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Passage thirteen

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   "You do buy old books, don't you?" asked Fred, putting his parcel down on the shop counter.
   "I'll have to see what you've got before I can answer that question," the bookseller said. "Business isn't so good as it used to be. People seem to prefer to buy new books nowadays."
   Fred opened his parcel and laid the books out on the counter.
   "I don't pretend to know much about books," he said. "I've had these for years, and I haven't even read them. My grandfather left them to me, as a matter of fact. But my wife never stops complaining about them. She says they make the house look dirty. So I thought I'd bring them in to show you, just in case there is anything of interest."
   In the meantime, the bookseller was picking up the books one by one and examining them. He shook his head.
   "They're not much good," he said. "I can give you a few pounds for the lot if you want to get rid of them. I can't offer you more, I'm afraid."
   When he saw the last book, however, his eyes lit up with excitement.
   "What is it?" asked Fred.
   "Now this is worth something," exclaimed the bookseller, turning over the pages. "It's a very rare edition."
   He handed the book to Fred, who looked at the title. It was a novel of the last century by an author whose name he had never heard of. Of all the books which he had gathered together to bring to the bookshop, this one had looked the least interesting.
   "How much is it worth?" he asked the bookseller.
   "How much?" the man repeated. "I can't tell you exactly. But not less than a hundred pounds, I should say. I'm only guessing. It may be worth a lot more."
   It was Fred's turn to be excited. He thought of all the wonderful thing he could buy with a hundred pounds.

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