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Wishing for Trouble

Kate Forsyth

  Kate Forsyth lives with a black cat called Shadow, her husband Greg and her three beautiful children in a seaside suburb of Sydney. Wishing for Trouble is the sequel to Ben and Tim’s first misadventure, Dragon Gold.

  Mitch Vane grew up in an artistic household in Melbourne. Humour plays a big part in Mitch’s work, and she much prefers to draw funny, crazy pictures – the crazier the better. All of her work is wonky and messy: she can’t draw a straight line, even with a ruler.


  Dragon Gold

  The Starthorn Tree


  Dragon Gold

  Little Lunch (series)

  Fairy Bread

  Wednesday Was Even Worse

  The Amazing Adventures of Dr Harry and Scarlet: The Possum Thief

  The Amazing Adventures of Dr Harry and Scarlet: The Pig Circus

  The Amazing Adventures of Dr Harry and Scarlet: Fly, Shadow, Fly!

  Kev & Borax

  Big Bad Bunnies

  The Patch

  First published 2006 in Pan by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd

  1 Market Street, Sydney

  Text copyright © Kate Forsyth 2006

  Illustrations copyright © Mitch Vane 2006

  The moral rights of the creators have been asserted.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.

  National Library of Australia

  Cataloguing-in-Publication data:

  Forsyth, Kate, 1966–.

  Wishing for trouble.

  For children aged 6-11 years.

  ISBN-13: 9780330422611.

  ISBN-10: 0330422618

  EPUB format: 9781743346259

  I. Vane, Mitch. II. Title.


  Typeset in 12/15 Janson Text by Liz Seymour, Seymour Designs

  Printed in Australia by McPherson’s Printing Group

  Macmillan Digital Australia

  Visit to read more about all our books and to buy both print and ebooks online. You will also find features, author interviews and news of any author events.



  About the author

  Also by Kate Forsyth

  Title Page



  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  To the kids of the Forsyth and Murrell families – who, of course, never get into any trouble! – KF

  For Jack M – may life be full of magical adventures – MV

  Ben and Tim had always been told to ‘be careful what you wish for’, but they didn’t know what that meant until, one hot summer’s day, they got into a bit of trouble – or, rather, a lot of trouble – with a magic wishing ring.

  The summer before, the boys thought they had everything anyone could ever wish for, thanks to a talking cat, a lonely dragon and a pile of treasure. They had moved to a big house with a big garden by the sea, and Ben had got the dog he’d always wanted, a clumsy, wrinkly puppy with huge feet that he called Jessie. Best of all, and most unexpectedly, Ben and Tim had also got a new baby sister named Ella.

  It had been such a busy year, what with the new baby, the new dog, the new house, the new school and all their new friends, that their magical misadventure of the previous summer seemed an awfully long time ago. If it had not been for the swords hanging up in their parents’ study that Ben and Tim were hardly ever allowed to touch, and a few other bits of old dragon treasure lying around the house, the boys would have thought they had imagined it all.

  This particular Sunday afternoon, Ben and Tim had gone for a long bushwalk with their three cousins to a secret beach near their house. In the warm dusk, tired, damp, sandy and rather scratched from pushing through the bush, they all came back to Ben and Tim’s house for an early barbeque.

  ‘Hey, Lach!’ Tim said. ‘Wanna play knights?’

  ‘Yeah,’ Lach said. ‘Bags the red cloak.’

  ‘OK,’ Tim said. ‘I like the blue one anyway. You wanna play too, Ben?’

  ‘Nah. I’ll ride my scooter,’ Ben said.

  Having their cousins living so close was one of the best things about Ben and Tim’s new house. Nick was the eldest, being two years older than Ben, but he didn’t try to boss them around too much. Emmy and Ben were only three weeks apart in age, while Lach was six months older than Tim.

  Their cousins were all brown-skinned and brown-eyed, with curly, honey-coloured hair, while Ben, Tim and Ella were blue-eyed with brown hair and skin that never, ever tanned, no matter how much time they spent in the sun.

