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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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sharp run he was caught, and brought back to the bonfire.
More fuel was heaped upon this, and it blazed up fiercely.
A stake was driven into the ground not far from the fire,
and Tom was tied to it, with his hands behind him. Then,
under the leadership of Cissy Smith, the Black Band circled
about the fire and the stake, with Indian yells and shrill
whistles. As the flames rose and fell on the shouting boys
and on the broken rocks which towered high above them on
both sides, an imaginative spectator might almost have fan-
cied himself gazing at some strange rite of the redskins in a
far canon of Colorado.













BOUT six o'clock Jimmy "Wigger's aunt
came for Mm. He begged hard for only
a few minutes more, but she did not yield
and he went away reluctantly. Other
members of the Black Band remembered
that their suppers would be waiting for
them ; and soon the assembly broke up. The smaller boys
were the first to go, and the Captain and Lieutenant of the
Black Band were the last to leave the blazing barrel which
now was almost burnt out.

Tom Paulding had released himself from the bonds that
bound him to the stake j and as he was stooping over the
embers to warm his hands, Cissy Smith proposed that they
should go for a walk through the woods between the River-
side Drive and the river. Tom agreed at once, and asked
Harry Zachary to come also.

Corkscrew Lott had started off ahead of them, but at the
first corner he, too, joined the group.
The boys walked down the street four abreast, Cissy rolling


along irregularly in his usual fashion. They crossed the
Riverside Drive and stood for a minute at the head of the
stone steps that led to the strip of steep woodland below.
There was a sharp whistle in the distance, and then an ad-
vancing roar; and a short passenger train rushed rapidly
past them, the flying white steam from the engine reddened
by the glare from the furnace as the fireman threw in fresh
fuel. Out on the broad river beyond, one of the night-boats
went up the river, its rippling wake gleaming in the bluish

" I wonder why little Jimmy's aunt came for him so early,"
said Corkscrew, twisting himself up on the parapet to get a
good look over it.

" If she 'd found him tied to the stake, and the Black Band
scalp-dancing all around him, she 'd have been 'most scared
out of a year's growth, I reckon," Harry Zachary commented.
His mother was a Kentuckian, and it was from her that he
learned Ins gentle w r ays and his excellent manners. He had
taken also from her an occasional Southern phrase not com-
mon in New York.

" I don't believe it would be much fun to be an Indian
really," Cissy remarked. " I guess they have a pretty hard
time of it when it 's cold and rainy leastwise those I 've
seen West did n't seem any too set up and happy." Cissy's
father, Dr. Smith, had only a short time before removed to
New York from Denver.

"Have you seen real Indians out West?" asked Tom
Paulding. " Were they on the war-path ? "


" Not much they were n't. They were coming into the
agency to get their rations/' Cissy answered.

"Did you kill any of 'em when you had the chance 1"
asked Harry in his usual timid voice.

"I did n't kill 'em. Of course not/' Cissy responded.
" Why should I ? "

Tom Paulding was kindly by nature, but he was a little
disappointed to learn that his friend had neglected a chance
to kill a redskin.

" Perhaps you 've never read a book called t Nick of the
Woods ' ? 3) Harry Zachary inquired. " That tells all about
a man they called the Jibbenainosay, who lived in the forest
and killed Indians, and marked every man he killed so that
they should know the handiwork of the Mysterious Avenger."

" My Uncle Dick, when he went up to the Black Hills, had
a fight with the Indians," said Tom.

" How many did "he kill ? " asked Corkscrew, promptly.

"He did n't know," replied Tom, "but"

" If he did n't know how many he killed what was the use
of talking about it ? " Harry Zachary asked. " That is n't
any way to do. The best plan is to be alone in the woods,
and take 'em by surprise, and kill 'em, one by one, and mark


" And suppose one of them takes you by surprise and kills
you, what then ? " Cissy interposed.

" I reckon I 'd have to take my chances, if I was an
Avenger," Harry admitted. " But in the books they 'most
always get the best of it."


" Let 7 s go down to the water as we said we would/ 7 sug-
gested Cissy.

" Look at that schooner/ 7 Tom cried, as they were going
down the long stone stairway. "She 7 s a beauty, and no
mistake. 77

" That 7 s the kind of a ship 1 7 d have if I was a pirate like
Lafitte/ 7 said Harry Zachary.

