Arthur Gates’ Letter

The following day Don decided to walk to town and see if there was a
letter for him at the postoffice. He expected one from his father. The
others were studying so Don went alone to the town. He could have waited
until the mail was delivered to the school, but that would be over the
weekend, and he did not feel like waiting. He walked to town and entered
the local postoffice.

A number of persons were waiting for their mail, so he took his place in
line and waited patiently. A man ahead of him looked familiar to Don,
and when the man had obtained his mail he turned away from the window
and Don saw that it was Arthur Gates.

Gates had a number of letters in his hand, some of which he had received
at the window and some of which he intended to mail. He passed Don and
the boy paid no further attention to him. Don got his letter and left
the window. As he did so he saw Gates walk to the door, open it, and as
he was going out, drop a letter.

Don stepped forward and picked up the letter which Gates had dropped.
The man was evidently in a hurry, for he passed out of the door and
walked down the street rapidly. Thinking that the letter was one which
Gates had intended to mail Don decided to drop it in the slot himself,
but when he got to the mail opening he noted that the letter was
addressed to Gates, and that it was postmarked Canada.

“Shucks,” he muttered in disgust. “Now I’ve got to go and catch him.”

With this thought in mind Don darted out of the door and looked down the
darkened street for Gates, but he was not to be seen. He walked to the
corner and looked up and down but without success. Gates was nowhere in
sight. Feeling that he must go back and leave the letter with the
postmaster Don was on the point of returning when a church clock struck
the hour.

“Golly,” he reflected. “I haven’t time. I’ll have to get back to school
at once, and on the double.”

There was no time to drop the letter off at Gates’ house and Don decided
to put it in his pocket and take it around to the house on the following
day when he took his regular Sunday afternoon walk. He thrust it deep
into his pocket and half walking, half running, reached the school
building just in time. Without even thinking of the letter which did not
belong to him he hung up his overcoat and went to supper.

It was not until after supper that he again thought of the letter and
then he went to the room. Jim and Terry were in the Recreation Hall,
watching a game of chess between two upper classmen, and Don was alone
in the room. He took the letter from his pocket, stared at it, thrust
his hand quickly into the pocket and then uttered a cry of dismay.

“Wet!” he cried. “I must have gotten some snow in my pocket and it has
soaked the letter through. Darn it, the glue on the envelope has come
off.”

The envelope had indeed opened and the letter was wet through on one
end. He decided to dry the paper and without any intention of looking at
its contents pulled the dampened sheets out of the bedraggled envelope
and spread them on top of the table.

“There, that will dry in a short time,” he thought. “Then I’ll seal it
up and explain about it to Mr. Gates tomorrow.”

The last sheet was turned up toward him. He glanced at it and was about
to turn away, when a word struck his attention. He looked down and then
hesitated.

“Humph, I musn’t read this,” he thought. “I shouldn’t even have it.
But—”

Then he decided to see what the word “cup” was about. He picked up the
letter and read the paragraph. It read as follows:

“I understand your anxiety about that trophy cup that has caused all of
the trouble, and I will do my best to help you. As long as I and George
Long are the only ones who know the full story about that cup, I feel it
my duty to help you in any way that I can. I was wondering why you
didn’t take the thing to a jeweler and have the bottom scraped, but I
can see what that would have meant, and the best thing is to get it away
from your house. There is no telling who might some day get ahold of the
thing and find out the truth, and with those cadets in the same town
such a thing wouldn’t be wise. I will be down to see you in a week’s
time, and when I return to Canada I’ll take the cup with me and will
keep it safely in my cabin here. When you come to visit me next summer
we can scrape the bottom ourselves or we can throw it in the river,
whatever you say. Too bad you ever did such an outlandish thing.”

The letter was signed “Oliver Burgess.”

“Now, what the devil can that mean?” puzzled the astonished Don. “It is
surely referring to the missing 1933 trophy, but I wonder what all that
stuff about the scraping of the bottom means?”