Wygate's Used Books, 2

Fiction By Anna // 2/8/2010

Straight off the door next morning, I said: "Noah Webster published his first dictionary in 1828." (I had done a bit of research.)
Wygate was, again, writing at his desk. Without looking up, he said, "That would have been more impressive had it come yesterday."
"Mr. Webster might have put off publishing to suit you—indeed, who wouldn’t try to suit you?—but could standardized spelling have withstood the delay?"
That got his attention. He glanced up with a half-snort. From anyone else, I would have guessed the snort to mean my joke did not amuse. In Wygate’s case, I thought it might have substituted for a laugh. You would think such a giant man should have a giant’s laugh, but I was to learn that such laughter was a pet peeve of Wygate’s.
I developed peeves of my own within the first few weeks of my job at Wygate’s Used Books. One of these was the way Wygate left his journal lying open on his desk, fluttering its tantalizing pages under my nose.
Wygate’s journal was a no-nonsense hardcover notebook. Colored an uncompromising russet-brown, it didn’t interest me much until I first saw his handwriting spread out on the deck, blatant and inescapable.
"MERRY LAUGHS TOO MUCH," Wygate had written.
 "Merry by name and nature," I scrawled beside it. If it’s a fight he wants… I thought. Obviously he had left it to be noticed, and it truly did not offend me. I might have expected it from that gentleman who called himself Wygate, though at the time I hoped he would have the grace to be ashamed of himself, or at least tuck his notebook away.
Later it again appeared, just as brazen, but next to my scribble I read a grudging "TOUCHÉ."  
He was actually carrying a conversation with me, inviting me to banter. I couldn’t believe it. I wrote, "If you stop leaving your journal out, I won’t use it."
Wygate never replied to that, but continued to leave it open. As long as I could, in good conscience, believe he did it deliberately, I would write back. In this way we began to learn about each other silently. (Both of us claimed to be taciturn; both of us may have had a secret weakness.)
His approach to business was unorthodox. For example, he hoarded. He had me shelve his favorite books near his desk, so I often caught him sneaking glances or whole volumes. I half-expected Wygate to glare and snap at the unwitting customer selecting his book from the master stash. However, though Wygate complained to me when the shop door closed, an approving smile hovered about his lips, commending the choice. He loved to share his stories, though goodness knew he was no storyteller himself.
What he was outside the store I didn’t know, but I suspect he had adventures, and sometimes they crossed into the world I lived in.
One of the earliest—and most romantic, beware—of these happened while he was out, so I was keeping shop alone when a man began slowly walking up and down the front of the bookstore. I could almost see the pounds signs in his eyes. I say "pound signs" rather than "dollar signs" because the man was clearly English. (My mother and I are Anglophiles, so I knew it even before he spoke.)
I’m not paranoid, but I hoped this man wouldn’t enter. My goodwill for Englishmen and English things is pleasantly general; this man’s calculating eyes gave me uncomfortably specific creeps.
He entered. In a way most patronizing, he neglected to give me any acknowledgment.
"May I help you?" I asked, not because I felt particularly helpful, but because curiosity and a desire to prove my manners better than Wygate’s got the better of me.
He turned and scanned me as if I were a grocery bag at checkout. "Do you have any Edith Nesbit books?" he said, almost as if rehearsing a part in a drama. He had a very posh accent.
"In the back, by the portrait of J.M. Barrie and the books by the same," I replied. I had arranged The Treasure Seekers there the day previous. I wondered if something in particular had excited those pound signs, or if they were a perpetual mark of malice, like his thin, sneering lips.
He nodded briskly and started to go up the stairs to the second floor, completely disregarding my instructions. "You can’t miss it," I wanted to call, pointing in the right direction with what would have been a smirk. But, still curious, I didn’t.
 Suddenly, the bell on the door clanged rather than tinkled, and another man ran past me and around the bookshelves so fast that I never got a look at him. I heard a dull thud, as if he had hit something while rounding a corner, and he reappeared, looking less dazed than righteously angry.
