My winter solitude was to be interrupted by a new acquaintance.
I found said acquaintance lurking behind one of the larger aviary cages on a bitterly cold eve.
I was repairing a fallen nest, when I spotted a shy pair of eyes attached to a wrinkled face upon a huge monster of a body peering at me through the ebony bars. I caught my breath and waited - for what, I do not know- while rooted to the frozen soil beneath my feet. The stranger, noticed my state of fright, panicked and started mumbling a tune under his breath. My eyes caught sight of a wooden trunk , lying on its side, next to the giant's feet. My heart quietened as my logic concluded that if the man meant harm, he would not be dragging a wooden trunk to the scene of his crime. He probably was a traveler who had lost his way. I mustered the courage to confront him, stood up straight and took a step towards him.
-Are you lost? I asked with a voice that echoed foreign to my own ears.
-No miss, fact is, ayee believe ayee am where ayee suppose to be miss. He shuffled sideways and almost stumbled over the trunk. To be fair, that was not the answer I was waiting to hear, so I paused, and am afraid to say feelings of dread started rushing back and piercing my spine. But dear reader, I did my best to hide this. That's what I choose to believe, anyway.
- So you are looking for the Aviary? I asked, clutching the scissors I used to trim the nest not five minutes before, a little too tightly.
-Yes miss, see ayee was looking for a miss Lea, and ayee is to believe this is where she lives. See ayee was sent by master Nicholas miss, I have papers here for her and all, and...
Hearing his words my somnambulist heart somersaulted and landed awkwardly on it's fragile balance. This man was sent by Nicholas. Was Nicholas alright? Had something happened that he needed to contact me urgently using this giant as a messenger?
He took my white chalk face as suspicion on my part and hastily drew the papers from his well worn brown suit pocket and handed them to me through the bars.
Within the string tied bundle, there was a letter with familiar hand writing and a small paper wrapped package. I smiled and this seem to encourage the stranger to start where he left off.
- He asks if ayee could stay with you some time. Till he gets back thats all. See miss ayee'm to help out on his book, and he thinks it would be a good thing if we two get a head start. Ayee and miss Lea, that is.
This man had not even introduced him self, scared me half to death in my own garden, and now was asking to move in with me?
-I'm miss Lea sir...but you staying here is highly irregular. I don't even know your name!
-Jupiter, miss. Jupiter Waters, cartographer and amateur astronomer, very pleased to meet you! He strode towards me and bowed curtly. I extended my hand and was met with a heartfelt albeit painful hand shake.
Now we acquainted ourselves, what was I going to to do with mr Jupiter Waters!
Here dear reader I insert a drawing, so that you may see for yourself how tall this man really is.
I included some sketches of a few of the contents of his wooden trunk. I'll talk about that in detail later on...