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A PDF file should load here. If you do not see its contents the file may be temporarily unavailable at the journal website or you do not have a PDF plug-in. Join the Mysterious Benedict Society as Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance embark on a daring new adventure that threatens to force them apart from their. In a city called Stonetown, on the second floor of an old, grey-stoned house, a boy named Reynie Muldoon was considering his options. He was locked inside.

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FREE preview for Book Three in Trenton Lee Stewart's New York Times Bestselling series: THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY. Join the Mysterious Benedict Society as Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance embark on a third adventure that threatens to force them apart from their families. PDF - The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma. Reynie, Kate , Constance, and Sticky return for a third adventure. This time, the. The mysterious Benedict Society and the prisoner's dilemma. byTrenton Lee Stewart Borrow this book to access EPUB and PDF files.

He was locked inside an uncomfortably warm room, and the only way out was to make an unpleasant decision. Worse, locked in the room with him and none too happy about it was a particularly outspoken four-yearold named Constance Contraire, who from the outset of their connement had been reciting ill-tempered poems to express her displeasure. Reynie, though three times Constances age and probably fty times as patient, was beginning to feel. He had the hot room and the cranky girl to endure. Constance couldnt possibly want out more than he did. The problem was what it would cost.

I love how these books are so smartly written. He doesn't write down to children at all. There's so much conflict and a lot of it isn't even Big Bad conflict, it's bureaucracy and government red tape.

They're, for lack of a better word, grown-up problems, the kind that make you really The third book in the Mysterious Benedict Society series, is pretty much perfect. They're, for lack of a better word, grown-up problems, the kind that make you really frustrated. I love books where things seem so hopeless, so ridiculously tangled that you think, 'how the heck are they going to manage to get out of this in the next pages? If you haven't picked up the series, I'd definitely recommend it.

As I said above, it's really clever children's literature. View 2 comments. Feb 09, Annette rated it liked it Shelves: A fun, fast read, even for adults. The situations are increasingly strained as far as believability, as well as being simply less weighty than the original book's. Certain elements - Mr. Benedict's narcolepsy at inopportune moments, Milligan's ridiculous tendency towards injury, etc - are becoming rather rote at this A fun, fast read, even for adults.

Benedict's narcolepsy at inopportune moments, Milligan's ridiculous tendency towards injury, etc - are becoming rather rote at this point. Still, it's enjoyable - I get a kick out of the silly names like the silver-haired "Ms.

Argent" and the grasping "Covett S. This book started off fabulously witty and engaging, and the middle was fantastic, but then towards the end the book just sort of lost it's charm? Also this book was the least witty of the series, and the plot was the least engaging. I think part of my rating could be the fact that it just took me so long to read this.

Apr 03, Els rated it it was amazing Shelves: I just I appreciate your choice to avoid death. View all 13 comments. It really played with my feels and nearly drove me mad! I was terrified. Apr 09, Mar 03, Ella rated it really liked it. When Constance finds out that she is adopted, she runs away out of sadness. All the grownups in the house go out on a search party to find her, leaving Kate, Sticky and Reynie home alone.

All seems well until a mysterious vehicle arrives at the house. They soon find out that Mr Curtain is out to capture them. The children attempt to run away. In the process, they find Constance but unfortunately get captured as well. They ge When Constance finds out that she is adopted, she runs away out of sadness.

One theme in my book was power. I think this theme was very important, because Mr Benedict and Mr Curtain both had the power to run a very important machine — The Whisperer.

Mr Benedict was trying to prevent him from doing this. Come to the rear end of the prison at once — at once S. Another theme that shows in the book is rivalry. I think this theme was very important, because there was lots of rivalry between Mr Benedict and Mr Curtain. They were long lost identical twins, but had completely different minds and personalities.

They were against each other. Mr Curtain wanted to rule the world and brainwash people, but Mr Benedict was trying to stop him from doing that.

I shall tell you when it is over right now! Page This quote shows rivalry, because Mr Curtain was getting mad at Mr Benedict, and clearly hates his brother. Another theme in the book was teamwork. This occurred most in the book, because the whole book was about trying to work as a team, and the children had to work together to escape Mr Curtain.

I thought my book was engaging because it used very descriptive language. There were many words that I had never heard before, and enjoyed learning, and trying to remember the meanings. Some examples of descriptive words that I learned were: I had never heard some of these words before, and I learned the meanings! I think this book is good for a 6th or 7th grader.

