Byron Nohart and the Old Man with the Gold Coins

Byron Nohart and the Old Man with the Gold Coins

A Story by C.M. Hoisington

A fairy Tale


 Once upon a time there lived a young man named Byron Nohart.  Byron traveled with a knapsack strung to the end of a stick carrying his meager belongings.  He ate what he gathered or captured while sitting over a small campfire.  To say he was unhappy would not be truthful, but he was aware that other folks had a different life.  He felt that  maybe he should be more like other folks, but he was generally content with the life he had. 
 One evening, while Byron sat by his campfire, roasting a scrawny rabbit he managed to catch, an older man appeared in the light of his flame.  He told Byron he had been traveling for awhile and saw his fire and wondered if he could share its warmth.  Byron invited the man to sit down and offered him some of his small dinner.  The man said he was not hungry, and commented on the inadequacy of his catch.
 “Well, the rabbits aren’t very big around here, and they’re hard to catch.  I do have some nuts I gathered yesterday if you’d like some of them.”  Byron replied.
 “No thank you.  I’m fine with just the warmth and the company.  Now what is a stout young man like yourself doing out here cooking scrawny rabbits anyway?  Don’t you have a home?” The man asked.
 “No, I’ve been traveling for awhile now, never had a reason to stop.  I kind a like seeing the world and meeting different folks like yourself.  Its not a bad life, if you can stand the food.” He told the man with a giggle.
 “Well, that’s no way to live.” Said the man, “You’re young and strong, you should find a job and earn money, build up your fortune, so you can live like a king when you’re old like me.”  With that the man pulled out a cloth bag that jingled heavily with a drawstring at the top.  He opened it up and pulled out a large gold coin, and tossed it to Byron.
 Byron had never seen anything so beautiful.  He held it up in the firelight and saw the old man’s face was etched in it.
 Then the old man told his own tale of hard work and perseverance that allowed him now to travel without worry or struggle.  Then he told Byron that if he was willing to do as he told him he could also have the kind of fortune the man had.
 “Take that coin into the next city to the south and show it to the man that runs the sanitation department.  He will set you up with employment and if you do what he tells you to do, and work hard you’ll be on our way to a fortune like mine.”  The old man said with a warm smile.  Then the man rose and said he would be moving on.
 “But its dark, shouldn’t you wait until the sun comes up?  You are welcome to sleep here by my fire.” Byron told him.
 “A man in my position no longer worries about darkness, and I don’t travel on foot.  Do like I said Byron, and you will have the same luxuries I do.” Then the man faded into the darkness.
 That night Byron didn’t sleep well, with all that the old man told him running around his brain.  When he rose with the sun the next morning he held his knapsack aloft and started trucking south. Later in the evening, after a full day of walking, he came across a humble farm.  It was a little hovel with a lean-to nearby that housed a skinny mule and a chicken coop.  A field next to the house was lush with vegetables and fruits of many different kinds.  The farmer was walking in from his field when he noticed Byron on the road in front of his place.
 “Hey there stranger.” He called out in a friendly way.
 Byron waved and walked down to the man.  “Would you mind, possibly, if I might get some of your fruits and vegetables for my supper?”
 “I’ll do you one better, son, why don’t you come in and have a right meal with me and my family?  The Mrs. always cooks more than enough.  We don’t get too many folks out this way, its good to have a new face at the table.”  The farmer offered.
 “Well, I wouldn’t want to impose…”
 “Name’s John” The farmer announced holding out his hand.
 “Of course, I’m Byron Nohart.” Byron replied shaking John’s hand.
 “Come on in, I’ll introduce you to my family, and we can get washed up.”
 They entered the little farmhouse.  John introduced him to his wife and two daughters.  The oldest Ellie was marrying age and about as inviting as Byron had ever experienced.  He was fiercely attracted to her, but out of respect for John and his wife, Byron kept it hidden, but Ellie didn’t take her eyes off him all evening.
 As the night encroached on their socializing, John offered Byron the mule’s hay to sleep on.  “We don’t have any room in the house, but your welcome to it.  Its got to be better than the ground.”
 Byron was grateful.  So John walked him out to the lean-to with a lamp so he could get situated, and while Byron was sorting out a spot, John said, “You know, you don’t have to go into that big city for a job.  I got plenty to do around here, and we could probably expand things a little more between the two of us.  I ain’t one to tell a fellow what to do, but I could see us doing just fine together.  Just a thought, I know Ellie would like having you around.  Think on it tonight, we’ll talk again the morning.”  With that he bid Byron good night, and went back in the house.
 Again Byron had a fitful night.  He had way too many choices to make, and the farmer’s offer was very tempting with Ellie here and all, but Byron knew what he had to do.
 “I will do as I was told by the old man.” He declared.
 The next morning he rose very early.  He wanted to be gone before John could catch him, because he didn’t want to explain.  However, Ellie came out as he was making his way toward the road.
 “Leaving so early?” Ellie asked.
 “I…” She was looking lovely in the morning light.  “I want to get to the city as soon as possible.”
 “I thought Papa was going to ask you to stay and help out on the farm.” She said.
