He bought it for an old song in the cosy little antiquarian bookshop in Whitechapel. A gorgeous old book about British mushrooms and toadstools. A few of the pages looked the worse for wear, but it was still a really fine book. Such a treasure for a few pounds.
Back home in his study he let his hands slide down glossy plates in four-colour print and was fascinated by this new world of all the various fungi in their natural habitats. He read about gill and boletes mushrooms. He learned about mycelium, spawn, spores and fruiting bodies. The foreign words appealed to him. Like the former owner he dwelled on certain pages and learned the detailed descriptions by heart.
Sometimes he even ventured into the woods accompanied by his book. Tricholoma pardinum, Chlorophyllum molybdites, Inocybe erubescens and Amanita phalloides. Those marvellous names nearly made him drool.
Now and then his wife would interrupt his absorbing studies. “Arnold, dinner is on the table.” “Arnold, your tea is getting cold.” But most of the time Mildred left him to his book. He even considered getting himself a camera so he could immortalize particularly beautiful specimen from his perambulations.
He went out to put on his galoshes; the wood could be damp and chilly even on a sunny afternoon. Mildred stood in the doorway with her shopping list. “Arnold, I thought perhaps we should try a mushroom stew tonight.”
And then he threw it out.