Jupiter, rather ashamed of himself. ' I was only
funnin'. Me feared of it ? What do I care for the
beetle ? ' and keeping the string at a safe distance from
him he began to climb the tree.
In spite of its size the tulip tree was not so difficult
to mount as it looked, for it was so old that the smooth
trunk had become rough and full of round bosses, and
had even put out some short boughs, which gave ample
foothold for the negro's naked feet. At last a voice was
heard coming from a long way up : ' How much farther
must I go ? '
' Count how many branches are below you on this
side,' shouted Legrand.
' Six, massa.'
c Then go up one more.'
For a few minutes there was silence, then Jupiter
cried again : ' All right, massa. What now ? '
' Work your way along that branch as far as you
can,' called Legrand, who was greatly excited, ' and if
you see anything strange let me know.'
Again there was a pause, and then a cry from
Jupiter : ' I'm most afraid to venture very far ; the
branch is dead pretty much all the way.'
At this news Legrand trembled and turned white,
and his friend became more than ever certain that he
had lost his senses. But in a moment his face cleared,
and he shouted through the branches : ' Try the wood
with your knife and see if it is very rotten.'
Jupiter obeyed. ' Not so very rotten as might be,'
THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE 227
he answered at last. ' I might venture a little way out
1 By yourself ? What do you mean ? '
' Well, without the beetle. It's a very heavy beetle.
Suppose I was to drop him down first, and then the
branch won't break with the weight of one old nigger.'
You scoundrel ! ' shouted Legrand, though he was
plainly much relieved. ' As sure as you drop that
beetle I will break your neck. But if you hold it tight
and crawl along that branch as far as you think it is
safe I'll give you a silver dollar as soon as you get down.'
' I'm going, Massa Will,' answered Jupiter. ' I'm
most out to the end now. Ah ! Ah ! What is that
horrid thing ? '
'' What ? What ? ' exclaimed Legrand, who w r as
highly delighted. ' Well, what is it ? '
; Why, a skull ; nothing but a skull ! Somebody has
left his head up the tree.'
' A skull you say. W T ell, how is it fastened
on ? '
* Ah ! I must look. Why, there's a great big nail in
the skull, that fastens it on.'
' Now, Jupe, do exactly as I tell you. Find the
left eye of the skull.'
' He, he ! that's good. Why, there ain't no eye left
' You idiot ! Do you know your right hand from
your left ? '
' Yes, I know that ; all about that ! '
' Then find the place in the skull where the left eye
has been. Have you found it ? '
There w r as a long pause. At length the negro asked :
' Is the left eye of the skull on the same side as the
left hand of the skull too ? Because the skull hasn't
got not a bit of a hand at all. Never mind ! I've
got the left eye now ! Here's the left eye ! What must
I do with it ? '
228 THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE
' Let the beetle drop through it as far as the string
will reach, but be careful not to let go the string.'
' All that done, massa Will. Mighty easy thing to
put the beetle through the hole. Look out for him
During this conversation not a sign could be seen of
Jupiter in the branches, but now the two men caught
a glimpse of the beetle hanging low at the end of the
string, shining like solid gold. It dangled in the air,
straight down from the branch, and if Jupiter had let
go the string it would have fallen at their feet. But
calling to the negro not to move, Legrand seized the
scythe, and cleared away the brambles and grass under-
neath the beetle, till he had lain bare quite a large
space in the form of a circle.
THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE 229
' Now drop it,' he cried, and Jupiter thankfully let
the beetle drop on the ground.
Meanwhile Robertson had silently watched Legrand
and became more and more uneasy at his growing excite-
ment. That his friend was mad he was now entirely
convinced, but as long as his proceedings were harmless
he determined not to interfere. What would Legrand
do next ? he wondered ; and what Legrand did was very
First he cut a peg from a bush and drove it into the
earth at the very place where the beetle had dropped.
Next he took a measuring- tape from his pocket, and tied
it to a small branch on the side of the tree in a line with
the peg. He then unrolled it, counting his steps as far as
the peg, and on again till he was about fifty feet from the
tree. Here he drove another peg, and waited till Jupiter
came down and mowed a circle about twelve feet round.
