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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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down here before we know it."

" Very well," Mr. Rapallo responded ; " we may get away at
once. But first let us at least give these poor bones a decent
burial-place. They belonged to a thief who died almost in
the act of stealing j but he was our fellow-man, after all, and
we must do by him as we may hope to be done by."

Tom dug a light trench in the sand almost exactly where
they had first seen the skeleton, and Harry Zachary gathered
the bones together and placed them reverently in the grave.
Then Cissy and Tom shoveled sand over the skeleton, hiding
it from all prying eyes and heaping over it a mound, like
those seen in cemeteries.

When this was done decently and in order, Mr. Rapallo
bade the boys collect the spades and the pickax. He went
back to the hydrant and turned off the water. Then he took
off the hose and threw it over into the vacant block. Join-
ing the boys again, he unfastened the section of the hose to
which the nozle was attached, and this he coiled up to take
away with him.

" We '11 come back for the rest of the hose when it is dark,"


he explained. " For the present, we '11 leave it here. I doubt
whether anybody will notice it."

Then they took up their march homeward. Tom Paulding
carried two bags of the recovered guineas, but his heart was
so light that it seemed to him as if three times their weight
would be no burden. Cissy Smith and Harry Zachary had
each one of the other two bags. The boys also divided be-
tween them the pickax and the spades, as Mr. Rapallo was
heavily laden with a coil of hose.

They had kept no count of time while they had been at
work, and the hours had passed over them unperceived. The
sun now rode high on the horizon. The roar of the great
city rose on the air, only a little less resounding because the
day was a holiday. The rattle of carts in the neighboring
streets was frequent, so was the rolling of the trains on the
elevated railroad. The city was awake again, and it was
making ready to honor the dead heroes of the war, and to
deck their graves with green garlands and with the bright
flowers of the spring-time.

"If you don't mind, Tom," said Harry Zachary, as they
walked side by side, " I >d like to keep the bullet."

" What bullet ? " asked Tom, in surprise.

" The ball I found in the dead man's shoulder," Harry ex-

"But it does n't belong to me," Tom declared. "You
found it. I suppose you 've a right to it."

"I want to keep it," Harry responded; "it >s a curious
thing to have in the house ; and I reckon it 's a talisman."


" A talisman ? " repeated Tom.

"Yes/ 7 Harry answered, "like those they have in the old
stories something that will defend you from evil and bring
you luck. "

" Shucks ! " said Cissy Smith, forcibly. " Why should that
old bullet bring you any more luck than it brought Jeffrey
Kerr ? And it brought him. to the bottom of the creek, and
it left him there."

"I can keep it if I want it, I reckon," Harry remarked,

" Uncle Dick," Tom asked, " was n't that the Old Gentleman
who leaned over the Wall the man who stood by the hy-
drant just as we found the gold ? "

"Yes," Mr. Rapallo answered; "that was Joshua Hoff-

" I did n't see him go away," Tom continued. " I wonder
how long he stayed there."

" I 'd like to know how he came to be there at all," cried
Cissy Smith.

" That 's so," Tom declared. " How did he know what we
were going to do ? "

Mr. Rapallo did not answer this direct question. Indeed,
he parried it by another.

"How did your friend Corkscrew happen to get up so
early ? " he asked.

"I guess he won't feel encouraged to try it again,"
said Cissy. "You soused him well! Oh, how he did
twist and squirm when you turned the hose full on him !


It was more fun than the circus." And Cissy laughed
heartily at the recollection of Corkscrew's ludicrous ap-

So did the other boys; and Mr. Rapallo joined in their

" He did look a little surprised," said Uncle Dick. " I don't
believe he had expected quite so cold a welcome."

" If Corkscrew had only sprained his tongue instead of his
foot/' suggested Cissy, " so that he could n't ask any more
questions, it would be money in his pocket."

" I 'd like to ask a question myself," Tom declared. " I 'd
like to know how Corkscrew got news of our enterprise. I
did n't teU him."

There was a guilty silence on. the part of Harry Zachary,
as if he thought that possibly something he might have
hinted had been sufficient to bring Lott out of his bed at
daybreak, in the hope of finding out something he was not
meant to know.

By this time they had come to the flight of wooden steps
which led from the sidewalk to the knob of sand on which
stood Mrs. Paulding's house.

" Now, boys," said Mr. Rapallo, " I have to thank you for
the assistance you have been to us "

" Yes," almost interrupted Tom, " I 'm ever so much obliged
to you both."

