There is a story that has evolved over the ages about a
priest in Mexico who was evil and had no respect for man or for god. He only had
a few jobs around the church, including collecting the monies for the offering
and ringing the bells to tell the people that the church service was about to
begin. Along with his evil, he had plenty of greed and as he collected the money
from the collection plate, he would take some of it and keep it for himself. He
would keep the money and place it in a chest that he had hidden in secret. Once
the chest was full, he decided he would bury the money and kill a man so that
the dead man’s skeleton may protect his buried treasure.
Part of the priest’s plan was to go back to Spain
with the treasure he had absconded from the congregation. However, a week before
he was due to set sail, he became sick with a very high fever and passed away.
While he was on his deathbed, he repented of the horrible things he had done in
his lifetime, including stealing money from the people of the church. He
believed that his soul would not rest until the money had been returned to God.
With his last breath, he whispered to the boy that had been tending to him,
“Follow the bells. They will lead you to the treasure.”
The boy paid no attention to the dying man but
there was a sweeper in the hallway just outside the priest’s room who had
overheard what was said. The sweeper was a poor man trying to provide for his
family and he wanted a better life for them and for himself. The following week
he would take his shovel and set out to the gardens in the monastery to try to
find the buried treasure. He never found anything until one night when he was
fast asleep in his bed he woke up to the sound of the church bells ringing. He
got up abruptly, certain that there was some sort of emergency within the
church. However, once he saw his wife and child sound asleep in their beds, he
remembered the words of the dying priest and knew instantly that those bells
were for him and that he was the only one who could hear them ringing.
He followed the sound of the ringing bells quickly
until he came to a spot in the hills where two trees stood. Beside these trees,
were two ghostly ringing bells and the sweeper knew that he had finally found
his treasure. The sweeper began to dig and became very excited when his shovel
hit something hard. He continued to dig until he pulled up a treasure chest.
Breaking the lock of the chest with a rock, he was amazed to find an abundance
of gold in coin within it. After staring at the gold for some time, he began to
touch it and gather it up by the handfuls. He couldn’t believe it was all his!
However, the sweeper soon heard moaning coming from
somewhere very close to him. Looking to his side, where the trees were, was the
skeleton of the man that the priest had buried to protect the treasure. The
skeleton reached for the sweeper while continuously repeating, “Mine! Mine!
Mine!” Terrified, the sweeper dropped all of the gold that he had in his hands
and began to run away from the skeleton and the treasure chest. The skeleton
chased him down the hill and although the skeleton stopped after some time, the
sweeper did not until he was safely behind the locked door of his own home. It
was only then that he realized that he had forgotten his shovel at the top of
Not believing that he was actually going to go back
to the scene, the sweeper prepared the next morning to return to the hill. Not
necessarily for the buried treasure but because the shovel he had forgotten was
quite expensive and being a poor man already, he could not afford to replace it.
When he got to the top of the hill, there was no sign that a skeleton had been
there the night before. There was also no treasure to be found or any hole to
indicate that someone had tried to find one. He also couldn’t find his shovel at
first but he soon spotted it. In a tree that had branches that began twenty feet
above his head. He assumed that the skeleton must have placed it there to mock
him because it was an impossible height to reach.
The sweeper turned to go home but as he was leaving, he saw something shining in
the morning sun near the area where he had placed the treasure chest the night
before. Walking closer, he saw two gold coins and picked them up and placed them
in his pocket. When he returned home, he put the two coins in a very safe place
and later would use them to send his son to college. The sweeper believed for
the rest of his life that the skeleton had reburied the treasure once he had ran
from the hill.