Clare B. Dunkle

Deleted scenes from The Hollow Kingdom

By Clare B. Dunkle. New York: Henry Holt, 2003.

Blenheim Palace garden

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 The Hollow Kingdom 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.













This scene occurs very close to the beginning of the book, when Kate and Emily spend the night in the inn at Hollow Lake before they arrive at Hallow Hill. In the book, this evening is just a memory, and the warning doesn't occur at all. In fact, Mr. Graham has disappeared from the book entirely.

Kate and Emily climbed stiffly out of the coach. It was the hour of early evening when people stand talking in doorways or lean out of their windows to exchange news. Kate looked about interestedly and tried not to stretch because it wasn't ladylike. Emily stretched from head to toe. She didn't care.

"Go back! Go away! You shouldn't be here!"

Both girls turned in alarm. A bent old man was hobbling toward them rapidly, waving his cane. He shuffled up as close as he could, much closer than they liked. "Go back where you came from!" he urged. "Go home now! Now!"

Emily fell back before his pleading stare, but Kate stood her ground.

"We can't go back," she answered as firmly as she could. "We are going to our home."

The old man plucked at her sleeve.

"You see, you see," he continued in a lower voice, "you know what happened to my Annie." He stopped and looked expectantly at them as if this would explain everything. Kate was struck by the terrible pain in his eyes.

"No," she said gently, "we don't know Annie." And she put her hand on his.

"You—then you don't know? About what happened to Annie?" He gulped, and tears began running down the old face, gathering in wrinkles and trickling off his chin. He dropped the cane and clutched her hand in both of his. "My pretty little Annie, with her golden hair, just like yours," he whimpered. "My poor, poor little girl!" His thin shoulders heaved and shook. Kate and Emily stared at each other wide-eyed over his bowed head.

"Now then, Mr. Graham, frightening the guests again!" A round, middle-aged woman in apron and cap bustled up to them. "You know what Mr. Bounce'll say if he finds out what you've been up to."

She nodded cheerfully at Kate and Emily as she bent to retrieve the dropped cane. "Come along," she said, "no more of your old stories," and she drew him away from the frightened girls.

"But, Matty," they heard him sob, "they don't know! They don't know!"

The woman slipped an arm around the hunched shoulders. "No more do they need to," she answered kindly. "That's all long, long gone by. Just you come in for a good hot cup of tea. You need bracing at your age, that's what." And they disappeared together around the corner of the inn.



This scene occurs after the dinner at Hallow Hill in which Kate learns about goblins. She has already seen Seylin on the tree branch and has tried to chase a squirrel away. Now she is in her room again, talking to Emily, and she finds another visitor outside. This visitor is Hulk, the feather ape, changed into his bird form.

Halfway through brushing her hair, Kate stopped at the window. There on the tree branch across from her room sat a large, ungainly-looking bird. It was a disordered mass of rumpled ashy-black feathers, and it was nibbling one large orange foot. It stopped to survey the irritated Kate for a few seconds.

Most birds' eyes are wild and fierce—even chickens look annoyed—but this bird's large yellow eyes just looked sad and patient. It clacked its long bill and began preening: in Kate's opinion, a work doomed to failure.

"Oh, I just hate this!" she exclaimed. "Em, they're always watching me! Even in the daytime I get no peace at all. Go away!" she yelled at the bird. It stopped preening to eye her forlornly. "I said, Go away!" she yelled again and flung her hairbrush at it.

The bird sidled along the branch and watched as the hairbrush whizzed harmlessly by. Her brush landed in a tangle of twigs some twenty feet above the ground. Kate felt rather foolish.

"I'm sorry," she called to the bird. It gazed at her sorrowfully. "I mean," she continued stupidly, "I'm just tired of not being left alone. But I need my hairbrush back. Please?"

