Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Oct. 16, 2000

The message in the wooden box


This is the 11th story in a series about Joe, the pot-bellied pig, and his owner, Fred. Fred and Joe live in an old farmhouse in the country, where Fred has been busy taking out some walls to make his home office bigger.

As Fred removed part of a wall in the old farmhouse, he found a small wooden box.

The box was nailed shut. There wasn't a name or any other identification on the box.

Fred didn't know what he should do. If the box belonged to someone who had lived in the house years ago, he wanted to give the box back to them.

But without a name, Fred had no way of knowing who the box belonged to. He asked several people if they might know who had lived in the house before, but no one had any names to give him.

So Fred decided to open the box to see what was inside. Joe sat at his side as Fred pried out the rusty nails.

As he opened the box, Fred saw that the only thing inside was a small piece of paper with a message written on it.

The message said, "Look for three more boxes. When you find them, you will know what this is all about."

"What kind of a game is this?" Fred wondered.

Are the other boxes also hidden in the wall? Fred couldn't see any other boxes from the opening he had cut.

He asked his neighbors if they had any ideas what the message might mean. The neighbors had no idea how the box had gotten into the wall, or who had put it there.

They told him that the old farmhouse had started out as one room, many years ago. Several people had lived in the house since then, and rooms had been added here and there as they were needed.

Fred couldn't sleep at night for thinking about the message. Finally, he decided that he would take the rest of that wall down and find the other boxes.

His neighbors came and helped Fred do the work. But when they were done, they had not found any other boxes in the wall.

"Now, what should I do?" Fred asked.

"Does this wall continue below us, in the basement?" a neighbor asked.

Fred went down to look, and sure enough, the wall went down into the basement level, too.

Maybe the other boxes are in the basement section of the wall, Fred thought. But he certainly didn't want to tear his whole house apart looking for something that he didn't know if he would ever find.

Fred didn't know what to do.

Should he keep looking for the boxes, even if it meant taking down another wall?

Should he forget about the note, and leave his house the way it is? He really didn't want to take apart his whole farmhouse.

Maybe he should have someone else remove the wall for him. Then, he wouldn't have to take the time to do the work, or clean up the mess.

Fred tossed and turned all night, trying to decide what to do.

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