If you haven’t read Chapter 1 of our Free Online Kids Books Series – The Missing Treasure, read it first so you don’t miss a beat!
“Oh no, Billy, I can’t believe it! It’s the Jean Jacket Gang!”
They rode their bikes full steam right up to us and slammed on their brakes barely missing us as they skidded to a stop.
“Look at these guys,” sneered Rat, their leader. His hair was always messed up and looked like a rat’s nest and he was the toughest, meanest kid in 7th grade!
The gang included Samuel “the Rat,” Jimmy “the Thorn,” Clyde “the Bulldog” and Bradley “the Squeak”. Bulldog used to be one of my best friends before he moved to the
other side of town and quit coming to our church.
“Yeeaah, look at these guys,” squealed Squeak. I guess he got his nick name because he had such a high voice and was always repeating what Rat said.
“You boys runnin’ home to see your mommies?” scoffed Rat, his voice sending shivers down your spine like when Mrs. Haglund runs her fingernails over the black board.
“Whatcha want, Rat?” I asked, trying to tough it out.
“Hah! Look guys, he’s got a sweet little hanky in his shirt pocket in case he starts bawlin’ for his mommy!”
Squeak chimed in with a sneering, “Yeah, in case he starts bawlin’ for his mommy!”
“Knock it off, Squeak! You don’t need to repeat everything I say!”
Suddenly Rat charged and before I could do a thing he snatched the map from my pocket!
“Well, well, well. Would you look at this, guys? These two boy scouts got themselves a treasure map. What kinda treasure you bury here, Jeb?”
“Ahh, it’s nothin’, Rat. Just some junk we found out in the woods. Just keep the map, I don’t care.”
I tried my best to play it cool, not giving him any hint that we had found real loot. But it didn’t work. Rat was studying the map as I was talking and I just knew he figured it out. The barn and cow I had drawn pinpointed Mr. Isaacson’s dairy farm and everyone knew where Boy Scout Island was. My big “X marks the spot” was right between the two.
Way to go, Jeb Cremp, I thought to myself, why did you even draw the map in the first place?
Rat was showing the rest of the gang where the X was.
“Com’on Bulldog,” I pleaded, “we’ve been friends for a long time. Make Rat give it back to us.”
He actually thought about it for a minute, but then said, “That was a long time ago, Jeb, things have changed.”
With that they were on their bikes heading for the big woods.
“Move it, Billy, we gotta get home quick and tell Dad and Mom what happened!”
We were slowed down by our big backpacks, but I think we made the three blocks in record time. Talking like those speed readers, we told them everything.
Dad looked me straight in the eye and said, “Jeb Cremp, you tell me you aren’t making up some kind of fib.”
They must have thought Billy and I were half crazy, all excited, both of us talking at the same time, trying to make them understand.
“Honest, Dad,” I said, “we’re telling the truth and we have to get there before Rat and the gang find the money.”
He called the sheriff and was slowly telling him what had happened. When I say slow, it seemed like I could’ve poured out a whole jug of molasses in the dead of winter before he was done talking. Finally, after an eternity had gone by, he hung up the phone.
“Sheriff O’Reily will be right over.”
Soon we were piling into the squad car. Man, the first time I’d ever had a ride in one and Billy, for once, was too excited to say a word!
As we drove to the big woods, I explained where the treasure was hidden.
“Sounds like you’re talking about the old Olson homestead. Nobody’s lived at that farm since Bob Olson died in that plane crash over 25 years ago.”
Rat and the gang had that place pretty well dug up when we got there, but I guess “X didn’t mark the spot”.
The sheriff got out of his car and yelled, “Samuel Anderson, is that you?”
“Yes sir,” Rat replied, not sneering at all now.
“Sounds like you and your friends took something from Jeb that didn’t rightfully belong to you. Now I know your dad wouldn’t be very proud of you if he was still alive and your momma ain’t out to raise some thief of a boy! So, how about you and your friends sit in my backseat for awhile and think about what you did, while I talk with the Cremps and Billy and Jeb.”
You shoulda seen the looks on their faces as the four of them squished into the back of that police car. They looked just like four dogs that got scolded and slunk away with their tails tucked between their legs. Rat even had a couple of tears welling up in his eyes. I guess it’s a good thing he still had that “sweet little hanky” to use.
Sheriff O’Reily was dumbfounded by what he saw when we dug up the box of money. He’s a real good police officer and started putting together the clues.
“Boys, I reckon Bob Olson was building a bomb shelter and no one ever thought to look for it after his plane crash.
“People used to build them to be ready for an attack from an enemy country. You see, they’d stock them full of supplies so they could survive in there for weeks if they had to. They’d put in food, water, clothes, beds, medicine, gas masks, (which was that weird mask with two cans stuck on it) and even…..money.”
