Here is another excerpt from Pursuit ch3.
Gabriela was an avid reader. She would read almost anything she could get her hands on, books, magazines, newspapers, advertising posters, even the ingredients on biscuit packets. She just couldn’t get enough to read.
The books at school she read in an few hours. They were too simple and short. She enjoyed their stories but they left her only thirsting for more. Her mother sent her to the library as often as she had nothing to read, which was two or three times in the week. Armed with her little library ticket she would skip down town to where the public library stood. It was an old building, with those big, gnarled, black stones, the same used to build the church some streets away. It’s huge windows were bordered with colored, diamond pieces of glass, making it even more like a church.
Up the stone steps and in through the huge doors, Gabriela would go to the desk with her small pile of read books.
“Back already, young lady,” the attendant would say. “What will it be this time, then?” The attendant always wore her spectacles on the edge of her nose so that she peered over the top to speak to the girl. Gabriela often had to hurry behind a shelf so that the lady wouldn’t see her giggle, for the lady looked just like a goose in one of her picture books.
“I’d like to look around, please,” Gabriela would say, and off she would go exploring the long rows of high shelves, all full of interesting, fascinating and intriguing books.
There were books about wars, others about explorations and travels. Some books told stories of murders and great crimes and the detectives who cunningly analyzed the clues to find the criminal. She particularly liked Sherlock Holmes and had read all the library had to offer. And she loved the many romantic stories of love and family drama.
Other books spoke of things hard for a nine-year old girl to understand. Things like “philosophy”, “engineering,” “Chemistry”, and many other very scholarly books. She spent many an hour sitting on the floor at these shelves reading what she could, and learning lots of complicated things. But in the end these books put her to sleep and the attendant lady had to wake her up once with her head in a big heavy book about “Law”.
Gabriela was always on the search for new books, and just last week she had discovered the market while out with her parents down town in a big square area outside the church. Many people had erected stalls, like little shops right in the street. Gabriela found this fascinating. “That’s the weekly town market,” said Gabriela’s mum. “It’s the place where anyone can sell anything from sweeties to old paintings.”
Gabriela delighted to browse through all the stalls until she came to one in particular which caused Gabriela to scream out to her parents; “Look! old books!” And off she ran to see if there would be anything worthy of her hungry mind.
It was a feast for Gabriela’s eyes. These books looked like they were “thousands of years old.” There were old novels, even one old Sherlock Holmes, but she had already read that one. An old Shakespeare came to her attention containing all of Shakespeare’s plays. She just had to get that. She had read a little of Shakespeare at school, but it hadn’t quite yet grasped her intense interest. “The words are very old,” she would say and say that it was hard to understand. This big volume would give her the freedom to read whenever she was in the mood, for she said that she must be in the mood for Shakespeare in order to read it.
Dad said it was quite cheap and all the pages looked like they were still there. So that was a buy. Gabriela was almost leaving the other books, thinking she would explore more next week when the book stall would be there again, when her eye caught sight of the corner of an unusual book binding. “That one looks really old,” she thought, and gently pulled it out from under a couple other books.
“Wow!” she exclaimed. “This looks really old. And look at the dragon engraved on the front.” She held the book up to show her Dad, pointing at the front cover.
“Embossed,” said Dad. “Its called embossed because it is standing out. Engraving is etching something into the material.” Gabriela’s dad was always explaining things, even things Gabriela had already read about in the library. But this was something new for a change. She took a mental note to look up the word “embossed” in the huge illustrated dictionary at the library.
“What’s this about,” Gabriela said, more to herself than to anyone else. And she opened it to the title page. “The Treasure of Einarr” said the title in big bold print. And underneath, what Gabriela had learned was the sub-title, it read, “The journey and the Guardians of the treasure.”
Gabriela was fascinated. She had to have that book too. “How much is this one?” she asked the man at the stall.
“Sixpence,” said the man. Gabriela knew this was a lot and she looked at her Dad with pleading eyes. Her eyes fell on the big Shakespeare volume Dad had just purchased, then at the dragon book. Why does it have a dragon on the front, she was wondering. She looked again at the Shakespeare book, then at the dragon book in her hands, then at her Dad. Dad already paid ninepence for the big book and he didn’t really want to spend more on another old book.
The owner of the stall was watching the scenario before him. He eyed the book with the dragon. it had come in a box with dozens of other books from the house of a deceased professor. He hadn’t paid much attention to it but thought it looked like a sixpence worth. But he had sold already a fare number of books that day and was feeling quite pleased with himself. Maybe if he was a little generous he could coax another few penny’s from the fine gent.
“I’ll tell you what,” he said. “You can have both books for a shilling. How’s that then?” He looked and smiled at Gabriela’s Dad, then looked and winked at the girl.
“A shilling, for two old books!” said Gabriela’s Dad.
“But two grand looking books and most certainly an education for the young lady,” convinced the book-seller.
Dad looked at Gabriela, and Gabriela gave him her brightest smile. Could she keep both books, these two volumes would occupy her for at least two weeks. Maybe three. She could tell that her dad was thinking along the same terms. “Alright,” he said. “If it keeps her quiet and out of trouble for a few weeks, I guess its worth it.” And he reached into his pocket and handed the man another threepence to make up the shilling.
“Thank you Daddy,” said an excited, happy Gabriela. She couldn’t wait to get home to begin reading about the treasure. And she was intrigued at the dragon embossed on its front cover. She determined she was going to get a piece of paper and some pencils and try to draw that dragon herself.