"I don't know what we should have done without your
aid," Mr. Rapallo continued.

" Oh, that 's nothing," said Cissy Smith.


" We 'd do twice as much if we could/' said Harry Zachary.

" Now 1 've got to ask one more favor/ 7 Mr. Rapallo went
on. " I want you to promise me one thing."

" We '11 promise/' replied Cissy.

" Of course/' declared Harry.

" I want you to promise me/' said Uncle Dick, " not to tell
anybody about this morning's work."

"What?" cried Cissy, "not tell anybody?"

" Not ever tell ? " Harry asked.

It was obvious that both lads were grievously disappointed,
as they had hoped to set forth the whole story to all their
friends, with every interesting detail. Very few boys in
New York ever had a hand in the recovery of buried treas-
ure ; if they had to keep their share secret, Cissy and Harry
both felt that they were deprived of the advantage of the un
usual situation.

"Not for the present/' Mr. Rapallo said. "Of course I
know you will want to describe everything to your parents ;
and so you shall. But not to-day."

" To-morrow, then ? " asked Harry.

"Perhaps you may tell to-morrow," Mr. Rapallo replied.
" It is for the present only that I ask for secrecy. As soon
as I can release you from the promise, I will."

" Oh, very well," said Cissy, frankly j " I '11 promise."

" So will I," said Harry, with a sigh.

" If you are asked about anything, you can say that what
you did is Tom Paulding's secret, and that you have promised
to keep it solemnly/' suggested Uncle Dick.


" So we can/' Harry responded j " and I reckon that will
make them want to know all the more."

His friends handed Tom the two bags of the recovered
coins, and Mr. Rapallo relieved them of the spades. Then
Cissy Smith and Harry Zachary departed.

When Tom and Uncle Dick stood at the top of the little
flight of stairs, they saw Pauline come flying out of the house
toward them.

" Remember, Tom," said his uncle, " you must not tell what
you have been doing at least, not yet."

" I know that," Tom responded.

" Where have you two boys been ? " asked Polly.

" We 've ' been to London to see the queen,' " replied Mr.
Rapallo, gravely.

"And what have you got in those bags? those are the
ones I made for Tom, I 'm sure."

Tom looked at his uncle, and made no answer.

" That 's a secret," said Uncle Dick, laughing lightly as they
went up the walk to the house.

" But I 'm so good," cried the coaxing Pauline. " I ? m so
good you ought to tell me everything."

Tom and Mr. Rapallo were able to resist her blandishments,
and the curiosity of Pauline was not satisfied that day.



AULINE followed her uncle and her
brother rather despondently to the door
of the house.

" You need n't tell me anything if you
don't want to," she saidj "but I 'm good,
and I '11 tell you something and it 's
something you '11 be glad to know, too. Breakfast is ready ! n
And with that Parthian shaft of magnanimous reproach,
she sped past them into the house.

" We had best get rid of the dirt before we go to table,*
Mr. Kapallo suggested.

" Hydraulic mining is a pretty wet thing to do," Tom de-
clared. "I don't believe I Ve got a dry rag on me; and
there 's sand in my shoes and in my hair and in my ears."

They went upstairs, and Tom hid the four precious bags
under the pillow of his bed ; and then he made himself pre-
sentable for the breakfast-table.

He and his uncle had agreed that, if they succeeded in find-
ing the treasure, they should keep it a secret until they had
sold the gold and with the proceeds paid off the mortgage


that worried Mrs. Paulding. Mr. Rapallo had explained to
Tom that as the mortgagee had requested payment of the
bond there probably would need to be no delay whatever.
They might go down-town the next morning, sell the gold
and pay the mortgage off, all in two hours.

Then Tom counted on the pleasure of going to his mother
with the canceled bond and mortgage, and making her a

present of it. In imagination he had gone over the scene
half a dozen times ; and he longed for the flash of joy which
would surely pass over Mrs. Paulding's face.

Yet when Tom and his uncle came down to breakfast that
Decoration Day morning, the temptation to tell his mother
the whole story was almost more than the boy could resist.

Mrs. Paulding saw that something had happened, and that
her son was in an unusual state of suppressed excitement.
But she would not ask for any specific explanation, knowing
that Tom had had Cissy and Harry in the house all night,
and that the three boys had gone out early with Mr. Rapallo.
To this daybreak excursion with her brother she ascribed all
her son's excitement, and she wondered a little what they had
been doing to cause it. But she had perfect confidence in her
brother and in her son, and she knew that the latter would
surely wish her to share in any pleasure he had enjoyed j so
she asked no questions, content to be told whenever Tom was
ready to tell her, and unwilling to mar his delight in the tell-
ing by any obtrusive inquiries.

