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The Battle of Jericho (The Jericho Trilogy Book 1) by [Sharon M. Draper]

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The Battle of Jericho (The Jericho Trilogy Book 1) Kindle Edition

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Length: 316 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Page Flip: Enabled
Language: English Age Level: 12 - 99 Grade Level: 7 - 9

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Battle of Jericho

THE BEGINNING OF THE END: JANUARY 28


THE PLEDGE MASTERS MARCHED THE FIFTEEN pledges to the middle of the soggy yard. The ground was muddy and squished as they walked, and the frigid air whipped across the pledges’ wet T-shirts. Sharp needles of rain stung them as they stood there silently waiting for instructions.

“Kneel!” Rick Sharp shouted to Jericho.

Jericho wanted to disobey, but instead he knelt immediately. Cold mud soaked through his jeans in seconds.

“Take off my boot, Pledge Slime!” the six-foot, broad-shouldered senior shouted to Jericho over the noise of the pouring rain. He glanced down at Jericho, who huddled at his feet.

Jericho shivered as the rain came down harder and made him sink deeper into the mud of the desolate warehouse yard. His fingers were wet and stiff, but he reached for Sharp’s big, black army boot and slowly began to untie the laces.

“Hurry up, Pledge Slime!” Sharp shouted. Jericho dejectedly struggled to untie the wet lace of the pledge master’s boot, his fingers aching. He wasn’t sure what to do when he finished. He had no idea how to get the boot off Rick’s foot.

He glanced over to see, if he could, the line of the other pledges, also kneeling in the mud at the feet of their pledge masters. But the rain and the darkness made it difficult to see very much. Jericho could barely even see Josh, who was closest to him in the line, but he could hear Mad Madison shouting at him in the darkness. Jericho couldn’t see Kofi or Dana at all.

“All of us have been where you are tonight,” Sharp told Jericho. “A Warrior of Distinction is not afraid to lower himself for his brother. A Warrior of Distinction does not show fear. Are you afraid, Pledge Slime?”

“No, sir,” Jericho replied. “I’m not afraid.”

“Then get busy! The rest of your pledge class, slimy and disgusting as they are, seem to be doing fine. Do you want to let them down?”

Jericho inhaled slowly. It was all of them or none of them. “Can you lift your foot, Master Senior Sharp, sir?” Jericho asked timidly. As he raised his face to look at Sharp, he gasped as the icy rain stung his eyes.

“Did I give you permission to speak, Pledge Slime?” Sharp snarled. Jericho said nothing, but Rick lifted his right foot, using Jericho’s head to balance himself.

Jericho pulled the boot off with difficulty. He was afraid that he would fall or would make Rick fall as he tugged at the boot. Either would have been disastrous, but he managed to get the boot off smoothly. The stench of Rick Sharp’s foot was enough to make Jericho choke.

“Now take off the sock,” Rick barked.

Jericho hesitated and hoped they would be able to go home soon. He slowly peeled off Rick’s sock. Rick’s foot reeked of sweat.

“Place the sock on the ground, then set my foot down on it. Make sure not a speck of mud touches my foot,” he commanded.

Jericho did as he was told and Rick Sharp removed his hand from Jericho’s head as he lowered his foot to the ground. Then he bent down and whispered into Jericho’s ear, “You havin’ fun yet?”

Jericho didn’t dare tell the truth—that he had stopped having fun long ago.

“You really want to be a Warrior of Distinction?” Rick asked.

Jericho nodded. He thought of the prestige of having one of those black silk jackets, the admiring glances in the halls at school, but mostly he thought of Arielle. He tried not to think of the rain and the mud and the stink of Rick’s feet.

“Are you willing to do anything to be a Warrior of Distinction?” Rick demanded. “You have permission to answer.”

“Yes, sir! Yes, Master Senior Sharp, sir! I am willing to do anything to be a Warrior of Distinction, sir!” Jericho repeated the words that he and the other pledges had been chanting automatically since the whole process began. But he wasn’t sure if he meant them anymore.

“Are you willing to do anything to help the others become Warriors of Distinction?” Rick demanded.

“Anything, sir.” Jericho just wanted it to be over.

“Then suck my big toe.”

“Sir?” Jericho wasn’t sure if he had heard correctly.

“If you want to be a Warrior of Distinction, you must suck my big toe. Now!”

Jericho looked around desperately; he had no idea what the others were being forced to do. As he lowered his head close to the mud and closer to Rick Sharp’s foot, Jericho wondered miserably how he could have sunk so low.

About the Author

Sharon M. Draper is a New York Times bestselling author and recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens. She has received the Coretta Scott King Award for both Copper Sun and Forged by Fire, and was most recently awarded the Charlotte Huck Award for Stella by Starlight. Her novel Out of My Mind has won multiple awards and was a New York Times bestseller for over three years. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she taught high school English for twenty-five years and was named National Teacher of the Year. Visit her at SharonDraper.com.

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