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TREASUR1 8' Detective and the treasure map

"How much is this?" Seven-year-old Michaela asked holding a
wooden box in one hand and a handful of coins and dollar bills
in the other.

"Two bucks." the homeowner said.

Michaela asked her grandfather, "Is it okay if I buy this,
Papa?"

Papa replied, "I don't think it's worth two bucks, sweety.
Besides I don't see any key for the lock.

Michaela asked the homeowner, "Is there a key?"

The homeowner replied, "Never had a key as long as I can
remember. That old box has been in my family for generations and
I've never seen anyone open it."

Michaela asked, "You can use your tools to open it, can't you
Papa?"

Papa replied, "If you're that set on wasting your money on that
beaten-up old chunk of would, I suppose I can find a way to pry
it open."

"Goodie!" Shouted Michaela as she offer the money to the
homeowner.

When they got the box to Papa's house, he found that the lock
was too rusted to pick. So, he ended up cutting it off. Inside
the box was an old brown parchment paper rolled up. Inside of
the paper was a wad of burlap tied up with strings. Papa cut the
strings and out fell a shiny gold coin.

"Is it real?!" asked Michaela excitedly as she picked it off the
floor and offered it to Papa.

Papa examined both sides of the coin and concluded, "It looks
like a solid gold double-eagle."

"What does that mean?" Ask Michaela.

"It means your two dollar purchase at a garage sale just made
you over $400 richer." Papa replied.

"Really?" Asked Michaela.

"Looks authentic to me." Papa declared. Then, he pointed to the
brown paper. "Hey, that looks like a map."

"A map." Michaela pondered. "Hey, maybe it's a treasure map that
will show us another box with more gold coins!"

Papa pointed to the map. "Hey, I recognize this area. This is in
central California."

Michaela pleaded, "Can we please go there Papa? Please?"

"Listen, I don't want you to have any false hope." Papa
cautioned.

"But we can go?!" Michaela pleaded. "Please?"

"Okay." Papa replied. And with that Papa and Michaela, the
world's greatest seven-year-old detective was off on another
mystery. She went to bed early and woke up before dawn because
Papa said that the trip would take all day. Papa drove on the
highways to the dirt road on the map. But the dirt road ended at
a deep river gorge with a narrow wooden bridge that only one
person could cross at a time. So, after they got out of the car
and crossed the bridge, Papa handed the map to Michaela with a
compass.

"Okay," He said, "You're the detective and this is your mystery.
YOU tell us where to go."

Michaela turned the map and the compass to face the same
direction. Then she pointed Northwest. "That way."

They started off through some trees. But, before they hiked a
mile, they came up to another deep river gorge, but this time
there was no bridge.

"Shall we turn back?" Asked Papa, knowing that Michaela, the
world's greatest seven-year-old detective would find a way
across the gorge.

She pointed back toward the trees. "There's a fallen tree back
there," she said confidently, "that we can drop across the gorge
and use as a bridge.

"Very good!" said Papa.

The two of them dragged a tall skinny tree to the edge of the
gorge, stood it up and then flopped it down onto the other side
of the gorge.

Papa and Michaela held hands to steady each other as they
side-stepped down the length of the tree to the other side.

"Where now?" Asked Papa.

Michaela studied the map. "The shortest way is through these
woods." Michaela pointed to a clump of hand-drawn trees on the
map. "But look here." She pointed at a hand-drawn paw print with
long claws.

"Looks like a bear's foot print." Papa declared.

Michaela concluded, "That probably means that there are bears in
those woods, Papa. Lets go this way." She pointed to the area of
the map that had a skull and cross bones drawn on it.

"That's a desert." Papa warned. "Without water, people have died
out there."

Michaela quickly pointed to a picture of a bucket near the edge
of the desert on the map. "Then, let's stop here."

"A bucket?" Asked Papa. "What do you think that means?"

"I think it means there's a well or a spring there where we can
refill our water bottles before we start across the desert."
Sure enough, when they arrived at the bucket, there was a spring
bubbling up from the ground.

"Well done, detective!" Papa praised.

The spring formed a small pool where they could dip their
bottles.

Papa tasted the water cautiously then said, "No bitter taste at
all. I think it's safe to drink"

So, they filled their water bottles and started off across what
the map showed was the narrowest part of the desert. When they
reached the other side, Michaela pointed to a row of upside-down
V's running north to south on the map. "I think these things are
those mountains." Michaela said pointing to the row of mountains
ahead. "So, X marks the spot near that mountain there, Papa.
We're almost there."

Michaela and Papa made there way to the mountain marked by the
X.

Papa smiled. "I don't see any big X on the ground, Michaela."

"Papa! It's just on the map!" Michaela replied, then pointed.
"That's probably it there."

Michaela pointed to an abandoned gold mine dug into the side of
the mountain.

Papa warned, "Abandon mines can be very dangerous, sweety."

"We'll be careful, Papa." Michaela replied.

When they arrived at the mine, Papa removed the folding camp
shovel from his backpack. "Where should we dig?" He asked.

Michaela replied, "If I was hiding a treasure, I wouldn't bury
it. I would hide it under something that would keep it dry."

Papa stepped cautiously into the opening of the mine. "It would
be protected in here." He speculated.

Michaela searched all around outside of the mine. Then, she
pointed to a rusted old wheelbarrow that had been tipped upside
down. "There." She declared. "If I was hiding a treasure, I'd
hide it under there."

Sure enough. When Papa tipped the wheelbarrow over, there was a
wooden box much the same as the one Michaela bought at the
garage sale.

Papa bashed the rusted lock off the box with his shovel, then
pointed at the box. "Well, you're the detective! Open it!"

Inside the box was hundreds of shiny gold coins just like the
first one. Papa and Michaela danced around the box, shouting and
singing for joy. Then Papa emptied the backpacks and poured the
coins in. Gold is very heavy. And when Papa and Michaela put
their backpacks back on, they realized that their trip home
would be much slower. They might have to camp over night out
here in the wilderness.

Michaela looked at the treasure map again. She pointed to a star
on the map. It was on the far side of the mountain. "Let's go
here instead." She said.

"What do you make of that, detective?" Asked Papa.

Michaela speculated, "I think that's a forest ranger station and
I think that dotted line next to the star is a dirt road. Maybe
the forest ranger can give us a ride back to our car."

Sure enough, at that location was a ranger station and he was
more than happy to give them a ride back to their car. So, they
didn't have to camp out over night.

When they got back home they counted their coins and calculated
the value of the gold.

Papa read the calculator and concluded, "Michaela, you have
plenty of money to pay your way through college and then some,
detective!"

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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