Brander Matthews.

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

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the Horn, and were at last almost in sight of
port, a terrific storm caught them and blew
them far out of their course, and finally
wrecked them on Sable Island, that well-
filled graveyard of good ships.
When at last Richard Rapallo was taken off in an American
Vessel, he again met with misfortune, for the ship was captured
by the Confederate cruiser "Alabama," then just starting from
England on her career of destruction. The American crew
saw their ship burnt before their eyes. They were sent off in a
little fishing- smack to make their way home as best they could.
Richard Rapallo was only fifteen when he returned to New
York and went back to school. He was barely seventeen
when he enlisted in the army, then about
to make its final effort to crush the Con-
federate forces and to capture Richmond.
It was in January, 1865, that he enlisted j
and in February his regiment had its first
(skirmish. Taken by surprise, two companies were
rounded and forced to surrender. Richard had scarcely seen
any fighting, he had hardly heard a shot fired, but he was
taken prisoner like the rest; and a prisoner he remained
until the war was over.

Since the surrender of Lee there was hardly anything that



Richard Rapallo had not done j and there was hardly any-
where that he had not been. The restlessness which had led
him to run away as a school-boy had grown
with the years and with the lack of re-
straint, until it was quite impossible for him
to settle down in any one spot for long.

Young as he was then, only nineteen, he
had had charge of an important exhibit at the Paris Exposi-
tion of 1867. There he formed friend-
ships which led him to Algiers and thence
to Syria and to Egypt. After long wan-
derings in the Dark Continent he came
back to New York again 5 and he was
present at his sister's marriage to his old friend and school-
fellow, Stuyvesant Paulding.

Then again he started out, to the West
this time, as if he had had his fill of the
East. He had a ranch for a while ; and he
was in the legislature of Nevada for a term j and he was one

of the first men to enter the Black Hills.

He became interested in a patent for hy-
J? draulic mining, and it was to introduce this
that he left America for Australia.

Here he traveled far into the interior ;

and he was gone so long with a party

of friends that it was feared they had all been lost in the bush.

From Australia he had gone up to China and Japan, and

then down again to Calcutta and Bombay, forming one of a


party which ascended some of the loftiest peaks of the Hima-
layas. On his way to Europe he was invited to join an ex-
ploring expedition to the antarctic regions; and when the
explorations were concluded, it was by one of the ships of
this expedition that he was taken to Cape Colony. In time
he wandered north to the diamond-mines, and there he had
remained nearly a year.

In all his voyages and his journeyings, in the haps and
mishaps of his varied career, he had sharpened his shrewd-
ness, mellowed his humor, and broadened his sympathies.
There could be no more congenial companion for a healthy
and intelligent and inquiring boy like Tom Paulding ; and,
long before Sunday night, uncle and nephew were on the best
of terms.

" I Ve been l Jack of all trades,'" said the man to the boy ; "I
hope you will be master of one. Make your choice early and
stick to it, and don't waste your life as I have wasted mine."

Tom wondered whether this could mean that Uncle Dick
was not as rich as he and Polly supposed that an uncle ought
to be especially an uncle just back from the diamond-fields.

He was a little reassured on Sunday evening when Uncle
Dick brought out a large tarnished pebble, and told them
that it was a diamond.

Tom felt that only a rich man could afford to keep dia-
monds looking as shabby as that.

As to whether he wished his uncle to be rich or not, Tom
could not quite determine off-hand. He himself would pre-
fer to find the guineas stolen by Jeffrey Kerr, and with them
to pay off the mortgage and make sure his own future and


Ms sister's. But if lie did not find the guineas, and lie
confessed that he had made no great progress as yet, then,
of course, it would be very convenient indeed to have in the
house a wealthy and generous uncle.

Tom went to bed on Sunday night trying to make up his
mind whether his uncle was rich, and whether he wanted his
uncle to be rich.

Almost the last thing that he heard his uncle say, as he
went up to bed that night, made him suspect that perhaps a
man might come back from the diamond-fields of South
Africa without being enormously wealthy.

What Uncle Dick had said was this : " I 've gone abroad
on many a cruise, and I Ve been in many a port, but my
ship has never come home yet." Then Uncle Dick laughed
lightly and added, " Perhaps she is now refitting for the voy-
age at my castle in Spain."

