A mysterious note in invisible ink leads the Sugar Creek Gang on a hunt for buried treasure. Is the key to the treasure in the weathered log house, or is it in the icehouse? Will the Gang have a run-in with the accomplice to the Ostberg kidnapping? Find out with the boys the terrible effects sin has on families when it has a hold on the father.The Sugar Creek Gang series chronicles the faith-building adventures of a group of fun-loving, courageous Christian boys. These classic stories have been inspiring children to grow in their faith for more than five decades. More than three million copies later, children continue to grow up relating to members of the gang as they struggle with the application of their Christian faith to the adventure of life.Now that these stories have been updated for a new generation, you and your child can join in the Sugar Creek excitement.
About the Author
The late PAUL HUTCHENS, one of evangelical Christianity's most prolific authors, went to be with the Lord on January 23, 1977. Mr. Hutchens, an ordained Baptist minister, served as an evangelist and itinerant preacher for many years. Best known for his Sugar Creek Gang series, Hutchens was a 1927 graduate of Moody Bible Institute. He was the author of 19 adult novels, 36 books in the Sugar Creek Gang series, and several booklets for servicemen during World War II. Mr. Hutchens and his wife, Jane, were married 52 years. They had two children and four grandchildren.
Read an Excerpt
Sugar Creek Gang 14 The Treasure Hunt
By Paul Hutchens
Moody PublishersCopyright © 1998 Pauline Hutchens Wilson
All rights reserved.
I was sitting in a big white rowboat. It was docked at the end of the pier that ran far out into the water of the lake. From where I sat in the stern, I could see the two brown tents where the rest of the Sugar Creek Gang were supposed to be taking a short afternoon nap.
That was one of the rules about camp life none of us liked very well but which was good for us because then we always had more pep for the rest of the day and didn't get too tired before night.
I'd already had my afternoon nap and had sneaked out of the tent and to the dock, where I was right that minute. I was just sitting there and imagining things such as whether there would be anything very exciting to see if some of the gang could explore that big tree-covered island about a mile away across the water.
Whew! It certainly was hot out there close to the water with the sunlight pouring itself on me from above and also shining up at me from below. The lake was like a big blue mirror that caught sunlight and reflected it right up under my straw hat, making my hot freckled face even hotter. Because it was the style for people to get tanned all over, I didn't mind the heat as much as I might have.
It seemed to be getting hotter every minute, though. It was the kind of day we sometimes had back home at Sugar Creek just before some big thunderheads came sneaking up and surprised us with a fierce storm.
It was also a perfect day for a sunbath. What on earth made people want to get brown all over for anyway? I thought. Then I looked down at my freckled brownish arm and was disgusted with myself. Instead of getting a nice tan like Circus, the acrobatic member of our gang, I always got sunburned and freckled, and my upper arm looked like a piece of raw steak instead of a nice piece of brown fried chicken. Thinking that reminded me that I was hungry, and I wished it was supper time.
It certainly was a quiet camp, I thought, as I looked at the two tents where the rest of the gang was supposed to be sleeping. I just couldn't imagine anybody sleeping that long—anyway, not any boy—unless he was at home and it was morning and time to get up and do the chores.
Just that second I heard the sound of footsteps from up the shore. Looking up, I saw a smallish boy with brown curly hair coming toward me along the path that runs all along the shoreline. I knew right away it was Little Jim, my almost best friend and the greatest little guy that ever lived. I knew it was Little Jim not only because he carried his ash stick with him—which was about as long as a man's cane—but because of the shuffling way he walked. I noticed he was stopping every now and then to stoop over and look at some wild-flower. Then he'd write something down in a book he was carrying, which I knew was a wild-flower guidebook.
He certainly was an interesting little guy, I thought. I guess he hadn't seen me, because I could hear him talking to himself, which he had a habit of doing when he was alone. There was something kind of nice about it that made me like him even better than ever.
