He meant for them to be a trap.
It didn’t work.
I heard whispering behind a closed door, and when I forced my way in, expecting a pistol to be leveled at my chest, I found books instead.
It took me a moment to hear what they were saying and a breath or two longer to understand it.
They were speaking a mixture of Latin and ancient Greek, and what they were saying did not reflect kindly upon Tad Langer. His wife. Or his parentage, of which there was some doubt as to whether his father was or was not his mother’s husband.
I let out a chuckle at the last bit, and the books went silent.
“You understood us?” a voice asked from a shelf above the room’s desk. The question was posed in the King’s English.
“Aye, easily enough,” I replied in the same.
Another voice, deeper and farther from the first, asked, “Are you the one old Langer told us to wait for?”
“Did he give my name?”
“No,” the books stated in chorus.
“Huh.” I scratched my chin, then grinned. “I suppose it’s because he didn’t want you running off with me.”
“Running off with you?” The books laughed. “And you are….”
“Blood,” I answered. “Duncan Blood.”
The laughter ceased.
The first book cleared its voice. “Tell me, who is your father?”
Whispers raced through the library, and then the first book silenced them all.
“And your mother?” the first book asked.
“Dead,” I answered, “although she won’t stay that way.”
“Natural causes?” the first book ventured.
“If a kitchen knife is natural, then aye.”
A pleased sigh filled the room.
“He was right not to tell us,” the first book said. “We will run off with you. Or go, since running is something we cannot do. Will you return for us?”
“If you’ve a mind to go to my farm, then by all means. First, though, I’ve Langer to deal with.”
“He’s hiding in his room,” the first book stated. “There’s a secret door at the end of the hall. Push on the second knot in the pine on the left side of the doorframe. You’ll find the stairs there. He’s armed, by the way. A five-shot revolver and his sword. Not that you need to worry about either.”
“Thank you. I’ll be back soon enough.”
“Knife work, Duncan?” the first book asked.
“Aye. Knife work.”