Pauline was less reticent. At least, she had less self-con-


" Tom Paulding ! " she exclaimed, as her brother took his
seat at the table, " what is the matter with you this morning ?
And where have you been? You are just bursting with
something to tell, and yet you won't let me know what it is."

" So you think Tom has something on his mind ? " asked
Mr. Rapallo.

" Indeed I do," she answered. " Do you know what it is ? "

" Yes," replied her uncle.

"And will you tell me?" she begged. "Remember that
I 'm your only niece, and I 'm so good."

" Oh, yes, 1 '11 tell you what Tom has on his mind, if you
want to know," said Mr. Rapallo.

Tom looked up at his uncle in surprise, but he caught the
twinkle in Mr. Rapallo's eye, and he was reassured.

" Well, what is it ? " Polly demanded. " Tell me quickly."

" It is a secret ! " Mr. Rapallo answered solemnly.

" Oh, I know that," returned Polly, disappointed.

" Then I need not have told you," said her uncle.

" You have n't told me anything really," the little girl con-
tinued. "At least, you have n't told me what the secret is."

"If I told you that," Mr. Rapallo declared, with great
gravity, "it would not be a secret any more, so it would be
no use to you."

" Oh ! " cried Polly, " I never had an uncle as aggravoking
as you are."

" Still, if you will conquer your just resentment," Mr. Ra-
pallo went on, " and pass me my cup of tea, I shall take it as
a favor and seek for an occasion to do as much for you/ 7


" Uncle Dick," said Pauline, " you are a goose ! "

" Pauline ! " called Mrs. Paulding, reprovingly.

" Oh, well, Uncle Dick knows what I mean," the little girl

" I deny that I am a goose," said Mr. Rapallo j " but I will
admit that Tom and I have been out this morning on a wild-
goose chase."

" Did you get any ? " asked Pauline.

" We got one/ 7 Mr. Rapallo replied j " it was a goose with
golden eggs."

" But that 's only a story," said the little girl, doubtfully.

" This was only a story j " her uncle answered, " but it came

" I don't think it 's at all nice of you to puzzle me like this,
Uncle Dick," Pauline declared, as she took Mr. Rapallo's
teacup from her mother's hands and passed it to her uncle.

" Thank your ladyship," said Mr. Rapallo.

" Oh," cried Polly, suddenly, " you are going to see two
girls ( ' ;

" Am I ? " asked her uncle. " How do you know ? "

" That 's what Katie always says when she finds two tea-
leaves floating in the cup," Pauline explained.

"Ah," exclaimed Mr. Rapallo, "so two leaves in my cup
mean that I am to see two girls ? And if they had been in
your cup "

" Then that would mean two boys," Polly broke in. " Of
course, I don't believe it at all, but that 7 s what Katie says.
She believes all sorts of things."


" And where is the Brilliant Conversationalist this morn-
ing ? " asked Mr. Rapallo.

" I think I heard the postman's whistle a minute ago/ 7 Mrs.
Paulding answered j "she has probably gone out for the

The Brilliant Conversationalist came in just then, with two
letters in her hand. One she gave Mrs. Paulding, and the
other she placed before Mr. Rapallo.

" There 's only one for you, Mr. Richard," she said, with
kindly interest. " Ye don't be gettin' as many as ye did."

" 1 7 m in luck to-day as well as you, Tom," said Mr. Rapallo,
when he had glanced over his letter, which he then folded up
and put in his pocket without further remark.

" How is Tom in luck to-day ? " asked Polly.

" That is part of the secret," answered her uncle.

" I don't like secrets," she replied, haughtily. "And I ; m
going to have some of my own," she added, hastily, " just to
tease you."

Mr. Rapallo laughed at this inconsistent threat. Tom
silently went on with his breakfast, scarcely trusting himself
to speak, for fear that he might say more than he meant.

Mrs. Paulding had been reading her letter ; and now she
laid it down with a sigh.

" It 's about that mortgage, Richard," she said, with anxiety
and weariness in her voice ; " they want it paid as soon as I
can pay it."

"Perhaps that will be sooner than you think, Mother,"
cried Tom, involuntarily.