' That is all right,' he exclaimed joyfully ; ' we can all
begin to dig now,' and as he spoke he thrust a spade into
Robertson's hands, and, snatching up a second, quickly
threw up the earth. Very unwillingly Robertson
followed his example ; he was no gardener at any time,
and at that moment \vas very tired with his long climb,
jtmt he dared not refuse, for fear of irritating the excited
So as soon as the lanterns were lit all three men
fell to work, and dug silently and steadily for two hours,
the only sound being occasional barks from the dog,
who took as much interest in the hunt as his betters.-
Indeed at last he grew so noisy that Legrand was afraid
that he might be overheard by some passing stranger,
and bade Jupiter tie up his mouth with his handkerchief ,
The hole was now five feet deep, and still no tiling
had been found. With a face of disappointment,
Legrand flung down his spade, and speechless with
disgust, put on his coat while he signed to Jupiter to
pick up the tools and to unmuzzle the dog. Robertson,
230 THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE
thankful that the affair had at last come to an end, held
his peace, and turned to follow the others down the
But he had rejoiced too soon. They had hardly gone
a dozen yards when Legrand suddenly gave a loud cry
and seized the astonished Jupiter by the collar.
You villain ! ' he shouted, ' it is all your fault. Tell
me, you scoundrel, which is your left eye ? '
' Oh, gracious, massa Will, ain't this my left eye ? '
placing, as he spoke, his hand over his right.''
' I thought so I knew it,' and Legrand began to
wave his arms about in so wild a manner that his
companions were more alarmed than ever.
! We must go back at once,' he continued ; ' there is
still another chance,' and he raced back along the path,
with the weary Robertson behind him.
' Jupiter,' he said more quietly when, they reached
the tree, ' was the skull nailed to the branch with its face
outwards ?. '
Yes, massa, that's so. It was outwards.'
Then was it this eye that you dropped it through ? '
asked Legrand, pointing to the negro's right eye.
Yes, massa, this eye the left eye just as you told
me,' answered he.
' Well, we must try it again,' said Legrand, and he
moved the peg where the beetle had fallen about three
inches to the west of the spot where he had first put it.
Then he took his measurements again, and drove in
another peg at a distance of several yards from the place
where they had dug before.
Curiously enough, in spite of his fatigue, Robertson
had begun to see a glimmer of light in Legrand's actions,
and was wondering if he had not been deceived in so
hastily determining that his friend was a lunatic. He
was now quite eager to do his part in the digging, and
after the circle had been cleared they worked on silently
THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE 231
for an hour and a half, when they were startled by the
violent howls of the dog. Jupiter approached him with
toe. ca.u.Qh.t in. an iron.
the handkerchief, but he snarled and showed his teeth,
and springing into the hole began to scratch. In a minute
or two he had laid bare two skeletons with some strips
of cloth clinging to the bones and some metal buttons.
232 THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE
Pushing the dog aside, Legrand threw up another
spoonful of earth and came upon a Spanish knife and
a few gold coins.
' Is that all ? ' exclaimed Legrand in a voice full of
disappointment, though Jupiter's eyes shone witli
delight. ' Well, it is quite useless ; we had better go,' and
Robertson, in spite of his opinion as to the folly of the
affair, felt a pang shoot through him. But at the instant
his toe caught in an iron ring that had been hidden by
some loose earth, and he tumbled heavily forwards.
Legrand had seen, but said nothing. Only he began
to dig as man had never dug before. After ten minutes
they uncovered a large box of wood with iron bands,
far too heavy to lift had not three 'rings been fastened
to each side, by which it was just possible for the
three men to raise it slightly. Full as it was of some-
thing very heavy, it was madness to think of carrying it
away unless it was partly emptied, and this they were
luckily able to do, for the box was shut by two sliding
bolts. Slowly, for they were rusty indeed, these were
Since the world began perhaps no eyes had ever
looked on such a mass of treasures in so small a space.
Precious stones, crowns, belts, bowls, besides piles and
piles of golden coins. At the sight Jupiter appeared
turned into stone, and then falling on his knees in the
hole and letting great handfuls of the gold slip through
his fingers, he exclaimed :
' And all this comes from the gold beetle, the pretty
gold beetle which I abused in that savage kind of style..