Tom knew that a castle in Spain was the sole residence of
the absolutely homeless, and he thought that this speech
meant that his Uncle Dick's having was less than his hope.

On Monday morning, as Tom went off to school, Uncle
Dick started with him, saying, " I Ve two or three things to
attend to down-town before I go to see Joshua Hoffmann,
and I suppose I 'd better start early."

" I can show the way to the elevated railroad station," Tom
suggested, as they went down the little flight of steps to the

" I don't want any elevated railroad station," replied his
uncle. " I 'm going to walk. ' Shanks's mare ' is my steed :


it does n't take money to make that mare go but on the
other hand it 's true that mare does n't go very far."

Pauline was a little late that morning, and when she came
to kiss her mother good-by, before going to school, she could
not resist the temptation of the opportunity. She said :

"Marmee, can I ask you a question?"

" Certainly, Polly dear," was the answer.

" It 's about Uncle Dick/' Pauline went on, shyly.


" Well, is he very rich ? " she asked at last.

Mrs. Paulding looked down at her little daughter and said,
" Why do you ask that ? "

" Because Tom and I thought that if Uncle Dick had been
picking up diamonds I wonder if they do it in Africa with
raw meat and a big bird as they did in l Sindbad' if he 'd
been finding diamonds, why, of course he was very rich, and
he 'd pay the mortgage and make you more comf ortable and
we 7 d all be happier."

"Your Uncle Dick," Mrs. Paulding said, smoothing her
daughter's hair, " is not rich. He has very little money, and
he has gone now to see Mr. Hoffmann hoping he can get a
situation of some sort here in New York."

" Oh ! " said Pauline, " then he is poor ? "

"Yes," her mother answered. "He is not in need, of
course j but he has little or no money."

" I must tell Tom as soon as I can," Pauline remarked,
gravely ; " and now he has just got to find that stolen money
at once."



ITHIX forty-eight hours after Mr. Richard
Rapallo's arrival at Mrs. Paulding's house,
he had made himself quite at home there.
He took his place in the family circle easily
and unobtrusively, and before he had been

/ /

in the house more than a week, Pauline found herself won-
dering how they had ever got on without Uncle Dick ; Tom
recognized in his uncle the wise friend for whom he had
been longing of late ; Mrs. Paulding was very glad to have
her brother with her again ; and even the Careful Katie was

"It 's a sight for sore eyes," she said, "to see Mrs. Pauld-
ing so cheerful ! And Mr. Richard was always a lively boy
and kept the pot a-boilinV

In the Careful Katie Uncle Dick took amused interest.
Her willingness to enter now and then into the talk at the
dinner-table afforded him unending entertainment. He usu-
ally called her the "Brilliant Conversationalist"; and as he
knew that this was a nickname she would not understand,


he did not hesitate to allude to the Brilliant Conversational-
ist even when Katie was actually present.

He delighted in drawing her out and in getting at the
strange superstitions in which she believed, for they came up
in the most unexpected ways. He would set Pauline to lead
her on about signs and warnings. Having been told that
the dropping of a knife meant the coming of a " beau " or of
" some other gentleman/ 7 and that the dropping of a fork in-
dicated the visit of a lady, he was greatly puzzled to know
what the dropping of a spoon could portend. Pauline agreed
to find out for him.

Pauline and her uncle were great friends. He had be-
come interested in her and in her doings at once, and he had
the art of seeing things as she did. In time she wholly for-
got that there was a great difference of years between them,
and she came to talk with her uncle as with a comrade of her
own age.

She reported that the fall of a spoon foretold that " it " was
coming "it" being something vague, unknown, impossible
to predict with precision.

" I see," said Uncle Dick, when Polly told him this. " I
see it all now. The scheme is as simple and as logical as
one could wish. The knife indicates that the coming visitor
is masculine, while the fork is the feminine of this prediction,
and the spoon is the neuter."

" So it is ! " Polly declared, with surprise. " It 7 s just like
the grammar, then, is n't it? And I think grammar is
horrid ! "


"There is n't much English grammar left nowadays,"
Uncle Dick returned. " We have shaken off most of the un-
necessary distinctions of more complicated languages. In
French, now, the sun is masculine, while in German it is

"Then, if I was a French-and-German girl I should n't
know whether the sun was a man or a woman f " asked Polly.
" I think that would be terrible ! "

"It would be terrible indeed," Uncle Dick answered,
gravely ; " but perhaps the sun would still shine, even if you
did n't know its gender."