  Down in the garage, Tim and Lach dragged out the castle and then rummaged around in the dress-up chest for their cloaks and swords. Ben and Emmy, meanwhile, were riding their scooters up and down the driveway with Jessie chasing after them, barking and wagging her tail furiously. Nick was lying on the old couch, reading.

  ‘Hey, look what I found,’ Tim said, pulling out a big old ring from the very bottom of the chest. ‘Remember? We got it from the dragon.’

  The ring had a red square on top with a lion carved into it. It was one of the things Tim had grabbed from the dragon’s hoard. Tim had always loved lions. He wanted one as a pet, to sleep on the end of his bed and guard him from scary monsters and goblins. His plastic shield and sword both had lions on them, and so Tim put the ring on too. He had not worn it before, having been too busy swimming, bushwalking, tree-climbing and playing in the park that summer.

  If he had known it was a magic ring he would have worn it every day – and thought a bit more before making his first wish.

  But Tim had not known.

  ‘And then the goodies shot a ball of fire at the baddies!’ Tim shouted, letting go of the catapult’s elastic band so a silver-foil ball went whizzing straight at one of the knights. ‘Bang! Crash! Whoosh! They’re all on fire! Help!’

  Lach galloped another knight towards the castle. ‘But the baddies’ boss man won’t be beaten. “Give up!” he shouts. “It’s time to die!”’

  Just then Ben came racing down the driveway on his scooter, through the open door of the garage, over the top of Jessie’s giant pink rabbit and banged right into the castle, knocking over all the knights.

  ‘Stop it, Ben!’ Tim yelled.

  ‘Sorry,’ Ben said, and spun around on his front wheel.

  Jessie barked loudly, wagging her tail so energetically she knocked over a cup of paintbrushes and dirty water, then grabbed her toy rabbit and shook it violently so stuffing flew everywhere. The rabbit was pink with goggly eyes, and was bigger than she was.

  ‘Kids, five minutes till dinner!’ Their mum leant over the railing, Ella on her hip. ‘Gracious, what a mess! Can you get it all cleaned up?’

  ‘Yes, Mum,’ Ben and Tim said in long-suffering tones.

  ‘Gar!’ Ella said, pointing at the car parked at the end of the driveway.

  ‘That’s right, “car”,’ Mum said, squeezing her close. ‘Clever girl, she said “car”, did you hear her?’

  Then their cat came sauntering out from under the car, tail held high.

  ‘Gar!’ Ella said, pointing at the cat.

  ‘Cat, yes, that’s rig
ht, cat. Clever girl!’ Kissing Ella, their mum went back into the house and Ben grabbed his scooter and began trying to do jumps and wheelies.

  ‘Five minutes, better pack up,’ Nick said, not looking away from his book. ‘Ben, you made all the mess, you’d better pick it up.’

  ‘I didn’t make it, Tim did,’ Ben said, almost crashing into the box of buckets and spades.

  ‘Did not!’

  ‘Did too!’

  ‘Did not!’

  ‘Then Jessie did, make her clean it up.’

  Nick sighed, put his bookmark into his book, and shut it. ‘Come on, I’ll help. Emmy, you come and help too.’ He got up and glided effortlessly over the floor on the wheels hidden in the heels of his shoes and began picking up the paintbrushes.

  Ben stared enviously. ‘I wish Mum’d let me have heelies,’ he said, and spun round on his scooter, almost crashing into the bookshelf.

  ‘When we’re eight,’ Emmy said as she came flying down the driveway on her scooter with one leg lifted high behind her in an arabesque. Emmy was the star of her ballet class.

  ‘I wish we were real knights in a real castle,’ Tim said, picking up the fallen knights.

  Which was when the magic suddenly and most unexpectedly began to happen.

  The room began to spin around them. There was a loud, high, eerie sound, like the wind in a scary storm. Everything whirled until all they could see were fizzy silver streaks. Twirling and swirling, stumbling and tumbling, head-over-heels, heels-over-head, the five children all banged and bounced and bumped into each other until, suddenly, they thudded down onto a cold stone floor.

