A funny short story by squire's
"On Destroying Books"Mr. Squire’s "On Destroying Books" is a delightful1 essay in which he decribes how he destroyed his unwanted books. One would think that getting rid of a pile of ordinary books is a simple affair. You just throw them out. But with Mr. Squire this simple affair turns out to be an adventure. In the first place, it was not getting rid of a couple of books or even a dozen of books.
|On destroying books|
He had such a great pile of ordinary useless books that his small flat could not hold him and his books at the same time. Either he could leave the flat and leave it in the sole possession of his books or throw them out.
One way of getting rid of books was to sell them but who would buy books of inferior minor poetry. He thought of burning them in his study fire .The fire place was so small that the books had to be burned leaf by leaf. He realized that it was a hopeless task to try to burn the pages without reading some of them. He could send them to soldiers as a gift.
The army always welcomes gifts of books. But Mr. Squire would not send his unwanted books to the soldiers or perhaps he thought that they deserved a quicker death. After much thought, he stuffed the books into a sack, put it over his shoulder and went down the stairs.
It was nearly . midnight: Streets were deserted.
He turned up his collar and hurried towards the bridge. He had walked only a few steps when he came across a policeman. The policeman gave him a searching look. Mr. Squire trembled slightly. "What if the policeman suspected that fie was carrying stolen goods in the sack", thought Mr. Squire. However, the policeman went on and he resumed his walk towards the bridge. As he reached the bridge over the river, he became nervous. He leaned against the side wall of the bridge.
Suddenly he heard a footstep near him.
He sprang back from the wall and once again hurried on. The footstep came nearer. It was a tramp who paid no attention to him. He called himself an ass and prepared to throw the sack down Into the river.
But then he heard another footstep. He suddenly realized his situation, If he flung the sack into the river, there would be a great splash that would bring someone running to the spot. If it were a policeman he would never believe his story. So Mr. Squire hesitated, walked up and down the bridge in agitation for a long time.
He told himself that he was a coward .
After quite some time he got enough courage to lift the sack and fling it in the river below. With a great splash It hit the water. Then silence fell again. Nobody came rushing towards him. He turned home thinking about the books settling down slowly on the bottom of the river. He was a little sad. Perhaps the books deserved a better fate.