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The Purple Emperor



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About The Author

Herbie Brennan

Herbie Brennan is the author of many successful books for adults and children. Over the years his books have sold more than 7.5 million copies worldwide. By age thirty, he made the decision to devote most of his time to full-length works of fact and fiction and since then... More

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EXCERPT

Chapter 1
 
Mr Fogarty’s house was at the end of a short cul-de-sac. The front windows were partly boarded up, which gave it a deserted, derelict appearance. But Henry knew they’d been boarded up while Mr Fogarty still lived there, so the neighbours wouldn’t notice any difference. And nobody with any sense would try to visit him. Mr Fogarty had broken his last visitor’s arm with a cricket bat.

Henry had a full set of keys, but he avoided using the front door and walked around the back. It was gloomy there as always – Mr Fogarty had erected an enormously high fence to stop the neighbours spying on him – and there wasn’t much to see: just a grey, mossy patch of lawn and the garden shed beside the buddleia bush where Henry had first met Pyrgus. He walked down to the bush – it was one of Hodge’s favourite haunts – and called out, ‘Hodge! Come on Hodgie, suppertime!’

Hodge must have been lurking in the undergrowth, because he emerged at once, tail up, and polished Henry’s ankle. ‘Hello, Hodge,’ said Henry fondly. He sort of liked the old tomcat, even though he’d made the place a killing field for rats, mice, birds and rabbits.

Henry walked towards the back door, taking slow, careful steps on account of Hodge making figures of eight between his feet. When he unlocked the door and pushed it open, Hodge ran in ahead of him, eager for his pouch of Whiskas. Mr Fogarty had always fed him some foul-smelling stuff that looked like puke and cost less than 25p a tin. Hodge ate it under protest, but liked pouch Whiskas better. He’d never smooched Mr Fogarty the way he smooched Henry.

Henry opened the cupboard, took out two pouches and Hodge’s special tin plate.

‘You’re ruining that cat – you know that,’ a voice growled from the shadows.

Henry was so startled he dropped the plate, which clattered loudly on the kitchen tiles. Hodge squawked in protest and bolted for the door.
 

Copyright © 2004 by Herbie Brennan. All rights reserved.

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