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Halliwell, able seaman, a man of mighty muscle; and as freight an
object large, angular and ponderous, so that the boat lagged
heavily beneath the rowers' strokes.

Later, Bill, the simple seaman, grows presumptuous on the strength
of this excursion with his betters. It is a word and a blow with
the captain of the _Bonny Lass_, and Bill is conveniently disposed
of. Dead, as well as living, he serves the purpose of the captain,
but of that later.

Away sailed the _Bonny Lass_, sailing once for all out of the
story. As for Captain Sampson, there is a long gap in his history,
hazily filled by the story of his having been lieutenant to Benito
Bonito, and one of the two survivors when Bonito's black flag was
brought down by the British frigate _Espiegle_. But sober history
knows nothing of him until he reappears years later, an aged and
broken man, in a back street of Bristol. Here was living a certain
Hopperdown, who had been boatswain on the _Bonny Lass_ at the time
that she so regrettably lost her passengers overboard. He too had
been at Leeward Island, and may have somewhat wondered and
questioned as to the happenings during the brig's brief stay there.
He saw and recognized his old skipper hobbling along the Bristol
quays, and perhaps from pity took the shabby creature home with
him. Hopperdown dealt in sailors' slops, and had a snug room or
two behind the shop. Here for a while the former Captain Sampson
dwelt, and after a swift illness here he died. With the hand of
death upon him, his grim lips at last gave up their secret. With
stiffening fingers he traced a rough map, to refresh Hopperdown's
memory after the lapse of time since either had seen the
wave-beaten cliffs of Leeward Island. For Captain Sampson had
never been able to return to claim the treasure which he had left
to Bill Halliwell's silent guardianship. Somehow he had lost his
own vessel, and there would be rumors about, no doubt, which would
make it difficult for him to get another. If he had, indeed,
sailed with Bonito, he had kept his secret from his formidable
commander. Even as he had dealt with Bill Halliwell, so might
Bonito deal by him - or at least the lion's share must be yielded
to the pirate captain. And the passion of Captain Sampson's life
had come to be his gold - his hidden hoard on far-off Leeward
Island. It was his, now, all his. The only other who knew its
hiding-place, his former mate, had been killed in Havana in a
tavern brawl. The secret of the bright unattainable treasure was
all the captain's own. He dreamed of the doubloons, gloated over
them, longed for them with a ceaseless gnawing passion of desire.
And in the end he died, in Hopperdown's little shop in the narrow
Bristol by-street.

Hopperdown, an aging man himself, and in his humble way contented,
fell straightway victim to the gold-virus. He sold all he had, and
bought passage in a sailing ship for Valparaiso, trusting that once
so far on the way he would find means to accomplish the rest. But
the raging of the fever in his thin old blood brought him to his
bed, and the ship sailed without him. Before she was midway in the
Atlantic Hopperdown was dead.

The old man died in the house of a niece, to whom by way of legacy
he left his map. For the satisfaction of his anxious mind, still
poring on the treasure, she wrote down what she could grasp of his
instructions, and then, being an unimaginative woman, gave the
matter little further heed. For years the map lay among other
papers in a drawer, and here it was at length discovered by her
son, himself a sailor. He learned from her its history, and having
been in the Pacific, and heard the tales and rumors that cling
about Leeward Island like the everlasting surf of its encompassing
seas, this grand-nephew of old Hopperdown's, by name David Jenkins,
became for the rest of his days a follower of the _ignis fatuus_.
An untaught, suspicious, grasping man, he rejected, or knew not how
to set about, the one course which offered the least hope, which
was to trade his secret for the means of profiting by it. AH his
restless, hungry life he spent in wandering up and down the seas,
ever on the watch for some dimly imagined chance by which he might
come at the treasure. And so at last he wandered into the London
hospital where he died.

And to me the wildest feature of the whole wild tale was that at
the last he should have parted with the cherished secret of a
lifetime to Miss Higglesby-Browne.

