Chapter 52446605

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Chapter NumberPART IV. XIV
Chapter TitleTHE BURIED TREASURE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52446605
Full Date1893-06-03
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count4757
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleMorning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)
Trove TitleUnder the Great Seal
article text

TALES AND SKETCHES.

[NOW FIRST rOBLISMED.]

UNDERTHE~GREAT SEAL,

A NOVEL,

BV JOSEPH HATTON.

Author of " Clytie," " By Order of tho Czar,"

"John Needham's Double," "Cruel Lon- don," &o.

[ALL MOIITS RESERVED].

PART IV.

CIIAITKH XIV.-Tm: HUMED TKEAHITBE.

The Haute uwcot Bummer's day that saw Zacelicus Webb weigh anchor for his lost voyage, saw Alan Keith and David his ann sail into thc still waters of Wilderness Creek.

It was on just such a day that Alan had lirst discovered the secret harbour.

Hero it was once more with its reflections of Demon's Rock, its sandy Bhorus, its distant range of sheltering hills, and its weird and happy memories.

When David dropped thc anchor of thc smack Nautilus, whioh his father had bought at St. John's, the old man after contemplating thc scene for some minutes could only remark, " It's very hot, David, for Labrador." lt was

not a romantic observation. Hut as thc lead-

ing incidents of Alan's life passed beforo him

almost like a flash with this remarkable

denouement-thiB return to Nasquuppe and

the harbour and thc rendevous of his band of patriots and freebooters-Iiis mind seemed to timi relief in thc most prosaic observations.

" Is il ï" was David's none the less common-

place reply.

"Maistas hot as Spain," said Alan, "and thc Bilcnce o' the place reminds me o' Venice when I made excursions on the lagoons i' thc Height time."

"It is very quiet," said David, " and very

beautiful. "

"I propose wc just tek a drink. David," said the old.man, " as for myscl I'll temporise the watter wi' a nip o' whisky. '

As he spoke Aim drew half a tumbler of water from a keg, sheltered from thc sun in the stern of thc boat. He tilled np thc vessel with whisky from a stoue jar which was part

of certain necessaries of food and drink stored close by.

" Herc's to ye !" said Alan wiping his lips, and passing thc jar to David.

" Water for me, father," said David. " I'll try your dew of thc mountain later, when wc smoke."

"As ye will," said Alan, restoring tho jar to thc hamper, and thc horn tumbler with it. " Vc did nae thenk there was aught as tine as this i' these latitudes, ch ?"

"As fine," said David, "but not as beautiful ; why it might bc one of thc holiday lakes one hearsaboutin your native Scotland."

" Eh, man, ye're reight there, it's thc sairt o' country that gets into your brain, and 1 tell ye' my son, thc story o' this harbour is to mc something like a fable o' long and loni; ago, and yet at tho minute when wo run in herc as if we'd oiled our keel it was like yesterday, wi' all ita strange and true happenings thick in my memory.

"Don't you think we might moor the smack to yonder piles?" said David."

"The thing I was goen to sae myscl', David, if they'll houd. I remember John Prcedie and Donald Nicol driving them, nigh on thirty years back," said Alan.

"They look strong enough for a ship let alone a smack," said David, hauling up thc anchor which he had previously dropped ; " will you take an oar, father ?"

Alon thrust a long oar into its rowlock, David taking up another and trying to usc it as a pole to shove tho boat and steer her at the same time.

Alan laughed, a rare habit with him ; David hardly remembered when he had heard him laugh, though his smile was pleasant to see, and frequent.

"Ve meight as weol try to sound the Atlantic wi' a marliue-epiko ; man, it's a' but fathomless i' thc middle ; gradual as thc shores shelve downwards they come to the same kind o'precipice as the tableland above thc rock yonder, and then it's watter below just as it's sky above ; pull, noo, starboard ; that's it, laddie ; noo sling your rope ; that's got her 1"

" Hold," said David, straining on tho rope, " why the timber is as solid as a rock."

The smack lay as still aa she had lain before, bur keel breaking into the reflections of thc noble face of Demon's Rock.

