“Really, I don’t want to buy -” I glanced up and my eyes zeroed in on the dark shadow scarcely bigger than the man’s palm. In the hazy light, I could barely make out a leather bound volume with some kind of decorative detailing on the front. He noticed my interest immediately, and a slow smile stretched across his features as he studied my face.
“Not something you come across every day, right?” he asked. “And I bet you know what this is, you being a history teacher and all.”
I stopped myself from reaching out to grab it. “What is it, exactly?” I asked him, feeling goosebumps pop up along my arms.
“How ’bout you look at it and tell me?” he challenged, his eyes narrowing slightly.
Slowly, I stretched out my hand and took it from him. My hand slid along the supple leather cover. My pulse quickened as I took in the characteristics of an aged manuscript. Instinctively, I held it with my finger tips, trying to make as little physical contact as I could. I had been trained to handle historical documents with gloves, but having no idea what I was actually holding, I reverted to the next best thing. Using my finger nail to gently open the cover, I turned parchment pages one by one, and I let out a long breath when I saw what was inside.
The ornately drawn pictures of religious imagery were accentuated with deep cobalts and crimsons; initial letters of the Old English text were outlined in brilliant gold. The beautiful pictures were bordered by interwoven strands of flowers and leaves. After turning the first few pages, my fingertips tingled with a surge of recognition. I had come across many medieval manuscripts during my work, and this book certainly resembled the original documents I had seen, except for one thing. This book’s pages were solid, not fragile, the colors bold, rather than faded, the cover firm instead of tattered. Flipping through the pages again, I had a fairly good idea of what I was touching, and the thought nearly knocked me backwards.