I had always wanted an old trunk, ever since I was a little girl and had seen one in the attic of a dear friend of my mother's. To me there is an air of mystery about antique furniture, and in each treasured piece I'm convinced there is a story to be told.
Several years ago I was delighted when an aunt let me have a small humpbacked trunk she had come across while trading with a junk dealer. Eagerly I worked to restore it. The wood trim was sanded and waxed, and the brass polished brightly. I painted the metal part olive green and wallpapered the inside with a tiny figured paper. ''Humpy'' is a perfect size for holding small Christmas ornaments.
Later, in a nearby shop, I found a smaller, flattopped trunk. It is only 16 inches high and 24 inches long, and in almost mint condition. I painted it Old World blue and lined it with a scrap of calico. My father repaired the leather handles, and a collection of stuffed animals is hiding inside, waiting to be enjoyed by young visitors.
But we have another trunk that is more special. It is large and roomy, and someone put rollers on it to make it move easily from place to place. My husband found it when he was working away from home one summer. Over a weekend he and I had driven to the area where he worked during the week.
Along a back road I noticed a sign - ''Antiques,'' - and asked excitedly if we might stop. I was looking at dusty pieces of china when Floyd spied the wonderful old trunk. The man who owned the shop had bought it from a woman who told him that it had belonged to her son. He had taken it to college with him each fall.
The unique trunk has two trays that fit into the top where the heavy lid closes with a key. A message was penciled on the hinged cardboard lid of the upper. It said simply, ''Always choose good company. Lovingly, Mother.''
While I sanded the wood and cleaned the hinges, I thought of the love a mother has for her children and how her heart goes out to them as they leave to go into the world to find their own niche in life. I thought about the trunk's first owner and wondered about his life. Somehow I feel confident that he was prepared to face the challenges before him. A mother's love was guiding him.
The old trunk is pale yellow now with black and gold trim, and boasts a cloth patchwork lining. It sits graciously in a corner of our guest room. Stored within are blankets and quilts to warm those who spend the night.