Scrupulous (part one)

365-33The Carding Chronicles are short stories and sketches about the little town no one’s ever been able to find on a map. When you subscribe to the Chronicles, a new story will be delivered to your inbox every Friday.
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Since Jane was the younger of the two Twitchell sisters (the other being Isabel) her parents held out hope that she would marry way past the expiration date for that sort of dream.

Try as the parents might, both girls regarded the male half of the human race as a mere curiosity, preferring the company of each other, their books, and their work.

Except in one way, the sisters grew up to be so much alike, it was difficult to see where Isabel ended and Jane began. The difference lay here: Isabel developed a taste for travel while Jane didn’t care if she stirred beyond the borders of Carding. Accordingly, Isabel followed the toes of her shoes from one international school to another, teaching English to students that probably would have preferred to be left alone. Jane followed her mentor, Agatha Norcross, as the keeper of the Carding Public Library.

Jane considered the care of a library a sacred trust. While she did not like all books equally—science fiction bored her and she would be content if she never read another memoir—she regarded all words on paper with the affection of a doting aunt.

She started working at the Carding library when she was still in high school, left town to get her degree in library science, and then returned to take charge of the books at Carding Regional. Then, when Agatha retired, Jane took command of the public library’s card catalogue and sat behind the great wooden desk that had once belonged to Senator Danielson Wolfe.

Before she took the job, Agatha and Jane held many long discussions on the importance of librarians, their responsibilities to their patrons and to literature.

“Truth is all,” Agatha used to say. “Remember, the books we give space to on our shelves are there to illuminate life. It could be something as small as how to build a birdhouse or as large as what happens when we die. But it’s all truth, and we must honor that in our lives as well as our work.”

Agatha could not have asked for a better pupil or follower than Jane Twitchell. When anyone in Carding talked about her—which was infrequent, given her quiet life—the word they used to describe her was “scrupulous.” So everyone in town would have been shocked to learn that Jane had a secret.

Not a deep, dark, wretched secret, you understand. No. No. Nothing scandalous like that. (Why would you think that about Jane Twitchell?)

No, this was a secret that exactly suited Jane’s temperament for she had uncovered a literary treasure in the Carding Public Library.

And she had no intention of telling anyone else about it.

Ever.

(Continued on November 20.)

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