Synopses & Reviews
Chapter One The reunion
The morning was filled with promise. It was in the quality of light, spreading across the unspoiled countryside -- limning every blade of grass, every bush, twig, tree; nature in full glory on a summer day. It was in the air -- a gift in itself, dew-freshened, and perfumed with hints of clover and sweetbriar rose carried on a gentle breeze. It would be warm later.
A lark rose from the underbrush, spiraling upward in ever-ascending circles, trilling its hymn of praise. Reaching the peak of its climb, it hung fluttering above the plain as if arrested with wonder at its existence and the beauty of the world beneath.
The dog crested the hill and he, too, paused -- front paw raised, alert to every detail, his nostrils sensing rabbit that had passed moments before and the doe and her fawn hiding in the forest nearby. He was magnificent, his color white -- rare for a wolfhound -- and he had a fine head and well-set eyes. He wore no collar, no trimming of any kind, the only tether holding him in check being an innate intelligence and the respect and love he bore his master. Looking back to make sure that he was close, the dog ran on, rejoicing in his exquisite freedom.
Thierry urged his pony in front of the others, eager to be the first to glimpse the horizon. He smiled as he watched the dog cavorting, snuffling, making furrows in the moist green grass. Shading his eyes against the sun, he called, "I don't see anyone yet!"
Two men, riding easily, lazily, came abreast of him and reined in their horses. All three looked down across the plain in companionable silence, broken only by the occasional jingle of harness, the stomp of a hoof, the crunch of abit.
After a moment, the fair-haired knight spoke. "He said he'd arrive by first light. I've seldom known him be late."
"He's been traveling over two days," said the other man.
"But he'll be anxious to get here. He wouldn't miss the tourney. It has always been his favorite holiday."
Thierry asked, "Won't he be weary?"
"Macaire?" The fair knight laughed. "Five hours' rest and he'll be like new. I wager he'll be successful tomorrow. Or perhaps our friend DeNarsac here." He indicated their companion.
"I can't wait to compete," Thierry enthused.
"And so you shall, when you are old enough, strong enough, foolish enough," DeNarsac replied gently.
"I've been practicing. I want to be just like you."
"Then you will be broken many times, and you will hurt a great deal. It would sadden me to see that young frame jarred, to see those freckles bloodied." DeNarsac knuckled the boy's dark hair affectionately. "But you show considerable promise for your thirteen years. And I know you are brave."
"And there is the thrill of it, the sport, the triumph," countered the fair knight. "You have always loved it, Guy. Admit it."
Guy DeNarsac shrugged. "I do admit it, but if tomorrow fortune chooses to smile on me, then I shall make it my last tournament. I hope I am sensible enough to know when it is time to stop . . . if I am to have a life after." He rubbed his knee ruefully. "But truly it is you, Aubrey, who stands to win, even more than Macaire. He has strength, to be sure, but you have quick wits and greater skill."
Aubrey de Montdidier watched as the wolfhound loped away again, then said thoughtfully, "Let us hope tomorrow is the best solstice ever . . . aday to remember. Ho! Dragon!" he called as the dog veered sharply toward the forest. "Not in there. You know better."
Hardly breaking stride, Dragon obediently altered course and circled back to the party, his long legs moving rhythmically, easily.
"He is magnificent, Aubrey," commented DeNarsac. "There is not another like him. He is as intelligent as he is well-bred."
"Indeed. He can anticipate the quick turn of a sword as well as any of us."
"Because you trained him. It is not every knight who improves his sparring through playful practice with his dog. When you breed him, would you consider letting me take a pup?"
Montdidier nodded. "I've been searching for a suitable mate for Dragon. When I find one, it will be my pleasure."
"May he be as fortunate as you with Lady Isabelle," DeNarsac said warmly.
"Look!" Thierry interrupted. "What is that?" In the distance, something bright was moving, gleaming, caught by the sun. "That's Macaire, isn't it? That's his entourage!"
"So it is." Aubrey de Montdidier gathered his slack reins. "What did I tell you? Come, let us see who can be the first to reach my cousin."
The two men and the boy cantered across the plain, with Dragon easily matching their every stride.
The Chevalier Richard Macaire rode out ahead of his men to greet them.
