They slept late the following morning and while having a morning cup of tea, Charles remembered the parcel and said, “I wonder who the gift is from? It must be someone who didn’t attend the reception.”
“But, everyone who was invited attended so I can’t think who would leave us a gift.”
“Well there’s only one way to find out, we have to open it, there’s no card on the outside.”
“OK, let’s do it together.” The item was well wrapped and packed. There amongst a mountain of packing was a wooden box, about the size of a shoe box, heavily carved with an inlaid symbol, like a family crest or coat-of-arms.
“Isn’t it absolutely beautiful Charles?”
“Yes, but I can’t find a card, look through the packaging, maybe it’s in there.”
By the time Charles had packaging spread from one side of the living room to the other, he declared, “There is no card, maybe they forgot, but who would give us such a magnificent piece and not include a card or some wishes for us?”
“I wonder what it’s for, do you think there’s anything inside?”
“I can’t open it, but it does not seem to be locked. In fact there does not seem to be a lock or a key hole, nothing to keep in closed.”
“Let me try....you’re right it must be jammed shut, I’ll get a screwdriver.”
As Max returned with the tool, Charles warned, “Be careful, don’t damage such a beautiful and clearly expensive piece.”
But try as he may, Max could not prise open the box without causing damage.
“Hey look under the box, there’s some writing there.”
“You’re right, but it doesn’t seem to be in English. I can’t understand any of it, looks like some eastern European language.”
“I’ll turn on the computer and see if we can get a translation.” When he was ready Charles asked, “Read it slowly while I type.”
Max did his best to read, “Pentru cine este în posesia acestei cutii. Trebuie să urmați instrucțiunile din scrisoare. Nu încercați să deschideți acest lucru până la exact 100 de ani după 17 martie 1918. Deținătorul trebuie să îi ofere cadou de nuntă primului cuplu care se căsătorește la sau după această dată. Cuplul trebuie să așeze caseta sub patul matrimonial în noaptea nunții lor. Caseta se va debloca când ...”
The translator detected the language to be Romanian and returned the translation as‚ ‘For who owns this box. You must follow the instructions to the letter. Do not try to open this until exactly 100 years after March 17, 1919. The holder must give it to the first couple who wed on or after this date. The couple must place the box under the matrimonial bed on their wedding night. The box will unlock when ...’
“Is that all there is?” asked Charles.
“Yes, the parchment seems to be torn off, as if there was more.”
“That’s very mysterious, but what is even more puzzling is who left this on our doorstep, and why?”
“Do you think the box really is 100 years old? That would make it very valuable, if it is.”
“Well, it looks old to me, but I’m no expert on antiques.”
“Then that’s what we should do, show it to an antiques dealer. Do you know anyone?”
“If I remember correctly, Roger had a relationship with that guy who runs the shop in the junction, what’s it called?...um...Conrad’s Collectables.”
“Yeah, that’s it, maybe he can help.”
“I’ll call Roger tomorrow and see what he suggests.”
About a week later all three of them went off to see Conrad, who was most intrigued by the antique box. He immediately picked up on the crest and asked if he could photograph the box so he could show it to some colleagues in the business whom are experts in family crests and insignia. He suggested that if the crest could be identified then that may give some clue us to the provenance of the object.
It was two weeks later when Conrad rang Charles and was very excited about his discovery. “Sorry to be so long getting back to you about this Charles, but I wanted to be certain about what I have been told. The story I have to tell you was once believed to be true, but in more recent times has become to be regarded as a legend. However, now that this box has been found it may turn out to be true, if this is the real thing.”
“You’ve got me really intrigued now, when can we meet?”
“Why don’t you and Max come to my store tomorrow, if you are free and we can chat then? Oh, and please bring the box with you.”