Barceló sighed and peered at me closely.
"Let's see, junior. What is it you want?"
"What I want is to know who Julián Carax is and where I can find other books he's written."
Barceló chuckled and pocketed his wallet, reconsidering his adversary.
"Goodness, a scholar. Sempere, what do you feed the boy?"
The bookseller leaned toward me confidentially, and for a second I thought he betrayed a look of respect that had not been there a few moments earlier.
"We'll make a deal," he said. "Tomorrow, Sunday, in the afternoon, drop by the Ateneo library and ask for me. Bring your precious find with you so that I can examine it properly, and I'll tell you what I know about Julián Carax. Quid pro quo."
"Quid pro what?"
"Latin, young man. There's no such thing as dead languages, only dormant minds. Paraphrasing, it means that you can't get something for nothing, but since I like you, I'm going to do you a favor."
The man's oratory could kill flies in midair, but I suspected that if I wanted to find out anything about Julián Carax, I'd be well advised to stay on good terms with him. I proffered my most saintly smile in delight at his Latin outpourings.
"Remember, tomorrow, in the Ateneo," pronounced the bookseller. "But bring the book, or there's no deal."
Our conversation slowly merged into the murmuring of the other members of the coffee set. The discussion turned to some documents found in the basement of El Escorial that hinted at the possibility that Don Miguel de Cervantes had in fact been the nom de plume of a large, hairy lady of letters from Toledo. Barceló seemed distracted, not tempted to claim a share in the debate. He remained quiet, observing me from his fake monocle with a masked smile. Or perhaps he was only looking at the book I held in my hands.
From Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Copyright Carlos Ruiz Zafón 2002. All rights reserved. First published in Spanish in 2002 as La Sombra del Viento. First USA publication by The Penguin Group, April 2004. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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