Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Finding Source Documents

Image rights http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/21845/lot/19/
I trudged up the back wooden stairway behind my client, who pushed up on the ceiling above us, revealing a door that creaked with disuse. We poked our heads up through the floor of his attic, taking a quick glance before our feet carried us the rest of the way into the oppressive heat and dust. I wasn't prepared for the sudden drops of perspiration climbing out of my skin, but I quickly forgot my discomfort as my eyes fell upon a huge book laying closed upon a Victorian-era book stand.

The sound of my client's voice, unnecessarily apologizing for the state of his attic, faded. I held my breath, hoping, and moved toward the dusty covers of the thick tome, noting the broken cobwebs trailing around it where my client's fingers must have been when he re-discovered it recently. My own fingers, made brave by my sturdy garden gloves, wiped gently at the title.

It was an old family bible, probably handed down through generations. I gently lifted the cover and searched carefully for the publication date. 1769, Office of the Queen's Printer. My client needed a book dealer, not a ghostwriter, and preferably one who could recommend a talented preservationist.

He reached around me and casually flipped open the bible to reveal several letters folded within its pages. Clearly, this is what I was here for. I opened the first piece of yellowed parchment. Within the first few lines, I knew this was going to be one of my favorite biographies ever.

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