Recap: Yishai has a theory of where Dovid is. He goes to the apothecary and waits for the Native American woman who works there. He speaks to Holata and somehow evokes her sympathy. She leads him to her village, and he finds Dovid living there. Meanwhile, his brother and sister-in-law realized the error in their ways after this whole ordeal and finding out that Mr. Burr is a wanted criminal now. Yishai’s father came because of the worry about Dovid, and he tells Yishai that he is needed to help capture Mr. Burr. He and two other young men will be standing by the boats when Mr. Burr comes, and then the men will be able to capture him.
Early morning sunlight streamed into the window as we closed the journal and looked at one another.
Chevi was the first to speak. “The attic. Should we go look in the attic?”
I nodded slowly. “A panel? Could the treasure still be there?”
I shrugged. “Chances are they came back for the treasure.”
“I don’t think so. I think the man with the bandana and maybe Mrs. Blauers, as well, are both looking for that treasure box,” Chevi said.
We found a rickety wooden ladder leading up to the attic. I climbed up first. It was a low-ceiling room, the size of a large storage area. The floor was dusty, and it made me cough. I pulled the string hanging from a naked lightbulb on the ceiling. There was nothing in the room but cobwebs on the ceiling. I glanced around the ceiling, and Chevi climbed up and looked around, too.
“Where do you think it is?” I flicked my cell phone onto flashlight and shone it on the walls.
“More slowly; stop at each part of the wall,” Chevi instructed me.
I didn’t see anything.
“The journal is from so long ago,” I said. “Who knows if the panel is even still here.”
Chevi was feeling around on the ceiling. “Move the light over here,” she said.
I moved the beam. She continued feeling the ceiling.
“Let’s forget it.”
“We read that it’s here. Why are you giving up so fast?” She continued feeling the ceiling.
“Here. Keep shining it here. There’s a crack here in the ceiling.”
“There.” She pointed to a panel.
My heart was racing. “Do you think this is the panel?”
Chevi tried sliding the front of it. “It’s moving.”
She pushed and pushed and then it slid open.
We both peered inside. There, sitting right inside, was a medium-sized box and an envelope. I pulled out the box and Chevi pulled out the envelope. The envelope was yellowed with age. It was sealed with wax. “Don’t rip it. You should have your father open it very carefully.”
I lifted the lid to the box.
I gasped. It was full of diamonds and rubies and emeralds that glittered in the dim light.
“Whoa!” Chevi said.
“I think we should put it back for now. I’m scared to have this out in the open with the intruders and all. When Aba comes back, I’ll ask him what to do.”
We slid it back into place with the letter and closed the panel.
We slapped each other five.
“Thanks, Chevi. I couldn’t have found this without you. You are good at mysteries.”
“Sure, but it’s not totally resolved until someone speaks to the house owner and that intruder and clarifies why they were snooping around here, and then your father will have to ask a rav what to do with that treasure.”
“Let’s not tell anyone about it,” I said. Chevi agreed that that was a wise decision.
The next day, Aba returned with Grandma Henny. She was using crutches and a wheelchair.
I brought him up to the attic and showed him the treasure chest. Then I showed him the letter. Aba gingerly carried the box and letter downstairs.
He whistled. “Whoa, a real treasure. He looked at the jewels inside. “Incredible. This is a small fortune.”
He carefully slit open the envelope.
Then he read the letter inside. “It’s hard to read but I’m used to reading old documents.”
Whoever finds this treasure, it is now yours. Please use it for a good, charitable cause. I have learned that money and honor are terrible goals. G-d forgive me.
Aba looked up at me. “I better call Mrs. Blauers.”
Mrs. Blauers came over to the house. “I always thought it was a made-up story. My brother kept insisting that there was something in the house, but I didn’t believe it. So, now that you found this treasure, it’s rightfully mine, of course, so please give it to me.”
Aba asked her to come sit down. “Who is your brother?”
“He’s Lawrence Jenner. He is the one who’s been causing all the problems for me in this house. I inherited it and I wanted to use it as a rental, but he and his wife – I think you met her that first night when she came to warn you away – they would make noises and do things to scare away my renters.”
That explained the moaning at night. “Is your brother the one who came into the house at night and frightened my daughter and Miss Gross?”
Mrs. Blauers shifted in her seat. “He did, and I am so sorry about it. He inherited the land next door, and he kept insisting that there was this treasure. I never believed him for a minute. So, now, I get the treasure.”
My father sighed. “Mrs. Blauers, it’s not such a simple thing. There was a note stating the treasure should go to charity.”
“That’s my decision.” She rose.
“Well, I’m going to call a rav and a lawyer and see what the proper course of action is. It’s not so simple that the treasure should go to you.”
“Well, it doesn’t go to my brother.”
“Are you descendants of the Blennerhassett family?”
“No, my relatives purchased the property at an auction.” She sat down again.
Aba made some calls. He instructed me to offer some tea and fruit to Mrs. Blauers. I made some tea and brought it in with a platter of fruit.
Grandma Henny was settling into the guest room on the first floor, because she couldn’t do stairs now. She called me: “Yehudis, please come help me with the linens.”
A short while later, a rav and a lawyer came and there was a lot of discussion.
Mrs. Blauers’ voice rang through the house as she objected over and over to the possibility that the jewels were not hers. “I don’t understand this. This is my house. I inherited it and this treasure box was found on my property.”
Rabbi Elman stroked his long white beard and cleared his throat. “I understand your claim; however, did you know there was a treasure box in this home?”
“No, I didn’t, but so what.”
“Well, according to Jewish law, since you had no idea it was here, then it goes to the finder. I apologize for your disappointment.”
The lawyer concurred with Rabbi Elman. The lawyer added that her brother could be prosecuted for mischief and illegal breaking and entering.
Mrs. Bauers sighed. “Okay, I accept this decision, but I have one condition. Please do not prosecute my brother and sister-in-law for unlawful entrance and mischief.”
We agreed, and that was that.
Aba found two worthy tz’dakos for us to send the money to, as that was Mr. Blennerhassett’s wishes. One was for orphans, and the other was one that helped families with shalom bayis issues.
I sat down that night to read the end of the journal.
To be continued…
By Susie Garber