Ain't you ashamed of yourself, nigger ? Answer me
As Legrand stood still, staring at the treasure, and
showed no signs of moving, Robertson at last touched
' Jf we are to get these things to the island before
THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE 233
daylight we must start now,' he said ; ' but you had
better make up your mind what you are going to take.'
This was not easy, but time pressed, and at length
it was decided to hide all that could not be removed
among the thick bushes and tall grass, and to leave the
dog as guardian, while they carried the chest between
them back to the hut, returning at once for the
Fatigued as they all were, nothing but excitement
would have enabled them to execute this plan, and
in after days they often w r ondered at their strength.
But somehow' or other it w T as done, and by four o'clock
they were again in ^he hut, unnoticed by any human
being, and able to sleep for some hours, totally exhausted.
When they a\voke and had had some food they w 7 ere
able to examine their treasure a little more calmly.
They were in no hurry, and it was a joy to them,
after all their fatigue, to handle each beautiful thing,
and to hold the jewels up to the sun and watch how the
light flashed through them. Then there w r as the money
to be counted ; all gold great heavy pieces from every
country in Europe, and some of them so old that they
could not make anything out of the w r orn-out letters.
There were also nearly tw r o hundred gold watches,
all of them useless, but with backs of dark blue enamel,
covered with pearls and diamonds, and quantities of
other curiosities such as the two men had never seen or
At length the counting was over, and it had lasted
the best part of two days, and w r hen the treasure was
put safely back in the box, and hidden in a hole dug
amongst the myrtle bushes, Robertson said to Legrand :
' I think I have been very patient, but I can w r ait no
longer. You must tell me how you came to guess at the
existence of all that gold, and where it was buried.'
' Well,' answered Legrand, ' do you remember that
234 THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE
evening a month ago when you came here, and I showed
you the rough sketch I had made of the beetle, you
declared that it was a skull ? I am rather proud of my
drawing and did not like it to be laughed at, so when you
handed it back I crumpled it up, and was going to
throw the parchment into the fire, when to my surprise
J saw a skull just in the very place where I thought I
had drawn the beetle. I took the candle into the
corner, and examined the parchment again, and found
that since I had sketched the beetle on one side of the
parchment, the skull had appeared in exactly the same
place on the other side. Now I knew very well there
had been no skull there when I made my sketch, for I
had looked up and down for a clean spot, which was
hard to find, and could not have helped noticing the
skull. It was very strange, but I did not wish to talk
of my discovery till I understood it better, so as long
as you were there I said nothing.
' When you and Jupiter were both gone I began to
think out the puzzle step by step. We had picked up the
beetle on a lonely part of the mainland, a little above
high- water mark, while it was basking in the sun on a
rock. As soon as I touched it it bit me sharply, and
flew towards Jupiter. Warned by my cry of pain he
looked about for something to wrap round his hand before
trying to catch it, and he saw sticking out of the sand
this bit of parchment, and near by the hull of a ship's
boat. This had probably lain there for long, but a
furious gale must have recently blown the sand away
and left it exposed to view.
' Wrapping the beetle in the parchment I brought it
home, and on the way met young Gates, commanding
the Fort, who is as fond of natural history as I am
myself. He begged me to let him keep it for the night,
and put it loose in his pocket. I suppose I must have
put the parchment in mine without knowing that I
did so anyhow, that was where 1 found it when I was
THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE 235
searching for a piece of paper to make the sketch to
' I was turning these things over in my mind after
you had left me when an explanation suddenly flashed
across my brain. / had been sitting near the fire when
I drew the beetle, and you were stooping over it to see
more clearly when Wolf leaped on your shoulders and
knocked the parchment on to the hearth. Reflecting
on these various events, I recollected that certain
chemicals could be used to write with on either parch-
ment or paper, which would remain quite invisible
unless they were exposed to heat. This, surely, had
happened here, and, full of excitement, I threw more
wood on the fire and held the parchment as close to it
as I dared. At first the skull only stood out more
clearly, but by-and-by I saw in the corner of the parch-
ment, which was a long and narrow slip, the figure of a
' I see by your face that you think I am raving, but
wait a little. The skull, as everybody knows, is the
emblem of a pirate, and no pirate-ship ever goes into
battle without hoisting a flag with a death's head on it.
