My name is Walter and today, January 1, 1980, is my 104th birthday. This makes me the oldest living resident of Rye, New Hampshire. Of course, Rye only has a population of 5,400, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. What makes this day a big deal is I am about to tell a secret that I have been safeguarding for 94 years. The person I’ve chosen to share this secret with is 10 years old, the same age I was when it was told to me.
When I was a young boy, I would meet my mother at the nursing home after school. She started working there after my father died. Like most of the men in Rye, he was a commercial fisherman. A storm blew up one day while he was out on the Georges Banks and we never saw him again. I really hated the nursing home! The place smelled like decay and most of the people were cranky or feebleminded, that is except for one man. At 102, Oscar was Rye’s oldest person. He had seen so many changes over his life from the War of 1812 and the Civil War to the opening of the West. The Erie Canal was dug when he was a young man and the steam locomotive made it possible to travel from coast to coast in days instead of months. I would sit with Oscar and listen to his stories day after day as my mother struggled with her duties.
About a week before Oscar died, he said he had a secret to tell me. Whether I shared this secret with anyone else was up to me because he wouldn’t be around much longer, anyway. The story he told me was about pirate treasure on the Isle of Sholes and the Smuttynose Island murders. Everyone in Rye has heard the legends about Blackbeard and the treasure he buried somewhere on one of the many islands, but no one took the tales seriously, no one except for Louis H.F. Wagner, the man who found the treasure.
Unfortunately, Wagner celebrated too much and revealed the treasure’s location to his boss, John Hontvet. When Louis went to retrieve his find, John’s wife along with her cousin and sister-in-law were standing guard. They attacked Louis. Unwilling to give up his treasure, Louis killed two of the three of the women. The third lady ran off and hid. He gathered up the treasure and moved it to a new hiding place. Louis evaded capture for a short time, but they caught him eventually. After a lengthy trial in which Louis claimed the murders were in self-defense, the jury convicted him and sentenced Louis to death by hanging. Oscar was Louis’s attorney. Just before being marched to the gallows, Louis divulged the treasure’s location to Oscar. Many years later, Oscar told me where the treasure had been hidden.
Once I was old enough to row a boat to the islands without drawing attention, I went to the secret location. I’ve always been a cautious person and have never taken too much treasure at one time to avoid raising suspicion. Much of the booty is still there. Tommy, my young friend, will now have the same opportunity that I had. Now’s the time to tell him where the treasure is located.
No, I’m not going to share the location with my readers. Why would I make it easy for all of you to plunder the very thing I’ve kept safe for all these years? No, I’m afraid you will have to find your own treasure. This one belongs to Tommy!
About the Creator
I have spent most of my life traveling the US and abroad. Now it's time to create what I hope are interesting fictional stories.
I have 2 books on Amazon, Mitigating Circumstances and Short Stories for Open Minds.