22. A Gift for Mr. Donnelly

With the help of the book and his Finnish friend, Mr. Donnelly was progressing slowly with the Finnish language. It was not the easiest to learn, with all its inflected forms, but Mr. Donnelly was a scholar and he was in no hurry.

“Yes, but we have all the time in the world, don’t we?” the Finn chuckled when Mr. Donnelly pointed out how long it took him to learn the language.

“Indeed we do,” Mr. Donnelly smiled somewhat sadly.

“Oh come on, lighten up, will you? We are privileged to be able to live here, untouched by time,” the Finn said, “Here, look what I got from the world this time! I brought these for you!”

A bagful of wonderful Moleskine notebooks. Mr. Donnelly took one into his hands. He enjoyed the feel of the sleek black covers, and the rubber band that held the covers shut.  His eyes filled up at the kindness of the other man. This was the closest to a friend he had ever had, really.

“And here’s more! Have you ever even used one of these?”

Mr. Donnelly turned the mechanical pencil around in his fingers.

“No, I haven’t. How does it work?”

“Here, let me show you…”

“Surely this is one of the most wonderful inventions!” Mr. Donnelly exclaimed after a brief explanation. “No need to sharpen the pencil!” he continued, marveling.

“You really have been buried here in the library for decades, haven’t you?” the Finn shook his head. “And there’s one more thing… Look in the bottom of the bag.”

A Finnish – English dictionary. Mr. Donnelly was speechless. No one had given him presents since he was a child. The Finn coughed, slightly embarrassed at the emotion showing clearly on Mr. Donnelly’s face.

“Well, have fun with them! I need to get going now.”

He turned and walked away. A shadowy figure that had been waiting for him at the end of the corridor turned and followed him like a dog.  Mr. Donnelly squeezed the tote bag happily against his chest and hurried towards his office. He would start translating the sketch book into these notebooks right away.

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