The parable of the Treasure Chest

A rich banker decided to treat himself to a luxury cruise. He did not tell colleagues, friends or family where he was going because he did not want anyone to spoil his enjoyment by trying to contact him.

While he was away, he thought about how successful he had been and decided that he had accumulated enough wealth to retire from his work and explore the world. However, in an ideal situation, he thought, he would like one last big influx of money to give himself a cushion against inflation and even be able to give something to good causes. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful” he said out-loud to himself, “if I could discover treasure while I am on this trip and then I would be happy”.

A few days later, he went up on deck in the late evening to enjoy some ‘me’ time, while everyone else seemed to be dining, taking advantage of the on-board entertainment or safely in their cabin. A freak event knocked him overboard. By some miracle he survived the drop, avoided being sucked into the ship’s propellers and found himself floating in a warm sea watching the boat moving quickly away from him. He tried to shout and wave, but no-one noticed that he had gone. He was not sure where he was, not having paid much attention to the cruise itinerary, but when he looked around, he thought that he could see land and so swam towards it.

When he came ashore, he was elated. Exhausted, he crawled higher up the beach seeking somewhere to rest and recover before he set out to find civilisation. The only shelter he could find was a rock, but he flopped out beside it and fell asleep. He awoke to daylight, thirsty and hungry but the first thing he saw was the corner of a wooden box sticking out of the ground by his side. He managed to dig it out with his bare hands, opened it and discovered to his amazement that it was a treasure chest full of gold coins and jewellery. He knew that the bullion weight of the money alone would be worth a fortune but realised that some of items would probably have a greater saleroom value to collectors because of their antiquity. It seemed that his wish for greater fortune had come true! It was only then that it struck him that he was alone on a small island, surrounded by an unfamiliar ocean, with no sign of fresh water, anything to eat nor any means of communicating with other people.

Paul Newman

May 2019