Here comes the cousins’ foray into historical fiction, and while I never think the conclusion is worth talking about, since the journey is the adventure, I do think there was an alternate solution to this mystery.
The short story takes place back when Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday were widely celebrated separately, respectively, the 22nd and 12th, They were more or less combined, but remained officially Washington’s Birthday, when the US Congress moved the holiday to the third Monday in February. Now, the holiday is not so much about honoring president’s but exchanging green pieces of money with their visages.
In 1791, President George Washington, this story goes, planted a small oak grove with personal treasures (a sword, and a half-disme) under one of the trees. Skip to 1947, the property owner descendants, in dire financial straights, need to find and sell the buried treasure. They destroy all 12 oaks, and find nothing. Ellery shows up, figures there must have been 13 trees, one for each state (Vermont still two weeks from statehood), and the missing tree, Ellery deduces, must have been in the center of the equilateral triangle created by the other dozen.
Why in the center? Perhaps the president could have planted it on top of the triangle, as the eye above the pyramid. But no. Why wasn’t this even considered?
Ellery meditates long and hard on the location of the 13th tree. Regarding Washington, “Trying to break through his defenses. Get into his mind. it’s not an easy mind to get into. He’s been dead such a long time – that makes the difference. The dead are stubborn, Nikki.”
He breaks through the stubborn, dead mind, finds the treasure, and everyone lives happily ever after. Except for the oaks hand-planted by the father of his country, which are quite dead.