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Title: The Buried Treasure - Old Jordan's "Haunt"
Author: Castlemon, Harry
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: DON AND BERT GORDON AND THE “CIRCUS-HOSSES.”]



  _BOY TRAPPER SERIES._

  THE
  BURIED TREASURE;

  OR,

  OLD JORDAN’S “HAUNT.”

  BY HARRY CASTLEMON,

  AUTHOR OF “THE FRANK NELSON SERIES,” “THE SPORTSMAN’S CLUB SERIES,”
  “GUNBOAT SERIES,” &C.


  PHILADELPHIA
  HENRY T. COATES & CO.



FAMOUS CASTLEMON BOOKS.


  =GUNBOAT SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 6 vols. 12mo.

  FRANK THE YOUNG NATURALIST.
  FRANK IN THE WOODS.
  FRANK ON THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI.
  FRANK ON A GUNBOAT.
  FRANK BEFORE VICKSBURG.
  FRANK ON THE PRAIRIE.


  =ROCKY MOUNTAIN SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo.
  Cloth.

  FRANK AMONG THE RANCHEROS.
  FRANK IN THE MOUNTAINS.
  FRANK AT DON CARLOS’ RANCH.


  =SPORTSMAN’S CLUB SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo.
  Cloth.

  THE SPORTSMAN’S CLUB IN THE SADDLE.
  THE SPORTSMAN’S CLUB AFLOAT.
  THE SPORTSMAN’S CLUB AMONG THE TRAPPERS.


  =FRANK NELSON SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo.
  Cloth.

  SNOWED UP.
  FRANK IN THE FORECASTLE.
  THE BOY TRADERS.


  =BOY TRAPPER SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

  THE BURIED TREASURE.
  THE BOY TRAPPER.
  THE MAIL-CARRIER.


  =ROUGHING IT SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

  GEORGE IN CAMP.
  GEORGE AT THE WHEEL.
  GEORGE AT THE FORT.


  =ROD AND GUN SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

  DON GORDON’S SHOOTING BOX.
  THE YOUNG WILD FOWLERS.
  ROD AND GUN CLUB.


  =GO-AHEAD SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

  TOM NEWCOMBE.
  GO-AHEAD.
  NO MOSS.


  =FOREST AND STREAM SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo.
  Cloth.

  JOE WAYRING.
  SNAGGED AND SUNK.
  STEEL HORSE.


  =WAR SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 5 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

  TRUE TO HIS COLORS.
  RODNEY THE OVERSEER.
  MARCY THE REFUGEE.
  RODNEY THE PARTISAN.
  MARCY THE BLOCKADE-RUNNER.

  _Other Volumes in Preparation._


  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1877, by
  PORTER & COATES,
  In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.



CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER I.

  Godfrey Evans                   Page 5

  CHAPTER II.

  Godfrey builds Air-castles          22

  CHAPTER III.

  Dan’s strategy                      36

  CHAPTER IV.

  The Shooting match                  54

  CHAPTER V.

  Godfrey finds something             72

  CHAPTER VI.

  Our friends, the Gordons            90

  CHAPTER VII.

  The new comers                     105

  CHAPTER VIII.

  Dan makes a discovery              125

  CHAPTER IX.

  Old Jordan’s “haunt”               141

  CHAPTER X.

  What Godfrey’s visitor wanted      157

  CHAPTER XI.

  Old Jordan shows himself           176

  CHAPTER XII.

  Old Jordan in trouble              194

  CHAPTER XIII.

  How Clarence found it out          215

  CHAPTER XIV.

  Don’s experiment                   231

  CHAPTER XV.

  A joke that was no joke            248

  CHAPTER XVI.

  Conclusion                         268



THE BURIED TREASURE.



CHAPTER I.

GODFREY EVANS.


“Wal, of all the dinners that ever a white man sot down to, this yere
is the beat!”

The speaker was Godfrey Evans--a tall, raw-boned man, dressed in a
tattered, brown jean suit. He was barefooted, his toil-hardened hands
and weather-beaten face were sadly soiled and begrimed, and his hair
and whiskers looked as though they had never been made acquainted with
a comb. As he spoke he drew an empty nail-keg from its corner, placed
a board over the top of it, and seating himself, ran his eye over the
slender stock of viands his wife had just placed on the table.

The man’s appearance was in strict keeping with his surroundings. The
cabin in which he lived and everything it contained told of the most
abject poverty. The building, which was made of rough, unhewn logs,
could boast of but one room and a loft, to which access was gained by
a ladder fastened against the wall. It had no floor and no windows,
all the light being admitted through a dilapidated door, which every
gust of wind threatened to shake from its hinges, and the warmth being
supplied by an immense fire-place with a stick chimney, which occupied
nearly the whole of one end of the cabin. There were no chairs to be
seen--the places of these useful articles being supplied by empty
nail-kegs and blocks of wood; and neither were there any beds--a
miserable “shake-down” in one corner being the best in this line that
the cabin could afford. Everything looked as if it were about to fall
to pieces. Even the rough board table on which the dinner was placed
would have tumbled over, had it not been propped up against the wall.

Godfrey Evans had seen better days. He had once been comparatively well
off in the world; but he had lost all his property through no fault of
his own, and the loss so disheartened him that he would make no effort
to accumulate more. At his time of life it was too late to begin again
with empty hands, he said; so he accepted the situation, but with a
very bad grace, and spent the most of his time in roaming about the
woods with his gun on his shoulder, and the rest in bemoaning his
altered circumstances, and denouncing those of his neighbors who were
more fortunate than himself.

Godfrey’s family consisted of a wife and two sons--the latter aged
respectively seventeen and fifteen years. His wife was a meek-faced
woman who had seen a world of care and trouble, and who, while
submitting patiently to her hard lot, hoped for better things, and
placed unbounded confidence in her youngest son, David, who was
animated by an energetic, manly spirit, which contrasted strangely with
his father’s indolence and indifference. Godfrey seemed content to pass
the remainder of his days in that hovel, destitute of all the comforts,
and even suffering for many of the necessaries of life; but David was
not. He had high aspirations, had formed plans, and, better than that,
he had perseverance and pluck enough to carry them out. Of him and his
brother, Daniel, we shall have more to say as our story progresses. It
will be enough, now, to tell the reader that if they had been utter
strangers, they could not have been more unlike each other. David was
of a lively, cheerful disposition, and his entry into the comfortless
hovel he called home, was like a ray of sunshine bursting through a
storm cloud. Daniel, on the other hand, was like his father, morose and
sullen, and when he came home from the woods or the steamboat landing,
where he spent the most of his time, it seemed as if a thunder cloud
had suddenly settled down over the cabin.

Having drawn his nail-keg up to the table, Godfrey thrust his hand into
his pocket, pulled out his jack-knife, and picking up the fork that lay
beside his broken plate, held the two close together and looked at them
intently for several minutes. The fork was not such a fork as the most
of us use at our meals. It was simply a piece of cane sharpened at one
end; and perhaps this story will fall into the hands of some who can
remember, or who have heard it said, that there was a time, not so very
long ago, when a good many families in the South, who had all their
lives been accustomed to something better, had their choice between
employing their fingers at table, or using such an implement as this we
have just described.

“Look at this yere, now,” said Godfrey, “jest look at it, I say, the
hul on yer, an’ then ax yerselves if it aint a purty pass fur a man to
come to, who had a nice house, a fine plantation and four niggers of
his own, only twelve short years ago! Eh?”

“We can’t help it, father,” said Mrs. Evans, who knew that her angry
husband expected her to say something. “We had comforts once, and we
might have them now if--if----”

“Yes, in course we might, if them Yanks had stayed to hum, whar they
belonged,” Godfrey almost shouted. “We didn’t do nothin’ to them that
they should come down here an’ burn our houses an’ cotton gins, an’
steal our things, did we?”

“The Federals didn’t do it all, father,” said David. “They burned our
buildings, just as they burned the buildings of almost every man who
was in the rebel army; but we should have had enough left to get along
with, if Redburn’s guerillas had left us alone. They didn’t leave us a
bed to sleep on!”

“That’s what makes me so pizen savage agin everybody,” exclaimed
Godfrey, pounding with the handle of his knife on the table. “The men
what wore the same colored jacket as I did, came here and tuk what
the Yanks left us. Why didn’t they go up to Gordon’s an’ clean them
out too? Kase Gordon was a gen’ral, that’s why. That fuss was a rich
man’s war, an’ a poor man’s fight, that’s jest what that fuss was;
an’ everybody can see it now that it is done past. Men like me had to
stay in the ranks an’ carry a musket, an’ starve an’ freeze in the
trenches--that’s what we had to do; while rich planters, like Gordon,
lived high in their tents, rode their fine hosses, stole the sanitary
goods the Yanks sent to their fellers in Richmond, an’ thought they was
a fightin’ for the ’federacy.”

“Why, father, General Gordon was wounded no less than three times,”
said David.

“S’pose he was,” replied Godfrey.

“An’ while he was fighting the Feds in front of Richmond, some more of
them came here and burned down his splendid house, that ours wouldn’t
have made a woodshed to, and stole everything his family had.”

“No, they didn’t do nothing of the kind,” answered his father, almost
savagely. “They burned his house, I know, an’ sarved him right, too.
I’m glad of it; but as fur stealin’ everything the Gordons had, that
ain’t so. No ’taint. The gen’ral’s got heaps an’ stacks of money now.”

“I don’t believe it,” said David, bluntly.

“If you want me to lay that cowhide over yer shoulders right peart, you
jest conspute me that ar way onct more,” said Godfrey, setting down
his cup of buttermilk. “Whar did them speckled ponies come from that
Don and Bert ride around the country, I’d like to know, if the Gordons
hain’t got no money? I was up thar the other day when it rained so
hard, an’ the gen’ral, bein’ mighty perlite, axed me would I come in
an set till the storm was over. Wal, I went, an’ what did I see? The
fust thing I laid my eyes onto was a pianner that them gals thumps on
when they had oughter be workin’ in the kitchen. They was a settin’
the table fur dinner, too; an’ didn’t I see silver forks thar, an’
white-handled knives, an’ chiny, an’ all them things that would jest
set me onto my feet agin if I had the money they cost? I did, I bet ye.
Hain’t got no money, hey, the Gordons hain’t? I know better. They have,
an’ that’s what makes me so pizen savage. How have they got any more
right to have to nor I have? We both fit the Yanks, an’ I made a poor
man of myself by it, while the gen’ral is jest as well off as he ever
was. Things ain’t fixed right in this yere ’arth, no how!”

“Thar they come now,” said Dan, who sat where he could look out of the
door and up the road that led toward General Gordon’s plantation.
“Thar they come, ridin’ them circus-hosses, and talkin’ an’ laughin’ as
though they was the happiest fellers in the world. Everybody is happy
’ceptin’ us. If I had what one of them ponies is wuth, I wouldn’t have
to wear no sich clothes as these yere,” added Dan, raising his arm and
pulling his sleeve around so that he could see the gaping rent in the
elbow. “If I could run one of them hosses off an’ sell it without being
ketched, I’d do it to-night!”

“O, Daniel, don’t talk so,” said his mother quickly.

“An’ why not, I’d like to know?” retorted Dan. “Has them fellers any
right to go a gollopin’ about the country on horseback, while I’ve got
to hoof it all the while, an’ go barefoot too?”

“No, they hain’t,” said Godfrey. “They’ve got jest as much right to
hoof it as any of us; an’ we’ve got the same right to ride on horseback
that they has. We could do it onct, an’ we’ll do it agin! yes, we will,
fur times is goin’ to change with us, an’ purty soon too. Now, don’t
forget what I’m tellin’ ye; ye’ll see the eyes of the Gordons, an’ all
the rest of the folks about here, a stickin’ out as big as _that_,”
said Godfrey, flourishing his clenched hand over the table. “As big as
that, I say, an’ afore many days, too--p’rhaps next week!”

“Whats goin’ to happen, pop?” asked Dan.

“Something that’ll----”

Godfrey glanced out at the door, and seeing that the boys, whose
approach had started the family on this subject of conversation, were
near at hand, put on a very wise look and winked knowingly at his son,
who was obliged to restrain his curiosity for the present.

We must stop here long enough to say a word concerning the new-comers,
as it is possible that we shall often meet them hereafter. Their names
were Donald and Hubert Gordon, and they lived about a mile from the
cabin in which Godfrey Evans and his family lived. And in what part of
the world was that? It doesn’t much matter, for as there is more truth
than fiction in some of the incidents we are about to describe, we do
not care to go too much into details. It will be enough to say that the
scene of our story is laid, and that all the actors therein lived, in
one of our Southern States not very far from the Mississippi river. As
our tale progresses some attentive reader, who has paid close attention
to his history, may be able to locate the exact spot.

Two boys with more cheerful, happy dispositions than Don and Bert
Gordon possessed, it would be hard to find anywhere. Don was sixteen
years of age and his brother one year younger. The former was a
robust, manly youth, who took great delight in all out-of-doors sports,
and who, like many other healthy youngsters, had some glaring faults
that were the occasion of no little anxiety to his father and mother.
One was his great propensity for mischief. He was not fond of books or
school, but any wild scheme for “fun,” as he called it, particularly
if it involved some risk on the part of those who participated in it,
would enlist his hearty sympathy and cooperation. This led to the
most unpleasant episode in Don’s life. He was a student at a certain
high school in a neighboring city, and being thrown into the company
of uneasy spirits like himself, he very soon so far forgot the solemn
promises he had made his mother before leaving home, that he assisted
in laying plans for mischief which others carried into execution. After
that but little urging was necessary to induce him to take part in them
himself; and being at last detected in some act that had been strictly
forbidden, he was promptly expelled from the school.

It was wonderful what a change that made in Don Gordon. He began to
see that his conduct was not calculated to gain and hold the respect
of those whose respect was worth having, and thus far his resolution
to do better had been firmly adhered to. There is a turning point
in everybody’s existence--a time when a decision made affects one’s
whole after career--and who knows but this may have been the critical
period in Don’s life? It was not the disgrace attending his expulsion
from school that awoke him, for that had a different effect. It made
him spiteful and rebellious. It was the treatment he received after
he reached home. Fortunately his father and mother were the kindest
parents in the world, and the friendly talk they had with Don on the
evening of the day he arrived at home, opened the young man’s eyes; and
every promise he made then had been faithfully kept. He and his brother
were now prosecuting their studies at home under the direction of a
private tutor who lived in the house with them.

Bert Gordon was not like his brother in anything except his appearance.
His features resembled Don’s, but instead of the latter’s tough, wiry
body, he had a slender little figure that could endure but trifling
exposure and hardship, and a delicate constitution that had been badly
shattered by the plague of that south-western region--the fever and
ague. He took but little interest in the violent sports of which his
brother was so fond; and if he had consulted his own inclinations, he
would any day have chosen an easy-chair and a good book in preference
to a morning’s gallop. But the doctor insisted on daily exercise, and
that was one reason why General Gordon had purchased the “speckled
ponies” which were so obnoxious to Godfrey Evans and his son Dan.

The ponies were beauties, and Dan called them “circus hosses” because
their color was piebald, like that of a performing steed he had once
seen in a small show that stopped for a day at Rochdale, as the
steamboat-landing three miles distant was called. Their long, wavy
manes reached to their knees, their tails swept the ground as they
walked, and their favorite gait was an easy amble which scarcely moved
their riders in the saddles. They were not fiery or swift enough to
suit Don, who always went at a high-pressure rate, but they suited Bert
very well. They would stand fire like old cavalry horses, and many a
fine bunch of quails and squirrels had their owners shot from their
backs.

As the boys came ambling along, talking and laughing with each other
as though they felt at peace with themselves and all the world, the
inmates of the cabin turned to look at them.

“Another dog,” growled Godfrey, as his eyes rested on a splendid young
pointer that trotted along behind Don’s horse. “They’ve got a new dog
every day. What it takes to keep them wuthless curs would make me rich!”

“They are not worthless curs,” said David, in a low tone. “They are
fine hunting dogs, and the general has one that cost him a hundred
dollars!”

“An’ the Gordons hain’t got no money, I think I heared ye say,” sneered
his father. “How then can they buy dogs with a hundred dollars, I’d
like to know?”

“Don’t talk so loud,” interrupted David. “You don’t want them to hear
you, do you?”

“I don’t keer who hears me when I say----”

Just then there was a clatter of hoofs in front of the cabin, which
ceased suddenly as the new-comers drew rein before the open door.

“Is David at--O, I beg pardon,” exclaimed a cheery voice. “We did not
know you were at dinner. We will wait, as we are in no hurry.”

“I’m here, and ready to serve you any way I can,” said David, rising
from the block of wood which served him for a chair. “I have finished
my dinner.”

“All right,” said Don. “I’ve brought you a new dog to break for me.
Isn’t he a beauty? He is a present from a friend living in Memphis. He
is five months old, and as I found him standing the chickens in the
yard this morning, I think it high time he was taught something. I’ll
give you what I promised, and what we gave you for breaking the others.”

While Don was speaking, Godfrey, who sat within reach of his son,
turned about on his barrel and slily pulled David by the sleeve of his
coat; but the boy paid no attention to him--that is, he did not look
at him. But he did pull his sleeve out of his father’s grasp, and move
toward the other side of the door out of reach.

“I’ll do the best I can with him,” said David.

“And that will be as well as anybody can do,” returned Don. “We will
leave him in your charge and I hope the next time I see him, I can take
him to the field for a good day’s sport. Take the best of care of him,
for he is a valuable animal.”

David caught the pointer by a collar he wore around his neck, and led
him behind the cabin to a kennel he had there, while the brothers,
after lifting their hats to Mrs. Evans, turned about and galloped away.

“You’re a purty son, you are,” said Godfrey, as David, having secured
the pointer, came back and seated himself on his block of wood again.
“Didn’t yer feel me a pullin’ an’ a haulin’ at yer coat, an’ tryin’ to
tell yer not to promise to break that pup fur them ’ristocrats?”

“I did,” answered David.

“Then why didn’t ye pay some heed to it?”

“Because I want the ten dollars--that’s why.”

“Ten dollars!” repeated Godfrey, opening his eyes. “Is that what yer
goin’ to get fur it? It’s a heap of money fur a boy like you to make so
easy, an’ that’s just what makes me ’spise them Gordons so. They’ve got
ten dollars to pay fur breakin’ a pup that haint wuth his salt, an’ I
haint got ten cents to buy grub with. Just look at this yere!”

Godfrey went on moving his jack-knife over the table which was supplied
with nothing but corn bread, fat bacon and buttermilk in the way of
eatables and drinkables.

“Now aint this a purty mess for a white man an’ a gentleman to set
down to? If I couldn’t remember the time when things was different, it
wouldn’t be nigh so hard; but I can. ’Taint so very long ago that we
had fresh meat, an’ coffee, an’ pies, an’ cakes, an’ light bread fur
grub, an’ I had a pipe of store tobacker to smoke arter eatin’ it; but
now--dog-gone sich luck!” cried Godfrey, striking the table such a blow
with his open hand that the dishes jumped into the air, and the cracked
pitcher, which held what was left of the buttermilk, fell in pieces,
allowing its contents to run out among the plates.

“Thar’s something else gone up,” said Godfrey, his anger appeased for
the moment by the sight of the ruins of the pitcher. “An’ I haint got
no stamps to buy another. Dave, I don’t keer if ye be goin’ to get ten
dollars fur it, don’t ye tech that pinter pup ’ceptin’ to tote him back
where he belongs. Do ye hear?”

“I reckon I do,” replied David.

“Wal, be ye goin’ to mind what I say to ye?”

“No, I aint.”

“Ye haint? I say to ye, boy,” exclaimed Godfrey, raising his hand over
the table again, “boy, I say to ye----”

“Now, pop, don’t break no more dishes,” interrupted Dan, “’kase if ye
do, we’ll have to eat off’n bark plates purty soon, an’ drink out’n
gourds. Let Dave break the pinter pup if he wants to. What odds does it
make to you?”

“It makes a heap of odds, the fust thing ye know,” replied his father.
“Kase they’s ’ristocrats, an’ we’ve got just as good a right to have
ten dollars to pay somebody fur breakin’ our huntin’ dogs, as they
have. An’ ’sides, don’t they make things wuss fur poor folks like us
nor they’d oughter? They do, an’ this is the way they go about it: Look
at them pack of hound dogs they brought down from Kaintuck last summer!
I don’t say nothing about the money they throwed away when they bought
’em, an’ which was more’n enough to keep all our jaws a waggin’ fur one
good year, I bet ye, an’ on good grub too, but I jest axes ye, what’s
them hound dogs fur? Why just as soon as the leaves begin to fall,
them youngsters will take to the swamps, an’ them hound dogs will go a
tearin’ an’ a yelpin’ through these woods at sich a rate, that the fust
thing we know the game will all be done drove out of the country, an’
we can’t get nu deer nor bar meat fur grub. That’s what makes me ’spise
them hound dogs so.”

These remarks of his father’s recalled to Dan’s mind an incident that
had happened during the previous spring. He brightened up suddenly
as if he were thinking of something that afforded him infinite
satisfaction.



CHAPTER II.

GODFREY BUILDS AIR-CASTLES.


“Them hound dogs needn’t worry you none,” said Dan. “I’ll take keer of
them!”

“What be ye goin’ to do?” asked his father.

“I’m goin’ to make them two fellers what owns ’em promise to let my
things they finds in the woods alone, or----”

Here Dan glanced hastily at his brother. David was looking intently at
his plate, but the expression on his face told that he was listening
with all his ears. So Dan did not finish the sentence, but raised his
hand to his face and shut one eye as if he were glancing along the
barrel of a rifle.

“Goin’ to shoot ’em, be ye?” exclaimed his father. “Wal, say so then,
and don’t be afraid. Nobody ain’t agoin’ to harm ye fur it.”

“Yes,” said Dan doggedly, seeing that his secret was out. “I’m goin’ to
shoot ’em!”

“You hadn’t better stay about here after you do it,” said David. “The
general will have the law on you.”

“How’ll he find out who done it, I’d like to know?” snapped his
brother. “An’, ’sides, hain’t I got jest as much right to spile his
things as his boys have to spile mine? Didn’t I meet ’em one day last
spring as they were ridin’ out of the woods on them circus hosses of
their’n, an’ didn’t they tell me that they’d pulled down more’n a dozen
turkey traps they’d found among the hills, kase it was agin the law,
or, if it wasn’t it had oughter be, to ketch turkeys at that time of
the year? An’ didn’t I go straight to the woods when I left them, an’
didn’t I find that it was my own traps they had pulled down? You’re
right I did; an’ I said then that I’d get even with ’em some day fur
that same piece of work. You want to keep a close eye on that pinter
pup,” he added shaking a warning finger at his brother.

“I believe you,” answered David. “A fellow who will take revenge on
a dumb brute for something his owner did to him, is mean enough for
anything, and perhaps I had better take good care of myself, too. If
you intend to hurt the dog say so, and I will take him back where he
belongs.”

“Wal, seein’ it’s you, I wont tech him,” said Dan, with more eagerness
and haste than the circumstances seemed to warrant. “But arter his
owner gets him in his hands, he wants to watch out. Now, pop,” added
Dan, seeing that his father was about to speak, “don’t you go to
raisin’ a row. Let Dave break the dog, if he wants to. It don’t cost
you nothing. What did you mean when you said a little while ago that
things is a goin’ to change with us?”

Godfrey’s face lost its angry scowl and brightened at once.

“I meant something that’ll extonish ye when ye hear it--the hul on ye,”
he replied, with a cheerful wink at his hopeful son, “an’ it won’t take
me long to tell it, nuther. You remember that when the war fust broke
out, Gen’ral Gordon, knowin’ which side of his bread had the butter
onto it, got all his money changed into gold and silver, and brought it
here to his house an’ hid it, don’t ye?”

Of course the family all remembered it. The incident had offered gossip
for the neighborhood for months after it happened.

“Wal,” continued Godfrey, “when the Yanks come in here, them gold and
silver dollars, an’ all the watches belongin’ to the family, an’ all
the silver an’ chiny dishes, an’ them gold things Mrs. Gordon an’ her
gals wore around their wrists, was done took an’ hid. They was buried
in the ground, some in one place an’ some in another, so’t the Yanks
couldn’t find ’em. Mrs. Gordon an’ her gals buried some of ’em with
their own hands, among the flower-beds in front of the place whar the
house then stood, an’ one of the niggers, ole Jordan--ye remember him,
I reckon--done buried the rest. I know, kase Jordan told me so hisself.
Jordan, ye know, was raised by the gen’ral’s father from the time he
was a picaninny, an’ bein’ as honest as a nigger ever gets to be, his
missus she sot a heap of store by him, an’ said thar wasn’t no better
servant a goin’.

“Wal, when the gen’ral’s wife, she heared that the Yanks was a comin’
with them gunboats of their’n, she sent fur Jordan an’ she says to
him: ‘Jordan, you see that thar bar’l? Thar’s eighty thousand dollars
in gold an’ silver into it. Now, Jordan, you take that thar bar’l,
an’ tote it off as quick as you can, an’ hide it in the ground, an’
remember an’ don’t let nobody see ye, an’ don’t say nothin’ to nobody,
nuther.’ So Jordan he done tuk the bar’l an’ rolled it down to the
tater patch, and digged a hole as quick as he could an’ kivered it up,
an’ nobody, not even the missus, don’t know whar he put it!”

Here Godfrey paused to take breath, and leaning his elbows on the
table, looked from one to the other of the little group before him to
see what they thought about it.

“Wal, what of it?” said Dan, who was the first to speak.

“What of it?” repeated his father. “Thar’s a heap of it, the fust thing
you know--a hul bar’l full; an’ what’s to hinder us from gettin’ it fur
our own, I’d like to know?”

A gleam of intelligence shot across Dan’s swarthy face, and even David
and his mother looked up and began to take some interest in what
Godfrey was saying.

“Jordan went off with the Yanks that very night, an’ he hasn’t been
seed since,” Godfrey went on. “That was ten year ago, come next
winter, an’ nobody don’t know whar that bar’l with the eighty thousand
in gold and silver is. I was to hum on a furlong then, ye know, an’
kept hid in the cane while the Yanks was here; but I seed Jordan, an’
he told me that the bar’l was in the tater patch. I jest happened to
think of it this mornin’ while I was a huntin’ in the swamp; an’ then I
axed myself, wasn’t I a dunce to be livin’ in this way, when thar was
eighty thousand dollars to be had fur the diggin’? An’ I told myself
yes, I was. So I come hum right quick, an’ I’m done huntin’ fur a
livin’ now!”

“Are you going to look fur that barrel, father?” asked David.

“I aint a goin’ to do nothing else. I know right whar that tater patch
was, an’ me an’ Dan’ll dig it so full of holes that the folks up to
Gordon’s house will think an army is goin’ to build a fort thar.”

“And what will you do with it if you find it?”

“What’ll I do with it?” cried Godfrey, rising to his feet, spreading
out his arms and turning slowly around so that his son could have a
good view of him. “Can you look at me an’ all of us an’ ax me what I’ll
do with it? I’ll keep it fur myself, an’ spend it like a lord, too!”

“Would you like to have somebody serve you that way?” asked David. “It
wouldn’t be honest.”

“Honest!” Godfrey almost screamed. “Jest listen to him, now! That’s
what makes me ’spise them Gordons so. They can’t keep their big
’ristocratic ideas to their selves, but must tell ’em to my boys,
an’ larn one of ’em to say ‘father’ an’ ‘mother,’ ’stead of callin’
us ‘pop’ an’ ‘mam,’ like he had oughter do. An’ then to talk about
my spendin’ my time a diggin’ an’ a huntin’ fur that thar bar’l, an’
arter findin’ it, to give it up to them as has got more’n their share
already, an’ here’s us as poor as Job’s turkey! No, sir,” said Godfrey,
emphatically. “If I find that thar bar’l I’ll keep it, an’ say nothing
to nobody.”

“But it belongs to the Gordons,” said David, not at all daunted by his
father’s speech, “and you have no right to lay a finger on it.”

“Wal, you’ll see if I don’t lay two whole hands onto it if I can find
it; an’ if I don’t find it, it won’t be kase I don’t do no diggin’,
I bet ye. Jest think of it,” said Godfrey, growing animated over the
prospect of so great and sudden wealth. “Here’s us been a livin’
like the pigs in the gutter all these years, when we might have been
ridin’ our own hosses an’ growin’ fat off the best kind of grub! Eighty
thousand dollars! Enough to fill a hul bar’l! Why, one day, in the
good old times, when I was a talkin’ with the gen’ral, he says to me:
‘Godfrey, how much is you wuth?’ Wal, I didn’t know, kase I hadn’t
never thought of it none; but I told him I had so many niggers, wuth
so much a head; so many cow brutes; so many hoss an’ mule brutes; so
much land; an’ so many pig brutes runnin’ in the swamp. The gen’ral he
figures it up, an’ tells me I wus wuth nigh on to twelve or fifteen
thousand dollars, most likely it was nigher fifteen nor twelve. I tell
you I felt big arter that. I held my head up high, like a steer in
the corn, an’ felt like axin’ every man I met did he know I wus wuth
fifteen thousand dollars, an’ it all made with these yer two hands,
too? But _eighty_ thousand! Whew! Why didn’t I think of that bar’l long
ago? I reckin I’ll go down to the landin’ an’ ax Silas Jones will he
trust me fur some store tobacker. I can tell him that I’ll be able to
buy his hul consarn out next week!”

As Godfrey said this he arose from his barrel, and, taking his rifle
down from its place over the door, went out of the cabin followed by
Dan, who also carried a rifle on his shoulder. David and his mother
watched them in silence until they had passed down the road out of
sight, and then turned and looked at each other.

“Is it true about the barrel?” asked the boy at length.

“I am sure I don’t know,” was his mother’s answer, “and for the sake
of all concerned I hope it is not. It is true that all the gold and
silver, and other valuables belonging to the Gordon family, were buried
on the night the levee was cut, and it is equally true that Jordan
buried some of it. He went down the Pass with the gunboats when they
left, and has never been seen or heard of since. What has become of
him, nobody knows; and whether he went without telling Mrs. Gordon
where he had hidden the valuables, is a question that no one outside
the general’s family is able to answer. It may be possible that he did,
for such things have happened.”

“When and where?” asked David.

“Right here in this neighborhood. After the war was over, and the
soldiers began to return, there came to this landing a man named Brown,
who had been a sailor on one of the Union gunboats. He did not look
like a person who had more money than he wanted, but he said he had,
and that his object in coming here was to rent a plantation and go to
raising cotton. As almost everybody was ready to sell or rent, several
plantations were offered him, but the only one he would look at was
Colonel Cisco’s--an old worn-out place that no one else would have as a
gift. The widow--the colonel was killed in the army, you know--was glad
to get the hundred dollars Mr. Brown offered her to bind the bargain,
and let him have the place at once. He said he could do nothing until
his partner came from Memphis with the mules, provisions and other
things needed to carry on plantations; but he took possession of the
house, and lived there two months all by himself. He was never seen
during the daytime. He visited none of the neighbors, and didn’t seem
to want to have anybody call on him; but people went all the same, and
one day somebody found out that the flower-beds in the back yard, on
which Mrs. Cisco had spent so much time, had all been dug up, and that
there was a hole there that one could bury a house in. The man didn’t
like it at all because it had been found out, and said he was digging
a cellar. It was discovered afterward, however, that all this work had
been done in the night, and that Mr. Brown never thought of putting a
cellar there.”

“What did he intend to put there then?” asked David, when his mother
paused.

“Nothing. He hoped to take something out; but he was taken sick, and
that was the end of his scheme. He had such a hard time getting well,
that when he was able to be about again, he made up his mind that he
had seen enough of the South, and that he would go home at once and
stay there. He wanted to do something for the people who had been so
kind to him during his sickness, so he took the man who had done the
most for him into his secret, and told him what had brought him there.
In the first place he had no partner, no money--only just enough to pay
his railroad and steamboat fare to the place where he wanted to go--and
no intention of cultivating the plantation. There was money buried
somewhere near the house--he wanted it, and this was the way he found
out about it:

“Attached to the same gunboat to which Mr. Brown belonged was a negro,
who had once been Colonel Cisco’s house servant. During the war the
colonel’s family hid all their valuables in the ground, just as all our
people did who had anything to hide, and this servant helped them bury
money and silver, to the amount of thirty thousand dollars and over.
After he ran away and got on the gunboat, he told about it, and boasted
that when the war closed he would soon make a rich man of himself; but
he was taken sick, and this Mr. Brown, who was the doctor’s steward,
took care of him. Before he died he told the steward about the buried
money, and described the place where it was hidden so accurately that
Mr. Brown could have found it in the darkest of nights. That was what
made him hire the Cisco plantation.”

“Well, did he get the money?” asked David, who was deeply interested.

“People think not. If he had found it, he would not have been likely to
say anything about it; and besides he would have had more than enough
to take him home.”

“Didn’t Mrs. Cisco ever say anything about it?”

“Yes, and laughed at the man for his pains. Her husband had money once,
she said, and buried some of it a dozen different times; but it was dug
up again as soon as the danger of losing it had passed, and what they
didn’t use was stolen from them by the guerillas. She’s now almost as
poor as ourselves, Mrs. Cisco is. Her house was not burned, and in that
respect only is she better off than we are.”

“We were rich once, were we not, mother?”

“No, we were not rich, but we had enough. Your father owned a mile
square of land that was all paid for--he’s got that yet, but it don’t
seem to do him any good, for the clearings have all grown up to
briers--and we had a good house and plenty to eat and wear. He was a
hard-working, saving man then, and so different from what he is now,
that I sometimes think that somebody else has come to me from the
southern army, and is passing himself off for Godfrey. We were happy
in those days,” said Mrs. Evans, gazing earnestly into the little pile
of coals on the hearth, as if the scenes she so well remembered were
clearly pictured there. “I can remember when our cotton gin was kept
running night and day; and I have seen eight four-horse teams going up
the road toward the landing loaded with your father’s cotton. You can’t
remember anything about it, for you were too young at the time.”

“No,” said David, “but I can remember when we lived in that brush
shantee that had a fire burning in front of it night and day; and I can
remember of seeing you cry, and father walking up and down and swinging
his arms as if he were crazy.”

“That was just after we were burned out. You were four years old then.
Until that time we never thought we should feel much of the war.
Although we were only eight miles from the river, we used to feel
perfectly safe, so far as the Federals were concerned. We used to see
Redburn’s guerillas about once a week, but they belonged to our own
side, and at first we did not stand in any fear of them, although we
soon learned to dread them more than we did the Yankees. We never
were afraid that they would hurt us, but they stole everything they
could lay their hands on, and finally got so bad that General Imboden
sent them word that if they didn’t do better he would come in with a
regiment and wipe them off the face of the earth. We never thought that
the Federals would get in here, and you don’t know how frightened we
were when we found that in a few days their gunboats would be at our
very doors. One day in February--that was in ’63--the Union soldiers
came down from Helena and cut the levee. The water was high in the
river, and it ran down through the pass and into Diamond lake here, and
overflowed the bottoms until we thought it would drown us all. Then the
gunboats came--two big iron-clads, a lot of tin-clads, and six thousand
soldiers. They stopped here long enough to burn every dwelling-house
and cotton-gin in the country for miles around, and then went on down
the pass. Your father was at home then on a furlough, and I tell you
they came pretty near catching him!”

“How was it?” asked David, who never grew weary of listening to the
story, although he had heard it probably a score of times.



CHAPTER III.

DAN’S STRATEGY.


“It happened one day while we were at dinner,” replied his mother.
“The Union soldiers had been at work on the levee for two or three
days, and we were expecting the boats through every hour. Godfrey
kept his saddle on his horse night and day, and his weapons close at
hand, so that he could catch them up at any moment. While we were
eating dinner on this particular day, your father, who sat opposite
the window, looked up all of a sudden, and before I could ask him the
reason for his pale face, he was on his feet and out at the door. I
looked through the window, and right here in our lake, and not fifty
yards from the door, was the first gunboat I had ever seen. The
Federals had got through the levee at last, and one of their boats,
being of that sort which don’t make any noise when they run, was right
upon us before we knew it. I don’t know her name to this day, but
she had the figure 9 painted on her pilot house, and I could see the
cannons sticking out of the port-holes. On her upper deck were a lot
of cotton bales placed like breastworks, and behind these cotton bales
were fifty or sixty men, all with muskets in their hands, and watching
and waiting for a chance to shoot at somebody. Well, they found that
chance as soon as your father was fairly out at the door. Two jumps
brought him to his horse which was hitched in the yard, another put him
in the saddle, and in a minute more he was running the gauntlet.”

“Wasn’t it strange that he escaped being hit?”