In a general way, every one of us knew this history. Even I had
had an outline of it from Cuthbert Vane. But so far nobody had
seen the map. And now we were to see it; the time that intervened
before that great event had already dwindled to minutes, to
seconds -

But no; for Miss Browne arose and began to make a speech. The
beginning of it dealt in a large and generalizing manner with
comradeship and loyalty, and the necessity of the proper mental
attitude in approaching the business we had in hand. I did not
listen closely. The truth is, I wanted to see that map. Under the
spell of the island, I had almost begun to believe in the chest of

Suddenly I awoke with a start to the fact that Miss Browne was
talking about me. Yes, I, indubitably, was the Young Person whose
motives in attaching herself to the party were so at variance with
the amity and mutual confidence which filled all other breasts. It
was I who had sought to deprive the party of the presence, counsel
and support of a member lacking whom it would have been but a body
without a soul. It was I who had uttered words which were painful
and astounding to one conscious of unimpugnable motives. In the
days of toil to come, we were reminded, the Young Person, to wit,
myself, would have no share. She would be but skeptic, critic,
drone in the busy hive. Thus it was obvious that the Young Person
could not with any trace of justice claim part or lot in the
treasure. Were it not well, then, that the Young Person be
required to make formal and written renunciation of all interest in
the golden hoard soon to reward the faith and enterprise of the
Harding-Browne expedition? Miss Browne requested the sense of the
meeting on the matter.

Under the fire of this arraignment I sat hot-cheeked and
incredulous, while a general wave of agitation seemed to stir the
drowsy atmosphere. Aunt Jane was quivering, her round eyes fixed
on Miss Higglesby-Browne like a fascinated rabbit's on a serpent.
Mr. Hamilton H. Tubbs had pursed his lips to an inaudible whistle,
and alternately regarded the summits of the palms and stole swift
ferret-glances at the faces of the company. Captain Magnus had
taken a sheath-knife from his belt and was balancing it on one
finger, casting about him now and then a furtive, crooked,
roving look, to meet which made you feel like a party to some
hidden crime. Mr. Vane had remained for some time in happy
unconsciousness of the significance of Miss Browne's oration. It
was something to see it gradually penetrate to his perceptions,
vexing the alabaster brow with a faint wrinkle of perplexity, then
suffusing his cheeks with agonized and indignant blushes. "Oh, I
say, really, you know!" hovered in unspoken protest on his tongue.
He threw imploring looks at Mr. Shaw, who alone of all the party
sat imperturbable, except for a viciously bitten lip.

Miss Higglesby-Browne had drawn a deep breath, preparatory to
resuming her verbal ramble, but I sprang to my feet.

"Miss Browne," I said, in tones less coldly calm than I could have
wished, "if you have thought it necessary to - to orate at this
length merely to tell me that I am to have no share in this
ridiculous treasure of yours, you have wasted a great deal of
energy. In the first place, I don't believe in your treasure."
(Which, of course, despite my temporary lapse, I really didn't.)
"I think you are - sillier than any grown-up people I ever saw. In
the second place, anything you do find you are welcome to keep. Do
you think I came along with people who didn't want me, and have
turned my own aunt against me, for the sake of filthy lucre? Did I
come intentionally at all, or because I was shanghaied and couldn't
help myself? Aunt Jane!" I demanded, turning to my stricken
relative, who was gazing in anguish and doubt from Miss Browne to
me, "haven't you one spark left of family pride - I don't talk of
affection any longer - that you sit still and hear me made speeches
at in this fashion? Have you grown so sordid and grasping that you
can think of nothing but this blood-stained pirate gold?"

Aunt Jane burst into tears.

"Good gracious, Virginia," she wailed, "how shocking of you to say
such things! I am sure we all got along very pleasantly until you
came - and in that dreadfully sudden way. You might at least have
been considerate enough to wire beforehand. As to blood-stains,
there was a preparation your Aunt Susan had that got them out
beautifully - I remember the time the little boy's nose bled on the
drawing-room rug. But I should think just washing the gold would
do very well!"

It was impossible to feel that these remarks helped greatly to
clear the situation. I opened my mouth, but Miss Browne was
beforehand with me.

"Miss Virginia Harding has herself admitted that she has no just or
equitable claim to participate in the profits of this expedition - I
believe I give the gist of your words, Miss Harding?"

"Have it your own way," I said, shrugging.

"I move, then, Mr. Secretary" - Miss Browne inclined her head in a
stately manner toward Mr. Tubbs - "that you offer for Miss Virginia
Harding's signature the document prepared by you."

"Oh, I say!" broke out Mr. Vane suddenly, "I call this rotten, you

"In case of objection by any person," said Miss Browne loftily,
"the matter may be put to a vote. All those in favor say aye!"

