Buried Treasure | Ep. 214

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(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

Putting your nose to the grindstone. Pulling your own weight. Buckling down and going the extra mile.

These are all idioms, or expressions, about hard work.

In today’s story, we’ll meet two brothers who aren’t big on hard work… until they’re sent on a search for treasure!

Our story is called “Buried Treasure.” You’ll find variations on this tale in many places, including Africa, South Asia, and parts of Europe. There’s also a version in Aesop’s Fables.

We recorded this episode before a live audience of very enthusiastic kids and grown-ups at KCRW’s Annenberg Performance Studio in Santa Monica, California. On stage were some actors whose voices you’ve heard in many Circle Round stories: Feodor Chin, Joe Hernandez, and Jessica Rau.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Nora Saks. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.

Coloring Page

(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes, click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

Things To Think About After Listening

You can make your own treasure map!

  1. Find some paper.
  2. Decide what your map will show; is it a room, a house, a beach, a field? Use pencils, pens, markers, or crayons to draw in landmarks, whether they’re pieces of furniture, or rivers and mountains.
  3. Draw a big X where the treasure is!
  4. Crinkle and smooth out your paper a few times. If you want your map to look especially well-worn, ask a grown-up to help you tear off the paper’s edges.

Show your map to someone you have fun with – and, if you’d like, show it to us! Grown-ups, you can snap a photo of your kiddo and their treasure map and send it to

We may include your map in a future edition of “The Lion’s Roar”: the monthly newsletter you receive as a member of the Circle Round Club!

Musical Spotlight: Mandolin

Experts believe the mandolin is derived from lute string instruments dating as far back as 15,000 B.C.! (Courtesy of Rebecca Sheir)
Experts believe the mandolin is derived from lute string instruments dating as far back as 15,000 B.C.! (Courtesy of Rebecca Sheir)

Though the mandolin is classified as a member of the lute family, it’s tuned like a violin. A high-pitched descendant of the ancient oud (which we featured in “The Unwelcome Guest,” “The Sultan’s Figs,” and “The Fire Within”), the mandolin evolved in Italy sometime in the 1500s and 1600s.

As with the oud, the mandolin has a hollow wooden body, and you use a pick to pluck strings on the fingerboard. You’ll hear the mandolin in all sorts of music, including bluegrass, blues, classical, country, folk, jazz, rock – and Eric Shimelonis’s score for this whimsical Circle Round tale!


NARRATOR: There once were two brothers: Jasper and Jarvis. Jasper and Jarvis’s father was a busy, well-to-do merchant who was constantly traveling over land and sea to trade his exotic goods.

Since the merchant wasn’t home much, he hired a staff of servants to tend to his sons’ every need. As a result, Jasper and Jarvis grew accustomed to getting everything they requested – or should I say, demanded!

JASPER: Housekeeper! Jarvis and I spilled our grape juice! Clean it up at once!

JARVIS: Yeah! And some of the juice stained my silk shirt! Tell the tailor to make me a new one!

JASPER: But first, tell the cook we want dinner!

JARVIS: Yeah! Cupcakes for the first course…

JASPER: Pie for the second

JASPER: / JARVIS: And ice cream for dessert!

NARRATOR: With so many people waiting on Jasper and Jarvis hand and foot, the brothers never lifted a finger. They just snapped their fingers and voila! Somebody rushed over to do their bidding for them.

One hot summer, Jasper and Jarvis’s father was called away on business to a faraway land. So he sent a letter to his sister, a farmer named Francesca, asking if she could host her nephews for the summer. She immediately wrote back.

FRANCESCA: “Dear Brother. I would love for Jasper and Jarvis to spend the summer on my farm! I haven’t seen those two since they were sweet, gentle babies. I can hardly wait to see how sweet and gentle my nephews are now!”

NARRATOR: Francesca’s farm was way out in the countryside. She ran it all by herself and was doing so well that she was starting to expand! She had recently purchased a piece of land from her neighbor: a wide field overgrown with brambles, weeds, and vines.

