Digging in the garden at Whit’s End one day, Dwayne Oswald, Jared DeWhite, and Eugene Meltsner find a buried box. The mysterious box contains a fedora (a hat), a newspaper article from 1921, a note, and something wrapped up. Eugene takes the artifacts to Jack Allen, and they read the note.
In nearly painful detail, the note describes a scene in which a boy accidentally shoots his father's gun and kills John P. Garrison, an innocent man who was walking across the street. When the townspeople start looking for the guilty party, instead of confessing, the boy keeps his secret. His father is sure it could not have been his gun, thinking he had unloaded it days before, so the boy is never suspected. The search for the killer eventually ends, and the mystery shooter grows up and falls in love with Rachel Oswald, the dead man's oldest daughter. Wracked with guilt, he breaks off his engagement, writes the note, and buries it in the box.
As Jack finishes reading, the boys find the gun in the box. They decide to tell the police about what they have discovered and Eugene and the boys make copies of the note. Jared and Dwayne take their copies to the library, where they find that Rachel Garrison, the dead man's daughter, was engaged to Dr. Thomas Newcastle a few years after the crime. They look him up in the phone book and also discover that Charles Oswald eventually married Rachel - Dwayne's great-grandmother. Thomas Newcastle murdered Dwayne’s great-great-grandfather!
The boys go to Dwayne's attic in search of more clues and find a letter from Rachel to Thomas, in which she speaks to him of her new-found faith in Christ, after years of anger over their broken engagement. She urges him to accept Christ and says that now, many years later, she forgives him for the pain he caused her. The boys go to see Thomas "Doc" Newcastle at the retirement home where he lives.
Just as they are telling him about the letter and the box they found, the police arrive. Doc Newcastle is arrested, but put on probation because of his young age at the time of the shooting and his current advanced age. Later, at Whit's End, Jack tells Eugene, Jared and Dwayne that he has been visiting Doc, and that because of his visits and the letter from Dwayne's great-grandmother, he has prayed to accept Christ. To symbolize that he is free, the boys are to bury the box where they found it, open and empty.
- Thomas Newcastle said that he had "buried his sin". Is our sin ever truly buried?
- In her letter, Rachel Oswald said she had spent many years feeling angry and bitter. How did she say that her pain was taken away?
- Have you ever done something that you found it hard to own up to?
Heard in episode
- This show contained the second (and thus far, final) appearance of Dr. Thomas Newcastle, a character who debuted back in #245: “The Mysterious Stranger, Part 2”.
- At the beginning of this episode, Eugene is singing his Christmas song "Seasonal Felicitations" (from the video Electric Christmas) under his breath.
- This is the second episode in which a Western (or at least rustic, pioneer-themed) story is explored with Jack Allen at J and J Antiques. The first was #402: “Arizona Sunrise” from the same season.
QuotesJared DeWhite: Wait a second. We're doing all this work for peas?
Eugene Meltsner: Precisely. You will soon enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Dwayne Oswald: Isn't that more like the vegetables of your labor?
Jack Allen: You don't think they'd try to solve this mystery on their own do you?
Eugene Meltsner: Hmmm. Two boys, one with hyper imagination.
Jack Allen: Eugene we have to find those boys. If the man they're looking for is still alive and they find him, who knows what he'll do to them?
Jared DeWhite: Why do I always get stuck doing the dirty work?
Eugene Meltsner: Uh, perhaps because you're so good at it?