Everything would have been fine if the Spanish tourists had arrived on time.

Kay and Alice had met them at the bus stop, clearly bamboozled and lost (as the island’s easygoing bus schedule was wont to do for foreign tourists). As it so happened, no one at the bus stop spoke any more than pidgin Spanish…that is, except the two young American education students fresh out of Advanced Spanish 499.

There were still problems, largely because the tourists were Galician and spoke Castilian Spanish with a heady cocktail of Galician loanwords and a strong accent. Kay and Alice, who had studied Latin American Spanish–specifically the Mexican variety–were able to communicate only with considerable difficulty. Still, they had been able to describe the bus schedule, tell the Spaniards when the next bus was probably due, give them directions to their hotel, and even attempted to impart a few useful English phrases.

That would have been that, deeds done by good Samaritans, if the Spanish tourists had arrived on time.

Only they hadn’t.

The two Spaniards, Isabella Sanchez and Inez De Rojo, never arrived at their hotel, and never left on any of the ferries. There were no bodies, and no leads–except for Kay and Alice, who were the last ones to have any contact with the missing and who had spent the following week at a rustic and secluded beach on the leeward side.

It wasn’t until they tried to take the ferry home that Kay and Alice realized they were the only suspects in a missing persons case.

“Miguel Villaponte is one of the most important authors that nobody knows about,” said Meghan. “His inventiveness and facility for the whimsical and the bizarre makes him easily the equal of Carrol, Borges, or any number of other literary luminaries.”

Danielle cast a wary glance over the disheveled pile of manuscripts on her sister’s desk. “So what’s the problem? Have your college put out a book of his stuff.”

“Why do you think he’s still so obscure?” Meghan barked. “It’s not just because people are lazy. Villaponte wrote in Galician, a language related to Portuguese, and it’s never been translated into English.”

“So translate it. That’s what all this is for, isn’t it?” Danielle thrust a finger at the degrees, honors and other shingles decorating the study wall.

“That’s not the only problem,” Meghan sighed. “A lot of Villaponte’s work is laced with nonce–er, with nonsense–words. How do you translate something like pageretal that has no meaning in Galacian or any other language? Worse, his nonsense words follow Galacian syntax precisely and lend a certain cadence to the language–in addition to being used, modified, references, and reinvented throughout the text!”

Danielle shrugged. “Make up your own nonsense.”

“I can’t just make up my own words–I need to settle on something that’s nonsense but fits the text, in English. If I do it wrong, the whole translation comes tumbling down like a house of cards.” Meghan cradled her head in her hands. “Did you understand any of that?”

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe,” Danielle said. “Does that answer your question?”