This inscription could be seen on the glass door of a small shop, but naturally this was only the way it looked if you were inside the dimly lit shop, looking out at the street through the plate-glass door.

Outside, it was gray, cold, rainy November morning. The rain ran down the glass and over the ornate letters. Through the glass there was nothing to be seen but the rain-splotched wall across the street.

Suddenly the door was opened so violently that a little cluster of brass bells tinkled wildly, taking quite some time to calm down. The cause of this hubbub was a fat little boy of ten or twelve. His wet, dark-brown hair hung down over his face, his coat was soaked and dripping, and he was carrying a school satchel slung over his shoulder. He was rather pale and out of breath, but, despite the hurry he had been in a moment before, he was standing in the open doorway as though rooted to the spot.

Before him lay a long, narrow room, the back of which was lost in the half-light. The walls were lined with shelves filled with books of all shapes and sizes. Large folio were filed high on the floor, and on several tables lay heaps of smaller, leather-bound books, whose spines glittered with gold. The far end of the room was blocked off by a shoulder-high wall of books, behind which the light of a lamp could be seen. From time to time a ring of smoke rose up in the lamplight, expanded, and vanished in darkness. One was reminded of the smoke signals that Indians used for sending news from hilltop to hilltop. Apparently someone was sitting there, and sure enough, the little boy heard a cross voice from behind the wall of books: “Do your wondering inside or outside, but shut the door. There’s a draft.”

The boy obeyed and quietly shut the door. Then eh approached the wall of books and looked cautiously around the corner. There, in a high worn leather wing chair sat a short, stout man in a rumpled back suit that looked frayed and somehow dusty. His paunch was held in by a vest with a flower design. He was bald except for outcroppings of white hair over his ears. His red face suggested a vicious bulldog. A gold-rimmed pince-nez was perched on his bulbous nose. He was smoking a curved pipe, which he had evidently been reading, for in closing it he had left the thick forefinger of his left hand between the leaves as kind of bookmark.

With his right hand he now removed his spectacles and ex-aimed the fat little boy, who stood there dripping. After a while, the man narrowed his eyes, which made him look more vicious than ever, and muttered: “Goodness gracious.” Then he opened his book and went on reading.

The little boy didn’t know quite what to do, so he just stood there, gaping. Finally the man closed his book – as before, with his finger between the pages – and growled: “Listen, my boy, I can’t abide children. I know it’s the style nowadays to make a terrible fuss over you – but I don’t go for it. I simply have no use for children. As far as I’m concerned, they’re no good anything but screaming, torturing people, breaking things, smearing books with jam and tearing the pages. It never dawns on them that grown-ups may also have their troubles and cares. I’m only telling you this so you’ll know where you at.

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