It was a rainy grey Thursday afternoon, perhaps in late August or early September. The Professor sat in his favorite chair, a rumpled leather affair shaped and softened by years of use. A cool breeze ruffled the curtains and, making its way across the room to a polished wooden table, gently lifted an old manuscript’s pages. Hastily the Professor rose and cranked the window nearly shut. Returning to the book, he smoothed the pages carefully, touching them as lightly as he could.
The book was brown and brittle with age. The Professor had found it deep within the “unsorted stacks," and the librarian had disclaimed any knowledge of its origins, insisting that it be returned to the library only because it had been found there, and because he disliked to lose anything that might, even remotely, be considered to be within his charge.
Lighting a lamp, the Professor arranged an inkwell and some paper on the table beside the book, and began to read. The text was written in a strong, flowing hand, using strange ancient characters known, he believed, only to himself. As darkness came on he leant closer, unwilling – or perhaps unable – to withdraw. On one sheet of paper he transcribed the characters verbatim, their curves and lines and dots at first flowing haltingly from his quill, then more easily as his hand remembered their shapes. On an opposing sheet he recorded their translations, sheet upon sheet, hour upon hour.
Some pages were sound and clean, others much-folded, with smudged characters and old water-stains. Every so often the Professor found things between the pages, mostly pressed flowers or leaves. Some smelt ever-so-faintly of bay, or of rosemary – or of the Sea. These he replaced as he turned the pages, one following another, late into the night.
At last his eyes closed of their own accord, and he slept: a deep dreamless slumber, silent and hollow. Thereafter he returned to the manuscript day after day, faithfully transcribing and translating even the strangest and most illegible pages, the expression upon his face sometimes of shock, or of disgust, or of joy, or of sadness as deep as the Sea.
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