Adalhard locked his small book store for the night and stuffed the metal key into his already bulging pocket. The paper bag which was concealed in his right pocket crinkled and Adalhard looked around nervously. Be cool he was told, but how could he be cool when he was carrying something that could get him killed or worse, arrested? He could feel small beads of sweat form on his brow even though it was the middle of winter.
Just take a deep breath, walk across the street and go into that cobbler's shop and do exactly as you were told. Adalhard told himself while taking a deep breath to calm himself.
Before crossing the semi-busy street Adalhard took a quick look at his reflection in the glass of the shop door. His face looked older than he last remembered, blond hair was disshevled, here were great black rings about his eyes and their blueness seemed a little lessened, and creases of nervousness and worry were about his mouth. With a sigh and a straighten of his jacket Adalhard started the longest walk across the street he had ever encountered. After what felt like an eternity Adalhard reached the thickly carved door of the cobbler. Once again before going into the the store Adalhard checked behind his shoulder.
What felt like a brick wall of warm air hit Adalhard's face and as his skin adjusted to the hoter air Adalhard's face burned slightly. The lighting in the shop was dim and the walls were covered with shelves which were covered with shoes. Near the back of the little shop was a desk and behind the desk was a round faced woman with short blond hair. Adalhard cleared his throaght to get her attention, the woman looked up and then held up her finger as she finished writing something down. Once she was done she looked up she had rough skin and there were wrinkles around her mouth and eyes.
The blond haried woman looked Adalhard up and down and asked in a reedy voice, "Can I help you?"
"Are you the cobbler?" he asked nervously.
"Do I look like the cobbler?" replied the woman in a snarky voice.
"No," stated Adalhard, "Are you the cobbler's wife?"
The round woman huffed an exasperted sigh and shook her head.
"Well, could you get him for me then?" asked Adalhard a little taken a back by the woman's attitude.
Instead of answering, the woman just looked at Adalhard up and down, clearly unimpressed. But eventually she nodded and disapeared around a small corner into a nook that Adalhard hadn't noticed before.
"WHAT!" came a loud older voice with a thick italian accent, though it spoke in German, "you crazy woman! This is why I insist in maning the desk, you will drive all the expensive costamers away!"
There was a loud thuming and out from behind the deviding wall came a small round little italian man, who bore a heavy black mustach. He looked at Adalhard smoothly and said, "I apologize for the rudeness you were shown by Abigale."
Adalhard shrugged not knowing what to say.
"Well don't just stand there man! How can I help you?" asked the man.
Adalhard just looked at the cobbler and sighed. "I have a book - "
"Well what are you doing here? I'm a cobbler not a book colector!" said the man exasperatedly.
"I know you are sir, but a friend of mine said you were looking for this edition and I was looking to get rid of it," explained Adalhard repeating as well as he could what he was told to say.
The bushy eyebrows of the cobbler rose as he remembered what the man who was coming was supposed to say. Deep breath now he realxed his face and said asif remembering, "Oh yes of course! Now I remember, a tall man with expensive taste in shoes said he knew a man with an exilent edition of the secret rose. That must be you eh?"
Adalhard nodded while trying to wet his mouth as it had gone dry.
The little man beckond him forward and Adalhard followed the man into a very dim lighted room. There was a desk straight ahead with a lamo on it and nothing else.
Adalhard looked at the little man as he hobbled over to the lamp to turn it on, "What is your name sir?" he asked.
"Greco, Augusto Greco," he answered distantly, still trying to figure out the lamp. He finally got it and the lamp switched on with a click.
Adalhard squinted at the brightness of the light. Greco menuvered around the desk and sat down in the small stool. Then he put his shrivled worn hand out while still looking at something on the desk.
Adalhard looked at the hand confused until Greco grunted, "The book."
"Oh!" said Adalhard and dug the paper bag containing the book. Gently, as if holding a new born child Adalhard withdrew a superb edition of The Secret Rose. It was his best edition, and his favorite book. The book had gold printing and a gold tree on the front cover. Then Adalhard, with reluctance, handed the edition carefully into the cobbler's hand. Greco carelessly took the book and roughly looked through the pages. As he took the book without a thought Adalhard let out a small whimper, but Greco completely ignored Adalhard's worries.
Finding the page he wanted Gerco put the book down and retreaved a pencil and paper from a drawer in the desk. Adalhard looked at the paper confused, but remained silent. After Greco had got the paper he lifted the book and put the page infront of the light, Adalhard looked amazed at the pinholes oflight that were shown that would not be seen otherwise. Picling up the pencil Greco wrote down what message there was pricked into the page. When he had written all there was on that page of the book it was turned and the same thing happened on the next page, and the next until Greco had discovered all ther was to discover in that book. When he was done Greco ripped out all of the pages that had the message and threw the book into the garbage. Then calmly he picked up the phone and kindly asked Adalhard to wait out side of the little room. Adalhard did what he had been asked and waited patiently in the main store. But all the while he was waiting he could not get the image of the little cobbler thoughtlessly ripping the pages from the most precious book Adalhard possesed, felt almost like weeping for the loss of a great friend.
Something in the window caught his eye a Gestapo car stopped and parked outside the little shop. Adalhard took a deep breath as two men climbed out of the car and easily strolled over to the littlestore and waited, leaning against the the nearby wall. One of the men leisurely tookout a cigarette and lit it up.
At that momment the little man came out of the room with the lamp and said, quite nervously, "That is all you amy go now, have a nice day sir."
Slightly confused Adalhard answered, "And to you sir, have a nice day."
After that he waslked out and, relieved, walked across the street again and over to his shop again to get a different book to read that evening after his supper. While unlocking the door he saw, in the refelection of the glass in the door, the one gestapo throughig out his cigerette and following the other across the street, straight for his shop! Quite suddenly Adalhard re-locked his shop and turned to the left to keep walking. He waslked slowly at first trying to make it seem as though he was nervous about nothing, but he soon found that, that was easier said than done. Soon he found himself walking as quickly as he could for an ally way that was just ahead of him. But, to his great dispare two more Gestapo apeared just from around the corner of where he was walking.
"Sir! Could you stop for a momment? Sir!" he heard them shouting at them. Their voices were thickly accented.
The two from around the corner stopped him and said,quite pleasantly, "Sir we need to ask you some questions. We just need you to come with us to our station. Thats all."
Adalhard found the other two Gestapo who had been following him right behind him, they were so close he could smell their thick calone. "I - I, well I have to get home, I believe I left my kitchen stove on," Adalhard stuttered to grasp an excuse not to go with the men.
"Oh, it shouldn't take that long sir, you will have plently of time to turn your stove off," said one Gestapo from behind, he had obviously been the one smoking,for his breath stank of smoke.
So Adalhard was forced to agree and followed them to the Gestapo car where he was allowed to sit in the back.