Story type: Literature
An Old-time Story of the Days of Captain Kidd
To tell about Tom Chist, and how he got his name, and how he came to be living at the little settlement of Henlopen, just inside the mouth of the Delaware Bay, the story must begin as far back as 1686, when a great storm swept the Atlantic coast from end to end. During the heaviest part of the hurricane a bark went ashore on the Hen-and-Chicken Shoals, just below Cape Henlopen and at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, and Tom Chist was the only soul of all those on board the ill-fated vessel who escaped alive.
This story must first be told, because it was on account of the strange and miraculous escape that happened to him at that time that he gained the name that was given to him.
Even as late as that time of the American colonies, the little scattered settlement at Henlopen, made up of English, with a few Dutch and Swedish people, was still only a spot upon the face of the great American wilderness that spread away, with swamp and forest, no man knew how far to the westward. That wilderness was not only full of wild beasts, but of Indian savages, who every fall would come in wandering tribes to spend the winter along the shores of the fresh-water lakes below Henlopen. There for four or five months they would live upon fish and clams and wild ducks and geese, chipping their arrowheads, and making their earthenware pots and pans under the lee of the sand hills and pine woods below the Capes.
Sometimes on Sundays, when the Rev. Hillary Jones would be preaching in the little log church back in the woods, these half-clad red savages would come in from the cold, and sit squatting in the back part of the church, listening stolidly to the words that had no meaning for them.
But about the wreck of the bark in 1686. Such a wreck as that which then went ashore on the Hen-and-Chicken Shoals was a godsend to the poor and needy settlers in the wilderness where so few good things ever came. For the vessel went to pieces during the night, and the next morning the beach was strewn with wreckage–boxes and barrels, chests and spars, timbers and planks, a plentiful and bountiful harvest to be gathered up by the settlers as they chose, with no one to forbid or prevent them.
The name of the bark, as found painted on some of the water barrels and sea chests, was the Bristol Merchant, and she no doubt hailed from England.
As was said, the only soul who escaped alive off the wreck was Tom Chist.
A settler, a fisherman named Matt Abrahamson, and his daughter Molly, found Tom. He was washed up on the beach among the wreckage, in a great wooden box which had been securely tied around with a rope and lashed between two spars–apparently for better protection in beating through the surf. Matt Abrahamson thought he had found something of more than usual value when he came upon this chest; but when he cut the cords and broke open the box with his broadax, he could not have been more astonished had he beheld a salamander instead of a baby of nine or ten months old lying half smothered in the blankets that covered the bottom of the chest.
Matt Abrahamson’s daughter Molly had had a baby who had died a month or so before. So when she saw the little one lying there in the bottom of the chest, she cried out in a great loud voice that the Good Man had sent her another baby in place of her own.
The rain was driving before the hurricane storm in dim, slanting sheets, and so she wrapped up the baby in the man’s coat she wore and ran off home without waiting to gather up any more of the wreckage.
It was Parson Jones who gave the foundling his name. When the news came to his ears of what Matt Abrahamson had found he went over to the fisherman’s cabin to see the child. He examined the clothes in which the baby was dressed. They were of fine linen and handsomely stitched, and the reverend gentleman opined that the foundling’s parents must have been of quality. A kerchief had been wrapped around the baby’s neck and under its arms and tied behind, and in the corner, marked with very fine needlework, were the initials T. C.
“What d’ye call him, Molly?” said Parson Jones. He was standing, as he spoke, with his back to the fire, warming his palms before the blaze. The pocket of the greatcoat he wore bulged out with a big case bottle of spirits which he had gathered up out of the wreck that afternoon. “What d’ye call him, Molly?”
“I’ll call him Tom, after my own baby.”
“That goes very well with the initial on the kerchief,” said Parson Jones. “But what other name d’ye give him? Let it be something to go with the C.”
“I don’t know,” said Molly.
“Why not call him ‘Chist,’ since he was born in a chist out of the sea? ‘Tom Chist’–the name goes off like a flash in the pan.” And so “Tom Chist” he was called and “Tom Chist” he was christened.
