Adewole looked in dismay through the last translated pages spread before him on the trestle table. He had finished the coda to the manuscript, and thus, the book’s not-quite-polished translation. He’d skipped over the spells; at first he’d assumed they were poems. With his bad habit of translating a section as perfectly as possible, poems took much longer than anything else. He wanted to translate the meat of the notebook.
Though he'd officially given the slim, frog leather-bound tome the proper, scholarly name The Notebook of Heicz Vatterbroch, in his own mind Adewole had come to call it The Book of the Machine God. The manuscript repeated the idea over and over, a god-like being of magic and metal; whoever Vatterbroch was, he believed he'd designed one, though Adewole couldn't tell if he'd tried to make one. Could one make a god, or could one merely--merely, he snorted to himself as he sat in his cozy office--give an already-existing god a body?
The next day, Deviatka and Peter left for their tour; Corporal von Sülzle went with them at Berger’s insistence, leaving Wirtz behind to care for Adewole. At first he thought it was a bit much, a whole corporal to himself, but once he’d filled two packs with his dictionaries, reference books, blank books, notepads, inks and pens Adewole appreciated Wirtz’s help lugging it all over to the Library.
Mr. Buckan had set up the rare books room as an office. He gave Adewole a key. “You must keep it locked at all times, Professor, even when you are in here by yourself. The books in this room are invaluable, irreplaceable, as I’m sure you realize.” A lightcrystal brightened the room. A sole stool provided the only seating at the long trestle table.
“I’ll send a barrowman to East Camp for a proper chair, sir,” said Wirtz. “You deserve better than that.”
“It does not matter,” muttered Adewole absently, his attention focused on a single book, lying on a goathair felt pad atop the table. Its binding looked like old books he’d seen bound in ostrich leather, its raised bumps a dark, dull shine against a creamy background.
Judging by the covers, the books spanned some three hundred years. Most were bound in cow leather, and he assumed they were pre-Rising. Some were bound in something else—goatskin, according to Mr. Buckan. He indicated the sole book on the table. “This one is particularly fragile, sir. It is bound in frog leather. I, ah, I should not be letting you handle it.”
Adewole pulled on his cotton gloves, never taking his eyes off the thin book. “I shall be quite, quite gentle, I assure you.”
“Your gentleness was never at issue, sir,” murmured the librarian. Adewole looked up at the nervous tenor in the man’s voice, but he had already left the room.