A Story by Peter Rogerson

Maybe a children's story but not necessarily so...


It was the sort of day that fun ought to be made of. The sun was shining, it was a hot day, and two boys were beginning to get bored, it being the summer holidays, the last they’d enjoy before going to a new secondary school in September.

Let’s go to the copse?” suggested Bobby to James.

The copse was a small collection of old trees left as an unwanted cluster after the estate that the two boys lived on had been built barely two years ago as part of the post world war two building bonanza. But this cluster of trees hadn’t been hacked down like all the rest and was the remnant of a once proud stretch of forest that had stretched for miles in every direction.

What for?” asked James.

I know a tree,” said Bobby, straining his imagination because in all honesty he couldn’t really think of anything exciting enough to warrant their investigation. Not in the copse, anyway. But they needed an adventure and somewhere to find one, and the copse was as good a place to start as anywhere.

There are trees there,” agreed James, puzzled.

I know, silly. But there’s one special tree… my cousin told me, it’s exceptional because of the treasure!”

James was one hundred percent sure that Bobby was fibbing, but they were at a loose end. It was Sunday, they’d both been angels and gone to Sunday School that morning evening though ordinary school was on holiday It was there where Bobby had pushed a potato up the exhaust of Mr Sanders’s Ford Popular when the hymns had been sung and they were going home, and James had sneaked into a back room and pinched a bottle of communion wine only to discover it was blackcurrant squash because Mr Sanders was teetotal and demanded that everyone who went near their chapel was the same. So Christ’s blood was fruit squash, and don’t anyone dare complain.

What did your cousin say, then?” he asked after a long pause during which the two boys tried to think of some place better to go, and failed.

He said there was more than a pirate’s hoard in the hollow of one particular tree,” grinned Bobby when it was obvious that the copse was going to be the epicentre of some kind of adventure.

Pirates sail the seven seas, they don’t hide their hoards so far from the seaside,” pointed out James.

You’d think so, but old Green Moustache was different. My cousin told me,” argued Bobby, struggling to find logic in a fiction that defied anything logical.

Green Moustache?” asked James, and then he laughed, “did he have a runny nose like the Wharton kid usually has? You know, all snotty and green?”

There was a Blackbeard so there might have been a Green Moustache,” defended Bobby. “Anyway, it don’t matter what his name was. He hid his treasure in a particular tree, and we’ve got to find it.”

They set off down the road that led towards the copse they had been on about. It was 1954, nobody had heard of the Beatles yet nor would for ages, and neither family had a television set so there was precious little to do if they went back to their homes unless they curled up with library books, which is fun when you’re on your own but not fun when you’re with a mate.

The copse, when they got there, was deserted as usual. After all, not much fun could be had from the small selection of spindly trees that were all it had growing in it, besides a couple of large clumps of stinging nettles and some brambles that bore sharp thorns which made them most uninteresting.

No-one here,” commented James, good at stating the obvious.

I’ll find that tree unless it’s been cut down and carted off.,” said Bobby, hoping there would at least be a tree with a hollow crevice in it where treasure might have been hidden.

Nobody cuts down trees here!” retorted James, “they’re not worth the effort.”

Look over there!” pointed Bobby, indicating the largest tree in the copse, though to use the word largest was really an exaggeration.

The two boys, though, made their way towards where Bobby had been pointing.

The tree, when they got there after scrabbling over rubble carelessly left by the builders, did at least look promising. There was a crack in its withered trunk, not exactly what you’d call a hollow but at least it was there.

What are you doing here?” asked a voice from nowhere, and both boys had to stop themselves from giving their emotions away by jumping.

Who’re you?” demanded Bobby.

They both knew the girl who stepped out of the shadows between three scrawny saplings and grinned at them. It was Alison Dickens and they almost hated her. They almost hated her because at school she always put her hand up when Mrs Grimthorpe asked a question and got the answer right every single time, but most of all they hated her because she was a girl and what’s more she’d passed the eleven plus and would be going to the Grammar after the summer holidays, and they wouldn’t.

The boys were too young and foolish to see girls as being worth spending time with or calling friends. Alison Dickens, though, was one step worse than most girls because everyone said she was pretty and with enormously long hair she plainly was, and at the same time both boys knew she was too clever for them to compete with in stuff that took brains without them ending up looking anything but silly.

We’re after a hoard of treasure,” said James, looking sideways at Bobby as if to say you started it now you get us out of this. But what happened next shocked both of them.

The pirate’s treasure?” asked Alison.

How do you know about that?” asked Bobby, “I thought it was something made up by my cousin to fool us!”

Everyone knows about it!” exclaimed Angela, “it’s in the hollow of this tree,” and she pointed to the stump of a tree that had been cut down ages ago.

But the tree’s gone,” shouted James, unable to control his voice.

That’s the trouble with boys,” sighed Angela, “they don’t know how to keep quiet when there’s a secret around, and they can never see the obvious.”

But it’s just a stump,” said James a great deal more quietly, “and there’s no room in tree stumps for gold and silver and pieces of eight!”

So look at it and what do you see, big head?” asked Angela.

A tree stump. Dead wood. And nothing,” sighed Bobby. I can’t see my cousin meaning that!”

Then look here,” grinned Angela, and she stooped down by the tree, her long hair almost touching the soil around the stump.

There was a sort of fissure in the side of the stump, not much bigger than the crevice on the other nearby tree, one certainly not big enough for either boy to poke all of his hand in just on the off chance that a pirate from the olden days had tucked a few jewels in it.

Angela gently brushed her fingers against the tree stump, and then looked, smiling, up at the two boys.

See?” she asked, and both Bobby and James looked at her puzzled before shaking their heads.

Real treasure,” she added, and carefully withdrew her hand.

And there it was: her treasure. Growing like a fragile infant plant was a green and delicate shoot bearing on it one embryonic leaf.

What is it?” asked James, thinking he understood but not quite sure.

A child of the dead tree,” said Angela quietly, “and it’s treasure all right. You see that, don’t you?”

I see a weed,” muttered Bobby.

Just a weed,” agreed James.

Angela stood up and shook her head. “Maybe it looks like a weed,” she said quietly, “but to me it’s treasure! It will flourish if we leave it alone, and grow into a brand new tree. And we all know what trees give us, don’t we?”

Timber?” suggested James.

Conkers?” asked Bobby.

Not just those things,” smiled Angela, “they also give us the air we breathe. Weren’t you listening to Mrs Grimthorpe at the end of last term? There aren’t anywhere near enough trees around, and without them…”

Well?” asked Bobby and James together.

Without them we’ll just suffocate, everyone” whispered Angela, “which makes this little green shoot the most precious treasure we’ll ever see.”

© Peter Rogerson 13.04.22


© 2022 Peter Rogerson

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A wonderful story Peter. It is a story for older children and adults. I liked the need to seek and learn. The final lesson was amazing. We do need the trees. Thank you for sharing the outstanding story.

Posted 1 Year Ago

Peter Rogerson

1 Year Ago

I love reviews like this one. Thanks very much! When I started this story I had a much more pedestri.. read more
Coyote Poetry

1 Year Ago

You did well my friend and you are welcome. I am a tree hugger myself.

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1 Review
Added on April 13, 2022
Last Updated on April 13, 2022
Tags: school holidays, boys, girl, copse, tree stump


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 79 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..