So much for the beginning of the history of Tom Chist. The story of Captain Kidd’s treasure box does not begin until the late spring of 1699.
That was the year that the famous pirate captain, coming up from the West Indies, sailed his sloop into the Delaware Bay, where he lay for over a month waiting for news from his friends in New York.
For he had sent word to that town asking if the coast was clear for him to return home with the rich prize he had brought from the Indian seas and the coast of Africa, and meantime he lay there in the Delaware Bay waiting for a reply. Before he left he turned the whole of Tom Chist’s life topsy-turvy with something that he brought ashore.
By that time Tom Chist had grown into a strong-limbed, thick-jointed boy of fourteen or fifteen years of age. It was a miserable dog’s life he lived with old Matt Abrahamson, for the old fisherman was in his cups more than half the time, and when he was so there was hardly a day passed that he did not give Tom a curse or a buffet or, as like as not, an actual beating. One would have thought that such treatment would have broken the spirit of the poor little foundling, but it had just the opposite effect upon Tom Chist, who was one of your stubborn, sturdy, stiff-willed fellows who only grow harder and more tough the more they are ill-treated. It had been a long time now since he had made any outcry or complaint at the hard usage he suffered from old Matt. At such times he would shut his teeth and bear whatever came to him, until sometimes the half-drunken old man would be driven almost mad by his stubborn silence. Maybe he would stop in the midst of the beating he was administering, and, grinding his teeth, would cry out: “Won’t ye say naught? Won’t ye say naught? Well, then, I’ll see if I can’t make ye say naught.” When things had reached such a pass as this Molly would generally interfere to protect her foster son, and then she and Tom would together fight the old man until they had wrenched the stick or the strap out of his hand. Then old Matt would chase them out of doors and around and around the house for maybe half an hour, until his anger was cool, when he would go back again, and for a time the storm would be over.
Besides his foster mother, Tom Chist had a very good friend in Parson Jones, who used to come over every now and then to Abrahamson’s hut upon the chance of getting a half dozen fish for breakfast. He always had a kind word or two for Tom, who during the winter evenings would go over to the good man’s house to learn his letters, and to read and write and cipher a little, so that by now he was able to spell the words out of the Bible and the almanac, and knew enough to change tuppence into four ha’pennies.
This is the sort of boy Tom Chist was, and this is the sort of life he led.
In the late spring or early summer of 1699 Captain Kidd’s sloop sailed into the mouth of the Delaware Bay and changed the whole fortune of his life.
And this is how you come to the story of Captain Kidd’s treasure box.
Old Matt Abrahamson kept the flat-bottomed boat in which he went fishing some distance down the shore, and in the neighborhood of the old wreck that had been sunk on the Shoals. This was the usual fishing ground of the settlers, and here old Matt’s boat generally lay drawn up on the sand.
There had been a thunderstorm that afternoon, and Tom had gone down the beach to bale out the boat in readiness for the morning’s fishing.
It was full moonlight now, as he was returning, and the night sky was full of floating clouds. Now and then there was a dull flash to the westward, and once a muttering growl of thunder, promising another storm to come.
All that day the pirate sloop had been lying just off the shore back of the Capes, and now Tom Chist could see the sails glimmering pallidly in the moonlight, spread for drying after the storm. He was walking up the shore homeward when he became aware that at some distance ahead of him there was a ship’s boat drawn up on the little narrow beach, and a group of men clustered about it. He hurried forward with a good deal of curiosity to see who had landed, but it was not until he had come close to them that he could distinguish who and what they were. Then he knew that it must be a party who had come off the pirate sloop. They had evidently just landed, and two men were lifting out a chest from the boat. One of them was a negro, naked to the waist, and the other was a white man in his shirt sleeves, wearing petticoat breeches, a Monterey cap upon his head, a red bandanna handkerchief around his neck, and gold earrings in his ears. He had a long, plaited queue hanging down his back, and a great sheath knife dangling from his side. Another man, evidently the captain of the party, stood at a little distance as they lifted the chest out of the boat. He had a cane in one hand and a lighted lantern in the other, although the moon was shining as bright as day. He wore jack boots and a handsome laced coat, and he had a long, drooping mustache that curled down below his chin. He wore a fine, feathered hat, and his long black hair hung down upon his shoulders.