"Aubrey! Guy! How splendid. And Thierry! By my faith, boy, you must have added three inches since I last saw you."
The friends embraced, the horses mingling, jostling one another. Macaire maneuvered his palfrey and they trotted back to join the other riders in his entourage -- a valet, two guards, a squire, and a servant leading packhorses weighed down with equipment.
Macaire announced, "Gentlemen -- may I present my cousin Aubrey de Montdidier of the King's Bodyguard, and our friend Guy DeNarsac, Captain of the Count's Men-at-Arms. This good-looking lad is Thierry, ward of the Count of Montargis. Thierry, you've met Lieutenant Landry, haven't you?" Macaire indicated the earnest young man leading his group.
"I don't believe so, sir." Thierry acknowledged the Lieutenant with a dip of his head.
"Landry was appointed to me when His Majesty gave me my commission," said Macaire.
"How has it been in the field?" Montdidier asked.
"The mother-daughter team behind the Dumpy picture-book series here adapt 'The Legend of the Dog of Montargis' (a version of the tale was included in William Bennett's The Moral Compass), set in a French village during the 14th century. Overlaying their narrative with medieval terms and French phrases ('Isabelle! Chre Isabelle, you look ravissante!'), Edwards and Hamilton fill in the outlines of the story. After the eminently likable Montdidier, captain of the king's guard and nephew of the count of Montargis, is savagely murdered, his wolfhound, Dragon, leads 13-year-old Thierry (a character invented for this telling), who is the count's ward, and DeNarsac, captain of the count's men-at-arms and a close friend of his family, to the spot where the body is buried. As the action moves from Montargis to the bustling Paris court of Charles V, Thierry and DeNarsac are resolved to crack the mystery of Montdidier's death. Another puzzle clouds the air: why does the noble Dragon savagely attack the chevalier Macaire? When Thierry and DeNarsac suspect that Dragon is accusing Macaire of Montdidier's murder, the king decides to allow for 'the judgment of God': he sets up a duel between the dog and Macaire, with the idea that God 'will aid the cause of the innocent and bring down the cause of the guilty.' Readers who like their costume dramas heavily embroidered with high sentiment (and many adverbs) will enjoy this fare; others may find it overdone. Ages 9-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Crafted by the celebrated mother-daughter team who created the Dumpy series, this thrilling novel is based on the legend of the Dog of Montargis in medieval France. Dragon is a magnificent wolfhound who brings an surprising conclusion to the puzzle of his master's untimely death.
In the noble and dangerous times of medieval France, the young knight Aubrey de Montdidier, nephew of the Count of Montargis, has been strangely murdered. His friend the brave Sieur DeNarsac, captain of the count's men-at-arms, and Thierry, a young page, must now solve the tragic mystery. Yet it is a magnificent white wolfhound by the name of Dragon -- Montdidier's faithful companion -- who brings an unexpected, shocking conclusion to the puzzle of his master's untimely death.
New York Times best-selling authors Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton weave a tapestry of intrigue, power, loyalty, and friendship in this novel based on the captivating French legend of Montargis.
About the Author
Julie Andrews Edwards is one of the most recognized figures in the world of entertainment. She is perhaps best known for her performances in Mary Poppins
, The Sound of Music
, and Victor/Victoria
Ms. Edwards published her first two children's books with Ursula Nordstrom at Harper & Row in the 1970s: Mandy and The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles. She is also the author of the Little Bo books illustrated by Henry Cole, and the Dumpy the Dump Truck series, coauthored with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, and illustrated by Tony Walton.
Emma Walton Hamilton is the Editorial Director for the Julie Andrews Collection. Ms. Hamilton is a founder and co-artistic director of The Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, New York, and is dedicated to bringing theater to young adults through her work with their Educational Outreach and Young Playwrights programs.
In addition to the Dumpy books, the most recent of which is Dumpy and the Firefighters, she has co-authored the original fable Simeon's Gift with her mother, Julie Andrews Edwards. Other books in the Dumpy series include the New York Times best-seller Dumpy the Dump Truck, Dumpy at School, Dumpy Saves Christmas, Dumpy and His Pals, Dumpy's Friends on the Farm, and Dumpy and the Big Storm, recipient of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award.