"Name's Azariah Hughley," he said with a grin and a clearly northern accent. "Don't call me that, though. Never liked the name Azariah, too stuffy. Don't know what my mother was thinking when she named me that. Call me Azzy instead; that's what I've gone by for years, you know. I rarely even answer to Azariah, just doesn't register as my own name anymore."
The victim of Azzy's monologue was an old man in a dark scratchy coat and a low-brimmed hat, who was beginning to wish he hadn't sat down next to the talkative young man. However the bus was filled, and there were no other seats available but that one.
"Sure is pouring outside, eh?" Azzy continued. "Ghastly weather. Not as bad as Scotland, though. Terribly cold up there, don't know how the Scots live with it. I'm from Scotland you know, so I'm a Scot myself. Well, not really, both my parents were Londoners, you know. But I was raised by a Scottish farmer, so I might as well be Scottish. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad country all and all, just cold. So, what do you do for a living?"
The other man made a show of pulling his hat down and crossing his arms, trying to drop the hint that he didn't want to talk. Azzy noticed, but didn't let it deter him.
"I'm unemployed at the moment, but I've had my share of interesting work in the past, let me tell you. I used to work for INTERPOL, if you can believe that. Well, not work, but I trained for it. Well, I never actually finished the training, but I did start it. They wouldn't have me, you know. I didn't conform to the organization's 'Standards', or some nonsense like that. I say, if they want their agents to 'conform', they might as well be recruiting Play-Do, right?"
The bus ride lasted for about and hour, and Azzy continued chatting for nearly the entire length of it, with no encouragement whatsoever from the man beside him. Finally, the bus came to a stop in a small town called St. Barthelemy. As the bus driver announced where they were, Azzy took special notice; so much so that he stopped speaking right in the middle of a spiel about William Wallace and Robert Bruce. He looked up and scanned the town outside the window. "No, it can't be. Really? Aye, it is! Would you look at that? Ha!" He stood up quickly, and squeezed past the man beside him. "Excuse me, I'll have to be going now. Wasn't planning on getting off here, but I can't let a chance like this go by, now can I? No sir." He pulled his singular bag down from the luggage shelf above his seat, and marched down the aisle toward the Bus's doorway. "Thanks for the ride, sir," Azzy said as he paid the driver, and stepped out into the rain. "What do you know, it's raining here too. Oh well." He pulled his trenchcoat closed, and wished he had a hat, as he rushed through the muddy street toward the protection of an overhanging porch outside what appeared to be a pub. A portly fellow was standing there already, smoking a great big cigar.
"Hello there," Azzy grinned. "I don't suppose you'd know where I can find me a place to stay for the night?"
The man pointed lazily down the street. "Lucinda Cain just opened a lodge," he answered, "You can stay there for a fair price."
"Ah, thank you," Azzy said quickly with a nod and a grin, and then started off on a trek through the pouring rain in the direction the man had indicated. As he walked, he began to whistle a tune he had just made up from his head.
* * *
"Have you explored the library yet, Waverly?" Lucinda asked, putting a paper clip on a few pieces of paper.
"Oh, I meant to ask you about that." Waverly said, flipping her brown hair behind her shoulder. "It was locked."
"Locked?" Lucinda arched a brow. "That's odd...I don't remember locking it." She opened a drawer and pulled out a set of keys. Handing it to Waverly, she continued, "The silver key with the green covering will get you into the library."
Waverly smiled. "Mm, 'kay." She took the keys.
"Have fun." Lucinda said, chuckling. "I would join you, but I've got some work to do and I'd like to finish it before dinner."
The library wasn't far from the office and it didn't take Waverly long to open the doors and step into the room filled with books. Immediately, the smell of ink and paper filled her senses. She smiled.
"So many books..." she mumbled to herself. Shoving the keys into her shorts pocket, Waverly explored the room.
An antique desk stood in one corner of the library. The desktop was empty, except for an unlined pad of paper, a feather pen and an inkwell.
Waverly pulled open a drawer. A scrapbook lay in one of the drawer. With an arched brow of curiousity, she pulled it out. Surprisingly, it was thick, at least 6 inches. On the cover, the words "Abel's Special Book" were written on the cover on the bottom write corner.
Waverly lifted the cover and flipped through the pages. Every page held writing, pictures, or other random articles. The writing looked like it belonged to a child, but the spelling was impeccable.
Unfortunately, the scrapbook didn't tell her who Abel was, so she put it back before she harmed it.
Waverly began to look around the library for any other clue as to Abel's identity. If she didn't find anything here, she would ask her aunt later.
* * *
Azzy stepped up the walkway toward Lucinda's lodge, which was really more of an old, recently renovated mansion. "Ah, a creepy mansion... good, good. Perfect place for a little R&R." The lawns, from what he could see in the storm, were well taken care of, and there was a good-sized garden around the corner on the east side of the house, filled with gravel paths and vine-covered arched trellises.
The door was large and thick, with a heavy brass door-knocker in the form of an eagle's head staring out from it's center. Azzy bowed his head slightly, "How do you do?" he chuckled, and then gripped the eagle's beak, lifted the knocker, and let it fall back with a resounding thump. Azzy stepped back a bit as he waited for an answer, messing with his hair to make himself slightly more presentable.
The door opened then, opened as quickly as if it were on a spring, and Azzy stood blinking in a stream of light that poured forth. "May I help you?" The woman who opened the door asked in a gentle and friendly tone.
"Why, yes, actually, you can," Azzy answered. "My name is Azariah-" He paused suspiciously mid-sentence. It'll be no good letting people in this town know your last name, he thought. Surely the name of Hughley would arouse suspicion. He decided to use the surname of the farmer who raised him instead. "Clowes, madame. Azariah Clowes. But please, don't be calling me by my full name; I like to go by Azzy."
"Scottish, are you?" She asked, picking up on his accent. "Are you looking for lodging, Azzy Clowes?"
Azzy grinned and nodded. "As a matter o'fact, I am. I was told you take boarders here?"
"That I do. Come in, it's much to nasty out there. You can make yourself warm by the hearth."
* * *
Waverly looked up as she heard a quiet knock. She glanced toward the library doors. They were both open and no one was standing near them. Must've been the front door, then.
She left the library and bounded up the stairs to the foyer. A man in a wet trench coat stood, speaking to her aunt. The man had a thick Scottish accent.
Lucinda turned when Waverly reached the top of the stairs. "Oh, Waverly. Come."
Waverly obeyed her aunt's beckoning. "This is Azzy Clowes." Lucinda said, motioning to the man.
"Waverly Clark." Waverly said, extending her hand.
The man took her hand and shook it. "Pleasure to meet you, lass."
"Would you show him to a room, Waverly? I'm sure he'd like to change out of his wet clothes."
"Which room?" Waverly asked.
"Room 13." Lucinda asked. "Keys are in the office, as always."
Waverly nodded. "I'll be right back," she said to Azzy, before going to the office.
She returned with a key and motioned for him to follow her up the stairs. "We only have a few guests, but Aunt Lucinda likes to spread the guests out, thus why she chose 13."
"Lucinda is your aunt, then?" Azzy asked.
"Yes. My mother's sister. I actually live in America, but I came over for the summer to help Aunt Lucinda with the lodge, considering she just got it up and running about two months ago." Waverly said, topping the last stair.
"America. You're a long way from home."
Waverly laughed, arriving at door 13. "I am, but I don't mind." She handed him the key. "Ring the bell if you need anything."
"Will do. Thank you." Azzy said, unlocking the door as Waverly walked back down the hall.