If you missed it, read Part 9 here.
Now it was the evening of the day of that mysterious house call. It had been an eventful day. The bookseller had taken his apprentice, Althea, on her first house call. It would be a good experience for her to see how to buy books from estates.
The bookseller sat in his office. Alone. He rolled the plain gold ring round and round between his right thumb and forefinger. He looked through it. The void the gold surrounded was not perfectly clear. The view through the hole shimmered just the faintest bit. One wouldn’t notice unless one studied the view outside the rim and compared it to the view inside the band simultaneously. Even then, the difference was barely perceptible. But he had studied it hundreds of times over the years.
The ring had fascinated him since the first time he had seen it—found it—under mysterious circumstances in the first old bookstore. Captivated might be more apt.
Yes. The space within the ring was not the same as the world outside it. He had experienced that.
He rolled the ring again and again along the entire length of his thumb. That appendage seemed to measure exactly the same as the external circumference of the ring.
It had been years since he last slipped the third finger of his left hand into the golden circle.
That last time he had been taken places and shown things he wished he had not seen. The horror of it all had prevented him wearing it again.
Still…he had always kept it pinned to the wall above his with his mysterious “Deed of Ownership” written on ancient vellum in a language that was indecipherable until he stared at it and let his mind wander free. If he looked long enough, he could understand the words even if he couldn’t read them.
Though the ring fascinated him, each time he looked upon it he would not put it on again. He’d just as soon stick his hand in flames.
He rolled the ring again and again.
He considered the magic of the day that had just ended.
He recalled Althea’s words as they drove south across Maryland back toward the bookstore.
They only spoke once on the 50-minute trip.
Looking out at the greening fields along the highway, Althea had asked a bit dreamily:
“What kind of books do you think I should specialize in? It seems that most booksellers have a rather narrow focus.”
“Most booksellers choose a type of book they have a passion for. How broad that is depends on whether you can wrap your head around a sprawling genre like press books or books on science. Or you could choose a genre with a somewhat narrower focus like books on psychology and psychiatry. Or go even smaller with a specialty like miniature books,” the bookseller told her.
“You don’t seem to have any specialty. Does that mean you can wrap your head around everything?”
He laughed a bit.
“No. Just the opposite. I discovered early on I couldn’t wrap my head around anything quantifiable in a scholarly way. So I chose to not wrap my head around anything.”
He laughed again.
But Althea had turned and looked at him. He saw that out of the corner of his eye. Her gaze was serious and focused.
He continued: “When I used to do book shows years and years ago in Florida, there was a bookseller who flew in from England every year. He specialized in miniature books. His stock barely covered half of one table. Each book was a tiny gem in cloth or leather or paperboards. When the shows ended those late Sunday afternoons and the time for the dreaded packing and loading was at hand, he would reach under his table and bring out two valises. In a few minutes, he was walking out of the fair while the rest of us were just beginning to fill our boxes. I always thought that was a great business model. His stock was eminently portable.”
She replied softly: “I like tiny books. But I think I should become tired of buying and selling only those.”
“Cat books! Now there’s a specialty you could wrap your head around. That could be quite manageable.”
“I would soon branch out to lions and ocelots. Then mice. Then perhaps books that had been nibbled by mice.”
“You’ll find the kind of books that speak to you. Perhaps those books will even find you.”
“The books I found today in that man’s attic, though I chose them thinking I would like to sell them, I do not believe I could part with any of them.”
He didn’t want to ask what books she had put in the three boxes she had written “A” on with a flourish. The Les Fleurs du Mal he had briefly examined had been a very early state. Perhaps it was even a first edition and therefore worth a great deal of money.
She continued: “I found a late 15th century vellum book. I am not quite sure what it is. I was packing so quickly. It was quite beautiful. The first letter of each chapter was a miniature painting in many colors. The letters that followed were just black. I am sure they were printed.”
“Hmmm… Incunabulum with rubricated capitals,” he said softly.
“I don’t understand what you just said. It sounds like a spell.”