The bird stepped back and forth and seemed to hesitate. Then it picked up the offending hairbrush. With a few powerful strokes, it covered the distance to her window and dropped it into her outstretched hand. It circled awkwardly, landed on its tree branch, and went back to preening.

Kate stared for a moment at the hairbrush she was holding. Then she gave a shrug.

"Thank you," she called to the bird, who gave a low cry in response. She shut the window and turned away, ignoring Emily's astounded expression.



This scene occurs after Seylin escorts the girls home from the tree circle and after they change their clothes to run away. They go to the kitchen to get some bread for their journey and find a small goblin in the middle of a special errand. This goblin, named Midge, has no further role in the book, but at one point he did go with Seylin and Hulk to free Emily from the cellar.

They tiptoed down the hall and into the doorway of the kitchen, where they froze in complete astonishment.

A thick little figure was laboriously climbing up the kitchen cupboard, puffing quietly as he pulled himself from drawer pull to drawer pull. He appeared to be a dumpy little man less than a foot tall. His big head was about the same size as his broad body, and his arms and legs were short and squat. He wore a loose shirt circled with a thick belt, tiny breeches, and soft boots. His long white hair flopped untidily on his collar.

The little man scaled the cupboard at last, clambering up onto the polished wood surface. There he rested on hands and knees for a moment, catching his breath. As he turned and climbed to his feet, Emily covered her mouth to stop a giggle. He had the most enormous ears. They stuck straight up past his head, rising to sharp points. A thick tuft of hair about an inch long flapped from each ear tip like a little white flag.

The diminutive creature trotted quickly to Aunt Celia's china teapot. Standing on tiptoe, he grabbed the lid in both hands and heaved it down to rest at his feet. Then, quietly humming a little tuneless song of satisfaction, he untied a bulky leather pouch from his belt. He carefully lifted it up the rounded side and prepared to pour its contents into the pot.

Kate stalked silently across the floor and nabbed him by the tip of one tall ear. He dropped his leather pouch and staggered back, turning to look at her. She glimpsed a long, absurd face and a gigantic nose. With a despairing cry, he fell face down onto the cupboard top and lay there, moaning and quivering.

Kate let go of the ear tip and picked up the leather pouch. Inside was some sort of powder. Poison, no doubt—a poison intended for the entire family! Beside herself with indignation, she poked the little man in the ribs with a finger.

"Get up right this minute and tell me why you're here!" she demanded in a fierce whisper. "What was that powder supposed to do? How could you go around poisoning people!"

The little man dragged himself up and waved his hands in the air piteously. He babbled out a stream of shrill, incomprehensible speech, then collapsed back onto his face.

Emily crept to Kate's side and stared down at the prone form. "Do you think that was English?" she asked.

Anger and fatigue made Kate implacable. Seizing the figure by the back of the collar, she hauled him to his miniscule feet.

"I demand that you tell me what your orders were," she said sternly.

The little man promptly fell to his knees, clasping his hands together. His eyes were screwed shut, and a big tear clung to the end of his long nose. He released another barrage of pathetic, unintelligible explanation. The only word they understood was 'Marak.'

"Marak, is it!" Kate exclaimed darkly. "I might have known." Opening one eye to peek at her severe expression, the tiny man gave a panicked howl.

"Well, really, Kate," said Emily, "there's no need to scare him to death."

The little creature looked up quickly. Seeing Emily's friendly expression, he leapt to his feet and hurled himself at her, clutching her clothes and hiding his face in her dress. "There, there," Emily said soothingly, patting him on the back.

"At last!" exulted Kate. "We have proof! We can show him to the aunts and Mr. Roberts. They'll send us away in the carriage, and we can keep him as a hostage. Marak will have to leave me alone since I've captured a goblin."

Emily put her hands protectively around the little creature. "Are you sure he's a goblin, Kate?" she asked. "He looks more like a gnome, or maybe a brownie."

"What difference does that make? Come on! Let's wake Aunt Prim." Kate turned and headed for the door.

