Next to a window whose view was obscured by the branches of a sycamore tree, Pascale Minuet hunkered down for another day of adventure at the library. It was her spot, really. The other patrons hardly knew it existed, as it required some tricky manoevering to a place in the reference section that was rather dusty, not to mention off-limits.
Oh, well! That was Pascale. Always ready to bend the rules for a bit of solitude!
She'd built herself quite a fortress. An old set of encyclopedias loomed over her like the Great Wall of China. A minaret. A precipice. Shutters and shingles fashioned from the pages of worn, discarded books. Little gaps here and there to let in the light as well as to provide the advantage of a lookout.
It wasn't so much a case of paranoia as it was an exercise in caution and good common sense.
At the moment Pascale was reading a book about pirates. It was simply delicious, filled with blood and guts and men wearing starched white blouses. Pascale could hardly breathe for the suspense!
As she hovered over the story, devouring the moment in which it was revealed that the stowaway, a feisty lad with a pert, freckled nose was in fact a girl, Miss Minuet quite forgot her precautionary measures and gave a loud, rousing cheer. Hurrah! Hurrah for the snippet who returned the dread pirate's sneer with blazing eyes and a lip curled in contempt!
Miss Minuet trembled so that she could hardly turn the page. What next? Would the girl prove to be the sole survivor of a merchant ship attacked by this odious villain? Had she watched as her sea captain father and his crew were cut to ribbons? Did she wash ashore on a desert island and train herself in the art of swordplay, biding her time until she was rescued? Did she then somehow smuggle herself back on board the ship of her sworn enemy?
The plausibility of it all was nearly asphyxiating!
"I beg your pardon."
The interruption was so unexpected Miss Minuet nearly toppled her literary fortress. Not daring to breathe, she crawled over to one of the lookouts and peered through.
A boy was on the other side, also holding his breath, staring at Pascale with large, wondering eyes.
"I beg your pardon, but are you a captive?," he whispered.
"A what?!" she sputtered.
"I say, are you in distress?," he persisted, clearly warming to the subject.
A captive?! In distress?! Pascale's eyes blazed and her lip curled in contempt. Still, she had to admit the thought was rather intriguing. Imagine her escape through the sewers of the city!
"That depends," she replied, "Who are you?"
"I'd like to be whatever you're being," he breathed.
Pascale regarded the boy with a look of cool appraisal. He had a shock of hair that kept falling into his eyes. He wore a buttoned blazer and the laces on both shoes were untied, but the expression on his face was earnest and true. She had a funny feeling he was the type of fellow you'd want to run into sooner or later in life.
Miss Minuet marked her page with the feather of a starling and stood up to brush herself off.
She supposed now was as good a time as any.