“Very early books printed in Europe are called incunabula. If letters are added by hand, it is called rubrication.”
“Then I found a copy of The Seven-League Crutches by Randall Jarrell. I looked inside, and he had written out The Death of a Ball Turret Gunner on the free endpaper. He had signed his name right below it. Is it strange for me to be drawn to such very different books?”
“From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
“From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose,” he recited it from memory. Then he continued:
“No… No. Not at all. Books to me are infinite,” he said and then whispered very softly to himself: “The alpha and omega.”
“No beginning and no end,” she intoned aloud.
The rest of the trip had passed in silence.
Now it was dark outside. Only the desk lamp was on in his office. It was of a low wattage and cast a warm creamy light across his chest and lap.
He rolled the ring up and down the length of his thumb. The gold glowed warmly. His hand and the ring cast a shadow, a silhouette on his chest like an old shadowgraphy show.
He had meant to ask Althea if she had noticed the mirror on the wall between the first and second floors. Things had become so hectic upon their return he hadn’t remembered to.
He recalled vividly the first trip the three took up the stairs.
The steps were carpeted in an oriental flowered pattern. Mostly dark reds. Dull brass stair rods crossed each tread. Each had a small dragon’s head at either end.
The old man and Althea were a couple paces in front of him.
At the half landing between the first and second floors, his steps were arrested when he came before a very large mirror. Its massive frame was a very convoluted swirl of gilded wood—art nouveau. The gilding was dull and a bit faded and worn. The looking glass itself was very old. It was true silver. There were many defects where the precious metal had tarnished behind the glazing. But he could see himself. His face was old. Haggard. Very old. Very haggard. He looked scared and haunted.
‘That’s not me’ he thought. ‘It could never be me. What a dreadful mirror.’
They continued up and up.
Three more turns and they arrived in the book filled attic. When they finished there, they descended to the second floor and inspected the four bedrooms that fanned out in four directions from the bookcase lined hallway. Then they headed back down to the first floor.
At the half landing between the second and first floor, he at first avoided the mirror. He stepped past it averting his gaze. He stopped and backed slowly. He bent and raised his head near the bottom corner. Most of the corner was black and tarnished. He raised bit higher and all he could see was his left eye. He shifted to his left and then stood erect. The silver behind the glass was dull in some spots and bright in others. Black spots of varying diameters dotted the surface. As he stared at his distorted image, he saw his features softened. The round smoothness of youth looked back him.
He laughed at himself. But then he smiled at the young optimistic visage looking back at him.
‘Old fool! I’m the boy who didn’t know he had grown old,’ he thought. ‘I must write a story about that sometime.’
Later, when the deal, such as it was, had been struck and he was packing books in the parlor, he sensed someone in the room with him. He was on his knees, the bookseller’s position of adoration he had spent so much of his life in. He turned and the old man was watching him. He was sitting on a Victorian red velvet fainting couch. The hourglass eyes seemed to be studying each book he was packing. It was a kind of goodbye inventory.
The bookseller asked very slowly:
“That mirror on the first landing…”
“Ahhh, that old thing caught your eye!” the old man interrupted with a cynical chuckle.
“Is it for sale?”
“No. No. You wouldn’t want the cursed thing. It always lies. It is a mirror of lies. When you go up, it lies to hurt you. When you come down, it lies to make you remember and regret,” the old man said. “I’m afraid I am saddled with it. And have been saddled with it for it seems like centuries. That glass is quite ancient. I’ve often wondered how many generations have stared into that looking glass in hope or despair.”
The bookseller turned on his knees and continued packing.
Now back at his bookstore, he rolled the ring up and down the inside of his thumb.
‘I wonder what will become of that mirror?’ he thought. ‘And the big owl on the newel post…I suppose it may have flown away…’
He chuckled at the thought and then thought he heard a soft thump outside. He turned toward the window. Outside there appeared to be a large shadow balanced atop the porch railing. He set the ring upon the desk and then rose. When he got to the window, the railing was bare. The dim light from the tall telephone pole in the parking lot cast shadows across the porch toward him. The balusters made shadows like bars across the porch floor. Off to the left he caught some movement near the edge of the pavement.