All this Tom Chist could see in the moonlight that glinted and twinkled upon the gilt buttons of his coat.
They were so busy lifting the chest from the boat that at first they did not observe that Tom Chist had come up and was standing there. It was the white man with the long, plaited queue and the gold earrings that spoke to him. “Boy, what do you want here, boy?” he said, in a rough, hoarse voice. “Where d’ye come from?” And then dropping his end of the chest, and without giving Tom time to answer, he pointed off down the beach, and said, “You’d better be going about your own business, if you know what’s good for you; and don’t you come back, or you’ll find what you don’t want waiting for you.”
It was a miraculous chance that placed that paper there. There was only an inch of it showing, and if it had not been for Tom’s sharp eyes, it would certainly have been overlooked and passed by. The next windstorm would have covered it up, and all that afterward happened never would have occurred. “Look, sir,” he said, as he struck the sand from it, “it hath writing on it.”
“Let me see it,” said Parson Jones. He adjusted the spectacles a little more firmly astride of his nose as he took the paper in his hand and began conning it. “What’s all this?” he said; “a whole lot of figures and nothing else.” And then he read aloud, “‘Mark–S. S. W. S. by S.’ What d’ye suppose that means, Tom?”
“I don’t know, sir,” said Tom. “But maybe we can understand it better if you read on.”
“‘Tis all a great lot of figures,” said Parson Jones, “without a grain of meaning in them so far as I can see, unless they be sailing directions.” And then he began reading again: “‘Mark–S. S. W. by S. 40, 72, 91, 130, 151, 177, 202, 232, 256, 271’–d’ye see, it must be sailing directions–‘299, 335, 362, 386, 415, 446, 469, 491, 522, 544, 571, 598’–what a lot of them there be–‘626, 652, 676, 695, 724, 851, 876, 905, 940, 967. Peg. S. E. by E. 269 foot. Peg. S. S. W. by S. 427 foot. Peg. Dig to the west of this six foot.’”
“What’s that about a peg?” exclaimed Tom. “What’s that about a peg? And then there’s something about digging, too!” It was as though a sudden light began shining into his brain. He felt himself growing quickly very excited. “Read that over again, sir,” he cried. “Why, sir, you remember I told you they drove a peg into the sand. And don’t they say to dig close to it? Read it over again, sir–read it over again!”
“Peg?” said the good gentleman. “To be sure it was about a peg. Let’s look again. Yes, here it is. ‘Peg S. E. by E. 269 foot.’”
“Aye!” cried out Tom Chist again, in great excitement. “Don’t you remember what I told you, sir, 269 foot? Sure that must be what I saw ’em measuring with the line.”
Parson Jones had now caught the flame of excitement that was blazing up so strongly in Tom’s breast. He felt as though some wonderful thing was about to happen to them. “To be sure, to be sure!” he called out, in a great big voice. “And then they measured out 427 foot south-southwest by south, and they then drove another peg, and then they buried the box six foot to the west of it. Why, Tom–why, Tom Chist! if we’ve read this aright, thy fortune is made.”
Tom Chist stood staring straight at the old gentleman’s excited face, and seeing nothing but it in all the bright infinity of sunshine. Were they, indeed, about to find the treasure chest? He felt the sun very hot upon his shoulders, and he heard the harsh, insistent jarring of a tern that hovered and circled with forked tail and sharp white wings in the sunlight just above their heads; but all the time he stood staring into the good old gentleman’s face.