Her intent was to clear her new field, then plant it with crops – juicy tomatoes and leafy lettuce… hearty wheat and sweet corn – but she was so busy herding her sheep, milking her cows, and feeding her chickens that she hadn’t found the time.

So when Jasper and Jarvis arrived, Francesca was excited to have two extra sets of hands. But when she asked her nephews if they were ready to help her out…

FRANCESCA: Well, nephews? Are you ready to help me out…?

NARRATOR: …I’ll bet you can guess their response.

JASPER: Um, are you serious, Aunt Francesca?!??

JARVIS: You want Jasper and me to work on your farm??!?


JARVIS: We’ll leave all the hard work to you!

NARRATOR: Francesca was flabbergasted. So much for her nephews being “sweet” and “gentle”! These two were spoiled beyond belief! If they were going to stay on her farm for an entire summer, she must get them to change their ways.

The question was… how???

Francesca thought and thought. She thought while she herded her sheep – alone.

FRANCESCA: What if…? No.

NARRATOR: She thought while she milked her cows – alone.

FRANCESCA: How about…? No.

NARRATOR: She thought while she fed her chickens – alone.

FRANCESCA: Maybe I could… No.

NARRATOR: Then at last, as she was gazing out the farmhouse window at the new, overgrown field on the edge of her farm… it hit her.

FRANCESCA: (GASP!) I know how I’ll turn Jasper and Jarvis around! I just hope it works!

NARRATOR: The following day, after finishing her morning chores, Francesca went up to Jasper and Jarvis’s room. The brothers were still in bed, curled up beneath the covers.

FRANCESCA: Good day, nephews! I said, Good day, nephews!

NARRATOR: Jasper and Jarvis yawned and stretched.

JASPER: Is it daytime already?

JARVIS: Did you bring us breakfast?

FRANCESCA: No. I brought you something much more interesting. Have a look!

NARRATOR: Francesca held up a piece of crinkled, yellowed paper. It was covered with lines and squiggles and mysterious writing.

FRANCESCA: I found this thing in the attic. Is it just me, or does it look an awful lot… like a treasure map…????

NARRATOR: Francesca held her breath, hoping her nephews would take the bait. And much to her delight…

JASPER: A treasure map??!?

NARRATOR: …they did!

JARVIS: What does the map say, Aunt Francesca?

FRANCESCA: Well, if I’m reading it correctly, I think there’s treasure buried on this farm! Somewhere… over there!

NARRATOR: She pointed out the window toward her new field.

FRANCESCA: Of course, that big field is so overgrown with brambles, weeds, and vines, it would take a whole lot of clearing before anyone could possibly dig for treasure. And I’m far too busy for such a thing. I’ve got sheep to herd and cows to milk and chickens to feed! Ah well.

NARRATOR: Jasper and Jarvis were quiet for a moment. And then…

JASPER: So we’ll clear the field, Aunt Francesca!

JARVIS: Yes! Jasper and I will get rid of the brambles, weeds, and vines!

NARRATOR: Francesca’s heart skipped a beat. Her plan was working!

FRANCESCA: You two would do that? You would clear the field?

JASPER: We absolutely would!

JARVIS: …If it means finding buried treasure!

JASPER: Maybe we’ll find an ancient chest full of gold coins!

JARVIS: …Or sparkling jewels!

JASPER: …Or both!

JARVIS: Whatever it is, it’s bound to make us richer than ever!

NARRATOR: As Jasper and Jarvis carried on, Francesca couldn’t help but smile. Because little did her nephews know, but they were right… and wrong.

If they followed her plan, Jasper and Jarvis would find treasure… and they would become richer… just not in the way they thought!

NARRATOR: What do you think Jasper and Jarvis’s crafty aunt is planning?

We’ll find out, after a quick break.


NARRATOR: I’m Rebecca Sheir and welcome back to Circle Round, live at KCRW’s Annenberg Performance Studio in Santa Monica, California! Today our story is called “Buried Treasure.”