I was surprised to see such a look on such a face. This man was thin, tall, fair, and breathless. He had blue eyes—Irish blue, though his other features seemed English—and he seemed young to be capable of such storminess.
"Uncle Edwin!" he shouted, giving no heed to me as I minded my own business (that is, I didn’t interfere; but I listened, by which means I deciphered he was an Anglo-Irish mix).
The Englishman’s dark head stuck out over the railing of the second floor. "Seamus," he hissed, ducking out of vision.
The fair-haired fury strode to the foot of the stairs, one foot ready to mount. "What have you told Nuala?"
"Told her?" spat the Englishman. "I only suggest, dear boy." Haste, not menace, underlay in his words.
"I won’t let you use her, Uncle! Not like this, not after I told her I—"
"—you love her? Ha!" scoffed the voice.
The young man, probably Seamus, went crimson. He ran both his hands through his windswept hair, making it stuck out more crazily than ever. I wasn’t sure if the cause was pure rage, vexation, or… "Nuala agreed to marry me. We were happy. Why have you poisoned her against me?"
"Not here," the uncle said, as if through clenched teeth.
"You fed her lies and slander drop by drop," the blue-eyed man said with sudden intensity.
"Why would I do that?" snapped Edwin, coming halfway down the staircase.
"What is it you think Nuala can do for you?"
"It’s more a matter of what you will do for Nuala…" He trailed off suggestively.
Seamus went into a stream of words sounding to me vaguely like Celtic cursing. I thought I caught the words "What must I do?" spoken through his clenched teeth before the foreign swearing resumed.
The pound signs sharpened. The man to whom they belonged spoke in a clipped, cold rendition of the other’s language. As he did, fair-haired Seamus got whiter and whiter, with fury or fear. If the former, I prepared to bold beneath Wygate’s desk lest a claymore find its way into the fray and Seamus duel Edwin upon the moment.
O how I wished for Wygate’s return! And, yet… how exciting it all was!
Finally Seamus spoke again in English, with the voice of a cornered animal. "How long do I have?"
The Englishman pretended to ponder. "I shouldn’t say more than… Well, let’s simply say that time drains by. Tock, tock, tock…" For the second time, he trailed off suggestively. I never wanted to sock a man more.
Similarly, I clearly saw that Seamus wanted nothing more than to throttle Edwin there in Wygate’s Used Books. I almost cheered for him to follow through, or I would—I liked the idea of strangling him more that breaking his nose. But for whatever reasons (our hearts or our shoes, Dr. Seuss might say), neither of us laid a finger on the dangerous snake.
As the young man watched him leave, the leaned heavily on a bookcase as if he would sob. Instead, he squared his shoulders and followed.
I felt stripped of all worth when I saw the despair in his blue eyes.
The occurrence alarmed me, so I told Wygate every detail. He soothed my excitement: "Stop worrying." His classic stern tones eased me.
He seemed uninterested in what had gone on, shrugging when I asked him what he thought about it and whether we ought to do something. He merely said he’d keep a closer watch on the shop.
Ergo, I was reasonably surprised when he soon after took a month’s holiday, and closed it for that period, but relieved I wouldn’t have to mind it in his absence.
Two scant weeks after his return and the resumption of my duties, I saw a thick letter tucked into Wygate’s notebook. From across the store, I gave Wygate a look; he nodded slightly, which I took to mean I had his permission to read it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand anything but the last paragraph because the rest was written in Gaelic (at least, I believe so. I only had patience to look up three words). The lines I could read said this: "You are always fáilte [welcome] to our home for the immeasurable good you have done for us. If your lovely apprentice had not told you our plight, disaster could have taken us—all.
Eternal thanks to you and your àillidh cailín [shining girl],
    Mr. and Mrs. Seamus and Nuala Sheehan."
I never asked about it. I probably never will; some things are better and sweeter when guessed. Being called a shining girl was wonderful enough for me.