I think that little guy does more honest-to-goodness thinking than any of the rest of the gang—certainly more than Dragonfly, the pop-eyed member, who is spindle-legged and slim and whose nose turns south at the end; or Poetry, the barrel-shaped member, who reads all the books he can get his hands on and who knows 101 poems by heart and is always quoting one; and also even more than Big Jim, the leader of our gang, who is the oldest and who has maybe seventeen smallish strands of fuzz on his upper lip, which one day will be a mustache.
I ducked my head down below the dock so Little Jim couldn't see me and listened, still wondering, What on earth!
Little Jim stopped right beside the path that leads from the dock to the Indian kitchen, which was close by the two brown tents. He stooped down and said, "Hm! Wild strawberry." He leafed through the book he was carrying and wrote something down. Then he looked around him and, seeing a balm of Gilead tree by the dock with some five-leaved ivy on it, went straight to the tree and with his magnifying glass began to study the ivy.
I didn't know that I was going to call out to him and interrupt his thoughts. That was something my mother had taught me not to do when a person is thinking hard, because nobody likes to have somebody interrupt his thoughts.
But I did. "Hi, Little Jim!" I said from the stern of the boat.
That little guy acted as cool as a cucumber. He just looked slowly around in different directions, including up and down. Then his blue eyes looked absentmindedly into mine, and for some reason I had the kindest, warmest feeling toward him.
His face wasn't tanned like the rest of the gang's. He was what people called "fair"; his small nose was straight, his little chin was pear-shaped, and his darkish eyebrows were straight across. His small ears were the way they sometimes were—lopped over a little because that was the way he nearly always wore his straw hat.
When he saw me sitting there in the boat, he grinned and said, "I'll bet I'll get an A in nature study in school next fall. I've found forty-one different kinds of wildflowers."
I wasn't interested in the study of plants at all right that minute. I was interested in having some kind of an adventure. I said to Little Jim, "I wonder if there are any different kinds of flowers over there on that island where Robinson Crusoe had his adventures."
Little Jim looked at me without seeing me, I thought. Then he grinned and said, "Robinson Crusoe never saw that island."
"Oh yes, he did! He's looking at it right this very minute and wishing he could explore it and find treasure or something," I answered, wishing I were Robinson Crusoe myself.
Just that second another voice piped up from behind some sumac on the other side of the balm of Gilead tree. "You can't be a Robinson Crusoe and land on a tropical island without having a shipwreck first, and who wants to have a wreck?"
I knew it was Poetry, even before he shuffled out from behind the sumac and I saw his round face and his heavy eyebrows that grew straight across the top of his nose, as if he had just one big long eyebrow instead of two like most people.
"You are a wreck," I called to him, joking. We always liked to have word fights that we didn't mean, after which we always liked each other even better.
"I'll leave you guys to fight it out," Little Jim said to us. "I've got to find me nine more kinds of wildflowers." With that, that little chipmunk of a guy scuffed on up the shore, swinging his stick around and stooping over to study some new kind of flower he spied every now and then.
And that's how Poetry and I got our heads together to plan a game of Robinson Crusoe, not knowing we were going to run into one of the strangest adventures we'd had in our whole lives.
"See here," Poetry said, grunting and sliding down off the side of the dock and into the boat where I was, "if we play Robinson Crusoe, we'll have to have one other person to go along with us."
"But there were only two of them," I said, "Robinson Crusoe himself and his man Friday, the boy who became his servant, and whom Crusoe saved from being eaten by the cannibals, and who, after he was saved, did nearly all Crusoe's work for him."
"All right," Poetry said, "I'll be Crusoe, and you be his man Friday."
"I will not," I said. "I'm already Crusoe. I thought of it first, and I'm already him."
Poetry and I frowned at each other.
Then his round face brightened, and he said, "All right, you be Crusoe, and I'll be one of the cannibals getting ready to eat your man Friday, and you come along and rescue him."
"But if you're going to be a cannibal, I'll have to shoot you, and then you'll be dead," I said.
That spoiled that plan for a minute, until Poetry's bright mind thought of something else, which was, "Didn't Robinson Crusoe have a pet goat on the island with him?"