‘A rabbit?’ he thought. ‘Yes. Only a rabbit moves like that.’
As if in slow motion, a large shadow descend from above and the rabbit was gone—as if it had never been there.
“Oh!” he said aloud.
He went back to his desk and pinned the ring back on the wall.
He sat and pulled a yellow legal pad toward him. He picked up a pen and began writing:
“The Boy Who Did Not Know He Had Grown Old…*”
When he had finished, he slapped the legal pad onto the desk.
‘Well, that’s pretty dreadful. At least I got it out of my system,’ he thought.
‘I wonder if Althea noticed that mirror,’ he pondered. ‘What would she have seen in it going up past it and then coming down? I’ll have to ask her tomorrow…tomorrow…It’s almost midnight. Tomorrow will be a busy day. So many books. So many books.’
He rose and exited his office. The counter area was dimly lit by the streetlight outside. The “Checkout” sign was still swinging from the ceiling, but now it more a rocking motion. Like a porch glider moving to and fro. He stopped and stared at it a bit. He wondered if some air current was putting it in motion. He considered reaching up to steady it with a hand but changed his mind. He didn’t want to touch it.
He moved to the front door and pulled it open. As the silver bell above the door gave off a soft sleepy late night chime. Then he heard a soft rattle of paperboard and a light thump back at the sales counter. He sensed something rush between his feet and out the door.
He thought he heard a faint “Heehee” fading into the parking lot beyond the front porch.
When he turned and looked toward the counter, the sign hanging from the ceiling was making a couple awkward twists against its axis before it stopped moving entirely.
He crossed the porch and took the three steps down to the parking lot. As he put his hand on the truck’s door handle, he saw a shadowy creature on the right side of the property. It was unmistakable. A fox was trotting along the perimeter toward the back. He had never seen a fox at the bookstore before.
He opened the door and pulled himself up and in.
When he got home and fell into bed, he pulled the bedsheets and comforter up to his chin before rolling onto his side. The chilly late spring air had followed him inside. In moments, he was blessed with a night of fantastic and fanciful dreams. They were full of pleasure. And wondrous books.
The next day he went in to work early. What else was there to do? Sally’s Mini Cooper was already parked far off to the side near the east front corner of the building. His old mentor had taught him that the owner and staff should let the customers have the best parking spots, those closest to the entrance, unless they were actually loading or unloading books.
He parked on the far side of the bright lime-green car. His feet felt very light this morning. He bounded up the steps in a single hop. The bell above the door sounded brightly as if it too enjoyed this morning.
Sally was unpacking a box atop the counter. The bookseller glanced up at the “Checkout” sign. It hung motionless.
“I thought I’d come in early. There’s so much to do. The aisles are full of boxes. What are you going to with them?” she beamed at him. Her face looked ten years younger.
“I hadn’t really…”
“There was a pheasant on the porch when I pulled in this morning. I’ve never seen one here before. Poor thing must be lost.”
He turned and looked out at the aisles. Each was lined with stacks of boxes two or three high along each side.
“Too much of a good thing?” he whispered.
“What are you mumbling? Look at this! I just picked this box at random. It’s all Wodehouse! In jackets! So far they are all Jenkins too! I haven’t looked to see if they are firsts. We will have to order more Brodarts. I wonder if we get a better price if we order a thousand? What do you think? A thousand 10 inch and a thousand 9 to start?”
“You’re just too chipper this morning, Sally. I need some coffee before I can share your joy.”
He stepped into the little room that served as a pantry. It wasn’t much more than a closet. He lifted the lid on the Keurig and stuck a pod of dark roast in it. He pressed the lid down and set the touch screen for 12 ounces and pushed the start button. In a few seconds, the thing was hissing and black liquid was dripping out of it.