" Ye see the cairns yonder among tho foot hills o' thc rock?" Alan asked, pointing across tho sandy shoro to thc mountain.

" Yes," David replied, pulling on his rough jacket.

"Thc sand and thc wind und thc bit growth o' sea-thistles and thc like hac beeu vera usefn'-whae'd think o' questioning the sinceerity o' tombstones on which Time has written such epitaphs !"

"They look grim and serious," said David. " Laddie, they arc grim und serious umist o' them-all except, the three i' the middle-I ca' them thc three graces-and the one to the

north o' thc row."

" How do you know one from tho other the real graves and thc treasure casks ?"

" How did I ken thc channel that brought us here ?" was Alan's reply.

David had asked his question lu a non- committal iuqulring spirit, more by way of saying something than withu view to question his father. He had it in his mind to prepare himself and his father for thc breaking up of a wild illusion, the bursting of a bubble, thc awakening from a dream ; for bc had never altogether, even in his most sanguine moments, accepted his father's account of thc buried treasure as anything more than an unconscious exaggeration of some more or less trivial secreting of hard-won savingB, if not the base- less fancy of a mind distraught.

" David, I hac dreamed myscl shoutin' and dancin' if ever I lived to resurrect thc three graces ; I hac thought o' myscl' as goin' just

wild when the time should come that I stood

herc again, and it's only o' late as ye ken that I began to think o' ye by my side, my Bon, Hannah's child. What wad nae been the usc o' the good and things, wi'out ye, David? And yet I used to dream about bein' here and gloatin' owcr it ; hut that mun a been prophetic in a way, for it was surely ordained that I should find ye at last as I did. Eh man, what a mectin' it was ! David, we'll bc grateful to Rod for It ; we'll consider oursels His stewards."

David felt his doubts increase as his father went rambling on never attempting to ad vance towards thc pathetic looking cemetery with its stones packed up originally into the shape of crosses, now crooked, fallen Into odd forms, with grey bits of weed und lichen on them, and drifts of sand held together by marum or other wiry grasses, such as repeated here and there, weedy growths that reminded David of the dunes at Caistor.

"I couldna Imo believed that I should stand here sac calm and businesslike, as if thc cairns o' Wilderness Creek, and tho mighty rock above them, to say nacthing about thu cavern beyond, were thc mailt coiumon

Ïilace things i' Nature. D'ye sec thc cavern,

Javid? Ye'll imagine it's the entrance to a Cathedral, man, when ye hac passed thc foothills and tho cairns, sae grand is it ; and it's uway up above that I hau stored thc other bit o' money und scrip I telt yo of, and the

wee bil huts and thc rest."

David's imagination was touched with thc lonely beauty of the scene, thc strangeness of their visit, thc rock towards which his father waved his long bony hand, a vast solid mighty stone an it seemed, with ridges cut into it and sharp ledges, ami with ii tull smooth crown contrasting in a striking way with (lie jugged peaks »nd points of thc iiriny of sentinels thal took their orders, us it. were, from th« chief, and went ranging along the coast foi miles and miles, looking out to Bea and at thc same time peering up into the heavens.

"Shove off the gaugway, David, my soil," said Alan, presently. " ire might os weel gae ashore to our work i' comfort and I' order."

David mada a gangway of one of the several planks that lay amidships with shovels, pick axes, and other implements, carefully stored out of sight under a heavy tarpaulin.

" Noo, lad, thc tools."

While David swung a couple of shovels over his shoulder, his father drew forth a blacksmith's hummer and an axe very much like thc formidable weapon that Damian, thc dwarf, had wielded with deadly effect upon

thc Anne of Dartmouth.

David was tho first to step ashore. _ His were tito only footprints to be seen, of either man, bird, or animal. Millions of insects seemed to start up und carry the news from tiny hillock to tiny valley of tho new and strange arrival.

Shouldering bis axe and carrying tho great hammer In his hand, Alan Keith followed his son. Their toll shadows climbed ahead as if to pioneer them to the little cemetery.

