“Damn the politicians’ funding cuts!” muttered Jim to himself. He cleared away soil in his mud stained high visibility archaeologist’s jacket. The romance of the job had long left him, buried beneath layers as deep as the Cambrian Period. He was on a grassy roundabout so nobody peered into his excavation over the flimsy barrier. Passing motorists probably took him for a gas engineer, and choked him with their exhaust fumes. He wearily climbed the ladder to haul soil up in a bucket, which he flung onto a growing spoil heap.
Although he found no artefacts or even interestingly stained subsoil, Jim continued his lonely quest all day. He scowled to himself about ground radar and drone cameras. Forget teams of students digging trenches. University fees and a dismal career path had given way to mechanical mini diggers. Jim felt as obsolete as the Saxon wrist clasp that had been his first exciting find so many years ago.
His skill at interpreting old maps had been mainly overtaken by satellite systems. He snorted to himself in bitter derision as he worked methodically. He’d dug down to six feet now, and then burrowed sideways a few yards to where he encountered some carved stones, with flakes of mediaeval plaster.
Later, relaxing on a sunbed in the Caribbean with a cool drink to his lips, Jim reflected that his talents hadn’t altogether been wasted. It was almost a week before the bank had discovered the hole in the floor at the back of their vault. It dropped down through the ceiling of the monastery cellar below. They really should have checked the quaint plan of the ruined old monastery that their edifice had been built on top of, despite local objections. Jim had kept it as a souvenir along with the money.
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