RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 4 . . Stowaway . . Part 1
RAILCAR GOLD is a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure, primarily set in York County, Pennsylvania during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. This is Part 1 of Chapter 4 . . . Stowaway. A new part will be posted every Thursday. New readers may want to start at the beginning.
CHAPTER 4 . . . STOWAWAY . . . Part 1
Tom turned to Frank, “Have you ever seen that boy around here?” Frank shook his head from side to side, “He sure doesn’t look familiar.” Tom continued, “I didn’t so; I wonder if he’s one of those stowaways that I heard my Dad talking about with some of the men in town?
Dan had a one-word question, “Stowaway?”
Tom tells the boys, “Yes, in fact two stowaways were hired by a farmer north of town. They hid in a freight car somewhere up north to obtain free passage, however got caught by the conductor when they were overheard talking inside the car at the Bainbridge stop. The conductor locked them in the car and went for the authorities. This farmer offered to pay their fine, provided they helped out on his farm until their debt was paid. This worked fine for a time however one morning they were gone. I overheard that one of those stowaways was barely out of his teens.”
The remainder of the walk back home, the boys discussed if they would ever try such a stunt. Their conclusion, hardly likely, none of them had ever been on a train. They also decided that the boy they saw getting out of the freight car at Shocks Mills was probably only three years older then them.
As they got closer to home, Tom reminded Dan, “better put on that big rimmed hat, don’t want your noisy neighbors tipping off your uncle that you’ve been goofing off.” It was dusk as the boys approached Dan’s place. All of a sudden Dan mumbles, “Oh no, my goose is cooked. That’s my uncles horse, he’s back a day early.”
Tom had an idea, “Why don’t you sneak into the hayloft in the barn and pretend that you fell asleep after a hard days work. Wait for your uncle to discover you there.” Dan didn’t have a better plan, so that is what he did.
Dan wasn’t sure how long he’d been in the hayloft, because he might have actually dozed off a time or two. The sound of voices caused Dan to wake. He recognized the voice of Rufus, but not the voice of the other man. It sounded to Dan as if Rufus was showing off the place; as if he were trying to sell it to this other man.
His suspicion was confirmed when the other man asked a direct question, “If the place is so great, why do you want to sell it?”
The answer by Rufus startled Dan, but he did not dare move, “My boy will soon turn nine, however he does the work of two hired hands. He does a nice job catching fish and cooking it every night. I’m not going to loose him to schooling, that is main reason I’m exploring this move. Dan is getting settled to well in this area, and they’re very strict at having the kids go to school in these parts. An August move looks to be the best from my perspective. It works out for me that the township where you live has not accepted public schools. So is it a deal; that you’ll buy this place mid-August in exchange for what we talked about on your place, or do I continue looking?”
The other guy replied, “I’d say we have a tentative deal, however I still need to look over the place in full light tomorrow. Besides I’ve got to meet this boy of yours. Maybe even have one of his fish dinners.”
Rufus cautioned him, “Just remember last night at the tavern, I let something slip that I shouldn’t have. You have to promise me that you will not reveal to Dan that I sold his trunk of books and then sent Harry in the wrong direction, a wild goose chase, in trying to find them. I didn’t mean any harm; I only did it to discourage schooling on his part.”
Dan was infuriated; it was all he could do to keep still.
Go to Part 2