Read a Bit of 'Endymion Spring'

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Blake checked his watch -- thirty-six minutes -- and sighed.

He tried walking backwards now, tapping the books in reverse order, to see if this would help pass the time.

A series of stern-looking portraits glared down at him from the walls. Like magicians, they were dressed in dark capes and had sharp, pointy beards. Elaborate ruffs, like squashed chrysanthemums, burst from their collars. The older men had jaded eyes and tortoise-like skin, but there were also a few pale-faced boys like himself. He glanced at their nameplates: Thomas Sternhold (1587--1608); Jeremiah Wood (1534--1609); Isaac Wilkes (1616--37); Lucius St. Boniface de la Croix (1599--1666). Each man was holding a small book and pointing to a relevant passage with a forefinger, as though reminding future generations to remain studious and well-behaved.

Blake disregarded their frowns of disapproval and continued running his fingers along the books, rapping the spines with the back of his knuckles.

All of a sudden, he stopped.

One of the volumes had struck him back! Like a cat, it had taken a playful swipe at his fingers and ducked back into hiding. He whisked his hand away, as though stung.

Reprinted with permission of Random House.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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