  ‘Ow!’ Ben said, inspecting his knee.

  ‘Ow!’ Emily said, examining her elbow.

  ‘Ow!’ Nick said, rubbing his bottom.

  ‘Owwww!’ Tim and Lach said, rubbing their heads.

  ‘Owwwwwwwwwwww!’ Jessie howled, tail between her legs.

  ‘What foul sorcery is this?’ a voice suddenly shouted close by. ‘Guards, attend me here!’

  ‘Huh?’ said the five children, and looked up.

  They were lying in a heap on the floor of a big hall, its stone walls hung with banners and tapestries. A deep, dull roar filled the air, punctuated by shrieks and screams. The children could smell smoke, and every few seconds there was a great bang and the walls would shake, and dust would puff out from between the stones.

  Clanging towards them was a tall suit of armour. It had cruel-looking spurs on its boots, a huge helmet with a spike on top, and a long silver sword at its waist. Crowded behind it were about twenty men in chain mail and heavy helmets, with all sorts of horrible weapons in their hands – swords and maces and pikes and axes.

  The children quickly stood and stared up in fright at the menacing figure in the heavy silver armour. Jessie whined and shrank back against Ben’s leg, the big pink rabbit spilling its stuffing out onto the stone behind her.

  The knight put up one gauntlet and lifted his visor. ‘Oddsblood, what have we here? Foul fiends from the fiery depths?’

  The cousins looked at each other in bafflement. ‘Is he a real knight, do you think?’ Tim asked. ‘I like his armour. I wish I had some like that.’

  At once Tim was entirely encased in a silver suit of armour, from the pointed tips of his toes to the spike on the top of his helmet. ‘Mmmf, mmmf,’ he said. ‘Mmmf!’

  The knight drew his sword with a hiss.

  Tim tried to take a step, rocked on his steel heels, windmilled his steel arms, and then went crashing back to land with a resounding clatter on his steel backside.

  ‘Mmmmmf!’ he yelled.

  Ben and Emmy fell on their knees beside him and managed to lift the visor so they could see his bright blue eyes staring up at them. ‘Can’t breathe!’ he panted. ‘Can’t move! Get me out of here.’

  The other four children all tugged on his arms and legs but could not work out how to undo the armour. ‘I don’t like it,’ Tim cried. ‘I wish it was off!’

  Immediately Tim was lying on the ground, his arms and legs spread wide, a plastic helmet askew on his head, and his cloak half-choking him. On his hand, the lion ring glowed hotly red.

  ‘It’s a wishing ring!’ Emmy cried. ‘It must be. Everything Tim’s wished for has come true.’

  ‘He wished we were at a real castle, with real knights, and we are!’ Nick said.

  ‘Uh-oh,’ Lach said. The others looked round and saw they were surrounded by a circle of cruel weapons, all pointed directly at their faces.

  ‘Tim, wish us home again!’ Ben cried.

  ‘I… I… wish we were all home!’ Tim stammered, and then yelped in pain as the burning-hot ring scalded him. He tugged it off his finger and shook his hand to cool it.

  ‘Oddsblood, whoever speaks next shall taste my sword in their gullet!’ the knight said, drawing back his arm.

  The five children gulped and said nothing, staring up at him fearfully. Jessie whined and hid her face under the rabbit.

  ‘What manner of devils may you be? Or are you of the Little Folk, mayhap, sent to do us mischief?’ the knight demanded.

  ‘We aren’t devils,’ Emmy said indignantly.

  The knight stared at them. Then he turned and muttered something to one of the guards, who muttered something back, jerking his mace at them.

  ‘Tim, give me the ring,’ Ben hissed. ‘You made three wishes, maybe anyone who wears the ring gets three too.’

  ‘Not, no, I’d better have it!’ Nick put out his hand. ‘I’m the eldest.’

  ‘Ladies first,’ Emmy said, and grabbed for it too.

  ‘Ladies first,’ Tim echoed, and put the ring into Emmy’s hand. He always had beautiful manners.

  Emmy slid it onto her finger. ‘I won’t waste my wishes,’ she said smugly. ‘Fancy wishing for a suit of armour!’

