Gracy's Gold Coins
by Annapurna Sharma
I sat stiff on the park bench, deeply engrossed in the crime plots of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The mystery surrounding the ‘Hound of Baskerville’ was nearing climax and the twists in the tale intrigued me. Beaver, my doting doggy dozed at my feet.
Beaver let a low growl and became alert. A red squirrel scuttled about near the bramble. I chuckled and went back to my book. Beaver didn’t move, instead he perked his ears even higher. I paid no attention.
Beaver became restless and paced up and down near the bench.
Distracted, “What’s up doggy?” I said with irritation.
“Calm down! Let me finish these few pages, I’ll get you a big bone at Smiths’ on our way back home.”
The word ‘bone’ did the trick and he became quiet. To my annoyance he was up the next minute. He ran to the tree, came back and tugged at my pant. Reluctantly, I shut my book and followed him to find out what bothered him.
We stood still at the crack of a twig. I tiptoed to the dense shrub with Beaver close at my heels. We peered.
I looked stern at Beaver and turned on my heels. Beaver showed no signs of ‘wrong judgement’ and I bent down to get hold of his collar and tug him back along with me.
I retraced my steps to the bush and focused my gaze. She sat there on the neatly mowed green grass and sobbed quietly. A pail and a trowel lay beside her. I turned my looks at Beaver. I could feel the pride in his eyes that said, ‘I am always right!’ I nodded and we waited for a while, not knowing what to do.
Making up my mind, I came out of my hiding and approached her. She stared at first and then continued to cry. Big tears descended down pink cheeks and black lashes fluttered as she rubbed her nose drip with the back of her hand. She looked up at me, the sobs became louder and hiccups followed. I stood patiently.
“My gold coins,” she uttered in between sobs.
“Gold coins! Lost!” I added, presuming her condition.
She shook her head up and down.
“In the park!”
“I and my doggy can help you find them.”
She didn’t reply, so I added, “If you like.”
“OK!” she agreed and got up.
She pointed to a cluster of oak trees. She took out a red velvety pouch from her skirt pocket and opened the lacy knot. Two yellow gold coins twinkled in her soft palms. I looked wide eyed and Beaver sniffed.
She replaced them
and said, “I had ten of these, now I have only two, the rest are lost. Will you help me find them?”
“Sure!” I said and judging by their look, I thought, ‘they must be invaluable.’
Beaver is always ready for a little adventure and he looked quite excited. I poised as ‘Holmes’ in yet another Conan’s mystery. She led the way.
Once we reached the oak trees, she directed us to the dense wild raspberry bushes.
Beaver ran around the bushes, stopping and sniffing in between. She stood near the oak trees watching us. Beaver showed no signs of detection. I picked up a long dry branch and parted the bush.
“Lo and behold! A dark gaping hole!”
I parted the bushes. Beaver plunged forward towards the hole. He sniffed, barked and came back and pulled me. I took the clue that there was something fishy.
I broke parts of the bush and bent some outward to make space for myself. I looked behind at her, she was still crying. Bending low I went closer to the hole. There were steps leading downwards.
I contemplated, “Should I go down the steps or not?”
Since it was pitch dark inside, I switched on the tiny light on my cell phone. Beaver and I descended down the few stairs. We walked down a musty short passage and reached a small room. To my surprise the room was lighted and well ventilated. A few wooden crates were neatly stacked in one corner of the room. Beaver sprang towards the crates and disappeared. I got scared and called out loudly, “Beaver!”
He peeped and disappeared again. I went boldly towards the crates. Beaver squeezed in the gap between the crates and the wall. I couldn’t fit in the gap. So I tried moving the heavy crates, but couldn’t. Beaver barked excitedly. I shone my cell phone light and saw sparkling yellow metal.
“Grandpa! My coins! My coins!”
I heard voices and turned back. An old man with a torch in hand looked at me.
“I am sorry, she troubled you. Gracy, my grandchild had lost the coins yesterday. She was playing hide and seek here, with her cousin,” uttered the old man.
Noticing a puzzled look on my face, he said, “I am Graham, the caretaker of this park. This is an old dungeon. We now use it to store the garden supplies.”
Doubts cleared, we smiled and shook hands. He pulled out the gold coins with the trowel in her hand. Gracy jumped gleefully and Beaver barked happily.
I laughed at my lack of discernment, for the coins were not real. I put my ‘Holmes’ character to rest. ****