Then she turned to the window where the scheming slave had been. ’That’s twice now,‘ she screeched. ‘Twice he‘s done that! One day I’ll be able to do it to him! I’ll get him back, the filthy pig!’ She hurled a rude gesture at the empty window and spat on the ground with venomous enjoyment. ‘D’you hear me, Skylax, you great Syrian lump of dog mess? I’ll rip your guts out and throttle you with them!’
With that, she turned her back and stomped off down the street. Hermippos stared after her, lyre in hand, his mouth open in shock. Next time, he thought, I’ll leave her up the tree.