Brander Matthews.

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

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perience it rarely comes before the day after to-morrow. 77

Tom smiled faintly at this speech of his uncle's ; and Mr.
Eapallo, who had been waiting for this smile, held out his
hand and gave the boy a hearty clasp.

"Now, do you remember, Torn," he asked, cheerily, as
though determined not to be downcast, " that you once told
me that there were two things that puzzled you when you
had first gone through the box of papers ? "

" Yes," answered his nephew. " First, I wanted to know
where the money was ; and second, I wondered why my grand-
father had given over the search so suddenly, as it seemed."

" We have solved both problems, I think, by this morning's
work," Mr. Eapallo remarked. "You found the money as
you had hoped, that was one thing; and then you found


that it was counterfeit, and perhaps that was the reason of
the other."

" Do you think my grandfather knew that the two thou-
sand guineas were not really gold ? " asked Tom.

" Yes/' answered his uncle.

" And that that was the reason why he gave over the search
all at once ? " Tom pursued.

" Yes," said Uncle Dick for the second time.

"But how could he know that?" cried the boy. "We
did n't find it out till we had found the money, and we know
he did n't find the money."

" Then he must have made the discovery in some other
way," declared Uncle Dick. " From whom did your great-
grandfather get the two thousand guineas ? "

"From a man named Simon Horwitz," answered Tom.
Then suddenly he cried, " Oh ! "

" Well ? " said his uncle.

"Well, I think you must be right/ 7 the boy explained.
" My grandfather must have been told of the fraud, and that
the buried treasure was n't worth bothering about. And the
way he knew this was, somehow, from the only man who
knew about the cheat."

" You mean Simon Horwitz ? " asked Mr. Rapallo.

" I '11 show you in a minute," said Tom, as he pulled out
the box of old papers and began to turn them over hastily in
search of a particular paper. At last he found what he was
seeking, and placed a folded piece of foolscap in his


* There ! " he said.

"This is indorsed l Notes of Horwitz's Confession/ but
there is nothing inside," Mr. Rapallo said, as he turned the
paper over. " However, I think I see how it was. When
your grandfather was collecting all possible information
about the stolen guineas, he finally got from the man who
had given his father the money a confession that it had been
paid in counterfeit coin that would account for the suspi-
cious delay in its payment, too. Thereupon of course your
grandfather ceased all effort to discover the whereabouts of
the stolen money which was really not money at all. He
indorsed the cover of these ' Notes of Horwitz's Confession ;
and put it with the other papers, or thought he did. At all
events, the cover of this confession is preserved with the other
papers. And we find it too late, when we have had all our
labor in vain."

" That would account for everything that used to puzzle
me," Tom responded.

"Now, if I were you/' said Mr. Rapallo, "I would go for
your friends, Cissy Smith and Harry Zachary, and get them
up here in this room j and I would tell them all about the
counterfeit coin; and I would release them at once from
their pledge of secrecy."

" Oh, Uncle Dick/' cried Tom, " would you let them tell
everybody ? "

" Why not ? " asked his uncle. " You cannot expect them
to keep our morning's work a secret forever."

" I suppose not," said Tom, doubtfully.


" Well, then," Mr. Rapallo continued, " the sooner they get
it over the better. Let them tell the whole story at once.
And the final surprise about the counterfeit money will make
the tale only the more interesting.' 7

" That 's so/ 7 Tom assented, perceiving at once the force of
this suggestion.

"You see, Tom/ 7 continued his uncle, "people generally
will not know that you were going to do anything in particu-
lar with the money, and they will never suspect your great
disappointment. Of course you need not tell anybody about
that.' 7

" Of course not/' Tom declared, with undue emphasis.

" Except your mother/ 7 Mr. Rapallo added.

"Must she know?" asked Tom.

" Certainly," was the firm answer. " Go and tell her and
Polly all about it at once. You may be sure that your mother
will be glad to learn that you wanted the money to help her."

" I think she would have been pleased if we could have
gone into her room and shown her the mortgage all paid off/ 7
said Tom, sighing again. " But there 's no use thinking of
that now. 77

" 1 7 ve an appointment," Mr. Rapallo declared, looking at
his watch, " or at least I am going to try to see a friend be-
fore he goes out. Will you come into your mother's room
with me before I go ? "

" Yes/ 7 Tom answered. " I may as well get it over as soon
as I can. 77

Mr. Rapallo led the way to Mrs. Paulding's room ? the door



of which stood wide open, as usual. Tom's mother was seated
by the window, and by her side there was a basket of the
household linen, which she was repairing. Pauline had a
low chair by her mother's ; and she was hemming towels.


u Just look at that hem, Uncle Dick ! " cried Polly, as Mr.
Rapallo entered the room. " I think it 's as good, almost, as
if it had been done on a machine."

" Is there any trouble ? " asked Mrs. Paulding, reading the
faces of her brother and her son.


