The skinny boy with owl eyes was Marticus. He had a little nose and shooting wild hair and ears that were big as tea saucers but the thing everyone noticed first was his owl eyes. They were hooded and black as midnight blackjack. They were eyes that seemed to absorb everything around them. Which they probably did. You couldn’t quite be sure because Marticus didn’t say too much, but what you could see from what he did – and my did he do a lot – made you believe that he took everything in and made good use of it.

Yet if Marticus was ingenious he was also very distant. He did not generally join into the bickering of his brothers and sisters. He kept his head down and focused on the things that interested him. He did not much care for school. He did not like to talk in public and when he was at school, he refused to take part in class discussions. He would not even answer “present” when he his name was called at role call so on many days even though he was there he was never accounted for. His teachers thought he was a bit simple because he was so skinny and he had those funny ears and owl eyes.