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The black book treasure quest

by David Walker about a year ago in fact or fiction
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a surprise mystery

“Well here’s the last of it.” he said as he placed another box of books on my table.

“Thanks Adam, what do I owe you?”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. Consider it a birthday gift from me to you”, he replied.

“Wow, thank you, where did you get these from?” I queried.

“I found them at an estate sale I went to. The owner had a small library and I’m told he loved mysteries, so maybe you have some of his favourites in here. Anyways, I’m off for now, let me know if you find anything interesting.” Adam said as he made his way to the door.

“I will”, I replied as I waved goodbye “Thanks again for the books”.

Adam was an old friend of mine and he knew how much I loved to read. I wasn’t at all interested in much of the books being sold in stores or online these days but had a love for the classics and even from authors no one else had heard of before. These boxes were stuffed full of old hard cover books, a few paperbacks. On top of the last box was a book entitled “The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle”. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this one before. As I picked it up, a small black book fell out from under it’s front cover and landed on the floor.

As I picked it up, I glanced to see what it was as there was no writing on the cover. No name or inscription. As I opened the little black book, there was a letter written on the first page that was simply addressed as “Greetings my good friend and congratulations on your find, I’ve a treasure for you, but you’ll need your mind”. Well that was strange. Quickly looking at the following pages, there seemed to be a message for whomever found this book. The original owner loved mysteries and now I was intrigued.

I quickly made myself a tea and returned to my makeshift library to see what this cryptic message was all about.

“What do I have here?” I said to myself as I reopened the little black book.

“To my good friend and fellow reader”, it began. “I am an old man and nearing the end of my days. It has been my joy to delve into the imagination of so many wonderful authors these many years. Before I pass from this world, I wanted to create a little mystery of my own. You know, to leave a mark on the world in my own way”. A smile crossed my face just thinking that I was now a part of this mans story. I wanted to see it through and continued reading.

“I’ve set aside some money, hidden away if you will for the one who will follow my clues. If you succeed, the money is yours. If not, it may never be found. It’s not much, only $20,000 but it will be your reward for humouring this old man in his silly game.”

“Three clues there be, for your treasure to see,

each points to the next so you won’t get vexed

If you’re up for the game, you won’t be the same

Are you ready to win? Then let’s begin.”

“A dove is a bird so graceful and true

and defines a name where you’ll find your first clue

In a tale with a whale from a far away land

if you’ve faith, it’s not far from your hand.”

I sat there slightly confused. A tale with a whale? Did he mean Moby Dick? Probably the most famous whale I could think of. Was there a dove in that story? I didn’t recall. Quickly I grabbed my cell phone and looked up birds in Moby Dick. Let’s see.... sea-ravens, albatross and a black hawk, even a sky hawk but nothing about doves. Wow, this was going to take some work. As I read through the passages referencing birds, I noted the words cherubim and even the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks. Hmmm, there seems to be religious references. Suddenly, my eyes opened wide. “A TALE WITH A WHALE!!!” what if he meant Jonah??? I looked up the meaning of the name “Jonah”. There it is, “dove”. I jumped out of my chair and startled my cat “Missy”. I went right to my bedroom and grabbed my Bible, flipping over to where I thought Jonah was. “Ugh, I can’t find it. Where is the index?” I thought to myself. Finding the index, I found where the book of Jonah was and quickly turned to the page. I opened it and there was no clue. What? I was confused Then it dawns on me. I’m the one with no clue. He wouldn’t have hidden a clue in my Bible. I go back to my library and started emptying the boxes of books on to the table. “Bible, bible, bible, where are you?” I muttered to myself. Finding an old worn King James Bible, I open it to the book of Jonah to find a note tucked in the middle of the story.

“You found the first clue in my hopeful endeavour

to journey on from here, you’ll need to be clever

before the sea foam, a siren song will hold your key

you’ll need the book, not the movie”

“You’ve go to be kidding me” I think to myself. “Who is this guy?” Siren song? Sea foam? Book not movie? This guy is killing me. Siren song, is it a musical? Sea foam, what does sea foam have to do with this? Taking a deep breath, I realized that the clue has to be in one of the books, but which one? “I should know this” I said under my breathe. A siren doesn’t sound very musical, let alone a song.

Just then my wife Amy walks into the room.

“What are you doing honey?” she asked.

I explained to her about the little black book and the clues and hopefully finding the money. When I read to her the poem and said sea foam, her eyes lit up.

“I know what that is!” she said


“It’s a mermaid. After the mermaids died, they turned to sea foam” she tells me.

“They do?” I replied.

“Well of course not, it’s a fable but look for a book on mermaids”, she said eagerly. She was all in on our little adventure.

Moving a few books around, there it was “Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson”. Movie, of course. The little mermaid. I never watched the movie but my kids have. Opening the book a key falls out and onto the floor with a clink. It almost looks like a bicycle lock key.

“A Key!!!” yells Amy as she rushes forward to grab it.

“Settle down there Tex” I said laughing at her excitement.

“What’s the next clue?”

Smiling I reply “Hold on, let me find it first”

Thumbing through the pages, I find a folded piece of paper in the middle. It reads:

“I’m glad you have joined me on this little adventure

Imagining your fun, I’ve dropped my dentures

Pointing you forward is my goal for today

Your next clue is found in what I say

A fictional story told of a city that was lost

inhabitants all gone and great was the cost

men searched for it for centuries, yes it’s true

not found in the dirt, is your final clue”

“A lost city, not found in the dirt”, I hummed.

Amy looked at me. “I don’t know much about history” she said.

“He said it was fictional, so not literal”, I replied. “so what do we know so far?”

“There are lots of fictional stories about places that no one can find, no one left from there and it’s not found in the dirt”, she summarized.

“mountains, maybe?” I said. “it’s rocks not dirt”

“Or maybe ocean”. As the words fell from her lips, we both knew.

“Atlantis” we said at the same time.

Looking through the pile of books we were not sure of what we were looking for. No books about Atlantis came readily to mind. It was not long before we did find it though.

The New Atlantis by Francis Bacon

Flipping open the book, there it was, another piece of paper. I was instantly disappointed as I had assumed this is where the money would be. Reading the note, it simply read.

Hoorah and hooray, your journey near complete

One last book to find, I think it’s really neat

A common thread was woven in each book

You’re prize awaits in the next place you look.

“The ocean or the sea was the common thread” Amy shrieked.

We started going through all the books we received, setting aside any book with a water theme.

Chatting back and forth about what we might do when we find the money and how disappointing it would be if that book wasn’t here.

“How do you fit $20,000 in a book anyways?” I asked.

“I don’t know” said Amy as she kept looking through the books.

Just then I pulled out a strange book. Hard cover. It wasn’t really a book though. It was one of those boxes made to look like a book and it had a flap that sealed it shut. The title on this fake book.....

20,000 Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne

“Ha, ha, ha, such a clever man”, I said.

Amy came right over to where I was standing and gave me the key. This was it. The key fit and as we heard the click of the lock, it opened. Two bundles of cash were stuffed inside. All $100.00 bills.

We took the next few minutes to count it all out and that crazy old man was right on. He honoured his plan. I think if we had found this book, we may not have kept it. I prefer to keep real books on my bookshelf and not knowing where a key might have been, who knows.

This was the best birthday I've had in a long time. The money was great but so was the adventure of solving clues to a mystery. I had to call Adam next. I made him a promise and maybe now I’ll owe him a dinner too.

fact or fiction

About the author

David Walker

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