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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 238

These grewsome memories sent a quake through Mud Sam's heart, but when the bushes cracked under the strangers' tread, he knew that they were of flesh and bone, and, following them for a quarter-mile into the wood, he saw them dig a hole, plant a strong-box there, and cover it. A threatening remark from one of the company forced an exclamation from the negro that drew a pistol-shot upon him, and he took to his heels. Such a fright did he receive that he could not for several years be persuaded to return, but when that persuasion came in the form of a promise of wealth from Wolfert Webber, a cabbage-grower of the town, and promises of protection from Dr. Knipperhausen, who was skilled in incantations, he was not proof against it, and guided the seekers to the spot.

After the doctor had performed the proper ceremonies they fell to work, but no sooner had their spades touched the lid of an iron-bound chest than a sturdy rogue with a red flannel cap leaped out of the bushes. They said afterward that he had the face of the brawler who was drowned at Corlaer's Hook, but, in truth, they hardly looked at him in their flight; nor, when the place was revisited, could any mark of digging be found, nor any trace of treasure, so that part of Kidd's wealth may be at this moment snugly stowed in the cellar of a tenement. Webber had engaged in so many crazy enterprises of this nature that he had neglected cabbage culture, and had grown so poor that the last disappointment nearly broke his heart. He retired to his chamber and made his will, but on learning that a new street had been run across his farm and that it would presently be worth ten times as much for building-lots as it ever had been for cabbages, he leaped out of bed, dressed himself, and prospered for many a day after.





OTHER BURIED WEALTH

The wealth of the Astors hardly exceeds the treasure that is supposed to be secreted here and there about the country, and thousands of dollars have been expended in dredging rivers and shallow seas, and in blasting caves and cellars. Certain promoters of these schemes have enjoyed salaries as officers in the stock companies organized for their furtherance, and they have seen the only tangible results from such enterprises.

One summer evening, in the middle of the seventeenth century, a bark dropped anchor at the mouth of Saugus River, Massachusetts, and four of the crew rowed to the woods that skirt its banks and made a landing. The vessel had disappeared on the following morning, but in the forge at the settlement was found a paper stating that if a certain number of shackles and handcuffs were made and secretly deposited at a specified place in the forest, a sum of money equal to their value would be found in their stead on the next day. The order was filled and the silver was found, as promised, but, though a watch was set, nothing further was seen of men or ship for several months.


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