I think it is a good book because most of the time it was captivating. For example when one chapter was finished, it would sometimes be a cliff-hanger, and leave you wondering what would happen next. These bits in the book were very exciting, but sometimes the book got a bit boring.

The story would slow down, and nothing much would be happening. Luckily, soon the story would pick up again, and make you want more.

Another good aspect of the story as I already said was it had many descriptive words. The story was filled with vocabulary, and made you want to learn the definition!

This means that the book was also somewhat educational as well as exhilarating. View all 3 comments. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.

To view it, click here. Prepare yourself for another wild yet amazing adventure! Leodroptha Curtain. The story begins with an explanation of the prisoner's dilemma, which I found quite interesting. The problem started when Constance was missing. Her runaway was followed by a total blackout in the town, causing chaos everywhere.

The chaos was used by Mr. Curtain and his gang, The Executive, to trap the childr Prepare yourself for another wild yet amazing adventure! Curtain and his gang, The Executive, to trap the children with findable clues and breakable codes.

Unfortunately, the children got into the trap and they were kidnapped. When they found out that they were brought to a faraway prison that was under renovation, they began to set some tricks to get out. Again, the luck wasn't on their side. The Executive found them and locked them again in a tower. Not running out of ideas, Constance used her ability to send the news by vision to Mr. Benedict, and she got a vision back from him, telling her that he and all the agents would save them.

Okay, I won't tell you the rest of the story. All I can say is, this book is breathtaking. It reminds me of Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix, where Harry and his friends were got into Voldemort's trap just like the children were got into Mr. Curtain , and got help from the members of the Order of Phoenix just like the children got help from Mr. Benedict's agent. I should give the author more credit, though, for making such genius riddles in this book.

The riddles were brilliantly made, and it definitely adds to the excitement. I read the riddles and couldn't stop wondering the answers, and when they were revealed, I was flabbergasted. They're just smart, genius, and brilliant! When I finished reading this book, I felt some satisfaction.

What satisfaction? Well, when when everything turned out to be okay, it's enough to make me satisfied. I recommend you to read the two previous books before reading this one, or you'll get confused because the story is continual.

Happy reading and enjoy the adventure! View 1 comment. May 19, Cindy rated it really liked it. In this supposedly last book of the MBS series, I thought it was very clever how the title was incorporated into the story. Benedict continues to try and stimulate the superior intellects of his young charges, and is always giving them clever mind games and puzzles to solve. In the opening pages, the four kids are divided into two teams and presented with a "Prisoner's Dilemma"--they are given 3 scenarios with different consequences, and each team must decide not only which scenario they wou In this supposedly last book of the MBS series, I thought it was very clever how the title was incorporated into the story.

In the opening pages, the four kids are divided into two teams and presented with a "Prisoner's Dilemma"--they are given 3 scenarios with different consequences, and each team must decide not only which scenario they would prefer, but try to figure out what the other team would decide, because the fate of each determines the fate of all!

It reminded me of scenes from a cop show, where two suspects are places in different interrogation rooms in the hopes that one will 'rat out' the other, and the truth will be obtained! Now, granted, the children's consequence was related to after-dinner chores, but the concept was a thought-provoking exercise, and it served them well once their next challenge appeared!

Benedict has been working intensely to try and modify the dreaded "Chair" so that its mind-reading and mind-altering properties can be changed. But then the chair is stolen, and the Mysterious Benedict Society decides to set out on their own to recover it! Once again, they go up against the dreaded "Ten Men" in an attempt to outsmart them and recover the chair before Mr.

Curtain can use it to bend the minds of the world to his will! All of these books are fun because the reader is expected to try and puzzle out the clues and problems that the characters face. My brain was tested on logic puzzles, secret codes and trying to remember hints that were given to figure out the next steps!

Feb 18, Jashan rated it liked it. If you are planning to read this book and update on Goodreads, the updating format will be a bit strange. It will say that there are only nine pages in the book, meaning that you can only update one Goodreads page when you have really read about forty-three and a half pages in the actual book. This will make more sense once you read the book. Actual Review: I liked this book. I felt like the new plot was interesting, with the Stonetown blackout and all.

But, I did have some problems, as Note: But, I did have some problems, as you can see in my deduction of two stars. My biggest one was the children themselves. That's right. It's not because of their personalities, but because of their powers.