" How can you be a pirate now, when there are policemen
everywhere ? ' 7 asked Cissy, scornfully.

" 1 7 d like to be a pirate some place where there are n 7 t
any policemen/ 7 Harry explained. " Down in Patagonia, or
up in Greenland, or somewhere. 77

" They 'd be sure to send a big frigate after you/ 7 said
Tom Paulding ; " they always do. 77

" Then 1 7 d fight the frigate till the deck ran with blood/ 7
persisted Harry, with a tone of excitement in his gentle
voice. " I 'd nail the black flag to the mast ; and if they got
the better of us 1 7 d fire the powder-magazine and blow up
the whole boat and that would surprise them, I reckon. 77

" It is n 7 t the kind of surprise party J want/ 7 said Cissy
emphatically, as the boys came to a halt among the trees
near the railroad track by the edge of the river.

" How many pirates would there be on a boat like that ? "
inquired Lott.

"How many beans make five? 77 Cissy Smith answered
sarcastically. " There 7 s a Boston problem for you.' 7

Lott had been born in Boston, and he had lived in New
York less than a year.


"I wish I knew a place where a pirate had buried his
treasure," he remarked, paying no attention to Smith's taunt.

" Now, there 's another thing that 's great fun," Harry in-
terjected, " and that 's hunting for buried treasure. I 've
read all about that in a story called l The Gold Bug.' It 's
pretty interesting, I reckon, to dig under a tree with a skele-
ton or a skull on one branch, and to find thousands ancj
thousands of guineas and doubloons and pieces-of -eight."

" Pieces of eight what ? " asked Cissy.

" Pieces-of-eight why, that 's just the name they have
for them. They 're some kind of a coin, I reckon," replied

" Pieces of eight cents, very likely," Cissy returned. " I
don't believe it 's worth while wearing yourself out with
hard labor just to dig up a few pieces of eight cents. And
who would all these guineas and doubloons and pieces of
eight cents belong to when you found 'em ? "

" They 'd belong to us, I reckon," answered Harry.

" And just suppose they did n't ? " retorted Cissy.

" Suppose the rightful owner turned up," suggested Tom
Paulding j " the man who had buried the money during the
war, or the son of the man, or his grandson ? ''

Harry Zachary was a little taken aback at this. His
manner, always gentle and shy, now seemed milder than

" Well," he said at last, " I reckon I 'd have the luck to find
the treasure that belonged to our family that had been hid
by my father, maybe, or my grandfather."


" Shucks ! " cried Cissy, forcibly. " Being a pirate where
there 's no police and finding "buried treasure that belongs
to you I don't think that 's so very exciting, do you?"

Harry Zachary felt that this was a home thrust, and he
lhad no retort ready. Tom Paulding came to his rescue and
gave a practical turn to the talk.

" There 's a buried treasure belonging to us, somewhere,"
he said, conscious of the envy this remark would excite.

" Where is it ? " asked Corkscrew, promptly.

"If he knew where it was, don't you suppose he 'd hustle
round and get it ? n Cissy remarked.

" It is n't really buried treasure," explained Tom, " at least,
we don't know whether it 's buried or not, or what has
become of it. You see, it 's just a lot of money that was
stolen from my great-grandfather during the Revolutionary

"I guess the great-grandchildren of the man that stole it
have a better chance of getting it than you have," said Cissy.

"He did n't leave any family he did n't leave any trace
of himself, even," Tom replied. " He just disappeared, tak-
ing the money with him. He 's never been seen or heard of
since, so my mother told me."

" And I guess the money will never be seen or heard of,
either," Cissy remarked.

" How much was it ? " Corkscrew inquired.

" Oh, a lot ! " Tom answered ; " several thousand pounds
as much gold as a man could carry. He took all he could
lift comfortably."


" What would you do with it, if you had it ? " asked Cork-

" 1 'd pay off the mortgage on our house," said Tom,
promptly "And I 'd get lots of things for Pauline my
sister, you know ; and instead of going into a store as I 've
got to do next winter, I 'd study to be a mining engineer."