" I agree with Tom/' exclaimed Mr. Rapallo, hastily break-
ing in. " You can never tell what may turn up. Perhaps
there may be good fortune in store for you."

" I 'm not much of a believer in luck/' said Mrs. Paulding,

"But, Mother, I know " began Tom, impulsively.

Again Mr. Rapallo interrupted him sharply. " Tom/' he
cried, " if you have finished your breakfast, we '11 go upstairs.
You may remember that we have something to do there."

" Now what can you have to do on Decoration Day morn-
ing, I 'd like to know," Polly declared. " I think this keep-
ing of secrets and making allusions and hints is just too
annoying for anything."

"Uncle Dick is right," said Tom, rising from the table.
" We have work to do to-day."

Then he went around to his mother and put his arm about
her and kissed her. He patted Polly's curls as he passed out
of the room, and she shook her head indignantly.

When they were upstairs Mr. Rapallo said to Tom, " You
came pretty near giving yourself away, then."

" I know I did," Tom answered. " I could n't bear to see
my mother worrying about money when I Ve got enough
here to make her comfortable."

" How do you know ? " asked Mr. Rapallo. " You have n't
counted it yet."

" I '11 do it now," Tom responded, and he took a bag from
under his pillow and emptied it out on the bed. Then he
rapidly counted the coins into little heaps of ten each. There


were forty-nine of these in the first bag, and three pieces

" You have made a pretty even division among the bags,
apparently/ 7 said Mr. Rapallo. " Two thousand guineas in
four equal parts would be five hundred in each bag ; and you
have four hundred and ninety-three in that one."

" I '11 count the others/ 7 Tom exclaimed, " and perhaps one
of them has seven guineas more than its share."

" You must not expect to find every one of the two thou-
sand guineas/' Mr. Rapallo declared} "that would be a little
too much. You must be satisfied if you have nineteen hun-
dred or thereabouts. It is a mistake to be too grasping. I
wonder if I am doing right myself, in trying for more than
I can get now ? You know that I have been at work on a lit-
tle invention? well, that letter I got this morning brought
me a very good offer for all my rights in it.' 7

" Are you going to take it ? " asked Tom, as he ranged the
contents of the second bag in little heaps of ten.

" I think not," his uncle answered. " I hope I can do better."

"There are five hundred and two in this bag," Tom de-

" That is to say," Mr. Rapallo commented, " you have nine
hundred and ninety-five in the two bags. At that rate you
would be short only ten guineas in the two thousand."

And this was almost exactly as it turned out. The third
bag contained four hundred and seventy-four, and the fourth
had five hundred and eighteen. Thus in the four bags there
were nineteen hundred and eighty-seven of the two thousand


guineas stolen from Tom's great-grandfather. Only thirteen
of them had been washed away or missed by the eager fin-
gers of Tom and his friends.

"How much in our money will nineteen hundred and
eighty-seven guineas be ? " asked Tom.

" A little more than ten thousand dollars, I think/ 7 his uncle

" Ten thousand dollars ! " repeated the boy, awed by the

"That is, if you get only the bullion value of the gold,"
continued Mr. Rapallo. " Perhaps some of the separate coins
here may have a value of their own, from their rarity. There
may be guineas of Queen Anne and of "William and Mary.
Some of them are perhaps worth two or three times their
weight as mere specie."

As Mr. Rapallo was speaking, Tom was rapidly turning
over the little heaps that had come out of the fourth bag,
which was still on his bed.

" These are all George the Third," he said, " every one of
them. There is n't a coin in this heap that has n't his head
on it."

" That is curious," said his uncle.

"And these are all of the same year, too," cried Tom.
4t Seventeen hundred and seventy."

" That is rather remarkable," Mr. Rapallo declared ; " but I
suppose you have there the contents of one of the old bags
which had been filled from a stock of coin received at one
shipment from the mint in London."


"But the other bags are all the same," Tom returned,
quickly examining the handful of coins he had taken from
one of the other bags.

" They can't be all alike," Uncle Dick responded. " Two
thousand guineas of the same mintage would be very unlikely
to be paid out all at once six years after the date."

" I have n't found a single guinea of any year but seven-
teen seventy," said Tom, looking at coin after coin.

" That is certainly suspicious," Mr. Rapallo remarked.

" Suspicious ? " echoed Tom.

" Oh ! " cried Uncle Dick, starting up. " I hope not ! And
yet it would explain one thing."

