Clare B. Dunkle

Deleted scenes from Close Kin

By Clare B. Dunkle. New York: Henry Holt, 2004.

Wildman at Rochefort, Belgium

Writing a book is like making a movie: a few interesting scenes wind up on the cutting room floor. Here are some scenes that I removed from Close Kin because they were slowing down the pace.

WARNING: If you have not read the book, please DO NOT read these scenes. They won't make any sense to you yet, and they will ruin some of the book's best surprises.









Technically, this scene takes place before The Hollow Kingdom ends, while Kate is pregnant with Catspaw. But I wrote it for this book. It shows Emily's ability to talk even the smarter goblins into going along with her schemes, which is something that Marak complains about in Close Kin.

One night soon after Emily's arrival in the goblin kingdom, she and Seylin climbed to the very top of the Hill. The children sat cross-legged on the bald, rocky summit, tossing pebbles over the cliff. The dark land spread out for miles under the moonlit sky, and the calm water of Hollow Lake glinted far below them.

"Em," said Seylin, "I think we should get married when we're older."

Emily felt rather flattered. She adored Seylin, with his powerful magic and his dark good looks, and she defended him fiercely against all the other pages when they teased him for looking like an elf. But she wasn't the sort of girl to have her head turned so easily.

"Maybe," she replied noncommittally. "I'll have to see what my choices are."

Seylin was instantly jealous. "Who else wants to marry you?" he demanded with a scowl.

"I don't know yet," she answered, "but I'm sure there'll be others. I'm a non-goblin bride, and it's a tremendous honor to marry me. Master Siprayutah says the Guard will be lining up to beg me when I'm old enough."

Seylin continued to scowl. "I don't think you ought to wait so long to make up your mind. If you were an elf, it would all be decided by now, and you wouldn't have to worry about it anymore." Seylin, so much like an elf in his looks and magic, was always quoting elf lore.

"I like worrying about it," said Emily firmly. "It's my decision. Marak said so. And when I do make up my mind, it won't be the elf way, it'll be the human way."

"What way is that?"

"If you want to marry me," Emily explained, "you'll have to find a time when I'm all by myself. You'll sneak in when no one else is looking and throw yourself on your knees before me."

"On my knees?" exclaimed the boy.

"On your knees," replied Emily with glee. "And you'll take my hand in yours and declare that ever since we met you've loved me wildly and madly, and you'll die if I say no."

Seylin looked dubious. "That's telling a lie," he pointed out. "Besides, do you really think the Guard will come crawling to you on their knees? Do you think Brindle or Bony is going to say that?"

"I wouldn't marry Brindle or Bony," declared the girl with a toss of her head, and the boy felt a little better. "Then, of course, my father won't approve of you—"

"Your father's dead!"

"—so we'll have to elope. But they'll catch us, and they'll kill you, and I'll water your grave with my tears."

Seylin was aghast. "That's a marriage?!" he demanded.

"That's how it is in the human world," replied Emily, unconcerned.

"No wonder the human world is in such a mess!" declared Seylin earnestly. "Things would be much better the elf way, and you'd be happier, too. First, I'd go to your father—"

"Father's dead," she reminded him.

"—and I'd tell him that I was old enough to hunt for your food, which I am. And he'd call you in and say, 'Em, Seylin and I have decided that you're going to marry him. I don't think you could possibly find a better husband.'"

Emily glanced at the serious young man out of the corner of her eye.

"Well, maybe I couldn't," she said, relenting. "But I'll have to see about it. Come on, Seylin, let's go down to the Hall. Let's see if Mrs. Bigelow has left any pies in the pantry."

"You're stealing a pie from the estate house?" he asked suspiciously. "I'm not going to help."

"Oh, come on," she coaxed. "No one will know."

"That's what you said about riding the horses, but Marak almost killed me. I'm not helping you steal anything." And he started down the side of the Hill.

"Seylin, it's not stealing," insisted Emily, scrambling after him. "Mrs. Bigelow is the estate housekeeper, right?"

"Right," he answered, catching her hand as she slipped.

"And the estate belongs to my sister Kate, doesn't it?"

"Yes," replied Seylin.

"So Mrs. Bigelow's pies belong to Kate, too," declared Emily. "And my sister won't mind if we have a pie."

Seylin turned around to look at her, his face uncertain. "That does make sense," he said slowly.

"Of course it does." Emily brushed past him and clattered down the rocky slope. "Hurry up, Seylin. I'm starving."



This is the interrogation that made such a profound impact on Brindle, who relates the news of it to Richard in the book. Richard, very anxious about having to face an authority figure, completely misunderstands why Marak is angry.

Marak wasn't just angry. He was beside himself. He called a meeting of every goblin man in the kingdom who had ever been out on a trading journey, even those who had just been pages when Richard was born. The King stalked about the room in a furious rage, his bicolor eyes lit by their own light.