An irregular fire of ayes followed. Mr. Tubbs gave his with a
cough meant so far as possible to neutralize its effect - with a
view to some future turning of the tables. Captain Magnus
responded with a sudden bellow, which caused him to drop the
gleaming knife within an inch of Aunt Jane's toe. Mr. Shaw said
briefly, "I think the distribution of the treasure, if any is
recovered, should be that agreed upon by the original members of
the party. Aye!"

Aunt Jane's assenting voice issued from the depths of her
handkerchief, which was rapidly becoming so briny and inadequate
that I passed her mine. From Cuthbert Vane alone there came a
steadfast no - and the Scotchman put a hand on the boy's shoulder
with a smile which was like sudden sunlight in a bleak sky.

Mr. Tubbs then produced a legal-looking document which I took to be
the original agreement of the members of the expedition. Beneath
their signatures he had inscribed a sort of codicil, by which I
relinquished all claim on any treasure recovered by the party. Mr.
Tubbs took evident pride in the numerous aforesaids and thereofs
and other rolling legal phrases of his composition, and Miss Browne
listened with satisfaction as he read it off, as though each word
had been a nail in the coffin of my hopes. I signed the clause in
a bold and defiant hand, under the attentive eyes of the company.
A sort of sigh went round, as though something of vast moment had
been concluded. And indeed it had, for now the way was clear for
Violet's map.

I suppose that with a due regard for my dignity I should have risen
and departed. I had been so definitely relegated to the position
of outsider that to remain to witness the unveiling of the great
mystery seemed indecently intrusive. Let it be granted, then, that
I ought to have got up with stately grace and gone away. Only, I
did nothing of the sort. In spite of my exclusion from all its
material benefits, I had an amateur's appreciation of that map. I
felt that I should gloat over it. Perhaps of all those present I
alone, free from sordid hopes, would get the true romantic zest and
essence of it -

Covertly I watched the faces around me. Mr. Tubbs's eyes had grown
bright; he licked his dry lips. His nose, tip-tilted and slightly
bulbous, took on a more than usually roseate hue. Captain Magnus,
who was of a restless and jerky habit at the best of times, was
like a leashed animal scenting blood. Beneath his open shirt you
saw the quick rise and fall of his hairy chest. His lips, drawn
back wolfishly, displayed yellow, fang-like teeth. Under the
raw crude greed of the man you seemed to glimpse something
indescribably vulpine and ferocious.

The face of Dugald Shaw was controlled, but there was a slight
rigidity in its quiet. A pulse beat rapidly in his cheek. All
worldly good, all hope of place, power, independence, hung for him
on the contents of the small flat package, wrapped in oil-silk,
which Miss Browne was at this moment withdrawing from her pocket.

Only Cuthbert Vane, seated next to me, maintained without effort
his serenity. For him the whole affair belonged in the category
known as sporting, where a gentleman played his stake and accepted
with equanimity the issue.

As Miss Browne undid the oil-silk package everybody held his
breath, except poor Aunt Jane, who most inopportunely swallowed a
gnat and choked.

The dead sailor's legacy consisted of a single sheet of
time-stained paper. Two-thirds of the sheet was covered by a
roughly-drawn sketch in faded ink, giving the outline of the island
shores as we had seen them from the _Rufus Smith_. Here was the
cove, with the name it bears in the Admiralty charts - Lantern
Bay - written in, and a dotted line indicating the channel. North
of the bay the shore line was carried for only a little distance.
On the south was shown the long tongue of land which protects the
anchorage, and which ends in some detached rocks or islets. At a
point on the seaward side of the tongue of land, about on a line
with the head of the bay, the sketch ended in a swift backward
stroke of the pen which gave something the effect of a cross.

To all appearance the map was merely to give Hopperdown his
directions for entering the cove. There was absolutely no mark
upon it to show where the treasure had been buried.

Now for the writing on the sheet below the map. It was in another
hand than that which had written _Lantern Bay_ across the face of
the cove, and which, though labored, was precise and clear. This
other was an uneven, wavering scrawl:

_He sed it is in a Cave with 2 mouths near by the grave of Bill
Halliwell wich was cut down for he new to much. He sed you can
bring a boat to the cave at the half Tide but beware the turn for
the pull is strong. He sed to find the Grave again look for the
stone at the head marked B. H. and a Cross Bones. In the Chist is
gold Dubloons, a vast lot, also a silver Cross wich he sed leve for
the Grave for he sed Bill walks and thats unlucky_.