" No," answered Mr. Rapallo. " There is no trouble of any
kind, but Tom lias had a sore disappointment, and I think it
will do him good to tell you all about it."

Mrs. Paulding looked up, and Tom bent over and kissed

" Tom is a little crushed just now, Mary," Uncle Dick con-
tinued. " But he will get over it, and it won't hurt him. A
boy is a little like a ball : you throw it down and it bounds,
up unhurt that is, if it has any spring in it ; and Tom has
plenty of that."

When Mr. Rapallo nad left them, Mrs. Paulding looked
up at Tom again with a smile, and said, " Now, my boy, tell
me all your trouble."

And Tom told her the whole story, his hopes, his expecta-
tions, his success, his disappointment. While he was telling
it, his mother's quick sympathy sustained and cheered him.
And when he had told her everything, he felt comforted, and
the world was no longer hung with black.



FTER telling his mother and his sister the
circumstances and the result of the quest
which had occupied his mind for six
months and more, Tom Paulding felt
a little better. Already he was able to
bear the poignant disappointment more
bravely, and he tried to keep down the bitterness he had
felt at first. By resolute determination he put away all
repining, and so, as the day wore on, he began to pick up
heart again.

In the afternoon he took Harry Zachary and Cissy Smith
up into his own room, and he explained how it was that their
labors were in vain. He showed them the counterfeit coins
and repeated for them Mr. Rapallo's test with the touch-

" If we VI only known," said Cissy, " that the gold we were
after was n't gold at all, we would n't have been so keen after
it, and we should n't have tried so hard to throw Corkscrew
off the scent."


" I don't think I ever read of a buried treasure," remarked
Harry, " that was n't real. It 's just as though the wicked
magician had got hold of the secret talisman and had changed
the coins from gold to dross."

" Shucks ! " returned Cissy, forcibly ; " the only wicked
magician was that Simon Horwitz, and he 'd have to have
had a talisman against old age and death, if he wanted to
be alive now."

" Do you want us to keep this a secret any longer? " asked
Harry, a little anxiously.

" No/' Tom answered, " Uncle Dick says that the sooner it
is known the sooner it will be forgotten."

" I don't want to forget it," was Cissy's reply. " I enjoyed
all I had to do with it. And if it had been twice the trouble,
I 'd have done it three times over, just for a sight of Cork-
screw Lott twisting himself up into a double-bow knot when
your uncle got the range on him ! "

Even Tom was moved to laughter when he recalled the sur-
prise expressed on Lott's face when he first received the full
force of the stream of water.

At school the next day, when the news had spread, Tom
was overwhelmed with questions of all sorts. Fortunately
the comments of Corkscrew Lott were not made in Tom's
hearing, or there might have been a renewal of the Battle of
the Curls. Apparently Corkscrew remembered that decisive
combat ; and what he had to say about Tom Paulding's silly
conduct was said behind Tom Paulding's back. No doubt
this was wisest, for it is greatly to be feared that a fight


would have been a great relief to Tom's feelings just then.
Perhaps Corkscrew was shrewd enough to suspect this ; at
any rate, he kept out of Tom's way, and there was no overt
act of hostility. Since the Battle of the Curls Corkscrew had
continued to grow, and he was now nearly six feet high ; he
was by far the tallest boy in the school, and his long boots
served to exaggerate his height ; but Tom was in a frame of
mind that would have made it dangerous for any one to have
stood up before him in a fair fight.

At dinner that night Mr. Rapallo was late. He was a little
quieter than usual, perhaps, and took pleasure in drawing
Polly out and in getting her to talk about her school and her
school friends.

The little girl mentioned that one of her friends was in bed
with a bad attack of " new-mown hay."

Uncle Dick was puzzled. " I suppose you mean ' hay-
fever,' ' he said, "but this is not the season for it."

" It is n't ' hay-fever' at all," she declared, " it 's new-mown
hay; that 's what the doctor called it."

" Oh! " and her uncle laughed out, "I see now. You mean

" That 's just what I said," Polly asserted.

" Mary," said Mr. Rapallo, turning to Mrs. Paulding,"you
do not know how happy I have been here with you ; and .1
myself don't yet know how much I shall miss you all."

" You are not going away ? " asked Mrs. Paulding.

" Again ? ' cried Polly ; and you have only just come
back "


Tom said nothing, but he looked at his uncle j and Mr.
Rapallo knew by this glance how much his nephew would
regret his departure.

" I am going away to-night," Uncle Dick declared.

"To-night?" echoed Polly.

" I hope you will not be gone so long as you were the last
time," Mrs. Paulding exclaimed.

" I 'm afraid I shall be gone longer," Mr. Rapallo answered.
" In fact, I don't know when I shall be back. 1 7 m a rolling
stone, you see, and I am always rolling on and trying to
gather moss. I leave New York to-night for San Francisco,
and next week I expect to sail for Australia."

" But you won't stay there long ? " Polly inquired.

"I doubt if I do," he answered; "for I have to go to
Japan and China and India. And when I shall get back
here again, I cannot venture even to guess probably not
for several years."

