THE BOOK TRAVELLER
Thomas Howard had recently retired and was glad that he had said goodbye to the world of work. He was now looking forward to taking things easy and with this thought in mind, he went shopping. Now ordinarily Thomas hated shopping, unless it was for books, because of all things in life, Thomas loved reading. In fact, he would rather do DIY than go shopping and he hated DIY. To Thomas DIY meant Destroy It Yourself rather than Do It Yourself! But this was no ordinary shopping trip. It is true that Thomas was actually contemplating buying something other than books but this was to be a special purchase. How special, even Thomas did not suspect.
Thomas had often passed Ridley’s Emporium, an antique shop that he was now walking towards, together with his Blue Staffordshire bull terrier, Sky. The shop was hidden away in a side street, and he had often passed it as he walked home from the railway station every evening on his way back from work. He had thought that it was a strange location for an antique shop being off the beaten track as it was. But he guessed the owner must know what he was doing as the articles in his shop window, Thomas noticed, changed quite frequently. Thomas was a little anxious on that account because he was worried that the item he wanted to buy had now been sold. But as he approached the shop and looked into the window he observed that it was still there in all its glory and it was exactly what Thomas wanted for the prospect he now had in view.
“What do you think of that chair, Sky?” Thomas asked.
You don’t really want my opinion; do you, Thomas? Sky replied.
It was a high backed leather-covered wing chair that looked extremely comfortable and Thomas was anxious to try it. The reason being the sign that was attached to the chair which read: The Book Traveller. Now Thomas, who loved books, was very curious about this odd sign and wondered what it could possibly mean in relation to the chair. It was a very handsome chair and it was just what Thomas wanted to provide the comfort he now envisioned for himself in his retirement. Assuming that is that it was as comfortable as it looked.
Thomas entered the shop and the bell over the door gave a reassuring tinkle. The owner appeared from behind a curtained-off doorway. He looked very old. Thomas guessed he was in his late eighties at least. The old man had a round owl-like face and wore round spectacles which made his eyes look beady. His face was wrinkled with laughter lines and he had a warm welcoming smile on his friendly face.
“You’ve come about the chair,” the old man said.
“Well, yes,” Thomas said with a certain feeling of amazement. “How did you know?”
“I saw you looking at it in the window,” the old man replied. “And you are puzzled by the sign; you want to know what it means?”
“Well, yes, but again how did you know?”
“I have often seen you walking past my shop with a book in your hand and you are obviously well-read and therefore a man with a great sense of curiosity,” the old man replied. “It would be only natural that you would want to know the secret of the name. But first I am sure you would like to sit in it to discover if it is comfortable and to your liking.”
So saying the old man came from behind the counter and approached the window.
“What a handsome dog” the old man said indicating Sky "What is his name?”
“It’s Sky, on account of his colouring, you know, blue/grey like the sky”
“Very apt,” said the old man. “It suits him.”
Thank you Sky said.
“Thank you,” Thomas said.
“You are welcome” said the old man looking at Sky.
The old man stroked Sky’s head and Sky looked at the old man inquisitively. He understands me, Sky thought. Not like Thomas.
“Would you be so kind as to help me to remove the chair from the window?” he asked Thomas. Together Thomas and the old man lifted the armchair from the window onto the shop floor.
“Please”, the old man gestured, “help yourself.”
Thomas sank into the chair and it was indeed wonderfully comfortable. A strange sensation briefly passed through his mind as if a dream had suddenly presented itself and then quickly passed away. Thomas gave it no more thought but just luxuriated in the comfort of the chair as he slid his hands over the soft leather of the arms of the chair.
“Can’t you just see yourself sitting comfortably at home reading one of your favourite books in this armchair?” the old man asked.
“Yes, indeed I can,” Thomas agreed. “But why is it called: The Book Traveller?”
“Because when you sit in this chair and read your favourite books you will travel to the scenes of your books.”
“Oh, I see, it is just a metaphoric expression for day dreaming,” Thomas said.
“If you like”, the old man said, with a huge beaming smile.
The transaction having been concluded and delivery agreed Thomas made his way home to await the arrival of his purchase.
Thomas did not have to wait long. The chair arrived within an hour of his return home. The delivery men carried it into his book-lined study and he showed them where to position it. Thomas bid them goodbye and quickly returned to his study so he could sink into the depths of that wonderful chair. With a sigh of contentment Thomas sank into it once again and he marvelled at how extraordinarily comfortable it was. It was unlike any chair he had ever owned before and again he had a brief sensation as though a series of visions quickly passed through his mind. But they passed away as quickly as they had come.
Thomas had not eaten yet and so he reluctantly vacated his new chair and went to the kitchen to prepare some food. He prepared it as quickly as he could because he wanted to get back to his wonderful chair and settle down for some seriously enjoyable reading.
Now what shall I begin reading in my new chair, he thought, as he began eating his dinner. Thomas had the idea of christening his chair with a really good book. What about Pride and Prejudice he mused. I fancy reading about Darcy, he has always been one of my favourite characters. Darcy, he thought, is such an admirable man, perhaps a trifle haughty and a bit pretentious but on the whole very worthy.
Thomas quickly finished his dinner tidied up the kitchen, washed the dishes and put them all away tidily in the kitchen cupboard.
Now it was time to relax and read. He took Pride and Prejudice from the shelf, settled himself comfortably in his new chair, opened the book and began to read. Sky settled himself comfortably at Thomas’s feet and curled up for a snooze. Thomas had been reading for about an hour and was thoroughly immersed in the story. His everyday concerns had fallen away; he had lost sight of the room he was in and all bodily sensation had ceased. A somnolent mood overcame him and as he drifted off into a reverie he found himself transported back in time and instead of sitting in his armchair in his own room he found himself looking through the eyes of Mr. Darcy sitting at his desk contemplating the letter he had just written to Miss Elizabeth Bennett.
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