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Buried Treasure
by [?]

“Anacreon,” he explained.”That was a favorite passage with Miss Mangum–as I recited it.”

“She is meant for higher things,” said I, repeating his phrase.

“Can there be anything higher,” asked Goodloe, “than to dwell in the society of the classics, to live in the atmosphere of learning and culture?You have often decried education. What of your wasted efforts through your ignorance of simple mathematics?How soon would you have found your treasure if my knowledge had not shown you your error?”

“We’ll take a look at those hills across the river first,” said I, “and see what we find. I am still doubtful about variations. I have been brought up to believe that the needle is true to the pole.”

The next morning was a bright June one. We were up early and had breakfast. Goodloe was charmed. He recited–Keats, I think it was, and Kelly or Shelley–while I broiled the bacon. We were getting ready to cross the river, which was little more than a shallow creek there, and explore the many sharp-peaked cedar-covered hills on the other side.

“My good Ulysses,” said Goodloe, slapping me on the shoulder while I was washing the tin breakfast-plates, “let me see the enchanted document once more. I believe it gives directions for climbing the hill shaped like a pack-saddle. I never saw a pack-saddle. What is it like, Jim?”

“Score one against culture,” said I.”I’ll know it when I see it.”

Goodloe was looking at old Rundle’s document when he ripped out a most uncollegiate swear-word.

“Come here,” he said, holding the paper up against the sunlight.”Look at that,” he said, laying his finger against it.

On the blue paper–a thing I had never noticed
before–I saw stand out in white letters the word and figures : “Malvern, 1898.”

“What about it?” I asked.

“It’s the water-mark,” said Goodloe.”The paper was manufactured in 1898. The writing on the paper is dated 1863. This is a palpable fraud.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said I.”The Rundles are pretty reliable, plain, uneducated country people. Maybe the paper manufacturers tried to perpetrate a swindle.”

And then Goodloe Banks went as wild as his education permitted. He dropped the glasses off his nose and glared at me.

“I’ve often told you you were a fool,” he said.”You have let yourself be imposed upon by a clodhopper. And you have imposed upon me.”

“How,” I asked, “have I imposed upon you ?”

“By your ignorance,” said he.”Twice I have discovered serious flaws in your plans that a common-school education should have enabled you to avoid. And,” he continued, “I have been put to expense that I could ill afford in pursuing this swindling quest. I am done with it.”

I rose and pointed a large pewter spoon at him, fresh from the dish- water.

“Goodloe Banks,” I said, “I care not one parboiled navy bean for your education. I always barely tolerated it in any one, and I despised it in you. What has your learning done for you?It is a curse to yourself and a bore to your friends. Away,” I said–“away with your water-marks and variations!They are nothing to me. They shall not deflect me from the quest.”

I pointed with my spoon across the river to a small mountain shaped like a pack-saddle.

“I am going to search that mountain,” I went on, “for the treasure. Decide now whether you are in it or not. If you wish to let a water- mark or a variation shake your soul, you are no true adventurer. Decide.”

A white cloud of dust began to rise far down the river road. It was the mail-wagon from Hesperus to Chico. Goodloe flagged it.

“I am done with the swindle,” said he, sourly.”No one but a fool would pay any attention to that paper now. Well, you always were a fool, Jim. I leave you to your fate.”