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"The World Beyond the Kingdom," Moira whispered, enjoying the sound of the words. "What a wonderful place it must be!"
The two charming visitors winked at each other knowingly and moved closer to Moira. Fantasy smiled as Trapper spoke with a voice that sounded as smooth as butter, "In the World Beyond the Kingdom," he said softly, "you can be who you want to be, and do what you want to do ..."
Fantasy nodded. "And you can go where you want to go!" she said convincingly. "Just think, Moiraa place where you can make all your dreams come true!"
"Really?!" Moira responded hopefully, then flipped through the magazines Trapper and Fantasy had given to her. The pages were filled with pictures of the shining buildings, tents and balloons and all the smiling faces of the people who lived there.
Trapper spoke again in his buttery voice, "You will meet Sophistication, Glamour, and Luxury, Moira. I promise. They are good friends of ours. And you will get to know True Happiness."
Fantasy looked at her watch and nodded. "Well, we need to run. We have an appointment with Opportunity right now!"
Moira waved goodbye and then started to walk toward her home in the Village of Peace and Harmony. The King's castle sparkled in the sunshine from its place on top of the hill. The Straight and Narrow Path stretched from the castle doors all the way down to the base of the hill and the Big Rock. Thatrock was a favorite meeting place for Moira's younger brother, Seeker, and his friends.
I hope Seeker isn't there today, Moira thought to herself. I need to get home without having to answer any of his questions. Why should it matter to Seeker what I do with my time, anyway?
Moira crossed the bridge into the Kingdom and was relieved to see that no one was at the Big Rock. She quickly turned toward the Village of Peace and Harmony. Maybe, just maybe, she would be lucky enough to get home before anyone noticed her.
Moira didn't realize that someone had noticed her. Seeker and some of his friends had watched her whole conversation with Trapper and Fantasy. As soon as Moira was out of hearing distance, Seeker, KnowSo, and Glee peeked out from behind the Big Rock. Then Dawdle and Slow peered out from behind them.
"See? I told you," Seeker said, shaking his head and sitting down on the rock.
"No wonder she hasn't been coming to the Adventure Club meetings lately," KnowSo said. "All the reasons she gave ... I bet none of them were true ..."
Glee sat on the rock beside Seeker. She was very upset. "I didn't believe you, Seeker," she whispered. "I still can hardly believe this is happening."
"Wh-Wh-Why wo-wo-would Moira g-g-go outside the Kingdom borders?" Dawdle and Slow asked together. "That's what I'd like to know," Seeker said. "I'd also like to know the names of the people she was talking to. I've been thinking that maybe I should just go find them and tell them to leave my sister alone!"
KnowSo shook his head. "Nonever do that, Seeker. I KNOW who they are."
"You do?" Seeker and Glee asked together.
KnowSo nodded. "I was reading about them in the King's library just last week. Their names are Trapper and Fantasy. They've been around for a very long time. Every day they walk near the Kingdom borders looking for children who are almost grown-up; people right around Moira's age."
"Why?" Seeker asked, his heart beating faster.
"They tell them lies about how much fun it would be to live in the World Beyond the Kingdom. They make the lies sound like the truth."
"M-M-Moira needs our help!" Dawdle said.
Slow nodded. "Wh-Wh-What can we do?" she asked.
"Should we tell the other kids?" KnowSo asked. "After all, Moira is a leader of the Adventure Club. The kids should know ..."
Seeker shook his head. "Let's wait. I'll try talking to her tonight."
When Moira reached home, she took a deep breath and quietly opened the door ...
"Moira, is that you?" her mother, Contentment, called out.
"Yeah, it's me," Moira answered, disappointed.
Contentment came around the corner with her gardening gloves on and dirt smudged across her face. "You're home rather late today, aren't you?" she asked. Moira shrugged, and Contentment pressed her a bit more. "Did you have a meeting after school?" she asked.
"Yeah, a meeting," Moira answered. "Now I've got homework to do."
"Do you have time to help me plant some new flowers?"
"Sorry, Mom," Moira said abruptly, going into her room.
Contentment stood looking at Moira's closed door and felt concern welling up in her heart. What was wrong with Moira? It's not the door to her room that worries me, Contentment thought. But the door to her heart seems to be closing as well.
Alone in her room, Moira shut her eyes and began to dance while singing her favorite song. It was a song she herself had written ...
Hold a dream in your heart;
Hold a castle, hold a rainbow
Hold a picture, hold a promise, hold a prayer.
For everything has a beginning;
Mighty trees come from little seeds ...
And the desire in your heart
for what might be
Will beIf you'll believe!
So, hold a dream in your heart ...
Moira danced and danced and danced, then crumpled on the floor and leaned back against her bed. As she flipped through the magazines again, Trapper and Fantasy's words echoed in her mind. "Be who you want to be, go where you want to go, do what you want to do ..."
Excerpted from ADVENTURES IN THE KINGDOM by Dian Layton. Copyright © 2001 by Dian Layton. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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