Unlocking the case, the shopkeeper removed something from its depths. “Perhaps this one?”
There in the man’s hands, there within his reach was the book. It fit the description: 5 X 7 inches of mottled brown leather with the words “Old Testament” tattooed on the cover. No gold embossed the sides; it was a simple work. Unless one knew the truth.
“It looks ordinary enough,” McCollister said, wondering if the shopkeeper realized what he held.
“Looks can be deceiving.”
“I’d like to examine it more closely.”
The shopkeeper placed it on the case’s glass top.
Resisting the urge to grab it, McCollister brushed the leather cover with his fingertip. Soft and supple – it seemed to give under his touch.
“Excellent condition for a book of its age,” the shopkeeper said.
McCollister raised his brow to ask the question.
The shopkeeper inclined his head. “By all means.”
McCollister took it in his grasp. Yes, he could feel the energy pulse through its pages. “Do you know its history?” he asked, as casually as he could.
“As I said before, it’s very old. Made during the early 1800’s, I think. King James format, but it includes only the Old Testament, no New. Foolish men say there’s a curse, but I detest foolish men.”
“You don’t know who published it, or where it was bound?”
“Nothing beyond what’s written on the title page. However, I do know one thing. The book’s meant to be yours.”
“What’s the price?” Here it comes, McCollister thought, the gouging.
He’d been prepared to pay much more. “I’ll give you two-hundred.”
“Careful, you wouldn’t want to take advantage of a humble merchant.” The shopkeeper’s smile held an edge.
McCollister gave him his most innocent expression as he removed two bills from his wallet. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”
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