The day came when Foster had to go. He left her with a two year old in tow. Karen loved him and wished him well. Standing on the pier holding Della’s tiny hand, she waved as the ship pulled away. It could be years before they saw him again.
That is how the legend went. Della delighted in telling her grandchildren this story. The truth is, no one knows what happened to her father. Della’s grandchildren loved to explore the attic. They fancied tales of ships and pirates. They would spend hours dressing in costume and slaying formidable sea monsters.
Charlie was dressed as a captain one afternoon while Amy had discovered a mermaid costume hidden in a trunk. Dumping the contents out to find a hidden enclosure at the bottom, they diligently pried it open to see a map and a compass with the name Foster engraved on it.
As they sat amongst the dust, Amy stuffed herself into the mermaid costume. Charlie studied the map. In his boyish hopefulness, he was sure it contained the location of a treasure. He urged Amy to look, but she tripped on her fins and fell into the trunk. The lid closed on top of her. Charlie laughed and opened it, but she was not there. In a panic, he ran to Della. Charlie fell into Della as he came down the stairs. “Amy disappeared! She’s gone. In the trunk!” He still had the map clutched in his hand.
“Don’t worry,” She grinned widely and took his hand. “She’s in the backyard! Come see.” They walked outside to find Amy sitting on the lawn in mermaid garb.
“What happened, Gramma?” Amy struggled to get up.
“Well, I guess you’re onto me,” Della confessed. "Your Great Grandpa Foster used to visit us here while on his voyage. That trunk upstairs was on his ship. That map is a map to this backyard. The compass… returns you to the trunk. He stopped coming one day and some time later the trunk was returned to us. We didn’t figure it out for years.