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The summer of 1903 was a hot one for the farms in the little town of Fayette, Missouri. There wasn’t much for my brother and me to do but help our father work in the fields because our financial struggles were really affecting our way of life. School was out, so there were certainly no hopes of getting any rest from this constant labor. One day, we decided it was high time we (my brother Mason and I) had our own little adventure to get our minds off the summer heat. One day, when our dad was working way far out in the fields, Mason and I decided to take a little trip into town.
We had only been there about two or three times before, so it was something we had been looking forward to. We made sure we took as much of our pocket change and allowance money that we could find, in case we found something that we got our hearts set on. The first building we saw getting into town was the theater. It was decided, almost telepathically, that Mason and I wanted nothing more that day, than to see a film.
We paid for our tickets into the theater, and were so excited that we didn’t even bother trying to figure out what movie we had paid to watch. When we sat down in our seats, I noticed that there were no other children in the theater. It was all a bunch of grown up couples, holding hands, and making kissy faces at each other. Mason must have noticed the same thing because he got up and started walking away.
“Mason, where do you think you’re goin’?”
“We’re here to have an adventure, right?”
“Well that’s what I’m doing!”
I had no choice but to follow my little brother, I had no desire to lose him in town, and have to explain to dad later what happened. In all our wandering around the big, old theater, Mason found a door. “Can we go inside?” he asked. I didn’t respond, so he just went right along with his adventure, and found that the door was unlocked. As we stepped inside, I immediately noticed that the room was very cool and very musty smelling. Mason and I could hear the laughter of people from above, so we figured that this room must have been directly under the theater.
Against my advising, Mason decided to start looking around in all the boxes and old films that were lying around. By this time, it was getting near dark, and I figured that dad must have realized that we were gone by this time. “We should probably start heading home,” I said. “Awww, come on Rach! I’m just finding the interesting stuff. What happened to our adventure?” he questioned, knowing that he would get his way. I agreed to thirty more minutes of looking around.
Twenty minutes had passed of searching through boxes that were just filled with useless junk, when I happened to come across an old, very beautifully crafted chest. To my surprise, the chest was open, and inside, there were hundreds of extremely old looking photographs. As I was leafing through them all, I noticed one very peculiar picture. It was of six people, who were dressed almost like royalty, and four of which very closely resembled my mother (who passed about 3 days after my brother’s birth), my father, my grandfather, and my grandmother. My mother was wearing a crown, and a very large and beautiful ruby necklace. The other two people in the picture were men who I did not recognize, but I decided to take the photograph with me when I went home. I did not mention my finding to Mason, but I calmly told him it was time to go, and we made our way back home.
When we got back to our old farmhouse, it was about 9:30 p.m. My father had suspected that Mason and I had traveled off somewhere, but to my astonishment, he was not angry. Instead, he apologized for “working us kids so hard all the time”. He said that he was grateful we took some time to ourselves for the day. I was so relieved to hear this, I decided to show my dad the photograph I found earlier in the day. Suddenly, his attitude turned from sorry and sympathetic, to angry and confused. I told my dad how I came across the photo, and he warned me that if I ever went back to that place again, I would never be allowed off the property without his supervision. I knew by this reaction, that the photo was definitely of my family.
I was so curious about his reaction, I decided that I had to go back and find out more. I waited about three weeks from the time that I visited the theater first, and had Mason cover for me so that I could make my way into town. I made my journey all the way back to the same place that I found the peculiar photograph the first time. This time, my astonishing discovery was in a glass case under a white cloth, and it was the ruby necklace my mother was wearing in the photograph.
This time when I got home, I demanded answers from my father. I assume that he felt bad about keeping secrets from me, and the way he treated me three weeks earlier. So he put aside the fact that I had snuck away from home, and sat Mason and me down in our living room. “I’m sorry I have kept a very large secret from the both of you, for a very long time.” he explained. “You should know that you are not ordinary farm children. The both of you come from a long line of royalty, in the country of Italy. You’re grandparents were the king and queen, and your mother is the only child they had, so she was to become queen. I loved your mother unconditionally, and I knew that when I married her, I would be expected to become king. I was not excited about this title I would be receiving, but after our marriage, I accepted it completely. After your mother passed away, I didn’t want the both of you to have all the pressures of ruling, so I fled the country so that we could start over a new life here.” He repeatedly apologized because he knew that we had a hard life here. I was astonished at his announcement, and angry, and understanding, all at the same time. So, I sat next to my father, who was now crying, and assured him that I was completely happy with how our family lived now.