THWACK! THWACK! My machete cut cleanly through the thick rainforest underbrush. Where was it? I've been out here for a week searching for the ramblings of an old man!

"Ouch!" I exclaimed in confusion. I looked at my phantom and it was just a broken vine. In frustration I aimed at it and slashed it with my machete. A wall of green fell down to the ground and I saw a small clear pool surrounded by rocks. I approached warily and saw a glint of gold. I gasped as I looked at the two-and-a-half foot high object.

"So it's true," I said aloud, "It's really true," I rubbed my eyes and looked again to make sure it was still there. The Golden Wishing Harp! Sheathing my machete I climbed down to the pool and waded across. I did not seem to be able to get there fast enough, but finally I pulled myself onto the rock slab the harp was sitting upon, gasping to get oxygen back into my lungs. Once my breathing regulared, I turned onto my side to look at the harp. It had a mystical glow that took in everything within a foot.

I slowly sat up and pondered whether or not I should touch it. It looked so fragile, like a card house. I gradually gathered my courage and reached out to touch it. When my fingertips barely touched the top I heard soft singing. I immediately withdrew my fingers and the singing stopped.

"What is this magic?" I asked.

Something took me over and the small harp was in my lap and I was fingering a strange song, heavenly voices joined in an exquisite chorus. It seemed like a lovely lifetime before the music ceased and the harp was, as before, sitting next to me on the stone slab. I breathed laboriously and a greediness took me over. I carefully wrapped the harp into my bedroll and strapped in to my pack. I waded across the pool with new exhilaration. I walked quickly all the way back to my camp and immediately made preparations to go back home.

* * *

"What a beautiful harp!" exclaimed Mr. Chandler, "Where ever did you get it?"

"I bought it at an auction when I was in New York," I lied, chewing the end of my black cigar.

"Is that real gold?" asked Mrs. Rittenhouse.

"To be sure!" I said feigning resentment.

The mute music Professor walked over and made hand signs to Mr. Ravelli, "He wants-a to know if he can-a play the harp," he said in his thick Italian accent.

"No!" I said excitedly, "No, it doesn't play it's just an artistic statue," I lied, chewing my black mustache.

I was asked more ignorant questions throughout the evening as the party continued. I was glad when everyone bade me farewell and left for their own houses. I finally was able to be alone with my treasure.

I walking into the sitting room and sat down in an armchair, the harp appeared in my lap and I started playing, as before. I played, and the supernatural voices crooned. Then, I was sitting in the chair and the harp was where it had been before I picked it up. I thought it curious that I never remembered either picking it up or setting it down.

I walked over to the harp and examined everything about it. It was perfect. then I noticed a flaw. This flaw was so small it was hard to see with the naked eye. It was thin as a hair and an inch long. A crack!

I rubbed the crack with my thumb. I did not hear the unearthly voices but a screech like an awful violinist playing on an out of tune violin. I removed my thumb and I saw the crack was bigger and I no longer had to touch the harp to hear the screeching noise. I rubbed rapidly and furiously; the noise kept increasing in volume.

All at once the harp flew into fifteen shards and six-inch high, winged creatures came flying out. Moving two and fro like autumn leaves in an enraged wind. Then a larger one of these beings came from the shards and looked at me with a piercing stare. It advanced and the screech was unbearable. It opened its mouth and all noise stopped until it spoke.

It spoke like the notes of a softly playing piccolo, "Why have you disturbed the Golden Harp?"

"I-I-I was t-told it was a w-w-w-ishing harp," I stuttered.

"What is your wish?" asked the dark being.

"To be famous around the world," I answered confidently.

"Your wish is granted," said the being in a sly tone and it vanished into dark purple smoke.

The screeching stared again and my throat felt like candle wax. I looked down at my fingers and they were melting, just like a candle. I cried out as my heart burst and I slipped into unconsciousness.

* * *

"This is baffling!" cried out the policeman.

"He was-a just fine-a yesterday!" said Mr. Ravelli, "I was-a at his-a party!"

The Professor shook his head and let out a sympathetic whistle.

"I just don't know what to do!" exclaimed the policeman, "He's melted, just like a candle!"

They all looked down and the pile of flesh-wax. the only thing remaining of Captain Geoffrey T. Spaulding was his black-rimmed glasses.

The End.