He had a feeling the entry gate was at least half a mile from the house. Countless paths were intertwining to the left of the road, disappearing in gardens filled with processed and unprocessed stones, fountains and neatly cut grass. On the other side was the parking with expensive cars, partly hidden behind green dresses that weeping willows proudly wore lowered to the ground. He was making nervous glances at the paper with prepared questions for the interview. He knew this was his chance of a life time, the opportunity to prove himself and be remembered in the world of journalism as one of very few who interviewed the richest man in the country. Approaching a huge six-floor villa with sixty-three rooms and fourteen bathrooms, he felt sweat tickling him on his back and around eyes, and his heart galloping like a jolly Lipizzaner. Splendor, power and shine that follow the name of this man were only partly a reason of his unrest. The main reason for his obvious excitement was, at the same time, the main reason of his visit – the biggest private library in the country and one of the ten wealthiest collections in the world. Unlike others, this interview was supposed to be about wealth on bookshelves, and not on bank accounts. Since he was not only a journalist but also a book lover and a sort of a writer-in-secret, the waiting was even more anxious and tormenting.
After a surprisingly young battler finally brought him into the lobby, his eyes were useless for a moment, due to combined glare of massive chandeliers, meter high porcelain vases and polished gold-ware. Numbness in his legs was getting stronger as he climbed up the marble stairs, leading to the floor with the library. When the battler opened heavy oak-tree door, his breathing became so shallow he would not be able to put out a candle.
– Wait here. Your host will soon join you – said the battler and left the room.
The room was large. It seemed to him it was occupying the whole wing of a house, and he was probably right. High four meters ceiling only strengthen the feeling of sublimity the library was richly emitting anyway. Books filled shelves from bottom to the top. Some were tightly placed on shelves, covering the walls, other were locked in glass boxes for antiques. Three unique desks were placed next to three windows, turned towards north, east and south. The central part of the room was filled with massive shelves and crowded lines of books; one was filled with rare books, second one with valuable church manuscripts from middle ages, third one with famous and less famous cartography and astronomy books, fourth one …
The battler’s white glove that suddenly appeared in his sight brought him back from daydreaming.
– The Sir will see you now. Please be clear and concise, for he is a very busy man – recited the battler and, again, left the library without making a sound, like a ghost.
A few moments later the journalist pulled himself together and started to check his pockets, looking for a paper with prepared questions. As he could not find it, he concluded he must have dropped it in a car.
– It does not matter – he thought – I’ll improvise.
While he was taking a seat opposing his host (at the desk facing south), he felt his heart beating strongly again, this time as a charging Calvary. He had a terrible stage fright, like never before. He was unable to think clearly, to come up with a sensible question and say it. He could not gather the strength to look at his (future) interlocutor in the eyes.
– Which of these books have you read and which you find the most favorite or the best – he finally stammered.
– What’s with you, lad? Do you think I would have all this if I were reading books in leisure? Besides, to me books are sacred objects, and you do not touch the sacred things! – he screamed, stood from the desk and run out answering his mobile phone.