A while back, an antiquarian book fell into my hands. This was a 1937 hardcover edition of H. V. Morton’s In the Steps of Saint Paul, with an insect-damaged dustjacket but very few other flaws.
Henry Vollam Morton was a celebrated British travel writer whose explorations were largely focused on the British Isles and the Holy Land. In the Steps of Saint Paul retraces St. Paul’s travels during the first century AD, in Palestine (modern-day Israel), Syria, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Rhodes and Rome. Throughout it is characterised by the author’s fast-moving and entertaining style that never fails to be underpinned by a thoroughness and depth of knowledge. Regardless of your attitude towards Christianity, it is an interesting read.
More fascinating is a handwritten inscription on the third page, using the characteristic neat italic pen script that used to be ubiquitous, but which nobody can replicate today in the computer and smartphone era. This is a 1946 dedication to mark the 25th anniversary of Bonalbo Union Sunday School, an institution that no longer exists but was attached to the Presbyterian church. The recipient shares the same surname as the two people making the presentation, both of whom are identified by their initials alone. This suggests the possibility that they were his parents.
I thought that the book might be of some historical value to the Bonalbo community, and contacted the Presbyterian minister, who knows the surviving family and was happy to return the book to them after I arranged a meeting to coincide with his next trip to the Lismore area.
If there is a moral to the story, maybe it is for everyone to spend a little longer checking out items before taking them to the op shop.