I won't tell them - that would just ruin the fun. But, still, even though these powers show the aging of the Mysterious Benedict Society, the overall cleverness they possessed in the first and second books was almost diminished. Meaning, there aren't as many parts in the third book that would make you smile and feel guilty at the same time "Wow, why couldn't I think of that? I was a bit disappointed with this book, as I expected a bit more from the ending of the series.

Still, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys kid-power books, not-too-violent reads, and, as a general rule, adventures in the contemporary world. Mar 05, Levi rated it really liked it. This was a great ending to the series!

I loved the way they finished the book! These books are about a group of four kids, Kate, Reynie, Sticky, and Constance, who all in their own way are very different.

Kate carries a bucket full of tools and supplies that uses sometimes, Reynie is very good at noticing small details and solving riddles, Sticky has an almost perfect memory and is very intelligent he isn't smart in This was a great ending to the series!

Kate carries a bucket full of tools and supplies that uses sometimes, Reynie is very good at noticing small details and solving riddles, Sticky has an almost perfect memory and is very intelligent he isn't smart in the way that Reynie is though , and if I told you why Constance was special it would be spoiling the series so May 12, Nicole rated it it was amazing Shelves: It's ooovvvveeeerrr I will greatly miss these characters.

I know, I know, I can just re-read it, but it's never the same is it? This third installment of the Mysterious Benedict Society's adventures was nearly as good as the first book. I love the characters so much. They need to make a movie, a good movie.

Anyways, this book was really great. I especially liked how everything wrapped up at the end. Though some of it was a little too perfect of a happy ending I'm happy that the characters It's ooovvvveeeerrr Though some of it was a little too perfect of a happy ending I'm happy that the characters all get to stay together and everything wraps up nicely.

A wonderful series! Happy reading! Nov 16, Jelinas rated it liked it. It follows the escapades of four specially gifted children as they work with their mentor, the wise and benevolent Nicholas Benedict, to thwart the plans of his evil twin brother, Ledroptha Curtain. The kids are usually somehow separated from all of their adult friends and must band together to figure out what Mr.

Curtain is up to and stop it. Usually, the reader can play along by trying to decipher the clues that the MBS get. But my favorite thing about this series is not the mystery. They scream them. But the kids in MBS only shout when they have to in order to be heard. When one of them makes a mistake, instead of sniping at one another and pointing fingers, the others leap at the opportunity to encourage their teammate.

Each of them has a different skill: Reynie is a critical thinker, Sticky has a photographic memory, Kate can climb anything and outrun most adults, and Constance has the gift of extraordinary stubbornness. Oh, and ESP. Public Heroes, Private Felons: Athletes and Crimes Against Women.

The Narrow Road Discipline: The Narrow Road. Children's Book and Media Review , Dec A PDF file should load here. If you do not see its contents the file may be temporarily unavailable at the journal website or you do not have a PDF plug-in installed and enabled in your browser.

This is a preview of a remote PDF: Tessa McMillan. Toggle navigation. Alternatively, you can download the file locally and open with any standalone PDF reader: Tessa McMillan Reading Level: Primary, Intermediate, Young adult Rating: Or, you know, from here she hasnt been able to work since September.

He frowned at the plate in his hand. Sorry, Kate, I got this one kind of sweaty. Kate cheerfully scrubbed it again as Sticky somewhat less cheerfully mopped his brow with his sleeve. Dont worry, Constance! They always bring us something, dont they? They know its our only consolation for being stuck here while theyre out. Reynie, bearing a stack of dry dishes, paused on his way to the cupboard.

Ill bet they had lunch on Stonetown Square, he reected wistfully. They can probably smell the saltwater from the harbor. And the dead sh, Constance called. And the gasoline fumes. At least dead sh and fumes would be something different. Speaking of different, said Kate with a grin, I wonder how they look? The boys chuckled. They all knew the adults were compelled to wear disguises in public.

For a secret agent like Milligan, disguises were run-of-the-mill the children were rather used to seeing him transform into a stranger but it was comical to imagine dear old Mrs. Perumal, for instance, or the burly, mustachioed Moocho Brazos, dressing up to conceal their identities.

The use of disguises and other security precautions were well-known to the children, who always pressed for every detail of the outings. They knew the routine by heart, and in lieu of actually getting to go out themselves they often went over it in their minds: First Milligan would contact his personal sentries a group of trusted agents posted throughout the neighborhood to ensure they had seen nothing suspicious in the vicinity.

