1728. An ancient artefact
© Bruce Goodman 10 February 2020
Russell had been grubbing thistles all day on his patch of land when the spade hit something that appeared metallic. He had hit what seemed to be a little metal box. Although it was ingrained with soil he could tell that it was once quite ornate. It seemed as if it was once embossed all over. There was what looked like a keyhole which was filled with dirt. No key of course, and a lid shut tight.|
Russell took it home to clean, and hopefully open to see what was inside. It didn’t rattle but felt quite heavy.
The problem was that all ancient treasures found below the surface of the earth belonged to the whole country. Either the government would have it stored somewhere in a museum or they would sell it and some super-fat politician would dine out on the proceeds. Russell decided that the best thing was to clean and open it himself and sell it for a tidy profit.
He began the cleaning. It certainly seemed old, but in excellent condition. Then he discovered that the apparent keyhole wasn’t a keyhole at all, but simply some sort of fastener. With a little more careful cleaning he should be able to open the lid.
The metal casing of the box was thin and clearly easily dented. He didn’t want to use any abrasives or chemical cleaning solutions. Who knows what it could do to the metal, and the slightest mark would greatly diminish its value. And then… it opened!
There was nothing inside except for a folded and fragile piece of paper. Perhaps it was a map to treasure! Russell knew if he unfolded the paper it could crumble into dust. He had to find a way to unfold it. After two weeks of the most careful manipulating, impatience got the better of him. He warily opened the paper and it didn’t crumble. There was faded writing. It read:
This cleaner is recommended for use on many surfaces including sinks, cooktops and benches, white ware, stainless steel pots and pans, enamel, and tiled and stone surfaces.
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