“It was providential,” replied Mrs. Evans. “I have heard Godfrey
himself say that he could have shot a squirrel’s eye out at the
distance he was from the gunboat. They began to shoot at him as soon
as he left the house, and I sat there and looked through the window
and saw them do it. They fired as fast as they could get a sight at
him, and the guns popped so rapidly that they reminded me of a burning
cane-brake. When they stopped, I managed to get up and go to the door.
There was a big cotton field where this brier patch is now, and it
was half a mile wide. On the other side of it was a rail fence that
ran between the field and the woods, and there I saw Godfrey’s white
horse. I thought at first that Godfrey wasn’t with him, but he was.
He was leaning over and throwing the top rails off the fence. When he
had done that, he straightened up, and seeing me standing in the door,
he waived his hat to let me know that he was safe. Then he jumped his
horse over the fence into the woods, and rode away out of sight.

“At that minute you and Daniel began to cry, and when I turned about
to see what the matter was, I found the road blue with Federals. The
boat had landed in front of the house, and a party was coming off with
an officer. They entered without ceremony, and asked me who it was
that rode off on that white horse, and if I knew where there were any
weapons. I told them that he was my husband and your father, and that
he had taken all the weapons with him. They evidently did not believe
the last statement, for they searched every room in the house, and
tumbled things about at a great rate; but they didn’t break anything,
and all I missed after they were gone was your father’s picture which
he had just had taken for me in Rochdale.

“Having satisfied themselves that there were no weapons in the house,
the sailors went back to the boat, which moved off into the lake, and
went down the Pass toward Coldwater. I was glad when they were gone,
and glad too to be let off so easily, for I had been told that these
gunboat men were awful fellows; but they never troubled us, although we
saw hundreds of them afterward. It was the soldiers that did the damage
and our experience with them began the very next day. A transport
loaded with them came into the lake, and the soldiers camped on our
plantation. When they first came, we had cows, pigs, chickens and milk
and butter; but in less than an hour we had none of these things left,
and but little furniture. They took the rocking-chairs out to sit in
beside their camp-fires, and broke the tables, washstands and bureaus
up into firewood, when there were plenty of fence-rails to be had for
the taking. Then one of them said there wasn’t light enough for them to
eat by, but he’d soon have more, and he did; for he pulled a straw bed
into the middle of one of the rooms and touched a match to it.

“How I lived through that night I don’t know. When morning came the
house was gone and so were the soldiers; and I was turned out of doors
with two little children to take care of. Your father came back as
soon as the soldiers were all out of sight, and threw up a little
brush shantee, that we lived in, until some of the neighbors could get
together and build us some better shelter. They put up this cabin for
us, and after we had time to collect the clothing and furniture the
soldiers had left us, we found that we were not so badly off after all.
But the war was hardly more than half through then, and we had a good
deal to stand before peace was declared. The guerillas came next, and
you see just what they left us. I thought things would go better with
us when your father came home, but somehow they didn’t. Times have been
growing harder instead of better. We’re getting poorer and poorer every
year, and mercy knows what’s going to become of us!”

“Well, it’s one comfort to know that we can’t be much worse off than
we are now,” said David. “It isn’t possible. But keep up a good heart,
mother. I’ve got some news for you, and it’s better than that barrel
business too, for it’s honest. I have a chance to make a hundred and
fifty dollars.”

Mrs. Evans opened her eyes and looked at David without speaking.

“It’s a fact,” said the boy, “and Don Gordon is the one who put me in
the way to do it. You know his father takes lots of papers, and among
them is the _Rod and Gun_, which tells all about fishing and hunting.
Well, Don was reading this paper the other day, and he found in it an
advertisement asking for live quail--fifty dozen of them. He showed it
to me last night, and asked me why couldn’t I catch them and send them
to the man.”

“Who wants them, and what is he going to do with them after he gets
them?” asked Mrs. Evans.

“O, somebody up North wants ’em. Don says they had a hard time up there
last winter. The weather was awful cold, the snow was so deep that
the birds couldn’t get anything to eat, and the quail all died. This
man belongs to some kind of a club--a ‘sportsman’s club,’ I think Don
called it--and he wants these quail to stock the country again. When
he gets them, he’s going to turn them loose and let them go. He offers
three dollars and a half a dozen. Don says it will cost something to
send them there, but that I can make three dollars on every dozen just
as easy as falling off a log. Say, mother, don’t say anything to father
or Dan about it, will you?”

Mrs. Evans promised that she would not.

“You see,” added David, by way of explanation, “they always want me to
divide when I’ve got any money, but they never say a word about sharing
with me when they have any. Besides, what they get never does anybody
any good, not even themselves; and, mother, if I get this hundred and
fifty, I want it to do you some good. You need stockings, and shoes,
and a new dress.”

Mrs. Evans placed her hand tenderly on the boy’s head, and told herself
that if all her family cared as much for her comfort as he did, she
would fare better.

“Do you think you can catch so many?” she asked. “Fifty dozen is a
large number.”

“I know it, but just see what I’ve done already. Last winter, when we
were so poor that nobody would trust us for anything to eat, and we
couldn’t raise money to buy powder and shot to shoot game with, I kept
the family in food, didn’t I?”

Mrs. Evans remembered it perfectly, and knew that providing the family
with something to eat was not all this fifteen year old boy had done
during that hard winter. By the aid of his traps he had kept his mother
comfortably clothed, and it was seldom indeed that he could not produce
a dollar for the purchase of such luxuries as tea and coffee.

“Well,” continued David, “one trap did it all. It caught just as many
quail as we could eat and sell. One day I took twenty-seven out of it.
This winter I shall set a dozen traps, and suppose I catch five a day
in each one of them! If I do, it will take me just ten days to fill the
order.”

“But wouldn’t it first be a good plan to write to this man and make a
bargain with him? Suppose somebody traps and sends him the fifty dozen
before you do?”

“O, that’s all provided for. Don said he would write to the man last
night, and I shall not begin until I hear from him. One hundred and
fifty dollars for the quail, and ten dollars for breaking the pointer.
One hundred and sixty dollars in all. That will help us through the
winter, and if father and Dan would only do something to bring in as
much more, we’d get along well enough. But I must be off to the fields
now, mother. I’ll have a quail for your supper, sure.”

As David said this he took a rusty, single barrel shot gun down from
some hooks over the door, threw a miserable apology for a game bag
over his shoulder, kissed his mother and went out of the cabin. He
unfastened the pointer, and with the animal trotting contentedly at his
heels, made his way through the brier-patch toward the nearest open
field.

“There’s one thing I didn’t tell mother,” thought David, “and that
is, I can get ten dollars just as soon as I have a mind to ask for it.
It will take perhaps two months to break this dog so that he will work
even passably well in the field; but I needn’t wait that long for the
money, because Don told me I could have it whenever I wanted it. You
see he isn’t afraid to trust me. If it wasn’t for the looks of the
thing I’d ask him for it this very afternoon. But I’ll wait a day or
two, and then won’t I astonish mother with the bundle of things I’ll
bring her from the store? Dan and father shan’t see a cent of it, and
neither will I spend any of it on myself. Mother needs it more than
anybody else, and she shall have it all. Hallo!” exclaimed David,
as the little piping note of warning the quail utters when suddenly
disturbed, fell on his ear. “Come here, pup--I declare, I forgot to ask
your master what your name is--come here, and let’s see how much or how
little you know!”

David was standing close beside a fence which ran between the
brier-patch and a stubble-field. He looked over into the field when he
heard the notes of warning, and saw a flock of quails running through
the stubble, and directing their course toward a little thicket of
bushes that grew on the banks of a bayou near by. Had Dan Evans been
there with that shot gun in his hands, he would have blazed away at
once, and could hardly have failed to kill or wound three or four of
the flock, so closely were they huddled together. That was the kind
of a hunter Dan was; but David, having learned what he knew of bird
shooting from Don Gordon, who was a thoroughbred young sportsman, would
have allowed the game to go off scot free before he would have made a
“pot shot” at them. Shooting on the wing requires skill on the part of
the hunter, and gives the game the best chance for its life; and this
was the method David always adopted. He lifted the pup over the fence,
got over himself, and with a waive of his hand and a “Hie on, old boy!”
walked toward the spot where the flock had last been seen.

The dog seemed to understand him perfectly, and was off like a shot. Of
course he would not quarter the ground in obedience to a motion of the
boy’s hand--he had not learned that yet--but he searched the stubble
thoroughly, and when he struck the trail of the running flock, he began
to follow it up like an old dog. Suddenly he stopped and stood as
motionless as if he had been turned into stone. He was pointing a quail
hidden in the stubble almost under his nose. David walked up, flushed
the bird, and when it was in the air stopped it as neatly with his old
rusty gun as any champion shot could have done it. Then the training
of the dog began. He did not drop to shot nor did he come to heel when
ordered to do so; and these things, together with many others, must be
taught him before he could be called an educated bird dog. With perfect
confidence in David’s ability to break him to his owner’s entire
satisfaction, we will leave him to the enjoyment of his afternoon’s
sport, and go back to Godfrey and Dan, whom we left walking down the
road toward the steamboat landing.

“I say, Dan,” exclaimed Godfrey, as soon as they were out of hearing
of David and his mother, “ye wouldn’t mind goin’ over to the gen’ral’s
an’ axin’ some of his niggers fur the loan of a shovel fur a few days,
would ye? We hain’t got nothin’ to dig up that thar bar’l with. Ye
needn’t mind tellin’ what we want it fur, ye know. If anybody axes ye,
ye might say yer mother’s poorly from the fever’n ager, an’ ye want to
dig up some yarbs to make her some tea.”

“All right,” said Dan. “I’ll go.”

“I wish I had a dollar,” continued his father. “Thar’s goin’ to be a
shootin’ match fur beef down to the landin’ this arternoon, an’ if I
could go in, I’d be a’most sartin to win one of the hind-quarters. Thar
hain’t many can beat me shootin’, thar hain’t.”

“I reckon mebbe I mought find a dollar fur ye, if ye’ll promise honor
bright to pay it back to me,” said Dan.

“Ye’ll find a dollar fur me?” exclaimed his father, opening his eyes in
amazement. “Whar?”

“Wal, now, it don’t make no odds to ye whar I git it, so long as I git
it, does it?” asked Dan.

“Nary time,” replied his father, suddenly stopping in the road and
extending his hand to his son. “Ye allers was a good boy, Dannie,
an’ fur downright ’cuteness an’ smartness I’ll match ye agin them
book-larnt fellers up to the gen’ral’s any time. In course it don’t
make no sort of odds to me whar ye git the dollar, nor how ye git it
nuther, so long as ye do git it. Ye ain’t a foolin’ me now?” added
Godfrey, looking suspiciously at his son. It was not often that Dan had
any money of his own, and his offer to lend so large an amount as a
dollar, astonished and perplexed his father, who found it hard work to
persuade himself that his ears had not deceived him.

“No, I hain’t a foolin’ ye,” returned Dan. “Ye go on down to the
landin’ now, an’ when I come thar I’ll have the dollar in my pocket,
an’ the shovel hid away somewhar so’t I can easy find it again.”

“Yer a good boy, Dannie, an’ I’m monstrous proud of yer,” said Godfrey,
once more giving his son’s hand a hearty gripe and shake. “An’, Dannie,
if the time ever comes when----”

Godfrey suddenly paused, while an expression of great astonishment and
even of pain settled on his face.

“Dannie,” said he, in a tone of voice very unlike that he had just used
in addressing his son, “ye hain’t been an’ found that bar’l with the
eighty thousand in it, has yer?”

“No, I hain’t,” replied Dan.

“Kase if ye have, and ye don’t go havers with yer poor ole pop, what’s
fit the Yanks an’ worked so hard to support ye like a gentleman’s
son had oughter be supported, ye’ll be the meanest boy that ever was
wrapped up in ragged clothes, an’ I’ll take the cowhide to ye, big as
ye be!”

“Wal, ye needn’t go to ravin’ that thar way, kase I hain’t found the
bar’l,” said Dan; “if I had, I should have brung it to ye the fust
thing. I didn’t know it was thar till ye told me.”

“I am powerful glad to hear it, Dannie,” said Godfrey, greatly
relieved; “ye’d oughter brung it to me if ye’d found it, kase I’m yer
pop. I’m the oldest an’ know what’s best fur us all, an’ it’s the
properest thing that I should have the dealin’ out of the money when
we gets it. But ye’ll find I won’t be no ways stingy. I’ll dress ye up
like a gentleman, an’ ye shall have a circus hoss too, if ye want one.”

“Now, pop, don’t forget that, will yer?” said Dan, a broad grin
overspreading his face, when he thought how delighted he should feel
if he could only ride about the country as neatly dressed and as well
mounted as Don and Bert Gordon, whom he greatly envied. “An’ I wants
one of them guns what breaks in two in the middle, an’ you shove the
powder an’ shot in behind, ’stead of drivin’ them down with a ramrod.
An’ I want one of them fishpoles that a feller can take all to pieces
an’ carry under his arm, an’ sum of them shiny boots that ye can allers
see yer face in no matter whether ye black ’em or not--sich as Don
wears on Sundays.”

“Ye shall have ’em all, my son,” said Godfrey, encouragingly, “an’
as many more things us ye want. Now here we are at the gen’ral’s
lane. I’ll go on, an’ when I see ye agin I shall look fur that dollar
sartin. I’ll be an awful tuk back, deceived an’ upsot man if I don’t
have a hand in that shootin’ match,” added Godfrey, hoping by the use
of adjectives to convey to Dan’s mind some idea of the intense and
bitter disappointment he should feel if the expected dollar was not
forthcoming.

Dan repeated the promise which he had made so often that he was
tired of it, and the two separated, Godfrey keeping on towards the
landing, while Dan turned up the lane that led toward General Gordon’s
house. The boy made his way at once to the barn, and there found a
negro hostler, who, after listening to his request, brought out a
shovel, which he handed to Dan with many injunctions to be careful
of it, and to return it the minute he was done using it. Dan readily
promised, and, wondering what the hostler would think if he knew that
the implement was to be used to unearth some of the general’s buried
wealth, leaned the shovel up in one corner where he could find it again
when he wanted it. Then placing his rifle beside it, he bent his steps
toward the house, and passing around one of the wings, in which he
knew the boys’ room was located, discovered Bert Gordon sitting by an
open window reading a book.

“Hello, Dan,” said the latter, “are you looking for any one?”

“I come over to see Mr. Don,” said Dan, touching his hat respectfully
and being very careful to put in the mister. Dan was always very polite
when he had an object in view.

“He’s gone off somewhere--down to the landing, I think,” said Bert;
“can I do anything for you?”

“I reckon,” replied Dan, “Mr. Bert, if ye please, sar, Dave axed me
would I come up here an’ ax Mr. Don would he give him five of the ten
dollars he promised him fur breakin’ that pinter pup, now.”

“Um!” said Bert, somewhat surprised at the request. “Why didn’t David
come himself?”

“Wal, ye see, he hated fur to pester ye. Kase you’ns has allers been so
good to us, an’ we’re so dog-gone poor that we hain’t got no money to
buy a new dress fur mother.”

“Oh!” said Bert, throwing down his book and jumping to his feet. “I
haven’t so much money of my own, but perhaps I can borrow it of mother.”

He disappeared as he ceased speaking, while Dan stood chuckling over
his good fortune, and hardly able to restrain himself, so delighted was
he at the success of his stratagem.

“In course he’ll get it of his mother,” said Dan, “he’d get her head
if he axed fur it. Didn’t I tell the ole man that I’d give him that
dollar? I reckon we can both go to that shootin’ match now. Sarvent,
Mr. Bert; much obliged to ye, sar,” he added aloud, as the boy came
down the steps at that moment and handed him a crisp, new five-dollar
bill; “if we an’ Dave can ever do ye a good turn, I hope ye’ll call on
us.”

Bert said he would, and went back to his chair and his book, while Dan
retraced his steps to the stable, picked up the shovel and his rifle,
and went out into the lane. The shovel he hid in a fence corner, taking
care to mark the spot so that he could find it again in the dark, if
necessity should require it, and then shouldered his rifle and turned
toward the landing. The money he carried in his hand, and feasted his
eyes on it as he walked along. He could not admire it enough. He had
owned but few bills so large as this in his lifetime, and he thought
them the most beautiful things he had ever seen.

“I must make it go as fur as I can,” said he, to himself, “an’ I must
have the other one, too. How am I goin’ to get it, I wonder? Mother
can’t want another new dress right away, in course not; but she can be
tuk awful sick with the ager, an’ want some money to buy some store
tea, an’ we hain’t got none to give her. Won’t Dave jaw though when he
finds it out? Who keers! He spends every cent he gits fur mother, an’
I reckon me an’ pop has a right to some of it. Pop’ll be awful oneasy
to find out whar I got it, but if I tell him he’ll go back an’ get the
other hisself; so I won’t tell him. I must get it broke too at the
store afore I see him; kase if he knows I’ve got so much, mebbe he’ll
want it all. ’Tain’t best to trust pop too fur.”

Perhaps the reader will now see why Dan was so anxious that his
father should not prevent David from promising to break Don Gordon’s
pointer. He wanted those ten dollars very badly, had made up his mind
to have them; and now that he had half the amount in his pocket, he
was supremely happy. He had robbed his brother, and abused Bert’s
confidence, but those were matters that did not trouble him in the
least. He had the money, and that was all he cared for.



CHAPTER IV.

THE SHOOTING MATCH.


The steamboat landing toward which Godfrey Evans bent his way, was
looked upon as a very important place by the settlers in that part of
the state. The little collection of houses that had sprung up there
contained a post-office, a few dwellings, and the only grocery and
drug store to be found within a circle of twenty miles. The mail was
brought there twice each week by a mounted carrier, who made regular
trips between the landing and the county seat, which lay fifteen miles
from the river. No particular packet stopped there, but there was
considerable business done by the neighboring planters with the city
of Memphis, in the way of plantation supplies and farming implements,
and some steamboat called at the landing every week. Its arrival
was regarded as an event of great consequence. Whenever five long
whistles announced that a steamer was approaching, all the negroes
and unemployed whites within hearing of the sound would hasten to the
landing to see her come in, and watch the unloading of the cargo she
brought. The sight was not a new or novel one to them, but the life
they led there was so monotonous that any event, however trivial, that
furnished them fresh topics for an hour’s conversation, was gladly
welcomed. Godfrey Evans never missed a boat rain or shine. He was there
nearly every day, and if he chanced to be absent some of the hangers-on
always noticed it, and wondered what could be the matter.

Toward the landing Godfrey hastened after parting from his son, and
entering the street which ran from the river back into the country,
found himself in front of the grocery, and in the midst of a group of
men who were congregated there. They all carried rifles in their hands,
and the sharp, whip-like reports which now and then came from a little
grove situated a few rods up the river bank, told that the shooting
match was in progress.

Godfrey entered the store and drawing up before the counter, rapped on
it with his knuckles to attract the attention of the proprietor, who
was busy in the little room that opened off the rear. The rap quickly
brought him out, but when he saw who his customer was, he stopped and
asked:--

“What’s the matter, Godfrey?”

“I’ll take a plug of that amazin’ fine ole Virginy of your’n, if ye
please, sir,” said Godfrey, leaning his rifle against the counter and
thrusting his hand into his pocket.

The grocery keeper whistled softly to himself, but made no move to
produce the required article. He wanted first to see what would be the
result of his customer’s investigations. Godfrey continued to search
his pockets--every one of them had a hole in it that he could have run
his hand through--and his movements grew quicker, as his impatience to
find something in them increased, and then slower, as the fact appeared
to dawn upon him that there was nothing there.

“You don’t seem to pull out anything, Godfrey,” said the merchant.

“No, it’s a fact, I don’t seem to,” replied the customer. “I’ve left my
pocket-book to hum, arter all. Say, Silas,” he added, sinking his voice
almost to a whisper, and glancing hastily toward the crowd of men at
the door, “ye wouldn’t mind trustin’ me till next week, I reckon, would
ye?”

“Yes, I would,” was the blunt reply.

“Only till next week, I say,” repeated Godfrey. “I’ll have more money
then nor a mule can haul away, an’ I’ll pay ye every red cent I owe ye!”

“Well, _then_ I’ll sell you everything you want,” said the merchant.

“An’ won’t ye let me have nothin’ now?”

“No, I can’t. And, Godfrey, you’d be better off if you would save your
half dollars and buy yourself a pair of shoes. It will not be long,
now, before the cold winter rains will set in, and there’ll be frost
and snow----”

“I know,” interrupted Godfrey. “But I can kill a heap of deer atween
this time and that, an’ deer meat is goin’ to be wuth something
han’some this year, kase game is so skase. Come on now, Silas!”

But Silas went off to the other side of the store to attend to the
wants of another customer, and Godfrey, finding that no further notice
was taken of his presence, picked up his rifle, went out of the door,
and turned his face up the road again in the direction from which Dan
was expected to appear.

“I’ll never do no more tradin’ with Silas,” said Godfrey to himself.
“I’ll send to Memphis fur my things, the way the rest of the gentlemen
do; an’ I shall be as fine a gentleman as the best of ’em when I find
that bar’l, won’t I? Halloa, Dannie! whar’s that dollar? I reckon ye’ve
got it.”

Dan was coming along the road with his head down, and his eyes fastened
on the five-dollar bill, which he still held in his hand. Had his
father remained silent, he could have walked up close to him before
Dan would have known that there was any one near, so fully was his
attention taken up with the greenback. Surprised and startled by the
abrupt address, he hastily crumpled up the money and thrust it into his
pocket.

“What’s that yer shovin’ out of sight so quick thar?” demanded Godfrey.

“I haint a shovin’ nothin’ out of sight,” answered Dan. “Can’t a feller
put his gold toothpick into his pocket if he wants to?”

“Whar’s the dollar?” inquired his father.

“I hain’t got to the landin’ yet, have I?” asked Dan, in reply. “I told
ye that when I got to the _landin’_ I’d have it fur ye.”

His father looked at him suspiciously. “Whar are ye goin’ to git it
down here, an’ who’s goin’ to give it to ye?” he asked.

“Didn’t ye tell me that it don’t make no sort of odds to ye whar I
git it, or who gives it to me, so long as I git it?” demanded Dan,
impatiently. “Now, ye go down to the grove an’ stay thar, an’ when I
come to ye, I’ll give ye the dollar.”

Godfrey was satisfied with this assurance--at least he appeared to be.
He walked along with Dan until they came to the turn in the road, and
then he went toward the grove where the shooting was going on, while
Dan turned toward the post-office. The latter watched his father until
he saw him join one of the little groups of men who were congregated
under the trees, and then faced about and entered the store.

There were several customers in there, and Dan was obliged to await
his turn. It came at last, and then he handed out his five-dollar
bill, with the request that it might be changed into notes of smaller
denomination. The grocer rapidly complied, and as Dan gathered up
his money and turned to go out, he was astonished to find his father
standing at his elbow. Being barefooted, Godfrey had entered the store
and placed himself close by his son’s side without being observed. His
face wore a look of amazement that was curious to behold. He did not
know how much money Dan had in his possession, but he judged by the
size of the roll he held in his hands, that it must be a large amount.
He marvelled greatly as he followed the boy out of the store.

“Thar’s yer dollar, pop,” said Dan, who, finding that his secret was
discovered, thought it best to put a bold face on the matter. “I told
ye I’d be sartin to get it fur ye. Ye mustn’t forget to pay it back, or
to get me them nice things ye promised when we find that bar’l.”

“No, I won’t,” said Godfrey, smiling joyously as he felt the bill
between his fingers. “I’m goin’ to be a good pop to ye, Dannie, an’ now
I’ll tell ye what I’ve been a thinkin’ of doin’ fur ye: yer gettin’ to
be an amazin’ fine, strappin’ big boy, Dannie. Yer a’most as high up
in the world as yer pop, an’ purty soon ye’ll be gettin’ to be a young
man. Then ye’ll want store clothes an’ all sorts of nice things, and
mebbe me an’ yer poor ole mam’ll lose yer, kase ye’ll be lookin’ around
fur a wife.”

Dan grinned and thought of the little tow-headed girl he had so often
been on the point of seeing safe home from church. The reason he didn’t
do it was because when the critical time came, he could never muster up
courage enough to speak to her.

“Yes, ye will,” continued his father; “an’ then ye’ll find that thar
hain’t nothin’ in the world that takes with the gals, an’ the men folks
too, like good clothes an’ shiny boots an’ hats. But it takes money to
get them things. Now, I hain’t a goin’ to be the mean ole hulks to ye
that my pop was to me. He left me with empty hands, to make a livin’ as
best I could, but I’m goin’ to be a good pop to ye, an’ give ye a fine
start. I’m goin’ to give ye half that bar’l when I find it.”

“How much’ll that be?” asked Dan.

“O, it’ll be a heap, I tell yer,” replied Godfrey, growing animated and
hoping thus to work upon Dan’s feelings sufficiently to accomplish the
object he had in view; “as much as--as--twenty thousand anyhow, an’
mebbe sixty,” added Godfrey, who was not very quick at figures. “An’
then, Dannie, if yer a monstrous good boy, an’ allers do jest as I tell
ye, mebbe I’ll buy out Gen’ral Gordon an’ give ye his place. Then ye
can have circus hosses, as many as ye want, an’ some of them amazin’
fine guns what break in two in the middle, an’ a sail-boat on the lake,
an’ all the other nice things sich as Bert and Don has got.”

Dan grinned again and fairly trembled with excitement. The prospect of
owning all these aids to happiness was enough to excite anybody.

“Now, Dannie, I won’t forget all this if ye will promise to be a good
boy an’ do jest what I tell yer,” said his father. “Will ye?”

“I will, pop,” replied the boy, shaking hands with his sire, to show
that he was in earnest. “Ye jest see if I don’t.”

“I’m powerful glad to hear ye say so, Dannie,” continued Godfrey; and
now he came to the point at which he had all the while been aiming, but
he broached it with no little hesitation, and anxiety as to the result.

“Now, Dannie,” said he, “don’t ye think that to pay me fur all these
things I’m a goin’ to do fur ye, that ye’d oughter give me the rest of
the money ye’ve got in yer pocket?”

“No, I don’t,” said Dan, promptly.

“What fur?”

“Kase I want it myself. I’m agoin’ into the shootin’ match too.”

“An’ shoot agin yer poor old pop, what’s fit the Yanks, an’ worked so
hard fur ye? Dan, I’m extonished at yer! Now, Dannie, I wouldn’t go in,
if I was ye, kase ye can’t win nothin’, an’ ’sides ye want to save yer
money, don’t ye? That’s the way to get rich, Dannie. Let yer pop do the
shootin’, an’ we’ll have a quarter of beef to carry home to-night, I
warrant ye.”

But Dan would make no promises, and neither could his father’s most
earnest entreaties induce him to surrender even the smallest portion
of the money he had in his pocket. What he had in his possession he
was sure of--the barrel, with its eighty thousand dollars, he was not
sure of; and believing that a single bird in the hand was worth a whole
flock in the woods, he declared it to be his unalterable determination
to hold fast to every cent he had. Godfrey was highly exasperated, but
he took good care not to show it. Their near approach to the grove and
to the men assembled there, obliged him to cease his entreaties, and
with the mental resolve that Dan should be made to repent his refusal,
Godfrey went to hunt up the man who had charge of the shooting. To
his great delight he learned that there were so many contestants that
the entrance fee was only seventy-five cents. This left him a quarter
of a dollar to spend, and he made all haste to do it. Forgetting the
resolution he had formed a short time before, to spend no more money
with Silas Jones, he hurried off to the store, and returned with a plug
of the tobacco for which the merchant had refused to credit him. When
he came back, he saw Dan stretched out on the ground behind a small log
squinting along the barrel of his rifle, which was pointed at a piece
of white paper fastened to a board, and placed against a tree a few
yards away.

“The ongrateful scamp!” said his father, to himself. “He’s gone an’
spent six bits to go into the shootin’ match arter all. He ain’t fit to
have money, he throws it about so scandalous. I’ll take keer that he
don’t throw away no more.”

For the benefit of our city readers, who may like to know something of
the sports and pastimes of those whose means of recreation are not so
abundant as their own, we will tell how a shooting match is conducted
in the South and West. In the first place, we are glad to say that it
is very different from turkey shooting as carried on in the Northern
States. In the latter there is no sport whatever. The luckless turkey
is tied to a stump, so that it has no chance for life, and the marksmen
station themselves at distances varying from one to two hundred and
fifty yards, and shoot at it, until some one kills or wounds it. It is
a cruel practice, and no boy or man either who has the least spark of
humanity or love of fair play in him, will engage in it.

[Illustration: THE SHOOTING-MATCH.]

In the shooting matches of which we speak, the contestants do not
shoot at the game, but at a mark. Each one provides himself with a
piece of board, which is held over a fire until one side of it is
thoroughly blackened. Upon this blackened surface a cross, like the
sign +, is made with the point of a knife. The place where these two
lines intersect is called the centre; and as it is no larger than the
point of a pin, you can easily imagine how much skill is required to
make a “dead-centre” shot. On this centre, to show where it is, is
placed a piece of white paper--it may be half an inch or three or six
inches square, as the shooter prefers--which is held in its place by a
tack or wooden pin. The contestants then station themselves forty or
sixty yards away, according as they want to shoot off-hand or with a
rest, and the sport begins. The one who makes the best shot takes the
first choice of the prizes, whatever they may be; the one who makes the
second best, takes the second choice; and so on until all the prizes
are gone.

These prizes may be turkeys, chickens or pigs; but beef is shot for
more than anything else. Whatever the article is, it is furnished by
some one of the contestants who sets a price upon it, and collects of
each one who participates in the shooting an equal part of the amount.
Thus, if a beef worth twenty dollars is shot for and there are twenty
contestants, each one pays the owner a dollar. In this case there are
six prizes--the two hind-quarters, the two fore-quarters, the hide
and tallow, and the lead that is shot into the tree against which the
boards are placed. The last prize is of no small value sometimes,
especially to men who live four or five miles from a store. If there
are twenty contestants and each one shoots a dozen times, the chunk of
lead which will be cut out of the tree by the one who wins it, will
furnish bullets enough to last him a year. As soon as the shooting is
over the beef is killed, and each one takes whatever he may have been
skilful enough to win.

This was the kind of a match that Dan and his father attended; and the
result of it was not a little surprising to the latter. If it had not
been for Dan’s good shooting, the two would have been obliged to return
home empty-handed. Godfrey’s great skill with the rifle, of which he
so often boasted, was not made apparent on this particular day. He got
nothing, but Dan won a prize. He made four centres, but three of them
had to be placed against the same number of centres made by other
marksmen. When that had been done the boy had still one centre left,
and that entitled him to the first choice. Dan was highly elated, and
his father was correspondingly enraged.

“The ungrateful rascal,” said Godfrey to himself, “to come here an’
shoot agin’ his poor ole pop what’s done so much fur him, an’ make
me take a back seat! I eddicated that boy myself. I larnt him how to
handle a rifle, and now I wish I hadn’t done it, kase this is the kind
of pay I get fur it. I’ll take mighty good keer that he don’t get no
more seventy-five cents to spend at shootin’ matches. It beats all
natur’ whar he got that wad of money, an’ if I had another dollar I’d
give it to know!”

But Godfrey said nothing. He knew that if he spoke as he felt, it
would put Dan on his guard, and that might lead to the derangement of
certain plans he had formed. So he laughed at the witty things that
were said to him about being beaten by his own son, and when some one
complimented Dan on the skill he had exhibited, his father said it
might have been expected, for the boy was simply a chip of the old
block.

“I’m monstrous proud of ye, Dannie,” said Godfrey, as the two wended
their way toward home after the shooting was over; “monstrous proud.
It done me good to see them ole fellers look wild when ye made them
centres so handy, one arter t’other. I’m a trifle sorry that ye spent
yer money so scandalous foolish, but it can’t be helped now. ’Tain’t
the way to get rich, Dannie, that ar way aint, an’ I hope ye won’t do
it no more.”

This was the way Godfrey talked; but had he acted out his feelings, he
would have fallen upon Dan with the cowhide the moment they reached the
cabin.

The three miles that lay between the landing and the Evans plantation
being accomplished, Godfrey, with the air of a man who had done a day’s
work with which he was perfectly satisfied, seated himself on a bench
beside the door, preparatory to indulging in a pipeful of the store
tobacco which had come into his possession so unexpectedly; while Dan
proceeded to the corn-crib behind the house, and harnessed an old and
very infirm mule to a rickety wagon, intending to return to the landing
and bring home the quarter of beef that had fallen to his lot. He went
about his task in that peculiar and indescribable way a boy has of
doing things when he has something in view besides the work in hand.
His movements were stealthy, and he cast frequent and furtive glances
around him, as if he were afraid of being caught in some act that would
bring him certain and speedy punishment.

Once or twice he moved quickly to the cabin and looked around the
corner, to make sure that his father was still seated where he had
left him. He always found him there. He never seemed to have changed
his position. He sat with his legs stretched out before him, his hands
thrust deep into his pockets, his head bowed, his eyes closed and
his beloved pipe tightly clenched between his teeth. He was asleep;
and Dan, having made sure of this, quickly returned to the corn-crib
and halted under a shed which was built on one side of it. This shed
was used to shelter the wagon, the few farming implements Godfrey
possessed, and also the harness, which, when not in use, was kept hung
up on a wooden pin driven into one of the logs of which the corn-crib
was built. Dan came to a stop under this pin, and after looking all
around again to make sure that there was no one watching him, he seized
it with both hands, and after working it backward and forward a few
times, finally pulled it out.

Looking into the hole, as if to satisfy himself that something he had
previously placed there was safe, Dan drew a roll of bills out of his
pocket, and, after running his eye over them to make sure that they
were all there, thrust them into the hole, and with one quick blow with
his hand drove the pin back to its place. This done, he jumped into the
wagon, picked up the knotted lines, and as he drove around the corner
of the cabin, took care to notice his father’s position. Godfrey was
still asleep--there could be no doubt about that. His pipe was twisted
about in his mouth, until the bowl pointed downward, his head was
thrown over on one side, and as Dan looked at him, he told himself that
he was disposed of for two long hours, at least. Yet so suspicious was
he, that he did not neglect to turn and look at him every now and then
as long as he remained in sight of the cabin.

“He’s thar yet, an’ I reckon I’ve fixed things all right,” thought
Dan, with a chuckle denoting intense satisfaction. “He’s been kinder
snoopin’ around ever since he found out I had that money, an’ I was
afeared that mebbe he’d smell out somethin’. He thinks I don’t know it,
but I’ve seed him more’n once sarchin’ my pockets arter I went to bed,
an’ he thought I was asleep. He was a lookin’ fur gun caps, an’ things
he couldn’t buy hisself. I reckon he hain’t made much outen me since I
found that hidin’ place fur my money an’ sich plunder. ’Tain’t safe to
trust pop no further nor a feller can see him.”

With these sage reflections, Dan drove on toward the landing.



CHAPTER V.

GODFREY FINDS SOMETHING.


When Dan drove around the corner of the cabin, the slumbering Godfrey,
without changing his position, opened one of his eyes, but quickly
closed it again as Dan turned about in his wagon to look at him.
Presently he opened it again, and kept it open until Dan once more
turned to look at him; and the farther the wagon left the house behind,
the oftener the eye was opened, and the longer it remained open. When
the wagon and its driver had disappeared around a bend in the road,
Godfrey opened both eyes, straightened up, stretching his arms and
yawning as if he had just awakened out of a sound sleep, turned his
pipe about in his mouth, and with an expression of great satisfaction
on his face, arose and went around the corner of the house toward
the corn-crib. He walked straight to the shed that stood beside it,
and placing his hand on the same pin that Dan had removed but a few
minutes before, pulled it out and looked into the opening.

He was surprised at the size of it. By the aid of a gouge, or some
other sharp instrument, the inside of the hole had been cut away until
a cavity had been formed that would hold a quart or more; and in this
were two or three small packages, done up in brown paper. Godfrey
opened his knife and poked them out one by one. The first contained the
greenbacks of which he was in search. He counted them over carefully,
and was greatly disappointed and surprised to find that the whole
amount was only three dollars and twenty-five cents. But even that
sum was more than he could often call his own, and his fingers closed
tightly about it as if he feared that it might somehow slip away from
him and be lost. The other packages contained powder, lead and a box of
caps. These were all useful to Godfrey, who put them into the pocket
that had the smallest holes in it, and after replacing the pin and
driving it into the hole with a blow of his hand, walked away, well
satisfied with the discovery he had made.

