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Before we begin
our story, let us go back 300 years to the late 1600s. In those years,
one of the most famous men in the world was Captain William Kidd.
Captain Kidd was a pirate. He sailed the seas, capturing any ships he
found. He and his men took money from these ships. Captain Kidd hid this
money in different places.
Captain Kidd was captured by the English in Boston, Massachusetts and
executed in the year 1701.
From that time on, people all over the world searched in many places for
Captain Kidd's stolen money.
The people who lived in Massachusetts in the seventeen hundreds believed
Captain Kidd buried some of his treasure near Boston. Not far from
Boston was a small river which ran into the Atlantic Ocean. An old story
said that Captain Kidd had come up this river from the ocean. Then he
buried his gold and silver and jewels under a big tree.
The story said that this treasure was protected by the devil himself,
who was a good friend of Captain Kidd.
In the year seventeen twenty-seven, a man named Tom Walker lived near
this place. Tom Walker was not a pleasant man. He loved only one thing
-- money. There was only one person worse than Tom. That was his wife.
She also loved money. These two were so hungry for money that they even
stole things from each other.
One day, Tom Walker was returning home through a dark forest. He walked
slowly and carefully, so that he would not fall into a pool of mud.
At last, he reached a piece of dry ground. Tom sat down on a tree that
had fallen. As he rested, he dug into the earth with a stick. He knew
the story that Indians had killed prisoners here as sacrifices to the
Devil. But this did not trouble him. The only devil Tom was afraid of
was his wife.
Tom's stick hit something hard. He dug it out of the earth. It was a
human skull. In the skull was an Indian ax.
Suddenly, Tom Walker heard an angry voice: "Don't touch that skull!"
Tom looked up. He saw a giant sitting on a broken tree. Tom had never
seen such a man. He wore the clothes of an Indian. His skin was almost
black and covered with ashes. His eyes were big and red. His black hair
stood up from his head. He carried a large ax.
The giant asked, "What are you doing on my land?" But Tom Walker was not
afraid. He answered, "What do you mean? This land belongs to Mister
The strange man laughed and pointed to the tall trees. Tom saw that one
of the trees had been cut by an ax. He looked more closely and saw that
the name Peabody had been cut into the tree. Mr. Peabody was a man who
got rich by stealing from Indians.
Tom looked at the other trees. Every one had the name of some rich,
important man from Massachusetts. Tom looked at the tree on which he was
sitting. It also had a name cut into it -- the name of Absalom
Crowninshield. Tom remembered that Mister Crowninshield was a very rich
man. People said he got his money as Captain Kidd did -- by stealing
Suddenly, the giant shouted: "Crowninshield is ready to be burned! I'm
going to burn many trees this winter!"
Tom told the man that he had no right to cut Mister Peabody's trees. The
stranger laughed and said, "I have every right to cut these trees. This
land belonged to me a long time before Englishmen came to Massachusetts.
The Indians were here. Then you Englishmen killed the Indians. Now I
show Englishmen how to buy and sell slaves. And I teach their women how
to be witches."
Tom Walker now knew that the giant was the Devil himself. But Tom Walker
was still not afraid.
The giant said Captain Kidd had buried great treasures under the trees,
but nobody could have them unless the giant permitted it. He said Tom
could have these treasures. But Tom had to agree to give the giant what
Tom Walker loved money as much as he loved life. But he asked for time
Tom went home. He told his wife what had happened. She wanted Captain
Kidd's treasure. She urged him to give the Devil what he wanted. Tom
At last, Misses Walker decided to do what Tom refused to do. She put all
her silver in a large piece of cloth and went to see the dark giant. Two
days passed. She did not return home. She was never seen again.
People said later that Tom went to the place where he had met the giant.
He saw his wife's cloth hanging in a tree. He was happy, because he
wanted to get her silver. But when he opened the cloth, there was no
silver in it -- only a human heart.
Tom was sorry he lost the silver, but not sorry he lost his wife. He
wanted to thank the giant for this. And so, every day he looked for the
giant. Tom finally decided that he would give the giant what he wanted
in exchange for Captain Kidd's treasure.
One night, Tom Walker met the giant and offered his soul in exchange for
Captain Kidd's treasure. The Devil now wanted more than that. He said
that Tom would have to use the treasure to do the Devil's work. He
wanted Tom to buy a ship and bring slaves to America.
As we have said, Tom Walker was a hard man who loved nothing but money.
But even he could not agree to buy and sell human beings as slaves. He
refused to do this.
The Devil then said that his second most important work was lending
money. The men who did this work for the Devil forced poor people who
borrowed money to pay back much more than they had received.
Tom said he would like this kind of work. So the Devil gave him Captain
A few days later, Tom Walker was a lender of money in Boston. Everyone
who needed help -- and there were many who did -- came to him. Tom
Walker became the richest man in Boston. When people were not able to
pay him, he took away their farms, their horses, and their houses.
As he got older and richer, Tom began to worry. What would happen when
he died? He had promised his soul to the Devil. Maybe. . .maybe. . . he
could break that promise.
Tom then became very religious. He went to church every week. He thought
that if he prayed enough, he could escape from the Devil.
One day, Tom took the land of a man who had borrowed money. The poor man
asked for more time to pay. "Please do not destroy me!" he said. "You
have already taken all my money!"
Tom got angry and started to shout, "Let the Devil take me if I have
taken any money from you!"
That was the end of Tom Walker. For just then, he heard a noise. He
opened the door. There was the black giant, holding a black horse. The
giant said, "Tom, I have come for you." He picked up Tom and put him on
the horse. Then he hit the horse, which ran off, carrying Tom.
Nobody ever saw Tom Walker again. A farmer said that he saw the black
horse, with a man on it, running wildly into the forest.
After Tom Walker disappeared, the government decided to take Tom's
property. But there was nothing to take. All the papers which showed
that Tom owned land and houses were burned to ashes. His boxes of gold
and silver had nothing in them but small pieces of wood. The wood came
from newly cut trees. Tom's horses died, and his house suddenly burned
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