A Silver Knife, a Locket and a Ring

A Silver Knife, a Locket and a Ring

It was a beautiful day! Mr. Stark Salestone and his family were taking a trip in their car. The gleaming red car was a spacious one, accommodating comfortably all the five of them. This was their first road trip and they are all looking forward to it. Having left the city road behind they entered a rugged terrain leading to the cottage they have reserved to spend a few days. The sun was blocked by the tall trees and one could here surprisingly crows cawing interspersed with the deafening silence.

They all heard a loud sound. Mr. Salestone stopped the car, stepped out with his son James to check on the matter.  They found a flat tire. The father and the teenager prepared themselves to fix it. As they were busy, the youngest girl of the family — Beth, a curious 10 year old — started to explore the surroundings. As she was finding her way, she stepped on something. She stops to examine and there she finds, completely out of place, a beautiful, shiny, spotless Knife with intricate carvings on the blade. She was mesmerised by its beauty and she picks it up bedazzled. As she tries to read the carving on the blade she hears a loud cry from her mother Judy and her sister Mary asking her to return to the car. She quickly puts the knife in her pocket, which will later be added to her treasure box and runs to the car.

As the tire is fixed, they all resumed their drive to the forest cottage. The eldest girl Mary, who was 18, started gazing out of the car window. She sees an old lady trying to draw water from the well. As she was old and frail she was struggling with the heavy bucket. Mrs. and Mr. Salestone taught their children well. Mary is pained at the sight of the old lady, decides to help and shouts to her father to stop the car. She gets down from the car and rushes to help the old lady. Mary draws the water from the well and fills the old lady’s bucket. The old lady thanks Mary. Mary starts to walk toward the car and as she turns back to wave she find them vanished into thin air. The girl becomes perplexed and runs toward the car. As she runs she can feel somebody watching her from the trees. She climbs in and instructs the father to drive ahead.

They reach the cottage safely before nightfall. It was an old cottage but well-maintained surrounded by big old trees, beautiful lawns and white flower beds. The actual village is close by and an hour’s walk from the cottage. Mr. Salestone was told by the manager that there is an old couple, Mr. and Mrs. Walker, who live at the cottage and look after the place. Mr. Salestone sends Mary to inform the caretaker of their arrival. Mary is surprised to find the old lady she met earlier on their drive. Before Mary could speak she was greeted warmly by the lady and her husband. They enquire the young girl if they had a comfortable journey. Mary instead of answering the question asks her if she has met her earlier and the old lady denies, confusing Mary further. Mary apologises and returns to her father, her head filled with the thoughts of the strange coincidence. Beth and James noticed their elder sister preoccupied.

The family settles down in the charming old cottage which has a spacious living room. There are two additional rooms on the ground floor. Mrs. and Mr. Salestone take in one room and the other belongs to the caretakers. The children rushed upstairs to chose their rooms. Mary chose the room which had a lovely view of the pond. James chose the room with a big cupboard hoping to play hide and seek with his sisters and win the game. The room also had a skylight right over his bed. As the daylight recedes James could see his reflection on the glass as he lay on the bed. And finally Beth walked into the room that was left which had a huge mirror covering a wall. The three children settled down with lot of excitement.

After the long day of journey everybody were tired and planned for an early dinner. Mrs. Walker with a little help from Mrs. Salestone prepared a tasty dinner which the children ate up in a jiffy. After dinner, they all gathered around the fireplace. Mrs. Walker started talking and telling stories. She narrated about how the cottage belonged to their family and how she raised all her children in it. She tells them about her children. She has three children, two girls and a boy. She also tells them that her children married and moved to different places to settle down. She further tells them that they rent the cottage so that they have some company.

As the night advances, everyone retires to their room. Young Beth is too excited to sleep. As she climbs to her room, she feels the knife that is tucked into her pocket. She reaches the room, takes out the knife and settles down in a chair to read the carvings on it. She first cleans the knife and the carvings become clear. The words magically appear and they say “whoever touches the knife should help us.” Beth is startled and as a reflex, she opens the window and throws out the knife. She washes and prepares for bed. As she returns from her bath she finds the knife upright stuck in her bed. She picks up the knife, runs to the fireplace and throws it in. She stands there watching it with terrified eyes. As she returns to her room, and closes the door, the knife is back struck in the door as if waiting for her. She calls her father loudly, opening the door for him. As he runs upstairs and enters the room, the knife is nowhere to be seen. Mr. Salestone, laughs at Beth, tucks her in and kisses her goodnight.

The next morning held a promise of a new beginning. Beth wakes up to the chirping of the birds. She looks around to find the knife again on her side table. In the morning light, the knife did not appear threatening. It looked like a plea of help from somebody helpless. She silently restores it in her pocket.

As James woke up, he decides to play the game of hide and seek with his sisters and opens the cupboard to check his hiding place. The wall of the cupboard had a niche and there was something glinting in the morning light. James puts his finger in the hole and draws out a ring. It slips on his finger perfectly. The ring had carvings on it which said “whoever touches the ring should help us.”

After breakfast, Mary informs her parents that she wants to take a walk. James and Beth were playing hide and seek. Something from the pond attracts her to it. She keeps walking forward. She reaches the pond and on its bank her eye catches something shiny. She bends down to pick it and rinses off the dirt in the water. She finds a pretty silver locket on a chain. The locket opens to two pictures inside. One picture is of two older people and the second picture was of three young children. Mary is stunned to find this locket around the neck of the eldest child, a girl. She further notices that the three children in the picture were of the same age as her, James and little Beth. She turns the locket in her hand and finds the inscription “whoever touches the locket should help us.” She feels uneasy about the locket and tosses it back into the pond. She turns to return to the cottage.

