Marceau Brisbane placed the telephone back on its receiver. She paused as she looked at the Victorian-style mirror hanging above the hall table. She looked at it and saw that she was pondering on what Germaine Clermont had just told her. What was even more surprising was the fact that she could remember "Maine" from those school-days. She had been an interesting character back then and, as Marceau strongly suspected, was STILL quite an interesting character. Which was why Marceau had been taken by surprise when Maine's call come out of the blue. It had been unexpected--she hadn't even seen Maine for a long time.
"I need to speak to Zaïre..." were the words that rung in Marceau's mind as she stepped away from the telephone. Germaine had been concerned about something--something that had to do with the village of St. Barthelemy. And if Germaine needed to speak to Zaïre about it, chances were that it was a serious matter. Marceau stopped once more in the arched doorway that opened into the living room. Knowing her brother, he would be interested in what Maine had to tell him.
Yes...he would definitely be interested in the matter.
* * *
"Mr. Weston!" Waverly cried as she knocked on the lodge door. Odd, he should be here.
"Did he say he was going anywhere?" Ishod asked somewhat brusquely.
"Only that he wanted to go for a walk after the rain had stopped."
"Do you know where he walks to?"
"I have not the faintest idea--MR. WAVERLY!"
"He's not in--let's go." Waverly didn't follow Ishod and looked at him as he was beginning to walk down the hallway.
"Go? Go where?" Waverly paused and thought for a moment. Her hand was till on the doorknob to Mr. Weston's room. This was all very odd--everything that has happened already was muddling her thoughts and she couldn't quite think straight. However, there was one predominant thought that she did grasp with all of its implications and consequences.
"I'm coming with you," she adamantly said like it was an order from the Queen of England herself, carrying all of its might and prestige in those words. Both Waverly and Ishod ran down the hallway.
* * *
ST. MARK'S CEMETERY
Azariah knelt beside the casket and toyed with one of the locks, rubbing away the moist dirt caked on the old steel mechanism. He let go of it and grabbed another one of the locks, examining it in similar fashion, and so on for all five locks. “Well, I won’t say this isn’t strange, because it is.” He looked up at the Rector, and motioned to the locks. “They’re all different. Well, most of them are, anyway - two of them are similar. The other three are very different from each other - different sizes, different keyhole shapes; even different ages, by the looks of them. See here, this one’s got to be much older than the other four. What do you make of that?” Azzy quieted for a moment, placing his finger up to his lips while he thought. When he finally spoke, he seemed to be addressing himself. “Why would a recently buried steel casket be locked in five places with differing locks?”
Lebanon shrugged. “Doesn’t seem to make much sense at all. Then again, none of this does.”
“Well,” Azzy said as he stood, drawing the word out three times longer than it should be. “We do know some things. For instance, we know this grave hasn’t been here long, and we therefore know that this case hasn’t been buried here long.” He paused, and then grinned. “And on top of that, I’d wager that more than a few people know or knew about this case.”
Lebanon’s brow furrowed curiously. “How can you know that?”
Azzy was clearly glad to be asked, though his tone of voice when he answered made it seem like common knowledge. He rubbed his hands together to wipe off the dirt. “Well, say the first fellow locks it up, not wanting anyone else to get in. But someone else doesn’t want the first fellow to get in either, so he locks it up with his own lock. Then someone else doesn’t want anyone with the first two keys getting in, so he puts his own lock on. So on and so forth, till bingo! You’ve got five locks.”
“Perhaps…” Lebanon said slowly, not sure he agreed with the rationalization.
Azzy began to walk away then. “We best set out to find those keys, Rector. Or perhaps a saw, that might work just as well.” He stopped halfway down the path and turned around on his heels, holding up his finger. “Wait, just realized something. We don’t know for sure that the box hasn’t been buried for long… we just know it’s been recently dug up, which is why the grave was fresh.” He seemed to consider this for a few seconds, making a mental note of the possibility, and then silently turned and began his way out of the churchyard.
* * *
Lebanon mulled over these points in his head. Yet, to his utmost frustration, Azariah had to be wrong. Then again, there was no other better explanation. Five locks--five people--Lebanon looked at the eroded white Celtic cross.
Here lies Abel, the brother of Cain...
The very meaning of those words seemed to allude all comprehension.
That is, all except one...
Like a clap of lightning, Lebanon's eyes flew open wide as he spun around to face Azariah, who was walking away.
"Wait! I--uhm--that inscription upon the cross--you made a reference to it earlier. Something about the same Abel in your room..."
Azariah paused and glanced back with a queer look on his face.
"So I did--what of it, if I may ask?"
"What did you mean when you said that?"
* * *
INSIDE ST. MARKS...
Emilia Carson struggled in her sleep against the stone wall of the church. She shivered every now and again in the cold interior of St. Mark's church. The stone wall felt icy cold and had a depressing effect upon one's senses. She turned her head this way and then that way...it was as if she were experiencing one nightmare after another. Finally, in
her self-induced trauma, she was stirred. She felt a movement that was shaking her. Her eyelids fluttered and she sensed that someone was gently shaking her by the shoulder.
She opened up her eyes...
Her eyes met those of the person waking her up.
* * *
Azzy spun on his heels and faced Lebanon again.
"Well, just a strange coincidence, that's all," he said, with his Scottish accent adding distinction to the pronunciation of 'strange'. "I'm lodging at Lucinda Cain's place, down the road, you know? And it so happens that in the process of adjusting the furniture - well, more like rearranging, really - I found strange writing on the wall, underneath the wallpaper. It said, 'IT HAPPENED HERE... ABEL.'"
Azzy took on a ghostly tone and a faraway look as he repeated the strange message, and then stood silent for a few moments. He jolted out of the ethereal behavior very suddenly, returning to his normal self.
"So when I saw the name Abel, you can understand, it jogged my memory." He gave a wide grin to finish his story off.
* * *
Marceau Brisbane sat at her old-fashioned writing desk. The writing desk was of medium oak with a pull-down flap that instantly made it ready to sit at and write letters, poems, stories, and any other form of literature that met Marceau's fancy. The writing desk had elegant lines and was coated with select veneers. Once the flap had been pulled down, Marceau rummaged through one of the two cupboard doors used for storage.
Where was it? she thought to herself as she fingered a variety of saved papers, from bills to birthday cards to case-notes--case-notes?
"Oh Zaire--" Marceau muttered frustratingly. Her older brother had stuffed a piece of paper in there amongst her things. A moment or two later and Marceau's eyes sparkled. One piece of paper? Curious, she retrieved with elegant dexterity and gazed her eyes upon the scribbled message upon the folded piece of paper.
Thought you would find this. I'm at Michaels' for dinner should you need to contact me.
Marceau giggled. Typical Zaire Brisbane--always reading people's minds, especially his sister's. Zaire and Marceau had done this type of thing so often before that it was kind of like a game between the two siblings. Marceau was fond of Zaire and his sharp perceptions of everything around him as Zaire was fond of Marceau for her wit and unique intuition.
"So you are at Michaels' having dinner." Marceau still couldn't believe that Zaire had left the note in the one place that she would most likely find it.
But Zaire's message was not the original purpose of rummaging through the papers--his message was just a byproduct of her searching. Marceau continued to look for the paper.
She had never fully understood why she had saved it--it had been at Zaire's request that she should save it until the right time came along.
"Well, this is the right time."
As she spoke those words, she sighted what she had been looking for,
An old newspaper clipping...