Before the break, Aunt Francesca told Jasper and Jarvis that she found a treasure map… and it seemed to suggest that treasure was buried beneath a big overgrown field on the edge of her farm!

The field had to be cleared before anyone could possibly dig for treasure. So even though Jasper and Jarvis had never worked a day in their lives, the brothers snapped to it and fetched some tools.

They spent the rest of the day tugging out brambles…

…yanking up weeds…

…and hacking at vines.

By sundown, the field was all cleared… and Francesca was all smiles.

FRANCESCA: Wonderful job clearing that field, nephews! It looks terrific!

NARRATOR: The brothers mopped their sweaty brows.

JASPER: Thank you, Aunt Francesca!

JARVIS: What do we do next?

FRANCESCA: Well, if you really want to find that buried treasure, the next step is to dig! It’s too late to start digging now, so you’d better wake up bright and early tomorrow to get started!

NARRATOR: And wouldn't you know it, they did! The following day, when Francesca got up for morning chores, Jasper and Jarvis were already in the field, digging in the soil with all their might… and digging up clouds of dust in the process!

FRANCESCA: Good morning, nephews! What’s going on here?

JASPER: Well…we’re trying to dig…

JARVIS: …but the ground is so dry… it keeps throwing up all this dust!

FRANCESCA: Oh dear. Clearly this field has to be watered! I’d offer to do it myself, but you know me! I’ve got sheep to herd and cows to milk and –

JASPER: So we’ll do it then!

JARVIS: Yes! Jasper and I will water the soil!

NARRATOR: Francesca grinned.

FRANCESCA: Alrighty then! You’ll find the well on the other side of the farmhouse.

NARRATOR: So Jasper and Jarvis raced to the well. They spent the rest of the day drawing water…

…carting it to the field…

…and pouring it over the crumbly soil.

By sundown, the brothers’ backs were aching. But the field was as moist as can be – and Francesca was as pleased as can be.

FRANCESCA: Nicely done, nephews!

JASPER: Thank you, Aunt Francesca!

JARVIS: Can we go back to our digging now?

FRANCESCA: Well, I admire your gumption! But it’s late and you boys should have some dinner. You can dig first thing tomorrow!

NARRATOR: And wouldn’t you know it… they did!

Once again, they were up before Francesca was, and spent the entire day shoveling…

…and hoeing…

…and spading the rich, moist earth.

By sundown, their fingers were blistered, but they had dug up every last inch of soil. Yet when Francesca came out to visit, her nephews wore big frowns.

FRANCESCA: Good evening, you two! Why the long faces? Looks like you turned over the entire field!

JASPER: We did

JARVIS: …but we still haven’t found any treasure!

FRANCESCA: Is that so…?

NARRATOR: Francesca wrinkled her brow.

FRANCESCA: Hmm… How about you go inside for dinner, and I’ll take another look at the treasure map. Perhaps I’ve been reading it wrong!

NARRATOR: So Jasper and Jarvis tromped back to the farmhouse. Once they were out of sight, Francesca reached into her satchel and began rummaging around. But she didn’t pull out the treasure map. Instead, she pulled out bag after bag of

FRANCESCA: …Seeds! Time to get planting!

NARRATOR: Francesca walked up and down the field, sprinkling seeds all over the newly-watered, newly-turned ground. Then she went back to the farmhouse… where her nephews were already fast asleep.

FRANCESCA: Look at those tuckered-out treasure hunters! I guess it goes to show: a little hard work can go a long way! But if I want my plan to succeed, there’s plenty more work to be done. Plenty.

NARRATOR: The next morning, Francesca was still in bed when Jasper and Jarvis came bounding into her room.

JASPER: Good morning, Aunt Francesca!

JARVIS: Rise and shine!

NARRATOR: Francesca blinked open her eyes.

FRANCESCA: Good morning, nephews! I suppose you eager beavers are here to ask about the treasure map.

JASPER: You guessed it!

JARVIS: Have we really been digging in the wrong place?