"The boy is about ten years old, a strong human cross with enough magic in him to be from any of the high families," he told them. "And what I want to know is: how did a goblin wind up being born outside my kingdom? I can think of one way," he prompted grimly, purple sparks forming in the air around him.

The assembled goblin men tried hard to look as if they couldn't think of any way at all. Those young enough not to have been Richard's father wished they had a better excuse than that, and those old enough to have been Richard's father wished they had any excuse, such as possibly not having been born in the first place.

"If any of you thinks for any reason that you might be related to this child, I order you to speak up now." The men looked at each other surreptitiously, feeling dreadfully sorry for anyone who would have to speak. But no one did. Marak studied them one by one, eyes blazing.

"Very well, if any of you has knowledge that might shed light on this matter, I order you to speak up now."

Thaydar stood up and cleared his throat.

"Well, Marak," he growled a little uncertainly, "I'd say the best guess might be old Mandrake. He was making journeys up until about seven years ago. And while he'd never do anything wrong ordinarily, he could be rather wild if he had enough beer in him. We had to discipline him for that, you know. Why, I remember one time—" he went on, starting to chuckle, but then he glanced up to meet his King's icy glare and stopped. "Er, well, anyway, Mandrake's my guess," he concluded hastily and sat down again.

Marak continued to stalk the room for several more minutes while the goblins looked at the floor and breathed very quietly. "So," he said finally. "You're all innocent." The men immediately tried to look it, resulting in some humorous expressions, but for once, Marak wasn't amused.

"Well, you'd better be," he went on furiously. "Because nothing like this had better ever happen again, not as long as I'm King, or you'll all be sorry. That goblin child has spent ten years of his life surrounded by a cruel and uncaring race. He's been an outcast without any adult help, love, or friendship, a willing tool for whatever wicked scheme or swindle humans thought they could use him for. He's eaten out of dustbins and trash heaps, he's endured sickness and cold, and he's had to steal in order to stay alive. And as deprived and desperate as his life has been, he took on the care of two other orphan children, just so he would have someone, anyone, who would smile at the sight of his goblin features."

The King's eyes were fires now, his hair was crackling with the force of his anger, and sparks sizzled and showered from the hands which he had clasped behind his back. "That is what life has been for one of my subjects," he barked. "For one of my people—and yours! This is a disgrace from which we all should never, ever recover. And if, indeed, old Mandrake was to blame for it, then he's very lucky he's dead." Marak paused to draw breath. "Because I don't have enough magic to kill him again!"

He stalked out of the assembly room, slamming the door behind him, and his nervous goblins drew a collective breath. Thaydar hurried to the blazing door and put out the fire. They'd better get that replaced with a metal one right away, he thought, and he made a mental note to tell the dwarves.



Irina and Sable continue to bicker sometimes in the goblin kingdom. It's hard to overcome years of rude behavior, but Sable is trying to learn. /p>

"'Sheep' is amrah," Irina declared triumphantly in answer to Seylin's question. The young teacher shook his head.

"No, 'sheep' is udu," he reminded her. "Let's practice it again."

"But Seylin, you know you said it was amrah yesterday," she chided him.

"That was in your goblin class, Irina. Today is your elvish class. Amrah is the goblin word for sheep."

"I know what we can do," decided Irina cheerfully. "Since you know it's a sheep, and I know it's a sheep, why don't we just call it sheep?"

When he heard about these misadventures, Marak appointed Tinsel to teach the women their goblin, deciding that it would be less confusing for Irina if she learned the languages from two different teachers. Tinsel had more success than Seylin did, but his methods concerned the girl. Several months after they arrived, Irina mentioned her worries as she and Sable were leaving their magic class.

"I'm afraid that your husband isn't very bright," she confided to the black-haired elf. Sable stopped and stared at her.

"Why would you say that?" she demanded in offended surprise.

"He hardly understands a word I say," said Irina.

Sable clutched her papers tightly and ran through the multiplication table for eight.

"That's just in class," she said with barely concealed annoyance. "Tinsel pretends he can't understand English so you'll have to speak to him in goblin. Irina, what an idea!"

"You don't need to be angry," replied the elf girl with virtuous good will. "I think Tinsel's wonderful anyway. It's no disgrace, you know." And she walked off, leaving Sable gritting her teeth.



A lifetime of abuse leaves very deep scars. It takes Sable years to change the habits that she built up to protect herself from Thorn's hateful treatment. This is a process that requires the support of all those around her, and Tinsel in particular has to help his wife gain the confidence to take risks.

"Kate told me you were upset that I loaned your father's book to Seylin," Tinsel told her as they sat by their little fish pond. Sable immediately climbed to her feet and walked a few feet away. She stood with her back to him, running her fingers over the green cloth hangings.

