2022 Writing Contest

Esther’s eyes were wide with surprise. “But why didn’t he tell me? I didn’t know he found anything that day.” She paused for a moment. “But that would explain why he decided to go into town when we really didn’t need anything.” Michael continued, “We aren’t exactly certain why he didn’t tell you, maybe he wanted to surprise you. But it is known that he went to the Assayer’s office and had the nuggets valued. The smallest of the nuggets was worth $20,000. Putting the nuggets back in his pocket, he then headed for home.” Daniel began speaking, “Unfortunately for your husband, the Assayer was not a good man. He had been, it appears, pilfering a little gold dust here, a small nugget there, holding back on the true value of the minerals brought into him. His greed took full hold of him when he saw the nuggets your husband had. He tried to take one of the nuggets, but your husband wasn’t letting them out of his sight for even one second.” Esther smiled slightly. Yes, she though, that would be just like Richard to keep count of every little piece of whatever. Daniel continued, “So greedy and corrupt was this man, and so annoyed he couldn’t get his hands on even one nugget of your husband’s, that he started to form a plan to take the nuggets from him, whatever the cost.” Michael picked up the story. “This gentleman followed your husband to the land office where he registered a mine claim in both his and your names. This also infuriated our little assayer. He tried twice to catch your husband but failed both times. That was when he made his fatal mistake. He made a deal with Satan. Satan sent a snake to bite the horses, or at least scare them so that they would bolt and do exactly what he wanted. Crash the wagon and kill your husband.” Esther was openly crying now. But she motioned for the story to continue. Daniel now picked up the story. “What the poor Assayer didn’t realize was that once you have given yourself, voluntarily to Satan, it’s very hard, and in some ways impossible, to get free of him. The assayer, Jarrod was his name, waited until news of your husband’s death hit the town. Then he went to the Land Office planning on filing a survivor’s claim on the land. He didn’t know about you or that the land was in both your names. The officer told him you would have to come in and revoke your ownership of the property first. As you had no idea that your husband had done any such thing, that put Jarrod between a rock and a hard place.” Michael spoke, “I don’t think he ever realized until the very end that you had no idea about the gold.” Esther signed. “All this death and destruction for a handful of gold rocks. If I would have known, I would have given him the rocks, but I never knew. Where are the nuggets now?” Michael smiled, “Safely tucked away in the bank. But you haven’t realized the full scope of your assets.” Esther looked at Michael, puzzled then realizing what he was implying. ”You mean there’s more than just a handful of nuggets?”