Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Microstory 1277: The Hikers and the Wallet

Two hikers were walking along the mountain path when one of them spotted something underneath his feet. It looked like a dark leaf, but when he decided to dig it up, he discovered that it was a wallet. It was wet and muddy on the inside, which suggested that it had fallen from its owner’s person sometime yesterday, for it had rained last night, but was perfectly clear today. When he opened it up, he found a punch card for a restaurant two states away, an insurance card that was turned totally illegible by the rain, and a couple hundred dollars. “Look what we’ve found,” said the one hiker. “I’ll split the money with you.”

“No,” the other replied. “We should find a way to return it to its owner.”

“That should be impossible,” the first hiker said. “There is no identification of any kind here.” He looked down the mountain. “The rain must have washed it away.”

“Either way, I’m not sure we should keep it. We’ll find the nearest ranger’s station, and see if anyone’s reported it missing.”

Just then, they saw a group of hikers climbing down the mountain towards them. A forest ranger was accompanying them. “I remember you from the campsite the other day. Did you steal my wallet?” asked one of the strangers.

“I did not,” the first hiker said.

“Why, I see it right in your hand!” the wallet’s owner cried.

“We found it here in the mud,” the second hiker explained. He took it from his friend, and handed it back to its rightful owner. “How fortunate that you returned here. Your ID must have fallen out, so we would never have known where to return it.”

“Yeah, okay,” said the wallet owner. He was a bit reluctant, but appeared to believe them. Their explanation was only logical, for if they had stolen it on purpose, they would have surely kept it hidden so as not to be caught.

This story was inspired by, and revised from, an Aesop Fable called The Travelers and the Purse.

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