Monday, May 11, 2009

Lot 19, Item 24 The Letter

The empty auction room was cool, and damp in the early morn hours. Bernard Heartford, curator of the library walked sorrowfully through the neat piles of his late master's literary possessions. Stacks of books, scrolls, parchments, manuscripts, maps, charts, illustrations, the list went on and on. He had meticulously categorized every one of his master's possessions, all falling into neat and tidy categories.

All except one thing.

Lot 19

Item # 24

The Letter

It was faded yellow parchment, single leaf, folded upon itself to create the illusion of an envelope. His master's seal was imprinted on wax that once was dark burgundy, but had now faded to deathly black. Scribbled in an elegant, yet tidy hand, were the ink dark words.

"My Greatest Secret"

That was all it said. There, in the last traces of dawn's milky light, Bernard felt his fingers quake, gently trying the edge of the paper. He knew what he should do. He should burn the letter, let its secret rest with his master. And yet. Yet his insatiable curiosity which had set him on the path of grand librarian now surfaced its ugly head and stayed his candled hand. As the golden light quivered, he broke the seal.

"Unto my oldest friend,

I knew when I wrote this note and marked it secret you would read it, Bernard. I left it betwixt the books for this very reason. But fret not, I am not displeased, I know it is in your nature. Forgive me for taking advantage of that.

What I am about to divulge to you, my friend, is the resting place of my Last Will and Testament. However, it will seem strange to you, the manner in which my estate will be entailed, so I wished to explain myself.

You know I have no children, for I never married. However, the reason for this is unknown, and surly soon, once my Will is enacted, it will raise an immense scandal. The large sum going to Miss Thatcher is for the years of good company, and I fear, secret love on her part. For she knew that my heart would not allow me to pursue her, and yet she remained a close and dear friend to the end.

It is strange how one can be the tormentor in one tale, and the tormented in another. For my dear, dear friend, I suffered torments. Some of which I never spoke of to you. There was another, a young girl who had captured my heart and very soul. One for whom I pined day and night, wrote books and books of sonnets, poems, love song, and the like. But ere I could pledge my love unto her, she took another.

How my heart broke then, shattered it seemed for all eternity. And yet, even in that pain, I still loved her. I tell you now, Bernard, that I still love her, even now, where ever I may be, God willing tis Heaven, that I love her. I was there at her wedding. I was there at their first child's christening. Every step of the way, I was there, and I loved her, and died a little every day.

And that is why I never pursued another. A single, true, pure, wholehearted love such as this does not die easily, you know. No woman could replace her in my eyes, and bring joy back into my life. So I buried myself in my works and travels and studies and teaching.

Therefore, you shall see that I have left half of my estate’s shares and fortune to her and her husband and their children. Make sure they are taken care of. The other half, including my house, the lands, the villa on Capri, and my entire literary collection I leave to... you. As once faithful steward be now ever faithful master. Finish my unfinished manuscripts if you dare the daunting task, otherwise burn them. All sales may go to further keep your estate.

I give all this, with one, simple request. Burn this letter when you are done. Burn it and cast the ashes of it into the sea. Never is a word of this to be spoke, never should you let her know of my love. My gift shall be the gift of an old, dear, childless and heirless friend. Nothing more.

Well, best regards to your wife and children, dear Bernard. I'm off to the here after, or I guess in my situation, the here and now. So long, and may your future be less bitter than my past.


The Professor"

Bernard ran as fast as he could to the location specified at the bottom of the letter. He found the will and rushed back to the auction house before the bidding could begin. And standing alone in the action house again, he did his master's will, and placed the golden, flickering flame to the aged parchment. Cracking, black lines spread like spider webs across the paper, as yellow flames wreathed it, engulfing it, tendrils of grey smoke climbing heavenward. He let it fall to the ground; the last thing he could see as the fire took it was the word "love”.

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