Booksellers should know better.
The Von Epp family ran a successful bookstore for decades in the center of town. Eventually, through no fault of their own – not really – the business eventually failed. And while there were several members of the family who truly knew books, there were a few who paid them no mind.
These were the worst of them.
Karl von Epp fancied himself a collector, though he often bought facsimiles of the worst sort. I had no sympathy for him when he wasted his own money, but when he dipped into the family’s coffers, I often stepped in.
It was only a few months after the Whiskey Rebellion that his younger sister, Elsbeth, came to me and reported her brother’s acquisition of a haunted tome on the history of Charles and Mary. The dealer from whom her brother had purchased the book had told him it would bring the family good luck, and it would whisper the future to them.
Unfortunately for Karl, it did inform him of the future, but as to good luck, well, that’s really a matter of opinion.
He took to gambling because the book was telling him what would come to pass.
Karl’s winnings increased, and he and the book would disappear into Boston Towne.
Which is where the trouble started.
Karl took to spending more time in the city than he did minding the store, and while that worked out well for his sister – she ran the shop far better than he ever could – there was the growing fear that he was gambling with the family’s future.
One evening, he returned with his face still flush with the thrill of his victories. He spoke of the large quantity of monies he had won and how furious his defeated opponents had been.
The book failed to inform him the losers had followed.
I’d been visiting his sister Elsbeth at the store when Karl returned, and I was still there when the men came in.
They were armed with truncheons and knives.
Karl wet himself a split second before they attacked.
When the men moved on Elsbeth and myself, I took the fight to them. Three of the four died on my knife. I strangled the fourth.
The book is here, bound in a slipcase and muffled.
As it should have been in the first place.