Treasure on the Southern Moor; Chapter 1: The Voyage; Pgs. 22-26
. “So,” said Mr. Underwood at last, “I could look around here . . . try to find a captain willing to-”
. “That would not do, I fear,” interrupted Captain Horne. He hesitated, something on the tip of his tongue. But for some time, he did not speak it. Finally he added quickly, “I would not trust this journey with anyone except my most trusted friend.” He went on even quicker, “And there is little time, for the longer we wait, the longer the chance that the gold will be found by someone else. Alas, that my men and I could not bury the treasure to be dug up at the best convenience! We had no time, for we were already behind our schedule, and as it is, this was the last day we could have arrived here before my entire crew and I would have been dismissed. Even so, we almost did bury it, and the vote to go back was only the majority by one. As already noted, I leave harbor tomorrow, headed for the Americas. I’ll be shipping tea, along with other goods. In any case, there is nothing for it now but that you find it and bring it back.” He gave the last sentence as an afterthought, and his speech slowly died away.
. “Captain again,” whispered Mr . Underwood, “It has been many a year . . . But no,” he added. “What about Adrian and Adrianna?”
. “Take them with you,” Captain Horne suggested. “They should be a help on deck.”
. Mr. Underwood hesitated. For many moments the two became silent, Horne expectant and Underwood reluctant. The rainfall continued to beat upon the windowpane. Booms of thunder were growing sparser, but they still would rattle the walls every now and then. Murky lamplight glinted off the golden coins. Underwood could hear someone snoring in the room right above him. He finally spoke, “I do know of a ship, brand new, that does not have a crew yet. I personally invested in its make and was planning to sell it. It could do the job, I suppose.”
. “Does it have a name?”
. “No,” said Underwood, “it was just recently completed, but what about crew?”
. “Aye,” said Captain Horne, “Crew is another problem. We would have to find them all tonight. But first I need your answer. I will need help finding the others, but I know I have found the captain.”
. “I suppose you have then. Very well,” said Captain Underwood, “I’ll go. And now,” he continued as though he had not just made a great decision, “how do I know where it is? I presume you have a map.”
. “Right here,” said Captain Horne. He scooted the gold coins and other treasure to the side of the table and grasped back into another fold of his clothing. This time, when he pulled it back out, he held a folded piece of parchment. Slowly, he unfolded it on the table. “Don’t worry,” he added when he saw his friend’s eyes looking warily at the water stains, “I have two more copies in locked chests, one on the ship and one in my room here (though I don’t expect to get any sleep tonight).”
. They both looked at the map for some time, “It was in this harbor, here, that we sunk them,” said Captain Horne as he pointed. “We met the pirates here, and when they found that they were outgunned, they retreated around point into harbor, like so.”
. “So here is where the pirates fell?”
. “No, here,” corrected Horne, “in this narrow inlet that connects to this larger inlet, in an inlet of an inlet, if you get my meaning. We dismantled sail, mast, and rigging, so that the surrounding hills and ridges hide the spot quite nicely, not mentioning the forests. It is a mountainous area of jungle. As noted, the exposed chests are under about two fathoms of water, some half buried in the sand. The hull of the vessel split open from running aground and our repeated assaults. Their cargo hold must have been on their bottom deck. Many of the chests spilled out, though we saw more in two sunken chambers of the ship. It will be tricky diving, but ropes and hooks should do most of the work.
. “And of course,” he added hastily, “the money is to be split fifty-fifty between us, giving very handsome sums among the crews as well.”
. “Yes, yes,” said Captain Underwood, “no question about that. But what if the treasure is gone?”
. “Then each of us pays half the cost for the trip,” said Horne. “The money I have brought back can help with advance payments.”
. “Agreed,” said Underwood, “and now for crew. Where do we start? There is much preparation to do, and it will take dogged work if we are to have the sails ready by two in the afternoon. That gives us about twelve hours.”
. “I was hoping you would have some leads regarding crew,” said Captain Horne.
. “I might,” said Captain Underwood. “I could start with a couple places here in town, though I expect people to be rather grumpy at this hour of the night.”
. “No time for that,” said Horne as he swiftly scooped up money and map and put them back away. “They’ll perk up when you show them the gold. The handfuls I have brought back will help motivate them. They only need to be trustworthy, as every member of my crew is.”
. “Then let us be going,” said Captain Underwood as he blew out the lamp with one whiff of air. “Every moment is of the essence.”
. Captain Horne followed him. “My own crew is making the rest of the preparations for my coming voyage,” he said, “so I can be of some aid. Two in the afternoon would be the latest I can start, and I will have an hour of inspection before, but that still leaves time. I can sleep when the voyage is underway.”
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Joshua Reynolds on Conservative Cornerstones – Author of Children’s Books, Young Adult, Historical Fiction / Family Stories – Finding Conservative Thought in Olde Books. Check out my Authoring Conservatism Post. Look up my two books, The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor in my bookstore!