MoboReader > Young Adult > Betty Gordon at Boarding School; Or, The Treasure of Indian Chasm

   Chapter 25 THE TREASURE

Betty Gordon at Boarding School; Or, The Treasure of Indian Chasm By Alice B. Emerson Characters: 10282

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Indian Chasm!

Betty stared at Bob in dismay. Afterward she confessed that her first thought was of Indians who might capture them.

"Indian Chasm," repeated Bob firmly. "Come on, Betty, we mustn't stand here. If you once get cold, there's no way to warm you up. We must walk, and try to find a way out."

Betty stumbled after him, her mind a bewildered maze. She could not yet grasp the explanation that Bob, turned about by their spill in the hollow, had followed an old trail instead of the hill road. The trail had led straight to the border of the chasm.

Bob ploughed along, head bent, a heavy sense of responsibility keeping him silent. He knew better than Betty the difficulties that in all probability lay before them.

He glanced back at Betty, wearily toiling after him.

"Want to rest a moment?" he suggested. "Sit on that rock till you begin to feel chilly."

Betty accepted the suggestion gratefully. She was very tired and she was hungry. Her rubbers had been torn on the stones she had encountered in her fall and her shoes were damp.

"What a funny rock," she said idly.

It was a huge slab that had once been a part of another huge rock which still stood upright. Some force of nature had slit the two like a piece of paper-from the looks of it, the break was a recent one-and had forced a section outward, making it look like a wall about to topple over.

Rested a little, Betty rose and walked around to the other side of the rock on which she sat, moved by an impulse of curiosity. She went close to the rock that stood upright like a sentinel.

"What's the matter?" called Bob as she started back.

"I-I thought I kicked against something," answered Betty. "There, did you hear that?"

"Something clinked," admitted Bob. "Wait, I'll help you look."

He ran around to her and together they began to dig in the snow and dead leaves.

"Bob! Bob!" Betty's voice rose in delight. "Look!"

She held up a small rusty iron box that, as she tilted it, yawned to disgorge a shower of gold coins.

"The Macklin treasure! We've found it!" cried Betty, beginning to dig like an excited terrier. "Help me hunt, Bob! It must be Mrs. Macklin's treasure, mustn't it?"

"Looks that way," admitted Bob.

As he spoke he drew something from under the shadow of the rock that settled the question immediately. Something that sparkled and glittered and slipped through his cold red fingers like glass.

"The emeralds!" breathed Betty. "Oh, Bob, aren't they beautiful!"

"Look, Betty! That slab was forced outward not long ago. Before that this treasure was concealed in a narrow crack between the two rocks. That's why no one was able to find it when the search was made soon after the loss! Isn't it great that we have found it?"

In a frenzy now, they dug, and when there seemed to be nothing more hidden under the accumulation of dirt and leaves, the two stared at each other in delighted amazement. At their feet lay little jewel bags containing the pearls of which Norma had talked, the rose topazes, the dozen cameos. Magnificent diamonds sparkled in a rusty case, ear-rings and rings lay in a little heap, and a handful of uncut stones was wrapped in a bit of chamois skin. Solid silver pitchers and goblets and trays, sadly battered by being flung against the rocks, lay just as they had fallen until Bob and Betty had uncovered the leaves which, had so long covered them.

"How are we going to get it out of here?" asked Betty, when they had satisfied themselves there was nothing left undiscovered.

"That's the pressing question," confessed Bob. "Incidentally, we have to get ourselves out, too. I think we'd better walk on a bit, and look for some trail out. One lucky thing, no one will take the treasure while we're scouting."

"Where do you suppose that goes to?" said Betty, when they had been tramping about five minutes.

She pointed to a rocky formation that led off into the side of the chasm.

It was evidently the mouth of a cave.

"I don't know, of course," admitted Bob. "But I think we had better take a chance and follow it. It will be dark, but so will the chasm in another half hour. I'll go first and you come after me."

It was inky black in the cave, and there was no assurance that it would lead them anywhere and every prospect that they would have to retrace their steps. He was careful to hint nothing of this to Betty, however, and she, on her part, determinedly stifled any complaint of weariness that rose to her lips.

It was an experience they both remembered all their lives-that slow, halting groping through the winding cavern, where the rocky walls narrowed or widened without warning and the roof rose to great heights or dropped so low they must crawl on hands and knees. The thought of the found treasure sustained them and gave them courage to keep on.

"I see a light!" cried Bob after what seemed to Betty hours of this.

