As Mr. Horner walked back past his home, he decided not to get too far from the city center. He had planned on going to Wilkinson’s for lunch, but was on his way already, and would get there too early for lunch. That was no problem. He saw another house for sale, but this one was even better than the first: it was an open house. He saw a few cars outside and knew that the real estate agent and a few interested parties would be there. The outside of this particular building had copper gutters, and the windowsills were painted a thick white. As he walked closer, he noticed that they had obviously been painted a number of times and that gave the building a rustic look. He liked rustic, and walked around the opposite side of the two sets of stairs to approach the front from the far end. He stood on the landing, just outside the range of the covered area before the front door, and looked up. The sky had gotten a little darker, and it looked like it may rain. He looked around and went inside, but not before admiring some of the window boxes that hung a few floors above him.
He walked in to see more that attracted his attention: the floor was done in hardwood, with the antique style boards that were five inches wide instead of two and a half. They were stained a deep ebony color, and looked almost black, but were just light enough to notice the grain in the wood. Despite the dark color of the floors, the interior looked neither dark nor desolate. The ceilings were high and painted stark white. Some of the walls were brick, and created a very handsome look with sconces and other wrought iron things on the walls. There was a brick half wall around part of the dining room with old-ish style columns that met the ceiling. That was to the left, and he jingled his pocket as he walked by.
Mr. Horner hadn’t noticed that people had started to notice him, not with surprise, but a sense of awareness that he was standing in the foyer and hadn’t moved for a while. He walked around to the right where there sat a baby grand piano; that was a room unto itself despite the fact that there were no walls that set it off as such. There really weren’t many walls on this floor: the only ones were those that surrounded the staircase, which was rather centered among all the rooms, with walls all around it. This place was very large. It had a full first floor and a few bedrooms on the second. Mr. Horner walked past the piano and beyond that was a very open family room, with a fireplace and elegant antique furniture that was very attractive and appropriate, without making anything look old. There were some gold picture frames and candle holders in this room, and he thought of his wife. He would have to bring her here, but he was too busy today.
The family room, sitting area and all, centered around the fireplace, was probably twenty feet long, running toward the rear of the building. At the end of this was a library. Again, it wasn’t a room that was walled off, but it was in the far right corner of the first floor and Mr. Horner, or anyone for that matter, immediately recognized that when they got to that corner, the function of the area had changed. There were only two walls of books, and they formed a corner. There were two very plush leather chairs that faced either of these walls, with a table between them. He liked how the room was professional and relaxing without being ostentatious. He decided to take a look at the books, and immediately he noticed a few that were leather-bound, very fancy looking. They had all been taken out recently and weren’t really put back. They were Virgil’s Aeneid, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, and Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, along with Cervantes’ Don Quixote. He picked up the Metamorphosis, and opened it up. He was delighted to see that, not only was it not dusty, it was studied and was in Latin. He opened it up and began reading. He was glad to find this copy; it was a good translation, one done by one of the foremost Latin professors of his day. He had read seven or eight lines, and then realized, as did the other visitors, that he had begun to read out loud. He didn’t seem surprised, and neither did the other visitors, for some had gathered around to listen. Mr. Horner continued until he felt satisfied and put the book aside. He looked at Don Quixote and the others, and realized that they were all in their original languages. He opened up Don Quixote to the famous windmill scene. He reached into his pocket and put a coin in the binding, not too hard, not even to mark the pages it lay between, but enough that it would stay where it was. He closed it gently and put it away. He introduced himself confidently to a short, prematurely balding man with large glasses. The man said his name was Herman and he began to ask Mr. Horner a few questions about the age of the house and Mr. Horner began to discuss the “period,” of many of the “pieces,” He described the age of the hardwood, the period of design of the doorways, and elaborated on the carvings and ornamentation of the furniture, explaining why it was designed as such and where it probably came from based on that. They walked around a bit more, and discussed the real estate market locally, the trend for much of the housing lately, and where Herman Bernstein had come from. It was a nice conversation, but was terminated when Mr. Bernstein went outside to smoke. He didn’t look like a smoker, but he went outside. John Horner did not smoke, and was rather disappointed that his new acquaintance did.