Dan was not so smart as he thought he was. His father had known for
along time that he had a secret hiding place for all the various
little odds and ends that came into his hands, and when Dan went to
harness the mule, the suspicious glances he cast about and his stealthy
actions, made Godfrey believe that he had only to watch him to find
out where that hiding place was. There was a convenient opening in the
rear wall of the cabin, that had been formed by the “chinking” falling
out, and through this hole Godfrey watched all Dan’s movements. As long
as Dan remained at the corn-crib, Godfrey kept his eye at the opening;
but when the boy came toward the cabin, he left it, and passing quickly
across the floor and out at the door, seated himself on the bench and
took up the position he had occupied when Dan last saw him. When his
son, satisfied with his reconnoissance, went back to the corn-crib,
Godfrey again entered the cabin and stationing himself at the hole in
the rear wall, saw everything that was done. He was highly delighted
with the success of his little stratagem. The money was in his
possession now, and besides he had secured ammunition enough to last
him a month.

“The amazin’ ongrateful an’ ondutiful chap, to hide things from his
poor ole dad in sich a scandalous way as that ar,” said Godfrey, giving
his pocket a slap. “He wouldn’t lend it to me to take keer of it fur
him, an’ now I’ve got it anyhow. But how came he by it, is what I’d
like to know. Don’t stand to reason that Silas Jones give it to him,
kase he hain’t been a doin’ no work for Silas--no, I’ll warrant he
hain’t. Dan takes arter his pop, and is too much of a gentleman to do
anything like work when he can get outen it.”

How Dan came by the money in the first place was a matter that
interested and perplexed Godfrey not a little. He seated himself on the
bench again, and smoked up two or three pipes of store tobacco while
he was thinking about it. But he could come to no conclusion, although
he kept his mind busy until the creaking of the wagon wheels announced
that Dan was coming back. Then Godfrey had other matters to think of.
He expected a stormy scene with his son when the latter discovered that
his money had been removed from its hiding place, and he prepared for
it by going into the cabin and placing the rawhide where he could find
it at a moment’s warning. Then he pushed back his sleeves, seated his
remnant of a hat firmly on his head, and seated himself on the bench
again to await Dan’s approach.

“Yer mam hain’t come hum yet, Dannie,” said he, when the boy had
arrived within speaking distance. “She’s allers away when she’d
oughter be here tidyin’ up things, an’ makin’ the house look as though
white folks lived here; but we won’t wait fur her. Ye can cook as well
as any woman, Dannie, an’ we’ll have some of that fresh meat to onct.”

Dan made no reply in words. He put his hand into his pocket and looked
at his father; whereupon the latter arose and glanced into the wagon.
It was empty.

“Whar’s the meat?” he demanded, angrily.

“It’s done sold,” was the reply.

For a moment Godfrey acted as if he were about to go off into an awful
passion. He spread out his feet, clenched both his hands and began
shaking them in the air. Then he jumped up, knocked his heels together,
and having thus loosened his joints, was ready for action. Dan saw that
the storm was coming, and made all haste to put himself out of the way
of its fury, first by jumping out of the wagon on the opposite side, so
that he would have a fair chance to run if he found it necessary, and
second by trying to appease his father.

“Hain’t that the way to get rich, pop,--by takin’ money every chance ye
get?” said he. “I got it an’ I saved it, too. Look a yer,” he added,
pulling some bills out of his pocket, and extending them across the
wagon toward his father.

Godfrey was mollified at once. The sight of money always made him
good-natured, especially if he saw a prospect of handling it himself.

“How much ye got thar?” he asked, in a very different tone of voice.

“Three dollars an’ a half,” replied Dan. “Silas Jones done offered it
to me fur my beef, an’ when I axed him whar was the money, he counted
it right down. Mebbe I could lend ye another dollar, pop, if ye’ll
promise to pay it back.”

Godfrey had in some way collected his wandering wits by this time. He
reviewed the situation hastily while Dan was speaking, and greatly
to the surprise of the boy, who had never known him to refuse money
before, replied:

“No, Dannie, the money is yourn, an’ I wont take it from ye. I’ll have
plenty of my own in a week or two--jest as soon as we find that thar
bar’l. But, Dannie, I had got my mind all made up fur somethin’ nice,
an’ I can’t no ways do without some fresh meat of some kind fur supper;
so if ye’ll take yer rifle an’ go right out an’ shoot some squirrels,
I’ll say no more about yer sellin’ the meat. I’ll unhitch the critter,
too.”

Dan, glad to be let off so easily, and wondering greatly at this
unusual display of forbearance on the part of his father, readily
agreed to this proposal. But he didn’t quite like the look of things.
He had a suspicion that this was simply a ruse on the part of his
father, and that when he came out from behind the wagon and entered the
cabin to get his rifle, Godfrey would seize him and bring the rawhide
into play. Experience had taught him that his father’s word was not
always to be depended on, so he was very cautious in his movements. He
accompanied the wagon to the corn-crib, waited until his father began
to unharness the mule, and then darted into the cabin, secured his
rifle and ammunition, and quickly put a ten rail fence between him and
his sire. Then he began to breathe easier.

Being left to himself, Godfrey proceeded very leisurely to unharness
the mule and detach him from the wagon. Just as the work was about
to be completed, he heard the report of his son’s rifle away off
in the woods. The sound had a strange effect upon him. His actions
seemed to say that he had been waiting for it. Quickly dropping the
harness, which he was on the point of hanging in its accustomed
place, he seized the wooden pin that concealed the entrance to Dan’s
hiding-place, and pulled it out. Then he took the packages from his
pocket, one by one, and put them back in the opening just as he had
found them--the powder first, the lead next, then the caps, and lastly
the money; and when they were all in, he drove the pin back to its
place and hung the harness upon it. He seemed to feel relieved after it
was done. He drew a long breath, and started for the cabin to solace
himself with a pipe, as he always did after he had exerted himself in
any unusual degree.

In half an hour the sun began to sink behind the trees on the opposite
bank of the river, and then Godfrey’s scattered family began to come
in, one after the other. First came his wife, who had been over to see
a neighbor with whom she had been on visiting terms in better days.
On her arm she carried a basket covered with a snow-white napkin.
Godfrey’s eyes glistened at the sight of it. He had seen a good many
such baskets carried into his house of late, and he knew that every
time they came he and the rest of the family had something good to eat
for a day or two.

“Now, Godfrey, if you will chop some wood and start a fire, I’ll get
some supper,” said his wife, cheerfully.

The man took his pipe out of his mouth and groaned. Chopping wood was
his pet aversion.

“Didn’t used to be so in the good ole days, did it, Susie?” said he,
with a long-drawn sigh. “I used to have plenty of niggers to do that ar
mean work. Choppin’ wood ain’t gentleman’s work, Susie--no it ain’t!”

“But somebody must do it, Godfrey,” said Mrs. Evans.

“So they must; but I can’t seem to stoop to it, somehow. Here comes
Dave. Make him do it.”

“David is tired out, most likely. He’s been tramping through the fields
all the afternoon.”

“An’ hain’t I tired out too, I’d like to know?” exclaimed Godfrey.
“Here I’ve been an’ hoofed it down to the landin’ an’ worked like
a good fellow at that shootin’ match. Whew! It jest makes me ache
all over to think of all I’ve been an’ done since dinner. ’Sides,
Dave’s got no sort o’ right to go a trampin’ ’round the fields all
the arternoon. He’d oughter be to hum straightenin’ up things. But it
won’t be so long--not longer nor next week, nohow--kase that thar bar’l
will----”

“Now, Godfrey!” interrupted Mrs. Evans.

“Now, ole woman!” retorted Godfrey.

“I knew you didn’t mean what you said to-day at the dinner table,” said
his wife, “and I wish you wouldn’t talk so before the boys.”

“About that thar bar’l, with the eighty thousand dollars into it? I did
mean it, an’ I tell ye I will talk so, too!”

“Then it is high time somebody was taking charge of your children.
David may be able to resist such temptations, but I don’t want to have
him put to the test. You will certainly have a bad influence over Dan,
for you will make him dishonest.”

The mere mention of that word seemed to irritate Godfrey. He jumped up
from the bench, spread out his feet, and taking his pipe from his mouth
with one hand, extended the other toward his wife.

“Now, ole woman, jest look at ye!” he began; and then he bounded into
the air, knocked his heels together, and came down on his feet again
with a jar that must have shaken him all over. “An’ now jest look at
me!”

“I was talking with Mrs. Gordon about it not more than an hour ago,”
said Mrs. Evans, not at all alarmed by her husband’s words or actions.
“She says the general wants to do something for David, and will use
his influence to put him where he can make a man of himself. He has
aspirations, and I believe will be of some use in the world if he ever
has the chance.”

Godfrey put his pipe back into his mouth and sat down again.

“What did you say them things is that Dave’s got?” he asked.

“Aspirations,” replied Mrs. Evans.

“What’s them, an’ whar did he get ’em?” inquired Godfrey, who thought
they might be something of value which David carried in his pockets,
and which might be stolen after the boy had gone to bed.

“I mean that he doesn’t want to live in this way all his life. He wants
to do and be something better.”

“Oh!” said Godfrey, somewhat disappointed. “Wal, I can take keer of
him, an’ without no help from the gen’ral, who can jest watch his own
boys an’ let mine be. That bar’l will fix things all right!”

Mrs. Evans, seeing that nothing was to be gained by talking to her
husband, passed on into the cabin; and just then David came up. He
carried his old single-barrel shot gun over his shoulder, a bunch of
quails in his hand, and Don Gordon’s pointer followed close at his
heels, his appearance indicating that he had been doing some work since
he left the cabin.

“Wal, sonny,” said Godfrey, “how does the pup understand his business?”

“O, it will be no trouble at all to break him,” answered David. “He
understands some things as well as an old dog already.”

“I’m glad to hear ye say so, an’ I’m glad to see ye’ve done so well,”
said Godfrey, glancing at the bunch of quails. “Ye’re getting to be a
right smart hunter. Ye can make a good livin’ at it some day, if ye
want to.”

“But I don’t want to,” said David quickly. “I can make a better living
at something else, and take care of my mother, too.”

“That’s right, sonny. Allers think of yer mam, what’s done so much fur
ye; an’ of yer pop, too. He’s worked monstrous hard to edicate ye an’
keep a roof over yer head, yer pop has, an’ ye’d oughter to begin to
pay him back purty soon. Now, put away yer gun an’ go an’ chop some
wood fur yer mam to cook supper by. She’s tired, an’ so be I. We’ve
worked powerful hard this arternoon, we have, while ye’ve been trampin’
about enjoyin’ yerself.”

Godfrey settled back on the bench and gave his undivided attention to
his pipe for a few seconds and then suddenly arose and entered the
cabin. He had counted the moments of Dan’s absence pretty closely and
knew about what time to look for his return. He knew, too, what the boy
would do first when he came back, and wanted to be where he could watch
all his movements. He applied his eye to the hole in the wall where
the chinking had fallen out, and was just in time to see Dan climb the
fence that separated the woods from the little clearing in which the
cabin stood, and make his way towards the corn-crib. When he reached
it he paused long enough to make sure that there was no one in sight,
and then quickly took the harness down from its place, and pulled out
the pin. A hasty glance at the interior of his hiding place, satisfied
him that everything was just as he had left it; and this being settled
he pulled something out of his pocket, pushed it into the opening,
replaced the pin, and hung up the harness, just as David, with an axe
on his shoulder, came whistling around the corner of the cabin.

Having seen all he wanted to see, Godfrey quickly crossed the cabin
and seating himself on the bench pulled vigorously at his pipe.

“Fur downright Yankee ’cuteness an’ smartness I jist think I lay over
’most anybody,” thought he, giving his knee an approving slap. “I’m
jist three dollars an’ a half ahead of what I would have been, if I
had kept that money when I had it. When Dan told me that he’d done
sold that beef, I knowed what he’d do with the money, an’ that’s why I
sent him into the woods arter them squirrels. It give me time to fix
things in that hole jist as I found ’em, an’ now Dan’s done gone an’
put that three an’ a half in there too, which makes me a’most seven
dollars ahead of the hounds, if I counted it up on my fingers right,
an’ I reckon I did. I hain’t agoin’ to hunt fur that bar’l to-night,
kase when Dan goes to sleep I want to slip out thar an’ get that money,
afore he has a chance to take it out an’ put it sowewhar else!”

At this moment Dan came around the corner of the cabin, with a string
of squirrels thrown over his shoulder. There were eight of them
altogether and he held them up so that his father could see that every
one of them was shot through the head. Godfrey complimented him on his
skill, and when the boy passed into the cabin became suddenly silent
and thoughtful. A question had just occurred to him. What if Dan had
spent some of the money at the landing before he came home? He could
not breathe freely until he found out.

“Dannie,” said he, as the boy, having put away his rifle, came out
again and seated himself on a log near the cabin preparatory to
skinning the squirrels he had shot, “ye told me ye’d got----how much
fur that quarter of beef?”

“Three an’ a half, pop,” was the reply, and Dan began to look wild, and
arose rather hastily from the log. There was something in the tone in
which this question was propounded that made him fear that the storm he
had quelled a short time before, was gathering again; but his father’s
next words reassured him.

“Yer a good son, Dannie,” said Godfrey. “An’ that’s the way to get
rich, that ar way is. Take money when ye can get it, an’ _keep_ it,
too; mind that, Dannie. Don’t go to throwin’ it about loose an’
reckless, but hold fast to it with sich a grip that nothin’ can’t make
ye let up. Ye didn’t spend none of it at the landin’, I hope?”

“No, I didn’t. Didn’t I tell ye that I brung every cent of it hum?”

“That’s a good boy,” said Godfrey; and having set his fears at rest,
he became silent again and puffed at his pipe until he was called to
supper. When the meal was over, he went back to his pipe again; Dan
made a pretence of chopping wood; while David assisted his mother in
her household duties. It began to grow dark at last, and then Dan threw
down his axe and seated himself beside his father who was nodding on
the bench.

“Say, pop, be we goin’ to look fur that bar’l to-night?” he asked.

“No, Dannie, we hain’t,” was the sleepy reply. “I can’t. Here I’ve been
an’ hoofed it down to the landin’ an’ back since dinner, an’ I’m jest
teetotally tuckered out. Wait till to-morrow an’ then we’ll go!”

Dan was surprised at this answer. He was tired himself, but the
prospect of digging up eighty thousand dollars in gold and silver,
would have put life and energy into him if he had been completely
exhausted. He attributed his father’s refusal to his inherent laziness;
but something he discovered the next morning showed him that he was
wrong there.

The evening was passed in much the same manner that every evening
was passed under Godfrey’s roof. There were no candles to light the
hovel, and even if there had been there were no books or papers to
read, no games or anything else to engage in to make the time pass
pleasantly. In one corner of the cabin beside the fire-place was a
pile of resinous knots which David had picked up in the woods. One of
these was occasionally placed on the coals, and while it blazed up and
threw a feeble light about the room, David and his mother talked of the
past and speculated concerning the future. This was the way David’s
education had always been conducted. The remembrance of these evening
interviews with his mother went through life with him, and the moral
lessons that were then inculcated stood him in good hand in after years.

Dan and his father had their own peculiar ways of putting in the time
that elapsed between the cleaning away of the supper dishes and the
hour for retiring. Dan always stretched himself out on the floor and
went to sleep, while his father nodded on the bench outside the door.
On this particular evening Godfrey did not seem to slumber very heavily
for every now and then he would straighten up and look steadily toward
the corner in which Dan lay. He appeared to be waiting for something.
It came at last in the shape of a gentle snore, and then Godfrey arose
and stole away in the darkness. A few minutes later he came back, and
taking possession of the miserable “shake down” he called a bed, was
soon sound asleep.



CHAPTER VI.

OUR FRIENDS, THE GORDONS.


Reader, are you tired of Godfrey Evans and his dismal surroundings? If
you are, let us go up to General Gordon’s, where we shall be sure of a
hearty welcome and more agreeable companionship.

The house in which the general and his family now live does not look
much like the noble mansion they called home a few years ago; but it
is very neat and comfortable, and there is always room enough under
its hospitable roof to accommodate visitors, who are greeted and
entertained in good old southern style. It stands on the spot where
the old house stood, and in the midst of extensive grounds, which a
few years ago looked like a tropical garden. They still retain some of
their old-time beauty, but yet wear an air of neglect; and many of the
rare and valuable plants, which Mrs. Gordon and her daughters took so
much pride in cultivating and protecting from the fury of the winter
rains and sleets, have perished for want of care, and have not been
replaced. On one side the grounds slope down to the shores of Diamond
lake--a little sheet of water about four miles long and half a mile
wide, surrounded on three sides by a dense forest of tall trees, so
heavily draped with climbing plants, mosses and grape-vines, that to a
person seated in a boat in the middle of the lake, it would seem to be
almost impenetrable.

This lake is not like our northern lakes. The gravelly beach is
wanting, and so are the black bass, the pickerel and other fine game
fish that we find in our waters. The shores are low and muddy, the
banks are thickly lined with snags, stumps and trees, and a northern
boy would look twice at the dark, slimy water before he would think of
going in bathing there. If he made up his mind to venture, he might
think better of it if, while he was looking around for a log to put his
clothes on, he should discover a large moccasin curled up in the edge
of the water, and closely watching all his movements. Are these snakes
poisonous? Ask Don and Bert what they think about it. They will tell
you that one day last August, while they were sitting on the little
wooden wharf, which juts out into the lake below the summer house,
bobbing for sun-fish, they happened to look into the water a little way
from the shore, and saw what appeared to be the head and neck of a
goose moving rapidly along. But they knew it was not that, for summer
is not the time for waterfowl down here, and besides a goose does not
swim with his body submerged. It was a moccasin, and he was directing
his course toward a log which lay in the water about twenty yards from
the wharf. The boys knew he was a big one, or he could not have held
his head so high above the water; but they were amazed at the sight of
the bulk he presented to view when, reaching the log, he drew himself
upon it, and stretched out flat preparatory to taking his afternoon
nap. The longer the boys looked at him, the more their astonishment
increased; and at last Don quietly laid down his fish-pole, and
requesting his brother to keep an eye on the reptile, arose and stole
off to the house. When he returned he carried a light breech-loading
shot gun in his hands--one of those weapons that “break in two in the
middle.” Both barrels were loaded, and Don had two more cartridges in
his pocket for use in case the first should not prove effectual.

The moccasin lay in such a position that Don could not see his head; so
he took a hasty aim at the thickest part of his body, and fired both
barrels in quick succession. He was so surprised at the effect of his
shot that he did not think of the cartridges he had in his pocket. The
moccasin was not killed, but he was so badly wounded that he could not
get off the log.

“The end his head was on was lively enough,” Don afterward told his
father, “and whirled around at a great rate; but the end his tail was
on seemed to be completely paralyzed, for it did not move at all.”
He made the most desperate efforts to crawl off into the water, and
failing in that, turned and bit himself twice, and a moment afterward
was dead.

Don leaned on his breech-loader and looked at his brother. “That
settles two things, Bert,” said he. “One is that we have all been
mistaken in supposing that moccasins are not poisonous; and the
second is, that one must not put implicit faith in everything he sees
in books. Only yesterday I was reading in my natural history that a
scorpion, ‘if surrounded by a circle of fire so that it cannot escape,
will turn and sting itself through the head, this being the only
companion of man in suicide.’ This little incident proves that man has
other companions in suicide, doesn’t it?”

Besides these disagreeable and dangerous inhabitants of the lake,
there are others in the shape of alligator-gars and turtles. The latter
have bills like parrots, and grow so large and heavy that it takes two
men to lift one of them. A gar is a long, slender fish, and but for its
color, might be taken for a gigantic pickerel. It is sometimes found
eight feet in length. People say they are harmless, but a timid person
would not care to trust one too far after looking at its mouthful of
teeth.

The boys have two canoes and one sail-boat in the lake. The boat was
built in St. Louis, and a steamer brought it to the landing, where Don
and Bert took charge of it and navigated it to the wharf by way of
the Pass, which connects the lake with the river. This Pass was for a
long time blocked up by a levee to keep the waters of the river from
overflowing the low lands about the lake. During the war it was cut
by the Union forces, and the gunboats came down through the lake and
entered Coldwater and Tallahatchee rivers, in the effort to get behind
the strong fortifications at Haines’s Bluff.

Although the lake is but a poor fishing ground, it is a splendid place
for ducks and geese. About a mile from the house, on the river side
of the lake, is a long, narrow point, which stretches almost across
to the opposite bank, and it is there that the best shooting is to be
found. As it belongs to their father the boys have taken possession of
it, and on the highest and dryest part, erected a rough board cabin
which goes by the name of “Our Shooting-box.” It looks dreary enough in
summer, with only a rusty stove and a few empty cupboards in it by way
of furniture; but when the “melancholy days” are come, and the leaves
begin to fall, and the autumnal winds to whistle dismally through
the branches of the forest--when the trumpet-like notes of the first
returning flock of brant are heard, then the shooting-box opens wide
its hospitable door, and receives beneath the shelter of its roof a
company of merry youngsters, who yearly congregate here to enjoy the
splendid shooting the lake affords. Then the bare floor is covered
with comfortable rugs, and there are camp chairs and lounges enough
to accommodate all the young sportsmen who can crawl into the cabin.
Then the cupboards are abundantly supplied with dishes, knives, forks
and other table furniture, and everything in the way of provisions
that hungry boys can ask for; and in the loft, which extends over half
the room, are always to be found a barrel or two of hickory nuts,
butternuts and pecans. And what sport the boys enjoy here in these
days! A person who has once taken part in it, will willingly go a
hundred miles to have more of it. The shooting is all done over decoys.
These decoys are pieces of light wood shaped like ducks and geese,
and painted to resemble them. And that they do resemble the natural
bird very closely, is proved by the fact that more than one hunter has
emptied his double-barrel into a flock of decoys and never discovered
his mistake, until the disgusted owner of the wooden birds jumped up
from behind his blind and demanded to know what he was about.

These decoys are anchored off the point of which we have spoken, and
Don and Bert, and the rest of the young hunters, hide behind their
blinds--little breastworks of bushes erected on shore--and with their
guns in their hands, hold themselves in readiness to shoot at the first
flock that comes within range. And they are never obliged to wait
long. The wild fowl, in passing from one end of the lake to the other,
discover what they suppose to be a company of their friends swimming
in perfect security near the shore, and stop to pay them a visit; but
just as they swing to the decoys, their ranks are decimated by the
double-barrels, and it is a lucky flock that gets off without leaving
a dozen or more of its number behind. The birds being gone, Don’s
pointers, which are crouching behind the blind by their master’s side,
retrieve the dead and wounded in the most approved style; and when they
are all brought in the boys are ready for another flock. When night
comes they are sure to be very tired and hungry, and to have as many
birds as they care to carry home. They are equally certain to find a
smoking supper waiting for them on their arrival at the shooting-box,
and old Cuff ready to receive them with open arms.

During the evening they fight their battles over again--telling of
that fine shot made at such a distance that a miss seemed certain, or
that clear miss made when the bird ought to have been easily brought
to bag--and at last go to bed to pass through the same exciting scenes
again in their dreams. We do not blame Don and his friends for thinking
a good deal of that little shooting-box, for we passed one of the
pleasantest months of our life there.

Having seen the grounds and glanced at all the interesting things
outside the house, let us go in for a few minutes. The wide front door
stands invitingly open--there is no danger to be apprehended from
tramps and sneak-thieves in this out-of-the-way place--and being well
acquainted with all the inmates, and feeling quite at home here, we
enter without ceremony. Passing along the hall and turning to the left
we find a second door, also standing open, and this leads us into the
apartment occupied by Don and his brother as a sitting and school room.
They study and recite their lessons here, and when their school duties
are over, they have the room to themselves. It is neatly furnished,
and in it are many of those things which Dan Evans seems to regard as
indispensable aids to happiness. Of course he does not include books
and papers in the list, but we think they are very necessary, and so
do Don and Bert. Their library is small but well chosen, and made up
almost entirely of books from which they can learn something.

We enter the room on the afternoon of the same day on which Dan Evans
came over to ask for five of the ten dollars that Don had promised
David for field-breaking his young pointer. We have seen that he got
the money, and that he went away leaving Bert reading a book. We
find him engaged in the same pleasing occupation. He reads for a few
minutes, and then placing the book on his knee, gazes thoughtfully out
at the trees in the yard.

“I don’t see why it can’t be done,” he says, to himself. “Father has a
light spring wagon that I know he would let us take, and we have two
good ponies to draw it. We couldn’t put up at a hotel while we are
gone, but who cares for that? We own a good tent, and if we should take
old Cuff along to act as cook and camp-keeper, we could live as well as
we do at home or at the shooting-box.”

The book Bert has been reading, and which suggests this train of
thought, is Frank Forester’s “Deer Stalkers.” It tells how Harry Archer
and two companions went on a deer hunt somewhere in the state of New
York, and how they enjoyed themselves. It is one of Don’s favorite
books; and the reason Bert reads it to-day is because it happened to
be the first one he picked up when he came into the room. While he
read the thought occurred to him that if he and his brother should
follow in the lead of the heroes of the book, they could spend a few
days very pleasantly. They had everything needful for a week’s sojourn
in the woods, or a month’s, and a trip like that would just suit Don.
Their school term would be over in a week--their tutor was going north
to spend the holidays with his friends--and Don, who had grown very
fond of him and of his books, wondered how he was going to pass the
time during his absence. Of course there was the shooting-box, but one
does not care to spend two whole months in duck hunting, and Don had
often been heard to declare that he wished he could go somewhere and
spend a week as he had never spent one before. Bert thought he had hit
upon something that would please him. He had heard wonderful reports
of late of the abundance of game to be found in an adjoining county,
forty miles away. Deer were so plenty that they had been seen in the
corn-fields; a bear had been known to approach a lonely farm house in
broad daylight and walk off with a pig; and one day a hunter, who was
roaming the woods with his pack of hounds, encountered some animal in a
dense cane-brake which almost annihilated his dogs, and made off before
the hunter could shoot him. The man did not know what sort of an animal
it was, for the cane was so thick that he could not see him; but there
was only one thing in that part of the country that could whip out a
pack of hounds so easily and completely, and that was a panther. Bert
did not like the idea of encountering such game as this, but Don would
not have hesitated a minute. Besides being famous as a wing shot, and
being very fond of the breech-loader which created such havoc among
the ducks, snipe and quails, he took care to have it known that he had
bagged nobler game; and when he exhibited the old-fashioned muzzle
loading rifle which his father had given him, and with which he had
brought down his first deer, he never forgot to mention that four very
fine bucks and one two year old bear had fallen to that same gun.

“Don would make a capital Harry Archer,” said Bert, continuing the
soliloquy we have interrupted, “he is so fearless and enthusiastic.
Old Cuff would make a very good Jim Matlock--he’s black, but still
he’ll do--and instead of Smoke, the Scotch greyhound that could perform
such wonders in the way of running and pulling down deer, we shall
have, if we have a mind to take them with us, six of the best hounds
that ever came from Kentucky. There’ll be nothing wanting, unless it be
a Harry Barhyte or a Ned Wheeler to get us into some sort of a scrape.
If they should turn up, it would make it all the more interesting for
Don. The thought of meeting one of the panthers, which they say are
plenty in the cane-brakes, is not a very pleasant one, and almost makes
me say that I will stay at home; but, now that I come to think of it,
we need not camp out an hour unless we please. Bob Harrington lives
over there, in the very midst of the wilderness, and we’d be welcome
at his house as long as we chose to stop with him. Halloa!” he added
aloud, as a step was heard in the hall, and his brother came rapidly
into the room. “I was just thinking about you.”

“You’re always thinking of somebody besides yourself,” replied Don,
drawing a chair to his brother’s side and flourishing a letter which he
held in his hand. “Your face tells me that you have something pleasant
on your mind: what is it? Let us have all the sunshine we can, for the
clouds are coming--one cloud at least.”

“What’s the matter?” asked Bert, who thought by the scowl on his
brother’s face that the clouds had come already, “and whom is that
letter from?”

“Let us have the good news first,” replied Don, putting the letter
behind his chair, as his brother reached out his hand to take it. “This
will keep.”

“So will the other; but since you are so determined, I suppose I shall
have to tell you. When our tutor goes away next week we shall have two
whole months to ourselves, and instead of spending all the time at the
shooting-box, I propose that some fine morning we put the ponies to the
spring wagon, take our tent, one of our canoes and everything else we
need for camping out, and spend a week or so on Coldwater.”

“Among the deer and bears!” exclaimed Don. “That would be just the
idea, if we could only carry it out.”

“And why can’t we carry it out?”

“Because we are not going to have those two months all to ourselves;
and besides, one of the two fellows who is about to intrude his most
unwelcome presence upon us, is not such a boy as we should like to have
in our camp.”

“What do you mean?” asked Bert.

“I can best answer that question by reading a portion of this letter,”
replied Don. “It came more than a week ago. Father and mother have
consulted about it, and have finally consented, most reluctantly,
to accept the proposition it contains. I am afraid it was a bad day
for us when they did so. Our fun is all knocked in the head. In the
first place the letter is from Uncle Bob, and relates to our cousins,
Clarence and Marshall Gordon.”

“Are they coming here?” asked Bert, his face brightening with joyous
anticipation.

Don looked sharply at his brother for a minute or two before he spoke.
“Yes, they’re coming,” said he. “I don’t know what you may think about
it, but I am sorry; and so are father and mother.”

“Then why do they let them come?”

“Because they can’t help it. Father is under heavy obligations to Uncle
Bob, who has done him numberless good turns, and he says he can’t well
refuse to grant this, the only favor that Uncle Bob has ever asked of
him.”

“But why don’t they want Clarence and Marshall here?” asked Bert, who
could not see why his parents should object to the visit of relatives
whom he and his brother had not seen for many years--so many, in fact,
that he could not remember of ever having met them at all. They (that
is, Clarence and Marshall) had always lived with their parents in
Europe; and it was only about a year ago that they had taken up their
abode in a northern city where their father was engaged in business.

“This will explain everything,” said Don; and as he spoke, he settled
back in his chair and opened the letter.



CHAPTER VII.

THE NEW COMERS.


That portion of the letter which Don read was as follows:--

“And now I come to the matter about which I sat down to write to you.
It relates to my two boys, Clarence and Marshall--more particularly to
the first. I am very anxious to remove them both from the temptations
to which they are exposed in this big city. Since we returned from
Europe they have been a source of constant anxiety to their mother and
myself. The first thing they did was to make acquaintances and friends
among those I should not have chosen for their companions, if I had had
the power of selection in my own hands. Being completely engrossed in
the cares of business, I could not give the attention to their training
that I ought to have done; and the first thing that brought me to a
sense of my duty and my neglect in this matter, was the visit of a
police officer, who called at my office, and informed me that Clarence
had been arrested in a saloon for engaging in a brawl over a game of
cards----”

“Gracious!” gasped Bert.

“O, he’s a nice bird,” said Don, in great disgust. “And that isn’t the
worst of it. He is untruthful and dishonest. His father doesn’t say so,
but you can gain that idea from the language he uses. Listen to this:--

    “‘For engaging in a brawl over a game of cards, and that he would
    be held until his examination came off, unless I was willing to go
    his bail.’”

    “What does that mean?”

    “It means that if his father did not give bonds for his appearance
    when he was wanted, he would be put into a cell and locked up.”

    “I got him out of the scrape,” the letter went on, “and when I
    came to inquire into his past life I found that his record was not
    such an one as a father could be proud of. I took him out of school
    and placed him in my office where he still is; but I fear I have
    thrown him directly in the way of temptation instead of taking him
    out of it. He has begun to develop traits which I did not suppose
    he possessed, and which lead me to distrust his every word and act.
    I cannot put the least faith in him. He cares for nothing in the
    world but money, and when he gets it, it goes for cigars, lager
    beer and clothes. Marshall is not very badly contaminated as yet,
    but he is so easily influenced that I fear for his future, unless
    he is speedily removed from these surroundings. Now, can you take
    these two boys and take care of them for the winter, or until I can
    make some permanent arrangements for them? If I had had my way,
    I should have sent Clarence to sea six months ago, for I believe
    that a little wholesome discipline would make a great change in
    him; but his mother will not listen to it. Something, however,
    must be done at once. They are both worth saving, and I hope that
    an acquaintance with Don and Bert, who, I am told, are all that
    sons should be (Don blushed when he read this, for he could not
    forget that wrong act that had resulted in his expulsion from the
    academy), and daily intercourse with them will show my boys that
    there is something attractive in an upright, honorable life.”

This was all. The general’s brother was a man of few words, and as this
was a subject he did not like to dwell upon, he hurried through with it
as quickly as possible. He evidently wanted that the general should
know just what sort of boys he would open his doors to, if he agreed
to accept the responsibility urged upon him, but, at the same time, he
was anxious that the delinquents should appear in as favorable a light
as possible, and so did not say more than he thought to be absolutely
necessary.

“Well, I am sorry they are coming,” said Bert, as Don folded the letter
and placed it in the envelope.

“So am I,” said Don.

“The idea of a great big, hulking, beer-drinking, tobacco-smoking, and
card-playing boy loafing about our house,” continued Bert, betrayed by
his excitement into using stronger language than he generally employed,
and thinking of Godfrey Evans as he spoke. “I wonder how he became so
far gone before his parents found it out!”

“So did I--but father explained it to me--or rather to mother, and I
overheard it. He says Uncle Robert sees but little of his family on any
day except Sundays. He leaves home early in the morning, and does not
return again until nine or ten o’clock at night. The management of the
boys is left entirely to their mother, who doesn’t care what they do,
so long as they keep out of the way and don’t trouble her. As one can’t
see to them, and the other won’t, they have been entirely neglected.”

“And this letter has been here a week and we never knew it,” said Bert.

“Yes, and a good deal longer than that,” said Don; “long enough for
the matter to be considered, a favorable answer to be returned, and a
second letter to be received from Uncle Bob. That letter states that
the boys left Cincinnati on the Emma Deane; and father has just learned
from Mr. Jones that she is due at our landing some time to-night or
early to-morrow morning.”

Bert was sorry that the new-comers were expected so soon. He had hoped
to have a week or two in which to think about them, and make up his
mind how he would act after they arrived. Although these cousins were
the sons of their father’s only brother, they were utter strangers to
Don and Bert. Their parents said they had seen them once, but as they
were only three years old at the time, they could not be expected to
remember much about them. Since then Clarence and Marshall had lived
altogether in Europe, and Don and Bert had not heard from them on an
average of once a year.

“I too am sorry that they are coming so soon,” said Don, who could tell
by the expression of Bert’s face what was passing in his mind. “You see
now why your idea of a trip to Coldwater must be given up, at least
until we know more about our expected friends. At first father thought
he would not say anything to us about the contents of this letter, for
he did not want to prejudice us against Clarence and Marshall; but
afterward he decided that we ought to know what sort of fellows they
are, so that we may be on our guard. We are going to have a long talk
about it this evening.”

And they did, and the whole family was present. It was a kind of
council in which the matter was thoroughly discussed, and plans laid
for the reception of the expected visitors. The general explained why
he did not feel at liberty to refuse his brother’s request--this being
a private matter is something in which we have no interest--and urged
upon his boys the necessity of regulating their own conduct, so that
Clarence and his brother might see that there was more happiness,
and much more respectability in a sober, well-regulated course of
life, than in the career upon which they seemed to have entered. The
new-comers, he was sorry to say, had a great many bad habits, and
their father hoped that by sending them into the country for a season
they might forget some of them, and by being brought under better
influences, be finally led to see the folly of them and induced to
abandon them altogether. One thing was certain, the general said: there
was no dram-shop in the neighborhood, not even at the landing, and
beer-drinking and card-playing were two practices that Clarence would
have to forego so long as he remained in that part of the country.
Tobacco was plenty, but it was not at all likely that a boy who had
been in the habit of buying cigars worth ten and perhaps twenty-five
cents apiece, would stoop to a cob-pipe and plug “Varginy.” Besides he
was to have no money, so his father said, not a cent; and taking it
altogether, it seemed as if Clarence must turn over a new leaf while he
was under his uncle’s roof, whether he wanted to do so or not.

In regard to Marshall, the younger brother, the general had not much to
say, for his father had scarcely mentioned him in his letters. But he
inferred that he was following in the footsteps of Clarence, and that,
being easily led in any direction, there might be some hope for him if
he were taken in hand at once.

The unlooked-for intrusion of these discordant elements upon their
quiet, happy family circle, afforded the boys something to talk
about that night, and kept them awake long after they ought to have
been asleep. Bert did not take it quite so much to heart after the
first surprise was over. Indeed he hoped that the visit might prove
both pleasant and profitable to all concerned. Clarence and Marshall
were his cousins, and Bert had a warm place in his heart for them,
even if they were not just such boys as he would have chosen for his
companions. Don, on the other hand, took but little pains to conceal
the annoyance he felt. Cousin or no cousin, he did not want such a
companion as he knew Clarence would prove to be, and he hoped his uncle
Robert would hurry and make up his mind to something, so that his
visit might be brought to an end as speedily as possible. The expected
visitors broke in on his arrangements in a way he did not like. It
brought his school term to an end a week sooner than it ought to have
been ended. Of course it would not be polite to leave Clarence and
Marshall to themselves when they arrived, and in order to give Don
and Bert an opportunity to make things pleasant for them, the general
decided that the school should close at once.