That was all. A fairly clear direction for any friend who had
attended the obsequies of Bill and knew where to look for the stone
marked B. H. and a cross-bones, but to perfect strangers it was

A blank look crept into the intent faces about the table.

"It - it don't happen to say in more deetail jest precisely where
that cave might be looked for?" inquired Mr. Tubbs hopefully.

"In more detail?" repeated Miss Browne challengingly. "Pray, Mr.
Tubbs, what further detail could be required?"

"A good deal more, I am afraid," remarked the Scotchman grimly.

Miss Browne whirled upon him. In her cold eye a spark had kindled.
And suddenly I had a new vision of her. I saw her no longer as the
deluder of Aunt Jane, but as herself the deluded. Her belief in
the treasure was an obsession. This map was her talisman, her way
of escape from an existence which had been drab and dull enough, I
dare say.

"Mr. Shaw, we are given not one, but several infallible landmarks.
The cave has two mouths, it can be approached by sea, it is IN the
immediate neighborhood of the grave of William Halliwell, which is
to be recognized by its headstone. As the area of our search is
circumscribed by the narrow limits of this island, I fail to see
what further marks of identification can be required."

"A grave ninety years old and hidden beneath a tropical jungle is
not an easy thing to find, Miss Browne. As to caves, I doubt but
they are numerous. The formation here makes it more than likely.
And there'll be more than one with two mouths, I'm thinking."

"Mr. Shaw" - Miss Browne gave the effect of drawing herself up in
line of battle - "I feel that I must give expression to the thought
which comes to me at this moment. It is this - that if the members
of this party are to be chilled by carping doubts, the wave of
enthusiasm which has floated us thus far must inevitably recede,
leaving us flotsam on a barren shore. What can one weak
woman - pardon, my unfaltering Jane! - two women, achieve against the
thought of failure firmly held by him to whom, we looked to lead us
boldly in our forward dash? Mr. Shaw, this is no time for crawling
earthworm tactics. It is with the bold and sweeping glance of the
eagle that we must survey this island, until, the proper point
discerned, we swoop with majestic flight upon our predestined goal!"

Miss Browne was somewhat exhausted by this effort, and paused for
breath, whereupon Mr. Tubbs, anxious to retrieve his recent
blunder, seized with dexterity this opportunity.

"I get you. Miss Browne, I get you," said Mr. Tubbs with
conviction. "Victory ain't within the grasp of any individual that
carries a heart like a cold pancake in his bosom. What this party
needs is pep, and if them that was calculated on to supply it
don't, why there's others which is not given to blowin' their own
horn, but which might at a pinch dash forward like Arnold - no
relation to Benedict - among the spears. I may be rather a man or
thought than action, ma'am, and at present far from my native
heath, which is the financial centers of the country, but if I
remember right it was Ulysses done the dome-work for the Greeks,
while certain persons that was depended on sulked in their tents.
Miss Higglesby-Browne, you can count - count, I say - on old H. H.!"

"I thank you, Mr. Tubbs, I thank you!" replied Miss Browne with
emotion. As for Aunt Jane, she gazed upon the noble countenance of
Mr. Tubbs with such ecstatic admiration that her little nose
quivered like a guinea-pig's.



Obscure as were the directions which Hopperdown's niece had
taken from his dying lips, one point at least was clear - the
treasure-cave opened on the sea. This seemed an immense
simplification of the problem, until you discovered that the great
wall of cliffs was honeycombed with fissures. The limestone rock
of which the island was composed was porous as a sponge. You could
stand on the edge of the cliffs and watch the green water slide in
and out of unseen caverns at your feet, and hear the sullen thunder
of the waves that broke far in under the land.

One of the boats which had conveyed us from the _Rufus Smith_ had
been left with us, and in it Mr. Shaw, with the Honorable Cuthbert
and Captain Magnus, made a preliminary voyage of discovery. This
yielded the information above set down, plus, however, the
thrilling and significant fact that a cave seemingly predestined to
be the hiding-place of treasure, and moreover a cave with the
specified two openings, ran under the point which protected the
anchorage on the south, connecting the cove with the sea.

