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Five Times Leavenworth Smedry Was Late Returning A Book (And One Time He Wasn't)

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I wish it to be known, first of all, that this was not my idea. It was my son Alcatraz's idea. I may be a Librarian, and evil - I will accept the title evil, if that is what it takes to get the job done - but cruel, I am not.

No, it takes a professional writer to be this cruel. To be cruel enough to believe that a story is an appropriate gift for a special occasion. Especially a true story; that doesn't even require putting in the effort to make up a lie. But Alcatraz suggested that, for Leavenworth's birthday, I should collect some recollections about his greatest victories over the forces of the Library. On reflection, I decided that, on the one hand, this would save me the trouble of finding a real gift for him; and on the other hand, if I collated, annotated, editorialized, and organized the results, the result would be so contaminated with Librarianship that Leavenworth wouldn't even be able to enjoy reading them. So without further nonsense, here, Leavenworth Smedry, are the anecdotes I was able to bribe, blackmail, or guilt-trip my friends and family into writing down for you. If you don't think this is a good enough present, blame your grandson.

The first comes to us courtesy of young Bastille:

When I was small I spent a lot of time at Castle Smedry. Castle Smedry had the same problems with being too big and too empty that most castles do, but at least the annoying relatives wandering in and out of it weren't my annoying relatives, and all the service people were too used to Smedrys to bother too much about a king's daughter visiting. I especially liked to go on the rare occasions when the Old Smedry was home, instead of wandering around in the Hushlands. I could tell my father that the Old Smedry had invited me to visit and since he trusted the Old Smedry absolutely he would just wave me off and tell me not to cause more trouble than I could help.

The Old Smedry likes children, and back then most of the Smedry kids were either grown-up or on Mokia or both, so he'd always ask me over if I said something, and I could stay as long as I wanted or until my sister noticed I hadn't come back yet and complained to Mother.

Children like Old Smedry too. He treats them like rational beings capable of making sensible decisions, which is generous of him, since at his age he still isn't capable of making a sensible decision.

Usually I read books when I was there. Castle Smedry has the largest collection (not a library!) of books on Oculatory subjects in all of Nalhalla, and if I had questions about them while he was around, he would answer me, or even demonstrate.

Once I was sitting in a chair in one of the book-filled studies (not a library!) at Castle Smedry, reading a large textbook on Rare Sands of the World, while the Old Smedry was across the room, digging through several heaping bins of intelligence reports from the Hushlands. It was wonderfully quiet until Attica Smedry came storming in.

"SOMEONE has stolen one of my books!" he raged.

"Oh dear," Old Smedry asked, looking up from his piles of reports. "Are you sure you haven't lost it?"

Attica gave him a withering look. "I think that at this time in my life I know the difference being losing a book and having it stolen from my desk, Father. If I find out who stole it, they are going to get very, very, lost however. Bottom of the Marianas Trench lost, if I can manage it."

I curled up a little more tightly in the dusty old armchair I had claimed, and hid my face behind the book I was reading. Luckily I had covered it with the jacket off one of the terrible Adventures of Alcatraz kids' books that my brother was obsessed with. (It cut down on the number of people who wanted to comment about such a small girl reading such a big book, and tittering about how at that rate, I would need glasses by the time I turned six.) Attica didn't even look over at me. He's afraid of children and prefers to ignore them when he can't avoid them entirely.

The Old Smedry glanced over at me and winked. "Which book was it, boy?"

"Shawshank's Sands from Hidden Places," he said, frowning.

Okay, maybe I had slightly stolen it from his desk, but he hadn't been using it, and I was planning to return it when I was done, and anyway he lost things all the time.

"Oh, that one," the Old Smedry said. "I borrowed it."

"You borrowed it? When?"

"Last week, don't you remember, boy?"

Attica frowned. "Well, I need it now. Please return it."

"Yes, yes, absolutely, as soon as I have a minute to fetch it," he replied. I tucked my nose even farther into the book, though I doubt Attica had even noticed I was there.

"I need it soon, Father, not next year," he said threateningly, and then stormed out of the room.

As soon as he was safely gone I said, "I'm sorry, Grandpa Smedry, I'll return it right away."

He smiled at me and shook his head, "Take your time, lass. He could use another chance to learn that he can't always get want he wants."

I don't think Attica would have lost me at the bottom of the ocean either way, and it only encouraged me in several bad habits, but I'm still overdue in thanking him for doing that for me. Thank you for protecting a little girl when she needed it, Grandpa Smedry.