She turned, to consider another choice of doors, and opening one and then another, found herself in the library. It was not, perhaps, such a random choice. Houses have patterns and proper 'houses,' even modest ones (like Beechwood or Upleigh), had their libraries. In any case she was glad it was where she found herself to be.
Libraries too -- libraries especially -- had normally to be entered with such deliberate knocking and caution, though, as often as not, judging by the one at Beechwood, there was actually no one inside. Yet even when empty they could convey the frowning implication that you should not be there. But then a maid had to dust -- and, my, how books could gather dust. ... and the point of libraries, she sometimes thought, was not the books themselves but that they preserved this hallowed atmosphere of not-to-be-disturbed male sanctuary.
So, few things cold be more shocking than for a woman to enter a library naked. The very idea.
The Beechwood library had its wall's worth of books, most of which (a maid knows) had hardly ever been touched. But in one corner, near a buttoned-leather sofa, was a revolving bookcase (she liked to twirl it idly when she was cleaning) in which were kept books that clearly had been read. Surprisingly, in such a grown-up place, they were books that harked back to childhood, books that she imagined might once have flitted between the library and those silent rooms upstairs. They were even a few books that looked newly and hopefully purchased, but never actually begun.
Rider Haggard, G.A Henry, B.M. Ballantyne, Stevenson, Kipling ... She had good reason to remember the names and even the titles on some of the books. The Black Arrow, The Coral Island, King-Solomon's Mines ... She would always see their grubby, frayed dust jackets or the exact coloration of their cloth bindings, the wrinklings and fadings of their spines.
Of all rhe rooms at Beechwood, in fact, the library, for all its daintingness, was the one she most liked to clean. It was the room in which she most felt like some welcome, innocent thief.
May 7, 2016
Libraries in books...
from Mothering Sunday, by Graham Swifr
(the painting is by Carl Vilhelm Holsoe, found on Pinterest)
Noted under: Fiction