Tales to Tell

“Look granddad, there’s an old sofa at the edge of the river bank, wonder who put it there“

“Well there is a bit of a story to that sofa Johnny.”

“Granddad you always know stories to lots of things, so tell me please.”

“OK Johnny let’s sit down on this fallen tree trunk and I will tell you all about it.”

Johnny loved going for walks with his grandfather. He always took time to explain everything and he was now looking forward to the story about the sofa at the river side. It really looked in a bad way. The metal skeleton of its insides was poking through and the once shiny leather was covered with green slime and torn in places. The water washed over it in rhythm with the wind.

“Ok Johnny it all started a long while ago. Just here along the river was a wooden house. No-one really knew who built it and how long it had been there, but a man lived in the house, Jack Marsh. We did not know when he moved in, he was just there. He was well known in the town as he was very gifted with repairing things. If you had a roof that needed some new slates, or windows that were rattling in their frames, you just had to ask Jack Marsh and he would come and repair them. He did not ask for as much money as the business’s in town and so people were glad for his help. He was a man of few words, and would never tell anything about his past life. Some said he was once a sailor and had visited more countries than you could imagine, others said he served a long prison sentence for murder, had been released and now preferred to keep himself to himself, but despite all the stories that were circulating no-one really knew who he was and where he came from. The only reason his name was known was that he always signed a receipt after he had done a job for someone.

So life went on in our little town and Jack Marsh was just part of the town. One evening we had a bad storm and there was a lot of work to be done afterwards. Clearing away the tree branches that had been scattered and soaking up the water everywhere. Mrs. White needed help with some broken windows and was on the lookout for Jack Marsh, but Jack was not there for once. There were a few other neighbours that were missing his help. No-one really trusted themselves to go to his house, but soon word got to the authorities and they sent the local policeman to see what had happened.”

“But granddad, that must have been you, you used to be our policeman in the village” said Johnny.

“That’s right Johnny, I had to go and knock at the door to the house where Jack Marsh lived. I stood outside the door for some time but heard nothing in the house. I then went back to the police station and took one of my colleagues with me. You have to be careful on you own in such a situation. Jack Smith came with me and we both knocked again at the door. After waiting we had to break the door down to see what had happened.”

“Oh granddad, what did you find?”

“Well it wasn’t such a pretty site Johnny. You see Jack Marsh was not so young any more and his time had come. We found him lying on the sofa you see in the river. It was then a lovely black leather sofa. It was there that Jack Marsh had taken his last breath in this world.”

“But granddad why is the sofa now in the river.?”

“Wait Johnny, until I tell you the rest. Jack Marsh had a burial at the town cemetery. Although he had no real family, there were a lot of people at the funeral as he had helped us all at one time or another. We all had a collection and together paid for his burial and gave him a good farewell. As no-one wanted to live in the house any more, and it didn’t really belong to anyone, the town decided to demolish the house. The workmen moved in with their tools and started to take things apart. It was then that they found it.”

“What did they find granddad?”

“When they picked up the sofa to put it outside in the garden the bottom of the sofa gave way and, well, it was full of gold bars.”

“You mean the gold bars they have in the banks.”

“Yes, Johnny, there must have been at least fifty of them. They were just too heavy and they had been stashed away in the sofa. The leather just tore when the sofa was lifted. Of course there was a lot of excitement. The sofa was left outside of the house in the garden on the river bank and the gold bars were taken to the bank.”

“But granddad, where did the gold come from?”

“Well, we found that out some time afterwards. When we sorted through the papers belonging to Jack Marsh, we found his discharge certificate from prison. After looking into his records it seemed he was involved in a bank robbery. The stolen gold was never found, but it seems he had it all the time. I suppose he had served enough time in prison and decided to let things be. He took his last breath laying on his gold.”

“And the sofa granddad?”

“Well what with all the excitement about finding the gold everyone forgot about the sofa. It was just left at the side of the river, and I suppose one evening there was a storm, the river rose and took the sofa with it.”

“Granddad you can really tell some good tales” Johnny said and Johnny’s grandfather just smiled to himself.

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