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The Locked Tower: Chapter 7   

The three brothers’ father demands to be taken to the king to reveal the secret



heir father had not stepped outside of his hovel for many years. He looked delighted as his sons carried him outside.

“This is the most exciting thing that’s happened to me in a long time.” He smiled as Albanus hoisted him onto the back of the horse. “Ever since I attended that public execution many years ago in the town square, my life’s been boring and predictable.”

Through the streets of Rome they traveled, their father staring around him in fascination. They arrived at the palace, and Albanus spoke to the guard at the gate. The brothers entered, supporting their father through each long, royally decorated hallway.

Decimus did not look pleased to see them when they entered his royal throne room.

“So, you’ve returned with another person. Let me guess, he’s another bogus historian who claims that he knows about the locked tower?”

“Actually, this is our father.”


“He says he knows the story behind the locked tower and the grass inside the chest.”

“Then speak.”

“First, allow me to say what an honor this is.” Their father swallowed hard. “Never in my life did I imagine I would be standing here before the emperor of Rome himself. Having lived as long as I have, I’ve seen many things and been many places. But this tops it all.”

“Oh?” Decimus yawned.

“It is my greatest privilege to be of some service to Rome. Ever since I was a child, I would dream of the day I could serve my people. ”

“Anything else you’d like to share with me?” Decimus growled, his foot tapping impatiently against the floor.

“Father…” Albanus coughed loudly.

“Let me get straight to the point. The secret behind the chest was passed down through the elders of Rome. I heard it from the elders in my family, and since  I’m likely the oldest man alive in Rome, there is no one else who knows what I am about to share with you.

“The grasses were hidden in the chest to be used as a weapon against the Jews. I don’t recall what exactly happens to the things inside the chest, but I do know what you must do to activate the powers within it.

“The chest must be placed underneath the table of a Jewish family, specifically during their holiday of Passover. After that, things will occur on their own without further actions being needed.”

“This sounds preposterous.” Decimus snorted. “Can’t you tell us what will happen?”

“No, because I don’t remember, or I was never told. Either way, if things go well, the Jewish nation will be dealt a deadly blow. How, though, I cannot explain to you. Whatever the chest contains will first strike a great blow to the local Jews here in Rome and then will spread to the Jewish people around the world.”

“Hmmm…” Decimus stroked his long chin. “Alright then, old man, let’s try this out. It so happens their holiday is close. I just received briefings from my generals regarding their peculiar customs and their request to bake their strange flat breads and other bizarre things they practice. All of it, of course, is a thorn in the side of Rome. We are much too kind and accepting of them. Nothing would gladden me more than to see this chest harm them in some way. So, who needs to bring this chest inside their home? Any Jew or…?”

“I know of two Jewish boys who live near me. We can summon their father and have him take the chest.”

“Very well.” Decimus looked to Albanus. “Go get him.”

It so happened that the father of these boys, Rav Yerucham, was a tremendous tzaddik and mekubal. He was, in fact, the chief rav of the Jewish community in Rome. When he was summoned to the palace, he wrote a will for his family in case anything happened to him. Unlike the naive gentile population, the Jews were never fooled by the fake virtuous overtures of their new leader. Almost all of Rome’s leaders were brutal men who hated their Jewish citizens with a passion passed down from Eisav.

Rav Yerucham entered Decimus’s room with a bowed head, his heart pounding inside his chest.

“Ah, beloved Rabbi, don’t be frightened. I mean no harm.” Decimus flashed a wide smile. “I just need a favor from one of my faithful citizens, and who better to trust than a Jew?”

“Whatever it is, I will do my best. You know that the Jewish people are faithful to the government of whichever land they reside in.”

“Good, good. I was hoping you would say that.” Decimus led Rav Yerucham over to the chest. “You see this chest? It contains tremendous treasures, all my most precious jewels. I’m not sure if you heard, but a neighboring country has been making threats to invade Rome. While it’s unlikely anyone will ever breach our defenses and get inside the capitol, I still would feel safer if my precious chest was stored outside of the palace for a few weeks.”

“You are entrusting me with a chest full of your greatest possessions?”

“Don’t look so surprised. Aside from the fact that you Jews can be trusted, I also know your house is likely the last place an invader would go looking to find the emperor’s treasures.”

“Okay, I can keep the chest inside of my house. We can bury it in my backyard until—“

“No, no! That won’t do at all. I have a better idea. I want you to use the chest as your table for the next several weeks until I request for you to return it.”

“As… my table? But why?”

“Just another layer of precaution. No one would ever discover my chest when it has a tablecloth on it! And look! It’s quite an enormous chest, big enough for any man’s table. There’s no reason for you to refuse this request of mine. Nor do you have a choice.”

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 908)

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