The two cousins
The Two Cousins
One autumn afternoon, an elderly man entered a library, showing
a card with his name on it — Mr John Eldred — and asked if he
could borrow a book. 'The name of the book I want is The Tractate
Middoth — it's number 11334, I believe,' he said. 'But 1 don't know
this library at all. Would someone be able to go and find it for me?'
A young man who worked there, Mr Garrett, was passing and he
answered, 'Of course, I'll go and find it for you immediately, sir.' Mr
Eldred sat down on a chair near the door to wait.
When Mr Garrett returned he had to apologize for failing to
find the book. 'I'm very sorry, Mr Eldred, but someone has
already borrowed that hook.'
'Are you sure?' replied Mr Eldred.
'Yes, sir,' said Garrett, 'but if you wait a moment you'll
probably meet the man who has taken it as he leaves the library. I
didn't see him very well but 1 think he was an elderly man, quite
short, wearing a black coat.'
'It's all right.' said Mr Eldred,'1 won't wait now, thank you. 1
have to go. But I'll come back again tomorrow and perhaps you
can find out who has the book?'
'Of course,' replied Garrett, and Eldred left the library quickly.
Garrett thought, 'I'll just go back to that room and see if 1 can
find the old man. I'll ask him if he can wait a few days for the
book and then I'll give it to Mr Eldred tomorrow.' So he went
back to the same room and, when he got there, the book — The
Tractate Middoth — was back in the right place.
Garrett felt very bad.'Mr Eldred hasn't got the book he wants.
he said to himself, 'because I didn't see it. I'll wait for him
tomorrow and give him the book myself.'
The next morning, he was waiting for Mr Eldred. ' I 'm very
sorry,' he said when Eldred came in, 'but I was sure that the old
man took the book away with him. If you'll wait for a moment.
I'll run and get it for you now' Again Eldred sat down and
waited, but this time his wait was very long. After twenty
minutes he asked the woman behind the front desk if it was
very far to the part of the library where Garrett was looking for
'No, not far at all, sir,' she answered. 'It's odd that he's taking
such a long time,' and she went to look for Garrett. She came
back a few minutes later, looking rather worried. ' I 'm very sorry,
sir, but something has happened to Mr Garrett,' she said. 'He
suddenly became ill while he was looking for your book and we
have had to send him home.'
Mr Eldred was surprised but he answered politely, ' I 'm so
sorry that Mr Garrett became ill while he was trying to help me.
I'd very much like to go to his house to ask how he is. Could you
give me his address?'
The woman gave him the address and, before he left, Eldred
asked her one last question. 'Did you see an elderly man in a
black coat, leaving the library soon after I was here yesterday
'No, I didn't,' replied the woman. 'There were only two or
three other men in here yesterday afternoon and they were all
quite young, I think.'
Mr Eldred then left for Mr Garrett's house. He found him in a
chair by the fire, looking pale and ill. 'I'm so sorry for all the
trouble I have caused you,' Garrett said.
'Don't worry about it,' said Eldred.'But what happened in that
room? Did you fall? Did you see something?'
'Well, yes, I did fall and it was because I saw something,'
answered Garrett.'It was just as I went into the room where we
keep that book you w a n t . . . '
'No, no,' said Eldred hurriedly. 'Don't tell me now. You will
make yourself ill again.'