My Bargain Friday
AND Bonanza Saturday
In a Richmond, Virginia, bookstore I found a coverless book in the poetry section. There it waited for me, naked as a jaybird, with its signatures showing, held together by some of the finest hand-stitching I have seen in thirty-two years of collection old books. The title page was missing too, so I didn’t know what I was holding until I flipped the brittle pages and landed on a poem entitled Locksley Hall.
A-ha, Tennyson! Have I ever read Tennyson? I answered my own question with, if I have, I don’t remember.
As a result of a long-ago reader’s dog’s ear of the preceding page, a perfect triangle of paper lay pointed at the title like a directional omen. That flake of paper breached my brain’s guardian cells with instructions to read on, dear lady, for you are about to learn something. I read on and I did learn something.
In another part of the book I found the word “Swineherd.” For certain, I had heard the word before or perhaps read it but did not comprehend. So, what now? I plunked down two dollars plus tax and headed for the park bench across the street. I was alone that day; it was a beautiful November afternoon and for the next two hours I would be alone with my newly purchased, coverless book.
Turning to the page I first encountered, I sat and read:
Locksley Hall, by Alfred Tennyson
Comrades, leave me here a little, while as yet ‘t is early morn:
Leave me here, and when you want me, sound upon the bugle-horn.
‘T is the place, and all around it, as of old, the curlews call,
Dreary gleams about the moorland flying over Locksley Hall;
Locksley Hall, that in the distance overlooks the sandy tracts,
And the hollow ocean-ridges roaring into cataracts. …
When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see;
Saw the Vision of the world and all the wonder that would be.
In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin’s breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;
In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove;
In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.
Locksley Hall is an ancient text by today’s standards (1842) that the poet himself described as a work about young life, its good side, its deficiencies, and its yearnings.
As the advancing darkness made it more difficult to see the pages, I looked up to discover a very attractive Pizza Restaurant had opened for business in the building next to the bookstore. I crossed the street a second time and entered the restaurant to the applause of the five person staff. Don’t worry said the hostess, “It’s our way of greeting the first customer of the day.”
“Thanks,” I smiled, “I’m alone, but may I have a booth back, out of the way? Holding, my book so she could see, I continued, “I have a bit more to read before I eat.”
I was led to a tiny two-person booth, just ten feet from the kitchen door, but I was quite satisfied. After a Caesar salad with anchovies, a personal size pepperoni pizza and a glass of Pepsi, so big it took both hands to lift it, I paid my bill of $9.72 and left with a smile so broad it could cover the horizon.
My Friday was a fun filled bargain; then came Saturday at the Old Dominion Postcard Show. (Do you know that in England we call such events Fairs?) This was my first visit to Richmond consequently I needed directions to the show. My hotel desk clerk took time to draw me a map and because of his precise directions arrival was complete at ten-ought-three o’clock.
Not surprisingly I knew no one in the room, but I was welcomed by everyone and made comfortable and allowed to sit while shopping for new postcards. (Another fact that may surprise Americans is that at Postcard Fairs in the UK there are no chairs on the customer’s side of the table.)
My story drearys along too far, so abide me the privilege of sharing just two postcards I bought from a very nice gentleman named Mike and a very nice gentlelady named Betsy.
One is entitled LOCKSLEY HALL and the other is THE SWINEHERD.