 “Yeah, that’s a real generous offer, and tempting too, believe me, but the old man told me if I go to the city I can make money.  That’s what a young man like me should do.  Find his fortune, you know?  I’ll come back and see you, though, once I get settled and I’m earning a good living.  I promise.”  He told her.
 She didn’t try to hide her disappointment, she just looked at him.
 His heart sank, but he was resolute.  “Well, I’ll see you.” He said and leaned in to give a kiss on the cheek.  She just stood there watching as he walked away.
 When he got to the city the first thing he did was go to find the sanitation department, there he showed the man his gold coin.  The man broke out in a huge grin.
 “Ah, of course welcome, welcome, I’ve got just the thing for you.” The man roared joyously, as he tucked the coin in his pocket.
 The man’s name was Nate, and he owned the department.  He set Byron up collecting garbage for a reasonable wage.  It wasn’t making him rich but he lived okay and was able to put away a little savings.  Byron worked hard for several months.  Finally, he went to Nate and asked him for a couple of days off so he could go and see Ellie.
 “What do you want with some lonely little farm girl?  No, no, no, what are you thinking?  My friend has nice girl that’s just the right age for you, and she’s built very well, if you know what I mean.  What you need to do is court this girl, because if you marry her then you’ll be in a wealthy family, and that will be good for your future.  I’m telling you marry this girl, it‘ll set you up for life.”  Nate told him.
 So, Byron followed Nate’s advice and began courting Bessie.  She was attractive;  very curvy, and nice looking.  She was a little boisterous for Byron’s taste, and loved being the center of attention.  However, Nate assured him that all of that was good if he wanted to move up in society.  Byron eventually married her.
 During this time Byron continued to work very hard, but now his savings was dwindling and most of his money was spent keeping up with Bessie.  He was given a promotion to head collector, which meant more work and longer hours and a little more pay.
 Bessie got pregnant.  Over the next several years they had three boys.  Bessie and the boys consumed food in phenomenal amounts.  They had to have all the latest fashions and do all the latest things.  They were insatiable.  Byron worked more and more, and got deeper and deeper in debt.  He was getting desperate.
 He went to Nate and told him the problems he was having. 
 “I’ll tell you what you do.  There is a man who lives a little ways outside the city who is very rich.  He lives very frugally, but he’s got money hidden all over his place.  If you go out there, and find out where he hides some, then you can probably get enough to get out of debt.” Nate told him.
 “What, steal it?”  Byron asked.
 “Well, just enough for what you need.  Its not like he needs it all.  You’d be doing it for your family.” Nate explained.
 So, Byron went out to the man’s place.  He snuck around until he realized no one was there, then he began to search.  He searched every nook and cranny outside the house, before he dared go in.  Then he attempted to enter the house, but all the doors were locked.  He was about to give up when he realized that a small window in the uppermost quarters of the house was open.  Determined not to go home empty handed he began a concerted effort to climb to the window. With great effort and ingenuity he arrived at his destination.  Once inside he was standing in an empty attic; completely bare and undecorated.  The only object n the room was a cloth bag with a drawstring top sitting by itself on the floor.  Picking up the bag and pulling open the top, Byron reached in and pulled out a gold coin exactly like the one given to him many years before.
 Suddenly, Byron found himself standing in an underground corridor that was carved from solid earth and braced with rough hewn timber like an ancient mine.  The old man that gave him the coin stood before him.  Other men and women were working in the mine with picks and shovels filling rail-carts with ore.  The place was hot and humid; stuffy.  Everyone was sweating profusely and they all were thin and undernourished. 
 “Welcome home Byron.” The old man smiled, “I’m glad you finally made it.”
 “Its time to join your brothers and sisters.” He said handing him a pickaxe.
 Byron, in his absent minded confusion, took the pickaxe from the old man.  Then the old man disappeared, but Byron could still hear him laughing.  There in that horrid place was where Byron stayed, all his worldly troubles gone for good.

© 2009 C.M. Hoisington

My Review

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I liked it. Good descriptives without overdoing it and you keep me interested in Byron and the choices he has to face. My favorite part about your writing, is that there is a simple ( I mean that as a compliment) tone to it. Almost effortless, but I am sure you put your heart into it..
Good job

Posted 9 Years Ago

reverse of 'The Alchemist' eh....nice touch...gripping narration...

Posted 11 Years Ago

I love the twist at the end, really great story :)

Posted 11 Years Ago

Wow it is a mind-blowing story told with simplicity and surprising ending. It is a good one for you can't tell where it is going.

Posted 12 Years Ago

wow that's a good twist at the end. i really liked your story. awesome man

Posted 14 Years Ago

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5 Reviews
Added on December 22, 2009
Last Updated on December 22, 2009
Tags: A Faerie Tale, story, morality tale, tale, children's story


C.M. Hoisington
C.M. Hoisington

Portland, OR

I am a 45 year old man that has dreamed of being a writer his whole life, but did everything he could to avoid it. I have rid myself (or 'lost' if you will) all unnecessaries, and I live so simply no.. more..