He took the coffee out to the counter. Sally was gently piling P G Wodehouse books in small stacks. The bookseller looked out into the aisles. The store had been so neat just the day before.
At precisely 9:49, the bell above the door sang out. It was Althea. 11 minutes early as always.
She strode in toward the counter—as much as her tiny frame could “stride.”
“Raccoons!” she ejaculated.
“What?” the other two replied in unison.
“This bookstore has raccoons. I went out back to check on the trailer, and there was trash strewn everywhere. Only raccoons can make a mess quite as chaotic as that!”
“What should we do?” Sally asked assuming at this point that Althea was knowledgeable about many such things.
“I already cleaned it up but to prevent repeats I have no idea,” Althea chimed. “I suppose stop leaving any trash out to attract them?” She continued. “I checked online this morning; on my phone. We can rent a trailer for $80 a month. We can store these boxes in there until you build the addition. I sent a message, and they already replied. You can buy a used trailer for $2000. There is plenty of room out back. You would have permanent extra storage that way. You have said ‘a bookseller can never have too much storage space.'”
“Well, I’ll look into it.”
“No need. I already have. Those are the best rates in the region,” Althea said over her shoulder as she headed into the pantry for her coffee.
“I don’t know if I want a… Hey, what about that other trailer? The one you said was left out back with bookcases in it? “
Sally replied: “The trucker didn’t say anything except he was told to drop the trailer and leave it by…”
“…an old man…”
“…with funny eyes. Just like I told you yesterday.”
“We could have two trailers!” said Althea helpfully. “Then we could store twice as many books!”
“My old mentor used to say…” the bookseller began sonorously.
“…that if you pay to store books eventually the storage costs will outweigh the books’ value,” Sally finished. “You’ve told me that many times.”
“Well, apparently one trailer is free. Getting another for all these boxes is only about $2.67 per day. Peanuts!” Althea posited. “Alternatively, if you purchased it, you would break even on the rental costs in 25 months. I believe that is a better proposition.”
“Yes. 2000 here and 2000 there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
The bookseller hated spending large amounts of money on anything—but books.
“Honestly!” Sally scolded: “These books cost you nothing—just that awful horrid lurid dust collecting geegaw in your office. You didn’t even have to pack and haul them. They just appeared!”
“I never asked. How did you know what was being traded for the books?”
“I was told the exchange hinged on a ‘short dark statuette with big…'”
“Right. Let’s go out and look at the trailer and all those bookcases.”
The bookseller had the foresight to bring a small stepladder out with him, but Althea wanted to open the trailer.
“I will climb up and open the trailer. I want to see what we have acquired!”
The floor of the trailer was about chest high to the bookseller. Althea’s eyebrows were just level with it. Sally was halfway in between. Althea climbed the ladder up 3 steps and said: “It is locked.”
“No it’s not. You just flip this thing then lift up this bar like this and…”
With a roar and a rumble, the big metal door rattled upward of its own accord.
Althea lifted herself onto the end of the trailer and stepped inside. After a few paces, she disappeared into the dark.
“Oh…. MY! It is wonderful!”
“What is it?! What do you see?” Sally asked. “All I see is bookcase bottoms.”
“Ooooh…Look at that! He sent the furniture too. There is the red velvet fainting couch. It is Victorian. It folds out into a little bed.”
“How do you…”
Althea came back into the light near the end of the trailer. She looked down and addressed the two below: “I believe much of that home’s furniture is in here. At least the pieces with spirit are here.”
“Spirit?” Sally asked. “I want to come up there and see what you’re talking about.”
She started up the ladder. Althea stepped back into the shadows.
“Well, I may as well join you,” the bookseller said and stepped up the ladder as well.
“Well, I never,” Sally said with not a little awe in her voice.
When he got up beside her, the bookseller exhaled softly. He nearly whistled.
Althea had hopped atop the 61-inch bookcases and was clambering toward the front of the trailer on her hands and knees.
