The Gold Hunt, Part 1:
It was Tuesday, two days after our visit to the police station when I met Vree at her favorite fishing hole. I was late getting to my typewriter because of a trip to see some of my mom’s relatives who were in town and at my grandma’s house. Afterwards, I had a standoff with a mean Chihuahua while I delivered newspapers on my paper route, mow the lawn when I got home, and then eat supper—everything on your plate, young man! By the time I caught up to Vree, it was after six o’clock.
She had just wrapped some catfish in newspaper when she said, “We’re twins.”
She had on a red T-shirt like mine, blue jeans, and white sneakers.
She handed me the catfish and I spotted an interesting news article on the page wrapped around the fish.
PARENTS OF KIDNAPPED GIRL RECEIVE RANSOM NOTE
By LEE WESTFIELD, New Cambridge Times reporter
New Cambridge Police Chief Sanford Owens has reported to this newspaper that the parents of 16-year-old Laurie Burnett received a ransom note earlier this week asking for $500,000 in exchange for the girl’s safe return.
The girl has been missing since Monday night when she was last seen at a soccer game at New Cambridge High School located on East Hickory Street. Her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Timothy Burnett, became concerned when she did not return home after the game. The New Cambridge Police Department was notified and an investigation followed. No leads have been found.
Chief Owens said he and FBI Director James McNabb have advised the family to cooperate with the kidnappers and to do everything possible for the girl’s safety, including payment of the ransom.
Miss Burnett was the 1970 winner of the Miss New Cambridge Junior Beauty Pageant.
The police and FBI are continuing the investigation into the kidnapping.
“Wow,” I said, “wouldn’t it be cool if one of us found the kidnappers’ lair and foiled their plans? We would be heroes.”
“You watch too much TV,” Vree said, handing me another newspaper-wrapped package of fish.
“I do love a good mystery,” I told her while she picked up her pole and tackle box.
We headed to her Aunt Addi’s house to drop off some of the fish. I waited outside where someone had parked a ten-speed Schwinn racing bike in the front yard. I sat on it and pretended to ride it while I waited. It was a warm, quiet evening with less than three hours left and I was antsy to do something fun before the day ended.
When Vree came out, she went straight to the garage and wheeled out a five-speed bike that had seen better days. She had a coil of rope with her, slung over her left shoulder.
She made me get off her bike and follow her on the five-speed. We rode west and up a long and steep road to Myers Ridge. Along the way, she told me that there had been gold mines on Myers Ridge many years ago and that she knew where to find more near her home.
Myers Ridge was a woodsy end moraine with dairy farms, cow and horse pastures, and miles of secondary woods and brushy new-growth meadows caused by centuries of heavy tree cutting. We had gone about three miles when we came to a white and vintage two-story farmhouse. A lanky boy our age waited for us at the foot of a long driveway.
To be continued.