Then, was not the greatest of all pirates Captain Kidd,
and is not the kid drawn in the very place where a man
w r ould put his signature ? I was full of triumph when
this notion occurred to me, but one fact still perplexed
me there seemed to be no letter filling the space
between the skull and the kid.
' This was a disappointment, but in spite of it I had
a strange feeling that some good luck was going to
befall, and all at once I remembered the stories I had
heard ever since I had lived in this island that Kidd and
his followers had buried some of their plunder along this
deserted coast. Of course I knew he might have died
before he could reclaim it, or the parchment enabling
him to trace the spot perhaps this very slip may
have been lost, or it might have been already found
236 THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE
and secretly removed ; but in any case I meant to do all
I could to get hold of the treasure, to which I had as
good a right as anyone else.
' Picking up the parchment again from the floor where
it had fallen I passed my ringer tips lightly over it. It
was very greasy, as well as very dirty might not both
dirt and grease prevent the heat of the fire from acting
as it should ? So I boiled some water and poured it
carefully over the parchment, and then laid it over a
pan of burning charcoal. After a few minutes I took
the slip away and looked at it. Yes, there sure enough
were several lines of dots and figures, but they were
as yet too faint to make out. I held the parchment
again over the pan, and after a little while the dots and
figures stood out plainly. If I put the parchment to
the fire you can see for yourself.'
Now what Robertson saw was something very odd
and curious, and he could not understand it at all.
But some persons, and Legrand was one of them, are
fond of making out puzzles, and may like to discover
this one, which is quite easy. If they do not, they can
skip it, and pass on to the explanation which Legrand
was obliged to give his friend.
4)8]J8*;4069285);)6 f8)4}i;l( J9;48081; 8:8tl;48f85;4)485f
' I am as much in the dark as ever,' said Robertson,
when he had stared at the slip for some time. ' If all the
jewels in the world depended on my reading it, I should
have to give them up.'
' Oh, it is really quite simple,' answered Legrand ;
' I have found out many more difficult puzzles when I
was a boy. Of course the only thing that makes it
hard is the fact that there are no divisions between the
words. But in cyphers of this kind you begin by seeing,
THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE 237
which sign occurs most frequently, and then you know
that you have got hold of the letter E. After that you
next look for the sign E combined with two other letters,
,and you guess at once that the word is ' ' the," so you now
have three letters to start with. A sign standing alone
is " a ' or " I," and words of two letters are " in,"
" to," " of," " at," and so on. Here, where the words
are undivided, you must w T ork from the letters you are
certain of, and then read down the page of a book and
count which letters of the alphabet are used most
frequently, and which letters can be doubled and
which not. This you soon discover with a little practice ;
you can try for yourself. Hxnvever, I will tell you at
once the meaning of the cypher, which is thus : " A good
glass in the bishop's hostel in the devil's seat forty-one
degrees and thirteen minutes north-east and by north
main branch seventh limb east side shoot from the left
eye of the death's head a bee line from the tree through
the shot fifty feet out." '
' It sounds amazingly clever to me,' replied Robert-
son, ' but I am as far as ever from understanding how
it enabled you to find the place of the hidden treasure.'
'There doesn't seem much connexion, I confess,'
said he, ' but I saw that the first thing to do was to form
separate sentences. That was very soon accomplished,
and then the words read thus :
' " A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the devil's
seat forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes north-
east and by north main branch seventh limb east
side shoot from the left eye of the death's head a
bee line from the shot fifty feet out."
' Well, even then I was not much wiser ; but I had
one thing to go upon, that somewhere there existed a
place or a building known as " the bishop's hostel " or
" hotel." Very cautiously I made some inquiries of the
people on the mainland, but no one could tell me
238 THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE
anything. I was nearly in despair, when one day it
flashed across me that " Bishop ' might really mean
" Bessop," for an old family of that name had long held
possession of a manor-house about four miles to the
north of the extreme end of this island.