"Oh, Richard," said Mrs. Paulding, "I had hoped you
would settle down here with us ! "

"I hoped so, too," her brother replied, "but I ? m a wan-
derer on the face of the earth, and there is no use in my try-
ing to cast anchor anywhere. I Ve got to go out again into
deep water now, and I suppose I may try to make myself
believe that I start unwillingly; but I don't deceive my-
self. I 'm getting restless again ; I Ve seen the symptoms
for some time ; to-day the fever was at its height, so I took
up with an offer Joshua Hoffmann made me, and I start off


" Then Marmee won't get her Chr " Polly was going to
finish with " istmas present," when she remembered

" Yes, she will," Uncle Dick remarked.

"I did n't say it out not all of it," explained Pauline,

"And I did n't need you to remind me about it," her uncle
responded, smiling.

Tom was sitting still, saying nothing, and thinking that
his uncle's absence would leave a great void in the household,
and almost wishing that he, too, might go to see these strange
countries, Australia and India, China and Japan.

" When I went away at the beginning of the year," Mr.
Rapallo continued, " I was working out a little invention I
had to travel about here and there, investigating and Im-
proving my model. At last I completed it, and yesterday a
man to whom I had shown it wrote and offered me a good
price for it. I thought of refusing at first, but I went to
see him yesterday afternoon, and we had a long talk, and
finally I accepted the offer. This morning I received my
money. It was a little more than I needed to pay off the
mortgage on this house "

" Eichard ! " cried Mrs. Paulding, her eyes filling with tears,
while Tom's face flushed with sudden pleasure.

"And I thought that was the best thing I could do with
the money," Mr. Rapallo went on; "so Mr. Duncan and
I arranged with the lawyer of the mortgagee, and here
is the document canceled. The first of June is a little


late for a Christmas present, I know j but better late than


" I do not think I ought to let you give me this money of
yours," said Mrs. Paulding.

"I do not think you can help yourself/' answered her
brother. "The deed is done or at least the mortgage is,
and that leaves the deed free. If Tom had had better luck
with his hydraulic mining, I should n't have interfered with
his intended arrangements, of course."

" I wanted to pay off the mortgage myself," said Tom, " but
1 7 d rather have you do it than any one else j and of course
I 'm delighted that it is done. Mother won't worry now,
that was what I wanted most."

" I know that," his uncle replied, " but you want to go to
the School of Mines also if you can, don't you ? "

" Now with the mortgage no longer hanging over me, I
think I can manage that," Mrs. Paulding declared.

" I think it can be arranged without any expense to you,"
Mr. Rapallo responded.

" How ? " cried Tom. " I wish it could ! "

" Well," Uncle Dick began, " I >11 teU you how. Mr. Joshua
Hoffmann "

" That 's the Old Gentleman who leaned over the Wall,
isn't it? "asked Tom.

" The Old Gentleman who leaned over the Wall is Mr.
Joshua Hoffmann," Mr. Rapallo replied. " He is an old friend
of mine, and it is on his business that I am going to the East.
One day when you passed us I told him about you, Tom,


and about your quest for buried treasure j and that is why
he was standing by the hydrant yesterday morning when we
were experimenting with the ' working hypothesis/ He was
greatly interested in your success j he liked your hammer-
ing out your puzzle for yourself and he was glad that you
wanted a scientific education. When I told him about the
unfortunate end of our wild-goose chase how we had found
a goose that laid eggs of imitation gold he listened most
attentively and with real sympathy. This morning he said
to me, 'If that nephew of yours wants to come to me for
the summer as a sort of private secretary you say he writes
a good hand I '11 take him with me on the Rhadamanthus;
and if I find him to be what I think he is, I '11 send him to
the School of Mines at my own expense and give him a place
at the Eldorado Works when he graduates. A boy with
gumption and with grit that 's the kind of boy I like to
have about me/ J

" Oh, Uncle ! " cried Tom.

" Will you accept ? " asked Mr. Rapallo.

" Won't I ! " Tom returned. " That is, if mother can spare
me this summer."

" I shall miss you, my boy, no doubt," Mrs. Paulding an-
swered, " but of course you must go. The chance is too good
to lose."

So it came to pass that Tom Paulding went on a quest for
buried treasure ; and found it ; and it was worthless. He
wanted the money for a double purpose j and these things


came about in other ways. Yet his wild-goose chase had
not been a piece of folly; he felt himself stronger for the
striving, and perhaps he was stronger for the disappoint-

Whether his quest had been altogether a failure or not was
a question Tom Paulding never solved. Sometimes it seemed
to him that perhaps it may be a bad thing for a boy of New
York at the end of the nineteenth century to expect to find
buried treasure ready to his hand ; the boy might just as
well hope to have a fairy godmother. Now, we all know
that fairy godmothers are very infrequent nowadays in fact
it may be said that they have gone quite out of fashion.




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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 13 of 13)