She didn’t understand why, but when the short, balding, slightly hunched man approached her with a mysterious gleam in his eye, she nearly fainted. As she stumbled, he quickly grabbed her arm to steady her, and she felt a jolt of electricity shoot through her body. She began to sweat and felt a chill run through her as she watched him slowly pull a little green satchel out of his coat. Holding the green satchel in front of her eyes he said, “Follow me.” She couldn’t take her eyes off the satchel, it seemed to glow! She had to know what was in it!
As she followed him, she remembered a story her mother had told her about a man roaming the streets, in search of his prey. When he found them, he would take them to his carriage, where he would transfer them through time, and hold them captive for seven years. He would teach them things, and introduce them to a lifestyle that was unlike anything they had ever known. He would treat them as royalty and he denied them nothing they requested, except to return home. After the seven years, he would give them the choice to stay or to return to the exact moment in time they’d left. If they returned, after all that had happened, their life would never be the same. If they chose to stay, they would never see their family and friends again. She tried to remember the name of the story; she knew that was the key to escape his spell.
Following him in silence, she noticed everything around her; as if it was the last time she would ever see it. The sound of the wind as it blew through the cobbled streets was like a song that wounded her heart. The lights in the windows of the homes they passed made her ache with loneliness for her mother, and the father she had never known. The distant train’s whistle reminded her of the time that her mother had taken her on a trip; the time they spent together was magical. They talked about everything, and that was the first time her mother had told her the story of the little man, she could recall it word for word, but not the name of the story.
The warmth of the sun made her recall the times she had spent running with friends through the fields to their favorite swimming spot, where they would spend hours talking and laughing. She had shared the story of the little green satchel with them, and they had talked about what it would be like to live in the little man’s world and have everything you wanted. To snap your fingers and have someone come running to do your bidding, no matter what it was. They would ask for exotic foods, chocolates, and an endless supply of gold and jewels to wear. They never talked about what it would be like to come back to their lives after the seven years were over. She had thought about it and didn’t think it would be so bad, no time would have passed; no one would even know you were gone. You would have the memories of the time you spent living in luxury, why would that be so bad?
She had asked her mom that question once and a sadness had come to her eyes as she said, “You’re heart would break if I answered that question dear. Just promise me that you won’t forget the secret to breaking the spell, if you find yourself following the little man with the green satchel.” She couldn’t remember the secret, she had mixed it up in her mind with the thoughts of what the man was carrying in the bag. Was it how he traveled through time? Did he carry some of the jewels that she would soon be wearing? Maybe it was a delicious selection of wonderful treats from the future! How could she not go with him? The experience would be something she could share with her friends and tell her children when she was grown.
A short distance ahead was the carriage. It was like nothing she had ever seen before! It was bright blue and seemed to shimmer in the sunlight, and was metal, not wood as every carriage she’d ever seen. The shape of it reminded her of a tiger she had seen in the circus and it looked as if it were ready to fly. When he opened the door, she looked inside and could see a small room with rows of lights that spelled out today’s date, September 22, 1843. She looked at the man and a shadow of a smile crossed his lips as he said, “You look just like your mother. Now, step inside and let’s be on our way, we have a long way to travel.”
It suddenly hit me, standing there watching as he opened the green satchel and passed it to me. As I looked inside to see what secrets he had, I remembered what my mother had said to me. “When he hands you the little green satchel you’ll be tempted to look inside of it, please don’t, if you do, I promise that you’ll regret it. It will take an enormous amount of will to turn your head and run away, but if you don’t, and you look inside, please say something for me to the little man. Tell him that I’m sorry for leaving him, and to please leave our little girl alone.
Would you have looked in the little green satchel?
What do you think was in it?