Monday, 5 September 2011

THE ANGEL AND THE HOURGLASS - Chapter 3 - What We Found

The Angel and The Hourglass
What We Found

Dan was on his knees admiring the now obvious disparity between the inside and the outside of the trunk.  He took out his knife, ready to attack the chest wherever the opportunity presented itself, but Sam was bent over the inside, running his hands systematically along the inside edges of the trunk and I knew he was looking for a catch. Secret compartments like this one always had some kind of mechanism to open them, even I knew that. Well, I especially knew that, from reading so many mystery books...

"I can't feel anything in here." Sam said after a while, "Missy, you've got little fingers, see if you can feel anything."


"Anything sticking out anywhere it doesn't belong, anything that might open this thing." Missy practically fell headfirst into the trunk, trying to reach the opposite side. It was a big old thing and her little arms barely reached to the false bottom. I slid my hands in too and pretty soon there were 3 sets of arms wiggling about in there, but no sign of how the thing opened.

"Let me just pry it up!" Dan pleaded, standing back and watching us impatiently.

"Wait!", I said, bringing my amazing powers of deduction into play, the ones I had gleaned from my extensive library of mystery and fantasy books. "I bet we're looking in the wrong place. I bet the catch is in the lid!" and we all reached out to examine the lid, which none of us had noticed before, because the lid had fallen behind the chest when Sam had opened it. Sam lifted it now and held it up for us. The lid was arched on the outside, and had several cloth covered compartments in it that looked promising.  Dan and I searched the compartments,which had sweet little cloth doors that snapped open when we pulled their little cloth flaps.

Sadly, they were all empty and there was nothing in any of them that could be considered a lock or catch, until of course, the very last compartment, down at the bottom of the lid, adjoining one of the back hinges. When this one snapped open, we were surprised by a little cloth doll that fell right out and dropped with a soft plop onto the false bottom.  I immediately scooped it up to examine it, while Dan examined the compartment.

"I've got it!" he shouted and with a soft click the false bottom lifted up as if it were attached to a spring. When Sam pulled this all the way open, it revealed something large wrapped in a white cloth cover.  "It's heavy," Sam said, lifting it out. "Bring me that table over there."

And Dan darted over to a small round table abandoned alongside a pile of "National Geographic" magazines. It was light and he carried it over and plunked it down next to the trunk. As Sam laid the thing gently on top, I could see that the white cloth covering was actually some kind of shawl. It was satiny looking and it had a fringe.

I held onto the doll, waiting to examine it more closely later, and we all bent over to watch as Sam gently unwrapped the shawl. "Look at that!" exclaimed Dan, and we all sucked in our breath, for it truly looked like a small treasure chest. It was a wooden box, and I could not tell what it was made from, but it was gorgeously decorated with colourful symbols and what looked like lettering on it.

"Look, there's writing on it!" exclaimed Missy, but Sam and I already recognised the lettering.

"It's Hebrew!" Sam announced.

"Wow, this thing must be really old. Let's open it!" cried Dan.

"Not so fast," Cautioned Sam. "I think I can read this inscription."

My brother Sam is not only brilliant, but he had been Bar Mitzvohed last year - and he had actually bothered to learn Hebrew, instead of just memorising the text he had to read in the ceremony. "What does it say?" I asked, staring down at the lovely gold lettering.

"I think it says "Do Not Open This Under Pain of Bringing Eternal Misery upon Yourself", either that or "Open this and Eternal Beings will Destroy you"! Either way, I don't think we should open it just yet."

Sam was often very wise and we all stood back a little and stared down at the box with a new respect.

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