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Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:48 am

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Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 2:18 pm
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By Francis Allgood

The rain finally stops. The air is thick and everything looks just a little bit greener than usual. I peek out of the thicket where I built a very crude fort. I really got soaked this afternoon! I knew the rain was coming by the thick feeling in my head and the damp smell in the air.

I was only six years old when I started exploring the forest. I had always played along the edge of the woodlands with my grandparents. When they finally allowed me to enter the deep woods, exploring these paths has become a part of my daily ritual.

I spend most of my time poking around the lake. A carpet of soft moss surrounds a huge old gnarled oak tree. The moss leads up to the thicket where I constructed my hide-away. Small wild animals are always coming or going and don't seem to be bothered by me. The little brown rabbits live in a burrow just around the bend of the well-worn path. I bring them carrots, leaf lettuce, and radishes. We try and keep them out of the gardens but they manage to burrow under the gate and snack on almost everything.

Today, a beautiful blue and green dragonfly lands on Turtle's nose. She slowly climbs up over some rocks and the dragonfly floats into my palm. The last couple of days the dragonflies seem to be everywhere. This one has shiny gold rings in the center of each wing. He finally flies away and I chant,

Dragonfly, come play with me,
I've nothing else to do.
Dragon wings and golden rings,
Let me fly with you.

I spend a lot of time alone. But today I am startled to hear a very faint echo,

Human boy, oh, gentle one
You've wandered far and deep
From my enchanted fairy lair
I'll meet you in your sleep.

I am hypnotized. Did I just hear what I think I heard? That same whispering sound seems very familiar. Today is the first time the whispering makes any sense at all. I repeat the words to myself so that I won't forget them. What a strange sensation to communicate with something mysterious in the forest. But that's what is happening isn't it? Are the dragonflies talking to me?

I begin to doubt myself, "I guess I am just daydreaming. But what an odd feeling!" I overcome my dizzy spell and realize it's almost five o'clock. I grab my nap sack and dash out of the woods through the meadow towards home.

The old manor house has been my home since I was born. I quickly water the vegetables and flowers and put away the garden hose. I slip in through the mud- room and tip-toe through the kitchen. I wash my face and hands and throw on clean clothes. My grandparents are sipping warm drinks in the parlor. Grandmother enjoys the wild flowers I bring from the gardens and Grandfather just wants to hear my most exaggerated stories. I kiss them both and finish preparing the table for dinner. I am bursting with excitement about the dragonfly and can hardly contain myself. Should I tell my grandparents? Would I break the spell. I decide to wait and see if the dragonfly appears in my dreams.

Somehow, I get through dinner and finally dive into my bed. I pull the covers way up over my head. Tonight I am eager to go to sleep and dream. I whisper again,

Dragonfly, come play with me
I've nothing else to do.
Dragon wings and golden rings
Let me fly with you.

I don't even remember falling asleep. What's worse--I don't even remember any of my dreams! Several days of disappointment pass and then weeks pass and there is nothing at all enchanted about my dreams. I am disappointed and my doubts grow. I continue my searching through the forest, looking for clues. Summer is almost over and my cousin will be visiting next week. I hope that something exciting will happen so I can share it with Jane.

Jane. My cousin has a special sense about things. She is very good at keeping me out of trouble. She seems to know just how to keep our grandparents happy and yet still get into just a little bit of mischief. Have you ever known someone who has loads of fun but remains very responsible? Well, that's Jane.

Jane seems to enjoy the odd chores that Grandmother comes up with, too. She sort of makes it dreamy. When Grandmother asks Jane to polish more of the endless old family silver, Jane invents these games to make it fun. I remember begging Grandmother for more silver that time that Jane and I were pretending to be archeologists. We uncovered treasure after treasure as we polished the tarnish off of those gloomy old objects. When Jane is here, the doldrums seem to fade away.