It was Parson Jones who first spoke. “But what do all these figures mean?” And Tom observed how the paper shook and rustled in the tremor of excitement that shook his hand. He raised the paper to the focus of his spectacles and began to read again. “‘Mark 40, 72, 91–‘”
“Mark?” cried out Tom, almost screaming. “Why, that must mean the stake yonder; that must be the mark.” And he pointed to the oaken stick with its red tip blazing against the white shimmer of sand behind it.
“And the 40 and 72 and 91,” cried the old gentleman, in a voice equally shrill–“why, that must mean the number of steps the pirate was counting when you heard him.”
“To be sure that’s what they mean!” cried Tom Chist. “That is it, and it can be nothing else. Oh, come, sir–come, sir; let us make haste and find it!”
“Stay! stay!” said the good gentleman, holding up his hand; and again Tom Chist noticed how it trembled and shook. His voice was steady enough, though very hoarse, but his hand shook and trembled as though with a palsy. “Stay! stay! First of all, we must follow these measurements. And ’tis a marvelous thing,” he croaked, after a little pause, “how this paper ever came to be here.”
“Maybe it was blown here by the storm,” suggested Tom Chist.
“Like enough; like enough,” said Parson Jones. “Like enough, after the wretches had buried the chest and killed the poor black man, they were so buffeted and bowsed about by the storm that it was shook out of the man’s pocket, and thus blew away from him without his knowing aught of it.”
“But let us find the box!” cried out Tom Chist, flaming with his excitement.
“Aye, aye,” said the good man; “only stay a little, my boy, until we make sure what we’re about. I’ve got my pocket compass here, but we must have something to measure off the feet when we have found the peg. You run across to Tom Brooke’s house and fetch that measuring rod he used to lay out his new byre. While you’re gone I’ll pace off the distance marked on the paper with my pocket compass here.”
Tom Chist was gone for almost an hour, though he ran nearly all the way and back, upborne as on the wings of the wind. When he returned, panting, Parson Jones was nowhere to be seen, but Tom saw his footsteps leading away inland, and he followed the scuffling marks in the smooth surface across the sand humps and down into the hollows, and by and by found the good gentleman in a spot he at once knew as soon as he laid his eyes upon it.
It was the open space where the pirates had driven their first peg, and where Tom Chist had afterward seen them kill the poor black man. Tom Chist gazed around as though expecting to see some sign of the tragedy, but the space was as smooth and as undisturbed as a floor, excepting where, midway across it, Parson Jones, who was now stooping over something on the ground, had trampled it all around about.
When Tom Chist saw him he was still bending over, scraping away from something he had found.
It was the first peg!
Inside of half an hour they had found the second and third pegs, and Tom Chist stripped off his coat, and began digging like mad down into the sand, Parson Jones standing over him watching him. The sun was sloping well toward the west when the blade of Tom Chist’s spade struck upon something hard.
If it had been his own heart that he had hit in the sand his breast could hardly have thrilled more sharply.
It was the treasure box!
Parson Jones himself leaped down into the hole, and began scraping away the sand with his hands as though he had gone crazy. At last, with some difficulty, they tugged and hauled the chest up out of the sand to the surface, where it lay covered all over with the grit that clung to it.
It was securely locked and fastened with a padlock, and it took a good many blows with the blade of the spade to burst the bolt. Parson Jones himself lifted the lid.
Tom Chist leaned forward and gazed down into the open box. He would not have been surprised to have seen it filled full of yellow gold and bright jewels. It was filled half full of books and papers, and half full of canvas bags tied safely and securely around and around with cords of string.
Parson Jones lifted out one of the bags, and it jingled as he did so. It was full of money.
He cut the string, and with trembling, shaking hands handed the bag to Tom, who, in an ecstasy of wonder and dizzy with delight, poured out with swimming sight upon the coat spread on the ground a cataract of shining silver money that rang and twinkled and jingled as it fell in a shining heap upon the coarse cloth.
Parson Jones held up both hands into the air, and Tom stared at what he saw, wondering whether it was all so, and whether he was really awake. It seemed to him as though he was in a dream.
