The Hidden Treasure

The Hidden Treasure

From Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul

The Hidden Treasure

Old Man Donovan was a mean man who hated children. He threw rocks at them and even shot at them with a shotgun. At least that’s what we had heard.

His small farm bordered our neighborhood where my younger sister, Leigh Ann, and I lived when we were growing up. His farm was long, narrow and quaint. It held two treasures. One was his beautiful fruit.

There were many varieties of fruit: pears, apples and lots more I just can’t think of. The fruit naturally drew the children to his land. It made them into thieves. But my sister and I didn’t dare to take his fruit because of the horrible rumors we had heard about Old Man Donovan.

One summer day, we were playing in a nearby field. It was time to head back home. My sister and I were feeling very daring that day. There was a short cut to our house that went through the Donovan farm. We thought he wouldn’t be able to see us run across his property around the luscious fruit trees. We were almost through the farm when we heard, “Hey, girls!” in a gruff, low voice. We stopped dead in our tracks! There we were, face to face, with Old Man Donovan. Our knees were shaking. We had visions of rocks pounding our bodies and bullets piercing our hearts.

“Come here,” he said, reaching up to one of his apple trees. Still shaking, we went over to him. He held out several ripe, juicy, red apples. “Take these home,” he commanded. We took the apples with surprised hearts and ran all the way home. Of course, Leigh Ann and I ate the apples.

As time went on, we often went through Old Man Donovan’s farm, and he kept on giving us more luscious fruit. One day, we stopped by to see him when he was on his front porch. We talked to him for hours. While he was talking, we realized that we had found the other hidden treasure: the sweet, kind heart hidden behind his gruff voice. Soon, he was one of our favorite people to talk to. Unfortunately, his family never seemed to enjoy our company. They never smiled or welcomed us in.

Every summer, we would visit Mr. Donovan and talk to him. He told us all kinds of stories we loved to hear. But one summer, we heard that he was sick. When we found out that he had come home from the hospital, we visited him right away. His voice box had been removed. When he placed his fingers on his throat, his voice came out as a whisper. We couldn’t understand him, but through his eyes we could tell what he meant.

The next winter, word got around that Old Man Donovan had died. Leigh Ann and I were heartbroken and decided to go to the funeral. We were scared because we didn’t know if the family would welcome us.

When we got to the funeral, the family kindly greeted us and said they were so glad we had come. We all wept mournfully, but our wonderful memories of Old Man Donovan comforted us.

During those summers with Mr. Donovan, my sister and I learned not to judge a heart until you know it. One may just find a hidden treasure.

Debbie King
As told by Ashley King, eleven

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