The Librarian of Boone's Hollow - Kim Vogel Sawyer

I say unto you which hear, love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.

—Luke 6:27

Mid-May 1936

Lexington, Kentucky

Addie Cowherd

DURING HER THREE YEARS AS a student at the University of Kentucky, Addie had never been summoned to a dean’s office. Until today. Her roommate, Felicity, had proclaimed with typical dramatic flair that being asked to meet with Dean Crane first thing on a Friday morning would have cast her into an endless pit of nervousness. Addie wasn’t nervous. Curious? Most certainly. But not nervous. At least not much.

She traveled the wide hallways of the campus’s main building, the heels of her freshly polished black patent pumps clicking a steady rhythm on the marble tile. Why did Dean Crane want to see her? Felicity suggested perhaps she’d been voted one of the campus beauties. Last night before bed, she had fluffed Addie’s hair with her hands and exclaimed, “Oh, to have hair that lays in such delightful waves, all on its own accord! And what a wondrous color—blended pecan and caramel. Mine’s as straight as a pin and so blond it’s almost white. Surely I’m not the only one who’s taken note of your physical attributes.”

Addie’s heart now gave a little flutter. Could it be? What girl wouldn’t be flattered by the title of campus beauty? But then she dismissed the idea. She was too tall, too thin, too…bookish to be a beauty. The petite girls with button noses, sparkling blue eyes, and infectious giggles—the ones like Felicity—always seemed the top picks for popularity. Besides, senior girls were chosen as campus beauties, and Addie was only a junior.

She climbed the stairs to the building’s second level, other possibilities creeping through her brain. Were her latest test scores the top in her class? Did he want her to mentor a younger, less confident student? Probably not the latter, as the year was nearly over, but the former could be true. Wouldn’t Mother and Daddy be proud when she told them? She rounded the final corner and approached the secretary’s desk positioned outside the dean’s office door.

She smiled at the gray-haired, thin-faced woman sitting behind the oversized desk. “Hello, I’m Addie—er, Adelaide—Cowherd. Dean Crane sent a message saying he wishes to speak to me.”

“Adelaide Cowherd…” The woman checked a notebook lying open on the desk’s pull-out shelf. “Yes, his nine-fifteen appointment. You’re right on time.” She pressed a button on a little box and leaned close to it. “Dean Crane, Miss Cowherd is here.”

“Send her in,” a voice crackled from the box.

The secretary gestured to the richly stained raised-panel wooden door behind her. “Right through there, young lady.”

Addie took one step and then paused. Should she have worn her Sunday suit? Although at least two years old, the navy-and-white plaid shirtwaist she’d selected from her array of everyday dresses showed no frays or stains. Even so, perhaps it was too casual an outfit for meeting with someone as important as the dean of students.

“Miss Cowherd, Dean Crane has a busy morning ahead. Please don’t keep him waiting.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Too late to worry about her dress. She’d have to go in. But she smoothed the front of her pleated skirt, centered her belt buckle, and straightened her spine—no slouching, Mother always said, even if she was tall for a girl—before giving the brass doorknob a twist. The door swung open on silent hinges, and she crossed the threshold. She sucked in a startled breath. Built-in bookcases packed with books, some standing vertically and others stacked horizontally, filled three walls all the way from the floor to the ceiling in the spacious, windowless office. She’d thought Daddy’s study at home and his collection of printed works impressive, but Daddy had only two stacks of barrister shelves, four sections each. A desire to peruse the dean’s shelves made her insides twitch.

“Miss Cowherd?”

Addie forced her attention to the dean, who stood beside a gleaming mahogany desk in a slash of pale lamplight, his pose as dignified as that of a judge overseeing a courtroom. Some of the rowdier students called Dean Crane Ol’ Ichabod, a title Addie had always found offensive, but seeing the unusually tall, thin man up close, she understood the nickname. “Yes, sir?”

The dean peered at her over the top of a pair of wire-rimmed half-moon glasses, which sat precariously at the end of his narrow, hooked nose. “Please close the door and have a seat.”

Addie snapped the door into its casing, shutting out the bright light from the hallway’s many hanging pendants,