Summary (Masterplots: Revised Category Edition, European Fiction Series)
Bonnard was a retiring philologist, a Member of the Institute, and a bachelor. Therese, his maid, looked after him firmly; she was the real mistress of his domestic arrangements. Bonnard, his mind stuffed with anti-quarian lore about the old abbeys of Paris, lived mostly in the past.
One day a sickly bookseller called and unsuccessfully showed him some cheap editions. Although he bought no books, Bonnard was moved by the thin, intense man. When he inquired of Therese, she told him that the bookseller, Monsieur Coccoz, lived up in the attic under a leaky roof with seldom even a fire, and his wife had just had a baby. Moved to pity, Bonnard sent up some logs for the indigent couple to burn.
Shortly afterward, he heard that the husband had died. Therese sniffed virtuously at the widow, who had far too many admirers. Bonnard saw the beautiful Madame Coccoz only once on the stairs. She showed him her healthy baby and remarked on his kindness in sending firewood.
Ten years later, Bonnard read in a catalog of a manuscript of the GOLDEN LEGEND, a work he wished very much to own. He finally tracked it down, discovering that it was owned by Signor Polizzi, who lived in Sicily. The Italian refused to lend the manuscript, but he invited Bonnard to come to Sicily to read it at his leisure. Although it was a long, hard trip for a shy man of letters, Bonnard set out for Sicily.
On the island he met Prince Trepof, a Russian,...
(The entire section is 1298 words.)
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