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Tom Paulding : the story of a search for buried treasure in the streets of New York online

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urday he spent in looking up articles in the cyclopedias and
in the bound magazines where the librarian had told him to
search. From these, some of which were fully illustrated,
Tom managed to get an understanding of the principles of
hydraulic mining 5 and he thought he saw how his uncle
meant to apply them to the getting out of the two thousand
guineas buried near the stepping-stones.

Hydraulic mining is the name given in the West to the
method of washing out a hillside containing auriferous sands
by the impact of a stream of water, which carries down, into


a prepared channel in the valley below, the " pay gravel n in
the hill on both sides. After Tom had mastered the sugges-
tion, he saw that his uncle meant in like manner to wash
away the dirt and sand which hid the remains of Jeffrey

The stepping-stones were near the upper end of the vacant
block, and the ground sloped sharply away below, where the
brook had run formerly. Tom saw that if a little channel
were dug around two projecting rocks, it would then be easy
to wash out the loose earth, partly rubbish and partly sand,
which formed the projecting point over the stepping-stones.
J: his guess as to the present position of the stolen money
were right, then he would have to wear into the bank a hole
fully twenty feet deep. With the aid of the small canal Tom
had planned, he thought he saw his way clear to a most suc-
cessful operation in hydraulic mining if he could only get
plenty of water.

Where the water was to come from, was a question for
which he had no answer. Uncle Dick had suggested that the
buried treasure could be got out by hydraulic mining, but he
had not hinted how he was to get the water.

While Tom was puzzling over this to no purpose, one warm
sunny day in May, when the leaves were opening on the trees
and the bushes, Uncle Dick came back most unexpectedly.

He gave no account of his wanderings j he offered no ex-
planation of his long absence ; but from chance allusions in
his conversation Tom and Polly made out that he had been
traveling part of the time he had been away, and that he had


been to Boston, and to Chicago, and possibly even as far as
San Francisco.

After supper he asked Tom to come up to his room.

When Tom had followed his uncle out of the dining-room,
Polly asked her mother anxiously, " Did Uncle Dick bring
you that Christmas present he owes you ? "

" He has not given it to me yet," Mrs. Paulding answered j
" but he will some day."

" I wish he would," said Pauline. " I do so want to know
what it is."



INGLE DICK and Tom had a long confer-
ence that evening in the former's room.
Tom told his uncle the exact state of
affairs. He described how the dumping
of rubbish had begun again just over the
stepping-stones, and how it had ceased the
next day. He set forth Lott's attempt to spy on him, and his
own success in throwing Corkscrew's curiosity off the scent.
He gave a full account of his own endeavors to discover the
methods of hydraulic mining.

" I think I have found out how you mean to go to work,
Uncle Dick," he said j " but I confess that I don't see where
we are to get the water to wash out all that dirt."

" That will be easy enough," replied his uncle. " We can
have all the water we need when we need it. That will not
be for some time yet."

Tom went on to tell Mr. Rapallo how very difficult it had
been for him to keep his secret to himself.

" But I have done it ! " he concluded. " I have n't said a
single, solitary word to anybody."


" 1 7 m not sure that the time has n't come to take one or
two of your friends into your confidence," Uncle Dick

" Can I tell Cissy Smith 1 " cried Tom j " and Harry Zach-
ary, too?"

" From what you have said to me about your friends," his
uncle answered, " I should judge that Cissy and Harry will
be your safest allies in this affair."

" Cissy is my best friend/ 7 explained the boy, " and Harry
is my next-best."

" Do you think they would be willing to help you ? " asked
Mr. Rapallo.

"Willing?" echoed Tom. "They >d just be delighted,
both of them, to be let into a scheme like this. What do you
want them to do ? "

"I don't know yet, exactly," his uncle responded; "but
there will be work enough of one kind or another. We shall
have to dig a trench to carry off the water, for instance."

" They go to school with me, you know, Uncle Dick," said
Tom j " and they are free only at the same time that I am,
Saturday afternoons, mostly."

" I think it will be better for you to have a whole day be-
fore you " began Mr. Rapallo.

" Then I don't see how we can come," Tom interrupted,
" unless we play hooky."

