The Lives of Christopher Chant
Diana Wynne Jones
Glorious new rejacket of a Diana Wynne Jones favourite, exploring the childhood of Chrestmanci – now a book with extra bits!Discovering that he has nine lives and is destined to be the next ‘Chrestomanci’ is not part of Christopher’s plans for the future: he’d much rather play cricket and wander around his secret dream worlds. But he soon finds that destiny is difficult to avoid, and that having more than the usual number of lives is pretty inconvenient – especially when you lose them as easily as he does!Then an evil smuggler, known only as The Wraith, threatens the ways of the worlds and forces Christopher to take action…
Diana Wynne Jones
THE LIVES OF CHRISTOPHER CHANT
Illustrated by Tim Stevens
This book is for Leo,who got hit on the headwith a cricket bat
Title Page (#u9d3995b2-7669-55d0-973e-162d1efe813e)
Chapter One (#u3700ff5c-fb76-5f72-958e-c6eabcf908b5)
Chapter Two (#u7ee9bb00-7730-5986-b3aa-c9953d406793)
Chapter Three (#u09975f54-aaa9-50d2-90a5-77150b2a4955)
Chapter Four (#u83298100-526b-5639-a27a-525e9e2cdcf5)
Chapter Five (#u65504162-7db1-5908-adb7-3e07d4dccc50)
Chapter Six (#u8c28f420-92ff-5bfe-bbd0-b5b704a96791)
Chapter Seven (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Eight (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Nine (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Ten (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Eleven (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Twelve (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Thirteen (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Fourteen (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Fifteen (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Sixteen (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Seventeen (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Eighteen (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Nineteen (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Twenty (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter Twenty-One (#litres_trial_promo)
Author’s Note (#litres_trial_promo)
Other Works (#litres_trial_promo)
About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)
CHAPTER ONE (#ulink_466981a2-1694-5099-9a4c-3a37da452f00)
It was years before Christopher told anyone about his dreams. This was because he mostly lived in the nurseries at the top of the big London house, and the nursery maids who looked after him changed every few months.
He scarcely saw his parents. When Christopher was small, he was terrified that he would meet Papa out walking in the park one day and not recognise him. He used to kneel down and look through the banisters on the rare days when Papa came home from the City before bedtime, hoping to fix Papa’s face in his mind. All he got was a foreshortened view of a figure in a frock coat with a great deal of well-combed black whisker, handing a tall black hat to the footman, and then a view of a very neat white parting in black hair, as Papa marched rapidly under the stairway and out of sight. Beyond knowing that Papa was taller than most footmen, Christopher knew little else.
Some evenings, Mama was on the stairs to meet Papa, blocking Christopher’s view with wide silk skirts and a multitude of frills and draperies. “Remind your master,” she would say icily to the footman, “that there is a Reception in this house tonight and that he is required, for once in his life, to act as host.”
Papa, hidden behind Mama’s wide clothing, would reply in a deep gloomy voice, “Tell Madam I have a great deal of work brought home from the office tonight. Tell her she should have warned me in advance.”
“Inform your master,” Mama would reply to the footman, “that if I’d warned him, he would have found an excuse not to be here. Point out to him that it is my money that finances his business and that I shall remove it if he does not do this small thing for me.”
Then Papa would sigh. “Tell Madam I am going up to dress,” he would say. “Under protest. Ask her to stand aside from the stairs.”
Mama never did stand aside, to Christopher’s disappointment. She always gathered up her skirts and sailed upstairs ahead of Papa, to make sure Papa did as she wanted. Mama had huge lustrous eyes, a perfect figure and piles of glossy brown curls. The nursery maids told Christopher Mama was a Beauty. At this stage in his life Christopher thought everyone’s parents were like this; but he did wish Mama would give him a view of Papa just once.
He thought everyone had the kind of dreams he had, too. He did not think they were worth mentioning. The dreams always began the same way. Christopher got out of bed and walked round the corner of the night-nursery wall – the part with the fireplace, which jutted out – on to a rocky path high on the side of a valley. The valley was green and steep, with a stream rushing from waterfall to waterfall down the middle, but Christopher never felt there was much point in following the stream down the valley. Instead he went up the path, round a large rock, into the part he always thought of as The Place Between. Christopher thought it was probably a left-over piece of the world, from before somebody came along and made the world properly.
Formless slopes of rock towered and slanted in all directions. Some of it was hard and steep, some of it piled and rubbly, and none of it had much shape. Nor did it have much colour – most of it was the ugly brown you get from mixing every colour in a paintbox. There was always a formless wet mist hanging round this place, adding to the vagueness of everything. You could never see the sky. In fact, Christopher sometimes thought there might not be a sky: he had an idea the formless rock went on and on in a great arch overhead – but when he thought about it, that did not seem possible.
Christopher always knew in his dream that you could get to Almost Anywhere from The Place Between. He called it Almost Anywhere, because there was one place that did not want you to go to it. It was quite near, but he always found himself avoiding it. He set off sliding, scrambling, edging across bulging wet rock, and climbing up or down, until he found another valley and another path. There were hundreds of them. He called them the Anywheres.
The Anywheres were mostly quite different from London. They were hotter or colder, with strange trees and stranger houses. Sometimes the people in them looked ordinary, sometimes their skin was bluish or reddish and their eyes were peculiar, but they were always very kind to Christopher. He had a new adventure every time he went on a dream. In the active adventures people helped him escape through cellars of odd buildings, or he helped them in wars, or in rounding up dangerous animals. In the calm adventures, he got new things to eat and people gave him toys. He lost most of the toys as he was scrambling back home over the rocks, but he did manage to bring back the shiny shell necklace the silly ladies gave him, because he could hang it round his neck.
He went to the Anywhere with the silly ladies several times. It had blue sea and white sand, perfect for digging and building in. There were ordinary people in it, but Christopher only saw them in the distance. The silly ladies came and sat on rocks out of the sea and giggled at him while he made sand-castles.
“Oh clistoffer!” they would coo, in lisping voices. “Tell uth what make you a clistoffer.” And they would all burst into screams of high laughter.