"Noo, lad, wo'll need tho trunk," said Alan, dropping his hammer and his axe."

David returned for a leather packing case

that had handles fore and aft.

Father and sou carried it between thom.

A flight, of hirds rushed screaming from the cavern beneath Demon's Rock as they approached it. Alan started, David uttered an exclamation of surprise. Thc birds dis- appeared among thc foothills.

" When it's dark and stormy," said Alan, proceeding on his way, " that's the sort o' sum' animal thc sailors mistake for demons, aud fiends, and the like."

"I don't wonder at thc superstition," said David, "thc sea must set in upon this coast

«itli awful force in winier."

" lt's just wonderfu' to mc that wc can stand tal kin' here and Fortune wi' both her banda full waitin' our pleasure," said Alan, contemplating thc cairns.

" Yes, it is," David replied, half reluctant to begin, thc idea of some great disillusion awaiting his father.

" Noo, hid, lay to," said Alan, beginning to shovel thc sand away from the base of thc pile of stones that covered thc centre grave, " tek the boulders off thc top."

David inserted his pick into thc interstices of the stones, and then with a shovel began to clear away thc sand and weed beneath.

His heart was beating with a hopeful anticipation that ult his father had lcd him to count upon might come true. As he worked ut thc unsealing of thc alleged hoard of gold and silver, of lace and spice, and amber, and precious stones, he thought of thc great tilings Mildred might accomplish by wuy of fulfilling her ambition of charity and love ; what he might see of thc great world saili'ig round ir for pleasure ; what 1'ctherick would say when ho called on him st Yarmouth ; what he might be permitted to do to smooth thc last days of Zacchcus Webb, little think- ing that the old sinacksman had already on that very day solved thc great mystery of all.

" Man," exclaimed Alan, suddenly break ing in upon David's work and reflections, " what if we hoe been forestalled Î"

"What do you mean, father?" asked David, coming out of his first real unrestricted sensation of faith in thc paternal promise of

wealth.

" What if that man Iîentr., or some ithcr truitrous villain, hts been herc before us and robbed ye of your inheritance !"

" I thought noone else knew of your store," said David, with a sickening doubt of thc whole business. " you said they were all lost al sea when you were overborne by the weight and numbers of your enemy." '

" All but one," said the old man, "all but the greatest villain i' thc wide world !"

" Who was he V" David asked, " What was bc?"

"Just the insist ootrageous traitor and vile thief your imagination eau conceive, But wc ure waistin' time, luddie ; it's natural to have a stray doubt come into one's mind after sac many years, and when ye hac got your hand on thc bundle o' the door, to to speak."

" 1 should say these stouts have not been removed since they were first stocked herc," said David, " if there was ever anything of value buried beneath them, depend upon it wc

shall find it."

" If 1 d'ye say if, David * Wool, wed '.I dinna wonder ye should doubt if I can doubt myself -stand by and gie mc shovel und pick ; I'll

need thc axe later on : nick nae doubt roots

o' trees mixed up wi' my ain particular bank up yonder."

David stood aside wiping his hot face and preparing himself generally for the dis- appointment he had all along feared. His father went to work with a vigour that was remarkable for his years. He bent his back over thc excavation, und flung out thc sand in a continuous shower, sand and pebbles, sand and bits of straw, and sprigs of trees that had been packed with thc sand to bind it.

" Laddie, I believe ye're reicht ; nae sacrcligious hands hac been pottering about thc cemetery o' Wilderness Creek sin' the St. DenniB soiled out o' thc harbour never

to return," said Alan, pausing in his work to catch his breath and cheer his despondent

son and comrade.

"I'm glad you think so, father," David

answered.

"(¿ic mc the pick, lad," said Alan, laying down his shovel and turning up his Bleeves.

Alan took tho implement, and, swinging it above his head, brought it down upon thc spot which he and David had partially cleared. The pick fell with a dull thud upon something

that was neither sand nor rock.

" Stand by," he said, h¡8 eyes brightening, " stand by, David. It's a'reighr, I'm think- ing."