There were two-and-twenty bags in all in the chest: ten of them full of silver money, eight of them full of gold money, three of them full of gold dust, and one small bag with jewels wrapped up in wad cotton and paper.
“‘Tis enough,” cried out Parson Jones, “to make us both rich men as long as we live.”
The burning summer sun, though sloping in the sky, beat down upon them as hot as fire; but neither of them noticed it. Neither did they notice hunger nor thirst nor fatigue, but sat there as though in a trance, with the bags of money scattered on the sand around them, a great pile of money heaped upon the coat, and the open chest beside them. It was an hour of sundown before Parson Jones had begun fairly to examine the books and papers in the chest.
Of the three books, two were evidently log books of the pirates who had been lying off the mouth of the Delaware Bay all this time. The other book was written in Spanish, and was evidently the log book of some captured prize.
It was then, sitting there upon the sand, the good old gentleman reading in his high, cracking voice, that they first learned from the bloody records in those two books who it was who had been lying inside the Cape all this time, and that it was the famous Captain Kidd. Every now and then the reverend gentleman would stop to exclaim, “Oh, the bloody wretch!” or, “Oh, the desperate, cruel villains!” and then would go on reading again a scrap here and a scrap there.
And all the while Tom Chist sat and listened, every now and then reaching out furtively and touching the heap of money still lying upon the coat.
One might be inclined to wonder why Captain Kidd had kept those bloody records. He had probably laid them away because they so incriminated many of the great people of the colony of New York that, with the books in evidence, it would have been impossible to bring the pirate to justice without dragging a dozen or more fine gentlemen into the dock along with him. If he could have kept them in his own possession they would doubtless have been a great weapon of defense to protect him from the gallows. Indeed, when Captain Kidd was finally brought to conviction and hung, he was not accused of his piracies, but of striking a mutinous seaman upon the head with a bucket and accidentally killing him. The authorities did not dare try him for piracy. He was really hung because he was a pirate, and we know that it was the log books that Tom Chist brought to New York that did the business for him; he was accused and convicted of manslaughter for killing of his own ship carpenter with a bucket.
So Parson Jones, sitting there in the slanting light, read through these terrible records of piracy, and Tom, with the pile of gold and silver money beside him, sat and listened to him.
What a spectacle, if anyone had come upon them! But they were alone, with the vast arch of sky empty above them and the wide white stretch of sand a desert around them. The sun sank lower and lower, until there was only time to glance through the other papers in the chest.
They were nearly all goldsmiths’ bills of exchange drawn in favor of certain of the most prominent merchants of New York. Parson Jones, as he read over the names, knew of nearly all the gentlemen by hearsay. Aye, here was this gentleman; he thought that name would be among ’em. What? Here is Mr. So-and-so. Well, if all they say is true, the villain has robbed one of his own best friends. “I wonder,” he said, “why the wretch should have hidden these papers so carefully away with the other treasures, for they could do him no good?” Then, answering his own question: “Like enough because these will give him a hold over the gentlemen to whom they are drawn so that he can make a good bargain for his own neck before he gives the bills back to their owners. I tell you what it is, Tom,” he continued, “it is you yourself shall go to New York and bargain for the return of these papers. ‘Twill be as good as another fortune to you.”
The majority of the bills were drawn in favor of one Richard Chillingsworth, Esquire. “And he is,” said Parson Jones, “one of the richest men in the province of New York. You shall go to him with the news of what we have found.”
“When shall I go?” said Tom Chist.
“You shall go upon the very first boat we can catch,” said the parson. He had turned, still holding the bills in his hand, and was now fingering over the pile of money that yet lay tumbled out upon the coat. “I wonder, Tom,” said he, “if you could spare me a score or so of these doubloons?”
“You shall have fifty score, if you choose,” said Tom, bursting with gratitude and with generosity in his newly found treasure.
“You are as fine a lad as ever I saw, Tom,” said the parson, “and I’ll thank you to the last day of my life.”
Tom scooped up a double handful of silver money. “Take it, sir,” he said, “and you may have as much more as you want of it.”