  ‘Silence!’ the knight shouted. ‘Come hither, evil fly-by-nights, so the Countess of Lyonessa can pronounce her judgement upon you!’ He gestured with his sword and the circle of guards fell back so that the children could see past them for the first time.

  The hall was huge, with thick carved rafters holding up the vaulted ceiling and walls made of enormous blocks of stone. Halfway up the back wall was a wooden gallery, with a door leading out onto another floor, and here six musicians stood with their instruments hanging from their hands and their mouths open in shock.

  The windows were so narrow that no light came in, and instead a huge iron candelabrum hung from the rafters, holding a dozen stumpy yellow candles that smelt foul. The floor was scattered with old rushes and herbs, and everywhere they looked people lay groaning, bloody bandages wound about their heads or arms.

  The women were dressed in heavy gowns, with dark hoods or strange-looking hats covering their hair. The men wore short tunics with woollen stockings underneath, making them look a little like teenage schoolgirls, except for the beards. Lach and Tim could not help grinning at the sight of them – until they realised everyone was pointing at them, and whispering.

  The children looked down at themselves. Under his cloak, Lach wore an old pair of board shorts and a baggy, saggy Bad Boy T-shirt, while Tim’s T-shirt was red and had a green monster on it with five eyes, three arms and four legs. Emmy was wearing a skimpy white sundress over a pink stripy bikini, and Ben had sandy bare feet and a faded T-shirt with a picture of a surfer peeling off it. Only Nick was neat and clean, because Nick was always neat and clean. He wore cream shorts, a plain white T-shirt, white socks and his heelies.

  ‘What evil mischance is this?’ a high, shrill and very imperious voice demanded. ‘Be these the Little Folk, come to curse us?’

  A girl sat up on a dais in a huge wooden chair that dwarfed her. She was about nine and had a pinched, sallow face and scowling dark eyes. She was dressed all in blue, with lots of pearls and gold gauze, with a jewelled ball hanging on a chain from her waist which she held lifted to her nose. A woman with a huge horned hat sat on one side of her, and a man in a long black robe sat on the
other. They were both shrinking back in terror, their hands over their mouths.

  ‘Emmy, let’s get out of here!’ Ben whispered. ‘Wish us home!’

  But Emmy had eyes only for The Dress.

  Clapping her hands together, she cried, ‘Oh, I wish I had a dress like that!’

  ‘Cool,’ Emmy said, swishing her pearl-embroidered, blue damask skirts about.

  ‘Emmy!’ Nick cried. ‘You’re wasting wishes!’

  ‘It’s not wasting wishes to get a dress like this,’ Emmy said. She took a few dancing steps and then stopped, wincing. ‘Ow! The shoes pinch like anything.’ She lifted up the skirt and looked down at her feet, which were squeezed into high-heeled blue shoes with extremely long, pointed toes. ‘I wish I had my own shoes back again,’ she said.

  Immediately, the pointy shoes disappeared and were replaced with a pair of pink sparkly thongs. Emmy laughed, bit her lip, and said, ‘Ooops! Sorry!’

  ‘Emmy, give me the ring,’ Nick said furiously.

  ‘It’s not your turn,’ Emmy said. ‘Don’t worry, I’ll wish for something useful next time.’

  She realised that the people on the stage were standing and pointing, with various expressions of horror and fury.

  ‘She’s wearing my dress!’ the little countess screeched. ‘How dare she!’

  ‘This bodes naught but ill!’ the man in black snivelled.

  ‘We’re doomed!’ the woman in the horned hat sobbed. ‘This is some foul conjuration from the pit of hell!’

  ‘My lord priest, I beg of you, rid us of these devils,’ the knight shouted.

  ‘They must burn!’ the priest screamed, holding up the cross that hung about his neck. ‘It is the only cure for witchcraft.’

  Emmy said crossly, ‘I wish you’d stop calling us witches and devils. Can’t you see we’re just children?’

  At once everyone in the room stopped screaming and leant forward, staring intently at the five cousins.