Summary (Masterplots: Revised Category Edition, European Fiction Series)
Because their fabulous library was so large and valuable, the d’Esparvieu family employed Monsieur Julien Sariette to look after the three hundred thousand volumes. The books were the most precious charge that Sariette had ever had, and he guarded them as if they were jewels. There were rare first editions, some with notations in the handwriting of famous men of history. There were several unpublished manuscripts written on sheepskins and sycamore tablets. It was no more difficult to steal an emerald than to borrow one of those precious books or manuscripts from Sariette.
One morning he entered the library to find many of the books in complete disorder. Some of the finest specimens were among the desecrated books, and for a time the old librarian could not comprehend what his eyes saw. He was even more disturbed when he realized that some of the books were gone. When he reported the theft to his master, he was told that he had probably left them lying carelessly around. Sariette was greatly disturbed by this accusation.
The thefts continued for more than two months. Locks were changed, and a detective was employed, but all precautions failed. Sariette hid himself in the library one night, and what he saw there frightened him more than ever. He had fallen asleep. When he awoke, he saw that the room was filled with a queer, phosphorescent light. A book he held in his hand opened, and he could not close it. When he tried to force it shut, the...
(The entire section is 1205 words.)
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