In this year-long serialized novel set on the Vineyard in real time, a native Islander (“Call me Becca”) returns home after two decades to help her eccentric Uncle Abe keep his landscaping business, Pequot, afloat. His staff includes Mott, the big-brotherly general manager, and Quincas, a cute Brazilian. Abe has a paranoid hatred of Richard Moby, the CEO of an off-island wholesale nursery, Broadway. Convinced that Moby wants to destroy Abe personally, and all Island-based landscaping/nursery businesses generally, Abe is obsessed with “taking down” Moby. A series of increasingly disastrous failures (one of which recently resulted in his breaking his leg) have done nothing to dissuade him. Meanwhile, Becca has taken a liking to Quincas, a Brazilian worker at Pequot; last week she began to describe a visit to his house when he fell ill.

Dear P:

What an ass I am, leaving you hanging last week. Let’s see: I was about to walk into the house where Quincas was staying; I was worried he was sick, and in the equivalent of a men’s dormitory.

Well, I was right about the sick part, but when I pushed open the door I found myself in a cozy living area glowing with a warm, amber light.

On a sofa was a woman — a young grandmother, I’d guess — cradling a sleeping toddler. To the right was the kitchen, where three women were cooking together, making an image straight out of a Brazilian Norman Rockwell. They looked up, startled, at my barging in.

I heard a voice say wanly, “Becca?” Quincas was lying wrapped in blankets near the fire. The whole house smelled of chicken soup. Except for Quincas’s looking green, I felt I’d just walked into a Hallmark holiday special.

“Excuse me,” I said, feeling stupid. “Quincas, we were worried —”

“Hello, lady!” chirped a voice, and I turned to see a pretty girl of about six coming in from the hallway. By her coloring she was Brazilian but she spoke in unaccented English. “So are you the lady he works with?”

“Hey,” Quincas said, sounding nervous. “That’s enough, Yara. You go help your mama now.”

She kept staring at me with big dark eyes. “Well?” she demanded, deadpan. “Are you?” She twisted the end of her braid and brushed it coquettishly back and forth across her face. She was very cute and she totally knew it.

I nodded.

“He talks about you,” she said in a somber voice, then burst into giggles and skipped into the kitchen, jabbering merrily in Portuguese to the oldest woman, who gestured her to quiet.

“Hello, Becca,” Quincas said, as if that hadn’t just happened.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I... I didn’t mean... I should not have...”

“You want to meet everyone?” he asked, bringing an arm out from under the covers and gesturing weakly around. Of the older woman he said, “This is Gabriela, and her granddaughter Marta.” Gabriela smiled and nodded awkwardly. The women in the kitchen tittered and exchanged glances. They began smoothing their hair and their clothes, which was ridiculously unnecessary; I was in dirty jeans, muddy boots and a bright-orange down vest (it’s hunting season, don-tcha know). “This is Beatriz, and this Yara. Yara is rude —” here the little girl broke into giggles again, even as she chanted, “He talks about you! He talks about you!”

“And this...” Quincas continued, ignoring her, “this is Juliana and Maria.” The women in the kitchen nodded, nervously smiled and said, “Hello, hello.” I don’t think they spoke English. I greeted them, smiling, but feeling foolish and cloddy. I wished he’d explain how he was connected to all these females.

“I’m with Mott,” I announced, almost defensively. “We were worried about you, we came to see if you are alright.”

“They take good care of me.”

“You should go to a doctor, to a clinic,” I said.

He shook his head. “No. I will be fine.”

At which point he lurched into a sitting position and vomited noisily into a basin that was next to his head. “Sorry,” he managed to add, holding up a hand to shield the view. Yara gleefully made grossed-out sounds; Beatriz shushed her.

“Quincas! You need medical attention!” I insisted.

“Why do you say his name funny?” demanded Yara, now twirling around like a ballerina. “It is Quing-cas, not Quinn-cas. You say it wrong. Why?”

Quincas growled in Portuguese; Yara stuck her tongue out at him and pirouetted back into the kitchen.

Mott entered, startling the women anew. He took one look at Quincas and announced, “You’re going to the hospital.”

“No,” Quincas said quickly.

“Yes,” Mott said, and went directly to scoop him up, blankets and all. The women began yelping in alarm.

“Tell them it’s okay,” Mott ordered Quincas.

“It is not okay! Put me down!” Quincas argued and made a weak attempt to wriggle out of Mott’s grasp.

“You’re very sick —” I began.

“They will send me away!” Quincas shouted, feebly pounding at Mott’s back.

“I didn’t hear you say that,” Mott said. “Anyhow, they won’t. There’s a safe place.” He carried the still-wrapped Quincas out of the house, as Quincas and the women shouted anxiously at each other in Portuguese. Yara started crying. “Explain to them,” Mott instructed, over his shoulder, as the door banged shut.

Things were a little messy after that. I managed to calm Yara down enough to get her to translate. Not knowing what Mott actually intended, I said Quincas was going to a clinic, not the hospital (this turned out to be true), where they would not ask him about his legal status (this turned out to be true), and after that Mott would bring him right home again.

This turned out not to be true.

And I hate to do this to you a second time but I have to stop now, because they need me in the next room, but I’ll try to explain the rest as soon as possible.

Be part of the Your Name Here campaign: any person or business donating $250 or more to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services can get a mention in Moby Rich. For more information, please contact Jan Hatchard at 508-693-7900, extension 374.

Vineyard novelist Nicole Galland’s critically-acclaimed works include Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade. Visit her Web site,