David took a step nearer to thc old man, who once more brought his pick down upon thc place he had struck before,

" lt's there !" he exclaimed, as he drew thc pick forth with a tug, " it's there ! Thc shovel, laddio, thc shovel !"

" Let rac help you now," said David, hand- ing his father the shovel.

Alan took no heed of thc remark, but set to work again with unsubdued energy, only to pause when he was assured that ut least the caBk he had dug for was beneath his feet.

" It's the fresh air and the happiness ye hae brought me that's made me young again," he said, as if answering thc point of David's admiration of his father's strength. " My lad, I amna so auld that my sincwB arc unstrung, my muscles dried up ; why, just noo, I feel as if I were aiuly beginning life, and 1 tell ye I dinna mean to dee for many und many a year

to come !"

" Let mc help you," said David once more, wondering at the same time how even his strange and eccentric father could pouBc to boast in thc midst of thc exceptional work in which he WOB engaged, and with a vast

prize or a terrible blank within reach of his

hand.

"Shovel the stuff away frae thc aide o' thc hole," Alan said, as he took np thc pick oucc more, " and gie mc elbow room."

David made tho mouth of thc excavation free from sand and stones, and Alan drove tho pick once more iuto the obstruction that had gripped it. The result was a portion o' thc end of a cask. Another attack brought up a second piece, rotten and soft. Alan laid thc two pieces of wood within arm's length of tba hole mid then, lying prone by its side, thrust his right bund into it.

"The Frenchman's'silver flagon, aurc os fate !'" he exclaimed, placing upon the bank a beautifully shaped jug, its gold arabesque Shilling out through thc tarnish of thu

silvei.

David could not speak. He stood with parted lips, watching thc unearthing of the

t reasurc.

" Man, I ken them a'.' I remember Precdic cramming the last lot o' the bright and jewelled trinkets and what not into the top o' the cask. I've gotten houd o' thc dagger thc Frenchman said he'd looted wi' a ncup o' pr ecious things frac a palace i' thu Kast : nay, I dinna ken where. Herc it is, and by the might o' bonnie Scotland, there's thc Bailie grund light blazing On the hilt that I remember aa weel ns if it were yeslcrduy."

David stooped to Uko the dagger, and

before he hud looked at it nut camu u metal box, with the remark of thu excavator, " Solid silver"; followed hy a chating dish, and the remark, " Solid silver wi' goud orna- ments"! then a woodrn box with seals upon it, with tho remark "Amber"; to be succeeded by other packages and curios, bunded out with the same lively running remarks, "A jewelled snuff-box, attn of roses, a little idol

made o' a (¡coat pearl, tri' diamonds for eye I and a sapphire headpiece. Man 1 I rcmemuc

them as if it was yesterday, thc Frenabinai bragged o' them os he got fuddled wi' his re wine, which me and my crew cuuld drink Uk

watter and never wink."

David shook himself to he Büro that ho wa David ; that he was not ia bed at Yarmouth and then he felt inclined to shout, "Fathci forgive mc, I thought, you were mad."

"What d'ye think about it now':" Alu] nßkcil, looking up, his eyes ablaze, bis fae streaming with perspiration, his innutl

wreathed in smiles.

" I cannot think," said David, " 1 want I danoo."

" Then dance, lad ! and I'll set ye thc tune,

he said ; "herc it is," and lie handed David i small bag. " Press it to your heart, David and dance like your great namesake win danced before thc Laird ; for ye hac got i treasure now that Mildred can build hoi liospitul wi,' and set a' ber needy poor i' busi ness from Caistor to t'orleetoii ; uni) ye cai build thc church we promised Father vello 1' tho midst o' Heart's Content ; and poor aub Alan Keith cnn raise a monument i' thc forest to C'od'e angel upon earth."

As he said these words he rose to his feel ami David seized him by the baud.

" Father," he exclaimed, " 1 never though! it was quite true; not that I doubted youl word, but it passed bi-youd all my hopes, and now I don't know how lo contain myself."

