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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Kaz would always remember that moment, when he’d seen greed take hold of his brother, an invisible hand guiding him onward, the lever at work.

Mister Hertzoon had taken a lot of convincing. They’d all gone back to the Zelverstraat house and discussed it well into the night. Kaz had fallen asleep with his head on the silver dog’s side and Saskia’s red ribbon clutched in his hand.

When Jordie finally roused him, the candles had burned low, and it was already morning. Mister Hertzoon had asked his business partner to come over and draw up a contract for a loan from Jordie. Because of his age, Jordie would loan Mister Hertzoon the money, and Mister Hertzoon would place the trade. Margit gave them milk tea and warm pancakes with sour cream and jam. Then they’d all walked to the bank that held the funds from the sale of the farm and Jordie signed them over.

Mister Hertzoon insisted on escorting them back to their boarding house, and he’d hugged them at the door. He handed the loan agreement to Jordie and warned him to keep it safe. “Now, Jordie,” he said, “there is only a small chance that this trade will go bad, but there is always a chance. If it does, I’m relying on you not to use that document to call in your loan. We both must take the risk together. I am trusting you.”

Jordie had beamed. “The deal is the deal,” he said.

“The deal is the deal,” said Mister Hertzoon proudly, and they shook hands like proper merchants. Mister Hertzoon handed Jordie a thick roll of kruge. “For a fine dinner to celebrate. Come back to the coffeehouse a week from today, and we’ll watch the prices rise together.”

That week they’d played ridderspel and spijker at the arcades on the Lid. They’d bought Jordie a fine new coat and Kaz a new pair of soft leather boots. They’d eaten waffles and fried potatoes, and Jordie had purchased every novel he craved at a bookshop on Wijnstraat. When the week was over, they’d walked hand in hand to the coffeehouse.

It was empty. The front door was locked and bolted. When they pressed their faces to the dark windows, they saw that everything was gone—the tables and chairs and big copper urns, the chalkboard where the figures for the day’s trades had been posted.

“Do we have the wrong corner?” asked Kaz.

But they knew they didn’t. In nervous silence, they walked to the house on Zelverstraat. No one answered their knock on the bright blue door.

“They’ve just gone out for a while,” said Jordie. They waited on the steps for hours, until the sun began to set. No one came or went. No candles were lit in the windows.

Finally, Jordie worked up the courage to knock on a neighbor’s door. “Yes?” said the maid who answered in her little white cap.

“Do you know where the family next door has gone? The Hertzoons?”