“I seem to recall”, the sheriff continued, “after Bob Olson’s untimely death, the property was turned over to his mother. She must be pretty near 90 by now.
“Boys, I’m right proud of you two,” Sheriff O’Reily said to Billy and me, “you’re honest, you did the right thing, and you hid that treasure real good!”
Dad squeezed my shoulder.
I felt pretty good right about then, but I couldn’t help thinking of Rat and the gang.
“What’s going to happen to Rat and the other kids?” I asked.
“Well, I think sitting in the backseat of a police car has scared them a bit, but I’ll be having a conversation with each of their parents to let them know what‘s happened. And now it’s time to take that money into town and write up a report.”
With that he opened the back door of the squad car and told the boys to ride their bikes straight home, but before they left, he had each one of them apologize for stealing that map.
“If I ever catch you stealing again, you won’t just be sitting in my squad car; you’ll be sitting behind bars in jail with the other criminals!” he roared. “Now SCRAM!!”
Wow, did they scram!
About a week later we were sitting down for supper and there was a knock on our front door. It was Sheriff O’Reily.
“Hey, there, Jeb. I’ve been over telling Bob Olson’s mother all that happened. She is so pleased with what you and Billy did that she would like to meet you and thank you personally.”
So the next day Billy and I, along with our parents, went over to meet Mrs. Olson.
She welcomed us into her home and then said, “I’m very proud to make the acquaintance of such honest boys.”
“I’d like to tell you a little about my son, Bob, if you can stay awhile.”
“Yeah, that’d be great” Billy said, as I nodded.
“Bob was a pilot in the Navy during World War II. He flew off aircraft carriers in the Pacific.” She went on with some of his adventures. It was cool!
She cried a bit when she talked about how he died doing what he loved to do. I had a lump in my throat too.
“Boys, I had no idea he had built a bomb shelter and had this kind of money hidden away. Did you know there was over $5000 in that box?”
It was then she handed Billy and me each an envelope and said, “You both deserve what’s inside.”
In the envelope I counted 20 $10 bills.
“Wow, $200 dollars? Thank you!”
“Wow, $200 dollars? Thank you!” Billy echoed.
I couldn’t believe it!
Mrs. Olson had a huge smile on her face and said, “I haven’t felt this much alive in years! Will you boys come by and visit me from time to time? I always have some cookies made and would love to have company.”
Billy and I agreed that we would be happy to.
Later that night, I was in bed and Dad and I were discussing our day.
“Well, son, do you have any big plans for all that money?”
It was then the craziest idea popped into my head. I remembered my Sunday School teacher telling us about forgiveness and how we should love our enemies. I guess right about then Rat, Squeak, Bulldog, and Thorn were the worst enemies I had.
I answered, “I’ve been thinkin’, Dad. Do you think it would be okay if I gave Rat and the others some of the money?”
“That’s a great idea, son. I’m mighty proud of you!”
The next morning I told Billy what I was going to do.
“Are you crazy, Jeb? I never heard anything so nuts!”
After I explained, he understood and even agreed to go with me to find the Jean Jacket Gang.
When we found them, Rat sneered, “What are you two doin’ here? Come to brag about your reward money?”
“No,” I answered, “actually we came over to say we don’t have any hard feelings about what happened and we were wondering if we could share some of the reward money with you.”
“Yeah, right! That’s a good one!” said Rat.
“Yeah, that’s a good one,” repeated Squeak.
“Knock it off, Squeak!”
When Billy and I handed each of them two $10 bills, their eyes just got big. I mean, real big!
Nobody said anything.
Rat just stood there silently looking at the money in his hand and then something seemed to happen inside him.
“I, I, I can’t take this, you guys. You keep it. This is your money.” And then almost as if he heard himself sounding too soft he said, “I, I, mean, keep your money! I don’t want
Torn then handed the money back, too, and Bulldog came up to me and said, “That was real nice of you, Jeb, but you keep it. Sorry I’ve been such a jerk lately. Maybe we can get together again like we used to.”
Squeak was last. He looked at Rat and then at the money and then looked back at Rat and then at the money. He looked like a yo-yo going back and forth.
Finally he said, “Ummmm, yeah, next time you guys find some hidden treasure I’ll help you with anything you need. I mean it, okay?”
Squeak then gave the money back, too.
As we walked away, I said, “How about that, Billy? I didn’t see that coming.”
After that day all six of us had something special in common and over time we all became pretty good buddies. Bulldog even started coming back to church.
As for Billy and me, well we both ended up buying the same thing. I’ll have to tell you about it next time………
Don’t miss the next installation of The Missing Treasure. Sign up for our Free Adventure For Boys Catalog which contains the most recent chapters in the series as well as everything you need to keep your adventurous boys occupied and active.