As she nears the cottage, she sees her mother drying clothes on the line trying to help Mrs. Walker. Mary rushes to her mother in a bid to help her. Her mother notices Mary neck and exclaims, “What a lovely locket you got there!” Mary suddenly gropes her neck to find the very locket she tossed into the pond. She blurts out that she found it near the pond, racing up the stairs to her room. She quickly unclasps the silver chain and checks if it is the same one. After reading the inscription on the back she is convinced. Then the silence is broken by a noise from her cupboard. She quickly drops the locket into one of her pockets and moves slowly forward to check her cupboard. She slowly opens it to find giggling Beth hiding among her clothes. James rushes in and crashes into Mary and Beth. The three of them roll on the floor like a bunch of bowling pins.

The collision brings out the locket, the ring and the knife. The three of them place these shiny things on Mary’s bed. The younger ones narrate to Mary how they found those things. Their stories were equally mysterious like hers. All three of them read the inscription on the things they found together in unison “Please help us.”  As soon as they finish speaking the words, as if by magic, the three items disappear into a small ball of floating fire. A child’s voice is heard from it —

Please help us we are stuck in a dark place

The ball of floating fire starts to move toward the window; the children rush to open it. The ball of floating fire lingers outside the window for a second and moves with speed into the forest.

The children rush downstairs to follow the ball of floating fire. They find Mrs. Walker sternly looking at them. The children halt. Mrs. Walker’s stern look dissolves into knowing smile and she whispers in Mary’s ear, “You kids go ahead and do what you have to do, I shall hold the fort.” The children are happy and Beth gives the old lady a kiss. They quickly put on their shoes, coats and torches and continue pursuing the ball of floating fire.

The torches suddenly didn’t work and Beth said exasperation, “The torch ran out of juice.” Mary caught the hands of James and Beth and led them forward. Slowly their eyes were comfortable with the darkness. They all could see the ball of fire ahead of them. Slowly the fallen leaves of the forest rise up with the help of gentle breeze and forms a protective tunnel around and leading them.

They walk for a while. They suddenly hear lightning and thunder. Beth and James hug Mary tightly. As they peer out from behind Mary’s frock, they are surprised that the tunnel of swirling leaves is keeping them dry. They keep walking forward and they see something strange. They see a space into which no raindrops are entering. It is like an invisible umbrella over a pit on the ground. As the three approach the pit they hear weak whimpering. It is dark and Mary cannot see a thing. The three children dig the perimeter of the hole with their bare hands and shouting to the voices below. As if by magic, the clouds in the sky clear and the moon shines brightly into the deep pit. Mary, James and Beth could see small shapes of three children at the bottom. Beth talks to the children in the pit with her bright childish banter, keeping them hopeful as Mary and James collect vines from the surroundings and weave a strong rope. James ties one end to a tree, passing it over a stone for lever, as he learnt in his science class and drops the other end into the pit. Mary instructs them to the tie the loose end around their waist. It is sheer hardwork for Mary, James and Beth to pull the three children out of the pit.

After catching their breath, Mary, James and Beth offer them the biscuits and water Mrs. Walker stashed into their hands as they left the cottage. None of the children had the strength to walk back. The ground beneath their feet grumbled and shaped itself into a slide, taking all of them on a ride of their life time back to the cottage.

Mrs. Walker was waiting anxiously at the gate. She and Mr. Walker pick up the younger children, carry them into the cottage. Mrs. Walker hurries Mary, James and Beth to clean up before dinner. At the dinner, Mrs. And Mr. Salestone are surprised to find six children at the table. Over dinner Mary, James and Beth narrate to their parents of their adventure and were chided with proud smiles. The children promised that they will not repeat hiding secrets. As all of them gather around the fireplace with the hot chocolate mugs, Mr. Walker informs the nearest police station.

On asking, the three children rescued from the forest tell their story to their open mouthed audience. The children told their names. They were Matildy, Jonathan and Bridget. And this is their story…

“We are the three children of Mrs. and Mr. Addston. We live in the nearby village of Amersham. Our father works in the army and our mother in a farm. Our father was supposed to return home on a leave. We were all excited. We went into the forest to collect some beautiful flowers to welcome him. It was Bridget who noticed beautiful flowers in the forest and ran toward them. She did not see the huge hole on the ground, slipping into it with a scream. Trying to save Bridget, both Jonathan and I also fell into the hole. We tried shouting for help but none heard us. Since our ancestors and inhabitants of the village taught us to respect the nature as a way of life. We three started to pray fervently to the five elements of nature, which protected us from centuries to also help us in this situation we were in. The sacred things our grandma gave us, which she inherited from her mother, helped us in reaching out to Mary, James and Beth. We heard from our grandma that children have a special power to understand and communicate with nature. Mary, James and Beth could understand the message the nature carried on our behalf and found us.”

Matildy concluded their story, giving Mrs. And Mr. Salestone smiles of pride. Matildy turns to look at her younger siblings snoring softly wrapped in warm blankets given by Mrs, Walker.

Everybody retires to their beds happy that the trouble was overcome. The morning brought new hope and also Mrs. and Mr. Addston. They rushed into the cottage sweeping their children into an embrace and showering kisses upon them. They thanked the young rescuers, Mrs. and Mr Salestone and Mrs. and Mr Walker. The children bid their friends goodbye, presenting them with their sacred, silver knife, silver locket and a silver ring. Mary, James and Beth promise their new friends that reaching city; they would spread the message to their friends about protecting nature.

THE END

more by DEEKSHA LAKKARAJU

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Deeksha Lakkaraju

Deeksha Lakkaraju is in Grade 7 of Johnson Grammar School ICSE, Nacharam, Hyderabad, Telangana, India. She just discovered the magic of storytelling and has her first story written. Inspired by 'Big Bang' she titled it 'Before Time'.

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