“Here is the big brass floor lamp! The one with lion’s head feet and the tasseled shade. And that big old wooden trunk. The one with the carved gargoyle faces on the front and at either end. It thought it was certainly ancient when we walked past on the landing.”
She kept crawling toward the front giving a veritable inventory as she went.
Soon she had nearly disappeared. She was just a bump of a shadow rising and falling a bit as she made her way forward.
“And there is something big up toward the front. It is crated in pinewood slats. I can see between them. I think I know what it is. Did you see that mirror on steps between the ground floor and the bedroom level? It was very large. It hung above the big wooden chest.”
“Yes…I thought the old man said he couldn’t—or wouldn’t part with it,” the bookseller replied.
“I think he had to leave faster than he had planned. That is why there are all these furnishings atop the bookcases.”
Althea was making her way back toward the tail of the trailer. She hopped off the last barrister bookcase and took a couple steps toward the two and stood in the light again.
‘Did you look into the mirror as we went upstairs, Althea?’ he thought to himself, or did he actually whisper the question. ‘What did you see?’
Somehow Althea could hear him or perhaps she just knew what he was thinking.
She said: “What did I see in that tarnished old looking glass? Just a silly young woman who wants to become a bookseller. Odd, though, my hair looked like an old lady would wear it. Braided and wound in a knot atop my head. Like a spinster librarian or something. I found the image a bit disconcerting.”
“What are you two talking about? Mirrors and couches?” Sally asked.
“It was a very large house and old. There were a lot of quirky pieces throughout. From what I can see the quirkiest seem to be on board this trailer.”
“Whatever will we do with all this…”
“These antiques? I dunno. Maybe we can set up a reading area in the store.”
Sally climbed down the ladder mumbling: “I’m going back inside. So much to do. So much to do.”
The bookseller asked softly: “Althea, did you look in the mirror when you came down the stairs?”
She gave a little laugh. “Yes! It was odd. My hair was like it was when I was a little girl. I saw bangs and long braided pigtails falling down on both shoulders. There were so many strange things in that house. Why do you ask about the mirror?”
“I hated what I saw going up. Coming down I saw…nostalgia and regret. It made me sad. Althea, when were you a little…”
“What HO, Master Bookseller!” called a booming voice below them. “Sally said you were back here.”
It was Roderick. Sometime bookseller but mostly an inveterate book hoarder. He was all of 6’4″ and 275 pounds. He had a bristly beard. It was not one of those hipster trimmed combed and moussed beards but rather a sprawling free range storm that spread nearly half way to his shoulders and down to his sternum. His barrel chest pushed the black mass out at an angle. Sprinklings of gray were like tiny silver lights or mites, or worse… His hair was long and unkempt and also nearly fell to his shoulders. His eyes, nose, lips and a bit of his upper cheeks were the only facial features visible.
The bookseller didn’t really like him much. He didn’t buy many books. He never brought anything good to sell. He would come, stand around the corner and suck time away in conversation that was rarely helpful or interesting. Plus it was clear, recently, that he wanted engage Althea in personal conversations: Did she have a boyfriend? What was she doing this weekend? Did she like museums or art galleries? Had she seen this or that movie or TV show?
“Need a hand down, Althea?” Roderick said as softly as he could which for his voice was just a slightly muted boom.
“No need.” Althea bent and placed both hands on the tail of the trailer and vaulted off and down to the ground. Her feet landed softly like the two first leaves of autumn landing next to one another on a still green lawn.
The bookseller clambered down the stepladder and faced, or rather looked up into Roderick’s face.
Althea was disappearing around the side of the bookstore.
“Any books in this trailer?” Roderick asked.
“Just bookcases and furniture.”
“What have you gotten yourself into?” Roderick asked. “HA! I thought you said were going to slow down buying books. I peeked in the store, and no one was there. It was then I came out looking for you.”
“Did you see Sally?” the bookseller asked.
They were now walking side by side to the front. The bookseller had the aluminum stepladder in one hand. He was taking it back to the store in case someone needed to get to a top shelf.