Emily didn't move. She lifted the little gnome up in her arms and looked at him. He clutched her thumb in both hands, tears streaming down his nose.

Already climbing the stairs, Kate heard a sudden scuffle. She hurried back to find her sister standing by the back door. Emily turned slowly around, arms empty. She didn't look up.

"What on earth happened?" demanded Kate in a distraught whisper.

"Oh, Kate!" whispered Emily sadly. "I just couldn't do it. They would have locked him in a cage and had people come to study him. His eyes are so big, you can tell he'd be blinded by the daylight. He came to me for help. And he was so scared..."

"But he was our best chance!" Kate hissed furiously. "Em, don't you understand? We needed him!"

Emily's lower lip began to quiver.

"I knew you'd be angry," she answered. "But I just had to do it. Kate, he was so little!" She gave a tearful sniff. Emily, her own dear little sister. Emily, who never cried.

Kate threw her arms around her, choking down her own disappointment as well as she could.

"It's all right, Em. I don't mind." She thought about herself terrifying the poor little creature. "I'm even glad you did it," she said sadly. "We'd better leave now before they think of something else."



This quick scene occurs right after Kate enters the kingdom and before she gets to the throne room. It isn't enough for the sensitive Seylin that he has single-handedly brought in the stubborn King's Bride; he has to be properly dressed as well. This scene was only in the book for fun; I enjoyed turning my black cat into a Puss in Boots.

They stopped in a narrow hallway of yellow stone, and Seylin popped open a door. Kate stiffened, not really prepared to face the King.

Instead, she found herself staring in astonishment at a small apartment. Manuscripts and books spilled off a table onto the chair nearby. Clothes were strewn across the shiny floor. A thick pallet lay in an alcove, its blankets tossed back. A small white cat, curled up on the pillow, blinked curiously at her.

Seylin stepped into the untidy room and held the door. Catching Kate gazing about, he bent hastily and scrabbled some of the scattered clothes into a pile. Then the black cat dropped them again, ears back, looking a little unhappy.

He darted over and pulled a small cape from the chair, red velvet lined with purple silk. He swung the cape over his furry shoulders, and his soft paws struggled with the catch. His golden-eyed gaze met Kate's astounded one again.

"Court's formal," he said earnestly, as if this would explain everything.



This scene occurs in Hugh's study during the goblin interrogation. Marak sends off his goblins to free Emily and then decides to have some fun with his over-educated relation. Her guardian's terrified shrieks at the conclusion of this scene make Kate realize just how brave she has been.

"Kate tells me you're writing a book," said the goblin King. "All about our family." His voice was light and pleasant, but Hugh Roberts didn't risk a glance at him. He just stared at the rug, his eyes glassy.

"What did you write about my mother?" Marak asked with genuine interest.

Hugh looked up with a baffled expression on his face.

"Oh, don't tell me you just left her out," the King remarked. "It's such a famous story. Kate's only been here a couple of months, and she knows all about how my mother and father met. Little Adele Roberts, out hunting the goblins. And the goblins, out hunting Adele."

Marak chuckled delightedly, his sharp gray teeth glinting in the candlelight. Hugh blanched at the familiar name, and a look of horror crossed his face.

"You've seen the portraits of Adele Roberts," continued Marak seriously. He bent down close, his striped shock of hair brushing Hugh's face. "Tell me the truth," he said with an inhuman leer. "Don't you think I favor my mother?"



This scene also occurs during the interrogation of Hugh Roberts. Marak knows he has learned something important, but he doesn't have time to puzzle out what it means.

"Of course I had plans," snapped the gray-faced man. "I've never cared much for marriage, but I decided it would be for the best. I intended to marry Miss Winslow at first. That was before I met her."

Marak glanced at Kate's startled expression.

"I was led to believe that humans let their women choose their husbands," he said. "Isn't that true?"

Hugh fidgeted back and forth.

