|Duncan remained between the wall and the pile of hay in the run-down barn while he listened to the clatter of hooves as they departed. A sudden sound of dragging feet caused him to crouch behind the pile of hay.
"Don't you come back without it." he heard a woman's voice crescendo.
"Don't you come back no more." the voice yelled close now. He could detect in the shrill the lilting of missing teeth and the weariness of age.
He heard the thump of someone sitting heavily.
"I guess if you said so" a voice trailed in resignation and then continued in a placating tone.
"I'd have to pack my things and go."
"Now woman..., listen woman, don't-a treat me this-a way" the old man's wailing voice started again.
"Cause I'll find it some day." he continued with surprising determination.
It didn't impress the shrew since she kept the same tune.
"Don't care if you do 'cause it's understood" the old woman shrieked again, which caused Duncan to cover his ears.
"You ain't got no gold, you just ain't no good." she then spat with contempt.
"What you said?" Duncan heard the old man change his tactics as he stood with a grunt and left.
Duncan listened to the sound of dragging steps when the old woman followed, lacking an audience. He then bent to retrieve the leather roll he had stepped on. Unrolling the frail parchment inside, he discerned, in the moonlight, the crude outline of a map.
He waited until he could hear the heavy snoring coming from the dark cottage. It was plain the ol' man would only dig himself into the grave.
He untied the hefty pouch from his belt and put it on the worn out table.
It was a fair trade.
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