"Don't you have Decoration Day as a holiday?" asked his

" Decoration Day ? " Tom repeated, with a little disappoint-


ment in his voice. " Oh, yes, but that 's more than a fort-
night off ! "

" I doubt if we shall be ready for a fortnight yet/' Mr. Ra-
pallo returned. " There are various things to do before we
can turn on the water and wash out the gold if there 's
any there to wash out."

" Uncle Dick/ 7 cried Tom, piteously, " don't say now that
you don't think the gold is there ! ' ;

" Oh, yes," Mr. Rapallo answered j " I think it is there but
I don't know. We have only a ' working hypothesis,' you re-

" I remember," Tom repeated, dolefully j " but I 've been so
long thinking about those two thousand guineas lying in the
ground there by the stepping-stones that it seems as if I could
see them, almost. I feel certain sure they are there ! "

"Let us hope so," his uncle responded. "And don't be
down-hearted about it. If we are to get that gold, we must
all believe that it is there until we know that it is n't."

" I know it is" asseverated Tom.

"To-morrow," Mr. Rapallo continued, "you must take
your friends into your confidence. I have business down-
town and I '11 inquire whether the lawyers have found out
yet to whom that vacant block belongs. If they have, I '11
try to get permission for us to dig out your two thousand

So the next afternoon, when school was out, Tom Paulding
took Cissy Smith and Harry Zachary off with him.


Corkscrew Lott was going to join them, but Tom said to
him frankly :

" I Ve got something particular to say to Cissy and Harry,
and so I don't want anybody else to come with us, Lott."

" Can't you tell me, too ? " Lott pleaded.

" I can, of course/' Tom answered, " if I want to. But I

" Oh, very well ! " said Corkscrew, gruffly j " I don't want
to know any of your old secrets."

Notwithstanding this disclaimer of all interest in their af-
fairs, Corkscrew lingered at school until after the three other
boys had gone on ahead, and then he followed them from
afar, in the hope that something unforeseen might reveal the
matter of their discourse.

Harry Zachary gave a swift glance back when they came
to their first turning. He caught sight of Lott, who stopped
short when he saw that he was detected.

" There 's Corkscrew on our trail," said Harry. " Let 's
throw him off the track."

" How are you going to do it ? " said Cissy.

" I 've got a way," Harry explained. " Follow me."

And with that he turned into the side street, and walked
rapidly toward the elevated railroad station.

"Corkscrew will be sure to follow us now," Harry de-
clared " and when we come to the station, we '11 go upstairs.
He can't come up after us because he knows we should see
him then."

" But we don't want to pay car-fare to nowhere just to get


rid of Corkscrew Lott," remarked Cissy Smith, rolling- along
a little ahead of the others.

"We need n't pay a cent," Harry Zachary responded.
" We can just wait on the outside platform, out of sight from
where he is, while we can see him through the window. Then
when he goes, we '11 slip down again and run to the Three

" All right," said Cissy j and Tom also agreed to the plan

The boys went up the steps of the elevated railroad station j
and through the window of the covered platform they saw
Corkscrew come up and stare hard at the station and hesitate
a little, twisting about as usual. Then he set out to cross
the avenue to look at the inner platforms; but, before he
could do that, a train from up-town and another from down-
town arrived and departed with much puffing and hissing,
and shrill squeaking of the brakes. So Corkscrew gave up
his effort to " shadow " the three friends, and went on his
way home.

As soon as he was gone, Tom, Cissy, and Harry came out
of hiding and started off for the Riverside Drive, ^here there
was a favorite spot of theirs, down by the railroad and the
river. Here three trees grew in a group, with knotted and
distorted branches, so that half a dozen boys could find seats
amid their limbs.

When the three friends had arrived at this pleasant place,
doubly delightful in the fresh fairness of spring, Tom, who
had refused to open the subject before, said solemnly, " Fel-
lows, can you keep a secret ? "



" Shucks ! " cried Cissy Smith, forcibly. " Did you bring
us all the way down here just to tell us a secret ? I thought
you said you wanted us to help you do something."


" Is it about your lost treasure ? " asked Harry Zachary,

" How did you know ? " Tom inquired, in surprise.

" I don't know ; I guessed," Harry explained. " You told
us once that you were going to hunt for it, and you Ve been
so different since then that I thought perhaps you had got a
notion where it was."

"I have found it I" said Tom, with intense enjoyment of
their surprise.


" How much is it ? " asked the practical Cissy.

" Where is it ? " Harry cried.