Morning came at last, and immediately after breakfast the heavy,
old-fashioned family carriage was drawn to the door by a span of
splendid iron-gray horses, the tutor’s trunk was strapped on behind,
and he, in company with the general and his two boys, stepped in, and
the carriage was driven to the landing. Just as they arrived there,
a steamer appeared in the bend, heading up the river. The general
signalled to her with his handkerchief, and she landed, took the tutor
and his luggage aboard, and continued on her way. The boys watched
her in silence until she disappeared around the point. They had grown
to like their tutor, and were sorry to see him go; but it was some
consolation to them to know that the separation would not be a long one.

The Gray Eagle--that was the name of the steamer that took the tutor
away--having disappeared, the boys turned their attention to a thick
cloud of smoke farther up the river, and behind a point which jutted
out from the right bank. Silas Jones, who was at the landing and
expecting goods by the first steamer from Memphis, told the general
that the Gray Eagle was the only packet that had gone up the river
since midnight, so the boys knew that the smoke they were looking at
must come from the chimneys of some steamer bound to New Orleans. They
watched the cloud as it moved slowly along above the trees, and finally
at the end of an hour a side-wheel steamer suddenly made her appearance
in the bend.

“That’s the Emmy Deane,” said a well-known voice.

The boys turned and saw Godfrey Evans standing close behind them. He
was barefooted as usual, and carried his rifle on his shoulder.

“How do you know it is the Emma Deane?” asked Don.

“Ah! mornin’, Mr. Don,” exclaimed Godfrey. “Proud to see ye, sar. How’s
all the folks? Mine is only jest tol’able, thank ye, ’ceptin’ the ole
woman, an’ she’s poorly. How do I know that’s the Emmy Deane? Kase I
know it is, an’ I can tell a’most every boat on the river that stops
here, too. When she whistles, ye’ll see she’s got four--two high up an’
two low down. Mr. Don,” added Godfrey, lowering his voice, “can I see
ye jest a minute, please, sar?”

Don, wondering what business Godfrey could have with him, which was
of so private a nature that it could not be spoken of in the hearing
of his father and brother, drew off on one side, and the man, after
clearing his throat, continued:

“We’re powerful poor folks, Mr. Don, an’ the ole woman she was tuk down
with the fever ’n’ ager last night, an’ done shook the roof clean off’n
the house; an’ Dave, he hain’t got a shoe to bless hisself with.”

“Well,” said Don, when Godfrey paused and looked at him.

“Wal, Dave, he wants me to ax ye, Mr. Don, please sar, would ye mind
givin’ him five dollars this mornin’, sar, kase ye know ye promised him
ten fur breakin’ that pinter pup, an’ we’re powerful poor folks, ye
know.”

“Certainly I’ll give it to him,” replied Don, quickly. “He can have it
at any time for the asking. I would have given it to him yesterday if I
had known that he wanted it.”

“Wal, he didn’t want it yesterday, an’ he wouldn’t a wanted it to-day,
only the ole woman’s got the fever ’n’ ager, an’ we’s so poor. He told
me to ax ye would ye give it to me, an’ I’ll give it to him, please,
sar.”

Don readily consented to this. He produced his pocket-book and handed
the five dollars to Godfrey, who clutched the money and made off with
it in such haste that Don looked at him in great surprise.

“What did he want of you?” asked Bert, when his brother came back to
the carriage.

“He wanted some of the money I promised David for breaking that
pointer,” was the reply.

“O, that reminds me,” said Bert. “How much did you give him?”

“I gave him half of it.”

“And I gave him the other half yesterday, so David is paid up in full,
and you owe mother five dollars. Dan dunned me, and I borrowed the
money to give him. He came over to see you, but as you were not at
home, I acted in your place. Was that right?”

“Perfectly. I told David he could have the money whenever he wanted it.
I am somewhat surprised, though, for I understood him to say that he
intended to keep some of it to send off those quails with.”

All this while the steamer had been approaching the landing, and the
nearer she came, the more certain did the people, who were standing
around, declare themselves to be that it was the Emma Deane. At last
she whistled, and there proved to be “two high up and two low down;” in
other words, there were four whistles, and being attached to the same
steam-pipe, of course they all sounded at once--two uttering notes high
up on the musical scale, and the others emitting a deep bass. Then all
doubts, if any remained, were cleared away. She was the Emma Deane, and
she was going to land. This she did a few minutes afterward. The moment
her bow touched the shore, a deck-hand sprang out with a line which
he made fast to a convenient tree; a staging was pushed ashore, and
the crew began bringing out the goods Silas Jones was expecting from
Memphis. The boys ran their eyes over the passengers who were crowded
on her boiler-deck, while the general at once made his way on board to
hunt up his nephews. He returned about five minutes later, followed by
two gentlemanly-looking youths, and these in turn were followed by a
negro porter who carried a heavy trunk on his shoulder.

It is hard to tell just what sort of fellows Don expected to see, but
it was plain from the expression on his face, and the manner in which
he passed through the ceremony of introduction, that he was surprised,
to say the least; while Bert’s bewilderment was too palpable to escape
notice. The latter knew but little of the world, and had somehow got it
into his head that vices of every description came in shapes so easy
to be recognised, that any one would know them. When he heard that his
cousin Clarence was in the habit of using tobacco and playing cards,
he put him down as a lazy, good-for-nothing fellow, much of the same
stamp as Godfrey Evans; but here was a dashing youth, dressed in the
latest fashion, who looked as though he might know a thing or two, and
who conducted himself in an easy, off-hand manner, that, to diffident
little Bert, was perfectly charming. He resembled Godfrey Evans in
about the same degree that his own father did. He appeared to be as
much at ease as though he had come among friends with whom he had long
been acquainted, and his younger brother, Marshall, was not a whit
behind him in this respect; while Bert could not say a word in response
to their polite and cordial greeting, and even Don, who was usually
self-possessed, hesitated and blushed and looked as embarrassed as
though he had been caught in some act of mischief.

The introduction being over, the trunk was strapped in its place behind
the carriage, our party all got in, and Don picked up the reins and
drove homeward. On the way Don and Bert had leisure to collect their
wits a little, and while doing their part toward maintaining the
conversation that followed, devoted themselves principally to making a
mental estimate of their visitors--a proceeding on their part which was
closely imitated by Clarence and Marshall. What results they arrived at
perhaps we shall see by and by.

Clarence would have attracted attention almost anywhere. He was a
handsome fellow, and the ease and readiness with which he expressed
himself in conversation, astonished Don, who was himself blessed
with more than an ordinary command of language. He described with
great fluency and animation several interesting and amusing incidents
that had fallen under his notice during the journey from Cincinnati,
and seemed to be so well posted in every subject that came up for
discussion, and yet so modest, that Don began to accuse himself of
having been guilty of a very ungenerous act, in that he had allowed
himself to become prejudiced against his cousin before he saw him. He
told himself that he would have in him a most agreeable companion, and
one from whom he could learn something.

Bert formed nearly the same opinion of Marshall. These two sat on the
back seat while the rest of the party occupied the one in front, and
being left in a great measure to themselves, imagined by the time they
reached home, that they had had opportunity to become well acquainted.
They found out not a few of each other’s likes and dislikes, and were
both pleased to learn that they had many ideas in common. Marshall
liked to fish and hunt occasionally, but he liked a game of chess or
checkers better, and cards and billiards better than anything. He
opened his eyes when he learned that Bert had never seen a billiard
table, and that he did not know one card from another. He, Marshall,
had been accustomed to these things all his life, he said, but he
thought he could get on very well without them. His mother wanted him
to give them up, and he was going to do it to please her. He seemed to
think a good deal of his mother, and Bert told himself that that was a
redeeming trait, and would do much toward bringing him out all right in
the end.

The party reached home in due time, and found Mrs. Gordon and her
daughters waiting to receive them. The visitors were cordially
welcomed, and after a short visit in the parlor, were shown to their
room and left to themselves. As soon as Clarence had closed and locked
the door, he threw himself into the nearest chair with the air of one
who was badly bored and utterly disgusted.

“How do you like it as far as you have gone?” asked Marshall.

“I don’t like it at all,” was the reply; “and it has gone about as far
as it will with me, too. If the old man thinks I am going to vegetate
down here for the next six months, he is badly mistaken. I won’t do it
to please anybody.”

“You can’t help yourself,” said his brother.

“I can’t! I’ll show you that I can. I’ll write a letter to mother this
very night, and tell her that I want money enough to take me home.”

“O, of course that will bring it,” said Marshall, with a laugh which
said that he thought it would not. “You know what father said the last
thing before we left, don’t you--that we need not write for money,
because we couldn’t have a cent?”

“Yes, I know, but I’ll get it, all the same. See there,” said Clarence,
exhibiting almost a handful of small change.

“Where did you get that?” demanded his brother.

“Mother gave it to me just before we left home. She said that I might
want some spending money, and hinted that when this was gone, I knew
where I could get more. I’ll ask for more at once; and if it doesn’t
come, I’ll drop a line to mother telling her that if she wants to see
me again, she had better be doing something. That always wakes her up!”

“It has had the desired effect so far, I admit,” said Marshall. “But
suppose father should get hold of one of those threatening letters, and
should write back to you: ‘My dear Clarence: You have talked this way
often enough. You shan’t have a cent.’ What would you do then?”

“Well, in the first place, there is no danger that my letters will ever
fall into his hands, for mother takes precious good care to put them in
the grate as soon as she reads them; and in the next place, I’d make
the old man repent such an act the longest day he lived. I’d clear out,
and he’d never see me again!”

“O, nonsense!” exclaimed Marshall, tucking up his sleeves preparatory
to plunging his hands into the wash-bowl. “You are not the one to cut
loose from a comfortable home and go out into the world to make your
own living, as long as you can avoid it. You like your ease altogether
too well for that. Tell us some other funny story, please.”

“There is no funny story about this. I am in earnest, and you’ll see
if I don’t get the money in less than two weeks. I can’t live down
here in this wilderness--no billiards, no theatres, no nothing that’s
interesting. How is one to kill time, I wonder?”

“You must read, and hunt, and fish, and ride on horseback,” replied
Marshall, in a tone of voice that would have made Bert open his eyes
if he could have heard it. “That is the way our worthy cousins put in
their leisure moments.”

“They must find it highly entertaining. I should expect it of them.
Did you ever see two such country bumpkins? Wouldn’t they cut a pretty
figure in the city? Why, when we were introduced to them they were as
dumb as clams.”

“Yes; but you’d better take advice now for once in your life, and
be very careful of your language and your behavior when you are in
the presence of those same country bumpkins. That Don is pretty
broad-shouldered, and I notice he’s got a grip like a young blacksmith.
I found that out when I shook hands with him. If you are as tyrannical
and overbearing with him as you are with me sometimes, you may get
yourself into business.”

Just then the ringing of a bell in the hall brought Clarence to his
feet. “What’s that for, I wonder?” he exclaimed.

“Dinner, most likely.”

“Dinner at twelve!” said Clarence, glancing at his watch. “And supper
at six and bed at half-past eight, I suppose!”

“Probably; and what will trouble you still more, breakfast at six every
morning,” said Marshall. “You can’t lie in bed here till ten or eleven
o’clock and then have breakfast sent up to you.”

Clarence said something more about “country bumpkins,” repeated the
resolution he had so suddenly formed that his sojourn under his uncle’s
roof should be a very short one, and then made all haste to get ready
for dinner.



CHAPTER VIII.

DAN MAKES A DISCOVERY.


The next morning, long before the sun showed himself above the
tree-tops, the Evans family were all astir. They always rose at an
early hour, and it was probably more from the force of habit than for
any other reason, for, with the exception of Mrs. Evans, none of them
did any work until after they had eaten breakfast. Even the chores were
left until the male members of the family had broken their fast, for
Godfrey declared that it was not healthy, in that climate, to breathe
too much of the early morning air, it was so laden with miasma and
the seeds of fever and ague; but he did not seem to think it at all
injurious if inhaled through the fumes of tobacco smoke, and while
seated on the bench beside the cabin door. That bench served Godfrey in
lieu of an easy-chair. When he was not hunting in the woods or loafing
at the landing, he was always to be found there, smoking and thinking.

On the morning of this particular day, Godfrey arose from his “shake
down” with the air of a lord, and astonished two members of his family
and alarmed another, by giving them all a hearty greeting. When he had
dressed himself he filled his pipe, and walking out of the door with
a slow and dignified step, stood with his hands on his hips, looking
about him as if he were monarch of all he surveyed. Mrs. Evans said
to herself that that was the way he used to act in the good old days;
while Dan communed thus with himself:

“If me an’ pop had been out a diggin’ fur that thar bar’l last night,
an’ had done found it, I should know that that was what ails him this
mornin’; but seein’ we didn’t dig fur the bar’l, I don’t know what’s
the matter of him. He don’t walk with that big leg, an’ sling on all
them extry frills, fur nothin’, an’ I’m afeared he’s smelled out
somethin’. If he has----”

Dan did not say what he should do, but he shook his head in the most
threatening manner, and having drawn on his clothes, clapped his hat
on his head, and hurried out of the door. His father looked at him as
he disappeared around the corner of the cabin, but made no sign beyond
looking in at the door to satisfy himself that the rawhide was hanging
in its accustomed place.

In a few minutes Dan returned and confronted his sire. His face wore a
fierce frown, and he looked mad enough for almost anything. He began
operations by jumping up and knocking his heels together, coming down
with a jar and with his feet spread out as if he were bracing himself
for a shock of some kind. This is an indispensable prelude to all games
of fisticuffs in the South and West. No backwoods pugilist ever thinks
of going into a fight without thus preparing himself for it. Sometimes
a few Indian yells, given with all the power of the lungs, help matters
wonderfully. Dan went through the performance just to show his father
how angry he was, and to give him some idea of the damage he would do
if he only possessed the power. Godfrey looked pleasantly at him, and
seated himself on the bench.

“Give me them six dollars an’ six bits, dog-gone my buttons,” sputtered
Dan, who could hardly speak plainly enough to be understood. Then he
seemed to regain control of his tongue, and without giving his father
a chance to reply, went on: “I knowed yesterday that ye was up to
something,” said he, “an’ I knowed this mornin’ when I first seed ye a
struttin’ about, that ye’d been an’ done some mean trick. You’ve been a
pokin’ into my things. You’ve got my money an’ my powder an’ lead, an’
I want ’em. The money’s mine, an’ I----”

“It’s your’n, is it?” exclaimed Godfrey. “Whar did ye get it, an’ how
come ye by it?”

“Didn’t I tell ye I got three an’ a half fur that hind quarter of beef?”

“Yes, but whar did ye get the rest?”

“Didn’t ye tell me it didn’t make no odds to ye whar I got it so long
as I did get it?” asked Dan.

“That was yesterday,” answered Godfrey. “It didn’t make no odds to me
yesterday, but it’s to-morrer now, an’ it makes a heap of odds. It’s
my bounden duty to find out whar ye got it an’ how ye came by it, kase
mebbe it wasn’t honest.”

“Whoop!” yelled Dan, jumping up and knocking his heels together in the
excess of his rage. “Honest! It’s a heap honester nor it is to go arter
dark into a man’s tater-patch an’ dig up the bar’l o’ money he’s got
kivered up thar. Now, ole man, I’ll tell ye what’s the gospel truth
about that thar bar’l,” added Dan, a bright idea striking him. “If
ye’ll give my money back to me, I won’t say nothing about it; but if ye
don’t, I’ll go straight to the gen’ral----”

“Whoop!” shouted Godfrey, in his turn.

As the word left his lips he jumped up from the bench and made a
furious rush toward his son, but did not succeed in laying hands upon
him. The place where Dan was standing became suddenly vacant, and a
moment afterward a very scared face looked at Godfrey between the rails
of the fence that surrounded the cabin.

“Yes, I will,” repeated Dan, who felt comparatively safe now. “I’ll go
straight to the gen’ral an’ tell him what ye’re up to, an’ then what’ll
become of yer bar’l with the eighty thousand into it?”

“An’ what’ll become of yer shiny hats an’ boots, an’ yer circus hosses,
an’ yer guns that break in two in the middle?” retorted Godfrey, as
soon as his rage would allow him to speak.

“I don’t care,” replied Dan, “I want my six dollars and six bits fust;
an’ if I don’t get ’em, I’ll knock all yer ’rangements higher nor the
moon. I will, I don’t care if I don’t sleep in the house fur a month
arter it.”

“Ye’ll never sleep in my house again if ye do that,” said Godfrey.
“But, Dannie, thar ain’t no use in me an’ you fightin’ over these few
greenbacks, when thar’s eighty thousand dollars in gold and silver to
be had fur the diggin’.”

“I don’t want to fight nuther, but I want my money,” said Dan.

“Now, Dannie, be a good boy an’ let yer poor ole pop take keer on it
fur ye.”

“No, I won’t.”

“Kase I’m the oldest an’ know the most, ye know, an’ it’s the properest
thing to do.”

But Dan only shook his head decidedly, and retreated as his father
approached the fence. Godfrey continued to argue the matter, but he
could make no impression upon Dan, whose only reply was, “Give me my
money;” and his father was finally forced to the conclusion that he
must either do it, or have all his hopes of possessing that bar’l of
gold blasted. He was well enough acquainted with Dan to know that he
never made idle threats, and he saw that he must compromise in some
way, and that too, if possible, without any loss to his dignity.

“Now, Dannie,” said he, “I hope ye see that yer pop is a heap smarter
nor ye be, don’t yer?”

“Give me them six dollars an’ six bits,” replied Dan.

“No, ye can’t have ’em--bar’l or no bar’l, that’s flat--till ye tell me
whar ye got ’em. I’m yer pop, an’ it’s my bounden duty to know how ye
come by ’em.”

Dan hesitated. If he complied with his father’s demand, he might
whistle for the other five dollars which Don Gordon still owed
David--or, rather, which he _would_ owe him as soon as the pointer was
field-broken. If he refused to comply, he would lose six dollars and
seventy-five cents, and that was a small fortune to him. No matter what
he decided to do, he had a fine prospect of losing money, unless--

“Yes, pop,” he replied suddenly, trying hard to conceal the excitement
occasioned by a lucky thought that just then occurred to him, “I know
yer a heap smarter nor I be, an’ I’ll be a good son to ye, an’ never
try to fool ye no more.”

“That’s a good boy, Dannie,” said his father, thrusting his hand
through the fence in the hope that Dan would lay his own within it.
“Put it thar, my lad.”

Dan came a step nearer to the fence, but his actions indicated that he
had no desire to shake hands with his father. On the contrary, he kept
safely out of his reach.

“No, I’ll never fool ye no more,” said he, “honor bright. An’ will ye
promise, honor bright, to give me the money, all of it, when I tell ye
whar I got it?”

“In course I will.”

“Say honor bright.”

His father said it, placing his hand in his pocket at the same time to
show that he was ready to keep his word, and Dan continued:

“Silas Jones give it to me. I made five dollars outen him choppin’
wood.”

“That’s the way to get rich, my boy,” said Godfrey. “Allers do sich
little chores when ye can get ’em to do, an’ hold fast to the money,
an’ some day ye’ll be wuth yer thousands.”

“Now hand it out here,” said Dan.

“Yes, I’ll hand it out, but not now. I must fust ax Silas about it.
I’ll have business down to the landin’ some time to-day, I reckon, an’
arter I ax Silas, I’ll give ye the money.”

“He owes me ten dollars more,” cried Dan, greatly alarmed, and hoping
that his father would catch at the bait thus thrown out.

“I’m glad to hear it,” was the reply. “Yer rich already, Dannie, and
won’t need none of the bar’l when we find it. But if he give ye five
dollars an’ owes ye ten more, ye must a made--” here Godfrey stopped
and counted his fingers--“ye must a made fifteen outen him choppin’
wood. Didn’t ye promise ye wouldn’t never try to fool me no more?”

“Wal, come nigher to the fence,” said Dan, growing desperate and
sinking his voice almost to a whisper, so that those in the cabin might
not hear his words, “an’ I’ll tell ye this time, honor bright. Ye know
the ten dollars Dave was goin’ to get fur breakin’ that pinter pup,
don’t ye? Wal, I jest slipped up thar an’ axed Mr. Bert would he lend
Dave five of it now to get mam a new dress with, an’ he said yes, he
would. That’s whar the money came from, pop, sure’s you live.”

Godfrey was satisfied of it; and while he secretly admired the boy’s
shrewdness, he reproached himself for not being smart enough to take
advantage of the opening, and thus securing the ten dollars for his own
use. Without a word more he pulled out Dan’s money and gave it to him,
then walked back to the bench, picked up his pipe, and went off into a
brown study. He never came out of it until he was called to breakfast,
and even then he hardly aroused himself sufficiently to know what was
going on around him. Having satisfied his appetite, he took down his
rifle and left the cabin. As soon as he was out of sight, Dan arose,
put on his hunting equipments and also disappeared, leaving David and
his mother to themselves.

Godfrey made his way toward General Gordon’s house, and on the way
stopped at the barn, where the hostler was at work hitching the grays
to the family carriage. By a little skilful questioning he learned
that the general and his boys were going down to the landing to meet
some visitors, who were coming from Cincinnati on the Emma Deane; and
this piece of information caused a slight change in the programme he
had laid out before leaving home. He had come over there on purpose to
see Don Gordon, and secure the balance of the money he had promised
David for breaking the pointer. But he wanted to see him privately,
and believing that his object could be better attained by waiting a
while, he decided to postpone the interview until the Gordons reached
the landing. The sooner he obtained possession of the money the better,
Godfrey told himself, as he looked out of one of the stable windows.
There was Dan coming up the road, and his father knew instinctively
what it was that brought him in that direction so early in the
morning. Dan, however, did not go near the barn, for he had seen his
father stop there. He kept on toward the landing, and when he was out
of sight, Godfrey shouldered his rifle and followed him.

We have already seen how Godfrey operated when he thought the proper
time had arrived. Watching his opportunity he secured an interview
with Don Gordon before Dan did, and had no trouble at all in inducing
him to hand over five dollars of David’s money to him. Godfrey was in
ecstacies. He shut his fingers tight about the bill and hurried away
as if he feared that Don might repent and want the money back after
he had time to think about what he had done. Before he had made half
a dozen steps he was confronted by his son Dan, whose face wore an
expression that Godfrey did not like to see there. He knew as well what
was passing in the boy’s mind as he did five minutes afterward when Dan
told him of a determination he had formed.

“Why, hallo, Dannie!” exclaimed Godfrey, as if the meeting was most
unexpected. “What brung ye down here so ’arly? I’ve got that other five
dollars fur ye.”

“O, ye have, have ye?” said Dan.

“Yes. Ye see, I thought mebbe ye wouldn’t like to ax fur this one,
seein’ as how ye axed fur the fust, so I done tuk the trouble to do it
myself. Now, Dannie, I’ll borrer half of it from ye, an’ pay ye back
when we find that bar’l--to-night mebbe!”

Dan drew a long breath of relief. This was a piece of generosity he
had not looked for, and he hastened to assure his father that he was
entirely satisfied with the proposition, adding:

“Do ye know what I’d a done if ye’d cheated me outen them five dollars?
Wal, I’d a went straight to the gen’ral an’ told him about that thar
bar’l--yes, I would!”

This was just what Godfrey was afraid of, and the only thing that led
him to divide his ill-gotten gains with Dan. There was a dangerous
light in his eyes, but controlling himself he answered, very
good-naturedly:

“Wal, ye see I didn’t mean to cheat ye, don’t ye? Now go an’ git the
bill broke over to Silas Jones’. I’d go myself, but if I do, he’ll want
me to pay what I owe him, an’ I ain’t ready to do that yet. He can wait
till we find that bar’l.”

Dan took the bill and went away, revolving in his mind a dozen wild
schemes for securing undisputed possession of the whole of it. Godfrey
watched him until he disappeared in the store, and then leaned on his
rifle and went off into another brown study.

“The ongrateful an’ ondutiful scamp!” thought he. “He’s got the upper
hand agin me, that boy has, an’ I’ve got to give him half them five
dollars, or have my plans busted. I wish now I hadn’t told him about
that bar’l. I’d go an’ dig fur it myself o’nights, only its kinder
lonesome bein’ all by myself in the dark. Folks do say that all sort of
critters an’ strange things is abroad arter night, an’ as I’ve seed ’em
an’ felt ’em myself, I’m jest a trifle----”

Godfrey finished the sentence by shrugging his shoulders. He would not
have acknowledged, even to himself, that he was afraid, but that was
the plain English of it. He would hardly go to the wood-pile alone
after dark. It was true that he had seen some strange things which
he could not account for, and which frightened him almost out of his
wits. He had seen figures flitting along the road in front of him when
he returned home from the landing after dark, and on two or three
occasions, something with great eyes of fire had glared at him from a
fence corner behind the general’s barn, and compelled him to leave the
road and go around through the fields to reach his house. On other
occasions he had been suddenly and mysteriously tripped up when there
was not a human being within sight of him, and his hat had been dashed
from his head by invisible hands.

All these things, however, could have been satisfactorily explained,
if Godfrey had only possessed the courage to inquire into them. If he
had caught one of the figures which ran along the road before him and
disappeared in so bewildering a fashion, he would have found that it
was not a spirit, but a human being--a night prowler who had designs
upon the general’s smoke-house. If he had walked up to the eyes of
fire that glared so savagely at him, he would have discovered that
they were simply holes in a pumpkin, which had been scooped out to
admit a lighted candle, and he would have seen Don Gordon lying on the
ground at a little distance convulsed with laughter. The invisible
hands which knocked off his hat and pulled his feet out from under him
so unexpectedly, would, upon investigation, have proved to be strong
cords stretched from one side of the lane to the other, managed by the
same spirit of mischief who had placed the lighted candle in the hollow
pumpkin, and who had put them there for the purpose of entertaining
himself at the expense of a crowd of darkies, who were expected to pass
along the lane on their way home from protracted meeting.

All these things happened during the previous autumn, but Godfrey
had not forgotten them. Don had then just returned from school; and
the life he led on his father’s plantation was so monotonous, that
he sometimes thought he could not exist much longer unless something
happened to cheer him up a little. As nothing happened of its own
accord, Don went to work to create opportunities to let off some of
his surplus energy in a good hearty laugh; and to further this end, he
made use of some of the numerous schoolboy devices he learned while at
the academy. You will know how well he succeeded when we tell you that
in less than a week after he began operations, the story got abroad
that the general’s lane was haunted, and there was not a negro in the
neighborhood who could be hired to pass through there after dark.
Godfrey Evans himself would not do it. He always took to the fields.

We do not say that Don passed his leisure hours in the most profitable
manner, for we know he did not. We are only telling the story of his
life, and telling it as it happened not so very long ago. That Don
himself knew that he might be better employed, was proved by the fact
that he did all this alone, not even taking Bert into his confidence.
He little thought then that his love of mischief would one day be the
means of getting him into a scrape the like of which he had never
dreamed of, but such was the fact; and we must hasten on to tell how it
was brought about.



CHAPTER IX.

OLD JORDAN’S “HAUNT.”


Dan came back to his father with the money simply because he could
think of no way of avoiding it that did not involve more personal
risk than he cared to encounter. He took pains, however, to keep out
his share, and gave Godfrey only two dollars and a half, accompanying
it with the assurance that in his (Dan’s) estimation, his father had
been guilty of a very mean trick, and one that he ought to be heartily
ashamed of.

“Didn’t ye tell me ye was satisfied?” asked Godfrey.

“I know it, but I told ye so kase I was afeared if I said I wasn’t, I
wouldn’t get none of the money. O, I know ye, pop, an’ I don’t see why
ye can’t go to work an’ make some money of yer own, ’stead of ropin’ in
on me an’ spilin’ my plans. If ye’d a kept outen the way, I’d a had ten
dollars as easy as fallin’ off a log.”

Godfrey was too much interested in his own thoughts to carry the
discussion any farther. He breathed easier when he felt the money in
his fingers, and because he had no pocket that would hold it, he kept
it in his hand, and stood around with the rest of the hangers-on, and
saw the Emma Deane come up to the landing and deposit the passengers
and cargo she had brought. Like the rest he wondered who the
fashionably-dressed young gentlemen were who got into the general’s
carriage and rode off with him; and he would have wondered still more
had he been able to look far enough into the future to see that he, the
ragged, worthless Godfrey Evans, would one day be the trusted companion
of one of those spruce young fellows, and that he would be intimately
connected with him in a certain piece of business which, when it became
known, would set all the tongues in the country for miles around in
motion.

The general and his nephews drove off; the Emma Deane, as soon as her
freight and passengers were landed, backed out into the stream and
once more turned her head toward New Orleans; the people who had been
brought to the landing by the sound of her whistle spent a few minutes
in exchanging notes, and then began to disperse; and finally the
street was entirely deserted except by a few of the most persistent
loafers, who sat on the boxes in front of Silas Jones’s store, and
whittled and chewed tobacco for want of a better way of passing the
time. Among these was Godfrey, who sunned himself for an hour or
two like a turtle on his log, and then, with a deep sigh of regret,
shouldered his rifle and bent his steps toward the woods in which his
hopeful son Dan had long ago disappeared.

When the afternoon began to draw to a close, nearly the same scenes
which we have already described were enacted at Godfrey’s humble abode.
The scattered family began to come in, one after the other, and they
found Godfrey sitting on the bench smoking his pipe. Dan had a bunch
of squirrels and a fine wild turkey thrown over his shoulder; David
brought another dozen of quails which Don Gordon’s pointer had stood
for him; and Mrs. Evans carried in her pocket a dollar which she had
earned with her needle that day. Fortunately Godfrey did not know of
that. If he had he would at once have set his wits at work to conjure
up some plan to obtain possession of it. David was again called upon to
chop the wood, for Dan had disappeared immediately after skinning the
squirrels he brought (he had gone off to hunt up another hiding-place
for his valuables), and Godfrey was so wearied with his hard day’s work
that he could not have lifted an axe if he had tried. So David cut
the wood and kindled the fire, and his mother cooked the supper, and
Godfrey ate two men’s share of it, and then once more seated himself
on the bench and dozed until dark. He slept two hours or more, and was
aroused by Dan, who wanted to know if he was going to make an effort to
find the barrel that night. Godfrey replied that he was, and started
up with much alacrity; but his enthusiasm seemed to die away utterly
when he rubbed his eyes and looked about him. He could see literally
nothing. It was as dark as it ever gets to be. The cabin and the
clearing seemed to be surrounded by solid walls of ebony. There was not
a ray of light to be seen in any direction, nor even a star.

“Splendid night,” said Dan. “Nothing can’t see us!”

“Yes,” answered his father, “an’ we can’t see nothing, too!”

“Wal, I reckon ye know whar that tater-patch was, don’t ye? Ye said ye
did.”

“Yes, I do; but thar was ten acres into it, Dannie, an’ that’s a power
of ground to dig over with one shovel.”

“But jest think of the eighty thousand,” said Dan.

That was just what Godfrey did think of, and it was the only thing that
could have induced him to brave the darkness and the terrors of the
general’s lane, and undertake so herculean a task as digging up ten
acres of ground with one shovel. Was there not some way in which he
could secure the contents of the barrel, or at least a portion of them,
without the expenditure of any great amount of energy and strength?

“Dannie,” said he, laying his hand on the boy’s shoulder and speaking
in a low, confidential tone, “I’ve been thinkin’ about something
to-day, an’ when ye know what it is, I want ye to tell me if I ain’t
the best pop in the world to ye. I’m gettin’ old, Dannie, an’ my joints
is stiff, an’ the rheumatiz bothers me fearful, an’ ’tain’t healthy to
be out arter dark, kase of the fever ’n ager--leastwise fur an ole man
like me; but fur an’ amazin’ strong, strappin’ feller like yerself, it
don’t make no matter. Now, Dannie, if ye’ll go an’ dig up that thar
bar’l by yerself, I’ll give ye half of it, plump down, jest as soon as
we open it--the very minute.”

“Wal, I won’t do it,” said Dan, promptly.

“What fur?” asked his father.

“Kase why, fur two reasons: If I dig up that thar bar’l all by myself,
I’ll jest hold fast to the hul of it, an’ go snacks with nobody.”

“Hadn’t ye oughter give me something fur tellin’ ye about it?” inquired
his father.

As Dan could not answer this question in any other way than by a reply
in the affirmative, he did not answer it all, but went on to state his
second reason.

“An’ in the next place,” said he, “I don’t know whar the tater-patch
was--thar’s something else planted there now, I reckon--an’ if I did,
ye wouldn’t ketch me out thar alone on sich a night as this, I’ll bet
ye. Thar’s something white walks around out thar!”

“Don’t--don’t, Dannie!” exclaimed Godfrey, casting frightened glances
on all sides of him.

“Wal, ye know it as well as me, don’t ye? I’ll go with ye an’ do my
share of the diggin’, but I won’t go alone--that’s flat!”

Godfrey groaned, and for a moment was on the point of backing squarely
out, and saying that he didn’t believe that the barrel was there; and
if it was it might stay there for all he would do toward digging it
up. But he did not back out. He had the best of reasons for believing
that the barrel _was_ there, and that it was full of gold and silver. A
little extra exertion might put him in possession of it. Perhaps with
the very first blow of the shovel he might strike the treasure, and
then his troubles would all be over. The visions of ease and happiness
which this thought conjured up, gave zeal to his flagging spirits and
courage to his heart; and picking up his hat, which had fallen from his
head while he was dozing on the bench, he told Dan to lead on, and they
would find that barrel if all the white things in the country should
come there to scare them away.

Together they moved off in the darkness, and made their way to the lane
behind the general’s barn, where Dan had hidden the spade in the fence
corner.

It was the work of but a few seconds to find the implement, and then
the father and son climbed the fence and struck off across the fields
toward the potato-patch where the barrel was buried. When they reached
it they found that the field was still planted to potatoes, and Dan
noticed, with no little uneasiness, that it was closer to the house
than he would like to have had it. The noise of the spade striking
against the barrel--when they found it--or a word uttered in too loud a
tone of voice, would arouse Don Gordon’s hounds, and they would alarm
the family, the members of which they could see passing back and forth
before the windows through which the lights shone.

“Say, pop,” said Dan, suddenly; “won’t they see the holes in the
mornin’? An’ if they keep on findin’ ’em, won’t they think thar’s
somethin’ up, an’ watch to see who it is that’s a diggin’ ’em?”

“No, they won’t, kase they won’t see ’em,” replied his father. “We’ll
dig down till we find thar ain’t no bar’l thar, an’ then we’ll shove
the dirt back again, an’ dig in some other place.”

“How deep’ll we have to go?”

“O, not much more’n the deepness of a bar’l, kase why, ye see Jordan
wouldn’t have no time to dig a deep hole to kiver up the bar’l in, when
he knowed that the Yanks was a comin’. He done a good thing fur us,
Jordan did, in runnin’ away without tellin’ his missus whar that bar’l
was hid. Now, Dannie, let’s try right here fust. Ye begin, kase yer the
youngest, an’ I’ll set down an’ smoke an’ watch ye till yer tired. Now
bar in mind that yer workin’ fur eighty thousand dollars! Throw it out
with the fust shovelful an’ I’ll give ye half!”

One to have watched Dan’s movements would have thought that he meant
to accomplish something. He peeled off his coat and threw it on the
ground, dashed his hat down beside it, tucked up his sleeves, moistened
his hands and brought them together with a loud slap, seized the shovel
and thrust it twice into the ground, bringing out each time scarcely
more than a good-sized handful of earth, and then stopped and looked
all around the field as far as his eyes could reach in the darkness.

“Ten acres _is_ a heap o’ ground, pop,” said he.

“Never mind that, Dannie,” replied his father, scratching a match on
his shirt sleeve and applying it to the bowl of his pipe. “Thar’s a
bar’l with eighty thousand dollars in gold an’ silver into it buried
somewhar about here, an’ we must have it if we have to dig up the whole
state of Missip. Laws a massy! what’s the matter of ye?” he exclaimed;
for Dan had stooped down and seized his arm with a gripe that almost
brought from him a cry of pain.

Dan stooped still lower, pointed with his finger and said in a husky
whisper,

“Pop, jest look a thar!”