"Someone in Miss Winslow's position, with property to consider, can't just marry a chimney sweep," he replied with little grace. "Of course, she can marry whomever she wants, if she falls in love with the right person."

The goblin King hooted with laughter.

"Of course," he agreed. "What a simple solution. And you were to be that person?"

"As her guardian," Hugh answered heavily, "I would be in the position to keep everyone else away. She'd have to marry me or no one."

"I see." Marak laughed again. "Tell me you would have made the right choice, Kate," he added, but Kate was far too upset to respond. "So, why am I not congratulating the happy couple?" the goblin went on. "What happened to your plans?"

Hugh turned his pale eyes on Kate.

"Look at her!" he shrieked. "Just look! Do you think I could marry that?"

Kate glanced around, distressed, to see all eyes fixed on her. Marak turned abruptly from his questioning to study her mortified face.

"Yes," he replied quietly, his own eyes glittering with rage. "Yes, I rather think you could have."

He turned away from the group and stood, hands clasped behind his back, glaring at an old portrait. It was a picture of his grandfather, but there wasn't very much resemblance. Kate realized that the other goblins were watching their chief uneasily. Thaydar's green eyes were narrow, and Seylin's golden ones were huge.

"Tell me," Marak continued evenly, not turning around, "just what do you think is wrong with her?"

"She looks just like the other one! They look exactly alike!" Hugh howled in a tantrum. "That shrinking lily, that fairy changeling who stole the family fortune! As soon as I saw her dreamy face, I knew I could never bear to marry her!"

Marak considered him severely for a few seconds. "Kate, do you have any idea what he's talking about?" he asked with an impatient sigh.

"He means," whispered Kate, "that I look like Elizabeth, the girl who played with your mother. He's right, I do look just like her. There's a picture of them both upstairs."

Marak unclasped his hands from behind his back, suddenly intrigued.

"Wasn't she the adopted girl?" he asked. Kate nodded.

"And you look just like her." The goblin frowned. "Kate, there's something strange about you."



This scene used to be part of a chapter that discussed Kate's new life in the underground kingdom. Most of that material was compressed into one day three months after Kate's marriage. The beginning paragraphs had appeared during the banquet scene in which Kate is dismayed to find everyone staring at her snake.

It is true that Kate herself had stared at the golden snake for some time before she got dressed. Marak told her cheerfully that the snake didn't always look that good. Apparently, it liked variety. Sometimes it looped itself like a band of knitting yarn around both shoulders. Sometimes it twirled over and over around the neck itself. Scholars had kept a record of all the different orientations, trying to find some omen or meaning in it.

"On my first wife," Marak said, tracing its spirals admiringly with a finger, "it hung itself around her neck like a worm on a hook, head and tail just hanging. I think it was disgusted." But these helpful remarks did not reconcile quiet Kate to all the curious stares.

While the King had his fuzzy valets to help him dress, Kate had no ladies in waiting of her own. Tradition accorded the role of lady's maid to her husband. Many goblin customs encouraged the King to stay close to his wife to help him gain the insights needed to produce the hoped-for Heir. While this might be romantic in design, Kate considered grimly, she would have preferred a half-dozen arguing maids to one goblin King when it came time to dress. At least she could have worn what she wanted.

"Bring me the green silk with the white lace," she said one morning from her dressing table. "The one with the tucks in the front."

"The one I can't stand," Marak answered from the wardrobe. "You only want to wear it because you know I hate it. You must be feeling sulky this morning. Here," he said, returning, "bite me on the thumb again to get it out of your system and then put this on."

Kate turned to see a familiar blue gown in his hands.

"But I always wear that!" she cried indignantly.

"Of course you do," he said, looking at it with approval. "It's my favorite."

"I don't know why I even have other clothes," she stormed as he fastened up the back. "I should just have twelve copies of this stupid blue dress!"

Marak paused and shook his striped hair out of his face, considering the idea.

"I'll talk to the tailors," he promised.