" It 's two thousand guineas/' Tom replied ; " and it is now
buried far from here. And I want you two to help me get at

" Buried ? " Cissy repeated. " Then you have not seen it ? "

" No/' Tom replied, " but I know it 's there. It must be
there ! "

"We '11 help you, of course/' said Harry Zachary, with a
return of his shy and gentle manner. " But we shall have to
kill the guards, sha'n't we ? "

" What do you mean ? " Tom asked, in amazement.

" I suppose there must be somebody guarding this buried
treasure, and they must be removed, of course. l Dead men
tell no tales/ you know," Harry explained. "And I have been
reading about a new way of getting rid of an enemy ; the
Italians used to do it in the Middle Ages. You have a glass
stiletto, that 's a sort of dagger made of glass, and you
stab the man in the back, and break off the blade, and throw
the handle into the Grand Canal ; then the man 's dead and
nobody knows you had anything to do with it."

" I 'm glad of that," said Cissy, dryly.

" But is it necessary to kill the guards ? " Harry went on.
" Would n't it do to give them something to put them to sleep
while we get at the treasure ? I reckon Cissy could coax his
father to give us a prescription for something that would put
a whole platoon of police to sleep for the day."

" Shucks ! " said Cissy, vigorously. " I 'm not going to stab


anybody in the back with a glass dagger, nor are you either,
Harry Zachary. And I 'm not going to try to put a platoon
of police to sleep. It would be what my father calls a ' dan-
gerous experiment.' Suppose some of them did n't wake up,
and the rest of them did, and they clubbed the life out of us,
where would the fun be then ? "

"You need n't quarrel over the glass dagger and the
policemen," Tom declared, " because there is n't any guard
to kill, this time."

" A buried treasure without any guard f " Harry repeated.
" I never heard of such a thing."

" Well," said Tom, " you can hear of it now if you want to
listen. But first you have both got to promise that never by
thought, word, or deed will you ever reveal any of the secrets
I am now about to confide to you."

" That 's all right," Cissy responded, " I won't say a word,
never." Perhaps this delayed double negative served to
make the declaration doubly binding.

" I solemnly vow that I will never reveal the secret Thomas
Paulding is now about to confide to me," said Harry Zach-
ary, stiffening his usual timid voice. " In China they cut off
a chicken's head whenever a man takes an oath before a
priest, and that makes it binding, I reckon. I wish we had
a chicken here.''

"I guess the priests in China are as fond of chicken as
anybody else," Cissy commented. " Now, Tom, tell us the
whole story."

So Tom began at the beginning, and gave them all the


particulars of his search for the stolen guineas, of the sug-
gestion Santa Glaus brought, of the stepping-stones, and of
the present situation of the buried treasure.

" That 's all very well,' 7 said Cissy. " Perhaps the money
is there, and perhaps it is n't. How are you to get at it?
That ? s the question."

Then Tom told them about hydraulic mining, explaining
briefly to them what he himself had extracted laboriously
from many books. He informed them that his uncle was
going to arrange for a supply of water, and that Decoration
Day had been chosen as the date when the final attack was
to be made.

When Tom had finished, Cissy said, " Well, that 's a very
interesting story, and, as I told you before, maybe the money
is there. Leastways, it 's worth trying for. I don't see where
your uncle is going to get the stream of water but your
uncle is n't any fool, so I guess he knows. And I don't see
either where we come in Harry and I. What are we to do ? "

"I don't know just what you will have to do," Tom re-
plied. " But Uncle Dick said to ask you and Harry if you
would help us."

" Oh, yes," Cissy responded, heartily. " I '11 help all I know

After a little further talk the boys started homeward, Cissy
lurching along with his usual rolling gait.

" There 's the Old Gentleman who leaned over the Wall,"
said Tom, as they saw a tall, white-haired man get out of a
carriage before a handsome house.


" That 's Mr. Joshua Hoffmann/' explained Harry Zach-
ary. " He 's so rich he has more money than he knows what
to do with."

"And my father says there is n't a better man in the United
States, in spite of all his money/' said Cissy.

" My uncle knows him, too/' Tom remarked, unwilling to
be left out of the conversation.

" Is n't that your uncle now ? " asked Harry.

Tom looked across the roadway and saw his uncle stop be-
fore the house 5 and again the old gentleman leaned over the
wall to talk to him.

"Yes," said Tom, "that 's Uncle Dick."

