They're in the revenge business!
Jess and Frank's father has stopped their allowances for four whole months! That means that Jess can't go anywhere or do anything with her friends. Worse yet, Frank owes money to Buster Knell, the bully. How can Jess and Frank earn some cash—fast?
By starting a business, Own Back, Ltd. It specializes in revenge, which every kid needs to seek at some time, they figure. Most don't have the courage themselves. But Jess and Frank do—for a price!
Lots of clients show up. But Jess and Frank soon discover that the revenge business can be pretty complicated, especially when it turns out that there's another one in town—owned by Biddy Iremonger, the fiercely competitive local witch!
|File size:||3 MB|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
About the Author
In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones (1934‒2011) wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards—and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter—her books are filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy.
Read an Excerpt
By Diana Wynne Jones
Dutton BooksCopyright © 1974 Diana Wynne Jones
All right reserved.
Frank and Jess thought Own Back Ltd. was an excellent idea when they first invented it. Three days later, they were not so sure. The trouble was that they were desperate for money. They had broken a new chair and all pocket money was stopped until the summer. They had to face four penniless months and, somehow, as soon as they knew this, they found all sorts of things they could not possibly do without.
"I can't go anywhere," said Jess. "The other girls expect you to pay your share. It isn't fair. Just because it was such a badly made chair. The other chairs turn upside down without breaking. I don't see why this one had to go and fall to pieces."
Nor do I, said Frank, who was worse off than Jess. "I owe Buster Knell ten pence."
" Why?" said Jess.
"A bet," Frank answered. Jess was sorry for him, because Buster Knell was not the boy you owed anything if you could help it. He had a gang. Frank, in fact, was desperate enough to go down to the newsagent and ask Mr. Prodger if he wanted another boy for the paper route. But Mr. Prodger said Vernon Wilkins was all he needed and, besides, Vernon needed the money.
So Frank came dismally home and, after some thought, he andJess put up a notice on the front gate, saying ERRANDS RUN. It had been up half an hour when their father came home and took it down. "As if you two haven't done enough already," he said, "without decorating the gate with this. When I said no money, I meant no money. Don't think I'm going to let you get away with immoral earnings, because I'm not."
It was the talk of immoral earnings that gave them the idea.
"I say," said Jess. "Do people pay you to do bad things for them?"
"If they want them done enough, I suppose," Frank answered. "If it's something they don't dare do themselves, like pull Buster Knell's nose for him."
"Would they pay us?" said Jess. "If we were to offer to do things they didn't dare do?"
"Like what?" said Frank. "I don't dare pull Buster Knell's nose, either."
"No. More cunning than that," said Jess. "Suppose someone came and said to us: 'I want something dreadful to happen to Buster Knell because of what he did to me yesterday then we could say, 'Yes. Pay us five pence, and we'll arrange for him to fall down a manhole.' Would that work?"
"If it did," said Frank, "it would be worth more than five pence."
"Let's try," said Jess.
So they spent the rest of the evening making a notice. When it was finished, it read:
OWN BACK LTD.
PRICE ACCORDING TO TASK
ALL DIFFICULT TASKS UNDERTAKEN
TREASURE HUNTED, ETC.
The last two lines were put in by Frank, because he said that if they were going to arrange things like booby traps for Buster Knell, then they might as well agree to any dangerous task. Jess put in the Ltd. to make it look official.
"Though it shouldn't be, really," she said, "because we're not a proper company."
"Yes," said Frank, "but if anyone asks us something too difficult, we can always say it means Limited Own Back, and we don't touch things too big for us."
The next morning, they pinned the notice to the back of the potting shed, where it could be seen by anyone who went along the path beside the allotments, and sat in the shed with the back window open to wait for orders.
All that happened, that entire day, was that two ladies exercising their dogs saw it and shrieked with laughter.
"Oh, look, Edith! How sweet!"
"Limited, toot The ideal"
Frank and Jess could hear them laughing about it all down the path.
"Take no notice," said Jess. "Just think of when the shekels start to pour in."
That was all very well, but Frank began to wonder if they were to spend the entire Easter holiday sitting in the potting shed being laughed at. It was a dismal place at the best of times, and the view over the allotments always depressed him. They were dank and low. Beyond them, there was the marshy, tangled waste strip beside the river where everyone threw rubbish, and under the trees, the hut thing where old Biddy Iremonger lived. The only real house in sight was as damp looking and dreary as the rest--a big square place, the color of old cheese. The trees had been slow to put out leaves that year, so it was all as blank and bleak as winter.
The next day was, if anything, worse still. To start with, it was raining on and off, with a cold wind steadily blowing showers up and away again. Drafts whined through the potting shed and fluttered all the cobwebs. Jess and Frank sat in their coats and began to think their idea was a failure.
"And we can't even buy sweets to console ourselves With," Jess was saying when somebody rapped on the window.
They looked up to see old Mr. Carter, who had the nearest allotment, leaning on the sill of the potting shed window.
"This your notice?" he asked.
"Yes," said Frank, feeling foolish and rather defiant about it. "Why?"
Mr. Carter bent down and read the notice, out loud, so that Frank felt even more foolish by the time he finished, and Jess went very pink. "My, my!" said Mr. Carter.
Excerpted from Witch's Business by Diana Wynne Jones Copyright © 1974 by Diana Wynne Jones. Excerpted by permission.
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