" IH sit mo doon," «sid Alan, " not here I'll (tac aboard ; I'm foelin' a trille tired, ami a wee bit thoughtful Eli, mun, I only wit.li tho comrades who stood here i' thc past, ami who helped store I bete things were here to tell their shurc and divide wi' mc. Nay, nay, on second thoughts 1 dinna wish anything o' thc kind, except, perhaps, i' the case o' I'reedic and Donald Nicol-thc others wad just u misapplied it. David 1 dinna ken quite wini I'm BAyiu' ; I'll cac aboard and hue nnothel wee drap tn steady myscl.' "

"But the hag, father,"' said David, etil] holding thc emull leather hag that Ilia fathci had placed in his hands with so man)' exclam- ations as to its value. It was a soft, thick bag, drawn together with thongs of leather it hod once been scated, tut thc wax wai broken, and thc thongs had been clumsily rc

tied.

"Precdie nndcrstood a' about precious s tonca and the like, I couldna tell them frac class for my part, but Prccdic just loved to tit doon und finger these i' the bug, ringer them and gloat oner them, und he Biid they were worth a king's ransom ; pearls, diamonds, sapphires and rubies, one o' thc biggest dia- monds to bc re-cut, he said, and he talked o Amsterdam, and dealers in stones, and cutten and thc like, that wise that I often wondered if he'd been i' thc trade. Open the bag,

David."

david undid the thongs and emptied a few of thc stones into the pinn of his hand.

"Not changed one bit," said Alan, "thc same wonderfn'sky blue, thc same blude red, thc same glassy wite wi' ten thousands sparkf in 'em-wcel. David, what d'ye nuke or

'em ?"

"I should say they arc all Mr. Prcedit thought them ; they arc wonderful."

11 A king's ransom he said they were worth. Hut gin there bc ony mistake why there's ii barrel o' English guineas and draw new eliclliui and Spanish coins, that'll mck amends."

Aim went on board the smack. David watched him until he disappeared below. It was a Binall cabin, bul there were two bunk« in it, and the old mau bad evidently decided to lie down. David now begau to think thal Wilderness Creek might not be quite thc secret place his father imagined. He suddenly felt thercsponslbity of wcalthand looked aboul

bim to be sure that ho was not under thc

survcillence nf some desperado. He thought of tho description of tho coast which thc captain of the Morning Star had given him, and felt if Iiis pistol was safe in his belt. Then he laid his jacket over thc treasurestha! were lyine on thc ground, and putting thc bat of precious stones beneath it, shovelled more of thc sand from thc month of the buried cask

and cautiously dropped into it, stooping down and proceeding with the work of emptying it He huulcd out alt kinds of packages, cups, ornaments, chalices, packets of lace, flask« bound in woven reeds and sealed with seals, and ul last concluded that it would bo wisc tc fill thc leather trunk which his father had brought to carry the treasure on board.

After a while, looking towards the smack, he saw his father bitting calmly amidships smoking his chibouk. He waved his hand tc the old man, who responded by raising hie pipe and sulutiugwith it as if it were asword. Then David began to pack thc trunk. He brid thc dagger and all the boxes that were Hat at thu bottom, thc quaiut packages of laces, tho well wrapped amber, the cups -ind chalices, thc curious ornaments, a pair of jewelled belli heavy with gold and thick with rose diamonds thut did not sparkle much, but had a very grand und regal appearance. In a cornet between soft packages and recd-wrupped flasks of perfumes and strange spices, he Íilaccd the bag of stones. To keep the whole airly firm he tilled thu remainder of the trunk with saud and dry weed, and the debris nf by- gone storm und stress and heat and cold, und proceeded to drag thc treasure to thc smack.

" When ye hac got your treasure," Baid Alan at night, as they sat in thc little cabin after supper, "then comes the anxiety of guarding it. Consideriu' that there is some kind o' law ubout treasure trove wc hac got lu

be carcfu' and discreet. It is true Preedie bought most o' the land hereabouts ; it is true lie has endowed yo with thc same ; I am not quite sure that his precautions bar what arc ca'd thc reights o' thc crown ; not that I hoc asked our friend Lawyer Margrave or anyone whether such rights hue ony weight herc, i' Labrador ; but yo will sec thc wisdom o' thc wee hit furnace in which we can melt down such coius and such silver as wc may deem bt'Bt in ingots, so to speak."