The tone in which these words were uttered sent the cold chills all
over Godfrey. His breath came in short, quick gasps, his knees knocked
together, and he slowly and painfully arose from the ground, turning
his head as he did so, and looking in the direction Dan pointed. There,
almost within reach of them, so close apparently that he could have
touched it with the shovel, if he had been so disposed, was a little
ball of fire which glowed and sparkled as he looked at it, then faded
almost entirely away for an instant, and anon glowed and sparkled with
greater brilliancy than before. Godfrey’s under jaw dropped down, his
pipe fell to the ground and for a moment he gazed as if fascinated;
then he reached for the shovel, and with long, noiseless steps glided
across the field toward the lane, closely followed by Dan, who hardly
dared to wait long enough to pick up his coat and hat, so frightened
was he. Neither of them spoke until they were fairly in the “big road”
which led to the cabin, and then Dan said, in a suppressed whisper:

“What was it, pop?”

“It’s one of them haunts with eyes of fire like I used to see last
fall,” replied his father, looking back to make sure that the object,
whatever it was, was not following him.

“But this only had one eye, pop!”

“No odds. They all b’long to the same breed, whether they’ve got one
eye or a dozen. Ole nigger Hudson told me he seed one onct that was all
eyes all over his head. Dannie, that was the fust time I ever was clost
enough to one of them critters to see him wink!”

“Say, pop,” exclaimed Dan, suddenly, “I reckon we’d best give up
lookin’ fur that thar bar’l, kase mebbe that’s ole Jordan’s haunt come
back to keep folks away from it.”

Godfrey stopped and looked at his son.

“I’ll bet ye’ve hit centre, Dannie,” said he, after thinking a moment.
“But if that’s so, we was clost to whar the bar’l is, or else the haunt
wouldn’t a been thar. It’ll save us a heap o’ diggin’, Dannie!”

“I’ll bet ye don’t get me nigh that tater patch no more,” said Dan,
decidedly.

“All right. I’ll go myself, an’ ye shan’t have none of the money. Then
what’ll become of yer shiny boots an’ yer circus hosses, and yer fine
guns that break in two in the middle?”

Dan made no answer. He did not like to lose all these nice things
on which he had set his heart, but there was old Jordan’s “haunt”
(that is a term which some people in the South apply to what we call
a ghost), of which he stood in great fear. He could not then make up
his mind just what he would do in the future, so he said nothing more,
and neither did his father. They finished their walk in silence, and
reaching the cabin, went to bed and tried to go to sleep. But that was
for a long time quite impossible. The remembrance of their evening’s
experience kept them awake, and it was not until the gray streaks
of dawn began to stream in through the cracks in the cabin walls,
that they fell into an uneasy slumber. They arose at the usual hour,
however, and David chopped wood while his mother cooked breakfast, and
Dan loafed and Godfrey sat on the bench and smoked and meditated.

The meal over, Dan shouldered his rifle and disappeared, and Godfrey,
because he could not make up his mind to do anything else, resumed his
pipe and his meditations, from which he was aroused by the sight of a
stranger coming along the road from the direction of General Gordon’s.
Godfrey looked closely at him, and saw that he was one of the two young
men whom he had seen land from the steamer Emma Deane on the previous
day. He carried a gun of some description in his hands, a game-bag hung
over his shoulder, and he was dressed in a hunting suit of the latest
and most fashionable cut. He walked leisurely along, stopping now and
then and looking about as if he were searching for some object to try
his skill upon.

“Humph!” sneered Godfrey, who at once took a dislike to the hunter on
account of his good clothes. “Yer a nice lookin’ chap to be loafin’
about with a gun in yer hands. I’ll take my ole Betsey Jane an’ beat
the hind sights off’n a hul army of yer. That’s jest what makes me so
savage agin everybody. What this feller’s clothes cost would keep me
an’ my family in grub all the winter!”

While Godfrey was talking thus to himself, the stranger stopped again,
raised his gun quickly to his shoulder and fired, the weapon making
a report scarcely louder than that of an ordinary gun cap. Godfrey
sneered again, and was about to give it as his private opinion that
such a load as that would not kill anything, when he was surprised to
see a squirrel leave the very topmost branch of a tall hickory that
stood by the roadside, and come to the ground dead. The hunter loaded
his weapon before he went to pick up his game, and Godfrey saw that
he carried a breech-loader. He became interested at once, and began to
have some respect for the stranger who had shown himself to be no mean
marksman. He arose and took his pipe out of his mouth.

“How do?” said he, as he went to meet the hunter. “I ’lowed that ye
wouldn’t get nothing that shot, no how. Ye wouldn’t take no offence if
I should ax ye to let me see that we’pon o’ your’n?”

“Certainly not,” said the stranger politely, removing the cartridge
and handing the rifle to Godfrey. “You do not often see guns of this
description down here, I suppose?”

“I never seed one jest like this afore. I reckon yer from some city up
North, ain’t ye?”

“Yes; I am Clarence Gordon, and my brother and I are down here on a
visit to our cousins, Don and Bert. You are Mr. Evans, I believe.”

“Sarvent, sar,” said Godfrey, who could not remember that any one had
ever put a handle to his name before. He was flattered by this show of
respect, and Clarence could not have approached him in any way better
calculated to gain his good will.

“Well, Mr. Evans, I hope we shall see much of each other,” said
Clarence. “It is possible that I may stay here until spring, that is,
if there is good hunting in the neighborhood; is there?”

“Ye couldn’t come to a better place, if that’s what ye want,” said
Godfrey.

“It is just what I want. I am very fond of it, but I know but little
about it, having always lived in the city, and I shall need somebody to
teach me. I know of no one more capable of acting as my instructor than
yourself.”

Clarence saw by the vacant, bewildered expression on the man’s face
that he did not understand his fine language, so he hastened to add:--

“I am told that you are a fine shot with the rifle and the best hunter
in the country. You never come from the woods without something to show
as a proof of your skill.”

“Wal, that thar’s a fact,” said Godfrey, who now began to see what
Clarence was getting at. “I know right whar all the game rises, an’ as
fur larnin’ folks--wal, thar’s my two boys. They didn’t know nothin’
when I fust took ’em in hand, an’ to-day thar ain’t nobody about here
can beat ’em.”

“Then you are just the man I want, and I wish you would take me in
hand. Squirrels are plenty about here, I suppose?”

“Ye can’t run amiss of ’em.”

“Any deer or turkeys?”

“Now, stranger, yer jest a shoutin’! Is thar any? I killed twenty-three
deer last winter, an’ massy knows how many turkeys, kase I never kept
count of ’em.”

“Are you too busy to go out in the woods with me for a little while?”

“Wal, I _have_ got a sight o’ work to do, that’s a fact,” said Godfrey,
who always tried to make it appear that his time was fully occupied,
“but I reckon it might wait till I get back.”

“I have some cigars in my pocket,” said Clarence, glancing at Godfrey’s
dingy cob-pipe, “and perhaps you would like to shoot my rifle a few
times, just to see how a breech-loader works.”

This made Godfrey sure that his work could wait. He hastened into the
cabin, and presently returned with his gun on his shoulder and his
bullet-pouch under his arm. After he had loaded the weapon, the two
climbed over the fence and disappeared in the woods.



CHAPTER X.

WHAT GODFREY’S VISITOR WANTED.


Godfrey and his visitor had not gone very far into the woods, before
the former told himself that if Clarence had come out there for the
purpose of hunting squirrels, he certainly knew very little of the
nature of the animals of which he was in search. He talked incessantly,
and in a tone of voice loud enough to frighten all the wild animals for
a quarter of a mile around. He did not say “squirrel” once, and neither
did he appear to be anxious to find any, for he was more interested in
studying the face of his companion, than in searching the tree tops
where the game was most likely to be found. So closely did he watch
Godfrey that the latter became uneasy; and when he could no longer
endure his scrutiny he said, suddenly:

“Do ye think ye ever seed me afore, Mr. Clarence, or what’s the matter
of ye? Yer tongue says one thing to me, an’ yer face says another.”

“Well, what does my face say?” asked Clarence.

“I can’t quite seem to make out, an’ that’s why I axed ye. Ye look as
though ye wanted to say something to me and didn’t know how to begin.”

“Mr. Evans, you would soon make yourself rich if you were to turn
fortune-teller,” said Clarence. “You have hit the nail squarely on the
head. Have a weed?”

As he spoke, he thrust his hand into one of the pockets of his
game-bag, and brought it out again filled with cigars. Either by
accident or design he brought something else, too--something that
fell on the ground at Godfrey’s feet, and at which he gazed as if
fascinated. It was the cob-pipe he had lost the night before in General
Gordon’s potato patch. After making sure that it was his own property,
he looked toward Clarence, who could scarcely refrain from laughing
outright, so utterly astounded and bewildered did Godfrey seem to be.

“Whar did ye get it?” he demanded, as soon as he could speak, “an’ how
came ye by it?”

“I found it in the potato patch where you and Dan were digging last
night. You did not find the eighty thousand, did you? Why, what’s the
matter with you?”

Clarence was not a little surprised at the effect of his words.
They seemed to take away all Godfrey’s strength, and to crush him
completely. He wilted before the boy’s eyes like a blade of grass that
had been struck by the frost. He looked around for a place to sit down,
but as he could not find any to suit him, he sat down right where he
was and groaned aloud.

“What’s the matter with you?” repeated Clarence.

“Who told you that was my pipe?” asked Godfrey.

“My intuition.”

“Yer what?”

“My instinct.”

Godfrey looked more bewildered than ever. “Ye mean that the haunt told
ye, don’t ye?” said he.

“The haunt!” repeated Clarence. “What’s that?”

“Why, the sperrit; the--the--ole Jordan’s ghost. He was thar, kase I
seed him. Whar was you, Mr. Clarence?”

“I was in the house, where all honest folks were at that time of the
night. Did you say you saw a ghost?”

“I did say so, an’ I done seed it, too.”

“What did it look like?”

“I didn’t see all of him--only jest the eye; an’ that was a watchin’
us, kase I could see it wink.”

“Where was it?” asked Clarence, elevating his eye-brows.

“Down in the fence corner, clost by that big butternut tree.”

The boy stared, then laid down his rifle and seated himself on the
nearest log. He seemed to be very much impressed by what he had heard.

“I knowed all the time that you didn’t come out here to shoot no
squirrels,” said Godfrey, “kase if they was what ye wanted, ye could a
found a cartload of ’em nigher to the gen’ral’s house. Now, what be ye
a goin’ to do about it? Be ye goin’ to tell yer uncle?”

“That depends entirely upon yourself,” was the reply, which quickly put
all Godfrey’s fears at rest. “I would much rather help you dig up the
barrel and then divide its contents with you--that is, if there is any
barrel there, and we have a chance of finding it.”

As Godfrey had already committed himself he knew that it was too late
to deny anything, so he replied that to the best of his knowledge and
belief the barrel was hidden somewhere in that potato-patch; and at
the boy’s request he went on to tell why he thought so. He told him
the story of the buried treasure just as he had told it before to
the members of his family, and Clarence listened to every word. When
Godfrey ended his tale he questioned him closely; and when he got up
half an hour afterward to stretch his arms and legs, he believed as
firmly as Godfrey did that there was a fortune concealed in his uncle’s
potato-patch. He said so too, and proposed to Godfrey that they should
search for it together, and, when they found it, divide the contents,
whatever they might be.

“There is one thing about it,” continued Clarence; “two are enough to
engage in any such enterprise as this, and I’ll have nothing whatever
to do with it, unless you promise that Dan shall be left in the
background. We don’t want him.”

“No fear about him,” replied Godfrey. “He seed the haunt as well as me,
an’ says he won’t go thar no more.”

“I am glad of it, and I hope he will stick to his resolution,” said
Clarence. “But, in order to make sure of it, you had better tell him
that you are not going near the field again yourself. You can slip away
from him every night, I suppose?”

“I reckon I can; but if ye was in the house last night, whar all honest
folks was, how did ye find out about this bar’l, Mr. Clarence? An’ who
brung ye this pipe an’ told ye it was mine?”

This was the third or fourth time that Godfrey had asked this question
during their interview, which had already lasted more than an hour, and
Clarence replied now as he had done before--

“I can’t tell you just at present. I may tell you some day after you
and I get to be good friends, and I find out that I can trust you. When
you become better acquainted with me, you will see that I have a way of
finding out a good many things.”

The two talked for an hour longer on these matters, and at the end of
that time Godfrey was satisfied that what he had at first believed to
be a dire misfortune, had turned out to be the luckiest thing that
ever happened to him. He knew that Dan could never be induced to go
near that potato-patch again in the dark, for he had been frightened
out of a year’s growth already; but Godfrey needed an assistant all
the same, and here was one worth having. Godfrey was astonished at the
courage the boy exhibited. Clarence scouted the idea of haunts and
ghosts and all other things of like character, and although he did not
pretend to account for the invisible hands that had so often tripped
Godfrey up and knocked his hat from his head, he was sure that there
was nothing supernatural about them, and promised that if any such
pranks were played on Godfrey while he was near, he would find out how
they were done, and who was to blame for them. They came to a perfect
understanding on every point that arose regarding their future actions;
but there were some things connected with the past that remained a
sealed book to Godfrey. The latter would have given every thing he
possessed to know how Clarence came by the pipe that he had dropped
in the potato-patch, and how he had found out who the owner was. He
wanted to know how the boy had learned of the existence of the barrel
with the eighty thousand dollars in it; how he had found out what his
(Godfrey’s) name was; how it came that he could recognise him the
moment he saw him; and why he offered to assist him in looking for the
barrel. If he had been like most nephews, he would have gone straight
to his uncle and told him what was going on in his potato-patch after
dark. Godfrey tried his best to surprise or coax Clarence into giving
him some information on these points, but without the least success;
and he was finally obliged to make up his mind that they were mysteries
that time only could clear away.

Another thing that surprised and delighted Godfrey was the
condescension and familiarity with which the boy treated him. Clarence
was, at the same time, much more respectful to him than Dan was, and
Godfrey already began to feel perfectly at ease in his presence. He
saw the force of one command that Clarence laid upon him, and readily
promised to obey it, namely: that no matter how intimate they might
be while they were by themselves, there was to be none of that sort
of thing should they chance to meet in company. They must meet as
strangers, and never so much as look at each other. They did not want
to arouse anybody’s curiosity or suspicions, and so they could not be
too careful.

When the matter had been thoroughly discussed and they knew just
what they were going to do, they arose and walked slowly towards the
cabin. They stopped on the way to shoot a few squirrels, and Godfrey,
surprised at the accuracy of the little breech-loader, which seemed
as light as a feather beside his long, heavy muzzle-loader, declared
that he would have one exactly like it, just as soon as he received
his share of the contents of the barrel. They held another short
consultation when they reached the clearing, and after each had
promised to be at the general’s barn as soon after dark as he could get
there, Clarence started homeward, while Godfrey filled his pipe, and
sat down to smoke and think. He was in such a fever of suspense that he
never thought of getting himself any dinner, and even when supper time
came, he could scarcely arouse himself from his air-castle building,
long enough to eat his share of the corn-bread and squirrels. When it
began to grow dark he grew more restless than ever, and his impatience
to be at work increased every minute. He was not afraid of old Jordan’s
haunt so long as he was in the presence of the general’s nephew, and
neither was he any longer afraid of the work he might have to do before
the barrel would be brought to light; for Clarence had discoursed in
such glowing language of the comforts and pleasures that could be
purchased for eighty thousand dollars, that Godfrey would have thought
nothing of digging up twenty acres with a single spade, if he could
obtain that amount of money by so doing.

“Dannie,” said Godfrey, who saw that the boy was loitering about as if
waiting for something, “it’s time fur us to be lookin’ fur that bar’l
agin, I reckon.”

“Wal, ye can look then, if ye want to,” was the dutiful reply, “but I
don’t stir one inch. I don’t want to see ole Jordan’s haunt agin, an’ I
don’t b’lieve the bar’l’s thar, nohow.”

“Ye’ve hit centre agin, Dannie, like ye allers do,” replied his father.
“I don’t b’lieve it’s thar nuther; an’ if it is, ten acres is too much
ground fur two fellers to dig up.”

“Then whar be yer goin’?” asked Dan, as Godfrey arose to his feet and
picked up his hat.

“Wal, I ain’t agoin’ nowhars; but I can’t sleep arter losin’ them
eighty thousand, so I am goin’ out to walk about a bit afore goin’ to
bed. Ye go in an’ stay with yer mam, like a good boy, an’ yer poor ole
pop’ll go out an’ think over his hard luck.”

These words, and the way they were spoken, were enough to arouse Dan’s
suspicions at once. His father never called him a good boy or addressed
him in that wheedling tone, unless he had an object to gain. And the
fact that he was going off alone in the dark was another thing that
looked suspicious. He had not done such a thing for long months; and
after a little reflection Dan very naturally arrived at the conclusion
that there was something going on that his father did not want him to
know anything about. He went into the house and stayed a minute or two,
and then came out and hurried down the road towards General Gordon’s
lane.

Meanwhile Godfrey was making the best of his way toward the barn, where
he expected to meet his new friend, Clarence. He walked with noiseless
footsteps, casting anxious glances on all sides of him, and acting
altogether like a man who expected to encounter some terrible danger.
Indeed this was just what he did expect. He opened the creaking gate
that led from the lane into the barn-yard, and was frightened almost
out of his senses when he saw a dark figure rise suddenly into view and
come toward him. His first impulse was to take to his heels; but he
checked it and drew a long breath of relief when he heard a well-known
voice say, in no very amiable tones:

“Have you arrived at last? I began to think you were never coming.”

“Yes, I’ve come,” replied Godfrey, “but I ’most wish I had stayed
to hum. ’Tain’t honest, sich work as this yere hain’t. If thar’s a
bar’l with eighty thousand dollars in gold an’ silver into it, hid in
the gen’ral’s tater-patch, we’d oughter tell him, ’stead of goin’ an’
diggin’ it up ourselves!”

“Hallo! what’s come over you all of a sudden?” demanded Clarence,
angrily. “You didn’t talk this way when I last saw you.”

“I know it; but it was daylight then.”

“Yes; and now that it is dark you have turned coward, have you?”

“Wal--no! but if I should see ole Jordan’s white coat down thar in that
tater-patch, I do think in my soul it would be the last of me.”

“Well, you’ll not see him or his white coat, either. You haven’t heard
of him for long years, and who knows but he is dead?”

“I’m sartin he is,” returned Godfrey, earnestly.

“Then you have nothing to fear from him.”

“Not from him, I know; but his haunt is what bothers me. I’ve seed that
once, an’ nobody can’t make me say I didn’t.”

“I’ll promise you that you shall never see it again,” said Clarence,
impatiently. “Why, man alive, just think of it! Some people would be
willing to work and slave for a whole life time to make forty thousand
dollars, and here we have a chance to dig it up in half an hour--in
less time, too, if we happen to strike the right spot. Doesn’t that
thought put any courage or ambition into you?”

Probably it did, for without another word Godfrey seized the shovel
that Clarence extended toward him, and hurried away in the direction of
the potato-patch.

We need not follow them any farther, for they did not find the hidden
treasure that night. It will be enough to say that, following the
example Clarence set him, Godfrey did something he had not done
before for a number of years--he worked until he raised a copious
perspiration; that he kept a bright look out for the eye of fire
that had so badly frightened him and Dan the night before; that he
and his companion dug a dozen holes in what they supposed to be the
most “likely” spots, in each case shovelling back the earth they had
thrown out, so that their work might not attract the attention of
any of the general’s field hands in the morning; that after three
hours’ hard labor Godfrey handed his shovel to Clarence, who promised
to put it back where he had found it; and that the two separated
with mutual promises to meet again at the same place and hour on the
following evening. Neither of them were disheartened by their failure.
On the contrary, Godfrey was encouraged, for he had learned to his
satisfaction that if old Jordan’s haunt had really come back there to
protect the barrel, he would not appear so long as Clarence Gordon
was on the ground. He went home and slept soundly after his unusual
exercise, and awoke the next morning feeling that he was nearer to
attaining his hopes than he had ever been before.

“Yes, jest a quarter of an acre nearer,” said he, “kase what ground we
dug up last night, won’t never have to be dug up agin. Mr. Clarence is
better to have along in sich work as that nor an army of them lazy Dans
would be, kase he ain’t afeared of nothing, an’ pitches in an’ does his
share. It was jest amazin’ how he did fling the dirt outen them holes.”

Breakfast being over Godfrey’s pipe came into use, and he smoked and
meditated during the best part of the forenoon. His family, as usual,
were all away, and he had the premises to himself. There was no one to
disturb him, and he could build air-castles to his heart’s content. In
this agreeable occupation he passed the time until eleven o’clock, and
was then called back to earth again, by the sound of footsteps coming
rapidly along the road. He looked up, and saw that the one who had so
rudely aroused him was his hopeful son Dan, whose whole appearance
indicated that he had something marvellous to communicate. One look was
enough to satisfy Godfrey of this fact, and his heart fairly came up
into his mouth. He began to imagine all sorts of evil things directly;
and being anxious to know the worst at once, he tried hard to speak to
Dan, but could not utter a sound to save his life.

Dan lost no time in passing over the fifty yards that lay between him
and the cabin. As he threw himself on the bench beside his father, his
rifle slipped from his grasp and fell to the ground, and his head moved
from side to side as if he had lost all control of it.

“Now, then!” exclaimed Godfrey, finding his tongue at last.

“O, pop!” cried Dan, “it’s come. We did see it that night.”

“What’s come, an’ what night did we see it?”

“Why, ole Jordan’s haunt,” gasped Dan. “I seed him jest now in broad
daylight--I did, as sure’s I’m settin’ on this yere bench tellin’
ye--an’ thar was others seed him too; an’ thar was that eye of his’n in
the middle of his head, an’ it kept a flickerin’ an’ a winkin’ jest as
it done that night in the dark. O, my soul!”

Godfrey hardly knew what to do with himself, so terrified and astounded
was he. He took his pipe out of his mouth, jumped up from the bench,
and looked all around as if he were trying to make up his mind which
way to run first.

“O, it ain’t a comin’ here,” said Dan, who could tell by these
movements what his father was thinking about. “It done went into the
gen’ral’s barn. It’s got a hidin’-place in thar.”

These words reassured Godfrey, who being satisfied that the terrible
apparition was at a safe distance, seated himself on the bench again,
and began to question Dan. He hoped that the boy was mistaken, and that
his very lively imagination had converted a stump or some other object
he had seen in the woods, into what he supposed to be old Jordan’s
ghost; but Dan gave his evidence in such a way, and was so very
positive on every point on which his father asked information, that
Godfrey was obliged to believe that he had seen something wonderful.
Perhaps after the reader hears Dan’s story he will believe it too. We
will follow him, but tell it in our way.

Dan said he had had better luck in the woods that morning than he
usually did--the bunch of squirrels he exhibited, and to which he had
held fast during his headlong flight, proved that statement--and having
shot all the game he wanted, he was coming home by way of the general’s
lane. He saw the hostler and two or three other negroes standing
in front of the barn, and when he came up he found that they were
holding an earnest consultation, and that they were all more or less
frightened. Dan at once inquired into the cause of their alarm, and was
informed that something very strange and mysterious had just happened.
The hostler was busy with his usual duties in the barn, and the others
were at work in the field close by, when a queer-looking object
suddenly made its appearance among them. It was dressed in a suit of
white cottonade, and looked and acted like an old, decrepit negro; but
it could not have been that, for if it had been, it would have returned
some of the numerous greetings that were addressed to it. Besides, it
did not seem to hear or see anything.

It was first discovered by the hostler, and where it came from he
couldn’t tell. It walked past him, and out at the door toward the place
where the men were at work in the field. These--there were three of
them--thought they recognised in it an old friend from whom they had
long been separated, and throwing down their hoes they hurried toward
the figure, extending their hands and crying out: “How do, Uncle
Jordan!” But the figure paid no attention to them, and it finally
dawned upon the negroes that it was not Jordan after all, but his
spirit, which had come back to visit the scenes with which the faithful
slave had been familiar while in the flesh. After that the figure
had all the room it wanted. The negroes backed off and watched it as
it walked slowly about the barn-yard, and finally disappeared behind
one of the corn-cribs. They waited for it to appear again, but as it
did not, one of the boldest ventured to draw near and peep around the
corner of the crib. There was no one in sight.

This made it evident that the object they had seen was a spirit, and
nothing else; for if it had been a human being, it could not have
got out from behind the corn-crib without being seen by some of the
watchful negroes. The crib joined the barn, and there was no entrance
to either of the buildings on that side that could be made available,
except the door, and that could be seen through the front doors, which
stood wide open. There was a window which opened into a storeroom in
the barn, but it was securely nailed, and had not been opened for a
number of years.

The negroes told this extraordinary story in low tones, and rolled the
whites of their eyes and trembled and gave other indications that their
minds were in a very unsettled state, and that a very small thing would
get up a first-class panic among them. As Dan listened the cold chills
crept all over him, and his hair seemed to stand on end. What then must
have been his terror when one of the negroes suddenly clapped his hands
and shrieked:

“Good Lord a mussy, look down on us poor, miserable niggers! Dar he is
now!”



CHAPTER XI.

OLD JORDAN SHOWS HIMSELF.


This startling announcement was accompanied by such strange contortions
on the part of the negro who made it, that Dan was completely unnerved,
and would have taken to his heels in short order, had he not suddenly
lost all control over himself. His whole body seemed weighed down
with iron. He did, however, manage to turn his head and look in the
direction in which his sable companions were gazing, and sure enough,
there he was--an old, rheumatic negro, bent half double with age,
and dressed in that peculiar costume so common among field negroes
before the war. He leaned heavily upon a staff--which, however, he
planted firmly, almost viciously on the ground with every step, as if
there was plenty of strength left in his old arm--and walked in that
indescribable manner which no one ever saw attempted by anybody except
a plantation negro.

When first seen he was in the middle of the lane; and how he ever got
there without being observed, was a mystery. He was coming toward the
barn, and when he arrived opposite to it he turned toward the open
doors, and Dan and the terrified negroes backed hastily out of his way.
He looked neither to the right nor left, but entered the barn, went the
whole length of it, and disappeared through the door at the other end.

“That’s ole Jordan, if I ever seed him,” exclaimed one of the negroes,
all of whom turned as white as their black skins would let them.

“No, sar; ’tain’t ole Jordan, nudder--dat ain’t,” said another; “kase
ole Jordan, if it was him, wouldn’t go right fru us dat way, widout
speakin’ to nobody. Whar’s he gwine now?”

The negro, as he asked this question, started on tiptoe toward the back
door, followed by his companions and Dan. Arriving on the spot where
the figure had last been seen, they looked in every direction, but
could see nothing of it. Gathering a little more courage, they went
to the end of the corn-crib and looked around it. There was no one in
sight. After that they went around the barn, keeping close together
for mutual protection, but old Jordan had disappeared as completely
as though he had never been in existence. Then the negroes began to
grow frightened again. The hostler declared that he would never go into
that barn again; those who had been at work in the field retreated in
great haste toward the house; and Dan, who dared not stay there alone,
shouldered his rifle, got over the tall gate somehow, and stepped out
for home at his very best pace.

This was the substance of the story Dan told his father, and Godfrey
listened to it with open mouth and staring eyes. He knew that ghosts
appeared at night--nobody could talk or laugh him out of that belief,
for he knew it to be true by his own experience--but he had never
before heard that they grew so bold as to show themselves in broad
daylight. “This yere beats my time all holler,” said he, as he found
his tongue. “I declar’, folks ain’t safe nowhar, an’ at no time, day
nor night. Dannie, that thar bar’l is in that tater-patch as sure’s
you’re an inch high; kase if it ain’t, what makes ole Jordan’s haunt
come back here foolin’ around? He didn’t act as though he wanted to
hurt anybody, did he?”

“No, but he had a big club in his hand,” said Dan, whose frightened
optics had magnified an ordinary walking-stick, just as they had
cheated their owner into believing that the apparition, or whatever it
was, had an eye of fire in the middle of his forehead.

“What sort of a club was it?” asked his father.

“O, a great big one! an’ it was all curled and twisted up like a snake.”

“I’ve seed ole Jordan walkin’ with it a million times,” said Godfrey.
“He used it this yere way, didn’t he?” he added, picking up a stick,
that happened to be lying near him, and imitating the energetic manner
in which the old negro handled his cane.

“That’s jest the way he done,” said Dan.

“An’ he walked this way, didn’t he?” continued Godfrey, bending
his back and legs, drawing his head down between his shoulders and
mimicking old Jordan’s style of progression.

“Yes; that’s jest the way he walked.”

“Then it’s his haunt, an’ thar ain’t no mistake about it,” said
Godfrey, throwing down the stick and pushing back his sleeves. “Jest
fetch out my rifle, Dannie.”

“O, pop, what be ye goin’ to do?” gasped Dan.

“I’m goin up thar,” was the reply; and any one who had seen Godfrey
when he made it, never would have imagined that only a few short
hours before he had been so badly frightened, that he could not run
half fast enough to suit him. He looked brave enough to meet a lion
single-handed. “I want to see that thing,” he continued, “an’ I want to
see it in the daytime, too--not arter dark, as I did afore!”

“Wal, now, I ain’t agoin’ to stay here alone, I bet ye,” whined Dan.

“Then come along with yer pop.”

“No, I won’t.”

“Ye needn’t be afeared; kase I’ve heard tell that them haunts can’t
harm nobody in the daytime. Ye see, if it’s ole Jordan’s haunt, his
comin’ back here proves that we’ve dug a hole purty clost to that thar
bar’l; an’ if Mr.---- Hum! Bring out my we’pon, Dannie.”

Godfrey was about to add that if Mr. Clarence, after hearing of what
had just taken place, was not afraid to continue the search for the
buried treasure, he (Godfrey) was not afraid either; but remembering
that Dan was to be kept in ignorance of the arrangements he had made
with the general’s nephew, he checked himself in time, and again
desired the boy to bring out his rifle. Godfrey did not intend to
shoot at old Jordan’s apparition if he saw it. He only wanted to take
the weapon with him because he felt safer while it was in his hands. He
loaded it very carefully when his son brought it out, and placing it on
his shoulder started off, Dan keeping close by his side.

Godfrey was by no means as much at his ease as he seemed to be, and
had it been after sunset, he could not have been hired to venture near
the general’s lane after what he had heard. He considered that he was
about to do a very reckless thing, but he kept resolutely on, and
finally reached the barn. The wide doors that gave entrance into the
lane stood open, but the building was deserted by all living things
save the horses and a few chickens, and an unearthly silence seemed
to brood over it. Godfrey dared not enter. He walked up close to the
threshold, and stretching out his long neck, peeped into every corner.
While he was thus engaged, a smothered exclamation from Dan caused him
to straighten up as suddenly as if he had been shot.

“Laws a massy!” cried Dan. “Thar he is agin!”

“O, my soul!” ejaculated Godfrey, shivering all over.

He looked around, and saw the object of his search coming down the
lane toward the barn. Just one look was enough for Godfrey, and in
that one look he took in everything about the apparition; for such
he believed it to be. He remembered old Jordan so well that he would
have recognised him on the instant if he had seen him in Asia. Here
he was now before his very eyes. There could be no mistake about it.
The peculiar style of progression, the clothes, the manner in which he
handled his cane, and the whole appearance of the approaching object,
all proclaimed that it could be none other than the missing Jordan.
Godfrey did not wait for him to come any nearer. Quickly shouldering
his rifle he darted through the barn, out at the back door, and ran for
his life, paying no heed to the frantic appeals to “wait a minute,”
which the terrified Dan shouted after him. He made his way across the
general’s grounds to the lake, the shore of which he followed until
he came to the woods; and there he sat down on a log to recover his
breath, and to wait for Dan.

The latter came at last, and his first act was to take his father to
task for deserting him in so cowardly a manner. Godfrey had nothing
to say in reply. Forgetting that the boy had been just as anxious as
himself to get safely out of sight of the apparition, he asked a good
many questions, hoping to learn what old Jordan had done, where he had
gone, and whether or not he had said anything; but on these points
Dan could give him no information. The two went home together, and
passed the remainder of the day in a state of mind that can hardly be
described. When night came Godfrey did not sit on his bench as usual;
he stayed in the house, never once giving a thought to Clarence Gordon,
who was waiting for him at his uncle’s barn. He kept a bright blaze
in the fire-place, so that the interior might be lighted up as much
as possible. When he got ready to go to bed he took pains to fasten
the door securely--and that was a thing he had never been known to do
before--and to place his rifle close by the head of the “shake-down,”
so that it could be readily seized in case of emergency.

The next morning he ate but little breakfast, and seemed to be greatly
relieved when he could sit on the bench with his pipe. He smoked and
meditated for two hours (during this time all the members of his family
had gone off about their usual vocations--Mrs. Evans to work at the
house of a neighbor, David to the fields to continue the education
of the pointer, and Dan to the woods, to spend the day in shooting
squirrels and making a pretence of building turkey-traps)--and was then
aroused by the appearance of Clarence Gordon, who was the very person
he most wished to see. The boy carried his rifle in the hollow of his
arm, and, as before, stopped near the cabin to bring a squirrel out of
one of the tall trees growing by the roadside. Godfrey hastened to meet
him, and was greeted with:

“You’re a nice fellow to keep a promise, are you not?”

“Mr. Clarence, have they heard of it up to the Gordons?” asked Godfrey,
almost in a whisper.

“There’s an awful row up there among the negroes about a ghost, or some
such nonsense, if that’s what you mean,” answered Clarence. “There
isn’t a black man or woman on the plantation that can be hired to go
near the barn, and my uncle is afraid all his hands are going to leave
him to gather his crops as best he can. But, of course, that wasn’t
what kept you away last night.”

“I reckon it was jest that very thing,” said Godfrey.

“Then you’re a coward and ought to be heartily ashamed of yourself.
That’s my opinion of _you_!”

Godfrey jumped up and knocked his heels together, coming down with his
feet spread out and his fists doubled up, as he always did when he was
angry and about to say something very emphatic. But when he had done
this much he stopped short, for he saw that he had not frightened the
boy in the least. He had only surprised him. Clarence had never before
seen a backwoods fighter limber up his joints previous to going into
action.

“Well, what do you mean by that?” he asked, coolly.

Godfrey did not think it best to say that he had been getting ready to
punish the boy for calling him a coward, so he replied:

“If you had seed it yourself, Mr. Clarence, what would you say?”

“Do you mean that thing you call a haunt? I never saw one, and there
are none.”

“I know better; kase thar is,” said Godfrey, earnestly. “I seed it
myself with my own two eyes in broad daylight, an’ so did Dannie an’
three or four of the gen’ral’s niggers.”

“Well, it is very strange that no one else could see it,” said
Clarence. “My aunt wanted to take Marsh and me out riding yesterday
afternoon, but the hostler wouldn’t hitch up because he was afraid to
go near the barn; so uncle, and Don, and Bert, and I went out there and
searched high and low for the thing that had frightened him, and could
find nothing.”

“In course you couldn’t, kase it’s a haunt. Nobody can’t see ’em,
’ceptin’ when they wants to be seed.”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed Clarence. “I didn’t suppose there was a man in
this day and age of the world who would talk as you do. Did you see any
thing yesterday?”

“Yes, sar, I did.”

“You saw it _yourself_, did you?”

“Yes, I done seed it my own self.”

“What did it look like?”

“It looked jest as ole Jordan did the last time I seed him, afore he
run away with the Yanks.”

“Then you can safely bet it _was_ he--not his ‘haunt,’ as you call it,
but he, himself, in his own proper person. If you had taken hold of him
you would have found solid bone and muscle in your hands.”

“No, I wouldn’t,” said Godfrey, solemnly. “I had my rifle in my hands,
an’ if I had drawed a bead on him, the bullet would have gone through
him as slick as grease, an’ never hurt him.”

Clarence stamped his foot impatiently. “It is well you didn’t try it,”
said he. “If you had, you would now be in jail with a good chance of
being tried for a very serious offence.”

“Do you reckon it was ole Jordan hisself?” asked Godfrey, who seemed to
be impressed by the boy’s arguments.

“I know it was,” said Clarence.

“We all thought he was dead.”

“Well, it’s no uncommon thing for people to be mistaken, is it? If he
were dead how could he come back here?”

“What do you reckon he’s come back for?”

“You tell?”

“An’ if it was him, his own self, what was the reason he didn’t speak
to nobody? He knowed two of the niggers that was thar, an’ he knowed
me. ’Tain’t likely he’d ’member Dannie, kase the boy was too leetle
when he went away.”

“Answer the question yourself,” replied Clarence. “You are as good at
guessing as I am.”

“Wal, if it’s him, his own self, I wish he hadn’t come back,” said
Godfrey.

“I don’t, for I intend to make use of him. The old fellow is not above
earning a dime or two, is he?”

“I never yet seed the man that was, black or white,” said Godfrey.