" Grammar 7 s bad enough," continued the little girl, " but
sometimes I think joggraphy 's worse."

" Oh, it 's joggraphy still, is it ? " asked her uncle. " It
used to be when I was a boy at school."

"Of course it 's joggraphy," she returned, in surprise.
" What could it be ? "

" I did n't know," Uncle Dick responded. " I thought that
perhaps it might now be geography."

" Oh, Uncle Dick ! " said Polly, blushing, " I think it 's real
mean of you to catch me like that." Then, after a little
pause, she added, "We do say joggraphy, I know that is,
we generally shorten it to jog. We shorten everything we
'can. We say Am. hist, for American history, and comp. for
compositions, and rith. for arithmetic."

" I suppose that you have to condense a great deal," Uncle
Dick remarked, gravely, " because you have so little time be-
fore you."


Pauline did not see the irony of this. She went on gaily :
" I don't like jog. any more ; we are in Africa now "

" I should n't have thought it, from the weather here/' Uncle
Dick interrupted, glancing at the window, through which he
could see the falling flakes of the first snow-storm of the

" I mean we are in Africa in our jog./' she explained.

" I see/' he answered, sedately.

" And I don't like it at all. It 's all so hard and so so dry."

" I 've found Africa very dry myself/' admitted her uncle.

"Have you "been there?" she asked. Then she added
hastily, " Why, of course you have. You were at the dia-
mond-fields. Now, is n't that funny ? I read about the dia-
mond-fields in my jog., and it never struck me that they
were real places, you know, where real people might be, as
you were."

Uncle Dick laughed a little. " I can understand that," he
remarked. " They were simply a name on the map simply
something that you had to study out of a book not some-
thing interesting, and alive, where there are men and women
and children. Well, I '11 try and make you take a little more
interest in that name on the map."

Then he lifted her on his knee and told her about the
diamond-fields. He described the country thereabouts and
the difficulties of the journey there. He explained how the
mines were worked, and he' showed her that the laborers
there were human beings with good qualities and bad quali-
ties of their own. He set before her in a few graphic words



the different nationalities that are to be found in South
Africa the English colonists, the Dutch settlers, and the
native Africans.
When he had come to an end of his description, Pauline


kissed him and said, " Uncle, I shall never hate jog. again.
I had no idea it was so interesting. And besides, when we
have a review now, I shall know ever so much more than any
of the other girls. I shall surprise them so ! '

Uncle Dick smiled again. " I Ve had that feeling myself/
lie confessed. " When I went back to school after 1 7 d been



on a voyage, geography was my favorite lesson, because I 'd
seen so many of the places. I remember to this day how
conceited I was when I told them all that it was n't necessary
to go around Cape Horn if you could get into the Strait of

I '11 remember that, too," Polly declared, promptly.
As long as we were at work on South America," continued
Uncle Dick, " I was all right. I 'd been around it, and I
thought I knew all about it ; and of course I had seen more
than any of the others. But pride had a fall at last, and
conceit got knocked on the head as soon as we finished
America and began on Europe."

" Had n't you been to Europe f " she inquired.

" Not then j I did n't cross the Atlantic until '67, at the
time of the Paris Exposition. And as I knew, or thought I
knew, all about South America, I 'd got into the habit of not
studying my geography lesson. There were times when I
did n't even open the book. So one day, I can remember
now how the school looked when the teacher asked me the
question, it was late in June, and we were all restless. I
think the teacher saw this and wished to make it as easy for
us as she could, so she called on me. She had found out that
I liked to talk, and that the other boys liked to hear me be-
cause I used to bring in words and phrases I 'd picked up
from the sailor-men during our long voyage. So she called,
1 Rapallo/ and I stood up. And she asked, ' Which way does
the Nile flow ? 7 Now, I did n't know anything at all about
the Nile or about Africa, and I was at a loss. I hesitated,


and I tried to remember how the Nile looked on the map.
But I had n't really studied the map, and I could n't remem-
ber anything at all. So I did n't know what to say. I stood
there foolishly, thinking as hard as I could. Then I tried to
get out of it by luck or else by sheer guessing. So when she
repeated the question, 'What is the course of the Nile?' I
answered boldly, l Southwest by south. 7 And you should
have heard how the boys laughed ! The teacher had to join
in too."

