Stealing Shakespeare – Part Two
The next day, Ben walked from his neighborhood several blocks to wait for the bus. He didn’t forget the rare Folio and had placed it carefully, sandwiched between his other books before he left home. When he arrived at school, he took the Folio out and cautiously set it in his locker.
As the hours of the day marched forward, Ben looked forward to Mr. Leaf’s literature class to show him his rare edition. Right before he walked to his class, Ben unlocked the safe of his locker and pulled out the book, laying it in his satchel. He got to class early for a change. Then he slowly took out the Folio. No sooner had Ben put it down on his desk, Leaf saw it immediately and his eyes grew huge as he carefully turned the pages. He began licking his lips as foam started to form around his mouth. He stared wild-eyed at Ben.
Then he asked, “Where did you get this book?” “I got it out from my dad’s office at the Yale library.” “May I?”
Ben hesitated but agreed.
Mr. Leaf picked it up and examined it carefully, turning its ancient pages. “Where exactly does your father work at the library at Yale?” “At the Rare Manuscripts department.” A girl with short hair asked, “What is it, Mr. Leaf?”
“Class, Ben brought this extremely old book with all of Shakespeare’s plays. It’s dated 1623, seven years after his death. It’s one of the first of his works to ever be printed. Ben got this from his father’s office at the Yale University Library.”
Some gasps could be heard from the class. A large boy who was part of the football team asked, “Is it worth a lot?”
Mr. Leaf slowly grinned. “It’s not worth a whole lot. Plenty of these were printed.” No, this copy is worth millions! Leaf thought to himself. “Ben, could I hold on to this just for today? I promise I’ll bring it back tomorrow.” But, Leaf had no intentions of returning it to him; he had already decided to steal it and leave New Haven.
Ben left the school after his last period and took the bus to the Yale Library.
No sooner than he had walked into his father’s office, he spotted his dad with two guards.
Joe stormed out the office door and yelled, “Ben, where is it???!!!!… the Folio!” Ben became so scared and muttered, “I… I… took it to school.” “You better have it with you!” His head sunk, looking at the ground. “No, sir.” “What did you do with it?” Joe yelled. “I let Mr. Leaf borrow it.” “George Leaf… Your literature instructor???”
The security team entered Leaf’s name in their computers, looking him up. One of the guards, a young man located him as the Ben’s teacher at the high school. In addition, he looked under police data that showed “George Leaf” was not his real name; it was “Richard V. Winchester”. Further, analysis revealed he was under investigation for stealing rare art and even books. The guard called the police and told them about the theft. He instructed them to go to his office at the school.
At the same time, Leaf was finishing some paper work in his classroom. The police were several blocks away when three members of the football team entered the room. Leaf knew they were here for the book, but pretended like he didn’t see them. He couldn’t believe word had spread that fast. “Where’s that pretty book?” one of them asked in a rough tone. “We want that expensive book!” said another player. Leaf cursed under his breath that he shouldn’t have told his class about the Folio.
Damn! Now everybody knows about it! he thought.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said nervously. “Oh, you don’t! Give it to us and we’ll be gone,” the teenage goon said as he flipped out a switchblade knife.
At the same time, policemen quietly entered the school with their guns raised. They spread out looking for Leaf. Two officers walked down a corridor and heard a few big students threatening Leaf. “Give the book to us and we won’t hurt you!” With the players backs turned, the officers hunched over with their guns and pointed them straight at the football players. “Freeze! Put your arms in their air!!”
Before the hour passed, Richard Winchester had already been arrested; his hands were cuffed behind his back and had been given his rights. Then Ben and his father walked in. Joe saw the rare Folio resting on the instructor’s table and carefully examined it, making sure no harm had been done to it. It appeared to be in the same condition and Joe immediately put in a special briefcase that secured and preserved valuable books.
“Ben, don’t touch anything in my library again! I don’t want to lose my new job! It might already be in jeopardy. The library is closed, but security will report this.” Ben felt ashamed and wanted to cry, but his father was so relieved about getting Yale’s new acquisition back, for the moment he wasn’t as angry at Ben. Joe’s only thought was, “All’s well that ends well.”