"Betty, I do believe we've come to an opening!"

The pin-spot of light grew and broadened, and, as they approached it, they saw it was the winter sky. The sun was setting, for the clouds had cleared, and

never was a sight half so beautiful to the anxious eyes that rested on it. What did it matter that they were miles from the school, or that both were wet and cold and tired to the point of collapse? Just to get out of that awful chasm was enough.

"I'll go get your sled and pack the stuff on that," proposed Bob, "I don't suppose it would hurt to leave it there all night, but somehow I can't. Will you go on ahead, Betty? You're so tired."

"I'm going back with you," said Betty firmly. "I couldn't rest one minute, knowing you were crawling through that awful cave again. Oh, yes, I'm coming with you, Bob-you needn't shake your head like that."

Bob realized that it was useless to try to persuade her to go on to the school alone. His common sense told him that it would be wiser to leave the treasure where it was and come after it the next day, but common sense does not always win out. It was actually impossible for Bob or Betty to abandon the Macklin fortune now that they had found it.

Bob found Betty's sled, after some search, where they had left it between two trees, and together they began to thread the tortuous maze of the cave again, Bob going ahead and dragging the sled after him. Betty thought despairingly that she had never known what it meant to be tired before.

"I'll wrap the little things in my middy tie," she said when they came out in the chasm at last and found the heap of treasure where they had piled it, "and we can fasten down the rest of the stuff with the belt from my coat."

Their fingers were stiff with cold, but they managed to get everything on the sled and lash it securely with a rope and the leather belt from Betty's coat. Then, once more, they started back through the cave.

The sled was heavy and the way seemed twice as long as the first time they had followed it, but they kept doggedly on. It was dark when they emerged on the familiar hillside.

"Sit on the sled, and I'll pull you, Betty," offered Bob, looking a little anxiously at his companion's white face.

But Betty resolutely refused, and she trotted beside him all the way, helping to pull the sled, till the gray buildings of Shadyside loomed up before them.

She insisted that Bob must come in with her, and they told their story to Mrs. Eustice, breathlessly and disconnectedly, to be sure, but the rope of emeralds and the gleaming diamonds filled in all gaps in the narrative. Before she went to sleep Betty had the satisfaction of knowing that Norma and Alice had been told the good news and that a telegram was speeding off to the home folks.

The discovery and recovery of the missing treasure created a wave of excitement when it became generally known. A few girls, who valued worldly possessions above everything else, made overtures of friendship to the sisters whom previously they had ignored. Their old friends heartily rejoiced with them and Norma and Alice went about in a dream of bliss compounded of joy for their grandmother and parents, plans for new frocks and the proposed holiday trip to Washington.

"It's the nicest thing that ever happened," Betty wrote her uncle. "Now Norma and Alice can graduate from Shadyside, and Grandma Macklin can spend the rest of the winter in Florida and dear Doctor and Mrs. Guerin can doctor and nurse half the county for nothing, if they please."

* * * * *

Doctor Guerin and his wife wrote that Norma and Alice should go happily with the Littell girls for a visit and forget the "no longer depressing question of finances." Both Doctor and Mrs. Guerin were enthusiastic in their praise of Betty and Bob, who began to feel that too much was made of their lucky discovery, especially when, at the direction of Mrs. Macklin, the Macklin family's old lawyer (who had taken charge of the recovered treasure and appraised it at nearly twice its value when lost) sent Betty a pair of the diamond earrings and Bob one of the priceless old silver platters.

"But you not only found it, you went through a lot to bring it to us," said Norma affectionately. "No, Betty, you and Bob can't wriggle out of being thanked."

The finding of the treasure was not the last of Betty's adventures. What happened to her and her chums the following summer will be related in the next volume of this series.

The remaining days of the term fairly flew, and almost before they realized it, school closed for the Christmas holidays. A merry party boarded the train for the Junction, where they could make connections for Washington, one crisp, sunny December morning.

"Every one here?" demanded Bobby Littell. "I don't want to run the risk of arriving home short a guest or two."

"I'm willing to be kidnapped," suggested Tommy Tucker, who knew the story of Betty's first meeting with Bobby.

Both girls laughed, and Betty was still smiling as she held out her ticket to the conductor.

"Have a good time, young 'uns," chirped the grizzled little man cheerily. "Only one thing's more fun than goin' to school, and that's goin' home from school for a spell of play."

And with this happy prospect before her, let us leave Betty Gordon.

THE END

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