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S: Disappearing Act by Xiang Luo

BC: Xiang is a 7th grade student at Eyer Middle School. She likes drawing and reading and wants to be a video game designer when she grows up.

FC: Disappearing Act | By Xiang Luo

1: This book is dedicated to everyone that read this far. | But that doesn't mean you can stop now. Katie, Cassidy, you read this too.

2: Once upon a time, there was a girl that was born in a peasant family on a manor. Her name was Mary, and she was the youngest of the three brothers and an older sister. | This girl lived in the Middle Ages, which stretched from 500 to 1500 AD This story takes place in the 12th century.

3: One day, when the sun just rose, Mary went to collect eggs from the chickens, a chore she never liked. But she realized there were fewer chickens than yesterday. Therefore, she didn't get very many eggs. | A peasants' day usually began at sunrise and ended at sunset.

4: Mary's parents weren't happy with the meager amount of eggs she collected, and they didn't listen to her protests. Just go mend your brothers' clothes like a good girl, they said. When she opened the box where the thread was kept, some spools were missing. | Peasants had small chests or boxes with locks in their house to store their few possessions

5: When she was mending her brothers' trousers, she heard her older sister, Katie, complain she didn't have enough wool to make thread. | Girls and women were expected to take care of small livestock, like chickens, mend clothes, and cook.

6: The next day, one of her brothers, Matthew, reported a sheep missing. Katie also said one of the chickens disappeared. Mary's mother ran out of their meager supply of meat, so they had vegetable soup for breakfast. | Pottage was a popular breakfast in the middle ages. It was soup with vegetables, and if the family was lucky, a bit of meat in it.

7: When Mary was coming back from her egg-collecting chore, her neighbor, John, came up to the chicken coop. He looked surprised to see her, and ran off towards the house. He's probably here to see Ma or Pa, Mary thought. | John was a serf, or a person that worked for the manor. When the land was sold, the serf went with it. They were not slaves (they couldn't be sold) but were tied to their land and were the stage between free men and slaves.

8: Day after day, things went missing from the household. It wasn't only animals, sometimes it was crops, eggs, or cloth, and once, one of her brother's shoes. Her parents and sister thought it was a fox. Her brothers told Mary it was a monster to scare her. | Common animals on the farm were sheep and chickens,and sometimes pigs. Horses and oxen were very rare.

9: Another thing was that John kept visiting more and more often. One time, Mary caught him holding a spool of thread she left on the table, looking intently at a sheep in their flock. | Serfs and peasants worked very hard throughout the entire day, and didn't have much leisure time. Then why is John coming over? Suspicious...

10: When tax day came, Mary's family had to hand over most of their crops, and barely had enough to eat. Mary decided to do something about whoever was taking their stuff. | Peasants had to pay a tithe, a type of tax, to the church. It was 10% of what they had farmed.

11: The next day, her parents moved some of their animals inside to keep them out of reach from the "fox, or wolf". The chickens had to stay outside because there was no room. In the middle of the night, Mary went to the chicken coop and waited. | Sometimes, peasants put their animals in their house for the night, to protect them or in winter, keep them alive.

12: Mary set a trap near the chicken coop. It was simply a piece of rope tied to two trees, and was unseen in the dark. Her plan was to chase the thief to the rope, and he would trip over it. In the night, she saw a dark figure, and prepared to chase him to the trap. | Candles were rare for peasants, so they often made their own using animal fat.

13: It was John! She caught him and tied him up using the rope from the trap. The next day, she presented John to the peasant court. It turned out he stole from many other families as well, and was living off of their food. | On manors, there was a peasant "court" with twelve peasants and a representative for the lord of the manor.

14: Mary received much admiration from her family for catching the thief. Her family received an apology and their food and items. So from then on, Mary and her family didn't have any more trouble with thieves. | Fin

15: Works Cited | Davies, Penelope. Growing up in the Middle Ages. Hove, E. Sussex: Wayland, 1972. Print. Delort, Robert. Life in the Middle Ages. New York, NY: Greenwich House, 1983. Print. Winston, Clara, and Richard Winston. The Horizon Book of Daily Life in the Middle Ages. New York: American Heritage Pub., 1975. Print. "The Peasant Life." Web. 12 Apr. 2011. .

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