FRANCESCA: Well… the truth is… I’m not sure yet. So until this puzzle is solved, we must find a way to keep the field safe.

JASPER: “Keep the field safe”?

JARVIS: What do you mean?

FRANCESCA: Well… out here in the country you never know who might come wandering around! Some no-good bandits might stumble across this field and wish to dig for treasure themselves! So I say we cover the field… with manure.

JASPER: / JARVIS: Manure?!??

FRANCESCA: Yes! Goodness knows the cows on this farm provide plenty of manure! And who in their right mind would want to step foot on a field full of messy, smelly cow droppings? I would offer to spread the manure myself, but I’ve got sheep to herd and cows to milk and –

JASPER: So we’ll do it then!

JARVIS: Yes! Jasper and I will cover the field with manure!

NARRATOR: And… they did! They ran out of Francesca’s room and straight to the barn, where they began shoveling manure….

…and loading it into wheelbarrows…

…and spreading it all over the field.

By sundown, the field was coated with manure… and Francesca was brimming with joy.

FRANCESCA: You did it, nephews! You covered the entire field! (beat) Which is great because I’m going on a little trip.

JASPER: A trip?

JARVIS: To where?

FRANCESCA: Well, I happen to know someone who might help us. She’s a very clever woman, and I’d like to show her this map – see if she can make sense of it. But I could be gone for a while and – Oh no!

JASPER: What is it, Aunt Francesca?

JARVIS: We’ve already covered the field with manure, so it will be safe while you’re away!

FRANCESCA: Yes. But what about my chores? I’ll be gone who knows how long, and I’ve got sheep to herd and cows to milk and –

JASPER: …and chickens to feed? Don’t you worry!

JARVIS: Jasper and I will take care of all the chores!

NARRATOR: Francesca’s heart flooded with joy – and pride. Her nephews were becoming such go-getters!

FRANCESCA: That’s a very kind off, Jasper and Jarvis. Thank you!

NARRATOR: So the next morning, Francesca set off on her journey, and Jasper and Jarvis got down to business. They milked the cows…

JASPER: Attagirl, Nellie!

JARVIS: You too, Clarabelle!

NARRATOR: They herded the sheep…

JASPER: Come on, you fluff balls!

JARVIS: This way!

NARRATOR: …and they fed the chickens.

JASPER: Chow time, ladies!

JARVIS: Bon appetit!

NARRATOR: After a couple of weeks, the brothers had their hands so full with chores that thoughts of buried treasure rarely crossed their minds. But then, toward the end of summer, Francesca returned from her trip.

JASPER: Welcome back, Aunt Francesca!

JARVIS: Do you know where the treasure is?

FRANCESCA: I do! It turns out that it is in the field after all. Let’s go!

NARRATOR: Jasper and Jarvis were buzzing with excitement as they followed their aunt to the edge of the farm. When they reached the field, their jaws dropped and they let out a gasp.


NARRATOR: Because standing before them was not an ancient chest full of gold coins, or sparkling jewels.

Instead, stretched out before them, as far as the eye could see, were… 


NARRATOR: That’s right! Sprouting from the earth were row after row of healthy, thriving crops! Juicy tomatoes and leafy lettuce… hearty wheat and sweet corn… all waving in the breeze and shining in the sun.

FRANCESCA: Do you see, nephews? These vegetables and grains… are your treasure! They will provide food to eat – and money to spend, if you sell some at the market. And none of them would be here if not for your hard work! All your clearing… and digging… and watering… and, yes… fertilizing. All I did was plant some seeds. 

NARRATOR: Jasper and Jarvis thought back to everything they had done that long, hot summer. They thought about their sweaty brows, their aching backs, their blistered fingers.

And slowly they realized that sure: they hadn’t found a stash of gold or gemstones. But what they had found was even more valuable. Because not only did they have precious crops to eat and sell… they had a precious understanding of the priceless value of hard work.

And that made them richer than ever!

Rebecca Sheir Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.



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