Emma put on her brave smile, “Good morning. I’m wondering if you could help me. I’m looking for the book, Full Moon Rituals, by Reginald Smythe. I understand you have a copy here?”
The woman looked through an old card file and then disapprovingly back at her, “Yes. We do have a copy but it is in the restricted area and is available only to a few select patrons and you are not one. Good day.”
“But isn’t there any possibility of me somehow looking at it. I don’t want to remove it from library. There is one chapter I need for research for my doctoral thesis. Please?” her voice begging.
The woman peered over her glasses and gave her an even colder stare, sneering at her, “What do you not understand?! It is not available to you. You are not a select patron. There are only seven patrons allowed access to that room and I know them all. I am most certain you are not one of them. Now, good day!”
Emma didn’t know how to respond to the woman’s dismissal. She desperately needed to get a look at that book. She thought of another book, much less rare and asked if she might be able to look at that one. The woman again looked through the card file, then sharply at Emma, “Yes, you may. It is on the second floor.”She huffily gave directions where to find it. “Sign in here.”
Emma signed in, needing to give her name, address where she was staying, home address and phone number. She then had too show her passport and drivers license. The woman looked at her proffered documents, wrote down a long list of notes and then, reluctantly, allowed her in.
Emma went to the stairs feeling the scrutiny of the woman burning like two hot coals into her back as she walked away. Her heart was racing, but she was in. Now she had to find the restricted area and figure out how to get in.
She walked up the old, once elegant winding staircase to the second floor and saw dimly lit hallways leading both to her left and right. She went to the left as she was directed. It smelled of dust and old books. She found the door and went in to an even mustier smelling room filled with three rows of bookcases heavy with books. There was no numbering system but she found the old, mostly leather bound books, were all neatly arranged in alphabetical order. She really had no use whatsoever for that particular one since she had already read the copy in the Harvard library, but she now had some time to hatch a plan. Around one corner of shelves were two old study desks from a forgotten era. A man was sitting at one. He was old, maybe like her grandfather’s age with long white hair that curled over the collar of his white shirt and tweed jacket. He had a big bushy white beard and below that she saw a black necktie. He looked up at her over his wire rimmed glasses with a startled look on his face.