They dug it out of the old green hill. Wiped off the dirt and shined it up.
They stood back and they looked.
One cocked his head. It’s so very… what’s the word I’m thinking?
You’re thinking yellow, said the second. They called it yellow, in their time. Plus, I believe there’s a bit of black.
It looks so frosty-fragile, said the third, the word-keeper, the eldest. Like it might crumple up to tinfoil if I sneezed.
See the weaving, skeeving cracks? said First. That ain’t no carbonic growth, oh no. That’s glass.
The old glass. The real standing-water.
It’s doubtful so.
Believe me. And this one’s factory-made, true-blue antique. See here…
The first among them took three step towards the treasure; the other two stepped back in shock.
You’re not to touch! hissed Third. Our prize, our spinnings, ours earned, ours to spend!
First bared his teeth, not unfriendly. But not yet ours, he said. If we’re not sure. Best to check. Best make certain. Besides, who’s afraid of the old, old past?
The first stepped closer, lightly, gently. Reached out so slowly to touch the glass, finger traced along the line of fracture.
A sliver fell away, dropped into his hand and gashed him there. A tiny drop of colour, blue blood, ember blood. He flinched back, but didn’t drop the piece of glass. It was far too valuable. It was only a tiny stab.
The others stared, gog-eyed. First stood motionless. Then he grunted, low and deep.
See? he said, exonerated. Only, truly glass. Really glass. The best of the best! And this is metal, and paint – with perhaps a smattering of plastic. We’ve hit the jackpot!
They whooped for joy, dancing around wildly like bugs on fire. They climbed all over the old, old thing, and inside its ancient cabin. They touched and stroked, snapped still-views, took dustings. Then they called home, sat back and waited for their prize to be collected.
Not long later, the Collectors came down and judged their treasure. They found it good and gave it a green pass. As the yellow-black-yellow machine lurched out of the earth and up into the arms of the Collectors, First sat proudly in the cabin. It was their treasure, but it was he who had called it right, he who’d faced the peril of diseased history and found it weaker than himself.
He sat in the cabin, all puffed up proud, and he drummed several fingers against a metal panel beside the wheel, a panel which he could not read, but which once read:
CAUTION: DANGER: ROTATING DRIVELINE. TRACTOR SHOULD NOT BE OPERATED NEAR CHILDREN. HOT EXHAUST: EXERCISE CAUTION WHEN STARTING ENGINE.