“Then I shall make it my business to scrape an acquaintance with the
old fellow, if I can find him, and ask him if he’d like to make a
thousand dollars. He’ll say ‘yes,’ of course; and then I’ll tell him
that all he has got to do to have the money paid right over to him,
is to show me where he hid that barrel before he ran away with the
Yankees.”

Godfrey backed toward the bench and looked at Clarence without speaking.

“If he will do it--and I know I should if I were in his place--I shall
be glad he has come back,” continued Clarence. “I took a good look at
that potato-patch yesterday, and I tell you there’s a lot of ground in
it. It will take us till doomsday to dig it full of holes four or five
feet deep, and I can’t wait so long. I need the money now--to-day!”

Godfrey looked at Clarence from head to foot, taking in at a glance
all the fashionable and expensive trappings he had about him, both
useful and ornamental, and wondered why he should be so much in need of
money. If he had possessed the cash value of the boy’s gold watch and
chain he would have been very well contented, and would have thought no
more about the barrel and its contents while he had ten dollars of it
remaining.

“Now, don’t you suppose that if you were to hang around uncle’s barn
for a while, you could gain an interview with old Jordan?” asked
Clarence.

“No, sar,” answered Godfrey, hastily. “I wouldn’t see him again fur
no money. An’ right here’s one thing that mebbe ye didn’t think of:
Wouldn’t he be an ole fule to go an’ show ye whar that thar bar’l is,
an’ get only a thousand dollars fur it, when he could go and dig it up
by hisself an’ take it all--the hul eighty thousand?”

“I have thought of that,” said Clarence, “and have made up my mind what
I shall do in case he refuses to help me. Mark my words: If I get my
hands on that old nigger, I’ll find out where that barrel is, if he
knows.”

This was all Clarence would say on this point just then. His companion
tried hard to make him explain himself, but all Clarence would say
was, that he had a way of finding out things he wanted to know, and
with that Godfrey was obliged to be content. Before separating they
made another agreement, which was that they would meet that night, as
soon as it was fairly dark, at the summer-house on the shore of the
lake. Godfrey appointed the place of meeting himself, saying that he
would not go near the general’s barn again if he had an army at his
back. He promised, moreover, to meet Clarence there every night, and to
faithfully assist him in prosecuting the search until the barrel was
found. If Clarence succeeded in obtaining an interview with the old
negro and finding out where the eighty thousand dollars were hidden, so
much the better; but that was a matter with which Godfrey himself would
have nothing to do.

That was another long day to Godfrey. When he had leisure to calmly
think over the promise he had made, he wondered how he had dared do
it; and as the afternoon waned and the hour appointed for the meeting
at the summer-house drew nearer, he became really alarmed, and was
several times on the point of making up his mind that he would stay
at home. But he did not stay at home. He went, agreeably to promise,
and for half an hour sat in the summer-house starting at the rustle of
every leaf and holding himself in readiness to take to his heels at the
first sight of anything that might look like old Jordan’s white coat.
When at last Clarence arrived, he was so overjoyed to see him, that he
seized his hand and shook it until the boy forcibly withdrew it from
his grasp.

“I couldn’t get away any sooner,” said Clarence. “We were having some
music up there.”

“Did they say anything about the haunt?” asked Godfrey.

“No, they didn’t say anything about that, for they have sense enough
to know that there is no such thing in the world,” said Clarence,
impatiently. “They talked about old Jordan, and uncle seems to think
he has come back; but he says it is very strange that the old fellow
doesn’t show himself about the house.”

“Say, Mr. Clarence,” said Godfrey, suddenly; “mebbe he’s come back on
purpose to dig up the bar’l hisself!”

“I thought of that,” replied the boy. “But if that was his object, he
wouldn’t be so foolish as to show himself to anybody. He has kept out
of my way so far. Don and I have been about the barn all the afternoon
watching for him. If I once get my eyes on him I’ll see what he’s made
of, unless he shows that he can run faster than I can.”

“What does Mr. Don think about it?”

“O, he’s like the rest. He don’t know what to think about it.”

“Did he ever say anything to ye about the bar’l?”

“Yes; he said just enough to make me think that the barrel is there.
I pumped him to-day, and he said in so many words that Jordan hid a
barrel of stuff somewhere, and hinted that none of the family ever dug
it up. I heard enough to make me determined to go ahead, even if I have
to dig up the whole of that potato-patch by myself. If you are ready
we’ll go. I have placed a couple of shovels where I can find them.”

So saying Clarence led the way toward the potato-patch, and Godfrey
tremblingly followed. The shovels were found, and the two, after
walking a short distance along the fence that separated the garden from
the potato-patch, were about to climb over into the field where their
operations were to be conducted, when Godfrey suddenly laid his hand on
his companion’s arm.

“Laws a massy! What’s that, Mr. Clarence?” said he, in a suppressed
whisper.

“What’s what?” demanded the boy, who, in spite of his boasted courage,
shivered as if he had been unexpectedly plunged into a bath of
ice-water.

“Hark a minute!” said Godfrey. “Don’t ye hear it now?”

Clarence held his breath and listened intently.



CHAPTER XII.

OLD JORDAN IN TROUBLE.


“I do hear it,” said Clarence, as soon as he caught the sound that had
attracted Godfrey’s attention. “There’s some one digging out there in
the field.”

“That’s jest what it is,” said Godfrey, in a trembling voice. “Don’t
let’s go no further, Mr. Clarence.”

“What’s the use of being afraid?” returned the boy. “It is a man, of
course, for if it were anything else it couldn’t use a shovel. You are
not afraid of a man, are you?”

No, there was no man in that part of the country that Godfrey was
afraid to meet on equal terms; and to prove it he laid down his shovel,
clenched his hands and jumped up and knocked his heels together.

“I don’t know what you mean by that nonsense,” said Clarence,
impatiently. “If you are afraid, go home; if you are not, come along
with me!”

As the boy said this he placed his hands on the top rail of the fence
and vaulted lightly over it, closely followed by Godfrey, who touched
the ground on the opposite side almost as soon as Clarence did. Side
by side they moved cautiously in the direction from which the sound of
the digging came, and after advancing a short distance, Godfrey threw
himself flat on his face to make some investigations. The night being
very dark, of course all objects on the ground were invisible to them;
but by placing themselves in such a position that they would have the
lighter sky for a background, any object they wished to examine was
rendered quite distinct to their gaze. This they both proceeded to do,
Clarence following Godfrey’s example, and when they arose to their feet
again a few seconds later and compared notes, they found that both had
arrived at the same conclusion--that there was a man in the field but a
few rods away from them, and that he was digging a hole with a shovel.
He had gone down so deep already that his legs as far as his knees
were concealed, and that proved that he had not come there to steal
potatoes. Was he looking for the barrel? If so, who was he, and how did
he find out that there was any barrel there?

“Come on,” whispered Clarence, as these thoughts passed through his
mind. “We’ll soon know all about it. Be careful not to make the least
noise. If he starts to run go after him and bring him back. We must
find out who he is, and what he means by this business.”

Guided by the strokes of the shovel, which fell upon their ears at
regular intervals, Clarence and his companion slowly and cautiously
drew nearer to the workman, who, greatly to their surprise, never paid
the least attention to their approach. He must have heard the squeaking
of Clarence’s boots--they would squeak, no matter how carefully he
stepped--and the rustle of the dry grass and vines that covered the
potato-hills, but he was not frightened from his work. Finally Clarence
was near enough to him to lay hold of his arm. Even then the man never
looked up or ceased his work, and Clarence began to feel a he had never
felt before. His heart beat rapidly and all his strength seemed to be
leaving him, but he managed to say, in a very steady voice:

“Look here, young fellow, this sort of game won’t work with us, you
know. Come up out of that hole and let’s see who you are.”

“O, my soul!” exclaimed Godfrey, who had stooped down to obtain a peep
at the man’s face. “Turn him loose, Mr. Clarence! That’s ole Jordan’s
haunt! I’d know that ole white coat anywhar. O, my sakes alive!”

“Come back here!” said Clarence, in much the same tone that he would
have used had he been addressing a disobedient hound. “Don’t you dare
run away, unless you want General Gordon to know all about this.”

These words were spoken just in time. In a moment more Godfrey
would have been scudding across the field at the top of his speed.
Tremblingly he approached Clarence, and had there been light enough to
enable him to distinguish his features, the boy would have seen that
they were as white as a sheet.

“You gave me to understand that you are not afraid of any man in the
country,” continued the latter. “Now prove it. Reach out your hand and
take hold of this fellow’s arm; and if you don’t feel solid flesh in
your grasp, you may take yourself off as soon as you please!”

“Is it a man?” gasped Godfrey.

“Of course it is. Come here and see for yourself.”

“Why don’t he say somethin’, then?”

“I suppose it is because he don’t want to. Come here and take hold of
him, and we’ll soon find means to make him use his tongue, if he has
one!”

Very reluctantly Godfrey obeyed the command. He extended his hand and
made a grasp at the prisoner’s arm, fully expecting that his fingers
would pass through it as they would pass through the air; but to his
surprise and intense relief his grasp closed upon a small but very
compact bunch of muscle. He seized it firmly and held fast to it, and
then his courage all returned, and he was as brave as Clarence himself.

“Now,” said the latter, “I want to take a good look at this fellow.”

Striking a match on the sleeve of his coat as he spoke, he examined
the man by the aid of the light it threw out, and saw that he was a
coal-black negro, and that he was dressed in a suit of something that
had once been white, but which was patched with so many different kinds
of cloth that it was hard to find any of the original material in it.

“Are you old Jordan?” he demanded.

There was no answer returned by the negro, who was as passive in the
hands of his captors as if he had been a lump of clay.

[Illustration: THE CAPTURE OF “OLE JORDAN.”]

“This won’t do, old fellow,” said Clarence, angrily. “You can’t play
off on us in this way. You had better open your mouth, or we’ll take
you straight to the general. Perhaps he can find means to make you tell
what you are doing in his potato-patch at this time of night.”

“O, that ain’t no way to talk to a nigger, Mr. Clarence,” said Godfrey.
“I knows who he is, an’ I can soon make him speak,” he added, drawing
back his shovel preparatory to punching old Jordan in the ribs with it.

“Hol’ on dar, boss!” cried the prisoner.

“Thar, now, what did I tell ye?” exclaimed Godfrey, triumphantly.
“Don’t sound much like ole Jordan’s voice, though!”

“Now that you have found your tongue, I want to talk to you,” said
Clarence. “Would you like to make a thousand dollars?”

“O, I’m goin’ to make a heap more’n dat, boss,” replied the negro.

“You are? How are you going to do it?”

“Jordan,” said Godfrey, “did you come back to dig up that thar bar’l
you kivered up here in this tater-patch on the day the Yanks cut the
levee?”

“Dat’s tellin’,” replied the negro.

“Do you know where the barrel is?” asked Clarence.

“Course he does,” exclaimed Godfrey, “kase he’s the one that kivered it
up. Whar is it, Jordan? Pint out the spot, an’ ye shall go free without
no harm bein’ done to ye; but if ye don’t tell----”

“Hol’ on dar, boss!” cried the old negro, as Godfrey once more drew
back his spade.

“Do you know where the barrel is?” asked Clarence. “Answer that
question!”

“I reckon I does, boss!”

“Well, where is it?”

“O, I didn’t say I’d tell dat, did I? It ’longs to my ole marse,
Gen’ral Gordon.”

“He’s got more’n his share already,” said Godfrey.

“Den I reckon I’se got jest as much right to dat bar’l an’ what’s into
it, as anybody,” said the negro; “mebbe more, kase I’se the one that
hid it!”

“Hold on a minute, Godfrey,” said Clarence, as his companion raised the
shovel threateningly. “Step this way, a moment. Old man, you stay right
where you are. If you make any attempt to run, I’ll throw this shovel
at you!”

Clarence and Godfrey drew off on one side, just out of ear-shot of the
negro, and the former said, in a suppressed whisper:

“Are you sure that’s old Jordan?”

“Just as sure as I can be,” replied Godfrey. “’Tain’t his haunt--I can
see that now--but ole Jordan his own self.”

“I am glad you are so positive, for there is something about this
business that doesn’t look just right to me. If it is he, he has come
back to dig up that barrel himself. I wonder if it is somewhere about
the spot where he was digging! How are we going to make him tell?”

“Lick it outen him,” suggested Godfrey.

“O, that would never do in the world. He’d raise the neighborhood with
his howling.”

“Wal, mebbe goin’ without grub an’ water fur a few hours will loosen up
his tongue.”

“That’s the idea,” said Clarence, joyfully. “No one will miss him, for
those who have seen him since he came back think he is a ghost. Where
can we take him and keep him safe until he tells us what we want to
know?”

“I reckon my tater-hole is as good a place as any,” said Godfrey, after
thinking a moment. “I don’t have nothing to put in it now, an’ nobody
ever goes nigh it.”

“Can we lock him up there?”

“No, but we can tie him up, an’ that will do jest as well. Howsomever,
I don’t much keer to go into any sich business as that, Mr. Clarence.
S’pose it should come out on us?”

“How in the world is it going to come out on us?” asked Clarence,
impatiently. “You’ll not tell, will you?”

“No, sar,” answered Godfrey, with great emphasis. “I couldn’t live here
if I did.”

“Well, I shall not tell, either. You may be sure of that; so I don’t
see how it can become known. We can starve old Jordan into opening his
mouth, and when he gets ready to tell us where the barrel is, we’ll dig
it up, divide the contents, and the first boat that comes along will
take me away from here. I don’t care whether I go up or down the river,
so long as I have my pockets full of money.”

“An’ what’ll I do?” asked Godfrey.

“You can do as you please. You want to stay here and spend your share,
don’t you?”

“But what’ll I do with the nigger?”

“I don’t care what you do with him,” was the boy’s mental reply. “So
long as I get safely away from here, you and the nigger can settle
the business between you in any way you see fit. That is a matter in
which I am not interested.” But aloud he said: “O, we’ll get rid of him
somehow. We’ll think about that when the time comes. Now, we’ll give
old Jordan one more chance to earn his freedom, and if he doesn’t see
fit to improve it, it is no fault of ours. He will have to go to the
potato-hole and be tied up there.”

Godfrey was not at all pleased with this arrangement, and he wondered
why he had been foolish enough to suggest it. As much as he wanted
to be rich, he would never have dared, had he been left to himself,
to resort to such desperate measures as these to gain his object.
The thought of it was enough to make him tremble. He wished he had
never seen Clarence, or had anything to do with him. The boy was so
determined to go through with what he had begun, and seemed to be so
utterly reckless of consequences, that Godfrey was really afraid of him.

“Say, Mr. Clarence,” said he, suddenly, “I ’most done forgot it, but
it’s the gospel truth, an’ I hope I may be shot if it hain’t, that that
tater-hole of mine has done fell in, an’ ain’t no more account fur
tyin’ up niggers in. ’Sides, I hain’t got no ropes of no kind.”

“All right, Godfrey,” said Clarence, who saw very plainly what his
companion was trying to get at. “We will find out about that when we
get there. But let me tell you one thing: If you think you are going
to back out and leave me in the lurch, you are very much mistaken. If
you will stick to me and do as I say, we shall both of us come out all
right; but if you desert me, there’ll be a breeze raised here in this
neighborhood that will make you think that war times have come back,
sure enough. Now, Jordan,” he added, addressing the negro, “will you
tell me where that barrel is?”

“No, sar!--no, _sar_!” said the old man, shaking his head most
decidedly. “Nobody gets dat bar’l an’ what’s into it ’ceptin’ ole
Jordan!”

“All right. Come with us, and we will see if we can find means to make
you think differently.”

Clarence seized the old negro by one arm, as he spoke, Godfrey at a
sign from him took hold of the other, and together they led him across
the field until they reached the road, down which they conducted him
toward Godfrey’s cabin. But little was said during the walk. The negro,
who was evidently becoming alarmed, would have talked fast enough, but
when his captors allowed him to use his tongue, he pitched his voice
in so high a key that Clarence, alarmed lest he should arouse somebody,
sternly ordered him to hold his peace. The old negro changed his
tactics now, and most solemnly declared that he didn’t know anything
about any barrel; that his name was not Jordan; and that he had gone
into the field simply for the purpose of stealing some potatoes for his
breakfast. But Clarence only laughed at this, and assured him that he
was not taking the right course to gain his liberty. Potatoes didn’t
grow three feet under ground, he said, and neither did prowlers, as a
general thing, dig them with a shovel. They could do better work with
their hands. If he would go back there and show them where the barrel
was hidden, they would dig for it, and the moment they found it they
would give him something for pocket-money, and release him. This the
old negro protested he could not do, and Clarence assured him that he
should do it before he saw daylight again.

Half an hour’s walk brought them within sight of the cabin, and
there Godfrey left Clarence and the prisoner while he went forward
to make sure that none of his family were stirring, and to secure a
plough-line that hung up under the shed beside the corn-crib, that
being the article with which he had decided to confine old Jordan. He
returned in a few minutes, and once more taking hold of the negro’s
arm, he and Clarence assisted him over two or three fences, through
a thick brier-patch which covered the site of his former comfortable
dwelling, and finally halted in front of the potato-hole. It was
simply an out-door cellar, the peak of the roof rising to the height
of one’s shoulder, and the eaves resting on the ground. The cellar
was quite deep enough to permit a tall man to stand upright in it, as
Clarence found when he descended the stairs that led into it. It had
successfully resisted the ravages of time, and with the exception of
the steps, which were in a very dilapidated state, was as sound as it
was on the day it was built. The roof was four feet thick, and Godfrey
assured his companion that the prisoner might shout for help as long
and as loudly as he pleased, but he could not make himself heard as
far as the cabin, unless he possessed lungs with as much power as a
steam-whistle.

Clarence now renewed his efforts to induce the negro to tell where
the barrel with the eighty thousand dollars in it was hidden; but
the latter declared that he did not know; and Clarence, losing all
patience, assisted Godfrey in tying him fast to one of the stanchions
that supported the roof. When this was done he felt his way out of
the cellar--it was as dark as Egypt in there--and Godfrey closed and
latched the door behind him. They both breathed easier when the work
was over.

“Well, Godfrey,” said Clarence, “your potato-hole seems to be in pretty
good condition yet; and you did manage to find something to tie the
old nigger with after all, didn’t you? Now remember that it will not
be safe for us to go near him during the daytime; some one might see
us. We must give this cellar a wide berth for twenty-four hours. If the
old fellow goes that length of time without anything to eat or drink,
perhaps he will begin to think that we are in earnest.”

Godfrey made no reply. His heart was not in the business, and he wished
himself safely out of it. Having gone so far, however, there was no way
of retreat. If old Jordan were released, he would be certain to tell of
the treatment he had received, and that would bring him and Clarence
into serious trouble. He scarcely heard his companion’s cheerful
good-night, so engrossed was he with his own gloomy thoughts.

Having taken leave of Godfrey, Clarence walked rapidly toward his
uncle’s house, little dreaming what a commotion the events of this
night were destined to create there. He was not nearly so light-hearted
as he pretended to be. Now that he had time to think calmly about
what he had done, he was frightened, and wondered how he had ever
had the hardihood to engage in so reckless a piece of business. “No
matter,” said he, trying his best to banish all his dismal forebodings,
“twenty-four hours in that cellar will bring the old nigger to his
senses; and when I once get my hands on the money in that barrel, I’ll
bid good-by to America for a while. Forty thousand dollars! Whew!
This is the only chance I shall ever have to make a fortune, and I am
determined to improve it.”

Arriving at his uncle’s house at last, he stopped for a few minutes to
compose himself and calm the excitement which he knew must be plainly
visible in his face, and then with all the nonchalance of which he
was master, he opened the door and went in. He stopped in the hall to
hang up his cap, and would have given anything he possessed, if he
could have found some plausible excuse for going at once to his room.
There was a merry family gathering in the back parlor, and he did not
want to go in there. Some one was playing on the piano, and the rest
were engaged in most agreeable conversation, if one might judge by the
peals of laughter that now and then rang through the house. Clarence
was hardly fit to go among them, he told himself as he glanced at
the little mirror in the hat-rack. His hair was disheveled, his face
flushed, and his boots and clothes were covered with dust. While he was
making some hasty improvements in his appearance, his Aunt Mary came
into the hall. She had heard him enter and came out to meet him.

“Come in here, truant, and give an account of yourself,” said she,
pleasantly. “What do you mean by deserting us every night in this
unceremonious manner? Clarence,” said she, shaking her finger at him,
and sinking her voice almost to a whisper, “you’ve been smoking again!”

“I know it,” said the boy.

“Do you find a cigar so much more agreeable than the society of your
friends?”

“No, ma’am; but I have been in the habit of it so long, you know; and
it is hard to give it up.”

“I suppose it is; but persevere and remember that ‘he that ruleth his
spirit is better than he that taketh a city.’ Where’s Don? I thought he
was with you!”

“I am sure I don’t know. I haven’t seen him since supper.”

“Why that is very strange,” said Mrs. Gordon. “He has been out for the
last two or three nights until nine or ten o’clock, and I don’t know
what to think about it. Come in, now. Lucy has been waiting to practise
the Sharpshooter’s Waltz with you.”

Much against his will Clarence was led into the parlor, and the curious
glances which all his relatives directed toward him as he entered
made him feel very uncomfortable. His uncle thought he acted ill at
ease; Bert’s mental comment was that he had been running a race with
somebody; and Marshall told himself that he must have been rolled in a
dust heap. Clarence could tell by the expression on their faces pretty
nearly what they were thinking about, and it was with great effort
that he aroused himself sufficiently to take any interest in what was
going on. He played several tunes on his flute while his cousin Lucy
accompanied him on the piano, and as soon as he could do so with any
show of reason, he bade the company good-night and went to bed.

“I’d like to know where in the world you have spent your evenings since
you have been here,” said Marshall, when he joined him in his room half
an hour later. “Just as soon as it grows dark you’re off, and that’s
the last we see of you until ten o’clock. Have you found a billiard
saloon anywhere?”

“Perhaps you had better watch me, if you are so very anxious to find
out where I go,” growled Clarence, in reply. “I am bored to death with
this everlasting music, and it is a great pity if I can’t now and then
take a quiet stroll and a cigar without exciting astonishment and
setting the whole family to questioning me.”

Clarence slept but little that night, for his mind was in a very
unsettled state; and a dread of impending evil, which he could not
shake off, continually haunted him. The first words he exchanged with
the first person he met the next morning, gave him new cause for alarm.
That person was Bert, whom he encountered just as he stepped into the
hall. His cousin’s face was very pale, and Clarence saw that he carried
his whip in his hand and was dressed for a ride.

“O, Clarence!” cried Bert. “What do you think has become of Don?”

Clarence could only look the surprise which this abrupt question
occasioned him. At the same time he felt a sinking at his heart for
which he could not account.

“He wasn’t at home at all last night,” continued Bert. “We’ve made
inquiries everywhere, and the last person who saw him was the hostler,
who says that Don went into the barn about eight o’clock, but he didn’t
see him come out again. Father and I are just about to start off to
look for him!”

Clarence was too amazed to speak. He hurried out of the house and to
the barn, where he found his uncle in the act of mounting his horse.
There were two other persons in the barn--the hostler and Godfrey
Evans. The hostler was putting the saddle on Bert’s pony, and Godfrey
stood around looking the very picture of misery. He brightened up when
he saw Clarence approaching.

“Now, Godfrey,” said the general, “will you do that much for me?”

“Yes, sar, an’ I’ll start now,” answered Godfrey, who made a few rapid
steps toward the gate, and then suddenly stopped, faced about and came
back again.

“You know the woods like a book,” continued the general, “and if
Don is lost, you will be more likely to find him than anybody else.
Good-morning, Clarence! I don’t suppose you can tell me anything about
Don, can you?”

“No, sir, I am sorry to say I cannot,” replied Clarence, who felt that
sinking at his heart again when he looked at Godfrey.

“He has lately fallen into the habit of roaming about of nights,” said
the general, “and I don’t know how to account for it. The boy is large
enough to take care of himself, but I don’t think he would stay away so
long unless he were in trouble. I am going down the road to see if I
can get any tidings of him; Bert is going out into the country; Godfrey
has promised to search the woods; and if you feel like it, you might
jump on Don’s pony and ride down the river road a few miles. Everybody
down there knows Don, and if he went that way before dark last night,
some one must have seen him.”

Clarence replied that he would willingly do all in his power to find
the missing boy, and then Bert and his father mounted their horses and
galloped out of the gate. Godfrey slunk away behind the corn-crib, and
Clarence, after telling the hostler to put a saddle on Don’s pony,
followed him. He found Godfrey sitting on the ground and rocking
himself back and forth as if he were in great pain.

“What’s the matter with you?” demanded Clarence, and it was only by a
great effort of will that he could bring himself to speak at all.

“O, my soul!” cried Godfrey. “Does yer know what we’ve been an’ done?”

“Do I know what we’ve done?” repeated the boy. “What do you mean? Speak
out!”

“O, my soul, how can I?” moaned Godfrey. “Thar’s the gen’ral axin’ me
would I s’arch the woods to find that lost boy of his’n, an’ thar he
is, this blessed minute, tied up hard an’ fast in my own tater-hole. O,
laws! O, laws!”

Clarence reeled and fell heavily against the corn-crib, as if some one
had unexpectedly dealt him a stunning blow.



CHAPTER XIII.

HOW CLARENCE FOUND IT OUT.


Clarence and his brother had not been under their uncle’s roof more
than two or three hours before they found that they had been sadly
mistaken in regard to some opinions they had formed, and Marshall
was honest enough to acknowledge the fact, at least to himself. The
“country bumpkins,” as Clarence had sneeringly called his cousins,
proved to be educated young gentlemen, who, before the day was over,
put their dashing city relatives to the blush on more than one
occasion, and forced them to confess that all the knowledge in the
world was not to be gained by simply travelling about Europe. Don and
Bert exerted themselves to the utmost to entertain their visitors,
and so did all the other members of the family; and they succeeded so
well that Marshall told himself that perhaps his forced sojourn in the
country would not turn out to be so very unpleasant after all. But
Clarence, being entirely out of his element, was homesick already, and
consequently could take no interest in anything. He cared little for
such amusements and pastimes as were to be found in a happy cultivated
family circle. He preferred a game of billiards or cards with some boon
companions, and these he could not have so long as he remained under
his uncle’s roof.

The day was a long and dreary one to him. He played a few times on his
flute while his cousin Lucy accompanied him on the piano; spent an hour
or two in walking about the plantation; listened patiently, but without
much interest, while Don and Bert talked of the various exciting and
amusing incidents that had happened in the neighborhood during the war;
and as soon as night came and he could find an opportunity to do so,
he slipped away by himself. He wanted to be alone, so that he could
think over the plans he had formed for bringing his visit to a speedy
termination, and make up his mind what sort of a letter he would write
to his mother.

“There’s no fun to be seen here,” said Clarence, as he drew a cigar
from one pocket and a match-safe from another. “I can see that with
half an eye, and I can’t endure the thought of staying here for six
long months. I’d do almost anything to raise money enough to take me
away from here this very night. Now, what can I say to mother, in the
letter I intend to write to her before I go to bed, that will induce
her to send me fifty dollars without an hour’s delay?”

As Clarence asked himself this question he lighted his cigar, and
finding that a fence ran across his path, and that he was at such a
distance from the house that he could enjoy his smoke without fear of
interruption, he leaned on the top rail and went off into a reverie,
from which he was aroused a few minutes later by the sound of voices
and footsteps. Hastily taking his cigar from his mouth and putting it
behind him, he looked up and saw a couple of figures advancing toward
him along the fence. It was so dark that he could not see who they
were, but it flashed upon him that perhaps they were Don and Bert, who
were out searching for him. With an exclamation indicative of great
annoyance and vexation, he was about to throw away his cigar, when
some words spoken in a suppressed tone of voice fell upon his ear and
arrested his hand.

By this time the approaching figures were so close to him that Clarence
made out that they were a man and a boy; and from their conversation he
learned that they had come there to dig up a barrel. Clarence caught
every word they uttered, and could scarcely restrain his astonishment
when he heard the man say:

“He done a good thing fur us, ole Jordan did, when he run away without
tellin’ his missus whar that bar’l was hid. Now, Dannie, let’s try
right here fust. Ye begin, kase yer the youngest, an’ I’ll set down an’
smoke an’ watch ye till yer tired. Now, bar in mind that yer workin’
fur eighty thousand dollars! Throw it out with the fust shovelful, an’
I’ll give ye half!”

Clarence almost jumped from the ground when he heard this, and,
like the quick-witted fellow he was, he comprehended the situation
perfectly; but we ought to say that he had something besides the
conversation to which he had just listened, to aid him in reaching
the conclusions he so suddenly formed. During the day his aunt had
shown him several articles of value that had long been heir-looms in
the Gordon family, and explained to him how she had managed to keep
them secreted during the war. The family silver had been buried again
and again--every time, in fact, that there was the least rumor of an
advance being made by either army--and the work, for the most part,
had been done by some of the negroes on the plantation.

“A good many people lost property in that way which they never
recovered,” said his aunt. “The negroes, having concealed it, ran away
with the Federals without leaving any clue to the hiding-place of the
valuables, and so they were never found.”

Clarence had not thought much of this at the time, but he thought of
it now, and by connecting it with the words that had just been uttered
in his hearing, he arrived at a tolerably fair solution of what would
otherwise have been a deep mystery to him. His aunt had not said so
in so many words, but he inferred that she had lost valuable property
in the way she had explained. Clarence was sure of it now, and he was
almost overwhelmed by the discovery he had made.

“Eighty thousand dollars!” said he, to himself. “It must be in money,
and in gold and silver, too, for my aunt says that all the wealthy
rebels took the precaution to exchange their bank-notes for specie at
the first beginning of the trouble between the North and South. I hope
to goodness they will find it. If they do, they can rest assured that
they’ll not get away with it all.”

The few seconds that Clarence passed in meditating and soliloquizing
in this way, were employed by Dan in getting ready for work, and by
Godfrey in picking out a comfortable place to sit down, and in filling
and lighting his pipe. Having discarded his coat and hat, Dan threw
out two or three shovelfuls of earth; but it was heavy work, and Dan,
who got tired very easily, could not help asking himself how many such
shovelfuls he would have to throw out before the coveted barrel could
be brought to light. He told his father that ten acres was a great
deal of ground, and Godfrey, to encourage him, reminded him that there
were eighty thousand dollars in gold and silver buried somewhere about
there, and that they must have it if they were obliged to dig up the
whole state of Mississippi.

It was while Dan was looking all about the field to see how large it
was, that he discovered the lighted end of Clarence Gordon’s cigar
shining through the darkness. Clarence was leaning half way over
the fence in his eagerness to hear all that was said, and smoking
furiously, too much interested and excited to remember that the little
coal of fire on the end of his Havana, which glowed brightly for a
moment and then faded almost entirely away, as he drew in and puffed
out the smoke, could be seen by the parties he was watching, should
either of them chance to look that way. We know that they did look that
way, both of them, and that half a minute later the field was deserted,
and Clarence was standing alone beside the fence.

The boy was utterly amazed at the haste with which Godfrey and his son
took themselves out of sight, and all unconscious of the fact that
he was the cause of their alarm, he drew himself quickly down beside
a tree that stood in the fence corner, put his cigar behind him and
looked all around, expecting to see some member of his uncle’s family
or one of his servants approaching. But there was no one in sight, and
after listening and watching for a few minutes, Clarence climbed over
into the field to see what progress the two prowlers had made with
their work.

The hope that they might have uncovered the barrel was very
short-lived, for he found that Dan had made just no headway at all. The
hole he had dug could have been covered up with a hat.

“I wonder what in the world it was that frightened them away,” said
Clarence, in deep perplexity. “They were frightened, of course, or
they would not have run as they did after holding that whispered
consultation. I can’t see or hear anything alarming, and I do wish they
had stayed long enough to dig up the barrel. Eighty thousand dollars!
If it is to be found I must have some of it. If I knew where I could
find a shovel, I’d dig awhile myself. But no matter. They will probably
come back again; if not to-night then some other night, and I shall be
on hand when the barrel is found, no matter if I don’t get a wink of
sleep for the next six months. Hello! what’s this?” he added, as his
fingers came in contact with the pipe Godfrey had dropped.

He held it up between him and the sky, and when he saw what it was,
was about to throw it away, when he thought of something. He held the
pipe suspended in the air a moment, then put it into his pocket and
walked back to his hiding-place again. He waited and watched there
for nearly an hour, hoping that Godfrey and his son would return, but
being satisfied at last that they had no intention of coming back that
night, and fearing that if he remained away from the house any longer,
somebody would be out to see what had become of him, he pitched the
stump of his cigar into the bushes and walked away from the fence.

“Now, this is just what I am going to do,” said Clarence, who had
already thought the matter over and determined upon his course of
action. “I’m going to find out who those fellows are, if there is any
possible way for me to do it, and I am going to say to them: ‘Look
here, boys; havers!’ If they say ‘Yes,’ well and good. If they say
‘No,’ I’d like to see them get a cent out of those eighty thousand
dollars. I wish it was morning. I shan’t sleep a wink to-night.”

The first person he met as he entered the hall was his aunt, who seemed
to be waiting for him. She asked him where he had been passing the
evening, and detecting the smell of tobacco smoke, told him what he had
been doing. Clarence pleaded guilty, but said that he was homesick and
had the blues; and when he got that way, nothing did him so much good
as a lonely walk and a cigar. But he would give up the cigar now. He
would not smoke any more.

After a short time spent with the family in music and conversation,
the boys all went up stairs together, and Don and Bert stopped for
a few minutes in their cousins’ room. Clarence thought this a good
opportunity to find out some things he wanted to know, so he began
questioning Don at once.

“Whom do you visit with here?” said he. “Who is your nearest neighbor?”

“O, we have a large circle of friends,” replied Don. “I don’t wonder
you think it very lonely now; but wait until you have had a chance
to make acquaintances, and then tell me what you think about it. Our
nearest neighbor, as you go up the river, is Colonel Packard. He has
two lively boys whom I think you will like. In fact I don’t see how you
could help it, for everybody likes them. Our nearest neighbor, as you
go down the river, is Godfrey Evans.”

“He’s a good one,” said Bert.

“We don’t have much to do with him or his family,” continued Don, “and
you will know the reason why when you see them. We give David our dogs
to break, because he is a first-rate hand, and we want to help him
along. He’s got something in him, David has, but his father and his
older brother, Dan, don’t amount to much.”

“Dan!” thought Clarence, becoming highly excited at once, “I believe
I am on the right track already. The man who was digging in the field
called the boy that was with him ‘Dannie.’” Then believing that it
might be well for him to know something about Godfrey before he sought
an interview with him, he said aloud:

“How far does this man Evans live from here, and what is his business?”

“He lives about a mile down the river, and has no occupation at all,”
answered Don. “He used to be in good circumstances, but having lost
everything he possessed, except his land, he is too disheartened to go
to work and put himself on his feet again. He spends a little of his
time in hunting, and a good deal more in grumbling at his hard luck. He
might make a good living for his family with his rifle, if he felt so
disposed, for game is abundant, and he is a good hunter and a capital
shot; but he is too lazy to follow even that, the laziest of all
occupations.”

After a few more questions Clarence learned so much of Godfrey’s
history, and of his disposition and habits, that he began to think that
he was already well acquainted with him; and besides Don described
him so accurately that he could not fail to recognise him if he once
met him. This much had been gained, and now Clarence would have given
something if he could have learned more about the property belonging
to the family that was buried during the war; but, after thinking a
moment, he decided that it would be better for him to say nothing at
all on this point. He did not want to arouse anybody’s suspicions, and
besides, Godfrey Evans, when he found him, could tell all he desired to
know. He wanted to go to bed now to think over the good fortune that
seemed almost within his grasp, so he began to yawn as if he were very
sleepy (if his country cousins had been guilty of such an act he would
have pronounced them boors at once), and Don and Bert, taking the hint,
said good-night and left the room.

The night was as long and dreary to Clarence as the day had been, but
for a different reason. He was impatient to be up and doing, and it
seemed to him that the morning would never come. He heard the little
clock on the mantel strike every hour from ten to five, and then he
jumped up because he could stay in bed no longer. He was not called
to breakfast at six o’clock, as Marshall had predicted, but the meal
was ready at seven, and after they had sat down to it Clarence, to
his great disgust, found that Don and Bert had been laying out some
very elaborate plans for the entertainment of himself and brother. In
the first place it was their intention to spend two or three days in
riding about the country, in order to give their city relatives some
idea of the manner in which the people in the South lived, and also to
make them acquainted with all the young people in the neighborhood who
were worth knowing. Then, of course the boys would call on them, and
by the time their visits had been returned, they might begin to look
for brant. When they began to come down from the North, the shooting
season was close at hand; and if Clarence and Marshall liked to hunt,
they would get a party of good fellows together, and go down to the
shooting-box and spend a week there. When they were tired of that, they
would go ’coon-hunting; and when they had seen all the sport they cared
to see in that way, they would trap and shoot some turkeys, or drive
the ridges for deer.