As the boys went by Mr. Rapallo waved his hand to them j
and when Tom glanced back a minute later it seemed as if
his uncle were talking about him to the Old Gentleman who
leaned over the Wall, for the two men were both looking
after the three boys.

The next day, at school, Corkscrew came up to Tom as
Cissy and Harry had just joined him.

" Did you three have a nice ride on the railroad, yesterday
afternoon?" asked Lott, insidiously.

" I was n't on the cars at all yesterday," said Harry Zach-
ary promptly, with a grave face.

" Neither was I," continued Tom Paulding.

" Nor I," added Cissy Smith.

" I mean the elevated railroad," Corkscrew explained.

" I did n't ride on the elevated railroad yesterday," Harry


" I did n't, either," repeated both Tom and Cissy

"Why, I saw you " began Lott.

" Oh," said Tom Paulding, " if you know what we 've been
doing better than we do ourselves, why do you ask ques-
tions T "

Corkscrew was a little confused at this. " I happened to
be passing the station yesterday," he said, pulling up the tops
of his high boots, " and I saw you three go up "

" If you saw us, then we Ve nothing to say," Tom inter-
rupted. " But I can tell you that we were none of us in an
elevated train yesterday."

"Then why on earth did you "

But what Corkscrew was going to ask they never knew,
as just then the bell rang for school.



R. RAPALLO reported to Tom that the
title of the vacant block was still in dis-

" There 's no knowing," he said, " when
that lawsuit will be settled. It has been
going on for seventeen years now, and
everybody interested in it has come to hate everybody else j
and so they persist in fighting like the 'Kilkenny cats.'"

" Then we can't get permission to look for the two thou-
sand guineas ? " Tom asked, anxiously.

" We shall have to do without permission," Uncle Dick re-
plied. "And I suppose that we shall be trespassers when
we go into that vacant block to dig up your great-grand-
father's gold."

" It is n't our fault that our money is there," said Tom.
"No," his uncle responded. "It is n't our fault, and it
is n't the fault of the first owner of the money ; whereas if
the first owner of the land had exercised proper care over it,
he would have refused to harbor on it the body of a thief
laden with stolen goods."


" When we find the gold/ 7 Tom asked, " do you think the
bags in which it was tied will still be there, or will they have
rotted away ? "

" I should n't wonder if the bags might be gone/ 7 Mr. Ra-
pallo replied.

" That 's what I thought/ 7 Tom continued j " and so I have
bought some bagging. It 7 s coarse, but it 7 s very strong
and I don't think we need care about the looks "

" If the gold looks all right/ 7 Uncle Dick interrupted, " I
don't think it will matter what we put it in."

" I 've asked Polly to make me four bags, just the same
number the money was in when my great-grandfather had
it," said Tom. " Of course, I didn't tell her what I wanted
them for; I don't believe in trusting women with secrets.
Do you, Uncle Dick t "

Mr. Rapallo smiled. " As I Ve told you before," he
answered, " the best way to keep your secret safe is to keep
it all to yourself. That 's one reason I have n't told you yet
how I propose to get the water for our hydraulic mining.
But come out with me on Saturday afternoon, and I will
show you how I mean to manage it."

Since his return from his journey, Mr. Rapallo had settled
down into his old way of life at his sister's house. He was
still irregular and erratic in his comings and goings. When
he went out in the morning, the household never knew when
he would return. Some days he seemed to have little or
nothing to do, and on other days he was apparently full
of engagements. Knowing that Tom was free from his


duties only on Saturday afternoon, he arranged to have that
time free.

About three o'clock on the Saturday before Decoration
Day, he and Tom walked over to the vacant block where the
stepping-stones were, for a final examination before they
should attempt to find the buried treasure.

The vacant block was of dimensions common enough in
New York. It was about two hundred feet wide from street
to street, and nearly a thousand feet long from avenue to
avenue. The stepping-stones were on the northern side of
the block about one third way from the eastern end; and
over them projected the tongue of made land which had been
filled in mainly with builder's rubbish. The original level of
the ground sloped sharply from the east to the west, as the
brook had coursed briskly along, hastening away to the
Hudson River.

Mr. Rapallo and Tom were pleased to find what they had
never noted before, perhaps because the entrance to it was
overrun with brambles, that a culvert had been left to carry
off the waters of the brook which must, then, have been flow-
ing when the avenue on the western end of the block had
been carried across, high in the air above the original level
of the land thereabout.

