A series of fictional encounters with books
‘Vera’ by Elizabeth Von Arnim
Lucy is in the library of her new husband Everard Wemyss. She looks across the well stocked shelves but finds the glass doors to the shelves locked…
‘Why,’ she said surprised, ‘it’s locked.’
‘Of course,’ said Wemyss
‘Why but then nobody can get at them.’
‘People are untrustworthy about books. I took pains to arrange mine myself, and they’re all in first-class bindings and I don’t want them taken out and left lying anywhere by Tom, Dick, and Harry. If anyone wants to read they can come and ask me. Then I know exactly what is taken, and can see that it is put back.’ And he held up the key (to the bookshelves) on his watch chain.
‘But doesn’t that rather discourage people ?’ asked Lucy, who was accustomed to the most careless familiarity, in intercourse with books, to books loose everywhere, books overflowing out of their shelves, books in every room, instantly accessible books, friendly books, booked used to being read aloud, with this hspitable pages falling open at a touch.
‘Al the better,’ said Wemyess. ‘I don’t want anybody to read my books’
Lucy laughed, though she was dismayed inside.
‘Oh Everard-‘ she said, ‘not even me?’