Intro for “The Abbot and the Djinn”

The letter came to me as head copyist and librarian with a note in the abbot’s hand, “please look to this yourself. We are bequethed books from a rich trader’s library. You will find the details in this letter.”

The letter itself was beautifully written on fine parchment with embellishments and even illuminations, extravagant even in a gospel book or psalter, but ridiculously austintatious in a letter that was so utilitarian and mundane.

We were directed to a manse in the center of the city, right on the trade square, to get “books” from the “library.”  I thought it mad wishfulness, but I brought brother Timothy and a hand cart.

A thin young man, dressed in black silken robes, answered the door at my knock.  “I am the Djinn’s seneschal,” he looked over my shoulder. “I’ll show you. Come.”  With nary a word more he led off into the maze that was the mansion. Up stair and down hall after hall I followed the dark figure.

“These are the master’s private apartments,”  the Seneschal intoned.

“Aren’t they all his?” I asked, overwhelmed into a comment I would otherwise have restrained myself from making.

The man in black stopped and turned to eye me, chimera like.  I have no idea what he might have thought of my impertinence.  “Here,” he said and flung open double doors.

I was dazzled by the brightness of the light pouring into the room from the tall glazed windows opposite the doors.  My guide strode into the room and I followed blinking.  The room was spare apart from the opulence of so much glass, a couple of tables with stiff backed chairs in front of the windows and a more comfortable couch just inside the door.  There was a rich dusty scent in the air.

I gasped, stunned, there were books, scrolls and codexes, filling the shelves on both walls of the room, to a man of letters, wealth unimaginable.  “My master knows your order.  The books will have the care they deserve.”  said the Seneschal.

“Which books am I to take sir?”

“Why, all of them of course.”  The dark clad man stepped to the sideboard next to the couch.  He pulled a satin cord and a bell tolled somewhere in the bowels of the mansion.  “I take it that you are unprepared for so many.”

“It will more than double our own library.”

“Will there be a problem?” asked the tall young man.

“No no, of course not.  It is just that there are…,” I could not find words.

“Yes?” I could only shake my head in wonder. The man glanced around the room, pondering, “You are welcome to the shelves as well, if you like.  There are several cases of writing material as well as a supply of bees wax candles,” He tapped a box that dominated the  surface of one table, “everything in this room is for the order of San Gospellis. I will send servants to aid you and you may wish to bring another cart the next trip.” Without another word he was gone while I wrestled with words with which to thank him.

It was well past vespers when all was safely stowed.  I would be months surveying, cataloging, and organizing so many documents.  I was never more thrilled, more energized, and at the same time more tired than as the librarian for the abbey of San Gospellis at that wonderful time.

Two weeks later a cart rolled into our abbey. It contained precious glass panes.  That was a remarkable month. 

The only other item was a small psalter.  Oh, but it was so much more.  Knowing the collection as I do, I might actually trade the whole for that one little book. 

Singled out like it was, coming alone with the glazing, I immediately took it into the library and began to look through the little book.  It began as many personal psalters do, favorite passages copied in haste, I was stunned that I recognized the hand.  It was that of our founder, who’s writing filled many of the pages in our library.

That would have been a great treasure, to find this personal book of our founder, but fairly deep in that book began a journal of a fantastic odyssey. Perhaps you would not want to take the word of a copyist and librarian who was born near the abbey where he has lived almost all the days of his life. So you judge against your experience this tale and tell me if it does not rate the name odyssey and whether or not fantastical is a fitting description.

Malachi