Clues to Happiness – 5

story and illustration by Prakhya Bhageria

The story so far (see Clues to Happiness parts 1, 2, 3 and 4):

“Julie, I –we- ourselves don’t believe, or even understand what is happening,” said Lucy.

Julie said as patiently as she could, “Guys, whatever it is, you can tell me. Is there any problem? Do you need any help?”

“Julie, all you must do is trust us. And if we need any help you will be the first person we will ask,” Lucy assured her.

Julie looked at them searchingly for a long moment and finally said, “Fine, I trust you,” and left for her room.

After Julie left Fred turned to face Lucy and said, “Lucy! Couldn’t you have made a simple excuse instead of that ‘trust me’ thing? Now, sooner or later, we’ll have to tell her the truth.

“At least, now she’ll REALLY trust us,” retorted Lucy.

“Whatever! Now we let’s go, check out the address on the paper.”

“Fred, it’s almost evening; we can’t go out. Let’s start tomorrow”

NEXT DAY

It was 9 o’clock in the morning. Fred and Lucy were walking towards the address on the paper that had come out from the mouth of the statue.

“Oh! I am so happy. It’s summer vacation, finally!”, Exclaimed Lucy.

“I don’t care,” replied Fred.

They reached a street where the houses were really old, and finally found themselves standing outside the address written on the piece of paper. The house looked very, very old–probably constructed around the time of the First World War, thought Lucy.

“Fred, Do you think this is the right place?” asked Lucy slowly “ I expected it to be a little more modern.”

“It has to be,” said Fred. “This is exactly what I thought the place would look like,” said Fred and walked up to the door. Lucy stared after him, wonderingly and followed him across the front yard full of dried grass. They rang the bell and an old, dry voice answered, “Yes? Who’s there?”

“Ummmm….I am Lucy with my brother Fred”

The door opened and an old man who looked in his 80’s peered out.

“Do I know you?” the man asked in a wheezy voice.

“No, but Archibald sent us,” repllied Lucy. “To get a book telling us how to find the wishing flowers,” she explained.

The old man looked wary. “Come in, ” he said, leading them through the old house into the drawing room and sat down on the old fashioned sofa. Lucy and Fred sat down near him.

There was a minute of silence, and finally the man said, “How do I know you have not been sent by thieves wanting the flowers for their own selfish ends?”

Lucy handed him the paper that Archibald had given them. The man stared at the paper for a moment and said, “Archibald must have told you the story. I was there–there with him in the Amazon, but he got separated from us. I wish I could help him. But look at me. Do you think I can help my dear friend? No!”

The kids stayed silent. The old man got up and disappeared through a door. Presently he came back with an old, dusty book.

“Here you go kids,” said the man handing them the book. “You will bring Archie back, right?”

“Yes,” said Lucy softly. “Well, we should leave now.”

The old man nodded and followed them to the front door. As the kids left they heard him call out: “BY THE WAY, MY NAME IS ROBERT KAIL.”

“OK MR.KAIL!” they called back.

Fred looked at the thick, dusty old volume that Robert Kail had given them as they walked away from his house. “Great! Now that we’ve got the book, all we have got to do is follow the instructions,” he said happily.

“And you think that will be easy?”asked Lucy witheringly.

“Of course not!”

Fred and Lucy went to a park nearby and found a vacant bench. They sat down quietly and opened the book. Fred found the chapter on “Wish-Fulfillment Flowers” in the index and opened the page.

He tried to read a few lines on the page, and then finally said, “I don’t understand a word of it.”

“Stupid! This is old English!”

“Yeah! Yeah!….and you are the bookworm, not me. You read it and tell me everything by tomorrow,” grinned Fred, handing her the book.

“This boy!” muttered Lucy under her breath as they walked towards the house.

To be continued …

Prakhya Bhageria is 13 years old and a student of class VIII in New Delhi. She loves reading, writing, crafts and art.

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