Grandmother fusses all week preparing for Uncle Dan, Aunt Sara, and Jane. The dinner has to be "just so." Uncle Dan doesn't eat any beef, and that really annoys Grandmother. He's a bit fussy about many things. Aunt Sara is very flexible, though, and helps make their visit harmonious. They live in London and leave Jane with us while they vacation--always somewhere exotic. This time they're going to Southern France. Jane's mom and dad are both research scientists and have hectic schedules. I don't think Jane gets a lot of attention at home. But she certainly got their brains! I think they make her study really long and hard, too. But when she's at Argon Manor, we don't study anything. Well, she always brings a few books about her favorite subject at the time. I can't wait to see what she's been reading about this summer!

Finally, they arrive. Johnathon, our tired old butler, greets them in a snobby way, and takes their luggage. Grandmother rolls her eyes to heaven and hugs everyone real tight! Jane and I dash up the curving, creaking stairs, two at a time. She cartwheels all the way down the hall and then rounds off into my bedroom. There, she inspects my room to see what has changed since Christmas. She peels into laughter as she glances over at my awful school picture. I couldn't help it that I was just getting over chicken pox and the photo was taken in the dead of winter! (Why didn't I hide it before she got here?)

Johnathon brings in her bags and stares at us with distaste. He doesn't care for children. There's a scratching sound coming from a dirty brown bag. Johnathon raises his eyebrows at the bag, looks me in the eyes, then trudges out. Jane rushes over to her satchel and whispers, "Ssshhh, I've got a little surprise for you." She pulls out a box turtle. Amazing!

"We can only keep him for one day. Can we go out to your woods tomorrow morning?" she asks.

"Sure. Let's find him a home. Come on." Jane follows me down to the end of the old hall and up the stairs to the attic.

"This is one creepy old place, Boy. Have you got a terrarium or something? We need a bowl for water, too. And some food." The light is very dim and we have a hard time seeing anything at all. I run back to my room for my handy dandy flashlight. Jane is all alone in the dark attic. Very faintly, she hears a whisper and at the same time the attic fans begin to whir:

Mortal one, oh, gentle girl
You're where you need to be.
Bewitching smile
You laughing child
The treasure lies in the tree.

Jane sits frozen on top of some old furniture and between many long shadows. A beautiful dragonfly glides out of the attic vent. She is in a bit of a trance when I finally return.

"I got some lettuce and a flat bowl of water . . . Jane, what's the matter?" I ask.

"Oh nothing. The fans started making some noise and I heard something. It's nothing, really." Jane looks a little pale.

"Well, this place is scary. Let's get going." We set up the turtle in my room and head back downstairs. Grandmother wants us to visit for a while in the parlor. The grown ups have a sherry "to take the edge off of the day." Mamie's homemade cider is good enough for us!

Everyone floats into the formal dining room--all aglow with crystal and smelling scrumptious. Mamie serves her famous roast beef but adds plenty of vegetables and casseroles so she doesn't offend Uncle Dan.

That night, while playing cards, Jane seems a little distant. She looks at me seriously and says, "I heard something in the attic today."

I look at her and reply, "Jane, we always hear weird noises in the attic."

She tells me, "I never heard anything like what I heard today. I heard a whisper that went,

Mortal one, oh, gentle girl
You're where you need to be.
Bewitching smile
You laughing child
The treasure lies in the tree.

"Ummm Hmmm. Jane, there's something I haven't told you. I heard a whispering verse when I was in the forest last week. I just couldn't figure out how to tell you."

"Well, what about just telling me!" Jane was aggravated with me. "Why would you keep something like this from me?"

I just felt ashamed and embarrassed. "Jane, I thought maybe I imagined it." I explained all that had happened in the woods and my growing disappointment. I told her about the dragonflies. Her face lit up. "I saw a dragonfly, too."

We agree to go to the woodlands first thing after breakfast tomorrow. We have to return the turtle, anyway. I am so happy that there really is a dragonfly and the whisper and that Jane is in this with me. I'm also a little scared.

Neither Jane nor I sleep well. Finally, I drift off to sleep as the morning sun is peeping through the draperies. I am running through the meadow, looking for the turtle. Suddenly, there is a whisper . . .

Follow me through sun and shade.
Look near your reflection.
Don't be perplexed,
You'll find the X
In the logical direction.

