‘We’re going on a treasure hunt!’ Jasper shouted with excitement as he burst into Sally’s bedroom.
Sally hung her head to the side and thought for a moment. ‘What type of treasure are we hunting for?’ She asked as she carefully set her doll down.
‘How many types of treasure are there, silly!’ Jasper said as he pulled his little sister to her feet. ‘Come on, I’ve found a treasure map.’ He thrust a crumpled piece of paper under Sally’s nose. It was covered in lines and squiggles that may or may not have been their back garden; Sally couldn’t be sure, but she was sure that Jasper knew everything so there must be treasure out there somewhere.
‘Come quickly, there’s no time to lose!’ Jasper cried, bounding down the stairs two at a time. Sally followed at a slower pace. She got to the back door just as Jasper was pulling on his wellington boots.
‘What is the treasure that we are hunting for?’ She tried asking again.
‘It’s just treasure.’ Jasper shouted. ‘We’ll be rich beyond our wildest dreams!’ He hefted his spade over his shoulder and ran outside. Sally took her time putting on her own boots.
Out in the garden, Jasper was studying his map. Every now and then he would look up and squint at patches of mud where Dad kept not growing the carrots that he always said he was going to. The sun was shining brightly and two birds were having an argument high up in the trees. Sally listened for a moment and tried to guess what it was they were squabbling about. Just then she looked up as a butterfly fluttered by. It landed on a flower on Mum’s buddleia bush and rested its wings, trembling in the breeze. Sally stooped down to look at it. ‘Is this treasure?’ She asked loudly. The butterfly was startled and flew away.
‘No, silly girl.’ Jasper said, still looking at the map. ‘Treasure is found in the ground.’ He dashed over to an abandoned flower bed that was choked with weeds. He threw the map over his shoulder. ‘It’s buried here, come and help me dig!’
But Sally wasn’t listening. She had found a row of ants marching next to the fence. She thought that they looked like an army as each trod the same path as the one before. Some of them were even carrying leaves and twigs that were far bigger than they were. ‘Come and look at this, Jasper. It must be treasure!’
‘No, silly girl!’ Jasper shouted. He had already dug a hole that was big enough to fit a football into. He stopped for a moment and wiped his sweaty brow. ‘There’s no treasure over there, it’s here. Come and help me and we’ll be able to buy anything that we want!’
Sally didn’t move. ‘Will I be able to buy ants?’ She asked.
‘Of course you won’t! Ants are just in the garden, silly girl!’ Jasper shook his head and started furiously digging again. ‘Come and help!’
Sally got to her feet and wandered around. In one corner was Dad’s pond that he had started to build but never finished. One Sunday he had dug a huge hole and lined it with black plastic, then he had half filled it with water before being distracted by something else. Now the water was green and smelly and covered in duck weed. Two dragon flies were playing chase above the water and pond skaters skipped across the murky surface. Sally crouched down to watch the skaters. Each tiny foot left a small imprint in the surface like when you pushed your foot into fresh snow. ‘This has to be treasure, Jasper!’ She called.
Her brother stopped digging and peered over. ‘No it’s not, that’s just a bug! Come and help me find the real treasure!’ The skater skittered across the surface leaving rolling ripples in its wake. Sally smiled as she watched it go. She jumped up to her feet. ‘Ok, I’m coming now.’
She went over to Jasper’s hole which was now deep enough to bury a washing machine. He was covered in mud from head to foot. He grinned up at Sally. ‘The treasure must be close now!’ He said.
Sally lay on her belly and looked down into the hole. She found herself eye to eye with a wriggling earthworm that waved its behind at her as it wound itself into a knot. ‘This is treasure here, Jasper.’
Jasper was busy throwing another spadeful of mud out of the hole. ‘That’s not treasure, it’s just a worm.’
‘But then what is treasure?’
Jasper stopped what he was doing and scratched his head. ‘I don’t know. I guess it’s gold and stuff like that.’
‘Doesn’t treasure mean you love something? Daddy calls me treasure and Mummy says that she treasures us all. Worms and butterflies are my treasure because they do stuff that’s interesting. Gold isn’t interesting, it doesn’t do anything.’
Jasper put down the spade and cocked his head to the side. ‘What kind of stuff do they do? Is that what you’ve been looking at while I’ve been digging?’
‘Yes, that’s what I thought we were doing, looking for treasure! Come and see.’ And so Sally helped Jasper to climb out of the hole and they spent the afternoon looking around the garden at the insects and the trees and the leaves and looking for real treasure after all.