He poured it into the dish that the good man made of his hands, and the parson made a motion as though to empty it into his pocket. Then he stopped, as though a sudden doubt had occurred to him. “I don’t know that ’tis fit for me to take this pirate money, after all,” he said.
“But you are welcome to it,” said Tom.
Still the parson hesitated. “Nay,” he burst out, “I’ll not take it; ’tis blood money.” And as he spoke he chucked the whole double handful into the now empty chest, then arose and dusted the sand from his breeches. Then, with a great deal of bustling energy, he helped to tie the bags again and put them all back into the chest.
They reburied the chest in the place whence they had taken it, and then the parson folded the precious paper of directions, placed it carefully in his wallet, and his wallet in his pocket. “Tom,” he said, for the twentieth time, “your fortune has been made this day.”
And Tom Chist, as he rattled in his breeches pocket the half dozen doubloons he had kept out of his treasure, felt that what his friend had said was true.
* * * * *
As the two went back homeward across the level space of sand Tom Chist suddenly stopped stock-still and stood looking about him. “‘Twas just here,” he said, digging his heel down into the sand, “that they killed the poor black man.”
“And here he lies buried for all time,” said Parson Jones; and as he spoke he dug his cane down into the sand. Tom Chist shuddered. He would not have been surprised if the ferrule of the cane had struck something soft beneath that level surface. But it did not, nor was any sign of that tragedy ever seen again. For, whether the pirates had carried away what they had done and buried it elsewhere, or whether the storm in blowing the sand had completely leveled off and hidden all sign of that tragedy where it was enacted, certain it is that it never came to sight again–at least so far as Tom Chist and the Rev. Hilary Jones ever knew.
This is the story of the treasure box. All that remains now is to conclude the story of Tom Chist, and to tell of what came of him in the end.
He did not go back again to live with old Matt Abrahamson. Parson Jones had now taken charge of him and his fortunes, and Tom did not have to go back to the fisherman’s hut.
Old Abrahamson talked a great deal about it, and would come in his cups and harangue good Parson Jones, making a vast protestation of what he would do to Tom–if he ever caught him–for running away. But Tom on all these occasions kept carefully out of his way, and nothing came of the old man’s threatenings.
Tom used to go over to see his foster mother now and then, but always when the old man was from home. And Molly Abrahamson used to warn him to keep out of her father’s way. “He’s in as vile a humor as ever I see, Tom,” she said; “he sits sulking all day long, and ’tis my belief he’d kill ye if he caught ye.”
Of course Tom said nothing, even to her, about the treasure, and he and the reverend gentleman kept the knowledge thereof to themselves. About three weeks later Parson Jones managed to get him shipped aboard of a vessel bound for New York town, and a few days later Tom Chist landed at that place. He had never been in such a town before, and he could not sufficiently wonder and marvel at the number of brick houses, at the multitude of people coming and going along the fine, hard, earthen sidewalk, at the shops and the stores where goods hung in the windows, and, most of all, the fortifications and the battery at the point, at the rows of threatening cannon, and at the scarlet-coated sentries pacing up and down the ramparts. All this was very wonderful, and so were the clustered boats riding at anchor in the harbor. It was like a new world, so different was it from the sand hills and the sedgy levels of Henlopen.
Tom Chist took up his lodgings at a coffee house near to the town hall, and thence he sent by the postboy a letter written by Parson Jones to Master Chillingsworth. In a little while the boy returned with a message, asking Tom to come up to Mr. Chillingsworth’s house that afternoon at two o’clock.
Tom went thither with a great deal of trepidation, and his heart fell away altogether when he found it a fine, grand brick house, three stories high, and with wrought-iron letters across the front.
The counting house was in the same building; but Tom, because of Mr. Jones’s letter, was conducted directly into the parlor, where the great rich man was awaiting his coming. He was sitting in a leather-covered armchair, smoking a pipe of tobacco, and with a bottle of fine old Madeira close to his elbow.
