Chapter 14 - The Treasure

That evening, Nora made an fine dinner to celebrate Uncle Theodore's homecoming. "Nora, you're the best cook I've ever seen," smiled Ted. "I have half a mind to steal you away from my niece and take you back to Boston with me."

"Sorry, Mr. Theodore," said Nora. "But I'm stayin' here in Sagebrush Creek. Sure and who would look after Miss Violette if I weren't here?"

"True, true," smiled Ted.

After finishing his soup, Uncle Ted said, "I noticed that you boys have half the creek banks torn up looking for the treasure. I appreciate what you did to try to help my niece to save her land. Tomorrow, we are going to go out there and I will show you where I really buried the treasure."

Violette spoke up. "We discovered that the boys had been digging on the wrong side of the creek, Uncle Ted. We were looking at the map upside down because some of the writing was so faint. Just when we found that out and were about to begin again, the Sheriff came out with his warrant for Charlie's arrest and that put a stop to all the work."

"Mr. Evans," said Charlie. "I'm sorry I lost all yer money. It was stolen offa me... I c'n pay y' back a lit'le at a' I 'ave somethin' else wha' b'longs t' y'..." He pulled out the sliver engraved hip flask from his back pocket and handed it to Theodore.

"Why, how did you get this?"

"From yer carpet bag, Sir. I was rummagin' in it at the train depot, tha's 'ow this w'ole thing started... Yer gun too..."

"Ah...the switched carpet bags. I still have you to thank though, Charlie. You caused the incident whereby Smith shot me and luckily he thought I had been killed. If he wouldn't have done it so fast, he probably would have aimed better...And Charlie, don't worry about the money. You and Harry took good care of Violette, and I have to thank you for that." Then he shook the silver hip flask. "It's empty..."

Charlie grinned guiltily. "Sorry, sir..."

Ted laughed. "That's perfectly all right."

The following day, Theodore, Charlie, Harry and Violette rode out to the creek. Theodore looked puzzled. "We're on the correct bank of the creek now. But I can't place exactly where the treasure was hidden. Something looks different…"

"It was 15 years ago, Uncle Ted, when you were here. I had several dead yucca trees removed on this side of the creek. One of them must have been your landmark."

"You're right, Violette. Then we will have to look for evidence of where the trees were…" The four walked the far bank of the creek up and down several times. Finally Theodore saw some evidence of old tree roots. Blending in with the colour so similar to the soil, they were hard to discern through the sparce brush growing around and through them. "Walk off the paces here, boys. If I remember correctly, this is where my tree stood."

Charlie and Harry started digging at the designated place. Violette went back to the mansion to bring lunch back out to them. By the time she returned, the boys had just unearthed a small iron chest. They handed it to Theodore and climbed out of the hole. Violette stood next to her uncle as he opened the box. "It's all here, Violette, and I'm giving it all to you…" he said as he showed her the large gold chunks and uncut gemstones.

"Oh, Uncle Ted, you're wonderful. Now I can finally pay off the mortgage and no one can take my land again!" She hugged her uncle, then glanced at her two hardworking friends. She hugged both of them, even though they were a bit grimy. "And thank you both boys, we couldn't have done it without you!"

Violette and Ted disappeared the next day for a jaunt to the big city. When they returned five days later, Violette handed Charlie and Harry each a fat envelope. "We had the gold and gemstones assessed," she explained. "Since Uncle Ted has generously given me the whole treasure, I paid off my mortgage and other expenses. I am having several of the stones cut and made into jewellery, one piece is a pin for Uncle Ted's tie. I put the rest of the money into the bank and of course, this is your pay for working for me and a reward besides. Nora will finally be paid too. I have enough to hire on a few men to start up the ranch again so we will be self sustaining. I was hoping both of you would stay on and work for me."

Harry spoke up first. "Thank you Miss Violette, for the reward. But I probably should go back home. I made my fortune now, so my folks will be proud of me." He smiled sweetly.

"What about you, Charlie? Will you stay on?"

"I 'ave a lotta places t' go, Miss Violette. Lotta places. I betta move on… An' thank y' fer th' money, I 'preciate it. Y' sure I can't pay y' back, Mr. Evans?" Ted shook his head 'no'.

"Are you sure neither of you can stay on? I do appreciate all you've done for me. Why you both have helped me so much…The offer of work still stands…Perhaps you might come back some time in the future…?"

"I'll think about it, Ma'am," said Charlie. He elbowed Harry. "An 'e will too…." Harry nodded and smiled.

The following morning, Harry and Charlie stood waiting to get on the train at the station in Sagebrush Creek. Nora had washed and mended their clothes and they both looked almost respectable.

Nora, Uncle Ted and Violette came to see them off. "Remember, boys, if you ever come back this way, come and see us. I'll have a job waiting for you." She and Nora kissed and hugged both Harry and Charlie.

After being kissed, Harry stood still with a sweet smile on his face, his huge blue eyes looking dreamy. Charlie held on to Violette and gave her a long kiss. He didn't want to let her go. Nora touched Charlie on the arm. "Your train is comin', boyo..." He looked up and kissed Violette again. Then he pulled Nora toward him and gave her another kiss too.

"I'll miss you both…" said Violette. Nora wiped her eyes and sniffled a bit.

Uncle Ted shook hands with them and said, "I want to thank you again for helping my niece. And you were both very brave the other day when the Sheriff showed up."

Charlie and Harry entered the train and found seats. "How far are you going, Charlie?" asked Harry.

"No' far."

At the next station, Charlie stood up to get off the train. "Now listen t' me. Y' don't let no one take yer money, y' 'ear me? Keep yer se'f safe til y' ge' 'ome."

"I will, Charlie."

"Well, it's g'bye, kid. End o' th' loine."

"I'll miss ya, Charlie."

Charlie made a fist and pretended to punch Harry in the jaw. "Shu' up, kid."