Speed and fear were apparent in every motion. The shielded lantern cast a weak light as Tom cut the blocks of heavy thick rooted sod. Lifting gently, carefully set aside.
The shovel made soft scrunching sounds as he bent with the effort. Stating slightly when the shovel hit a rock or a night bird flew, the tall young man dug with haste in the silence of the small burial ground.
Angrily stabbing his shovel into the rich Buffalo River ground, he looked around. His mother, a brother and his twin daughters lay within the log fenced space. Dead of pneumonia last winter; he remembered how hard it was to dig here! Four shallow graves in the space of two weeks!
At home, in the cabin, slept his father, wife and three small children. He had to prepare, to provide!
The near full moon rose, large blood -red! Long shadows stretched through the arms of trees as Tom bent again to the shovel handle, swiftly shaping the deepening hole at his feet. Eerie bars of light and dark rippled across his broad back as he lifted spade after spade of heavy soil.
The lantern, no longer needed, was extinguished and placed behind one of the flat rocks marking a grave.
Finally, it was done!The night wind sighed softly, chilling the man’s sweat damp shirt. Tom walked to the edge of the dark forest surrounding his farm. From a hiding place in the trees, he picked up the ungainly wooden box, heaving the weight to his strong broad shoulder. Bowing under the weight, he returned to his secret nighttime task.
The heavy box slid finally over the dead dry grass as he slid it to the lip of his hole. Powerful muscles strained as he lifted and lowered it into the opening. Placed solidly, the box settled in silence in the fresh dug earth.
Determined, Tom reached for the shovel, filling the opening. Each thump of earth on the box below reminding him, how hard they had worked, how they had saved to hold these gold pieces, 5 and 20 dollar coins. As heavy as the gold, his heart.
In the silver moon light the grave yard looked undisturbed. Carrying the shovel and lantern, he whistled softly as he swaggered up the trail toward his sleeping family. The hills of Buffalo River held his secret hoard.
The gold was safe, hidden from the law that would turn it to paper. Safe lying between his sleeping children.