Tom had not had a chance to buy a new suit of clothes yet, and so he cut no very fine figure in the rough dress he had brought with him from Henlopen. Nor did Mr. Chillingsworth seem to think very highly of his appearance, for he sat looking sideways at Tom as he smoked.
“Well, my lad,” he said, “and what is this great thing you have to tell me that is so mightily wonderful? I got what’s-his-name–Mr. Jones’s–letter, and now I am ready to hear what you have to say.”
But if he thought but little of his visitor’s appearance at first, he soon changed his sentiments toward him, for Tom had not spoken twenty words when Mr. Chillingsworth’s whole aspect changed. He straightened himself up in his seat, laid aside his pipe, pushed away his glass of Madeira, and bade Tom take a chair.
He listened without a word as Tom Chist told of the buried treasure, of how he had seen the poor negro murdered, and of how he and Parson Jones had recovered the chest again. Only once did Mr. Chillingsworth interrupt the narrative. “And to think,” he cried, “that the villain this very day walks about New York town as though he were an honest man, ruffling it with the best of us! But if we can only get hold of these log books you speak of. Go on; tell me more of this.”
When Tom Chist’s narrative was ended, Mr. Chillingsworth’s bearing was as different as daylight is from dark. He asked a thousand questions, all in the most polite and gracious tone imaginable, and not only urged a glass of his fine old Madeira upon Tom, but asked him to stay to supper. There was nobody to be there, he said, but his wife and daughter.
Tom, all in a panic at the very thought of the two ladies, sturdily refused to stay even for the dish of tea Mr. Chillingsworth offered him.
He did not know that he was destined to stay there as long as he should live.
“And now,” said Mr. Chillingsworth, “tell me about yourself.”
“I have nothing to tell, Your Honor,” said Tom, “except that I was washed up out of the sea.”
“Washed up out of the sea!” exclaimed Mr. Chillingsworth. “Why, how was that? Come, begin at the beginning, and tell me all.”
Thereupon Tom Chist did as he was bidden, beginning at the very beginning and telling everything just as Molly Abrahamson had often told it to him. As he continued, Mr. Chillingsworth’s interest changed into an appearance of stronger and stronger excitement. Suddenly he jumped up out of his chair and began to walk up and down the room.
“Stop! stop!” he cried out at last, in the midst of something Tom was saying. “Stop! stop! Tell me; do you know the name of the vessel that was wrecked, and from which you were washed ashore?”
“I’ve heard it said,” said Tom Chist, “’twas the Bristol Merchant.”
“I knew it! I knew it!” exclaimed the great man, in a loud voice, flinging his hands up into the air. “I felt it was so the moment you began the story. But tell me this, was there nothing found with you with a mark or a name upon it?”
“There was a kerchief,” said Tom, “marked with a T and a C.”
“Theodosia Chillingsworth!” cried out the merchant. “I knew it! I knew it! Heavens! to think of anything so wonderful happening as this! Boy! boy! dost thou know who thou art? Thou art my own brother’s son. His name was Oliver Chillingsworth, and he was my partner in business, and thou art his son.” Then he ran out into the entryway, shouting and calling for his wife and daughter to come.
* * * * *
So Tom Chist–or Thomas Chillingsworth, as he now was to be called–did stay to supper, after all.
* * * * *
This is the story, and I hope you may like it. For Tom Chist became rich and great, as was to be supposed, and he married his pretty cousin Theodosia (who had been named for his own mother, drowned in the Bristol Merchant).
He did not forget his friends, but had Parson Jones brought to New York to live.
As to Molly and Matt Abrahamson, they both enjoyed a pension of ten pounds a year for as long as they lived; for now that all was well with him, Tom bore no grudge against the old fisherman for all the drubbings he had suffered.
The treasure box was brought on to New York, and if Tom Chist did not get all the money there was in it (as Parson Jones had opined he would) he got at least a good big lump of it.
And it is my belief that those log books did more to get Captain Kidd arrested in Boston town and hanged in London than anything else that was brought up against him.