An Italian Folktale
“Giorgio! Can you please help me with these baskets, I need to get them to market before the sun rises.”
“Father, can’t you see I’m sleeping. I’ll help you when I wake up.”
“Giorgio, can you hold this ladder steady while I clean the roof?”
“Father, I’m having my breakfast, a young boy needs to build up his strength.”
“…Giorgio, can you help me now?”
“Sorry father, I can’t keep Matteo waiting, I have to go fishing now. Bye!”
Giorgio always had an excuse. He was either too tired, too hungry, too sociable, too sad, too happy, too busy. Busy doing what? His father could never figure that out.
Giorgio’s father was growing old. He had to work hard on the farm to grow enough vegetables and herbs to sustain the family. Without any help from Giorgio, it was becoming too much for him.
One day, Antonio, a dear friend from the old father’s past came to stay. He was a large, cheerful man, who was always full of ideas, but most importantly he was perceptive.
After just a morning of observing Giorgio, he had seen how the father was at his wits end on how to get the boy to do even an ounce of work. Pleading, cajoling and even threats had no effect on the lazy Giorgio.
Antonio whispered to the father, “If you trust me, my friend, you will follow my lead.”
Antonio disappeared into his room for a while and when he came out, he held an old piece of leather in his hands.
“Giorgio, come here quick, I have the opportunity of a lifetime for you!”
“Antonio, I’m in the middle of sun tanning, why don’t you come over to me?”
“But Giorgio, this is a treasure map.”
Upon hearing the golden words, ‘treasure map’, Giorgio leapt from his deckchair and scrambled over to Antonio. Antonio explained that he had just discovered this treasure map deep in the cupboard of his room. It was a map of one of the fields that Giorgio’s father owned, and it promised that 100 silver coins were to be found in that field. Giorgio snatched the map from Antonio, grabbed a spade and ran to the field eager to find the treasure.
Antonio and the boy’s father followed slowly behind. When they arrived at the field, they were amazed to see Giorgio digging with gusto. But he wasn’t really getting anywhere. The ground was too hard, too solid to dig up.
“Hey Giorgio!” shouted Antonio from across the field, “why don’t you water the field, then it’ll be easier for you to dig.”
Giorgio followed his advice with such haste that his father had to do a double take to check if this boy was really his son. He had never seen him working, let alone working so fast.
The next morning, despite it being a Sunday, Giorgio was up before dawn to continue his treasure hunt. When he saw the villagers passing by on their way to church, he grew protective over his field. He decided to scatter manure over the ground, to keep any busybodies away.
Later that afternoon, the two older men visited Giorgio at the treasure field. They followed behind Giorgio who was plowing hard. As they walked and talked, Antonio surreptitiously dropped what looked like tiny handfuls of dust along the way.
After Giorgio had plowed the entire field to no avail, he thrust the treasure map at Antonio and exclaimed with frustration that he had just wasted his time with this treasure-less hunt. The field was empty.
Soon Giorgio was back to his usual ways, busy doing nothing.
By this time, a few weeks had passed since Antonio’s visit, and the plan was ripe for the picking – quite literally.
“Giorgio, come look at this!”
“Father, I’m playing solitaire.”
“It’s your field, it’s full of treasure!”
In a flash, Giorgio was at his father’s side. The whole field was now covered in gleaming green leafy spinach!
“Those are vegetables father. Where’s the treasure?”
“Giorgio, Giorgio, Giorgio, you are looking at your treasure, it was in the field all the time. The spinach will earn you 100 silver coins at market.”
And so, the embarrassed Giorgio discovered the treasure of hard work rewarded.
From then on, he became a real farmer, not just a farmer’s son, busy growing his own produce and reaping the benefits of his labour.