The brook, still easily to be traced by the stunted wil-
lows that once lined its bank, had dried up years before
Tom and his uncle tramped along its bed j but the culvert

"It is a piece of good fortune," said Mr. Rapallo, "that


the old outlet of the stream is still here. It will serve to
take away the water j and now we need not fear that we
shall not have fall enough to carry off the waste we shall
wash out of the bank."

"But where are you going to get your water?" asked

" Come and see/' his uncle answered, leading the way from
the sunken lots to the street-level.

The stepping-stones were perhaps three hundred feet from
the northeast corner of the block, and the tongue of land
above them projected perhaps fifty or sixty feet into the hol-
low parallelogram.

Mr. Rapallo took Tom along the sidewalk of the street
which bounded the block on the south, until they came op-
posite the stepping-stones.

"Here," he said, laying his hand on a sort of iron post
which rose from the sidewalk at the edge of the gutter,
" what is this ? "

" That 's a hydrant," replied Tom j " that 's to supply water
to the engines when there 's a fire."

" Then why should n't it supply us with the water w<J
need ? " his uncle asked.

" Well," Tom hesitated a moment. " I suppose it would,
perhaps. I don't see why it should n't. But how are you
going to get a key to turn it on ? "

" I Ve got it already," Mr. Rapallo answered, taking the
key from his pocket.

" Oh ! " cried Tom. " But how are you going to get


hose to fit this hydrant, and to reach 'way across the block

" I 've ordered that/ 7 Uncle Dick replied. " I saw that you
had done all the thinking over this problem and had worked
it out for yourself, so I determined to help you out all I
could. I was n't going to see you fail for want of a little aid
when you needed it most."

"Uncle Dick, I " began Tom.

"I know all about it," said his uncle, checking Tom's
thanks with a kindly pat on the shoulder. " You need n't
say another word."

"But " the boy began again.

" But me no buts," laughed Mr. Rapallo, " or I will not tell
you anything about the hose I have ordered. There will be
one section about forty feet long, like fire-engine hose and
made to fit this hydrant. Then I shall have perhaps a hun-
dred and twenty-five feet of ordinary garden hose, with a
valve and joint so that we can fasten it to the end of the
larger hose."

" Won't the difference in size hinder us ? " Tom inquired.

" I think not," his uncle answered. " The reduction in the
section of the tube through which the water is delivered
ought to increase the force of the current as it leaves the
nozle and that is just what we want. The one thing that
I am afraid of is that the common or garden hose won't be
able to stand the strain put on it. But we shall have to take
our chances as to that."

" Is the hose ready ? " asked Tom.


" It is to be delivered at the house to-night/ 7 Mr. Rapallo

" But then Polly will want to know what it is/ 7 Tom sug-
gested promptly.

" And I shall not tell her," Uncle Dick declared ; "at least,
I shall tell her only that it is something for me."

"Well/' Tom continued, "I suppose that she won't dare to
ask you too many questions. But she '11 be wild to know
what it is."

On their way home Tom asked his uncle what time he
thought would be the best to begin work on Decoration Day

" The sooner the better," Mr. Rapallo replied.

" Before breakfast ? " Tom inquired.

" Before daybreak ! " his uncle answered j " that is to say,
it ought to be light enough for us to work soon after four
o'clock, as the sun rises at half -past four."

" Oh ! " said Tom, feeling that here was an added new ex-
perience for him, as he had never in his life been out of the
house before six o'clock in the morning.

" We must get our work done before anybody is stirring
about," Mr. Rapallo explained. " That 's our only chance of
doing what we have to do without fear of interruption. We
don't want to have a, crowd about us when we are playing
the hose on that pile of earth there; and I think that hy-
draulic mining in the streets of New York is novelty enough
to draw a crowd pretty quickly, even in this part of the city.
Fortunately, there is hardly a house near enough to the place


where we are going to mine to make it likely that we shall
disturb any one so early in the morning. Besides, we sha'n't
make much noise."

" It 's a good thing that there is n't a station of the elevated
railroad on either of the streets that go past the place," Tom
remarked. " There are people coming and going to the sta-

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Online LibraryBrander MatthewsTom Paulding : the story of a search for buried treasure in the streets of New York → online text (page 10 of 13)