"She shouldn't have told you!" she exclaimed.

"It's all right that she told me," Tinsel said, watching her. "I just wish you had done it."

"But you would have been angry with me," she murmured with her head down.

"No, I'm not," he assured her, as he had many times before. "Sable, it's all right to tell me things." But she just shook her head. "Why wouldn't it be all right to tell me?"

"Because I'm angry at you this time," she admitted in a burst of rare candor, "so you have to be angry at me."

Tinsel watched his beautiful wife nervously pick apart the greenery. "I don't have to be angry just because you are," he pointed out, "but let's say that I am. Let's say that I'm very angry. What's the worst thing that can happen?"

The elf woman continued to unravel the hangings. He waited for a minute, but she didn't answer him. "What are you afraid of?" he asked again. "I can't hit you, you know that. Marak would kill me."

"You could stop feeding me," she challenged, looking at him out of the corner of her eye. "You give me my food."

"You know that's not really true," Tinsel replied. "It isn't like it used to be in your camp; any goblin you ask will give you food. There's bread on the table right now, and you know that it's your food as just as much as mine."

Sable did know that, but she didn't let herself think of it. As much as the bread meant to her, she never touched it without his permission. "You'd be angry if I ate it," she insisted, turning away.

"Sable," remarked her husband, "you're not being fair. You know I wouldn't punish you with food like Thorn did."

He was right: she wasn't being fair. Slowly, she walked over to the basket of bread. "But you give it to me," she protested.

"I do that because you want me to," he answered. "I don't have to give it to you." He watched as she sat down and took the basket into her hands. She stared at it, but she didn't touch the bread.

"One day I will be angry with you," he said. "That's just how marriage is. One day we'll both be so angry that we can't even speak to each other. But do you think even then that I'll want you to go hungry?"

His wife thought about that, taking a roll from the basket and weighing it in her hand. She knew he was right. He wasn't Thorn. But still, she hesitated.

"Do you think I should eat it?" she asked anxiously, but Tinsel wasn't fooled.

"I'm not going to tell you to do it," he answered. "It's your decision."

Sable ate the roll, turned away from him so that he couldn't watch her, and her mouth was so dry, she almost choked. After she finished the whole thing, Tinsel came to kneel down in front of her.

"You see?" he told her quietly. "Even if I get angry, nothing bad will happen."

"But, Tinsel, you might hate me," whispered Sable, and her eyes filled with tears. He put his arms around her, and she hugged him tightly.

"You know I couldn't hate you," he said. "No matter what happened."

"I didn't like it," she told him with her head on his shoulder. "It didn't taste as good as the rolls you give me."

"I like giving you your food," he said, holding her. "I like making you happy. But I'm your husband, not your jailor. I don't want you to be a slave. Now, what did you want to tell me about your book?"

Sable wiped her eyes.

"It's my book," she answered gravely, holding his hand to give her confidence. "It's not anybody else's, and I like to keep it with me. I don't like it that you lent it without asking me. I don't mind if Seylin looks at it, but I don't want him to take it away."

Tinsel smiled at her solemn face. "Then let's go get it back," he proposed.



When it comes to dealing with others, Marak never stops thinking like a goblin King. In this short scene, he is reveling in the success of his elf marriages.

"Just look at them," gloated the goblin King to Kate at the banquet hall one evening, pointing out Tinsel and Sable. "They absolutely adore each other. They've been married for eight months, and they still can't take their eyes off each other."

Tinsel was choosing a cutlet for his wife, who insisted, elf-fashion, in eating only the food he gave her. "Why don't you feed me?" asked Kate, watching them. "I'm an elf, too."

"I did for a couple of days," admitted Marak, buttering his bread. "I wasn't sure if it would matter. But you weren't raised that way, so I stopped."

"I wish you'd kept it up," she said. "It's so romantic."

"Being fed isn't romantic," scoffed Marak. "Tinsel's romantic. Sable would eat sand if he gave it to her, she's so in love with him. You watch, she'll have three children in spite of her ghastly history, and I'll bet Irina has four. You'd hardly know that girl was the same ragged thing that arrived eight months ago. And Thaydar's turned into a raving lunatic over her. I had no idea marriage would affect him like that."



While Kate has learned a distaste for lying from the goblins, Emily has a very different attitude about lying. But then, she and Kate are different in almost every way.

No one was terribly surprised to find that Emily and Seylin were happy. It was perfectly natural that the pair, inseparable as children, should continue to be inseparable as adults. What did surprise everyone who knew them was that the marriage could be so uneventful. Marak no longer found Emily gesturing frantically at him while he was trying to hold court, and Kate no longer found herself plucked aside by angry goblins to hear about the horrible tricks that "that human" had played. Seylin's Guard friends discovered that he had ceased to be temperamental and sensitive. The old Seylin had wandered listlessly about the palace, discontented with his life. The new one had far too much to do.