àillidh cailín ...ah, such a sweet compliment. I love your story so far...It's great to see what you've written.

Julie | Mon, 02/08/2010

Formerly Kestrel

Took you long enough...

Finally!  I've been waiting forever! 
1. I like the way they talk to eachother.
2. Was that really Gaelic?
3. What does Ergo mean?
4. Next time you need to post sooner.

Love it!!! :-D

Bridget | Mon, 02/08/2010

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Wygate returns!

Woohoo! I loved this! Seamus seemed so sweet. I'm glad he got to marry Nuala. I wish I could read/speak Gaelic...it's a beautiful language. I can kinda sing along to a couple of fast Irish songs, but I only have a vague idea as to what I'm saying. :-P

One question: what's an Anglophile?

KatieSara | Mon, 02/08/2010


"Are all humans like this? So much bigger on the inside?"


I'm so glad to see this story continuing! I love everything about it--her name, their verbal sparring in the notebook, the Gaelic, the compliment Nuala and Seamus pay her--excellent! Keep going and post soon! :0)

Heather | Mon, 02/08/2010

And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"


Slightly confusing, but I managed to follow it.  Good work.  Perhaps I should start a used book shop like Wygate.

James | Tue, 02/09/2010

"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle


Though you know I don't care for romance, this twist intrigues me... so I'm hoping we learn more about it.

And reading this makes me want to be back at that lovely bookstore in Enumclaw (or trying to find it again... haha). I'd love to own a used bookstore someday, but wouldn't allow books I didn't like (translated: have an unbiblical worldview) in, and if I DID like them, then I wouldn't want to sell them.

Kyleigh | Tue, 02/09/2010

Very, very good. I am

Very, very good. I am entranced!

Yes, I was very happy for Seamus and Nuala!! But I lost a lot of respect for Seamus when he started cursing. >:-(

Maethorwen (not verified) | Tue, 02/09/2010

LOL. Yes, and i loved the way

LOL. Yes, and i loved the way that they 'talk' through Wygate's journal. Very funny and intriguing.

Kay J Fields | Tue, 02/09/2010

Visit my writing/book review blog at http://transcribingthesedreams.blogspot.com/

This was great!  I love all

This was great!  I love all the unexpected things -- the writing in the notebook, the quarrel, the Gaelic, the connection between Wygate and Seamus.  I'm really quite curious to see where you go with this. :)

Clare Marie | Tue, 02/09/2010

"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." -Bilbo Baggins [The Lord of the Rings]


I too, wish to see where this goes--and this had better not be the end! It almost sounded like an ending, there, and I will let you know that your fellow authors have ways of punishing you for leaving us hanging like this, and you will not like them! LOL--trust me, some of the things people have threatened me with...:)

LoriAnn | Thu, 02/11/2010

Merry is Amazing

I love it how Merry can make out English and Irish people. Yes I'm proud of my Irish decent, (to bad it wasn't Scottish.)I like Arthur Wygate even more too.

Arthur | Thu, 02/11/2010

"My greatest wish for my writing is that it would point you to the Savior."

Kestrel: Thank you! I'm

Kestrel: Thank you! I'm having a lot of fun in this one, since I get to mention all the books I've ever heard of. :)

Bridget: Hardly forever, but the sentiment is complimentary. :D

2. I believe so, but as I have no experience myself, my grammar may be wrong. In fact, grammar may be the least of my worries.

3. Therefore, hence, thus.

KatieSara: Anglophile: a person who admires England or English things.

I wish I could speak Gaelic.

Heather: You really like the name Merry, I gather. :)

James: How is it confusing? I threw it together hurriedly, so I can't claim to be surprised. I'll be glad to graft your input to my writing tree. (BTW-- I would go there.)

Kyleigh: I put in the beware especially for you, I kid you not. See what a nice friend I am?

Maethorwen: Hotheaded Irishman. Nuala will have to break him of the habit.

Kay J Fields and Clare: Thanks!

LoriAnn: I choose not to answer this threat. That's in the Code, is it not?

Arthur: I wish I had that talent, though I doubt it would come in handy. I'm glad you like my story!

Anna | Sat, 02/13/2010

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

I love this!! I was out of

I love this!! I was out of town, so I didn't get to read it sooner. I LOVE IT!! Seamus rocks. I love Wygate and Merry's relationship, it's really funny :-D

Erin | Sun, 02/14/2010

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

what Code? *sheepish* Is

what Code? *sheepish* Is there something I didn't read..?

LoriAnn | Mon, 02/15/2010

You happened to pick my

You happened to pick my all-time favorite girl name, Meredith, and furthermore gave your character with the perfect nickname for Meredith. :0)

Heather | Fri, 03/19/2010

And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Sooooooo........ Are we ever


Are we ever going to see any more of Merry and her exploits?

LoriAnn | Thu, 06/17/2010

I wish I could say I'm

I wish I could say I'm thinking about it.

Anna | Sat, 06/19/2010

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief


You're really busy, aren't you?  I mean, you haven't been writing on any of your stories or posting anything new.

Bridget | Tue, 06/22/2010

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

That's not completely true; I

That's not completely true; I posted already this month, and was planning to post again before July, although now I'm not sure. It's not so much that my life is busy, just my computer time. I'm a bit tied up on stories-- new and old.

Anna | Tue, 06/22/2010

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief


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