And Uncle Dick himself laughed heartily at the recollec-
tion of his blunder.

Pauline smiled, a little doubtfully.

" I think I '11 go out and get a taste of that snow-storm,"
said her uncle, rising. "It is the first I 7 ve seen in three

As soon as Uncle Dick had left the house, Pauline went to
her own room and got down her geography and turned to
the map of Africa. She wished to make sure of her own
knowledge as to the course of the Nile, so that she could en-
joy her uncle's blunder.



HE snow-storm kept up all night, and in
the morning there was no denying that
winter had come at last. The steep slopes
of the Riverside Park were covered three
inches deep. The boys got out their sleds
and began to coast. A sharp frost fol-
lowed the snow-storm and froze the water out of the snow, so
that it was too dry to make into balls.

Before the Christmas vacation began, the aspect of the
landscape had undergone its winter change. The skies were
dull and gray, though the frosty sunset glowed ruddy over
the Jersey hills. Ice began to form in the river the night-
boats had ceased running weeks before ; and now the long
tows of canal-boats were seen no more. Even the heavy
freight-boats and the impudent little tugs became infrequent,
as if they feared to be caught in the ice. The long freight-
trains stood still on the tracks of the railroad down by the
water's edge, or moved slowly past as the powerful locomo-
tives puffed their white steam into the clear cold air.


Uncle Dick was in and out of the house in the most irregu-
lar way. Generally he went out early in the morning, and
sometimes he did not return till late at night. Mrs. Pauld-
ing never delayed dinner in the hope of his coming back in
time for it. He had told her not to expect hrm until she saw

" I Ve many things to do/ 7 he explained, " and I Ve many
people to see, and sometimes I have to catch them on the
jump, when I get the chance."

Just what his business was he never explained. He did
not tell any one in the house whether or not he had suc-
ceeded in securing the situation for which he had applied
to Joshua Hoffmann. Pauline was very curious, and she
wanted to ask her uncle about this ; but she thought it would
not be polite. She was always glad when Uncle Dick " took
an afternoon off," as he phrased it, for then he was likely to
spend a good part of it talking to her.

Tom had been busy with the examinations at school and
with the preparations for Christmas at home, so that it was
not until the vacation began that he found an opportunity to
consult his uncle about the lost guineas.

On the afternoon before Christmas, Tom went out to give
an order for the supplies his mother needed to meet an un-
expected demand for several kinds of cake which a tardy
customer of the Woman's Exchange had called for. Having
done his errand, he turned into the Riverside Drive and began
to walk along the parapet.

When he came near the handsome house which Mr. Joshua


Hoffmann had recently built, he saw a carriage stop before
the door. Two gentlemen got out, and the carriage drove
around the corner to the stable. One of these gentlemen was
tall, thin, white-haired, and evidently very old, although he
still carried himself erect. The other was Tom's Uncle Dick.

The old gentleman apparently asked Mr. Rapallo to enter
the house, and Uncle Dick declined, shaking hands and bid-
ding good-by. The elderly man went up the few steps which
took him inside his own grounds ; then he paused and called
Mr. Rapallo back. Leaning over the low stone wall which sur-
rounded his lawn, the old gentleman had a brief talk with
Uncle Dick a talk which ended a little before Tom came
opposite to them.

Then the elderly man again shook hands with Mr. Rapallo
and went into the house.

As Uncle Dick turned he caught sight of Tom Paulding.

" Hullo, youngster ! " he cried across the road. " Don't you
want to go for a walk I "

It seemed as if Uncle Dick could never have enough
walking. Tom thought sometimes that his uncle took long
tramps just to humor his restlessness to "let off steam," as
Tom expressed it.

Mr. Rapallo crossed the road and joined Tom. "Where
shall we go ? " he asked.

" Are you in a hurry ? " Tom inquired.

" 1 7 m never in a hurry," he answered.