"Sure," I said.
And Poetry said, "All right, after you shoot me, I'll be the goat."
Well, that settled that, but we couldn't decide right that minute the problem of which one of the gang should be the boy Robinson Crusoe saved on a Friday and whom he named his man Friday.
It was Poetry who thought of a way to help us decide which other one of the gang to take along with us. It happened like this.
"Big Jim is out," I said, "because he's too big and would want to be the leader himself, and Robinson Crusoe has to be that."
"And Circus is out too," Poetry said, "on account of he's almost as big as Big Jim."
"Then there's only Little Jim, Dragonfly, and Little Tom Till left," I said.
Then Poetry said, "Maybe not a one of them will be willing to be your man Friday."
We didn't have time to talk about it any further. Right then Dragonfly came moseying out toward us from his tent, his spindly legs swinging awkwardly and his crooked nose and dragonflylike eyes making him look just like a ridiculous Friday afternoon, I thought.
"He's the man I want," I said. "We three have had lots of exciting adventures together, and he'll be perfect."
"But he can't keep quiet when there's a mystery. He always sneezes just when we don't want him to."
Dragonfly reached the pier and let the bottoms of his bare feet go ker-plop, ker-plop, ker-plop on the smooth boards, getting closer with every ker-plop.
When he spied Poetry and me in the boat, he stopped as if he had been shot at. He looked down at us and said in an accusing voice, "You guys going on a boat ride? I'm going along!"
I started to say, "Sure, we want you," thinking that, when we got over to the island, we could make a man Friday out of him as easy as pie.
But Poetry beat me to it by saying, "There's only one more of the gang going with us, and it might not be you."
Dragonfly plopped himself down on the edge of the dock, swung one foot out to the gunwale of the boat, caught it with his toes, and pulled it toward him. Then he slid himself in and sat down on the seat behind Poetry. "If anybody goes, I go, or I'll scream and tell the rest of the gang, and nobody'll get to go."
I looked at Poetry, and he looked at me, and our eyes said to each other, Now what?
"Are you willing to be eaten by a cannibal?" I asked, and he got a puzzled look in his eyes. "There're cannibals over there on that island—one, anyway—a great big barrel—shaped one that—"
Poetry's fist shot forward and socked me in my ribs, which didn't have any fat on them, and I grunted and stopped talking at the same time.
"We're going to play Robinson Crusoe," Poetry said, "and whoever goes will have to be willing to do everything I say—I mean everything Bill says."
"Please," Dragonfly said. "I'll do anything."
Well, that was a promise, but Poetry wasn't satisfied. He pretended he wanted Tom Till togo along, because he liked Tom a lot and thought he'd make a better man Friday than Dragonfly.
"We'll try you out," Poetry said and caught hold of the dock and climbed out of the boat.
The other two of us followed him.
"We'll have to initiate you," Poetry explained, as we all walked along together. "We can't take anybody on a treasure hunt who can't keep quiet when he's told to and who can't take orders without saying, 'Why?'"
"Why?" Dragonfly wanted to know.
But Poetry said with a very serious face, "It isn't funny," and we went on.
"What're you going to do?" Dragonfly asked, as we marched him along with us up the shoreline to the place where we were going to initiate him.
I didn't know myself where we were going to do it. But Poetry seemed to know exactly what to do and where to go and why, so I acted as though I knew too.
Poetry made me stop to pick up a big empty gallon can that had had prunes in it—the gang ate prunes for breakfast nearly every morning on our camping trip.
"What's that for?" Dragonfly asked.
And Poetry said, "That's to cook our dinner in."
"You mean—you mean—me?"
"You," Poetry said. "Or you can't be Bill's man Friday."
"But I get saved, don't I?" Dragonfly said with a worried voice.
"Sure, just as soon as I get shot," Poetry explained.
"And then you turn into a goat," I said, as he panted along beside us, "and right away you eat the prune can."
With that, Poetry smacked his lips as though he had just finished eating a delicious tin can. Then he leaned over and groaned as if it had given him a stomachache.
