A man renovating a house knocked down a loose brick to discover a strange key inside. He learned a valuable lesson by following the trail of the key.
John Smith was among the many young men on the streets searching for a way of supporting themselves and their families. All were looking for the American dream, to become millionaires.
He had previously lived in a small town before he was allowed to go to university. Tuition was expensive so he needed to work to support his mom. Her husband had died years earlier and she had taken on most of the household duties.
He resolved to make things better for his family. He was so determined that he kept putting off his visit to his mother and a call with his sister.
John was too busy studying and working. John read every book on finance. But he was too busy learning. To build wealth like that, took years. To care for his family, and himself, he needed it immediately.
His life was changed when he became a New York City construction worker. That day, his boss had briefed him on his task — knocking down the inner walls of an old, dilapidated mansion the team was renovating.
It was hard work. The engines that were capable of making it easier couldn’t reach the insides so the team had to use heavy mallets, which zapped their strength with every swing. John was sweating for minutes.
Once, a drop of perspiration slid into his eye, causing a burning sensation that made the already stressed John annoyed. He blamed the wall and took a strong swing at it. It smashed a lot of bricks, including one that fell on his leg.
“Owww!!!” He yelled.
“Quit your yapping boy!” Another older worker shouted from the post.
These were the veterans. They were not happy to whine and John didn’t enjoy being reprimanded when he expressed his feelings. He took the brick to task and attacked it.
He grabbed it and was about to throw it against the wall. Then he noticed that the inner section was hollowed in the shape of a key. The key was found on top of the bricks and sandy material he had just ripped off in anger.
John could not believe that a lock was available for such a bizarre key. But he refused to reveal the key to his supervisor, or any other workers.
He took it home with him and puzzled over it for hours, thinking about various conspiracy scenarios it could be linked to. Careful inspection of the key revealed a strange symbol and the initials, “E.I.”
After hours of poring over internet articles and documents, he found out that the bricks were made in a factory that belonged to a wealthy man who reached the peak of his wealth towards the end of the 19th century. His name was Egan.
John was exuberant. John was excited.
If there’s even a chance that there are riches at the end of this road, and I can get them right now, why shouldn’t I try? It’s exactly what you wanted, isn’t it? John thought to himself.
John was on summer break at school so he could make the trip to the factory he’d read about in the internet article. John looked around and found nothing.
He was about to give up when he tripped and fell. Again his annoyance got the best of him, and he stomped on the offensive ground. Instead of hearing a muted thud, he heard a woody thud.
A trap door was found in the ground, shaped like a bunker. It was secured with a strange-looking lock that miraculously opened as soon as he inserted the key he found to reveal a staircase that went deeper underground.
Although the sunlight only got to the fourth step of the vacuum, it didn’t stop John, a brave and desperate man, from entering. He stepped into the vacuum to find it pitch black and a musty scent.
He had a backpack with all the necessary tools and a torch in his bag. His surroundings were filled with riches, including old dollars bills, fur coats and paintings that had been ruined by moths and dust.
John was furious at the waste of such treasures. He had spent days tracking down the lock, and it had indeed led him to riches — only most of it was ruined. He left the area unaltered and returned to his apartment.
After a few days, he decided he would keep his discovery a secret until he had valued the contents. He still hoped to obtain a decent amount of money for them.
He couldn’t find an official to appraise it for him so he hired Madeline, a history major. A girl he had liked since his first year on campus but had never had the nerve to speak to for fear of what to say.
“Hey,” He called her one day. “I’m John.”
“Madeline,” She answered. “Can I help you?”
“Yes, please. See I have this thing I want to —uh — value. It’s of — um — historical importance,” He stutters.
“Okay? What is it?” She asked, and a glint entered her eye.
It was the same glint John had in his eye when he took up the challenge to find the lock. It calmed him.
“Come with me and you’ll see,” He said it, suddenly confident.
John took Madeline to the factory. She examined the area and confirmed that it belonged all to Egan Ivanovsky. “He was a wealthy immigrant from the Russian Empire who once owned a brick factory in New York,” He told her.
“Continue,” John replied.
“Well, according to the books, Ivanovsky was a very greedy person who coveted everything he saw. Once, a landowner near bankruptcy came to ask a favour from him, and in return for his help, Ivanovsky asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage.”
“He had seen the comely woman — her name was Meredith — and one day he approached her but she refused him. What she didn’t know was what Ivanovsky wanted, he got.
“Some speculate, though with no proof, that Ivanovsky was somehow responsible for her father’s bankruptcy. He knew that her father would beg, and when he did, he asked for the girl. They were married that week.”
“He was terrible,” John said, horrified.
“That’s not the half of it. Meredith’s father purchased land with the money he received from Ivanovsky and built a successful factory. Ivanovsky also had his eyes on this and used his influence to make his father-in-law a criminal so that he could take control of the factory.
“When it seemed like the man would get out, Ivanovsky arranged for him to die in prison. Meredith combined two and two and committed suicide to beg revenge on her husband. Her death shook him. For his last years, he was a lonely man. He had no friends, loved no one and nothing but his money.
“When he died, no one shed a tear or said anything kind about him and as it turns out, his wealth also turned to dust,” Madeline finished.
“But why did Ivanovsky chase money when there was no one to spend it on?” John wondered.
He thought about what he had discovered all day and decided that it was important to report the discovery to a historical museum. Later that day, he called his relatives and was present through their conversations.
He also kept seeing Madeline while working hard to make his first million.
What did this story teach us?
- Greed leads directly to destruction. Ivanovsky had a lot of greed and the power to take everything he wanted. Meredith, a young girl who he killed after his greed, eventually lost her life. Many people were saddened by his greed, and no one batted an eyelid after his death.
- Take time for your family members. John worked so hard, he rarely spoke to his family and visited his mother, who had worked tirelessly to give him a good quality of life. While he was busy at school and work, that did not mean he was able to avoid his family. He became so busy trying to create a new life for himself, that he forgot about the one he was living.
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The story was inspired by the reader, but this account was written by a professional writer. All names have been changed to protect identities and maintain privacy. We would love to hear your story. It might change someone’s mind.