This short scene, also part of the chapter about Kate's new life with Marak, describes how he reads to her from the King's Wife Chronicles. Recorded in the last volume are Marak's notes about his first wife, Annie, whose somewhat frail mental state had given way to madness during the ceremony of the King's Wife Charm.

He didn't want to read them to her, but Kate declared that she was trying to gain insights into his character for the sake of producing the Heir, and Marak's sense of honesty compelled him to accept this argument. She studied the neat handwriting as he read her the brief notes.

"Annie is sweet and docile in spite of her affliction," read one. "She is much like a very young child. Only the most human-looking women take care of her. At the sight of any normal goblin, she screams and hides her eyes, convinced she is having an attack." Another one read, "Annie cries even at the sound of my voice. She told Agatha she thinks I'm the Devil."

Hearing the notes recording his efforts to find some way to reach the poor girl, Kate began to see why he had watched his second bride for so long and hesitated to overpower her attempts to escape him. In stealing Annie without learning anything about her, Marak had caused Annie's madness, and he had had to live with the consequences. He had been determined to be more careful the next time.



This scene occurs immediately after Kate scrambles out of Hollow Lake and Charms scolds her for being in danger of catching pneumonia. In the book, an old woman takes the place of Mr. Graham in playing host to Kate for the night.

"Annie!" came a cry from the road above them. "Annie!"

With a metallic rustle, the snake twirled around Kate's neck and collapsed into place again. Kate saw a dark figure hurrying towards her from a nearby cottage. In another moment, Mr. Graham was clutching her wet hands. Then he dropped his head, a crestfallen look on his face.

"I'm sorry," said Kate, feeling very odd. "I'm not Annie."

"I know," sighed the old man.

Kate let him guide her up the path and into the cottage. A fire blazed on the hearth of the little two-room structure, and a simple wooden table and chairs stood before it. With a sigh of contentment, Kate came to stand before the hearth. She was never cold in the goblin kingdom. It felt rather delicious to get very cold and then warm up before a crackling fire.

Mr. Graham brought clean sacks to help Kate dry off. She was streaming with water, and her dress clung to her wet legs. He set out a meal of bread and cheese and soon had tea steaming in a mug. She sat down and began to eat. Mr. Graham watched her, his eyes miserable.

"I knew you weren't really Annie," he said sadly. "She's been gone so long now. But when I saw you coming up out of the lake, I thought maybe her spirit was visiting me. You—you know about my Annie, don't you?" he asked hesitantly.

"Yes, Mr. Graham," said Kate slowly. "I know about Annie. I know all about her. Would you like to know about her, too?"

The old man fixed her with an agonized stare. His mouth worked for a minute.

"Do you know what happened to my Annie?" he whispered She almost couldn't look at those eyes.

"Annie went walking on the lake shore," said Kate. "She was picking flowers. And there she met a stranger, a—a young man—and rich, too. He wanted Annie to run away with him. They left that minute, and they were married that same day." She paused, struggling to find the right things to tell. She owed the tormented man nothing less than the truth.

"Annie didn't really want to leave you," she went on. "During the wedding ceremony, her mind gave way. The rich gentleman had women take care of her day and night, and she was very sweet, like a little girl. She lived for fifteen years, and he gave her everything that would make her happy. But she must have blamed him for separating you two because she cried whenever he came near her. She thought that he was the Devil."

At these words, Mr. Graham laid his head down on his arms and burst into tears. But when he lifted his head again, his eyes were bright. The agonized look was gone.

"Annie's mother Beth was just as sweet as she was," he faltered as he mopped his wet face. "But when the baby was born, it changed her. She was just like a baby herself. You should have seen the little girl leading her poor mother by the hand, looking after her and telling her what to do.

"When Beth died, we came here," he continued. "I wanted us to have a new life. But Annie disappeared right away. I imagined the most horrible things," he whispered. "And every girl that came here, I'd warn. There shouldn't be such things happen to young girls, Miss." Kate nodded as he looked at her solemnly.