Catspaw loved learning with his new tutor, and whenever he got tired, his aunt was right there to raise his spirits. One morning he was practicing his goblin writing with Seylin when Emily walked through the room.

"Em, did you go visit Ruby yet?" asked her husband. "She asked after you the last time she was here."

"Oh, I'd forgotten," remarked the young woman.

Catspaw kicked his feet against his chair and looked up from his lesson. "That's a lie," he told her smugly. "I don't know why humans lie when everyone can tell. I think it's stupid."

Emily grinned at him. "Not everyone can tell," she retorted. "Just you and your father, along with a few other goblins. We humans like to make up things. It's as close to magic as we can get."

"It's still stupid," scoffed the prince.

"I'll tell you what's stupid," countered Emily. "It's how you looked when you were born. You looked like a pink hippopotamus. Marak had to change you with magic."

"That's a lie, too," he announced with glee.

"And all the scholars wanted to name you Marak Funny-ears, but Kate wouldn't let them."

"Another lie," giggled the delighted Catspaw.

"And Lore-Master Ruby looks just like a frog wearing your mother's hair."

"That's the truth! You're telling the truth!" The young prince laughed so hard that he slid off his chair and had an attack of the hiccups.

"Em, please!" protested Seylin. "We're doing serious work here."

"I'm perfectly serious," declared the irrepressible Emily. "Come on, Catspaw, I'll show you how humans cure the hiccups." And she led her little nephew away.



This episode shows Marak scheming again, but a goblin King has to scheme: the survival of an entire race depends upon his careful planning.

Kate came back from teaching the pages to find Marak poring over a letter. "It's from my solicitors in London," he murmured in response to her query.

"I didn't know you had solicitors," said the surprised Kate, sitting down.

"Oh, of course," said the King. "In dealing with the human world, I've found lawyers as indispensable as money. Thaydar brought this letter back from his latest trip. They're about to auction Hallow Hill because the inheritance squabbles of your relatives have bankrupted the estate."

Kate frowned. "I still think I should have been allowed to testify. The lawsuits would have fallen apart if they'd realized I was alive."

"I'd have loved to be there," hooted Marak. "'Why, yes, Your Honor, I'm perfectly hale and fit, it's just that I live under a lake now with my husband the goblin.' We'd have had curiosity seekers swarming these hills like flies, as if the sorcerer wasn't bad enough. It doesn't matter now, the whole parcel of land is going to the highest bidder, and I plan to buy it."

"You're buying my land?" asked Kate indignantly.

Her husband smiled at her.

"Your land?" he echoed. "Didn't your guardian teach you anything, you elvish interloper? You have no more claim to it than I do. What does an elf want with mansions anyway?"

"Well, what do you want with it?" she wanted to know.

Marak set the letter down, looking thoughtful.

"For one thing, if I buy it, your aunt Celia can keep living in the Lodge," he answered. "Anyone else will move her out, and she has nowhere to go. She was your benefactor, and a goblin King doesn't forget his friends. And for another thing, I need to control who winds up in that mansion. The master of Hallow Hill has to be someone who won't destroy the place for profit. The humans are filling up their land, and they'll threaten mine soon if I don't stop them.

"I've been doing some thinking about the elf King's forest lately," he continued. "The spells on the forest are losing their power, and the trees are starting to fall. They wouldn't have lasted this long if Grandfather hadn't put the Axe Spell on them in his day. I'm thinking of doing the same thing."

"Why protect the elf lands when there are no more elves?" asked Kate.

"There's still you," observed her husband. "How would you feel if your forest was cut down? And the humans can do it in just a generation. The elf King's forest has stood since the earliest ages, barring the occasional fire, and there are huge trees in it whose age is too old to guess. Countless elves have treasured it and protected it with their spells. You might say it's the only thing they ever built. They were my cousins, and it's their monument."

Kate was silent. It was hard for her to imagine a forest full of elves. Even seeing Irina and Sable had done little to bring her heritage home to her. Marak studied her face and guessed what she was thinking.

"Come with me and help me work the spells," he suggested. "Catspaw can stay behind with his tutor, and you and I can have a holiday. It'll take weeks to circle the forest's edge and protect the trees. We'll walk the land every night and stay in a tent just like elves."

"You'll stay in a tent?" laughed his wife.

"I'll hate it, of course," admitted Marak. "It's in the goblin King's blood to hate tents, and I absolutely draw the line at eating elf food, but other than that, we'll live like elves for a while, and you can see what it was really like."

Kate's eyes shone. The moon and stars and whispering trees every night for weeks. It sounded like her most hopeful ideas of heaven.

"I think that's a lovely plan," she answered, overjoyed. "I can't wait to set out."


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