Jane is holding the turtle. We follow the dragonfly and head deep into the forest. We trip over each other as we chase the dragonfly. Finally, we stop at the lake and look down. We notice our reflections. But what about the X?

Suddenly, the song, "You got it, I want it . . . " is blaring in my ears. I jump up out of bed and realize I was dreaming. NSYNC, my favorite band, is on the radio.

I run into the guestroom and wake Jane. She jumps out of bed and yells, "Where is it?" I calm her down and tell her she is just dreaming. She says, "You woke me up just when I was getting to the good part!" We share our dreams and decide to get to the forest right now.

We run through the kitchen and Mamie tries to slow us down for breakfast. We brush her off and run out the back door. When we get to the forest, we slow down. Neither of us makes a sound as we hurry along the path. When we reach the lake, we look for an X.

"Look for a tree. There is some sort of treasure in the tree," Jane remembers the voice that spoke to her. "I'll put the turtle down over here. I wish we could keep him but I'm sure he'll be happy here." I notice my reflection in the lake, just like in my dream.

"Don't forget, we're supposed to look for an X, too," I remind Jane. Letting the turtle go was a lot easier now that we had a treasure hunt ahead of us. Suddenly, we both realize that the two trees that support my fort form an X. We dash over and begin searching for treasure. We have no shovels or picks--just our bare hands. We realize how lost we are.

Suddenly, the beautiful dragonfly flitters out of the hollow in one of the trees just above our heads. We both start climbing. When we get propped up on the branch, I reach in and poke around in the hollow. I pull out a little leather pouch. It is filthy dirty. We cannot believe our luck. Before I stuff it into my pocket I open it up and pull out a gold coin. The date is 1444. I don't even know what to say. I hand the coin over to Jane. Finally, she speaks. "I can't believe this. I haven't even been here for twenty-four hours and we've found gold! These coins were made over half a century ago. Louis XI was the king back then! He may have even handled these coins."

We climb back down. I shout, "Whoopeeee!" Then we start back for the house.

"I'm starving. 'Race ya' home!" Jane yells back to me as she dashes through the woods. I'm close on her heels.

When we get home, Jonathon is closing the boot of the car. Uncle Dan and Aunt Sara hug Jane and me and then crouch into the car. "We'll see you in two weeks. Jane, you enjoy yourself. Help your grandmother with the chores."

"I'll miss you!" Jane says to her mother and father as the car crunches down the drive. Everyone is in the big circular drive, waving them off. Jane and I try to sneak off into the kitchen but Grandmother asks us where we've been. "Oh, we had to let the turtle go." I reply and Jane giggles.

"What turtle?" Grandmother looks confused as we try to avoid her.

"You look like you're up to no good! Mamie says you didn't eat one bite of breakfast. If you hurry along, she'll probably make you some of her Belgium waffles." At that, we dart off into the house.

Mamie hears us and laughs, "I don't know why you two were in such a hurry this morning! I won't even ask. Fetch a chair and sit down and have some waffles and bacon. Boy, you pour the milk."

Jane leans over to me and whispers, "This is going to be one interesting visit!"

After we eat, we notice the dragonfly with the golden rings hovering at the kitchen window. Jane and I walk over to the window as he begins to fly off. We realize that he isn't a dragonfly at all. He turns towards us and winks. He's got an odd face with big green eyes and a pointed chin. "He's a dragonfly fairy," whispers Jane. He slowly takes a bow. I dig one of the gold coins out of my back pocket and hand it to him. Several other dragonflies appear and help him take the coin. "Do you want them all?" I ask. The little group just laughs and the fairy with the golden rings shakes his head "no." Jane pinches me and gives me a dirty look. At last they fly off. We stand there until Mamie sends us out of the kitchen.

We clean the coins and sort them. "Wait 'till you see the books I brought for us to look at."

"What are they?" I ask, pretending to be interested.

"I've got three books about old coins. One book is specifically about the French coins," Jane smiles at me.

"Well, what are you waiting for? Let's take a look!" I can't believe I'm really interested in studying something in the summer.

We promise never to tell anyone our story. Well, anyone except for you.

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