Mystery of the Disappearing Gold

The hollow wooden prosthesis had a window just large enough to insert a gold ingot.
The hollow wooden prosthesis had a window just large enough to insert a gold ingot.

“FOR THE LIFE OF ME, I cannot figure out where they are disappearing to—and who is making them disappear!” A frustrated Phineas Caldwell admitted to his co-worker, Byron Hanson.

“It is such a mystery!” Byron agreed. “We have kept watch on all of them. We have scrutinized every movement of every person. It is time to call in the Secret Service, I believe. The U. S. Treasury is being drained. Eighty-five gold ingots have disappeared already. Not only is it a drain on the Treasury, it is embarrassing to admit that we cannot catch the culprit. I think we had better turn it over to a higher authority and let them take the heat.”

The two officials at the Denver Mint did just that. They called in the Secret Service that year in 1919, yet three more gold ingots disappeared.

The Secret Service agent did observe one worker with a bar in his hand. The worker put it back, as if he were just adjusting the stack of ingots. It aroused the suspicions of the agent, anyway, so he kept an even more watchful eye on the fellow.

The fellow, Orville Harrington was elated. He had purchased himself a new pair of slacks recently. He couldn’t keep from admiring them. They were neatly cut, comfortable and he liked the way the legs were roomy enough to ease smoothly over his boot tops with ample clearance. They didn’t get stuck. He liked his new look so much that he had polished his boots to a high sheen the previous evening. Nothing wrong with wanting to appear fashionable and dignified on the job—even if that job is kind of menial. Well, no matter. Someday, if I scrimp and save, I will have enough to buy myself that small, abandoned mine. He saved his pennies for just such an occasion.

Along about the time that ninety gold bars had disappeared from the Denver Mint, the Secret Service agent had an idea. He would set a trap for the suspicious Mr. Harrington. He started leaving gold bars in plain view near Harrington’s work bench. Sure enough, another bar disappeared.

The agent was convinced that Harrington had taken the bar, but when Orville was frisked by the agent, there was not one bar on his person. The agent scratched his head. He then did a closer examination, asking Harrington to pull up his pants legs. He found the answer.

Orville Harrington had been injured as a child and lost his lower right leg. A wooden prosthesis had been made. It was hollow. Harrington had been walking out with the ingots in his hollow leg, one bar at a time.

“Oh, I planned to stop stealing,” Harrington explained. “I was going to buy a little abandoned mine near here, melt down the gold, insert the melted gold into the rocks of the mine. I would then go into the mine and ‘strike it rich!’” Orville Harrington began to laugh at his simple plan. It was the plan of a genius, he thought. He continued to laugh until he heard the door on his cell slam shut.

It went “clang!”

Please click the book cover image to read more about Sara Marie Hogg and her novels.


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