Ch. 7.5 —
Cudgel stepped outside and slammed the front door shut. The dog skidded to a stop, turned, and ran back to the door. He began to bark and scratch at the wood, trying to get back in to Eli.
“Oh, no you don’t. You go and do your business. Then I’ll let you back in.”
The dog kept barking.
“Stupid dog. You’re going to wake up the whole neighborhood.” Cudgel muttered to himself all the way to the outhouse in the back yard.
Eli rushed through the house, searching. Finally he spied the keys hanging on a hook by Cudgel’s bed. Just as he went to reach for them, the front door slammed.
Claws scrabbled on the wooden floor, and the dog snarled as it hurtled towards the bedroom.
Eli climbed onto the dresser, then jumped up and grabbed the rafter above him, and swung himself up. He crouched in the shadows under the roof as the dog leaped up towards him, snarling.
“What’s got into you, boy?” said Cudgel. “Is there a rat up there?” Cudgel lit the lamp and lifted it up, squinting into the rafters. “There’s nothing there. Down. Down, I say, or I’ll lock you in the barn. Down!”
The dog slunk to the floor, but his eyes never left Eli, and his nose quivered. Cudgel grumbled as he got back into bed.
Eli’s heart pounded. He was in a real fix. The invisibility spell would only last a little while longer, the huge dog below wanted to eat him, and here he was, stuck in the rafters above the Master of Arms. If he was discovered, his father would punish him. What was he going to do?
Then Eli remembered what Wizard Colin had said. The leprechaun had given him three wishes. Eli thought frantically. And then, he had it.
Eli pointed downward. “I wish that cockroach on the floor was a cat.”
A ripple of energy seemed to sizzle around the cockroach, and then poof! A tabby cat crouched on the floor below him.
The dog took one look at the cat and leaped towards him, snarling. The cat’s hair stood on end. Yowling, it dashed out of the room. Cudgel cursed as he sprang from his bed and raced after the barking dog.
“How did a cat get in this house?” he yelled.
Eli jumped down from the rafters, grabbed the keys, and ran to the window. He shoved open the shutters and climbed through, and then raced back up the street towards the castle. He used the keys to get in the side door, stopped at the royal armory to get his vorpal sword, and then left the keys in Cudgel’s desk where he would find them in the morning.
Then Eli slipped in the servants’ entrance and ran up the servants’ stairways to the attic, where he hid his sword in an old chest under several faded ball gowns.
Eli looked out the window over the kingdom, feeling determined. His brothers could guard outside, but if the day came that someone brought a sword into the castle and tried to kill Ezra, then Eli would be ready to defend his little brother.
Eli crept down the stairway to the nursery, hoping to elude discovery, but he had used up his invisibility time.
His mother sat in the rocking chair, holding the baby and singing a sweet song to him. His sister sat in her little rocker, singing to her doll. When Esther saw him, she stood up. “Mama, Eli’s back.”
Queen Natalie put the baby in the cradle and came to him. She sank to the floor, put her arms around Eli, and burst into tears. “Oh, Eli, I’ve been so worried.”
Eli would rather have faced his father’s wrath than his mother’s tears.