Right that second, I decided to test Dragonfly's obedience, so I said, "All right, Friday, take the can you're going to be cooked in and fill it half full of lake water!"
There was a quick scowl on Dragonfly's face, which said, I don't want to do it. He shrugged his scrawny shoulders, lifted his eyebrows and the palms of his hands at the same time and said, "I'm a poor heathen. I can't understand English. I don't want to fill any old prune can with water."
With that, I scowled and said to Poetry in a fierce voice, "That settles that! He can't take orders. Let's send him home!"
Boy, did Dragonfly ever come to life in a hurry! "All right, all right," he whined, "give me the can." He grabbed it out of my hand, made a dive toward the lake, dipped the can in, and came back with it filled clear to the top with nice clean water.
"Here, Crusoe," he puffed. "Your man Friday is your humble slave." He extended the can toward me.
"Carry it yourself!" I said.
And then, all of a sudden, Dragonfly set it down on the ground where some of it splashed over the top onto Poetry's shoes. Dragonfly got a stubborn look on his face and said, "I think the cannibal ought to carry it. I'm not even Friday yet—not till the cannibal gets killed."
Well, he was right, so Poetry looked at me and I at him, and he picked up the can, and we went on till we came in sight of the boathouse, which, if you've read Screams in the Night, you will already know about.
It was going to be fun initiating Dragonfly—just how much fun I didn't know. And I certainly didn't know what a mystery we were going to run into in less than fifteen minutes.
In only a little while we came to Santa's boathouse. Santa, as you know, was the owner of the property where we had pitched our tents. He also owned a lot of other lakeshore property up there in that part of the Paul Bunyan country. Everybody called him Santa because he was round like all the different Santa Clauses we'd seen, and he was always laughing.
Santa himself called to us with his big laughing voice when he saw us coming. "Well, well, if it isn't Bill Collins, Dragonfly, and Poetry." Santa, being a smart man, knew that if there's anything a boy likes to hear better than anything else it's somebody calling him by his name.
"Hi," we all answered him.
Poetry set down the prune can of water with a savage sigh as if it was too heavy for him to stand and hold.
Santa was standing beside his boathouse door, holding a hammer in one hand and a handsaw in the other.
"Where to with that can of water?" he asked us.
And Dragonfly said, "We're going to pour the water in a big hole up there on the hill and make a new lake."
Santa grinned at all of us with a mischievous twinkle in his blue eyes, knowing Dragonfly hadn't told any lie but was only doing what most boys do most all the time anyway—playing make—believe.
"May we look inside your boathouse for a minute?" Poetry asked.
And Santa said, "Certainly. Go right in."
We did and looked around a little.
Poetry acted very mysterious, as though he was thinking about something important. He frowned with his wide forehead and looked at different things such as the cot in the far end, the shavings and sawdust on the floor, and the carpenter's tools above the workbench—which were chisels, screwdrivers, saws, planes, and hammers and nails. Also, Poetry examined the different kinds of boards made out of beautifully stained wood.
"You boys like to hold this saw and hammer a minute?" Santa asked us. He handed a hammer to me and a saw handle to Dragonfly, which we took, not knowing why.
"That's the hammer and that's the saw the kidnapper used the night he was building thegrave house in the Indian cemetery," Santa said.
I felt and must have looked puzzled till he explained, saying, "The police found them the night you boys caught him."
"But—but how did they get here?" I asked.
Excerpted from Sugar Creek Gang 14 The Treasure Hunt by Paul Hutchens. Copyright © 1998 Pauline Hutchens Wilson. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the 3rd book about the Sugar Creek Gang in the North woods. While playing a game of Robinson Crusoe, Bill, Poetry, Dragonfly, and Circus find an envelope with a blank sheet of paper in it. Later, they find out that the blank sheet of paper is really a map written in invisible ink. Could this be a map to the ransome money the kidnapper hid? Could Tom Till's dad be an accomplice working with the kidnapper? If he's not, then why is he and Bob Till up in the North woods?