“You got a lot of new arrivals in those boxes all through store? Anything good?”
“You know me, Roderick, I only buy good books.”
“HA! And you always price them too high.”
The bookseller turned the handle on the front door and pushed it inward. The bell gave a workmanlike late morning chime.
Roderick brushed by and inside. The bookseller followed. The 7-rung 7-foot ladder banged awkwardly against the doorframe twice as he struggled to get inside while holding the door open with his left hand.
“SALLY! Where are those books I put on hold?!” Roderick shouted out.
“You needn’t shout! I’m right here. You mean the ones you found today? Or the…”
“…47,” Althea intoned.
“…the 47 that you have had on hold behind the counter since…I don’t know when…”
“The sad tattered reading copies I stumbled across today, if you please.”
The bookseller had leaned the ladder against the nearest bookcase and stepped behind the counter and next to Sally.
She turned her head and sotto voce spoke: “When I came in from the trailer, he was rooting through the boxes on his hands and knees. He found two Kelmscott Press and four Nonesuch and one Golden Cockerel. He knows he’s not supposed to root through unpriced stock.”
“Now what are you charging for these trifles?” Roderick inquired loudly. He was now standing just across the counter. He appeared to be looming his height and bulk up and over the two smaller folk across from him.
“I’ll need to do some research, Roddy.” The bookseller knew the man disliked the nickname, but that was how he had been introduced years before by other scouts who had first brought him in. “These ‘trifles’ won’t be cheap.”
“You always charge too much for your books! Everyone knows that! That’s why…”
“…he only sold 127,611 book last year,” Althea cadenced her voice to a dagger’s point. “I was looking at the sales records…for marketing research purposes.”
“Well, put them on hold for me. What else is in all these boxes?”
“Well, I’ll go back in the stacks and see if I can find anything reasonable back there.”
“Don’t get into the boxes, Roddy.”
“You always hide the good stuff. ALWAYS! Keeping them for yourself?”
Althea spoke over him and said: “I contacted a company with trailers. They have a nice dry 43-foot trailer. It is only $2111. I asked them to put it on hold. Shall I call them back? They can deliver it this afternoon.”
“Let me see if I can get Aurora and a couple friends to come. She said they were bored, and there weren’t any good Pokemon to hunt around the neighborhood any more,” Sally added.
“There are some rare ones around here,” Althea offered.
“Delivery is only $73. There is plenty of room to set it next to the other one.”
“Why not? We need to get them out of here, or Roddy might be tempted to start rooting again. What about it, Roddy? Do you want to tote boxes with us today?”
“You couldn’t pay me enough…”
“What a surprise,” Sally chided.
“My back’s been acting up. And my knee. I think I’ll head back and see if you still have that overpriced set on the Peninsular War. It’s not worth more than 25 and you have 125 on it.”
“I’ll let you have it for 95.”
“Can I put it on hold?”
“Why not?” the bookseller laughed.
He thought he heard Althea stomp a foot.
“Don’t hurt yourself carrying it up here.”
“Maybe Althea could come…”
“No,” said three voices in unison.
Roderick turned to head back toward the European history section. As he departed, he said over his shoulder:
“Did you know you have a covey of quail in the underbrush behind the shop? I saw them when I came back to find you. I haven’t seen quail in years.”
When he had disappeared from sight, Sally said: “I can’t believe you’re letting him put more books on hold.”
“I’ll just put out some of the books he put back a couple months ago. I’m sure he’s forgotten about them.”
He turned to Althea. “Now about this trailer gambit…”
“Yes…?” she replied with a bit of concern in her voice.
“Good job! We need to get these boxes out of here so people can get to the shelves.”
“And so the book scouts don’t come and begin rooting,” Sally added. “I’m sure Roddy will put the word out.”
“No. Not a chance. A scout like him would never divulge a vein of gold like this. Still, I imagine they’ll start appearing. The best ones have a sense about good collections. Their noses will lead them here soon enough.”
