The Treasure: Short Story
Mr Manolis was a wonderful man, full of love for the entire world, and always ready to stand for whoever was asking for his help. He was also a brilliant man who had established an exceptionally successful company when he was still young. It could even turn into a big industry, but Mr Manolis refused to take this step, despite the financial loss this decision had because he did not want his company to lose its family and human character. If you could see the way his employees wept at Mr Manolis' funeral, you would understand what his soul gained with this "irrational" choice.
Nevertheless, he always had enough money to offer to anyone who needed it, without waiting for a return. He always said that there was no greater reward for him than the joy he could create for others. He also used to note that the value of money could only be measured in one way: through the number of people who would help and make, even a little, happier. This man was a real treasure.
Mr Manolis used to say that he had two treasures. One of them was his wife. She was the love of his life. They lived together from their childhood until her death, which separated them only for a few months. His soul could not bear to live away from her. So, soon enough, he also went away to meet her again. Although they were yearning for a child, unfortunately, they never were blessed with a baby. This was one of the 'shadows' of his life. Therefore, he gave all his love to other people and exceptionally cared for his employees, or better, his 'children' as he preferred to call them. And they really felt him like a father; you could understand it if you could see the way they mourned for him! And acting like a real parent, Mr Manolis left them the company in his will with the only term to continue to operate it cooperatively. And that's what they did. Following his standards, all together, continued to develop and prosper.
His second treasure was his garden. A Garden of Eden! He had bought the grounds of a small house, on the edge of a suburb, and he had created a large garden, caring it with love. And the garden, nurtured by this love, turned into a small miracle. It had many trees and flowers, but Mr Manolis was particularly proud of a row of roses that were planted along the fence next to the street. No one would pass by this street and would not be overwhelmed by their perfume and colours. No matter how bad was your mood or the sadness in your heart, when you went by this fence you would leave with a smile formed on your face.
This home with its garden, the company and an enormous golden heart were his fortune.
Ares was the only nephew of Mr Manolis and, at the same time, the definition of laziness. He had tremendous talent in splurging, destroying and blaming others for his constant problems. Ares had lost his parents early enough, wasted a considerable fortune in a few years, and since then the young bohemian was relying mainly on his uncle. He was always grouchy because Mr Manolis was trying to teach moderation to him and supported only his basic needs. Ares always called his uncle 'stingy'. Their relations were greatly aggravated when Mr Manolis "dared" to offer him a job into the company.
"I, uncle, was born for greatness..." he replied with complete disdain, "... and I'm so sorry you can't understand it."
"Prove to yourself and to me your value..." Mr Manolis told him "..., and I will make you a manager. But you have to start from a low point as we all did in this company, to appreciate the labour of the workers you are going to manage."
This really drove Ares mad. How did this old-Scrooge dare to ask such a thing?
When Ares took the message that Mr Manolis was seriously ill in the hospital and wanted to see him, he started dreaming. When he saw him, these dreams fell to pieces. First of all, his uncle did not seem so 'passing away'! He resembled calm and somewhat happy. But the 'thunderstruck' came with Mr Manolis' words: "My boy, I will leave now. I'll go to find your aunt. I've missed her a lot. I bequeath the company to its workers, but I have taken care of you. There will always be a job with a decent salary waiting for you. A good point to start. You will take my home and the garden. I want you to take care of it, and you will see that it will also take care of you. Please, look after my roses. That's where my treasure is. If you care, you'll find it."
"There is no doubt..." Ares thought "... the old man has lost his mind. He gives my property away to strangers while asking me to take care of the roses."
"Be sure uncle..." he threw some words with an angry face and left without a 'thank you' or even a goodbye. He was already meant to start looking for a buyer for the home.
Paul could not believe his good luck. He was dreaming, enough time now, of buying a small house with a garden in a suburb. A 'nest' for him, his wife and their newborn daughter. He loved nature and having a home with a garden would be a real blessing for his family. But he knew that with his little savings, this would probably be an unfulfilled dream. So, when one friend told him about someone who was selling a house like this for a pittance because he owed money to some "good fellows" who demanded immediate repayment, he saw it as an opportunity. When Paul saw the house and heard the price, he realized that the Universe was giving him a unique gift!
He fell in love with the house at first sight, but his heart "broke" when he saw the roses. They seemed like no one had been taking care of them for several days, but, even so, they were sublime, with heavenly colours and divine aroma. He loved them right away and for one more particular reason. His daughter's name was Rose!
He praised God with all his heart and soul and bought the house with no delay.
Ares felt relief when he found a fool to get rid of this old house at a price that was a lifesaver at this moment. He could pay the loan sharks and would be some money left over, which would give him some months of 'good life'. "After that, I'll think something new", he thought and laughed as he remembered his uncle's last words. "Please, look after my roses. That's where my treasure is. If you care, you'll find it."
"You can't call it a treasure what you left me, uncle..." he said "... but you were always tight-fisted. A miserable old man who didn't know how to live a good life."
Paul, with his love and care, had soon brought the garden back to the condition that Mr Manolis had left it. He was watching his own Rose, his daughter, as she was making her first steps in this garden, competing in beauty with the other roses, those beside the fence. Paul has been nurturing them with patience and affection all this time but was worried about a specific one. It was the last of the row, with small orange roses, and despite the special care he had provided to it, remained quite sickly. So, Paul decided to dig carefully to see if something "was torturing" its rootstocks. And he found the cause. Its roots could not go deep enough to feed it, because at a shallow depth, beneath them, there was a metal case in the size of a shoe box. Paul was truly astonished. When, after considerable effort, patience and perseverance, he managed to pull the box without harming the rose's roots, he was even more surprised. It was too heavy for its size.
Paul was standing before the open box puzzled with his jaw dropped and eyes wide open. The box was filled with gold coins. A fortune. There was also a paper. He took it in his hands and read it:
"I leave this money to the person who showed true love to this rose. I think that someone who cares enough for the well being of a plant, he will use this money wisely and for good purposes. I ask only one favour. Take care of my garden. God bless you."
After that, there were the name and signature of Mr Manolis.
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© 2019 Ioannis Arvanitis