Chapter no 30: The Broken Binding

The Name of the Wind

THE SIGN OVER THE doorpost read: THE BROKEN BINDING. I took it to be an auspicious sign and walked in.

A man sat behind a desk. I assumed he was the owner. He was tall and reedy with thinning hair. He looked up from a ledger, his expression vaguely irritated.

Deciding to keep niceties to a minimum, I walked to his desk and handed him the book. “How much would you give me for this?”

He leafed through it professionally, feeling the paper between his fingers, checking the binding. He shrugged. “A couple of jots.”

“It’s worth more than that!” I said indignantly.

“It’s worth what you can get for it,” he said matter-of-factly. “I’ll give you one and a half.”

“Two talents and I have the option to buy it back for a month.”

He gave a short, barking laugh. “This is not a pawnshop.” He slid the book across the desk toward me with one hand as he picked up his pen with the other.

“Twenty days?”

He hesitated, then gave the book another cursory once-over and brought out his purse. He pulled out two heavy silver talents. It was more money than I’d seen in one place for a long, long time.

He slid them across the desk. I restrained the desire to snatch them up immediately and said, “I’ll need a receipt.”

This time he gave me such a long hard look that I began to get a little nervous. It was only then I realized how I must look, covered in a year’s worth of alley dirt, trying to get a receipt for a book I’d obviously stolen.

Eventually he gave another bland shrug and scratched out a note on a slip of paper. At the bottom of it he drew a line and made a motion with his pen. “Sign here.”

I looked at the paper. It read:

I, by signing below, hereby attest to the fact that I can neither read nor


I looked up at the owner. He held a straight face. I dipped the pen and carefully wrote the letters “D D” as if they were initials.

He fanned the ink dry and slid my “receipt” across the desk toward me. “What does D stand for?” he asked with the barest hint of a smile.

“Defeasance,” I said. “It means to render something null and void, usually a contract. The second D is for Decrepitate. Which is the act of throwing someone into a fire.” He gave me a blank look. “Decrepication is the punishment for forgery in Junpui. I think false receipts fall in that category.”

I made no move to touch the money or the receipt. There was a tense silence.

“This isn’t Junpui,” he said, his face carefully composed.

“True enough,” I admitted. “You have a keen sense of defalcation.

Perhaps I should add a third D.”

He gave another sharp, barking laugh and smiled. “You’ve convinced me, young master.” He pulled out a fresh slip of paper and set it in front of me. “You write me a receipt, and I will sign it.”

I took up the pen and wrote. “I the undersigned, do agree to return the copy of the book Rhetoric and Logic with the inscription “to Kvothe” to the bearer of this note in exchange for two silver pennies, provided he present this receipt before the date—”

I looked up. “What day is it?” “Shuden. The thirty-fifth.”

I had fallen out of the habit of keeping track of the date. On the streets, one day is largely the same as the next, save that people are a little more drunk on Hepten, a little more generous on Mourning.

But if it was the thirty-fifth then I only had five days to get to the University. I knew from Ben that admissions only lasted until Cendling. If I missed them, I would have to wait two months for the next term to start.

I filled in the date on the receipt and drew a line for the bookseller to sign. He looked a little bemused as I slid the paper toward him. What’s more, he didn’t notice that the receipt read pennies instead of talents. Talents were worth significantly more. This meant he had just agreed to give me back the book for less money than he had bought it for.

My satisfaction damped itself when it occurred to me how foolish all of this was. Pennies or talents, I wouldn’t have enough money to buy the book back in two span. If everything went well I wouldn’t even be in Tarbean tomorrow.

Despite its uselessness, the receipt helped ease the sting of parting with the last thing I owned from my childhood. I blew on the paper, folded it

carefully into a pocket, and collected my two silver talents. I was surprised when the man held out his hand to me.

He smiled in an apologetic way. “Sorry about the note. But you didn’t look like you’d be coming back.” He gave a little shrug. “Here.” He pressed a copper jot into my hand.

I decided that he was not an altogether bad fellow. I smiled back at him and for a second I almost felt guilty about how I’d written the receipt.

I also felt guilty about the three pens I’d stolen, but only for a second. And since there was no convenient way to give them back, I stole a bottle of ink before I left.

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