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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 242

Coney Island is declared to have been used by a band of pirates as the first national sand bank, and, as these rascals were caught and swung off with short shrift, they do say that the plunder is still to be had—by the man who finds it. But the hotel-keepers and three-card-monte men are not waiting for that discovery to grow rich.

In Shandaken Valley, in the Catskills, it was affirmed that a party of British officers buried money somewhere, when they were beset by the farmers and hunters of that region, and never got it out of the earth again.

On Tea Island, Lake George, the buried treasures of Lord Abercrombie have remained successfully hidden until this day.

The oldest house at Fort Neck, Long Island, was known for years as the haunted house, and the grave of its owner—Captain Jones—was called the pirate's grave, for, in the last century, Jones was accused of piracy and smuggling, and there have been those who suspected worse. A hope of finding gold and silver about the premises has been yearly growing fainter. Just before the death of Jones, which occurred here in an orderly manner, a crow, so big that everybody believed it to be a demon, flew in at the window and hovered over the bed of the dying man until he had drawn his last breath, when, with a triumphant cry, it flew through the west end of the house. The hole that it broke through the masonry could never be stopped, for, no matter how often it was repaired, the stone and cement fell out again, and the wind came through with such a chill and such shriekings that the house had to be abandoned.

The owner of an estate on Lloyd's Neck, Long Island, had more wealth than he thought it was safe or easy to transport when he found the colonies rising against Britain in 1775, and flight was imperative, for he was known by his neighbors to be a Tory. Massing his plate, coin, and other movables into three barrels, he caused his three slaves to bury them in pits that they had dug beneath his house. Then, as they were shovelling back the earth, he shot them dead, all three, and buried them, one on each barrel. His motive for the crime may have been a fear that the slaves would aid the Americans in the approaching struggle, or that they might return and dig up the wealth or reveal the hiding-place to the enemies of the king. Then he made his escape to Nova Scotia, though he might as well have stayed at home, for the British possessed themselves of Long Island, and his house became a place of resort for red-coats and loyalists. It was after the turn of the century when a boat put in, one evening, at Cold Spring Bay, and next morning the inhabitants found footprints leading to and from a spot where some children had discovered a knotted rope projecting from the soil. Something had been removed, for the mould of a large box was visible at the bottom of a pit. Acres of the neighborhood were then dug over by treasure hunters, who found a box of cob dollars and a number of casks. The contents of the latter, though rich and old, were not solid, and when diffused through the systems of several Long Islanders imparted to them a spirituous and patriotic glow—for in thus destroying the secreted stores of a royalist were they not asserting the triumph of democratic principles?


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