Saturday, March 5, 2011
He watched her as she slowly let one exquisitely gloved hand brush lovingly over the ancient leather bindings, sending a small swirl of dust into the air. She seemed to be breathing in some exotic perfume. Well born as could be noted from her expensive attire. As she stood transfixed before the books, she said without turning “how much will you take for these three?”
He had been gazing so intently at her that he started at her question.
“You can have the first two for one hundred apiece. But the third, the one with the ivory snake is not for sale.”
She turned and stared at him; a small pout that appeared almost playful and sensual.
“But that’s silly! The three would look divine in my collection, and I am willing to pay handsomely for it. You are a seller of books and I am a buyer. Now name your price!”
Though said quietly, her demeanor and tone made her last statement sound more like a command then a request. He would not be treated as one of her low born house servants. All trace of politeness withdrew from his features as he matter of fact stated once more, ”the third book is NOT for sale!”
Her eyebrows shot up and her mouth opened as if to speak then just as fast her face returned to normal and a smile crept across her mouth. “Can you tell me your reason for not wanting to sell the third?”
He stood silent for a moment, content to just stare at her. She was remarkably beautiful with an ageless face. Her eyes so dark that he was sure the pupils had swallowed up their colour. Her very being exuded defiance. He suddenly realized he was being quite rude and blurted out “because I have not done the proper research on that one yet!”
Her smile broadened. “Oh, I can tell you all about it. It was written by Sarah Price of Plymouth in 1649. Sarah was a good woman who preferred the company of the forest to village folk. She was a healer and an herbalist. She had helped many of the sick villagers when the local butcher of a physician had said ‘it’s now in the hands of the Lord’. One day, the local Prior, who was known to partake far too freely of the sacramental wine, came across her in the woods as she was gathering roots and herbs. He abandoned all holiness and fell upon her in a most disgusting and vile manner. When she went to lay a formal complaint to the Bishop, she was advised that the disgrace would be too great to the church and she should return immediately home and say no more of this. As she returned home, there were two men at arms from the Sheriff waiting for her. She was arrested immediately; tried and found guilty of witchcraft. While awaiting her execution she wrote these spells and incantations. On November 16th, 1649, she was led from her cell to the village square where a pyre had been erected. As the flames engulfed her, she swore a curse that she would return and have her revenge.”
He fell back in his chair and gulped air. “How can you know all this?”
She leaned forward and produced an antique dagger from her bag and in one swift motion, thrust it deep into his chest. He gasped and looked down to where a red spot was growing quickly across his chest. The handle of the dagger was an ivory snake. She looked deep into his eyes and smiled. “I know all this because I am Sarah Price! This is MY book! And you; my soon to be dead fellow are the descendant of the Prior.”
She turned on her heels; took the book from the shelf and strode out of the store wiping the dagger with an embroidered hanky. He took one last breath and stared at the empty spot in the bookcase as all went black.
Penned for Books at Theme Thursday.