In the candle's flickering light, the library's thousands of books emerged from the shadows, and for a moment Nicholas could not help admiring them again. During free time he had almost never looked up from the pages he was reading, but now he saw the books anew, from without rather than from within, and was reminded of how beautiful they were simply as objects. The geometrical wonder of them all, each book on its own and all the books together, row upon row, the infinite patterns and possibilities they presented. They were truly lovely.
Nicholas Benedict did have an exceptional gift for knowing things (more exceptional, in fact, than most adults would have thought possible), and yet not even he could know that this next chapter was to be the most unusual-and most important-of his entire childhood. Indeed, the strange days that lay ahead would change him forever, though for now they had less substance than the mist through which he ran.