" 1 'd rather be a soldier," Harry Zachary declared.
" What would you like to be, Cissy ? "

" It does n't make any matter what I 'd like to be," replied
Cissy ; "I know what I am going to be and that 's a doctor.
Pa says that he '11 need an assistant by the time I 'm through
the medical school, and he allows he can ring me in on his

" I have n't made up my mind what I 'd like to be," said
Lott. "At first I thought I 'd choose to be an expressman,
because then I 'd get inside all sorts of houses, and see how
the people lived, and learn all sorts of things. But I Ve been
thinking it might be more fun to be a detective, because then
I could find out anything I wanted to know."

" I guess it would take the Astor Library to hold all you
want to know, Corkscrew," said Cissy, pleasantly, as the boys
began to retrace their steps up the hill j " but all you 're
likely to find out could be put in a copybook ! >:

Lott fell back a little and walked by the side of Harry

" I wonder what makes Cissy Smith so pernickety," he said.
" He 's always poking fun at me."

" I would n't mind him now/' responded Harry, consolingly,


" and when you are a detective you can find out something
about him and arrest him."

This comforting suggestion helped to keep up Lottos
spirits, although Smith made more than one other sarcastic
remark as the four climbed the hillside together.

" I can't bear that Corkscrew," Cissy confessed to Tom in
a whisper.

" Well/ Tom answered, also in a whisper, " I don't know
that I really like him, myself. But he 7 s one of the Black
Band now, and I suppose we must stand by him."

When the boys came out again on the high parapet of the
Riverside Drive, it was time for them to go home. They
went through the parting rites of the Black Band. Cissy ex-
tended his right hand and gave Tom the secret grip of the
society, while Lott and Harry Zachary clasped their hands in
the same mystic manner above Tom's and Cissy's.

Then Tom left them and went homeward. He lived
with his mother and his sister in an old wooden house
in a side street not far from the steps they had just as-
cended. The other three boys lived farther down along the

When Tom reached the flight of wooden steps that rose
from the sidewalk to the rocky terrace above, where his
mother's house was, he stood still for a moment. Then he
gave the same whistle with which Cissy had greeted him when
he drew near the bonfire that afternoon :


From over the houses and the little hills which separated
his home from Cissy's, he heard the answer :


Then the Captain of the Black Band and the Lieutenant
knew that all was well j and they went in and went to sleep
with clear consciences.

The talk that evening had turned Tom's thoughts to a
search for the stolen gold, and he dreamed of finding it in a
cave like the one the Forty Thieves lived in. But in the mid-
dle of his desperate struggle with six ferocious robbers (one
of whom had only one arm) there came a tap on his door, and
he waked with a start.



HE house in which Tom Paulding lived
with his mother and sister had origi-
nally been a small farmhouse. It haa
been built just before the Revolution
and by Tom's great-grandfather, the
officer from whom the gold had been
stolen. It was a square wooden house
with gable-ends and with a door in the middle j there was a
little porch before the door with a vine climbing by the white
wooden pillars. Originally it had stood on a knoll, overlooking
the broad acres of the farm as they sloped down to the river,
When the streets were regularly laid out through that part of
the city, making the upper portion of Manhattan Island as like
as possible to a flat gridiron, a lower level was chosen than
that of the house. The stony hill was cut through, and the
house now stood high on a bluff, rising sheer and jagged above
the sidewalk. A flight of wooden steps led from the street to
the top of the knoll ; and thence a short walk paved with well*
worn flagstones stretched to the front door, The house had


been so planted on the hill that it might command the most
agreeable view; but the streets had been driven past it
rigidly at right angles to the avenues, and so the house was
now " eater-cornered " across one end of a block.
I In the century and a quarter since Nicholas Paulding had
bought a farm and built him a house, the fortunes of his
children and grandchildren had risen and fallen. He himself
had been a paymaster in Washington's army ; and after the
Revolution he had prospered and enlarged his domain. But
as he grew old he made an unfortunate use of his money,
and when he died his estate was heavily involved. His son,
Wyllys Paulding (Tom's grandfather), had done what he
could to set in order the family affairs, but he died while
yet a young man and before he had succeeded in putting
their fortunes on a firm basis. Wyllys's son, Stuyvesant
(Tom's father), struggled long and unavailingly. Like
Wyllys and like Nicholas, Stuyvesant Paulding was an
only child j and Tom Paulding so far carried out this tradi-
tion of the family that he was an only son and had but one