" I mean, have you time for a long talk with me ? " was
Tom's next question.







lt Of course I have," he replied. " We 've all the time there


" Then I '11 take you up and show you the place where my
great-grandfather was robbed/ 7 said Tom, as they dropped
into the steady pace at which Mr. Rapallo always walked.
" I 've been wanting to tell you all about it and to get your

"Advice is inexpensive," laughed his uncle; "there is n't
anything I can afford to give more freely. But I 'm afraid
you 11 not find it a very substantial Christmas present."

" You see, Uncle," Tom pursued, eagerly, " I 've worked on
this now till I Ve done all I can. 1 've got to the end of my
rope, and I thought that you could help me out with your

" I Ve had plenty of experience, too," returned Uncle Dick.
" If experience was an available stock in trade, I could fit up
a store and sell off my surplus supply. I 've more than I
need for my own use. I Ve been pretty nearly everywhere,
and I 've seen all sorts of things, and I 've met all sorts of
people, and I 've nothing to show for it now but experience."

"Your not having money does n't make you miserable,
anyway," said Tom.

" I 'm richer than anybody I ever met," Uncle Dick declared,

Tom looked at him in surprise.

" I don't jiean in mere money," he went on. " Money is
only one of the standards by which you measure riches and
it is n't a very good one, either. I 'm rich because I have all


I want. I 've met wealthy men in all parts of the world in
New York and in New Zealand, among the Eskimos and
among the Arabs; they had different ideas of wealth, of
course, but they were all alike in one thing they all wanted
more. 1 7 ve never met a very wealthy man who did n't want
more than he had. Now, I don't. I 'm content. And that 's
'the best gift of heaven to man' contentment. It takes
few things to give it. Health, first, of course j then freedom j
then food and clothing j after that, a roof over one's head
and a fire if it is cold. 1 7 ve been in places where clothing
and fire and shelter were not needed, and where the food
grew wild for the picking. In those places a man can get the
essentials of life very easily. But however he may get them,
the main thing is to be content with little. After all, I be-
lieve contentment is a habit. So I advise you to get accus-
tomed to being content as soon as you can. Then you will
never long to change places with a wealthy man. "With most
of them, the more they have the more they want. I was talk-
ing just now with a very wealthy man "

" The Old Gentleman who leaned over the Wall ? " Tom in-

" The Old Gentleman who leaned over the Wall," his uncle
assented. " He has money, houses, lands, mines, ships ; but
though he is old and has now earned his rest, and though the
care of all these things wears on him, still he wants more. He
is a good man, too, one of the best men in the world to-day,
and probably he wishes for more money only that he may
do more good with it. But he does wish for it, all the same."


" I 'm afraid I 'm not so content as yon, Uncle Dick/' said
Tom. "I want more than I have. You know mother is
troubled about that mortgage, and I 'd like to go to the School
of Mines, and I think Pauline ought to have a chance, too ;
so that 's why I 'm trying to find the gold which was stolen
from my great-grandfather."

" It 's a boy's habit to be hopeful and striving," Uncle Dick
replied. " I should not wish you to look at the world with
my eyes yet a while. But even when you are trying for what
you think would better you even then you can be content
with what you actually have. Now tell me all about this
gold which vanished suddenly and was seen no more."

Tom began at the beginning and told Uncle Dick the whole
story. He took Mr. Rapallo over the ground, and showed
the exact position of the two armies on the night of the rob-
bery. He had in his pocket the map Nicholas Paulding had
roughly outlined. With the aid of this he traced for Uncle
Dick the course of the little stream which had separated the
hostile camps the night before the battle, and he pointed out
the stepping-stones by means of which a passage might have
been had from one bank to the other. He gave Mr. Rapallo
all the information he had been able to extract from the pa-
pers gathered by Wyllys Paulding. He explained all the
circumstances of Jeffrey Kerr's taking the bags containing
the two thousand guineas, and of his escape with them. He
dwelt on the fact that after the second sentinel had fired on
Kerr, the thief had never been seen again, so far as anybody


" In other words/' said Uncle Dick, " this man Kerr took
the money, ran outside our lines, and then vanished."

" That 's it exactly," Tom replied.

"And when he vanished, the gold disappeared too," Mr.
Rapallo continued. " You are right in calling this a puzzle.

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