"But now I know what happened. You don't know what it means. And I know that it's the truth. You see, on her bad days, Beth thought I was the Devil, too."

In the morning, Mr. Graham hailed the post coach for her.

"Today's Monday, so it'll be young Tommy Hargrove, I expect," he remarked. "I know 'em all," he added, looking a little ashamed, "because I always meet the coaches, looking for my Annie."

"I'd like you to have this, Mr. Graham," said Kate, giving him one of her rings. "If you find yourself worrying about Annie, just look at it and remember that she was as happy as she could be. And I'll tell Annie's husband I met you," she added, looking around the tiny, bare cottage. "It may be that he can do something to help his father-in-law."



This scene takes place in the last chapter of the book and is the conclusion of Annie's story.

Marak had been quite interested in Kate's account of Mr. Graham's timely help, and black-cloaked emissaries began visiting the bent old man regularly, bringing him money from his son-in-law. Mr. Graham gave up his earth-floored cottage and took the best room at the inn. There he sat by the wide hearth, eating Matty Bounce's excellent meals and listening to the tales that the travelers told as they came through.

One night, two young thugs attacked the old man as he walked by the lakeshore, intent on gaining the wealth they had heard he possessed. A mysterious figure intervened, and the young men were never seen again. But the next morning Matty Bounce noticed in surprise two very nervous-looking new roosters in her chicken yard. Always practical, she popped them right into the cooking pot before any of the neighbors could claim them.



This scene also occurs in the last chapter of the book and tells of the goblin King's efforts to avenge Kate's attempted murder. It gives a glimpse of Marak and Kate during his long convalescence.

Marak sent Thaydar out with two other members of the Guard to deliver the King's Judgment on the coachman. Kate didn't hear his instructions, but she was on hand when the fanged lieutenant returned. She was sitting on the bed, a large unwieldy volume in her hands, plowing through the doings of her husband's predecessors.

"'In the eleventh year of the reign of Marak Batwing, and the twenty-fifth year of the reign of Aganir Ni-Halbi, the elf King named Spring Frost,'" she read slowly, "'the master of Hallow Hill acceded to a demand of his new wife, and he violated the integrity of the ancient truce circle. The goblin King and the elf King banded together to fight this threat, to wit, the master's efforts to construct within the circle a gi—no, a ga—' Marak, I don't know this word," and she held out the book.

"'A gazebo, '" muttered the goblin King, opening his eyes to study the page.

"A gazebo!" echoed Kate in disbelief. "Are you sure?" Marak closed his eyes. His lips twitched into a wry smile as he shrugged.

Thaydar entered the room, still in riding apparel and covered in dust. Marak opened his eyes again and looked up with a gleam of interest.

"Goblin King," roared Thaydar, "I have bad news. We learned that the coachman had his throat slit and his goods stolen the night he attempted to endanger the King's Wife."

"Well, it can't be helped," murmured the goblin King thoughtfully. "You did your best." He continued to look thoughtful after the travel-stained Thaydar left. Kate eyed Marak warily. The frustrated disappointment etched on Thaydar's face convinced her that this King's Judgment would not have been a pleasant one. She considered asking what it would have been but decided she'd rather not know. Goblin revenge was never pretty. She went back to the book.

"'Day after day, the master had his workers build,'" she read on, "'and every morning the truce circle was pristine once more. At length, greatly angered, the master hired thirty workers to build the gazebo all in one day. And that night, he guarded the finished structure with twenty armed men.'" She paused to take a breath and puzzle out the next sentence. "'In the morning, the master and men awoke to find that they were floating in the middle of Hollow Lake on the smashed remains of the gazebo. They floated about until late in the day, when a fisherman discovered them. The master was brought back to the Hall delirious and in great pain from sunburn.'"

"Now, that's magic," sighed Marak happily, closing his eyes again.


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