Then he would distribute empty cardboard boxes and bags to the other adults, and with a casual word to the courtyard guard about a project at Mr. Benedicts other property, he would escort his charges to a small house across the street. This house, with its narrow front yard and modest porch, looked as tidy and well-maintained as any in the neighborhood, but in reality its interior was in an awful state of disrepair.

Benedict had purchased it years ago, not to be inhabited but to serve as a cover for the entrance to a secret tunnel.

The doors were made of imsy wood, set slantwise to the ground and held closed with a simple, sliding metal bolt the sort of cellar doors that suggest nothing more important lies beyond them than dusty fruit jars and discarded boots.

In the cellar itself, however, was another door, this one made of steel, with a lock Milligan said could not be picked and to which only he possessed a key.

This door opened onto the secret tunnel a narrow, damp passageway that stretched several blocks and ended beneath the Monk Building, a typically drab and unremarkable ofce building downtown. At the Monk Building the adults would mount several ights of a dark stairway with Mr. Washington supporting Mrs. Washington and Moocho carrying her wheelchair until they reached a hidden anteroom, where they caught their breath and donned their disguises. The anteroom opened by means of a secret door into an ofce that belonged to Mr.

Benedict, and in its wall were tiny peepholes that allowed Milligan to ensure the ofce was empty. He didnt want them stumbling unexpectedly upon an astonished custodian. Finally, when he was sure the coast was clear, Milligan would lead the adults through the ofce, down the Monk Buildings seldom used public stairs, and at last out the buildings front doors. It was hard to imagine exactly how they felt as they stepped out onto the plaza in the heart of Stonetowns business district.

Perhaps they broke into wide smiles at the prospect of a days freedom. Or perhaps they were overcome with a sad nostalgia, remembering the days before they had 28 ever heard of Mr.

But just as likely they would be glancing warily about and hoping not to draw attention. They must feel uncommonly strange in their disguises.

Do you ever worry about them? Sticky murmured after a pause, and Reynie and Kate returned his sober gaze. They could hear Constance rattling around in the pantry. Sometimes, Reynie admitted. But I remind myself that the authorities are on high alert, and theres been no activity reported anywhere near Stonetown And Milligan can spot a Ten Man a mile away, Kate put in.

And he can do more than spot him, if it comes to that. The boys nodded, even though the last time Milligan encountered Mr. Curtains henchmen hed needed several weeks to recover from the injuries. The circumstances had been different then they knew because theyd been there and they quite shared Kates condence in her father. Youre right, Sticky said. They couldnt be safer if they had a dozen guards. Yes, theyre ne, Reynie said.

Im sure theyre ne. Of course they are, said Kate. They spoke without real conviction, however, for though the adults were surely as safe as could be expected under the circumstances, the question remained: How safe was that, exactly?

Kate pulled the plug in the sink, and in troubled silence the friends watched the sudsy water drain away. Constance emerged from the pantry with a half-empty sleeve of cheese crackers, her cheeks bulging like a chipmunks. Whatre you wooking at? It infuriated her when they tried to protect her.

They couldnt help themselves, though, nor were their reasons entirely seless: Constance was always difcult, but when she grew anxious she was perfectly unbearable. Lets go outside, Reynie said, turning away before Constance could search his face. We still have some time before afternoon lessons.

The children enjoyed being outside, but getting there was a tiresome business. First they had to seek permission from an adult, who often had to check with someone else to verify the alarm code, for the code was changed almost daily and all the downstairs doors and windows were wired. Benedicts rst-oor maze had been renovated into makeshift apartments for the Washingtons and Perumals, and the alarm system with its direct signal to the police station as well as Milligans sentries provided an important new defense.

Then they had to wait while the adult conferred with the outside guards, and only then could they venture into fresh air.

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The children usually preferred the large backyard, where there was more room to run about, and in Kates case to turn a few dozen handsprings and ips.

The exception was when Mr. Bane was posted there. Bane was an unpleasant guard, a gruff and grizzled man who seemed to believe children should be kept in boxes until they were proper adults. When Mr. Bane was in the backyard, they went into the courtyard instead. Bane was off duty altogether, and as soon as they had hustled into their coats and hats, and Reynie had helped Constance with her mittens she was close to tears trying to get her thumbs in their places , they ran out the backdoor.