" What is it ? " Tom asked, with a first faint chill of doubt,

Mr. Rapallo did not answer. He went into his own room
and came back at once, with a small stone in his hand and a
glass bottle containing a colorless liquid.

Setting the bottle down on the table, he took at random a
guinea from each of the four bags ; and with each he made
a mark on the stone, on the fine grain of which he rubbed off
a bit of the soft metal. Then he put down the coins, and, tak-
ing up the glass stopper of the bottle, he touched a drop of
the liquid to the four marks. They turned dark and disap-
peared. Mr. Rapallo sighed, and cast a glance of pity on his

Then he plunged his hand deep down into each of the four
bags in turn and drew forth four more guineas, and tested
these as he had tested the first four j and again the marks
turned dark and disappeared.



" Uncle Dick, what are you doing ? " cried Tom. " Is any-
thing 7 '

" Tom," said Mr. Rapallo, placing his hand affectionately


on the boy's shoulder, " are you strong enough to learn the
truth at once ? "

" What do you mean ? " Tom asked, rising involuntarily,
with a sudden iciness of his hands and feet.

" I mean," his uncle answered, slowly, " chat I am afraid


that all these guineas you have toiled for so bravely are

" Counterfeit ? n repeated the boy.

" Yes/' Mr. Rapallo replied ; " I have tested eight of these
coins taken at random, and no one of them is gold. I am
afraid there is not a genuine guinea in all your two thousand

Tom said nothing for a minute or more. He drew a long
breath and stared straight before him. He heard the waver-
ing whistle of a river steamer ; and then he caught the faint
notes of a brass band leading a local post of the Grand Army
of the Republic to take part in the procession of the day.

At last he looked up at his uncle, and said, " Poor mother !
1 7 ve no surprise for her now."



NCLE DICK laid his hand gently on Tom
Paulding's shoulder.

"Brace up, my boy," said he, with
sympathy in his voice. " You have met
with a misfortune ; and just now it seems
to you as if the world was all hung with
black, and life not worth living. Look up, and you will see
that the sun is still shining outside. Live to be as old as I
am, and you will learn to expect little and to be satisfied with
less. In the meanwhile, keep a stout heart."

" I have thought about this so long, Uncle Dick," replied
the boy ; " I have n't thought of anything else for months
now ; and the money meant so much to us all it 's hard to
have to give it up all of a sudden, just when we 'd laid hands
on it at last."

" I know," his uncle responded. " The blow is hard to bear
at best, and you got it at the very moment when it was the
hardest to stand. I see that, and I am heartily sorry for you.
But you must not give up the struggle because you have lost
the first skirmish."


"You are right, I know," Tom returned, sadly. "But I
had so many good uses for those two thousand guineas.
They would have paid off the mortgage and kept mother from
worrying any more about that. Then I could have had an
education, as my father had and my grandfather they were
both graduated from Columbia College, you know and I
wanted to work at the School of Mines. Now I shall have to
go into a store j of course, I shall try and do my best there ;
but I don't believe that 's what I can do best. I like out-
doors, and the open air, and I used to see myself working
hard in the mountains, planning a mine and looking after
the work. Well," and he sighed again, " that 's all over now/'
and as he said this there was a lump in his throat.

" Perhaps not," his uncle remarked, quietly.

"But you said this money is all counterfeit?" Tom re-

" I think so," Uncle Dick declared.

" Well, then f " asked Tom.

" This is not all the money there is in the world," Mr. Ra-
pallo replied, cheerfully, " nor have you no other chances but
the one which has gone back on you this morning. Things
are never as bad as we think they are at first."

"I think I know just how bad this thing is for me," said
the boy, gloomily.

" You valued the finding of this buried treasure," his uncle
responded, "because of the uses you could put it to the
relief of your mother, your own education, certain advan-
tages for your sister. Well, these are all things which may


be obtained in other ways perhaps not all at once, but in

" I don't see how/ 7 said Tom, doubtfully.

"Neither do I now/' Mr. Eapallo replied; "if I did, I
should show you at once. But you did not mean to keep
your two thousand guineas as a miser's hoard to gloat over "

" Of course I did n't/ 7 cried Tom, forcibly.

" As you intended to spend it to produce certain results/ 7
his uncle went on, " the loss of this money is the loss only of
one of the means by which these results could be secured.
There are other ways of accomplishing them. You and I
must look them up. I am sure that we shall find something
even if it is not all we seek. You know that we make a
mistake if we expect the millennium over-night ; in my ex-

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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 12 of 13)