“Yes,” thought Clarence, while he listened, “it is all very fine, no
doubt; but if you think you are going to use up my time in that way,
you have reckoned without your host. Amusement indeed! What pleasure
would I see in riding about the country calling on these natives? What
do I care for your deer or turkeys or your shooting-box? I can’t go, at
least not to-day, for I have business of my own to attend to.”

And he didn’t go either; and, what was more, he gave such reasons for
declining that his cousins, although somewhat surprised, readily let
him off. He was much too homesick to be any company during a ride, he
said, and all he wanted was to go off somewhere and be alone. He would
be himself in a day or two, and when he felt more like mingling with
people, he would be quite at the service of his cousins, Don and Bert.
The latter expressed their regrets, but readily accepted his excuses,
and Clarence, after making some inquiries of Don, calculated to draw
out information on a few points on which he wished to be posted, went
up to his room to prepare himself for his interview with Godfrey Evans.
When he came down again he wore a neat hunting-suit, and carried a
light Ballard rifle on his shoulder. Don, who met him in the hall,
opened his eyes in surprise, and went into ecstacies over the handsome
little breech-loader which Clarence presented for his inspection.

“I didn’t know that you city fellows ever had an opportunity to use
such things as this,” said Don, bringing the weapon to his shoulder,
and glancing along the clean, brown barrel.

“O, yes, we do,” said Clarence. “Rifle-shooting is becoming quite
fashionable now-a-days, and I used to spend an hour or two every
evening at the gallery. I can make forty-five out of a possible fifty
almost any time.”

This was Greek to Don, who, however, did not ask any questions, for
Clarence had so pompous a way of giving information and looked so
surprised when any one asked him to explain his meaning, that Don did
not like to show his ignorance. He handed the rifle back to his cousin
and saw him walk out of the house, pass through the gate, and turn down
the road that led to Godfrey Evans’s cabin.

We have already told what sort of a reception he met at Godfrey’s
hands, and have also described what he did to bring himself to the
notice of that gentleman. He knew Godfrey as soon as he put his eyes
on him. He studied the man’s face closely, and being satisfied with
the opinion he formed, easily induced him to accompany him into the
woods. He wanted to talk freely with him without running any risk of
being overheard, but he hardly knew how to begin the conversation.
He wanted to make a friend of his new acquaintance and gain his
confidence, and in order to do that, he must be careful how he went to
work. The pipe Godfrey had lost the night before, and which Clarence
had brought with him in his game-bag, served him a good turn. In
attempting to produce the cigars, he accidentally pulled out the pipe
also. Godfrey recognised it, and so amazed was he to see his property,
which he imagined he had lost beyond recovery, in the possession
of an entire stranger, that he betrayed himself at once. After that
it was no trouble for Clarence to open conversation with him about
the buried treasure, and neither did he experience any difficulty in
persuading Godfrey to accept him as an assistant in the place of Dan.
Clarence learned to his great surprise and amusement that he had been
the innocent cause of Godfrey’s hasty stampede on the previous night,
and it was all he could do to refrain from laughing outright at the
man’s description of the “haunt” he had seen. We have also told what
arrangements the worthy pair made in regard to prosecuting the search
and dividing the spoils after the barrel was found, and we know that
when the interview was ended Clarence went home happy in the belief
that he would soon be a rich man, and that no one under his uncle’s
roof, not even his brother Marshall, would be the wiser for it. No one
was the wiser for it then, but there was one who found out all about it
a few hours later, and who interfered with his project in a manner so
unexpected and effectual, that he not only put a stop to all efforts
to find the money, but also came very near driving all the negroes off
the plantation, and causing General Gordon the greatest trouble and
inconvenience.



CHAPTER XIV.

DON’S EXPERIMENT.


When Clarence reached home after his interview with Godfrey Evans, he
found the house deserted by all the family save his aunt Mary. His
brother, his uncle and all his cousins had gone off in the carriage to
spend the day in riding about the country, and Clarence was left to
amuse himself in any way he thought proper. He knew the time would not
hang heavily on his hands, for he had much to think about. He wanted
to make up his mind just what he would do when he came into possession
of his share of the eighty thousand dollars. The thought that possibly
he might never get a cent of it--that perhaps there was no barrel
hidden in the potato-patch--did not once enter his head. The hope that
it might be there, and that he might be fortunate enough to find it,
was so strong that it became belief, and Clarence already considered
himself as good as rich.

Under pretence of writing a letter to his mother to tell her of his
safe arrival at the plantation, he went up stairs, where he passed the
rest of the afternoon. He made a very hasty toilet, spent about five
minutes in writing the letter--he did not ask his mother for money--as
he had expected to do--and then gave himself up to his meditations. He
was sorry when his brother and the rest came back from their ride, for
after that he could no longer make a hermit of himself. He was obliged
to go down and mingle with the family, which he did with a very bad
grace.

While they were at the supper-table something was said about the
letter he had written, and Don volunteered to take it to the office
that very night, so that it might go out with the first mail that left
the landing, and requested Clarence to accompany him on horseback--an
invitation which the latter, owing to his agreement with Godfrey Evans,
was obliged to decline. So Don said he would go alone, and promised to
be back shortly after dark, and in time to practise some duets with
Clarence on the flute.

“Duets!” thought Clarence, in great disgust. “Some people have queer
ideas of enjoyment. Music is getting to be the biggest bore in the
world to me since I came here, and I wish I had never learned it. If
anybody will give me two cents, I’ll take that flute of mine and smash
it over a chair. It cost me thirty-five dollars, too. I can spend my
time to-night much more profitably than in practising duets. What if we
should happen to alight on the barrel the very first time trying? Whew!
It is too exciting to think about!”

Don rode down to the landing and back alone, reaching the barn about
half an hour after dark. Finding that the hostler was not there to take
care of his pony, he attended to the animal himself, working in the
dark, as there was no lantern nearer than the house, and he did not
want to take time to go after it. He hung up his saddle and bridle, and
was about to close the barn-doors, when he happened to look toward the
house and saw a figure darting along the carriage-way, making use of
every tree and clump of bushes to conceal his movements, and stopping
now and then to look about, as if he were afraid of being seen by
somebody. Don took just one glance at him, and then drawing back behind
the door, laid hold of a pitchfork that was always kept standing in the
corner. Thieves visited the plantation now and then after dark, and
Don thought he had discovered one of them.

“That fellow is up to something,” said he, as he tightened his grasp
on the pitchfork, “and if I keep an eye on him, perhaps I shall find
out where our chickens and hams go so mysteriously. It must be some
one who is acquainted with the dogs, or they would have raised a fuss
before this time. Let him pick up something, if he dares, and we’ll see
how quickly he will drop it, when he finds the tines of this pitchfork
within an inch of his nose.”

Fairly trembling with excitement Don took off his hat, peeped
cautiously around the edge of the door, and watched the motions of the
supposed thief. The latter did not pick up anything, however, as Don
hoped he would, but took his stand at the corner of the barn, almost
within reach of the boy’s hand, and leaning against the building,
looked down the road as if he were waiting for somebody. Then Don saw,
to his great surprise, that it was his cousin Clarence. He was about to
step out and speak to him, when he noticed that Clarence held a lighted
cigar in his hand.

“Perhaps I had better stay where I am,” thought Don. “If I go out
there, he’ll think I have been watching him and playing the part of a
spy; and then if father or mother should happen to say anything to him
about his smoking, he would accuse me of telling it. I wish he would go
somewhere else and enjoy his cigar, and let me go into the house!”

While Don was soliloquising in this way, Clarence suddenly darted off
as if he had just thought of something, and making his way to one
of the evergreens in the yard, drew from beneath its low, spreading
branches a couple of shovels, with which he again approached the barn.
Don looked on in great wonder, and, forgetting the resolution he had
just formed, was about to reveal himself to his cousin, when the
creaking of the gate announced a new arrival. It proved to be Godfrey
Evans, who was at once taken to task by Clarence for his long delay.
To Don’s amazement the two seemed as familiar as though they had long
been acquainted. The question, Where had Clarence met Godfrey before,
and what in the world could he have to do with that worthless man?
was hardly formed in Don’s mind before it was answered, not fully, of
course, but still in a way to increase his surprise a thousandfold, and
to give him, besides, a pretty good idea of the situation. He overheard
every word of the conversation that took place between them and found
that they had met there by appointment; that it was their purpose to
dig up a barrel of gold and silver that was supposed to be buried in
the potato-patch; and that Godfrey was very much afraid to undertake
the task, for fear that old Jordan’s ghost might appear and frighten
him away. Don also inferred, from something Godfrey said, that he had
already seen the ghost once, and that a second view would be altogether
too much for him. After spending five minutes in discussing the matter,
Clarence succeeded in infusing a little courage into Godfrey, who
accepted one of the shovels and led the way towards the potato-patch.

When the two had disappeared in the darkness, Don set the pitchfork
back in its place, and drew a long breath--the first full inspiration
he had taken for the last ten minutes. He had been so close to the
conspirators all the time that he hardly dared to move a finger, for
fear that he should attract their attention.

“Well, I wonder if anybody ever heard of such a thing as this before!”
said he, drawing his handkerchief across his forehead. “If I didn’t
have the evidence of my own eyes and ears, I shouldn’t believe it.
Who told them about the barrel, I wonder! I’ve heard mother say that
old Jordan buried a lot of silver-ware, such as knives, forks and
spoons, for her during the war, but I thought she had got the most of
it back again. I never heard her say she lost a whole barrelful, and
I don’t believe she did. The only money that was ever buried on this
plantation, was fifteen hundred dollars in gold, and that was hidden
under the front steps of the old house. I’ve seen the place a hundred
times. But eighty thousand dollars! My stars! I don’t believe father
ever had so much money at one time in his life. But suppose it was
there, and Clarence should find it; it isn’t possible that he would
be dishonest enough to keep it. I shouldn’t like to think that my own
cousin was so great a rascal. Hold on! I’ve just thought of a trick
that will beat the hollow pumpkin all to pieces.”

Talking thus to himself, Don carefully closed and locked the
stable-door, and with noiseless footsteps stole along the fence until
he arrived opposite the place where Clarence and Godfrey were at work
in the field. He could see them plainly, for they were but a few yards
from the fence, and as he watched them it was all he could do to keep
from giving a few dismal groans, just to see what effect the sound
would have upon them. The only thing that restrained him was the fear
that by so doing he would interfere with the plans he had suddenly
formed, and which he intended to put into operation the very next day.
He did not want to frighten Godfrey away from the potato-patch just
then. He wanted him to come again the next night, and by that time he
would be ready to show him something. He stayed in the fence-corner for
half an hour; and then knowing that if he remained there any longer,
his absence would be certain to attract the attention of the family,
and perhaps lead to more questions from his father and mother than he
would care to answer, he arose and stole away toward the house.

“Have you seen anything of Clarence?” was the first question his cousin
Marshall asked him, after he had distributed the mail he brought from
the post-office.

“Yes, I saw him. He’s out there,” was the reply.

“Out there!” replied the general. “Out where?”

“Out near the barn when I first saw him,” said Don; and to himself he
added: “I suppose I ought to tell now where he was the last time I
saw him, but that would never do. I don’t want to get my cousin into
trouble, and neither do I want to spoil all my fun. Won’t I have things
fixed for Godfrey to-morrow night, though? I’ll scare him so that he
will never put his foot on the plantation again!”

“I don’t wonder that the time hangs heavily on his hands,” continued
the general. “Our quiet country life probably has no charms for him,
and he is lonely and homesick.”

This seemed to be the verdict of all the members of the family, who,
being willing to make due allowances and give their city relative
all the privileges he demanded, said no more about his absence. They
welcomed him very cordially when he came in, two hours later, but asked
him no questions. Indeed, Clarence did not wait to be questioned. He
went to bed almost immediately, and Don soon followed him.

The next day the general went off somewhere on business, and the
boys were left to amuse themselves in any way they pleased. Bert
and Marshall got into one of the canoes and set off to visit the
shooting-box. They asked Don and Clarence to go with them; but the
latter could not see that there was any fun in riding a mile or two in
a leaky dug-out for the purpose of looking at an old shantee in the
woods, and Don had other business on hand, so neither of them accepted
the invitation. Clarence found the most pleasure in getting away by
himself and thinking about the fortune of which he expected very soon
to be the master, while Don wanted to spend at least a portion of the
forenoon in getting ready to receive Godfrey Evans when he came to the
potato-patch that night; and as they both desired to be alone, they did
not in any way interfere with each other.

As soon as Clarence could find an excuse for so doing, he went up
stairs to his room; and Don, being left to himself, managed to secure
a rusty key which hung on a nail in the kitchen, and to effect an
entrance into a long-unused room in the rear of the barn; and he
performed both these necessary operations without attracting the
attention of any one.

As soon as he had locked the door behind him Don breathed easier, and
stopped to look about him. The room had once belonged to old Jordan,
the runaway negro, who had served as the general’s hostler in the days
gone by. Being a very faithful and a favorite servant, he had received
many favors, and was also allowed the privilege of a room to himself.
The apartment looked just as it did on the day the sable occupant
deserted it. Not a thing had been disturbed, and Don was the only one
who had entered the room since the morning following the day on which
the levee was cut. When Mrs. Gordon became satisfied that old Jordan
had run away, she gave instructions that the room should be closed
and locked and the window nailed down, so that nobody could enter it.
Jordan would be sure to come back some day, she said, and when he did,
he would find his property secure, and his room waiting for him. But
the years had gone by, the old fellow had never been heard from, and
everybody began to think he was dead.

The first thing Don did, after locking the door behind him, was to
take from his pocket a small bundle, which being undone proved to
contain a brush and a box of blacking. His next move was to open a huge
chest that stood at the head of the bed. In it he found four articles
he needed--a suit of clothes neatly folded up; a gaudily-colored
handkerchief; a shining plug hat, that had once been the property of
the general; and a pair of heavy plantation shoes, like those which
used to be so extensively manufactured in New England under the name
of “russets.” The fifth article Don needed to complete the disguise he
was about to assume was a walking-stick, and that stood in the corner
behind the chest.

Having selected everything he wanted, Don quickly divested himself of
his outer clothing, and in two minutes more had put on old Jordan’s
Sunday suit, which fitted him well enough for all practical purposes.
The shoes were much too large, but by putting a roll of paper in the
toe of each, he found that he could walk in them very well. He wrapped
the handkerchief about his head, leaving the ends hanging down behind,
and taking care to cover up all his hair so that no one could see it,
and placed the plug hat on the top of it. Then the blacking brush, and
the three-cornered piece of looking glass that was nailed against the
wall, came into use, and in a few minutes more Don had made such a
change in his appearance that his own father would not have recognised
him.

“I wish I had some of that burnt cork, or whatever it is, that the
minstrels use to blacken their faces,” said the boy, glancing into the
little mirror after he had finished his work. “My white skin shows
through almost too much. But, after all, who cares for that? It will
be dark when I present myself to Godfrey, and I shall have no need to
be so very particular about my hands and face. I say! this is going
to a good deal of trouble for a little fun, isn’t it? No matter; if I
can see Godfrey run as he did on the night he saw the pumpkin with the
lighted candle in it, I shall be well repaid.”

Don could remember old Jordan very well, for, although he was young
when the latter went away, his peculiar actions and odd style of
dress had made a lasting impression on him. Besides, he had heard him
described time and again; and his sayings had been so often repeated,
and his style of locomotion so frequently imitated by those who
knew him, that Don thought he should have no difficulty in passing
himself off for old Jordan. Now that he was dressed and ready for the
performance, he thought it would be a great pity to assume his own
character again before he had tested his disguise.

This thought had no sooner suggested itself to him than he prepared
to act upon it. Everything favored him. The door of the room, opening
as it did into a narrow passage-way that led from the barn into the
corn-crib, was out of sight of anybody who might happen to be on the
barn floor. The only difficult thing for him to do, was to get out of
the passage-way without being seen. That being accomplished he did not
care who saw him--provided, of course, that the members of the family
kept out of the way--for no one could tell where he came from.

“But I must first make sure of a way of retreat,” thought Don, as he
looked about the room for something with which to draw the nails that
held the window. “I must get back into this room, somehow, and it may
not be quite safe to get back the same way I go out.”

But Don could not find a hammer or anything else to draw the nails
with, so he broke them off by prying them up and down with the end of
his walking-stick. Then he raised the window, placing a stick under
it to keep it open, and unhooked the shutter which fitted tightly
enough to remain closed, even when it was not fastened. After that he
looked into the mirror again, touched up one or two white spots on his
hands and face, grasped his walking-stick, and slipped out into the
passage-way. Locking the door he put the key into his pocket, and moved
cautiously down the passage-way until he could look into the barn.

There was no one there except the hostler, and he was busy and his
back was turned toward Don. Moving with noiseless footsteps, the boy
succeeded in walking out into the middle of the floor before he was
discovered. He did not expect to be recognised by the hostler, for the
latter was a new hand who had never been acquainted with Jordan; but
there were some negroes at work in the field close by who knew the old
fellow he was now personating, and toward them Don directed his course.

The hostler looked up from his work when he heard the sound of
footsteps behind him, and seeing a strange negro approaching, spoke
to him very civilly; but Don took no notice of him. He was playing
ghost now, and ghosts did not speak to anybody--at least he had never
heard that they did. Walking straight out of the door he turned toward
the place where the negroes were at work, and had not made many steps
before one of them discovered him. He straightened up quickly, shaded
his eyes with his hand, and said a few words in a low tone to his
companions, who also turned and looked at Don. They gazed fixedly at
him for a moment, and then broke out into a chorus of greeting.

“Bress my soul an’ body, if dar ain’t ole uncle Jordan!” they exclaimed
in concert.

“It’s all right,” thought Don. “If they can’t recognise me in the
daytime, I am sure Godfrey Evans will not know me in the dark. I
believe if I should go into the house I could fool everybody there.”

Scarcely able to control himself, so great was his desire to laugh,
Don kept straight on toward the negroes, who had dropped their hoes
and were hurrying up to shake hands with him. His silence seemed to
surprise them greatly. They stopped short, looked curiously at him
first, then suspiciously, and after exchanging a few words that Don
could not hear, began backing out of his way.

“’Tain’t ole Jordan, nudder,” suddenly exclaimed one of the negroes.

“O, hush yer noise, boy,” said another. “Don’t I know dot ole white
coat, an’ dot plug hat dot ole marse guv him on dot Christmas day, jest
’fore he went away to de wah? Yes, I does.”

“No odds,” replied the one who had first spoken. “’Tain’t ole Jordan.
He’s dead, an’ dis is his haunt.” These words were all that were needed
to frighten the superstitious field-hands almost out of their senses.
They did not go into a panic and run, as Don hoped they would, but
retreated out of his way and watched him from a distance, looking at
one another now and then, and shaking their heads and acting altogether
as if they were at their wits’ end. Don took a short turn about the
field--he did not dare to stay out there very long for fear of being
seen by somebody in the house--and then turned toward the barn again.

As soon as the corn-crib hid him from the gaze of the negroes, he
straightened up and ran swiftly to the window that opened into old
Jordan’s room. Throwing back the shutter he scrambled through as
quickly as he could, and shutting himself in, laid down on old Jordan’s
bed and shook all over with suppressed laughter. He heard the footsteps
and the voices of the negroes as they passed around the barn, looking
for him; and the few words of their conversation which he overheard
satisfied him that his experiment had been a decided success. He
must have imitated old Jordan perfectly to be taken for him in broad
daylight.



CHAPTER XV.

A JOKE THAT WAS NO JOKE.


We have already described the other tests to which Don put his disguise
during the forenoon, and we know that every one who saw him believed
him to be old Jordan’s ghost. Godfrey, especially, was greatly alarmed,
and Don had the satisfaction of seeing him run, which was a sight worth
going miles to behold. The magical manner in which he appeared and
vanished, was very bewildering to all who witnessed it; but it would
have been no mystery at all, had they been aware that the window that
led into old Jordan’s room was unfastened. As they could see nothing of
Don after he went behind the corn-crib, they naturally concluded that
he had vanished into thin air. In no other way could they account for
his disappearance.

Don had wasted a good deal of time in these experiments, and now the
ringing of the dinner-bell admonished him that he must pull off his
disguise, and hurry back to the house. Another thing that warned him
to make haste, was the knowledge that he had thrown the negroes into a
state of great excitement and alarm. He was afraid they might tell his
parents what they had seen, and that would bring about an investigation.

“It would never do to be caught in the act,” thought Don, as he hastily
pulled off old Jordan’s clothes and bundled them into the chest. “I
don’t know what father would say to me. But didn’t Godfrey run, though?
I declare it seems selfish for me to enjoy all this fun by myself. I
wish I had some good fellow to help me laugh!”

Don stopped for a few minutes to indulge in a very hearty but silent
fit of merriment, and then having put on his clothes, and wiped the
black off his hands and face with a damp cloth which he had taken the
precaution to bring with him, he glanced about the room to make sure
that he had left everything just as he had found it, and went out,
locking the door behind him. He reached the house and made his way
to his room without being seen, and having performed a hasty toilet,
went down to the dining-room in time to learn that the measures he had
taken to frighten Godfrey Evans, had succeeded almost too well. One
of the servant girls was standing at the door showing a good deal of
the whites of her eyes, and looking altogether as if she were highly
excited about something.

“It’s all nonsense, Jane,” Don heard his mother say.

“No odds, missus,” replied the girl. “Sam say he can’t hitch up dem
hosses no mo’. He wouldn’t go nigh dat barn, he say, fur no money in
dis broad world. He done seed it, suah.”

Don, well knowing what it was that the girl referred to, and hardly
able to control himself, so great was his desire to laugh, glanced
about the table to see what the family thought about it. They were all
there, and their faces expressed the greatest astonishment. Even the
general elevated his eye-brows, and turned about in his chair to look
at the girl. Don sat down in his place and tried to look as surprised
as the rest did; and then recollecting that he had yet seen or heard
nothing to be surprised at, he asked:

“What’s the matter?”

“Why, mother just sent out word to Sam to hitch up the horses,” said
Bert, “and he sent back word that he couldn’t think of it.”

“Why not?” inquired Don.

“O, because he’s got it into his head that there’s something out
there--something that looks like old Jordan.”

“Never mind, Jane. I will look into the matter after dinner,” said the
general.

The girl disappeared, and the family being left alone, devoted
themselves to the viands before them and to discussing the strange
incidents that were reported to have happened at the barn during the
forenoon. Don found that, for a wonder, the story of his exploits
had been told without the exaggeration common in such cases, but, to
keep up appearances, he was obliged to feign ignorance, and inquire
particularly into things. Bert and his mother declared that it was all
moonshine--that the hostler had not seen anything; but the general
was pretty well convinced that something had happened, and that an
investigation would not be out of place. It was a wonder that no one
suspected Don, and perhaps the reason was because he looked so innocent.

The investigation came off immediately after dinner, but nothing new
was brought to light. The hostler told his story in a straightforward
manner and produced his witnesses to prove what he said; and so
positive were they all that they had seen Jordan’s haunt about the barn
but a few hours before, that the general began to think that perhaps
the old fellow had returned after his long absence, but, for some
reason which he could not explain, was keeping himself as close as
possible. The general tried to laugh the matter off at first, but soon
found that it was much too serious for that; and his face assumed an
expression of trouble and anxiety when he found that the field hands,
one and all, had sent him word by the hostler that when night came,
they would call on him for the money that was due them.

“I am really afraid I have made a mess of it,” thought Don, when he
heard this. “I had no idea that I was going to scare everybody so
badly, and I wish now I hadn’t done it. No matter, it will soon be over
now. I’ll frighten Godfrey to-night, if he comes after that barrel, and
then I’ll never play old Jordan again!”

The general looked grave and seemed greatly perplexed, and so did Mrs.
Gordon; while the boys, Don among the rest, declared that there must
be some explanation for the strange things that had happened in the
barn that morning, and spent the rest of the day in trying to clear
away the mystery. They looked in every place, except the one in which
they would have been the most likely to find some clue to aid them in
their search, and hunted for everything except the right one. They all
believed now--all except Don, of course--that old Jordan had come back,
and they looked everywhere for him, except in his room. They knew he
could not have gone in there if he had been so disposed, for the door
was locked.

Night came at last, and so did all the negroes employed on the
plantation, who asked for their money. The general, knowing that it
would be of no use to argue with them, declined to pay them off until
the year for which they were hired was ended; but he promised that, if
they saw the apparition again and would show it to him, he would settle
with them at once and let them all go. Don breathed easier after that.
He was afraid that his propensity for mischief was about to occasion
his father great inconvenience, and he was glad that the trouble could
be averted without a confession on his part. He told himself that his
father would never see the apparition. He would take precious good care
to avoid that.

Don did not put on old Jordan’s clothes that night, because Godfrey did
not come to the potato-patch as he had agreed. Clarence waited and
watched for him until nine o’clock, and as soon as he could slip away
from his relatives the next morning, he went down to Godfrey’s cabin
to see what had kept him at home. Don followed him at a distance, and
saw that his cousin held a long and earnest conversation with Godfrey,
and that he seemed to be very much elated about something when he
came back. By putting these two things together, Don arrived at the
conclusion that Godfrey would be on hand that night, and so he was. Don
happened to be on the watch when he went into the summer-house; and
knowing that Godfrey would not come so far unless he intended to go
the rest of the way, he ran back to the house to get ready for him. It
was certainly provoking, when he was in so great a hurry, to find the
kitchen occupied by two servants, who would surely see him if he took
the key to Jordan’s room down from its nail, and who, besides, would be
certain to speak about it. They must be got out of the room somehow,
and there was no time to waste.

“Jane,” said Don, suddenly, “did you hear mother calling you?”

“No, sar,” replied the girl, jumping up.

“I didn’t either,” was Don’s mental comment, as she hurried
away. “Ben,” he added, turning to the old negro who sat in the
chimney-corner, “what did old preacher Hudson want of you just a few
minutes ago?”

“Sar?” exclaimed Ben. “I didn’t see no preacher Hudson to-day, sar!”

“Why, wasn’t he out at the gate just now calling for you?”

“Mebbe so, sar,” replied Ben, rising and picking up his hat, “but I
didn’t see him. Mebbe he’s dar now.”

“I don’t think he is,” said Don, to himself, “but it will not hurt you
to go out and see; and in the meantime----”

Don put the key into his pocket as soon as Ben was out of sight, and
lost no time in making his way to the barn. At the door he met the
hostler.

“Time to lock up now, Mr. Don,” said the latter, “but I’se a little
jubus ’bout dat barn, sar. Yes, sar, I’se a little jubus!”

“Well, then, go back to your quarters and I will lock the doors,”
replied Don.

The hostler, glad to be relieved of so disagreeable a duty, turned and
went off, and Don, after closing all the doors, and locking all except
one, hurried into old Jordan’s room. It was the work of but a few
minutes to put on the negro’s clothes and black his face and hands;
and this being done, he seized a shovel, and stealing out of the barn,
climbed the fence and ran across the potato-patch. About thirty yards
from the fence he stopped, and crouching down close to the ground,
waited to see what was going to happen. Presently he heard cautious
footsteps, and a few seconds later two heads appeared above the top
rail of the fence.

“There they are,” thought Don, his heart beating rapidly with
excitement. “Now I’ll see if either of them has courage enough to come
over the fence after they find out I am here.”

As these thoughts passed through Don’s mind he arose to his feet, and
driving his shovel into the ground began throwing out the dirt so
rapidly, that in a very short space of time he had dug a hole as large
as a moderate workman would have been able to dig in ten minutes. He
worked till the perspiration started out all over him, but kept his
eyes fastened on the two heads, which could be seen plainly above the
fence. He knew that the owners of the heads heard the sound of the
shovel, and that they were listening to it and talking about it. They
stood there at the fence so long that Don began to think they were too
badly frightened to come any nearer.

“I am afraid I haven’t managed this thing quite right,” thought Don.
“I ought to have let them come into the field first, and then showed
myself to them while they were at work. Godfrey will never come within
reach of me again while I have these clothes on.”

Very likely Godfrey never would, if he had been left to himself;
but Don had somebody else to contend with, and that was his cousin
Clarence, upon whom he had thus far scarcely bestowed a thought.
Clarence had more courage then Godfrey. He had almost too much, Don
afterward thought, when he found himself tied up in the potato-hole.

The two stood at the fence and talked and listened for a few minutes,
and then to Don’s great surprise, and somewhat to his alarm, they
jumped over into the field and came toward him, Clarence leading the
way.

Don had half a mind to throw down his shovel and take to his heels; but
suppose he had done so, and the swift-footed Godfrey, emboldened by his
flight, had followed and caught him! What then? It would have turned
the joke upon himself, and besides Clarence would have found that his
cousin was acquainted with his secret, and that was something Don did
not want him to know.

“I am between two fires,” thought Don, almost ready to laugh in spite
of his fear of detection, “and for once in my life I have overreached
myself. I am sure to be found out, no matter whether I run away or stay
here, and then what will Clarence think of himself? Could he ever face
father again, after entering into a conspiracy to rob him of eighty
thousand dollars? I’d like to spare his feelings if I can. Perhaps if I
keep on digging, and act as though I didn’t see or hear them, they will
become frightened and go away.”

This was Don’s only hope now, but it did not last long, for it was
hardly formed in his mind before Clarence marched up and seized him
by the arm. Don was highly amused by the conversation the two engaged
in when they came close to him; and when Clarence lighted a match and
surveyed him by the light it threw out, he would have spoken, had his
cousin made the least sign of recognition. But Clarence could see no
resemblance between those black features and Don’s handsome face; and
besides Godfrey was so positive that they had captured old Jordan
himself, that he never had a suspicion of the truth.

Don played the part of ghost as long as he could, and spoke only when
he found that he must, or feel the weight of Godfrey’s shovel in his
ribs. As he could see no way out of the difficulty in which he was
placed, he trusted entirely to luck, hoping that Clarence would let him
go without compelling him to tell who he was. He heard all that passed
between the two, and was not a little amazed to learn that he was to be
confined in the potato-hole, and left without anything to eat or drink,
until he was ready to tell where the barrel was hidden. He pondered the
matter deeply while he was being led across the field and down the road
toward Godfrey’s cabin, but did not reveal himself, because he still
clung to the hope that something might turn up in his favor. He uttered
a feeble protest against the treatment he was receiving, just as he
believed old Jordan would have done, had he been in the same situation,
but of course it did no good. While Godfrey was gone for the rope
and he was alone with Clarence, he was several times on the point of
speaking out, but could not without doing the very thing he most wished
to avoid. While he was thinking about it, Godfrey came back, and
almost before he knew it, he was confined in the cellar, and Clarence
and Godfrey were out of hearing.

“Here I am,” thought Don, “and if I don’t get out and reach home very
shortly after Clarence does there will be a hubbub indeed. I wish I
hadn’t done it. What a desperate fellow that Clarence Gordon is! If he
doesn’t turn over a new leaf pretty soon, he will come to some bad end
as sure as he is a living boy. What will he have to say for himself
when he finds out what he has done? O, I must get away!”

But Don’s resolutions amounted to nothing, and neither did the efforts
he made to free himself from his bonds. Godfrey had done his work
well, and Don could move neither hand nor foot. He tried to pull the
stanchion down, but it was as solid as it was the first day it was put
up there, and Don could not even shake it. He was fast, and there he
must stay until some one came to release him. His feelings, as he began
to realize this fact, were none of the pleasantest, but still they
were much more agreeable than his cousin’s were the next morning, when
he first learned from Godfrey Evans who it was that he had assisted
to capture and imprison the night before; and to him we will now turn
before we tell how Don got out, and what happened to him afterward.

We left Clarence leaning against the corn-crib, almost overwhelmed with
the startling disclosures his companion in trouble had just made to him.

“I can see through some of it now jest as easy as fallin’ off a log,”
moaned Godfrey, rocking himself back and forth as he sat on the ground,
“an’ I blame myself fur not seein’ through it sooner. That thar Don is
a great feller fur tricks, an’ here he’s gone an’ dressed hisself up
like ole Jordan so’s to fool me an’ the rest.”

“If that is the case,” said Clarence, who at last succeeded in finding
his tongue, “he must have known about the barrel; and how did he find
that out?”

“I didn’t say I could see through it all, did I?” demanded Godfrey.
“That’s the part I can’t understand, no more’n I can understand how you
fust come to know about the bar’l.”

“How do you know it was Don?” asked Clarence, who could not realize the
situation in which he was placed. “You haven’t been near the cellar
this morning, have you?”

“No, I hain’t; but I know it’s Mr. Don all the same,” replied Godfrey.
“Did ye never hear him whistle? Wal, I have. He can whistle so’t ye can
hear him a mile; an’ the fust thing I heerd this mornin’, when I opened
my eyes, was him a whistlin’ like he was a callin’ his dogs. I went to
the door an’ listened, kase somethin’ kinder told me that mebbe things
wasn’t jest right like they’d oughter be, an’ if them whistles didn’t
come from that tater-hole, I ain’t a settin’ here.”

“Couldn’t old Jordan whistle?” asked Clarence, who still clung to the
hope that Godfrey was mistaken.

“Not like that, an’ nuther could anybody else. I tell you he’s thar,
Mr. Clarence, an’ now what’s goin’ to become of me an’ you?”

“De pony ready, sar,” said the hostler, showing himself at the end of
the crib at this moment.

“Whar ye goin’?” asked Godfrey, as Clarence moved away. “Don’t leave me
now. I’m in a power of trouble an’ trib’lation!”

“Am I any better off, I’d like to know?” demanded the boy angrily. “You
think of no one but yourself. Here am I, fifteen hundred miles from
home, and with scarcely twenty dollars that I can call my own.”

“That’s more’n I’ve got,” whined Godfrey.

“I shouldn’t care a snap if we had only found the barrel,” continued
Clarence. “With my pockets full of money I could go anywhere; but as it
is, how am I going to get home? That’s what troubles me. Of course I
can’t stay here!”

“No more can I,” said Godfrey.

“Yes, you can. No one will ever say a word to you about it; but I can’t
face any of my uncle’s family after what I have done. Of course Don
will blow the whole thing the minute he gets out. He can’t avoid it,
unless he tells a lie, and that’s something he says he never did in his
life. I wish to goodness I could say as much!”

Clarence had, beyond a doubt, placed himself in a very unpleasant
situation, and the longer he talked and thought about it, the more
vividly did the fact seem to impress itself upon his mind. One thing
was certain: he could not stay under his uncle’s roof any longer, and
he thought it would be policy to get as far as possible out of the way
before the general returned. He ran around the corner of the crib to
the place where the pony was standing, and paying no heed to Godfrey’s
earnest entreaties that he would stay just long enough to tell him what
he ought to do under the circumstances, Clarence sprang into the saddle
and galloped out of the yard. Almost involuntarily he turned down the
road toward Godfrey’s cabin. He had a vague idea that something might
yet be done to avert the calamity he so much dreaded. If Don would
promise to say nothing about what had happened the night before, and
make up some plausible story to tell his father, he (Clarence) would
release him, and read him a lecture on the subject of practical joking.
That much being arranged, he could, perhaps, content himself on the
plantation for two weeks longer, during which time he could write to
his mother, who would be sure to send him money to take him home, if
he asked for it. As soon as it arrived he would bid good-by to all
his relatives in Mississippi; and when he was once safely on board a
steamer bound up the river, he did not care how soon Don told about
passing the night in the potato-hole. The longer Clarence thought of
this, the more feasible did the plan seem. It all rested with Don, and
he was a good-hearted fellow, who, for the sake of keeping his cousin
out of trouble, ought to be willing to tell a lie. Clarence thought it
would do do harm to ask him, at any rate; and with this object in view
he put the pony into a gallop, and went down the lane at a more rapid
rate than he had ever before travelled on horseback.

Arriving at the turn in the road, where he had remained to keep guard
over the prisoner while Godfrey was gone after the rope, Clarence
dismounted, tied the pony to a swinging branch, climbed the fence
and made his way through the brier-patch toward the potato-hole. He
listened repeatedly, but could not hear Don’s whistle, and he hoped
that it was because his cousin was tired and had stopped to rest;
but something told him that it was because he had been liberated.
This proved to be the truth of the matter, as Clarence found when he
reached the cellar. The door stood wide open, and looking in he saw the
plough-line with which his cousin had been bound, lying in pieces at
the foot of the stanchion.