They were greeted by Ms. Plugg, a tough, stocky guard who had been walking about on the frost-covered grass to keep warm. Afternoon, children, Ms. Plugg said, nodding as they came down the steps. She had an oddly large and rectangular head, rather like a cinder block, and when she nodded Reynie always had the disquieting impression that it was sliding off her shoulders.

Im sorry, I forget your name. Plugg, snapping her ngers. Good afternoon, Sticky.

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I promise I wont forget again. Yielding the yard to the children, she took up a watchful position at the top of the steps, where Sticky, unfortunately, could hear her mumbling quietly to herself, Sticky. Always ddles with his glasses. Okay, ddlesticks. Ill remember that. Stickys stomach uttered disagreeably as he walked away from the steps. He had grown so used to being with his friends, he felt somehow caught off balance and deeply embarrassed overhearing a strangers observations about him.

Taking a deep breath to steady himself, watching it rise as vapor in the cold air, Sticky made a spontaneous, private decision. Kate, meanwhile, had been about to put down her bucket, but Reynie caught her arm.

Dont start tumbling just yet, 31 he murmured, and looking over at Sticky and Constance he said, Lets walk a minute.

His look wasnt lost on any of them. Sticky and Constance glanced furtively over their shoulders, and Kates eyes narrowed as she rebelted her bucket to her hip, opening the ip top for quicker access to its contents. They all fell into step with Reynie as he set off around the yard. No one spoke. The only sound was the crunch of their footsteps on the frozen grass. The yard was enclosed by a prickly hedge, behind which stood a tall iron fence with sharp points at the top of each paling.

At the back of the yard Reynie stood on his tiptoes to see over the hedge, and through the fence, into the quiet lane beyond. Something had obviously spooked him. Guess what? Bane wasnt here on the last errand day, either. First we moped around in the courtyard, and then we came back here to play kickball. Constance shrugged. Banes never here on errand day. Kate gasped in disbelief.

And you didnt see t to mention that? I never thought about it! I never even Shh! Its okay, Constance. We all have a lot on our minds. But if what you say is true Its true, all right, said Sticky, already reaching for his polishing cloth. He caught himself, scratched his chest instead, 32 then crossed his arms. I should have noticed it myself. Banes been off duty every single time.

Like I said! Constance snapped. But whats the big deal? The big deal is it cant be a coincidence, Reynie said. The guards work on a rotating schedule, with different days off each week. Its not very likely errand day just happens to keep falling on Mr. Banes day off. Highly improbable, said Sticky, doing the numbers in his head.

In fact What the boys mean to say, Kate interrupted, before Sticky could dive into an explanation of calculating odds, is that somethings going on. What do you think, Reynie? Benedict doesnt trust Mr.

He doesnt want him to nd out about errand day? Its already being kept secret from the house guards, Sticky pointed out. Why be extra careful with Mr. Maybe because Mr. Bane is extra nosy, Constance suggested. Maybe, Reynie said. But we should also consider the possibility that Mr. Bane does know about it. What if hes guring out when errand day is going to be, then arranging the duty schedule so that hes off?

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How could he nd out? Constance said. And why would he do that? Reynie shook his head. I dont know. But it makes me awfully uneasy.

The mysterious Benedict Society and the prisoner's dilemma

It made all of them uneasy, and for a moment they stood in silence, contemplating what Mr. Bane might be up to. They 33 had never liked the man, but until now no one had suspected he might be treacherous, mostly because they thought Mr. Benedict was too shrewd to allow someone untrustworthy to guard the premises.

You know what? If weve noticed this, you can bet Mr. Benedict has. He might even be the one behind it, right? So lets ask him later and stop worrying about it. Were wasting our fresh-air time! The others were less blithe than Kate, but she did have a point. So they agreed to drop the subject, and after some minutes of kicking a ball around they, too, began to shake off their misgivings. They even managed to feign enthusiasm when Kate whistled Madge down from the eaves and urged them to stroke her feathers.

Madge whose full name was Her Majesty the Queen was a talented bird, much attached to Kate and much smarter than most peregrine falcons, which Kate thought should endear her to everyone. The boys had pointed out as gently as they could that the raptors cruelly sharp beak and cold, predatory expression made her somewhat less than cuddly, and that perhaps people could be forgiven for maintaining a respectful distance.

But Kate had seemed hurt by this thought, so for her sake the boys tried to act fond of Madge and Constance, perhaps not to be left out, did the same. Today the three of them managed a few tentative feathertouches and false compliments before retreating to the steps, after which they felt remarkably better, for there is nothing like the fear of being raked by talons to take ones mind off other concerns.

