Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Secret Treasure

Note: I just rewrote and republished the post called blasebalg. I encourage you to reread it before continuing. Go to the archives or just go backwards from the current one four posts ago.

Wednesday at the shop.
The next day dawned bright and sunny and the household was busy by the time Heinrich came down. It was nice to have an extra person for meals. The conversation was livelier and the work was easier, which, unfortunately meant that the meal was over too soon. Even so now, with the last bite gone and the dirty dishes put away, it was time to be off, so Heinrich bade each of them goodbye, with a kiss for his Mother, though he would have liked to extend that courtesy to Rebekah as well. In so thinking, he was convicted that he was becoming compulsive about her. 

So he turned his thoughts to the day as he headed out the door. The question was should he look for the treasure at noon or after work? His employee, Dietrich, took his lunch break around the time the church bells rang at noon – and if he left, how would he know when he was on his way back? Heinrich thought of the workload; were there any projects that would require overtime? No, not that he was aware of. Perhaps if things were slow he could send Dietrich home early – with the promise that he could make up the time another day. In the end, Heinrich thought he should just go with the flow and not do things unnaturally. He’d hopefully find the right time.

Once at work with the day’s projects underway and Dietrich busy in the back of the shop, Heinrich casually walked around the wall where the bellows hung and did some exploring. He counted over and down by the offset amount and sure enough there was a brick at the end corner of the wall. He walked up to it and began looking intently at the brick when he was startled by the bell ringing over the door. It snapped him into focus and he went to see who it was. 

It was Herr Wolters with a concern about a piece of iron work that had been done for him. He brought it with him and invited Heinrich to see it in his wagon. Could Heinrich change it? Heinrich replied, “Yes of course we can do that – when do you need it?” The answer was as soon as possible – how about today?  Heinrich always wanted to keep his customers happy, so he agreed it could be done, knowing it would take much of his time today. The unexpected became the first order of business, with the complicating factor that the metal must be heated and the bellows would be used.

Dietrich was called in to help and the change took most of the morning. Finally, as the noon bells rang, the change was completed and Dietrich mentioned that he was going home for lunch and Heinrich was waiting for Herr Wolters to return. The shop was alone for awhile. Even though he was hungry for lunch, Heinrich went back to the brick. It did not move when it was pushed or pulled, but it was different in one way. 

The end of the brick (for it was on the corner) was slightly discolored from the other bricks. He found a sharp metal tool that was used to shape iron and scratched on it. It started to crumble enough that he could feel and then see metal about a quarter of an inch down. Scraping away more of it revealed a round metal plate that was inset into a larger metal plate. This was exciting but then the church bells rang on the half hour. He was thankful that no one else was there, but he knew he had to hide what he’d done since Dietrich would be back soon. What could he cover the hole with?

It occurred to Heinrich that his father had probably done this many times before. How would he have repaired the damage?  Heinrich went to the desk where his father used to sit and began looking in the drawers. In the third one, way in the back, he found a small pot with a lid. In it was a mixture of what looked like concrete powder mixed with small pieces of ground up bricks. Near it was a small brush. He took and poured some into a dish and mixed in some water until it formed a paste. Then he took the brush and pasted over the hole he had made, throwing a handful of dust on it so that it was not so obviously wet. He felt that it was a reasonable cover-up. Indeed, when Dietrich and Herr Wolters did return, they did not notice the patch and the secret remained tantalizingly close throughout the day.

When the church bells rang to signal the closing of the day, Dietrich and Heinrich conferred to discuss the day’s progress and tomorrow’s plans. Other than the unexpected change, it had been a fairly normal day and Heinrich said good night to Dietrich. At last, with the front door locked and daylight still available, Heinrich began the job of cleaning out the still wet patch. The metal lid had an indentation on one side and he inserted the sharp end of a metal tong into it, but it was too large. Finally finding an awl that was used to pierce through leather, he pried open the lid. Underneath was a key hole! He marveled that there were multiple levels hiding this treasure, but the key hole required a key. He looked at his key ring that had come from his father and there at the end was a small key that he had always wondered about, since he did not know of any lock that would fit it. He aligned it to the keyway and pushed it in. It fit like a hand in a glove so he turned to the right and the lock mechanism opened the small door. He peered into the opening which was barely as wide as the palm of his hand and saw something there. He reached in with his hand, grasped what felt like a fabric bag, and pulled it out. He looked inside to see if there was anything else, but it was empty, so he took the bag to a nearby table. He was full of suspense as he opened it and retrieved three things, which were put on the table one by one.

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