Stuyvesant Paulding had died suddenly, when Tom was
about five years old, leaving his widow and his children
jnothing but the house in which they lived and the insurance
'on his life. Bit by bit the farm had been sold to meet press-
ing debts, until at last there was left in the possession of
Nicholas Paulding's grandson but a very small portior of
the many acres Nicholas Paulding had owned only the
house and the three city lots across which it stood. And


upon these lots and the house there was a mortgage, the in-
terest on which Tom's mother often found it very hard to

Tom's mother was a cheerful little woman ; and she was
glad that she had a roof over her head, and that she was able
to bring up her children and give them an education. The
roof over her head was stanch, and the old house was as
sound as when it was built. Mrs. Paulding was very fond
of her home, and she used to tell Tom and Pauline that they
were perhaps the only boy and girl in all New York city
with its million and a half of inhabitants, who had been born
in a house built by their own great-grandfather.

The household was small ; it consisted of Mrs. Paulding,
Tom, his sister Pauline, and the Careful Katie.

Cissy Smith had once told Tom that Mrs. Paulding was
"the nicest old lady in the world," and Tom had indig-
nantly denied that his mother was old. Perhaps she was not
old, but assuredly she was no longer young. She was a trim
little woman with a trim little figure. Her dark-brown hair
was turning gray under the widow's cap that she had worn
ever since Tom's father died. She was good-natured and
even-tempered j her children had never seen her angry, how-
ever they might try her ; to them she was always cheery and
she seemed always hopeful. As far as she might have power,
the path of life should always be smooth before her chil-
dren's feet.

Tom Paulding was the second member of the family ; and
he often looked forward to the time when he should be a


man, that lie might do something for his mother and for his

Tom called his sister "Polly," but her name really was
Pauline. She was nearly twelve years old, and she was
rather short for her years ; she kept hoping to be taller when
she was older.

" How can I ever feel grown up, if I have n't grown any I*
she once asked her mother.

She was rather pretty, and she had light-brown hair, which
she wore down her back in a pigtail. To live in a house
with a little spare ground about it was to her a constant de-
light. One of the two trees which Nicholas Paulding had
planted before his door-step, an ample maple, now spread its
branches almost over the porch; and to this tree Pauline
had taken a great fancy when she was but a baby. She
called it her tree ; and she used to go out and talk to it and
tell it her secrets. Tom had made her a seat on one side of
this tree ; and there she liked to sit with the cat and the kit-
ten. She was very fond of cats, and she had generally a
vagrant kitten or two, outcast and ragged, whom she was
feeding and petting. With all animals she was friendly.
The goats which browsed the rocks on which stood Mrs.
Rafferty's shanty, two blocks above on Pauline's way to
school, knew her and walked contentedly by her side ; and
the old horse which was always stationed before the shanty,
attached to a decrepit cart labeled " Rafferty's Express," knew
Polly and would affably eat the apple she took from her
luncheon for him. The name of this old horse was " Daniel"


There was not an animal anywhere on the line of Pauline's
daily walk to and from school that did not know her and
love her.

The fourth member of the household, and in some respects
the most important, was the Careful Katie. She was a ro-
bust, hearty Irishwoman who had been in Mrs. Paulding's
service for years. She had come to the young couple when
Tom's father and mother were first married, and she had
remained with the family ever since. She had been Tom's
nurse and then she had been Polly's nurse. Now, in their
reduced circumstances, she was their only servant, strong
enough to do anything and willing to do everything. She
could cook excellently ; she was indefatigable in housework
and in the laundry j she was a good nurse in sickness ; and
she had even attempted to raise a few vegetables, chiefly pota-
toes and beans, in the little plot of ground on one side of the
house. She was never tired and she was never cross. She
was a " Household Treasure," so said Mrs. Paulding, who also
wondered frequently how she could ever get on without her.

She had two defects only, and these in a measure neutral-
ized each other. The first was that she thought she wished
to go back to Ireland ; and so she gave Mrs. Paulding warn-
ing and made ready to depart about once every six weeks.
But she had never gone ; and Mrs. Paulding was beginning
to believe that she never would go. The second of her fail-
ings was that she was conscious of her long service, of her
affection for Mrs. Paulding and for the two children, and of
her fidelity ; and so she had come to accept herself as one of



the family and to believe that she was therefore authorized
to rule the household with a rod of iron. She was so fond
of them all that she insisted on their doing what she thought
best for them, and not what they themselves might prefer.
There were times when the Careful Katie carried things with
so high a hand that Mrs. Paulding caught herself half wish
ing that the attraction of Ireland might prove potent enough
to entice the child of Erin back to her native isle.