And as they watched Kate and Madge 34 go through their training routines their spirits rose higher still the routines were wonderfully entertaining. Kate would puff on her whistle, producing different sequences of high-pitched notes, and depending on the sequence Madge would either alight on Kates st now protected by a thick leather glove or else circle above the yard, hunting for strips of meat, which Kate took from a sealed pouch in her bucket and ung into the air.

Madge would stoop upon these tidbits with such astonishing speed and accuracy that her young spectators couldnt help but gasp and applaud and once or twice Ms. Plugg couldnt help but join in , and Kate beamed happily and made comical, exaggerated bows, doing her best not to seem overly proud. Sitting there on the bottom step, with the sun just breaking out from a cloud and his friends even Constance all smiling and chatting good-naturedly, Reynie was suddenly struck by the thought that this curious imprisonment of theirs, however they might grumble about it, could very well prove to be the best time in their lives.

For who could say what would happen when all of this was over? Wasnt it possible, even probable, that their families would all go back to their former lives? Reynie felt an old, familiar ache. He instantly recognized it as loneliness or in this case anticipated loneliness and not for the rst time he lamented his too-vivid imagination.

Too easily he imagined the pang he would feel the rst hundred times he ate breakfast without his friends without Kate chattering away much too energetically for that time of morning, without Sticky adjusting his spectacles and translating something from French, without Constance 35 trying to sneak something from his plate.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma

Too easily he imagined himself surrounded by strangers, trying to make new friends in some other place. You all right? Sticky asked, nudging him. Are you worrying about you know what? With a start, Reynie realized that he was staring off into the distance. He shook his head. No, just. Im ne, thanks. And he smiled to prove it, privately laughing at himself for being so gloomy. Wasnt he here with his friends right now? What good did worrying do? At this very moment Sticky was sitting beside him on the step, recounting a study hed read on the potentially salubrious effects of daydreams on mental health, and below them Constance was attempting to retie her shoe with her mittens still on, and Kate was there in the yard, spinning with her arms out wide and gazing up at her falcon in the sky.

Reynie took a mental picture, and saved it. Watching quietly from the top of the steps, Ms. Plugg, like Reynie, was feeling a curious mix of emotions. She was impressed, charmed, and concerned all at once. In her two months at this job, she had never been on duty in the backyard when Kate worked with Madge.

Like all of the guards, shed been aware of a falcon nesting high in the eaves, and had known that it belonged, more or less, to one of the children, but shed had no notion of the birds skill or the girls, for that matter nor of the obviously strong bond of friendship between the two.

The mysterious Benedict Society and the prisoner's dilemma

And now from the bottom step she could hear the bespectacled boy what was his 36 name? Oh yes, ddlesticks could hear Sticky speaking like a scholar about some study hed read, and she observed his friend Reynie listening with actual interest and understanding as he tied the cranky little girls shoe for her.

So charming was the scene that Ms. Plugg found it hard not to be distracted, which bothered her extremely, for Ms.

Plugg was a dutiful guard, and her duty, as she understood it, was to look out for strangers especially well-dressed men carrying briefcases and for any activity that might be deemed suspicious. Her duty was not to gawk at this ponytailed girl training a bird of prey, or to eavesdrop on the brainy conversation of these two boys all of which was certainly unusual activity, but none of it was suspicious.

Plugg was used to unusual. This house was an unusual house; this job an unusual job. For one thing, she had been told almost nothing about the houses residents. Their occupations and histories were a mystery to her, as well as to most if not quite all of the other guards. According to Ms. Pluggs superiors, the guards job was not to ask questions.

Questions would be a waste of time, for most of the answers were highly classied and would not, therefore, be given. Plugg and the other guards had been told only that the houses occupants were important, and that their importance was directly related to what was in the basement.

As all the guards knew, what lay in the basement was a bank of large computers. The computers hummed almost imperceptibly, and night and day, week in and week out, they continued in their mysterious activity. Ceaseless, rapid, extraordinarily complex activity. Although the guards most of them, that is had no way of knowing it, the computers 37 were among the most powerful and complicated machines ever invented.

They were unusual, in other words, and guarding them was part of Ms. Pluggs unusual job. The climate-controlled basement in which the computers were situated was inaccessible except by way of a hidden stairway that originated inside the house.

