My name on the envelope was written in Laura’s precise handwriting. I opened it carefully and withdrew two documents: a note from her, explaining how and where she’d found the Bukh, and a ten page letter from Dr. Gheorghe Neagu to his descendents that she had translated from Romanian into English.
Laura had discovered the Bukh beneath a pile of rubbish in one of Eddie’s farm houses, not far outside Sighisoara. The house had belonged to a German woman named Gertrude Farber, now deceased, and Eddie had bought it from her niece who lived in Munich. (It was not lost on me that Trude was short for Gertrude, and that this must be the same woman rumored to be Gheorghe Neagu’s girlfriend in Transylvania.)
According to Laura, the Bukh had been nestled inside a small, badly damaged valise that had been pushed into a hollow in the thick farmhouse wall and covered with all sorts of junk. The minute she opened the valise and saw the Bukh glowing up at her from a bed of velvet, Laura was captivated. What do I do? she wondered. Keep the thing or notify Eddie of its existence? She badly wanted to keep it. She knew if she showed it to Eddie, he’d insist on going through legal channels before making a decision, and she didn’t want to go that route. So she took the Bukh in its valise and hid it beneath her bed in Eddie’s house in Sighisoara. That, she wrote in her note to me, led to incredible dreams and nightmares. It didn’t take very long for her to realize she couldn’t live with the Bukh and had better send it to me in Texas. But first she arranged to have Gheorghe’s letter typed out in English so she’d maybe have a better idea what she was dealing with.
“The information in Gheorghe’s letter convinced me even further that I couldn’t keep the Bukh as personal property even though I was fascinated by it. You will see what I mean when you read the letter.” She ended with “your loving cousin, Laura,” and begged me to take care.