Read The Dragon Turn Online

Authors: Shane Peacock

The Dragon Turn

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Text copyright © 2011 by Shane Peacock

Published in Canada by Tundra Books,
75 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, Ontario
M
5
A
2
P
9

Published in the United States by Tundra Books of Northern New York,
P.O. Box 1030, Plattsburgh, New York 12901

Library of Congress Control Number: 2011922892

All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the publisher — or, in case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, a licence from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency — is an infringement of the copyright law.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Peacock, Shane
The dragon turn / by Shane Peacock.

(The boy Sherlock Holmes ; 5)
eISBN: 978-1-77049-273-8

1. Holmes, Sherlock (Fictitious character)—Juvenile fiction.
I. Title. II. Series: Peacock, Shane. Boy Sherlock Holmes; 5.

PS
8581.
E
234
D
73 2011       j
C
813′.54       
C
2011-901226-
X

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP) and that of the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s Ontario Book Initiative. We further acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for our publishing program.

Cover design: Jennifer Lum
Cover art: Derek Mah

v3.1

To the magical Hadley Peacock!

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Perhaps the research material that has been most helpful to me during the writing of “The Boy Sherlock Holmes” series has not been a book but a map.
Edward Stanford’s Library Map of London and Its Suburbs, 1862
, a virtual aerial photograph of the great city in a time before such things existed, has been my constant companion and invaluable ally. This novel, like the others, finds Sherlock scurrying about London, and my map has always kept him in the right place, even situated him under real trees in their correct locations. Leslie S. Klinger’s
The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes
, in three volumes has also been irreplaceable, helping me to see clearly into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation and his stories, to add depth to my understanding of the time period in which my tales are set. Charles Dickens appears several times in this series, perhaps most prominently in this book. Observing brilliant British actor Simon Callow’s recreation of him on the stage and screen helped me to accurately recreate him here, as did Peter Ackroyd’s masterful biography,
Dickens
. At Tundra Books, I continue to be indebted to the brilliant editorial work of Kathryn Cole, an untiring colleague during every Boy Sherlock installment so far, and hopefully for the
next and last, as well. Pamela Osti, Sylvia Chan, Jennifer Lum, and Derek Mah all remain big parts of The Boy Sherlock team. And on the home front, I’d like to thank the kids in the house and the other grown-up, Sophie, who listen to every word of each manuscript and let me know when it is fit to go out into the world.

CONTENTS

PREFACE

T
he vast waters of the Indian Ocean, with its endless horizons and stifling heat, can be mesmerizing. The humid air above the surface begins to wave like the sea itself, and in that wavering Hades men see things. Visions appear upon the water. And so it was for the adventurer that day. A year in the jungles, a year among savages and beasts, a year away from her, had given him the black fever. As his boat drifted out of the Bay of Bengal, by the Andaman Islands, and south past the Equator, he lay trembling on the deck, his men convinced he would be dead within days. But there were dreams prancing in his imagination, ideas dancing in his mind. He opened his eyes. He looked out across the ocean
.

And there it was
.

“My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence.”

— Sherlock Holmes in
The Red-Headed League

A PERFECT ILLUSION

T
he moment the dragon appears on the stage of The Egyptian Hall theater in London, Sherlock Holmes knows there is something truly wonderful, truly disturbed, about Alistair Hemsworth. It is the late summer of 1869, and the boy feels as if he is a man. He is dressed in a coal-black, impeccably cleaned and brushed secondhand frock coat, the first of his life; all its predecessors were much older. Sitting beside him with her mouth as wide as his, celebrating her sixteenth birthday, is Irene Doyle. And she is the most beautiful girl, no, the most beautiful
woman
, in all of England. Theirs has been a tempestuous relationship, but lately everything has changed. They have been walking out together, she boldly defying her father’s wishes, he (seven months her junior), unrestricted in his movements due to the liberal ways of his mentor, the extraordinary Denmark Street apothecary, Sigerson Bell.

Sherlock had been surprised when she told him that this was her birthday and how old she would be turning. He had assumed that she was younger than he. Girls, he was learning, are full of surprises.

But not even they can make a dragon appear.

There are screams in the crowd. Alistair Hemsworth stands in front of jungle trees, a hand on his hip, his chest thrust out, his other arm raised, his index finger pointing at … the writhing beast that has materialized on the stage. It is rising up, it seems, from the depths of the underworld below the theater, a remarkable illusion. Even Sherlock can’t figure how he has done it. The dragon hisses, it twists in its cage, three-dimensional and rubbery, a muddy green-gray with golden wings — more than eight feet long from head to tail. Women are staggered by it; they shriek and lean on their gentlemen. But Irene Doyle stands upright. Her face is glowing, lit up with excitement, and as she looks at Sherlock and takes his hand, he glows back.

The dragon’s hiss seems to have come from backstage and its wings appear to be flapping mechanically — Sherlock thinks he can see thin black strings attached to the wings against the dark backdrop. And yet, the beast appears to be so real! Instead of fire coming from its mouth, a red tongue, forked at the tip and more than a foot long, darts out in a realistic manner, and its shining eyes glare at the audience, animated more by God, it seems, than any human being, no matter how ingenious. If this isn’t a dragon, then it is surely an ancient dinosaur … somehow brought to life on The Egyptian Hall stage!

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