“It’s all over with me,” thought Clarence, hurrying away from the
cellar with as much haste as he would have exhibited had he seen
some frightful object there. “Very likely he is at home by this time
telling all he knows. I wish I was at home too. I don’t see why I ever
consented to come here.”

Clarence suddenly stopped and listened intently. A few weeks ago he
would not have noticed the sound that attracted his attention, but he
noticed it now, faint as it was, and he was glad to hear it, too. It
was the sound of a steam whistle, and it came from the river below him.
He recognised it at once, for he had heard it often during his journey
down the river. “That’s the Emma Deane,” thought he. “She has been
to New Orleans, and is now on her way up the river. Can I reach the
landing in time to catch her, I wonder? I will, if Don’s pony has the
wind to stand the gallop.”

Clarence ran through the brier-patch, scratching his hands and face and
tearing his clothes at almost every step, but nothing could stop his
progress. Reaching the fence where he had left the pony, he quickly
untied him, and jumping on his back, went tearing up the road with all
the speed the spirited little animal could be induced to put forth.
He did not look up when he passed his uncle’s house, but kept his hat
down over his eyes, urged on the pony, and finally disappeared around
the bend, and entered a thick piece of woods that bounded that side of
General Gordon’s plantation. As he dashed along wholly engrossed with
his gloomy thoughts, and intent on reaching the landing before the
steamer, there was a violent rustling among the bushes, the pony jumped
quickly to one side, and his rider, being taken off his guard, was
thrown flat in the middle of the dusty lane. Clarence scrambled to his
feet and made a blind dash to recover the bridle which had been pulled
from his grasp, but the pony was too quick for him. He wheeled on the
instant, flourished his heels in the air and started for home.

Clarence was not injured in the least by the fall, but he was pretty
well shaken, and so nearly blinded by the dust that it was a minute or
two before he could collect his scattered senses, and clear his eyes
so that he could take note of what was going on around him. The first
thing he saw was the pony’s white tail disappearing around the turn in
the road, and the next was Godfrey Evans, who arose from a thicket of
bushes, and hurrying up laid hold of the boy’s collar.

“I’m pretty badly shaken up, but I don’t need any help,” said Clarence,
who was already on his feet. “Hallo! what’s the matter with you?”

Clarence had by this time cleared the dust from his eyes so that he
could take a good look at his companion. There was an expression on his
face that he had never seen there before, and he did not know what to
make of it.

“Why don’t you let go my collar?” demanded Clarence.

“Kase I want them twenty dollars ye’ve got in yer pocket--that’s why,”
replied Godfrey, savagely.

Clarence was too amazed to speak.



CHAPTER XVI.

CONCLUSION.


“Hand ’em out here, I say,” repeated Godfrey, “an’ don’t waste no time
in thinkin’ about it, nuther!”

“You’ve turned highwayman, have you?” said the boy, recovering his
power of speech by an effort. “Well, you shan’t have the money. I have
use for it myself, and I could easily use more if I had it.”

“So can I use it,” said Godfrey, “an’ I’m going to have it, too. Yer
mighty good to yerself, ain’t ye? Yer going off to yer home, fifteen
hundred miles away, an’ leave me to bear the brunt of this business as
best I can. But I ain’t agoin’ to stay nuther. I’m goin’ away, too.
Hand ’em out here!”

“And what shall I do?” asked Clarence, who began to grow alarmed when
he saw how determined Godfrey was. “How shall I get home without any
money to pay my way?”

“Hand ’em out here, I say, an’ be quick about it,” answered Godfrey,
making an effort to put his hand into the boy’s pocket. “I don’t care
how ye get hum. Ye got me into this scrape an’ ye must pay my way outen
it; that’s how the thing stands.”

“I’ll not go home at all,” exclaimed Clarence, doubling himself up and
resisting to the utmost all Godfrey’s efforts to force his hand into
his pocket. “I’ll stay and see this thing out on purpose to have you
arrested.”

“I shall be miles back in the swamp in less’n an hour,” replied
Godfrey, becoming enraged at the boy’s opposition and throwing him flat
on his back in the road. “I’ve got my rifle with me, an’ the fust man
that follows me will come to his death!”

Clarence did not doubt this in the least, for the expression on
Godfrey’s face told him that he was terribly in earnest. He was like
a child in the angry man’s grasp, but knowing how much depended on
the small stock of money he had in his pocket he fought desperately
to retain possession of it, but all to no purpose. Godfrey rolled him
over, face downward, and holding him fast with one hand, quickly found
the pocket-book with the other and pulled it out. He was about to
examine it to make sure that the money was in it, but just then his ear
caught the clatter of a horse’s hoofs on the hard road. He listened
to it a moment, and then jumped up and ran into the thicket from which
he had just emerged; while Clarence, being equally anxious to avoid
observation, scrambled to his feet with all haste and plunged into an
opposite thicket. Almost overcome with the violence of his exertions he
lay flat upon the ground, behind a convenient log, until the horseman
came in sight, and then quickly ducked his head and held his breath. It
was his uncle. He passed swiftly along, looking neither to the right
nor left, and disappeared around a bend in the road.

“Whew!” panted Clarence. “Wasn’t that a narrow escape? What if I had
waited to tell him about the robbery, as I at first meant to do? This
is a little ahead of any experience I have had yet.”

Clarence looked up and down the road to make sure that the coast was
clear, and then came out and crossed over to the opposite side to look
for Godfrey. He was not to be seen. Clarence listened intently, but
could hear nothing but the sighing of the wind through the branches
of the trees. He called Godfrey’s name as loudly as he dared, but no
answer was returned.

“He’s gone,” thought the boy, “and so are my twenty dollars; and here
I am, two miles from the landing, afoot and alone. I wish I dared stay
and have that fellow hunted up and punished. But I’d much rather lose
the money than face my uncle after he finds out what I have done.
I declare, I’m a nice-looking fellow to go among folks,” he added,
looking down at his coat, which was sadly soiled and torn. “And the
worst of it is, I shall continue to look this way for some days to
come.”

Clarence thumped his clothes energetically to knock the dust out of
them, settled his hat firmly on his head and set out at his best
pace in the direction of Rochdale. He ran almost all the way, and
the last half mile he made in remarkably quick time considering the
circumstances, for he heard the Emma Deane whistle as she approached
the landing. When he turned into the street on which the post-office
stood, he was almost ready to drop with fatigue, but he was obliged to
run faster than ever, for he heard the bell ring, and he knew that that
was a signal to the crew to stand by the lines. He hoped there would
be no one at the landing to see him, but he did not know the habits of
the planters living in the vicinity. They were out in full force, and
Clarence, as he dashed through them with his hat in his hand and the
perspiration streaming from his face, excited no little astonishment,
as he knew by the remarks he heard on every side. He staggered up the
staging, and unable to go a step farther, sat down on the stairs that
led to the boiler-deck, and panted loudly. The mates of the boat and
the shipping clerk thought they recognised him, but were not quite sure
about it; and that was not to be wondered at, for he looked very unlike
the dashing, fashionably-dressed young fellow who had spent his money
so freely for ale and cigars on the down trip.

“Is this you, Gordon?” exclaimed the clerk.

“It’s what is left of me,” gasped Clarence.

“Why, how did you ever get into this fix? Your clothes are torn----”

“I know,” interrupted Clarence. “Wait until I recover my breath, and
I’ll tell you all about it.”

Clarence reached the steamer just in time; for, as he sank panting
and exhausted upon the stairs, the lines were cast off, and in five
minutes more the Emma Deane was on her way up the river. The clerk
superintended the getting out of the freight that was to be put off at
the next landing, and then came and sat down beside Clarence, who, by
this time, began to feel a little more like himself.

[Illustration: CLARENCE ESCAPES ON THE “EMMA DEANE.”]

“Am I not a pretty looking object?” said the latter.

“Well, I’ve seen you when I thought you looked better,” answered the
clerk, with a laugh. “Been taking a rough and tumble with somebody
ashore?”

“No,” replied Clarence.

“You left your baggage, didn’t you?”

“I have none. I am only going to Cairo on business for my uncle. I left
home on a skittish young horse, that I was to leave at the landing
until my uncle could send for him, but he did not bring me all the way.
He threw me up there in the woods, and dragged me about twenty yards
with my foot in the stirrup, before I could free myself. But I had no
idea I was so badly used up,” said Clarence, rising to his feet and
pulling off his coat. “If I had, I should have gone back and made a new
start with another suit of clothes. I say, haven’t you an extra coat to
sell? The rest of my clothes will do until I reach Cairo.”

“Perhaps I can accommodate you,” said the clerk. “Come up to my room,
and after you have taken a wash and a brush you’ll look better.”

Clarence accompanied the clerk to his room in Texas (that is the
name given to the upper cabin in river steamers), and after he had
bathed his hands and face, and given his clothes a thorough brushing
he proceeded to make an estimate of the damages he had received. He
decided that his trowsers, boots and vest would pass muster, and so
would his shirt and collar, although they were both pretty badly
rumpled; but the coat was torn beyond all repair, and was fit only for
somebody’s rag-bag. The clerk thought so too, and took down from a nail
in his room a coat which he said he didn’t need, and which Clarence
might wear and welcome if he were only going on to Cincinnati; but as
he was to stop off at Cairo, perhaps he had better buy it. Clarence
thought now that he would have played his game a little sharper if he
had said nothing about stopping at Cairo; but, in order to make the
story he had yet to tell appear reasonable, he was obliged to hold to
what he had already said.

“Unfortunately I am not going to Cincinnati,” said he. “My business
will take me no farther than Cairo. What’s the coat worth?”

“Well, I don’t think five dollars would be too much; do you?”

“O, no. I’ll willingly give you that.”

Clarence laid down the coat, thrust his hand into his pocket, and then
stopped and looked at the clerk, while a blank look settled on his
face. After standing motionless for a moment, he began with frantic
haste to empty all his pockets. This done he sank down on the clerk’s
bed, his hands dropped by his side, and he looked dejected enough.

“Is it gone?” asked the clerk, who readily understood this pantomime.

“Yes, sir, it’s gone--my pocket-book with an even hundred dollars in
it. Now, am I not in a nice fix? How am I going to pay my fare to Cairo
and back?”

“It must have dropped out of your pocket when your horse threw you,”
said the clerk.

“That’s just the way it happened, and every cent I had was in it, too.”

Clarence looked up and saw that the clerk’s gaze was fastened on his
watch that lay on the bed; and that same watch, which was a birth-day
present from his mother, was the boy’s sole dependence now. When he
was passing through the brier-patch, on his way to the cellar where
his cousin was confined, the long chain, which dangled from his
button-hole, was constantly catching on the bushes, and Clarence had
unhooked it and put it into his pocket with the watch. Probably that
was all that saved the time-piece, for had Godfrey Evans seen the
chain, he might have taken that and the watch as well as the money.

“Do you suppose there is any one on board who will advance me anything
on that?” asked Clarence, brightening up as if the idea had just
occurred to him.

“I was thinking about it,” replied the clerk. “You might try our chief
engineer. He’s always trading watches when he thinks he can make any
thing by it.”

“I don’t want to sell the watch,” said Clarence. “I only want to borrow
some money on it. I shall return to Rochdale at once, and by the time
you come down again, I shall be ready to redeem it.”

“I understand,” said the clerk. “The engineer is in his room now.”

“Then let’s try him at once. Come with me, will you? You know him
better than I do.”

The clerk showed Clarence the way into the engineer’s room, where that
officer, having just come off watch, was taking his usual forenoon nap.
He greeted Clarence cordially--he had smoked more than one cigar at the
boy’s expense during the down trip--and listened patiently to the story
he had to tell. He examined the watch and said he would advance fifty
dollars on it, provided the owner would be ready to redeem it the next
time the Emma Deane stopped at Rochdale. This Clarence readily promised
to do; so the money was paid at once, the officer pocketed the watch,
and the boy went out feeling as if a mountain had been removed from his
shoulders. He gave the clerk five dollars for his coat, paid his fare
to Cairo, and still had left a sum of money sufficiently large to take
him home, provided he did not spend too much for cigars and ale. Half
an hour later he was sitting on the boiler deck with his chair tilted
back, his feet on the railing, a cigar between his teeth, and looking
as happy and contented as though he had never known a moment’s trouble
in his life.

“Things don’t look quite as dark as they did,” said he, throwing back
his head and watching the smoke as it ascended from his cigar. “I
didn’t lose anything by making friends of the officers of this boat
on the down trip. Now that I am safely out of the scrape, I’d give
something to know what is going on down there at the plantation. Forty
thousand dollars? The last chance I shall ever have to make a fortune
has slipped through my fingers; and all through Don’s interference. He
deserved just what he got, and I hope it will teach him to mind his own
business.”

During the journey homeward this was the burden of the boy’s
reflections. He knew that by his conduct he had destroyed his chance of
living on intimate or even friendly terms with his uncle’s family, but
for that he cared not; he scarcely even thought of it. If he had only
found the barrel, and received his share of the contents, he imagined
he would have been supremely happy. He reached home in safety, and of
course his parents were very much surprised to see him. He told his
mother the whole truth, keeping back nothing, and left her to tell his
father. Mr. Gordon did not have much to say until he had had time to
write to his brother in Mississippi. What sort of an answer he received
to his letter, Clarence never knew; but one bright morning, shortly
after the letter came, he was ordered to be ready to start for New
York at four o’clock that afternoon. Then he knew that his father’s
patience was all exhausted, and that he was to be placed where he
would be controlled by an iron hand. Entreaties and promises of better
behavior in future were alike unavailing. To New York he went, and
his father accompanied him. Mr. Gordon came back alone, and the next
time anybody heard from Clarence, he was off the coast of France in
the school ship. “The officers are awful hard on us,” wrote Clarence,
and there were volumes in that short sentence. If any boy desires to
find out the full meaning of it for himself, a voyage across the water
and back will teach him more than he will care to know. Clarence is
in the school ship now; and a letter Mr. Gordon lately received from
the captain, states that a steadier, more obedient young sailor never
lived. Discipline has worked a great change in him, and it is to be
hoped that he will profit by it when his term of service expires.

And where was Don all this time? While Clarence was tossing recklessly
about on his bed, alternating between hope and fear--hoping that
matters would come out all right after his night’s exploit, and fearing
that something might happen to defeat his plans--Don was passing
the time drearily enough in Godfrey Evans’s cellar. The position in
which he was confined--he was standing with his back against the
stanchion--made it impossible for him to obtain a wink of sleep, and
he spent the long, gloomy hours in useless struggles to free himself,
and in thinking, not of himself, but of Clarence. How could his cousin
escape the consequences of his rash act, unless he could free himself
from his bonds, and reach home before his absence was discovered? This
was the question that troubled Don; and whenever it arose in his mind,
he would work desperately to free one of his hands, knowing that if
that much could be accomplished, he could reach the knife he carried
in his pocket, and in two seconds more the rope could be cut into inch
pieces. But the knots held, in spite of all his attempts to loosen
them, and Don finally gave up in despair, and waited as patiently as he
could for daylight, telling himself the while that he had done all he
could to save his cousin from exposure, and now Clarence must look out
for himself.

The morning came at last, and Don’s heart bounded with hope when he saw
the first rays of the sun shining through the cracks in the door. He
was pretty well tired out by this time, and the cords seemed to have
grown tighter about his ankles. He began shouting to attract attention
as soon as he thought there was any possibility of making himself
heard; and when he grew tired of that, he set up a shrill whistle.
That startled somebody. It was Godfrey Evans, who now for the first
time became aware that there was some one besides old Jordan tied up
in his cellar. He recognised the whistle the first time he heard it,
and almost overwhelmed with amazement and alarm, started off to tell
Clarence Gordon of the astounding discovery he had made.

Don whistled at intervals as long and as loudly as his breath would
permit--he had grown too hoarse to shout now--and at last, when he had
become almost discouraged, he heard hasty steps approaching the cellar.
A moment later something bounded down the stairs, and Don saw the nose
of one of his hounds thrust under the door.

“Carlo!” he exclaimed, so highly delighted that he could scarcely speak
loud enough to make himself heard.

The dog whined in answer, and standing on his hind legs placed his
fore feet against the door, which gave away beneath his weight, and
the animal bounded into the cellar. Don’s gaze happened to be directed
toward the head of the stairs when this occurred, and there he saw his
brother Bert, stooping down and looking in.

“Anybody there?” asked Bert, for it was so dark he could not see into
the cellar.

“Come here and find out,” said Don.

Bert uttered an ejaculation of astonishment, and came down the steps
in two jumps. All he could see when he entered was the white coat Don
wore, but he recognised the voice as he had recognised the whistle.

“Cut the rope first,” exclaimed Don, “and afterward ask as many
questions as you please.”

“The rope?” repeated Bert.

“Yes. Come nearer and you will see that I am wrapped up in a
plough-line.”

Bert was profoundly astonished, but he wisely refrained from making any
inquiries. His knife was out in an instant, and a few passes with the
blade liberated Don, who made a feeble attempt to walk and fell forward
into his brother’s arms.

“Don’t be uneasy,” said Don, who knew by the exclamation his brother
uttered that he was greatly alarmed. “I’m all right, only I feel as if
I had the rheumatism. I’ve been tied up there ever since nine o’clock
last night.”

“Why, Don!” cried Bert. “Who put you there?”

“If I tell you, will you promise not to say a word about it?”

“No, I won’t,” replied Bert, quickly. “No one shall treat you so and
then go off scot-free if I can--Why, Don, what in the world--I mean
how----”

Bert had by this time assisted his brother to the door where he had a
fair view of him.

“You mean that if I am your brother, I have changed into a black man
during the last few hours, don’t you?” said Don, laughing heartily at
the expression of astonishment on Bert’s face. “In me you behold--by
the way, you don’t remember old Jordan, do you?”

“No, I do not.”

“Well, I am he; the identical old nigger!”

“Don,” said Bert, reproachfully, “you didn’t----”

“Yes, I did,” replied Don, as he sat down on the lowest step and
stretched his arms and legs. “I am the one who cut up all those shines
at the barn, and made the hands think old Jordan had risen from the
dead. I am sorry now, but the temptation was so strong I couldn’t
resist it. But didn’t I scare everybody, though?”

“But, Don,” said Bert, who could not understand the matter at all, “how
came----”

“I know what you want to find out,” said his brother, “and ‘thereby
hangs a tale’--a long one, too. I’ll tell it while I am resting.”

With this introduction Don began and told a story that made Bert
open his eyes wider than ever. He related as much of the history of
the buried treasure as he had been able to learn, told how he had
first found out about it, and gave a glowing description of the plans
he had formed to frighten the two conspirators, as he called them.
He described minutely all the incidents connected with his capture
and confinement in the cellar, and when he told of the coolness and
determination with which Clarence had conducted the whole proceeding,
Bert’s astonishment was almost unbounded.

“That was a joke that was _no_ joke,” said Don, in conclusion. “The
tables were turned on me in a way that would have amused me greatly,
had it not been for the fact that I knew Clarence was likely to suffer
for what he had done. I didn’t care for myself, although I assure you
there was no fun in being tied up for almost twelve hours. Where is
Clarence now?”

“I left him at the barn, waiting for your horse to be saddled, so that
he could start out in search of you. Godfrey was there too, and I heard
him promise father that he would look through the woods and see if he
could discover any signs of you.”

“Did either of them know that they had captured me instead of old
Jordan?”

“I heard nothing to indicate the fact.”

“What did the folks have to say about it?”

Bert replied that the folks had had a good deal to say about it, and
suggested that if his brother was able to walk to the fence where the
pony was hitched they had better start for home at once. The sooner Don
got there, the sooner would the anxiety of his mother and sisters be
relieved.

“Well, I must face the music some time,” said Don, resignedly, “and I
suppose I might as well do it now as an hour later. But I can’t go home
in this shape. Help me down to the lake so that I can wash the black
off my hands and face.”

It was a matter of no little difficulty for Don to walk so far; but,
by Bert’s assistance, he reached the shore of the lake at last, and
having taken a long and hearty drink of the water, and washed off
the blacking, he felt better. It was while he was thus engaged that
Clarence visited the cellar.

After Don had rested a few minutes and refreshed himself with another
drink of water, Bert brought up his pony, and his brother managed
to climb into the saddle. Bert walked by the pony’s side, and of
course had a multitude of questions to ask about things which Don
had not thought to mention in his story. Now, that his surprise
and indignation had somewhat abated, he could laugh heartily at his
brother’s description of his adventures. They met no one while they
were on the way home, and Don was glad to find that there was nobody
about the barn. He hurried into old Jordan’s room, and when he had put
on his own clothes, Bert helped him into the house. His mother and
sisters met him at the door, and greeted him as though they had not
seen him for a year or more. An explanation was at once demanded, but
as Marshall was present, Don gave it to his mother in her own room.
About the time he finished his father came in, and then the story had
to be told over again. Of course the general and his wife were greatly
amazed, and they were troubled and perplexed, too. They were troubled
because they had expected better things than this of Clarence, and
perplexed because they did not know just what ought to be done now. It
was plain that Clarence was not a fit associate for any decent boy, and
the sooner he was at home, where he belonged, the better it would be
for him and Don, too.

“What did they say about it?” asked Bert, as soon as he had a chance to
speak to his brother privately.

“They didn’t say much,” was the reply. “Clarence must go home, and that
I think will end the matter.”

“Perhaps he is on his way home already,” said Bert. “I know I should
start at once if I were in his place. I couldn’t face anybody after an
act like that.”

“That is because you have never been guilty of a mean act in your
life,” said Don. “One gets hardened to such things after a while. I
know it by my experience at school. Probably Clarence has been in more
scrapes than you and I ever dreamed of.”

That was not only very probable, but very true; but still he was not
sufficiently hardened to face the consequences of this, which was one
of the worst scrapes he had ever been in.

Half an hour later, Don’s pony came home riderless. The hostler told
the general that he came from toward the landing, and that he had
seen Clarence going that way a short time before. Upon hearing this,
the general set out at once for Rochdale, where he learned from some
of the hangers-on that his nephew had been seen to board the Emma
Deane, and as he had not come off again he must have gone up the river
on her. This being the case, there was nothing to be done now but to
communicate with his father and await developments.

A few weeks cleared up everything. Clarence had reached his father’s
house in safety, and the same letter that brought the information,
contained also a sum of money sufficient to defray Marshall’s expenses
to his home. The boy seemed glad to go, and his cousins rarely heard
from him afterward.

And what did the general say to Don? Not a word. The latter limped
about the house for nearly a week before he was able to sit in the
saddle again, and his father wisely concluded that if his night’s
experience in the cellar had not cured him of his love of practical
joking, nothing that he could say would help the matter any. Of course,
both the boys were eager to learn the truth concerning the buried
treasure, and as soon as Marshall went away, they spoke to their
parents about it. Then it came out that either old Jordan had wilfully
misrepresented things, which was probable, or else that Godfrey’s
lively imagination and his great desire to be rich without labor, had
led him to magnify the contents of the barrel, which was still more
probable. The old negro had certainly buried a barrel on the morning
the levee was cut, and it contained silver-ware that, in good times,
could have been bought for a thousand or fifteen hundred dollars. The
barrel was dug up by another negro as soon as the soldiers were gone,
and the most of the silver-ware was in use now, and had been ever since
the war. The general thought this a good place to say something the
boys would remember. People do sometimes get rich without labor, he
said, but their wealth does not, as a rule, last long. To learn the
value of money, one must work for it. There is but one sure way to
become prosperous, and that is to be industrious, saving and honest.
Had Godfrey remembered this, he might have been living at home, a happy
and contented man, instead of hiding in the swamp for fear of arrest.
The general never thought of having him arrested, and would not have
said a word to him if he had met him in the road; but Godfrey knew
something that the general didn’t know: he had been guilty of highway
robbery, and he thought it best to keep out of sight. Of course, he
went on from bad to worse--one always does, unless he grows better
every day--and the people in the neighborhood often heard of him
after that. Perhaps we also shall hear of him, and of some of our
other characters, in the second volume of this series, which will be
entitled, THE BOY TRAPPER.


  THE END.



  FAMOUS STANDARD
  JUVENILE LIBRARIES.

  ANY VOLUME SOLD SEPARATELY AT $1.00 PER VOLUME

  (Except the Sportsman’s Club Series, Frank Nelson Series and
  Jack Hazard Series.).

  Each Volume Illustrated. 12mo. Cloth.

       *       *       *       *       *

HORATIO ALGER, JR.

The enormous sales of the books of Horatio Alger, Jr., show the
greatness of his popularity among the boys, and prove that he is one
of their most favored writers. I am told that more than half a million
copies altogether have been sold, and that all the large circulating
libraries in the country have several complete sets, of which only two
or three volumes are ever on the shelves at one time. If this is true,
what thousands and thousands of boys have read and are reading Mr.
Alger’s books! His peculiar style of stories, often imitated but never
equaled, have taken a hold upon the young people, and, despite their
similarity, are eagerly read as soon as they appear.

Mr. Alger became famous with the publication of that undying book,
“Ragged Dick, or Street Life in New York.” It was his first book for
young people, and its success was so great that he immediately devoted
himself to that kind of writing. It was a new and fertile field for a
writer then, and Mr. Alger’s treatment of it at once caught the fancy
of the boys. “Ragged Dick” first appeared in 1868, and ever since then
it has been selling steadily, until now it is estimated that about
200,000 copies of the series have been sold.

                                  --_Pleasant Hours for Boys and Girls._

A writer for boys should have an abundant sympathy with them. He should
be able to enter into their plans, hopes, and aspirations. He should
learn to look upon life as they do. Boys object to be written down to.
A boy’s heart opens to the man or writer who understands him.

                --From _Writing Stories for Boys_, by Horatio Alger, Jr.


  RAGGED DICK SERIES.

  6 vols.      BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.      $6.00

  Ragged Dick.
  Fame and Fortune.
  Mark the Match Boy.
  Rough and Ready.
  Ben the Luggage Boy.
  Rufus and Rose.


  TATTERED TOM SERIES--First Series.

  4 vols.      BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.      $4.00

  Tattered Tom.
  Paul the Peddler.
  Phil the Fiddler.
  Slow and Sure.


  TATTERED TOM SERIES--Second Series.

  4 vols.      $4.00

  Julius.
  The Young Outlaw.
  Sam’s Chance.
  The Telegraph Boy.


  CAMPAIGN SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.      $3.00

  Frank’s Campaign.
  Charlie Codman’s Cruise.
  Paul Prescott’s Charge.


  LUCK AND PLUCK SERIES--First Series.

  4 vols.      BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.      $4.00

  Luck and Pluck.
  Sink or Swim.
  Strong and Steady.
  Strive and Succeed.


LUCK AND PLUCK SERIES--Second Series.

  4 vols.      $4.00

  Try and Trust.
  Bound to Rise.
  Risen from the Ranks.
  Herbert Carter’s Legacy.


BRAVE AND BOLD SERIES.

  4 vols.      BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.      $4.00

  Brave and Bold.
  Jack’s Ward.
  Shifting for Himself.
  Wait and Hope.


NEW WORLD SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.      $3.00

  Digging for Gold.
  Facing the World.
  In a New World.


VICTORY SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.      $3.00

  Only an Irish Boy.
  Adrift in the City.
  Victor Vane, or the Young Secretary.


FRANK AND FEARLESS SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.      $3.00

  Frank Hunter’s Peril.
  Frank and Fearless.
  The Young Salesman.


GOOD FORTUNE LIBRARY.

  3 vols.      BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.      $3.00

  Walter Sherwood’s Probation.
  A Boy’s Fortune.
  The Young Bank Messenger.


RUPERT’S AMBITION.

  1 vol.      BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.      $1.00


JED, THE POOR-HOUSE BOY.

  1 vol.      BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.      $1.00



HARRY CASTLEMON.

HOW I CAME TO WRITE MY FIRST BOOK.


When I was sixteen years old I belonged to a composition class. It was
our custom to go on the recitation seat every day with clean slates,
and we were allowed ten minutes to write seventy words on any subject
the teacher thought suited to our capacity. One day he gave out “What a
Man Would See if He Went to Greenland.” My heart was in the matter, and
before the ten minutes were up I had one side of my slate filled. The
teacher listened to the reading of our compositions, and when they were
all over he simply said: “Some of you will make your living by writing
one of these days.” That gave me something to ponder upon I did not say
so out loud, but I knew that my composition was as good as the best
of them. By the way, there was another thing that came in my way just
then. I was reading at that time one of Mayne Reid’s works which I had
drawn from the library, and I pondered upon it as much as I did upon
what the teacher said to me. In introducing Swartboy to his readers
he made use of this expression: “No visible change was observable in
Swartboy’s countenance.” Now, it occurred to me that if a man of his
education could make such a blunder as that and still write a book, I
ought to be able to do it, too. I went home that very day and began a
story, “The Old Guide’s Narrative,” which was sent to the _New York
Weekly_, and came back, respectfully declined. It was written on both
sides of the sheets but I didn’t know that this was against the rules.
Nothing abashed, I began another, and receiving some instruction, from
a friend of mine who was a clerk in a book store, I wrote it on only
one side of the paper. But mind you, he didn’t know what I was doing.
Nobody knew it; but one day, after a hard Saturday’s work--the other
boys had been out skating on the brick-pond--I shyly broached the
subject to my mother. I felt the need of some sympathy. She listened
in amazement, and then said: “Why, do you think you could write a book
like that?” That settled the matter, and from that day no one knew what
I was up to until I sent the first four volumes of Gunboat Series to
my father. Was it work? Well, yes; it was hard work, but each week I
had the satisfaction of seeing the manuscript grow until the “Young
Naturalist” was all complete.

                                      --_Harry Castlemon in the Writer._


GUNBOAT SERIES.

  6 vols.      BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $6.00

  Frank the Young Naturalist.
  Frank on a Gunboat.
  Frank in the Woods.
  Frank before Vicksburg.
  Frank on the Lower Mississippi.
  Frank on the Prairie.


ROCKY MOUNTAIN SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $3.00

  Frank Among the Rancheros.
  Frank in the Mountains.
  Frank at Don Carlos’ Rancho.


SPORTSMAN’S CLUB SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $3.75

  The Sportsman’s Club in the Saddle.
  The Sportsman’s Club Afloat.
  The Sportsman’s Club Among the Trappers.


FRANK NELSON SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $3.75

  Snowed up.
  Frank in the Forecastle.
  The Boy Traders.


BOY TRAPPER SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $3.00

  The Buried Treasure.
  The Boy Trapper.
  The Mail Carrier.


ROUGHING IT SERIES.

  3 vols.     BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $3.00

  George in Camp.
  George at the Fort.
  George at the Wheel.


ROD AND GUN SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $3.00

  Don Gordon’s Shooting Box.
  The Young Wild Fowlers.
  Rod and Gun Club.


GO-AHEAD SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $3.00

  Tom Newcombe.
  Go-Ahead.
  No Moss.


WAR SERIES.

  6 vols.      BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $6.00

  True to His Colors.
  Rodney the Partisan.
  Rodney the Overseer.
  Marcy the Blockade-Runner.
  Marcy the Refugee.
  Sailor Jack the Trader.


HOUSEBOAT SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $3.00

  The Houseboat Boys.
  The Mystery of Lost River Cañon.
  The Young Game Warden.


AFLOAT AND ASHORE SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $3.00

  Rebellion in Dixie.
  A Sailor in Spite of Himself.
  The Ten-Ton Cutter.


THE PONY EXPRESS SERIES.

  3 vol.      BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $3.00

  The Pony Express Rider.
  The White Beaver.
  Carl, The Trailer.



EDWARD S. ELLIS.


Edward S. Ellis, the popular writer of boys’ books, is a native of
Ohio, where he was born somewhat more than a half-century ago. His
father was a famous hunter and rifle shot, and it was doubtless his
exploits and those of his associates, with their tales of adventure
which gave the son his taste for the breezy backwoods and for depicting
the stirring life of the early settlers on the frontier.

Mr. Ellis began writing at an early age and his work was acceptable
from the first. His parents removed to New Jersey while he was a boy
and he was graduated from the State Normal School and became a member
of the faculty while still in his teens. He was afterward principal of
the Trenton High School, a trustee and then superintendent of schools.
By that time his services as a writer had become so pronounced that
he gave his entire attention to literature. He was an exceptionally
successful teacher and wrote a number of text-books for schools, all of
which met with high favor. For these and his historical productions,
Princeton College conferred upon him the degree of Master of Arts.

The high moral character, the clean, manly tendencies and the admirable
literary style of Mr. Ellis’ stories have made him as popular on the
other side of the Atlantic as in this country. A leading paper remarked
some time since, that no mother need hesitate to place in the hands of
her boy any book written by Mr. Ellis. They are found in the leading
Sunday-school libraries, where, as may well be believed, they are in
wide demand and do much good by their sound, wholesome lessons which
render them as acceptable to parents as to their children. All of his
books published by Henry T. Coates & Co. are re-issued in London, and
many have been translated into other languages. Mr. Ellis is a writer
of varied accomplishments, and, in addition to his stones, is the
author of historical works, of a number of pieces of popular music
and has made several valuable inventions. Mr. Ellis is in the prime
of his mental and physical powers, and great as have been the merits
of his past achievements, there is reason to look for more brilliant
productions from his pen in the near future.


DEERFOOT SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.      $3.00

  Hunters of the Ozark.
  The Last War Trail.
  Camp in the Mountains.


LOG CABIN SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.      $3.00

  Lost Trail.
  Footprints in the Forest.
  Camp-Fire and Wigwam.


BOY PIONEER SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.      $3.00

  Ned in the Block-House.
  Ned on the River.
  Ned in the Woods.


THE NORTHWEST SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.       $3.00

  Two Boys in Wyoming.
  Cowmen and Rustlers.
  A Strange Craft and its Wonderful Voyage.


BOONE AND KENTON SERIES.

  3 vols.      BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.      $3.00

  Shod with Silence.
  In the Days of the Pioneers.
  Phantom of the River.


IRON HEART, WAR CHIEF OF THE IROQUOIS.

  1 vol.      BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.      $1.00


THE SECRET OF COFFIN ISLAND.

  1 vol.      BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.      $1.00


THE BLAZING ARROW.

  1 vol.      BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.      $1.00



J. T. TROWBRIDGE.


Neither as a writer does he stand apart from the great currents of life
and select some exceptional phase or odd combination of circumstances.
He stands on the common level and appeals to the universal heart, and
all that he suggests or achieves is on the plane and in the line of
march of the great body of humanity.

The Jack Hazard series of stories, published in the late _Our Young
Folks_, and continued in the first volume of _St. Nicholas_, under the
title of “Fast Friends,” is no doubt destined to hold a high place
in this class of literature. The delight of the boys in them (and of
their seniors, too) is well founded. They go to the right spot every
time. Trowbridge knows the heart of a boy like a book, and the heart
of a man, too, and he has laid them both open in these books in a most
successful manner. Apart from the qualities that render the series so
attractive to all young readers, they have great value on account of
their portraitures of American country life and character. The drawing
is wonderfully accurate, and as spirited as it is true. The constable,
Sellick, is an original character, and as minor figures where will
we find anything better than Miss Wansey, and Mr. P. Pipkin, Esq.
The picture of Mr. Dink’s school, too, is capital, and where else in
fiction is there a better nick-name than that the boys gave to poor
little Stephen Treadwell, “Step Hen,” as he himself pronounced his name
in an unfortunate moment when he saw it in print for the first time in
his lesson in school.

On the whole, these books are very satisfactory, and afford the
critical reader the rare pleasure of the works that are just adequate,
that easily fulfill themselves and accomplish all they set out to
do.--_Scribner’s Monthly._


JACK HAZARD SERIES.

  6 vols.      BY J. T. TROWBRIDGE.      $7.25

  Jack Hazard and His Fortunes.
  The Young Surveyor.
  Fast Friends.
  Doing His Best.
  A Chance for Himself.
  Lawrence’s Adventures.



ROUNDABOUT LIBRARY.

For Boys and Girls.

  (97 Volumes.)                     75c. per Volume.


The attention of Librarians and Bookbuyers generally is called to HENRY
T. COATES & CO.’S ROUNDABOUT LIBRARY, by the popular authors.

  EDWARD S. ELLIS,
  HORATIO ALGER, JR.,
  C. A. STEPHENS,
  MARGARET VANDEGRIFT,
  HARRY CASTLEMON,
  G. A. HENTY,
  LUCY C. LILLIE and others.

No authors of the present day are greater favorites with boys and girls.

Every book is sure to meet with a hearty reception by young readers.

Librarians will find them to be among the most popular books on their
lists.

_Complete lists and net prices furnished on application._


  HENRY T. COATES & CO.
  PHILADELPHIA.



TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:


    Text in italics is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

    Emboldened text is surrounded by equals signs: =bold=.

    Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

    Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

    Archaic spelling that may have been in use at the time of
    publication has been retained.





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