' Next day I went over to the Bessop plantation, and
fell into conversation with the oldest negroes I could find
there. Of course I was very careful not to betray my
interest in the " Bishop's hostel," SQ began by asking
questions about all sorts of places in the neighbourhood
which I knew quite well. By degrees I worked back to
the point I really wished to reach, and then I found that
the most ancient woman of all had been long ago to a
spot called " Bishop's castle" but it was only a rock with
a curiously shaped seat.
' " Dear me ! how strange it must be ! I should rather
like to see it too, as I am about here," said I. "If you
can show me the way to it I'll give you a couple of
dollars." Her eyes glistened, but she would not consent
at once, declaring that it was a long way for her old
bones, and perhaps she might have forgotten the path.
But in the end she came, and when she pointed to a
group of rocks, one of them towering over the rest, I
paid her the money and sent her home again, my heart
beating with triumph.
Yet after all, as I thought a moment after, what had
I gained ? Merely the fact that the cypher had told the
truth in one particular, and I was no nearer than before
to the hidden treasure. So I tried to prepare myself
against disappointment ; but my reason told me that
proving that the slip had been right in the first
instance meant a great step in advance. So I set about
examining the rocks, and climbed to the tallest of all,
from which I could see over the rest.
4 Up and down I gazed, but as often happens nearly
missed the " seat " for which I was in search, as it lay
close under my feet on the eastern face of the rock. It
THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE 239
was a sort of rough chair a foot wide, with a back formed
by a niche in the ledge above it ; and when I clambered
down to it, I found it was not at all uncomfortable.
But there was one curious thing about the chair, when
you came to consider its connexion with the treasure,
and that is that it was impossible to sit in it in any
position except one.
' For by this time I had, of course, guessed that the
seat was to be a starting-point in the discovery ; but
before I could make any further progress it was neces-
sary to have the " good glass," which I returned home to
' By help of a pocket compass I soon was able to fix
the direction of ' north-east and by north," and then 1
pointed my telescope to " forty-one degrees and thirteen
minutes " above the horizon, as near as I could judge.
At first I noticed nothing special, so I carefully shifted
my telescope a little higher or a little lower, and then ]
perceived a round opening in the branches of a large tree
a long way off. In the midst of the opening was a tiny
white spot, which with some difficulty I made out to be
' After this it was quite plain what I had to do in
order to reach the treasure or, at any rate, the spot in
which it had been hidden. Cautiously I rose from the
" Bishop's hostel " and stepped a foot backwards : the
rift in the tree had vanished completely ! Again I
changed my position ; it was still nowhere to be seen ;
in fact, only from the seat itself was the opening visible.
Beyond all doubt the place of hiding had been chosen by
design and not by accident.
' With the utmost pains for the whole thing depended
on it I marked the whereabouts of the tree, and the
following morning set out to find it. In spite of all my
precautions it was some time before I contrived to hit
upon the right spot, and was so late in returning home
that night that Jupiter proposed to give me a flogging !
240 THE STORY OF THE GOLD BEETLE
1 As to the skeletons which Wolf uncovered, they were
probably those of men killed and buried by Kidd when
once they had helped him carry up the treasure to the
tree and dig the hole for the box. They little thought
they were digging their own grave also ; for Kidd would
be afraid to let them live, lest they should betray his
' And now you know the whole story.'
Shortened from E. A. Poe.
LORETA VELAZQUEZ THE MILITARY SPY
FOUR years before the outbreak of the American Civil
War, a young Spanish girl might have been seen very
early one morning stealing noiselessly across a sweet-
scented garden on the outskirts of Havana, in the island
of Cuba. People grow up very quickly in hot climates,
and Loreta Velazquez at fourteen was really older in
many ways than an English girl of twenty, and certainly
none of her friends looked on her as a child. She was
tall and handsome, and her parents expected her to
marry some rich planter in the island, and gave but a
cold welcome to the young American officer who fre-
quently rode over from the house where he was staying
to lounge about under the shady trees with Loreta.
' Oh, well, his leave will soon bs up, and there
will be an end of it,' they said ; and this was how it
happened that Loreta was crossing the garden that
morning in order to join her lover, who had arranged for