Roderick soon reappeared holding a small stack of three thick slightly faded burgundy buckram bound hardcovers. Althea was in a corner on her cellphone arranging for the delivery of the trailer. In one hand, she held the bookseller’s credit card. The other had the thin silver metal box pressed to her ear. Sally was searching for comps on the Wodehouses. Each had been a first edition so far. One was signed. The bookseller had retreated to his office and was wandering around looking at his bookshelves and hoping Roddy would leave soon, so he wouldn’t have to interact with him any further.
After a while, Sally came in and set Roderick’s books on the desk. She dropped them levelly with a louder than necessary “thump.”
“Roddy’s latest holds. And, no, he didn’t buy any of the others he has on hold.”
“It looks like about 23 inches of books. Pick out the same measure, 23 inches, of his oldest holds and put them out. That way we can keep his hold shelf at a 61-inch equilibrium. Oh, and bring those Kelmscotts and the others back here. I’ll look them up when I get a chance. I’m sure he can’t afford them. I’m glad you came in when you did.”
“You don’t think he would…”
“No. But I bet he is the one who is hiding books behind other books—to come back for in the future.”
“Actually, several customers do that. Including one you would never suspect.” Althea had come in the office. “Sometimes the books hide themselves if they think the wrong person might find them. It is a survival thing. You would not understand. The trailer will be here at 2:31. Would you like me to paint it?”
“Color? No. I was thinking of painting books on it. Perhaps barrister bookcases filled with wonderful titles.”
“I’m afraid I couldn’t afford…”
“Oh, I would do it in trade if you were agreeable. I think those Kelmscotts Roderick dug out of the boxes are just lovely.”
“Well, of course you do.”
“Then I can paint the new trailer?
“Well, of course you can.”
“The trailer, they said it currently has an old SeaTrain logo on it. I have never had a trailer as a canvas before. And those Kelmscotts Sally is about to bring in?”
“We’ll see. I haven’t even looked at them yet. And, anyway, I’ll have to give Roddy the right of first refusal. But he would never…”
“…spring for them,” Sally finished the thought. She was just coming into the office with Roddy’s discoveries.
“Sally, the trailer is coming at 2:31! Do you think Aurora and her friends can come and help with the boxes? I do not think I could load them all my self.”
“I’m not so sure of that,” Sally replied.
“You do not think Aurora would do this?”
“No. I’m not so sure you couldn’t do it all yourself.”
* The Boy Who Did Not Know He Had Grown Old…
I meant to do my work to-day by Richard Le Galienne
I meant to do my work to-day—
But a brown bird sang in the apple-tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand—
So what could I do but laugh and go?
His eyes looked out on the distant valley
The view was framed by the lush trees of the forest
A brilliant green border in the fore
A slightly duller green in the distance below
The greens were as they’d always been
Was green his favorite color?
Or is blue? When a child it was blue
Yes. Sometimes one. Sometimes the other.
But lately it had been green
Each year he longed for spring’s greening
The summer’s heat was softened by the green canopy
In fall when the leaves lost their greens
and changed to yellow and red and orange by God
The symphony; that chaos did not please him
Then they all fell
Or most did
Those that still hung
were dull brown and sere
That season—autumn. The trees bare
the blue sky was now clearly visible
between the here and the there
Most of the forest sky was black twigs
Irregular spider webs of no straight lines
There were no straight lines in the forest
Then came the wait
The winter wait of gray
and sometimes white
The long cold winter wait
The wait til the first tender green of spring
peaked here and there
And then everywhere
“When will I see you again?” A while ago somewhere I don’t know when
I was watchin’ a movie with a friend
I fell in love with the actress
She was playin’ a part that I could understand
The mountains never changed
And constantly returned to what they had been
About the same time each year
The green was same each year
The green would always be the same
come what may
He looked out with eyes
that had seen three score springs
They saw the same green they’d always seen
The reflection in the window
it betrayed an old man’s face and eyes
From now on he would not could not
see the green the same way again
The same greens were different after this
He wished he had not seen the reflection