Treasure Chest

Bright, white, puffy clouds scattered about, each one the plump little commander of its own separate space; clear blue sky all the spaces high between, so seeming close, yet all untouched; crisp, cold breezes slipping down the brown, snow-sprinkled mountains into my face, and the small safe town smiling a sudden jewel in the radiant sunlight. I walk down the last lone street of the town on its western edge, step off the last dead end pavement, walk another hundred yards or so along the hard-packed dirt road, then sit down on the old dead tree trunk beside the rough granite rock and wait.

Some fifty yards above me, on the top of the treeless hill, now hidden by the rock, stands the old, weather-beaten house. Its once white paint is curling and flaking off; its two stories of a few dust-covered windows does not look inviting; its wide, surrounding porch contains only one pale wood rocking chair half-covered in brown split leather. Sitting behind the rock, I do not see the house, but I’ve seen it many a time before when my walks were much earlier in the morning, before I knew about the gold.

I had discovered it by accident, having stepped into a leaf-covered muddy hole on one of the back-trails and sprained my ankle. It took my quite a while to get back, what with massaging the ankle, finding a good walking stick, and then hobbling slowly along. Best bad step I ever made, because of all that gold.

I hope I have timed it right.

That’s it! The spring door is screeching its tiny broken-bird screech! The small “bap,” and it’s shut. Now the soft, slow, wondering feet on the dried-up porch-boards; the pause, the bright white hands laid gently on the worn railing; the fair pale-brown haired head held straight over squared, white-bloused shoulders; the face flashing like a …

Now! Oh, now, it comes! The liquid gold! the freed treasure! What language it is I know not! And I know many! But the tone, the joyous expression, the uninhibited glory of singing, of singing happily and freely and fearlessly—these I know, these I hear! I am rich! I am wealthy! My eyes pour out their luxuries! My whole body shakes from golden touches! The fingers of song have pressed upon my eyelids and shut them! I am blind in a world of brilliance! Now the volume seems to grow, the beauty strengthens, as if the rock is catching the voice and throbbing it forth even more glorious than before!

Ah! It stops! All is silent. So soon. Oh, too soon! What has happened? Why does she stop? Will she begin again? She must! What is happening?

“Hello.”

Oh! Oh! The gold has discovered me!

“Are you happy?”

“No. Yes. More than happy!”

“What is your name?”

“John. John Silver.”

“Can you sing?”

“Yes.”

“Beautifully? Joyously?”

“Yes.”

“Then stand up proudly and sing. I will sit on the rock and close my eyes and search for gold. If I find it you will come and live with me and we will fix up the house. We will work a little and sing a lot. It will be our treasure chest.”

“Yes. It will be so.”

“We will see. Now, sing!”

“Golden glow of golden choirs
Rising in the voice of one
Is the love-light he desires
In the treasure he has won.

“All the coins of freest living,
All the jewels and riches known,
More is his of beauty’s giving
Heard in ears, in singing shown.

“He who passes will not save it,
He who closes ears won’t see;
He who seeks and dares to brave it
He will sing, and he will be!”

“Oh, marvelous! Come, my dear, come. My eyes and ears are full of joys and tears. Although I am eighty years old and you look to be about seventy, we will fill our treasure chest to overflowing.”

“Yes. We will. I’m coming. Here, take my hand.”

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