I opened the door after the soft knock had awakened me from my late afternoon slumber in my reading chair. My thin coat did little to protect me from the cool autumn breeze that rushed into my home when I opened the door. On the small porch stood a woman.
“Mr. Cross,” she quietly inquired. She was younger than I by easily ten years, small and rather pretty. Her clothing suggested a moderate home, likely married to a young man struggling to provide for his family. I noticed a thin wisp of reddish hair had slipped from its hiding spot under the small lady’s cap she wore. The tops of her soft brown leather utilitarian boots were covered in fresh mud, from where ever it is she had come, she had walked and not ridden.
“Yes, ma’am,” I opened the door completely now that I was aware of my visitor. “Can I help you?” She paused a moment, long enough for it to become uncomfortable.
“Oh! Where are my manners, do please come out of the cold,” I stepped aside and made a motion for her enter. I noted a nervousness in her eyes and she tossed a quick glance up and down my street. “Please ma’am, I have a warm fireplace with a pot of tea brewing. I would could use a visitor to share the brew.”
She gingerly stepped forward. I could see her forward momentum pause as her left foot crossed the threshold of my door. A curious thing. She stopped and removed her outer coat and shaw as I closed and bolted the door behind us. With the cool breeze now vacant from the foyer I could almost sense the warmth slowly soaking into the room from the fireplace in my front room.
“Do have a seat,” I waved her further into the front room towards the grotesque and garish couch Abraham had selected for me. It cast a stark image in the crowded room. The large front window that faced south cast the room awash in bright light and cast a long shaft of light across the room to land upon the fireplace. The walls on each side of the fireplace and the wall opposite the entrance we covered-floor to ceiling- with neatly arranged shelves of books.
The young miss turned the corner and eye drew wide, absorbing the wealth of knowledge that sat upon my walls. She paused in her steps and her eyes danced across the books, reading titles and authors. I believe she had actually held her breath.
She blinked a few times, willing herself back. “Yes? Oh my, yes. What a wonderful collection of tomes. I...I have never seen so many!”
“I am quite proud of my collection,” I smiled and moved to the fireplace to examine the pot warming to the side. “I believe no one should ever stop learning, the world is full of wonder and to stop learning is, well frankly, arrogant. To assume you have learned all there is to learn. You see, I am an astute student of learning. I am…”“I know who you are,” she stated rather flatly and her eyes met mine. “It is the very reason I have come to you.”