It remains to be recorded, moreover, that the Careful Katie
was very superstitious. She accepted everything as a sign or
a warning. She would never look over her left shoulder at
the new moon. She was prompt to throw salt over her right
shoulder, if by chance any were spilt while she was waiting
at table. She declared that a ring at the bell at midnight,
three nights running, foreboded a death in the family.

On the morning after election-day, the morning after the
Black Band had made Tom Paulding run the gantlet, and
had tied him to the stake, and had danced a scalp-dance
about him while he bravely chanted his defiant death-song,
the imitator of Hard-Heart and Uncas was late for breakfast.

Mrs. Paulding and Pauline were at table, and the Careful
Katie had placed the coffee-pot before his mother and the
plate of hot biscuit before his sister j and Tom's chair was
ready for him, but he had not yet appeared.

" It 9 s late Master Tom is," remarked the Irish member of
the family. " Will I call him ? "

The Careful Katie was fond of hearing herself talk, and
she was always ready to take part in the conversation at the


dinner-table j but her use of the English language left some-
thing to be desired.

" Tom will be down in a minute/' said Pauline ; " I knocked
on his door as I passed, and waked him up, and I kept on
knocking till I heard him get out of bed, and then he threw
a pillow at me down the stairs."

" An' who 's to be washin' that same pillow-case, 1 'd like
to know? It is n't yous that ? 11 do it it '11 be me, I 7 m
thinkin'," said the Irishwoman.

" Katie," interposed Pauline, pausing in her breakfast, " if
you were a good girl, a real good girl, you would bring
1 Pussy ' up and ' Bobby/ and let me give them their break-

"An ? where will I find Pussy? Bobby is quiet in the
kitchen with his feet to the fire like a gentleman j but Pussy
does be out all night," replied Katie, adding, "Ah, but there 's
the cat now, sittin' outside the window here as easy as you

" Then I '11 let her have her breakfast right away, if you
will please excuse me, Mama," cried Pauline, rising from the
table and pouring out a saucerful of milk.

She opened the window and called the cat, who came to
the sill and stood expectant. When Pauline was about to
set the saucer outside for Pussy to drink, the Careful Katie
saw what she was doing and rushed across the room.

<l Miss Polly," she screamed, " never be doin' that ! It 's
main bad luck to pass vittles out o' the window to a Chris-
tian, let alone to a cat."


Mrs. Paulding looked up and smiled, and then quietly
went on eating her breakfast.

" Pauline/ 7 she said, presently, " your own breakfast will
be cold."

" But just see how hungry Pussy is," the little girl said as
she came back to table.

" I 've a sup of hot milk in the kitchen," remarked Katie,
" an' I '11 get it for her. I 've heard it 's lucky to feed a cat,
an' when I go back to the old country, an' I'm goin' soon
now, I hope a black cat will walk in for a visit, the very
first day I 'm home again." And with this, she took Pussy
in through the window and went out into the kitchen.

"Sometimes I wonder how I should get along without
Katie," said Mrs. Paulding, " and then, when she frightens
you as she did just now, and overrides us all, I almost wish
she ivould go back to Ireland."

" We should never get another like her," Pauline declared,
" and she is so good to the pussies."

" I believe you think of them first," her mother said, smil-

" The poor things can't speak for themselves, Mama," the
little girl responded j " somebody must think for them."

The clock on the mantel struck eight.

" Tom will be late," said Mrs. Paulding.

"No, he won't," cried her son, as he hastily entered the
room. He kissed his mother, and then he took his seat at
the table.



RS. PAULDING watched Tom eat
half of his bowl of oatmeal. The*-, she
asked gently, " How is it yon were late,
my son ? "

" I overslept myself/' Tom answered,
" and when Polly knocked at the door I
was having a wonderful dream.
" It was about everything all mixed up, just as it is gen-
erally in dreams," went on Tom, "but it began with my
floating around the room. I often dream I can float about

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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 2 of 13)