" I donit question your judgment in any- thing," said David, " sud I think you arc as wonderful as you arc good ; to have main- tained your sanity and your purpose through such sufferings and sorrows as have fallen to your lot is miraculous."

" Aye, 'tis in the way, David ; but I began wi' an cnormous constitution -. my father and grandfather and every Keith I ever heard on, were a' mighty folk, soldiers und sailors, fighting men, wi' tough sinews and big bones

" And big hearts," suid David.

" Ye may say that," Alan replied, " and yet I left my ain father proinlsiug to go hame, and I didua gae haine, and ho deed, and was buried wi out a hand o' mine to help lay him to rest ; but he'd hie forgiven me if he hail seen your mother, David ; but there, wc munna waste time tatkin' o' thc past sac far away. We'll ship a cargo wi' a' convenient speed und tek it to St. John's; there's a cellar i' thc house that'll keep thc chest safe enough ; and we can negotiate some o' thc stones and things through your trustee. Mr. Margrave, who sceniB to be baitb shrewd and reliable. I induced him lo remain at St John's sac lang as I might want him, and 1 made him tek a fee that was not out o' pro- portion wi' any reasonable service I might require."

" It is a pity wc could not trust any one to help us," said David. "I mn fearfnl of leav- ing thc place."

"Ye noednu bo," Alan replied; "depend upon it i' u' these years Wilderness Creek is just thc lonely unvisited spot I found it when I was an adventitious young fellow, and ¡'love wi' your dear mother, who wad often say she fcar'd I didua quito ken boo drcadfu' thc

coast was hereabouts."

" You think it is best to sail home with this first portion of our cargo?"

" That's my opinion," said Alan ; dinna pul a' your eggs i' one basket is n glide proverb ; I hud to disregard it whon I was c carin' to defend thc rebel flag as they ca'd it, though it's a grand flag enough noo in general estimation. Besides, laddie, wc named a day to r.-lui n, and dinna ye thiiik Mildred will be anxious nbont ye ?"

"Of course, of course," Bald David, whnsu thoughts were not wuudoriug away fruin Mildred, while they were bent upon thc treasures that wera to kc so great a koon to her as well as to liitrisclf.

11 My idea Is just to tek this first cargo i clean hame, the contents o' the ono cask, and

lo mek two other trips, perhaps three : I hoe thought it a' oot. David, mair than ye -hue, I laddie, for the reason that ye hac nae quito [realised what we lise hecn ahoot until yo [stood taco to face wi' the reality o' tho

romance I ha« been telling ye aboot a' this time. Dinna fash yoursel, lad, we'll land tho treasure «nd convert it, nivver fear."

" 1 hope so," said David.

" 1 am sure so," was Alan's quick reply. "To-morrow we'll Jand our furnace and set it

up : it's ema' hut it'll do a' wo require, and ye shall blow tho belton's, David, to thc finest music yo lise heard for many a year ; and wi' all due reverence we'll just worship at thc altar that all thc world worships at, ont we'll melt our golden images to build hospitals wi' and mek folks happy - oursels amang thc rest, David, wc aro nae gacing to forgot our

eels."

Night carno down dark and silent, with here and there a star and, notwithstanding his anxieties, David slept so soundly that the sun had risen ami his father was up and preparing

breakfast before bc awoke.

'* Another glorious day," said Alan, as David rubbed his eyes and sat up in his bunk, " and yesterday is true! Weare unearthing thc treasure ! Ve liae como into a fortuno.

Noo, lad, up ye g,et and take a swim i' tho waters o' Wilderness Creel;, where ye arc monarch of all ye survey-and mair, and much mair David, my sou-and (Jod bless ye lad !"

( To bf. Cowhided n xl II» ' ir. )