Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)
(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)
Book Two, Chapter One, Part Eight
A momentary glint of a reflection caught Jonathan’s eye as he was turning to go over to the root cellar to complete his errand. He took a second look back in the direction it came from, and saw that behind an old, leather horse collar hanging from the floor joists, was something metal set into the stone wall of the foundation. Curious as to what it was – and wondering why he hadn’t noticed it before – Jonathan went over to the horse collar to take a closer look behind it.
On closer examination, it turned out there was a hammered metal plate set into the stone blocks about four feet above the dirt floor of the cellar, that the horse collar was partially covering up from plain view. Jonathan struggled with the weight of the horse collar as he awkwardly lifted it off the hook it was hanging from, and set it down in the dirt. After brushing the dust off his hands on the side of his jeans, he looked closer at the metal plate.
The surface was made of some type of hammered metal, fashioned into a square shape about two foot long in each direction, and appeared to be hinged on the left side with two old fashioned hinges. The surface was otherwise smooth, but not polished, perhaps tarnished from age and the dampness of the cellar’s air. Despite its nondescript appearance, which seemed to have kept it from his attention earlier, Jonathan was impressed by the primitive craftsmanship of the person who had originally made it.
In a way it seemed out of place here on the cellar wall, for why would a hinged door of some sort be set into the stone wall of a cellar, unless there was something behind it? Perhaps it was an old fashioned wall safe, thought Jonathan, holding a treasure trove of cash from the old days – perhaps from the California gold rush, or a train robbery or bank heist by none other than Billy the Kid himself! Or better than that, it might hold a key and a treasure map to an even bigger treasure buried in the ground somewhere! The possibilities that ran through Jonathan’s mind in that moment were endless!
The funny thing was there was no apparent latch to the door – if it was a door – for why would a metal plate be hinged on one side without being latched somehow on the other? continued Jonathan’s thinking as he examined the plate. He ran his hands over the plate while admiring the rough manner in which the metal plate had been hammered out, as if by a blacksmith over a large anvil. Jonathan had read in his book about knights and castles how metal plate armor and shields were constructed in the same way, hammered out flat and smooth in the exact size and finish required, but this was a cruder work. The craftsman had left the obvious hammer marks intact, creating a wonderful pattern in the metal, and not bothering to smooth or flatten them out at all.
Realizing time was running upstairs in the kitchen and that he’d best return soon with the produce, Jonathan ran his hands over the door one last time while resolving to return later on to solve the mystery of the metal plate. In that moment, he felt a spring latch give way from the final pat he gave the door as if to say good bye until later, and the metal plate popped open on its hinges about a quarter of an inch…