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The Seer's Stone

The Seer's Stone by Frances Mary Hendry
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As the nightmares begin...don’t look into his eyes! 'Nothing exciting ever happens' Will Beth learn to regret her words as her weird cousin, Tanya comes to stay, closely followed by the mysterious Mr Mandrake? As the quest for the magical seer’s stone unfolds, a dark and evil force is unleashed. Can Tanya use her psychic powers to protect her cousin and reclaim the stone? Or will the malevolent Mr Mandrake get there first?
Pollinger in Print; Read online
Title: The Seer's Stone
Author: Frances Mary Hendry
“Mum, do we have to have her?” Wearily, Mary sat down with her mug of tea. “For the umpteenth time. Yes.” Beth sighed, kicking her legs over the arm of the armchair. “Purple nails and lipstick and pierced ears when she was ten! And bubble gum in her hair, where she hadn’t shaved it half off.” Her mother’s lips quirked at the memory of Beth’s appalled meeting with her cousin Tanya two years before. “Maybe she’s improved,” she consoled. “What, you mean she’s changed into a handsome toad?” Mary slapped her mug down on the top of the gas fire. “Oh, for goodness sake, Beth. You’re fourteen - act it, instead of sulking like a child. I’m no happier than you are, but she’s family, so we help her.” Beth squirmed. “But she’ll be taking up a room. Can we afford it, mum?” Her mother snorted. “No. That’s why she won’t be taking up a room.” “What?” Beth sat up suddenly. “You don’t mean she’s got to share with me? No! I won’t have her prying into all my things, and leaving her mucky chewing gum everywhere!” She jumped up and marched for the door. Despite her plumpness, Mary beat her to it. “Now, listen to me, Beth! When I had the car crash and couldn’t walk for a year, Liz took you in, even though she had a sickly new baby.” Her round, gentle face was severe. “And now she’s going into hospital, so we take Tanya. That’s only fair. Right?” In spite of her resentment, Beth had to nod. “I suppose so. Okay!” she snarled. “I’ll share.” “Politely!” her mother warned her sternly. “Politely.” Beth sniffed. “Can I go now? To get ready for our visitor! My spare bed’s not made up yet.” Mary smiled at her daughter. “I think it’s this muggy weather that’s making us all irritable, pet. Feels like a thunderstorm. We’ll all feel better when it breaks. There’s only two couples booked in for dinner tonight. So if you get the messages, I can see to them and you can have some time off.” Rapidly, Beth abandoned her sulks. “The whole afternoon and evening free? Great! Got the list? Bank - all this to go in? Not bad, eh? Melon, chicken bits... Electric bill good - er - good grief! Er - see you, mum!” The bill was horrendous, and she knew her mother was worried about money. The guest house was usually empty from November to March; there was dry rot in one of the bathroom floors - at least one - and the insurance bill was rocketing. Mary spent most of the winter writing children’s stories, trying to make ends meet. Beth was chatting to a friend on one of the supermarket checkouts when Iona peered past her, pointed with her head and rolled her eyes. Beth glanced round. A skinny little figure at the next till was buying a box of chocolates. The hem of her long black coat drooped unevenly round black skintight ski pants tucked into tatty black boots. In this sticky heat, how could she stand that wide-brimmed black felt hat pulled down over her straggly black hair? The thin hands laying out coins had black-painted nails, bitten right down to the quick, and several heavy silver rings. And that stuffednose Lancashire accent! No, oh no, please... Beth swiftly hurried for the door. But her long fair hair, curling like Alice in Wonderland’s down her back, was a giveaway. Behind her came a raucous yell. “Ey up! Beth! Is you, ain’t it? It’s me, Tanya. Didn’t yer see us?” Reluctantly, she turned to the awful vision which was perkily trotting after her. She sighed. Yes, it was her cousin. No free evening. “Hello, Tanya.” The two stared at each other for a few seconds. Beth’s heart sank. Tanya couldn’t be even smaller and skinnier, could she? She had four or five pierced earrings in each ear, and some of the holes were disgustingly red and crusted. And what was that round her neck? A silver chain with an upside-down cross on it? Yuck! Iona was making faces behind Tanya’s back. She’d never live this down! Tanya’s heart sank. Beth wasn’t so much square, as cubic! All fair and fat and normal. All that platinum blonde hair, natural, of course, never dream of bleaching it, and nice white blouse, and nice grey skirt, and nice white sandals... Stuffy, stuck-up and squeaky clean! Oh, ’eck! She grinned, half rueful, half cheeky. “Didn’t think you’d see us so soon, did yer?” “No, not till next week. You look just the same.” Worse luck! “You ain’t changed much neither.” Worse luck!

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