Although in their survey of the coast the voyagers had covered only
a little distance on either side of the entrance to the bay, the
discovery of this great double-doored sea-chamber under the point
turned all thoughts from further explorations. Only the Scotchman
remained exasperatingly calm and declined to admit that the
treasure was as good as found. He refused to be swept off his feet
even by Mr. Tubbs's undertaking to double everybody's money within
a year, through the favor of certain financial parties with whom he
was intimate.

"I'll wait till I see the color of my money before I reckon the
interest on it," he remarked. "It's true the cave would be a
likely and convenient place for hiding the chest; the question is:
Wouldn't it be too likely and convenient? Sampson would maybe not
choose the spot of all others where the first comer who had got
wind of the story would be certain to look."

Miss Browne, at this, exchanged darkly significant glances with her
two main supporters, and Mr. Tubbs came to the fore with an offer
to clinch matters by discovering the grave of Bill Halliwell, with
its marked stone, on the point above the cave within twenty-four

"Look for it if you like," replied Mr. Shaw impatiently. "But
don't forget that your tombstone is neither more nor less than such
a boulder as there are thousands of on the island, and buried under
the tropic growth of ninety years besides."

Miss Browne murmured to Aunt Jane, in a loud aside, that she well
understood now why the eminent explorer had _not_ discovered the
South Pole, and Aunt Jane murmured back that to her there had
always been something so sacred about a tombstone that she couldn't
help wondering if Mr. Shaw's attitude were really quite reverential.

"Well, friends," remarked Mr. Tubbs, "there's them that sees
nothin' but the hole in the doughnut, and there's them that see the
doughnut that's around the hole. I ain't ashamed to say that old
H. H. is in the doughnut class. Why, the Old Man himself used to
remark - I guess it ain't news to some here about me bein' on the
inside with most of the leadin' financial lights of the country - he
used to remark, 'Tubbs has it in him to bull the market on a Black
Friday.' Ladies, I ain't one that's inclined to boast, but I jest
want to warn you not to be _too_ astonished when H. H. makes
acquaintance with that tombstone, which I'm willin' to lay he does

"Well, good luck to you," said the grim Scot, "and let me likewise
warn all hands not to be too astonished if we find that the
treasure is not in the cave. But I'll admit it is as good a place
as any for beginning the search, and there will be none gladder
than I if it turns out that I was no judge of the workings of
Captain Sampson's mind."

The cave which was now the center of our hopes - I say our, because
somehow or other I found myself hoping and fearing along with the
rest, though carefully concealing it - ran under the point at its
farther end. The sea-mouth of the cave was protected from the full
swell of the ocean by some huge detached rocks rising a little way
offshore, which caught and broke the waves. The distance was about
sixty feet from mouth to mouth, and back of this transverse passage
a great vaulted chamber stretched far under the land. The walls of
the chamber rose sheer to a height of fifteen feet or more, when a
broad ledge broke their smoothness. From this ledge opened cracks
and fissures under the roof, suggesting in the dim light infinite
possibilities in the way of hiding-places. Besides these, a wide
stretch of sand at the upper end of the chamber, which was bare at
low tide, invited exploration. At high water the sea flooded the
cavern to its farthest extremity and beat upon the walls. Then
there was a great surge and roar of waters through the passage from
mouth to mouth, and at turn of tide - in hopeful agreement with the
legend - the suck and commotion of a whirlpool, almost, as the sea
drew back its waves. Now and again, it was to prove, even the
water-worn pavement between the two archways was left bare, and one
could walk dry-shod along the rocks under the high land of the
point from the beach to the cave. But this was at the very bottom
of the ebb. Mostly the lower end of the cave was flooded, and the
explorers went back and forth in the boat.

A certain drawback to boating in our island waters was the presence
of hungry hordes of sharks. You might forget them for a moment and
sit happily trailing your fingers overboard, and then a huge moving
shadow would darken the water, and you saw the ripple cut by a
darting fin and the flash of a livid belly as the monster rolled
over, ready for his mouthful. I could not but admire the
thoughtfulness of Mr. Tubbs, who since his submergence on the
occasion of arriving had been as delicate about water as a cat, in
committing himself to strictly land operations in the search for
Bill Halliwell's tombstone.

Owing, I suppose, to the stoniness of the soil, the woods upon the
point were less dense than elsewhere, and made an agreeable parade

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Online LibraryCamilla KenyonSpanish Doubloons → online text (page 4 of 15)