Once in a while, the guards had reason to descend briey into the basement, but they were under strict orders never to touch the computers or even to look at them too closely. These orders were hardly necessary. If an enormous monster had lain sleeping in that dimly lit basement, a creature far more powerful and intelligent than any of the guards, why, nothing on earth could have induced them to risk waking it, and their instinctive feeling about the computers was much the same.

The only person who ever touched the computers was Mr. Benedict, whom Ms. Plugg, for her part, regarded as something like an amiable and perhaps half-foolish lion tamer entering the dreaded cage. The guards understood nothing of the workings and secret purposes of these computers.

All they knew was that the computers served yet another machine, one that had come dangerously close to wreaking terrible havoc in the world and that in the hands of the wrong person it could do so again.

They had no notion of what this other machine looked like, or what it did, but more than a few of them including Ms. Plugg imagined it as something huge, spidery, and sinister, with gleaming eyes and countless whirring blades and a shrieking cry like the wail of a buzz saw brought to metal. Indeed, they suspected its appearance was even 38 more beastly and frightening than that; they suspected their imaginations were incapable of evoking the true horror of this unknown machine.

They knew only that these computers were its heart and brain which must, for some unfathomable reason, be protected and preserved , and that in a locked and guarded chamber on the third oor, hidden behind a decorative screen, was a curious chair, and that this chair, too, was somehow linked to the terrible machine.

At least, this was what the guards thought they knew. The truth was that the chair was the machine itself.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma by Trenton Lee Stewart

The guards imaginations had reached in the wrong direction a reasonable error, for their imaginations had little to guide them. The chair appeared simply to sit there, quiet and still, behind the decorative screen in that cozy chamber. Doing nothing. Threatening nothing. With its curious red helmet attached to the seatback, the chair resembled an oldfashioned hair dryer an eccentric piece of furniture, certainly, but a harmless one.

This was the Whisperer. And for the moment, in the hands of Mr. Benedict, the Whisperer was harmless. Indeed, under Mr. Benedicts care the Whisperer had been made to seem as inoffensive as possible; it had even been made to do a certain amount of good. Unfortunately, despite Mr. Benedicts best efforts and intentions, the Whisperer was soon to pass from his care.

When it did, the fates of a great many people would once again be pulled along behind it, like leaves trailing in the wake of a speeding vehicle. And the very rst to be so affected and among the most important were these four children now enjoying the fresh air under the watchful eye of Ms.

But none of these events counted as news, exactly, at least not the sort the children so earnestly wished for. There had been no word on Mr.

Curtains whereabouts, no hint of progress in the authorities search. Nor were there any developments on the home front, for when the children had approached Mr. Benedict about Mr. Banes suspicious absences, he had said they were quite right to wonder about it but that he would be imprudent to speak of it further.

And so they were left to speculate not only about Mr. Bane, but also about Mr. Benedicts reasons for maintaining silence on the matter. Speculating grows wearisome eventually, however, and even secret society meetings lose appeal when theres nothing new to discuss especially when the members have already spent too much time together.

Time passed slowly for the children, therefore, with lessons every weekday, endless rounds of board games and cards, and never a foot set off the property. Until one day, just as spring was mustering itself for another appearance, something nally happened. The day began normally enough, with newspapers after breakfast.

As usual, Sticky blazed through all of them Mr. Benedict subscribed to several while Reynie and Kate traded sections of the Stonetown Times.

Whenever they nished a section they would pass it to Constance, who glanced at the headlines and drew mustaches and devil horns on people in the photographs. The children were allowed to linger over the papers as long as they wished, but they seldom lingered long, for the older ones looked forward to their exercises and lessons, which offered a welcome change of pace, and Constance ran out of pictures to deface.

On this morning Sticky nished even more quickly than usual, then hustled off to nd Number Two, who was letting him use her computer to access the Stonetown Library cata- 42 log. He was in the process of memorizing it, had already spent hours scrolling through the records, and today he hoped to nish.

It had been tedious work, but it would make his future research more efcient, and Sticky was excited. I would have thought Mr. Benedict had every book in the world, Kate had said when Sticky rst mentioned his project. The whole house is crammed with them. I know, said Sticky with an eager, appreciative look, and I still havent read half of them, but whenever Youve read half of them? Kate cried, but Sticky was just gaining steam.

Benedict doesnt have, theres nothing to do but request it from the library, right? And if the Stonetown Library system doesnt have it, then I have to ask for an inter-library loan, which means lling out a different form altogether.

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