Chapter 65753927

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Chapter NumberPART IV. XIV
Chapter TitleTHE BURIED TREASURE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65753927
Full Date1893-06-03
Page Number8
Corrections0
Word Count4646
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)
Trove TitleUnder the Great Seal
article text

lales and ^hetchw. ? ? A

[SOW TXBST PUBLISHED.] ONDERTHEGREAT SEAL, A NOVEL,

BT JOSEPH HATTON. Author of ' Clytie,' ' By Order of the Czar,' 'John Keedham's Doable,' 'Cruel Lon don,' &C.

[1U BICHT8 BISECTED). PART IV. Chapter XIV.— The Bcbied Treasure.

The same sweet aammer e day thtt saw Zaccheus Webb weigh anchor for his but voyage, saw Alan Keith and David his son a*amtorhestiu waters of Wilderness Creek. It wkboo justmch & d-.y thsvt AJad ^*ii fint Here it was once more with its reflections of Demon's Back, its sandy shores, its distant range of sheltering hills, and ita weird and happy memories.

When David dropped the anchor of the amack.Nautilns, which his father had bought at St. John's, the old man after contemplating -he scene for some minntra could only remark, -?Ifsvery hot, David, for Labrador/ Itwas not a mmanrir- observation. Bat as the lead ing incidents of Alan's life pissed before him almost like a flash with this --*n»rfaJJ» denouement— this retnra to Kasquippe and the harboDx and the rendevoos of his Gaud of patriots and freebooters — his mind seemed to find relief in the most prosaic observations. ' Is it r* was David's none the less common place reply. ??Must aa hot as Spain,'' said Alan, 'and the silence o' the place reminds me o' Venice when I made excursions on the lagoons i' the neighttime.' 41 It is very quiet,' said David, 'and very keantifoL' 'I propose we just tek a drink, David,' said the old man, *? as for mysel IT1 temporise the waiter wi' a nip o' whisky. ' As bespoke Alan drew half .tumbler of water from a keg, sheltered from tie sun in the stern of the boat. He filled up the vessel with whisky from a atone jar which was part of certain lwrraries of food and drink stored close by. 'Here's to ye!' said Alan wiping his lips, and passing the jar to David. ' Water for me, father,' said David. 'Ill try your dew of the mountain later, when we smoke.' 'As ye will,' said Alan, restoring the jar to the hamper, and the horn tumbler with it. ' redid nae thenk there was aught as fine as ?this T these latitudes, eh f 'As fine,' said David, 'bat not as Ibeantiful ; why it might be one of the holiday Dakes one hears about in your native Scotland/1 ' Eh, man, ye're rdght there, it's the sairt ? country that ^et» into your brain, and I tell ye' sajr son, the story o' this harbour is to me somrtwing like a fable o' long and long ago, -and yet at the minute when we nm in here as if we'd oiled our keel it was like yesterday, nri'aU its strange and tme happenings thick tin my memory-.' 'Don't you think we might moor the aaaack to yonder puet?' said DavidT* The thing I wss gaen to sae myael'. David, if they'll bond. I remember John Prsedieand Dcoald Nicol driving them, nirii on thirty years back,' said AlanT 'They look strong enough for a ship let alone a smack,' said David, hauling up the anchor which be bad previously dropped: 'will you take an oar, father?' Alan thrust a long oar into its rowlock, David taking up another and trying to use it as a pole to shove the boat and steer her at the same time. Alan langked, a rare habit with him; David hardly lemeuibeied when he bad heard him laugh, though his smile was pleasant to see, and frequent. 'Ye meight as weel try to sound the i^Jiantic wp a marune-anike ; man, it's a' but tfatnmlwsii' the middle; gradualai the shores athaVe downwards they come to the same kind ?' precipice as the tableland above the rock yonfw. and then it's waiter below just as it's sky abere ; pull, noo, starboard ; that's it, laddie ; ooo sling your rope ; that's got her !' ' Hold,' said David, straining on the rope, 'why the Barter is at solid as a rock.' The smack lay as stOl as she bad bin before, her keel breaking into the reflections of the noble face of Demon's Rock. 'Ye seethe cairns yonder amang the foot bills o the rock?' Alan asked, pointing -across the sandy shore to the mountain. ' Yes,' David replied, pulling on his rough 'The sand and the wind and the bit growth o' sea-thistles and the like hae been vera usefu'— wbae'd think o' questioning the . sinceerity o' tombstones on which Time has ^written such epitaphs !' ' They look grim and serums,' said David. ?' Laddie, they are grim and serious maist o' tinea— all except the three r the middle— I U3a*cdvm the three graces— and the one to the SBttthV the row.' ''Bar do you know one from the other— UVZ1SG& graves and the treasure casks ?' 'Bmr ilid I ken the ^hnnTiol that brought us heje?' was AUn's reply. Darfd had asked bis question in a non' commitid inquiring spirit, more by way of saying soaetbing than with a view to question bis father. He had it in his mind to prepare himself and his father for the breaking up of a wild illusion, the bursting of a bubble, the Awakening from a dream ; for he had never altogether, even in his most Baagnine moments, accepted his father's account of the buried treasure as anything more than an unconscious exaggeration of some more or less trivial secreting of hard-won savings, if not the base less fancy of a mind distraught 'David, I hae dreamed myael ahoutin' and ?dnncio' if ever I lived to resurrect the three

graces; I hae thought o' myseT aa goin' just wild when tile time should come that I stood here again, and it's only o' late as ye ken that I began to think o' ye by my side, my son, Hannah's child. What wad hae been the use o' the gond and things, wi'out ye, David? And yet I nsed to dream about bein' here and gloatin' ower it; but that mun a been prophetic in a way, for it was surely ordained that I should find ye at hut as I did Eh man, what a meetin' it was ! David, well be grateful to God for it ; well consider oursels His stewards.' David felt bis doubts increase as his father went rambungonnever attempting to advance towards the pathetic looking cemetery with its stones packed np originally into the shape of crosses, now crooked, fallen into odd forms, with grey bits of weed and 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 hae believed that I should stand here sae calm and bnsinesdike, as if the cairns o' Wilderness Creek, and the mighty rock above them, to say p«»frl,i»»g about the cavern beyond, were the maist common place thing. V Nature. D'ye see the cavern, David? Yell imagine it's the entrance to a Cathedral, man, when ye hae passed the fnirt|j]|n and the cairns, sae grand is it ; and it's away np above that I hae stored the other bit o' money and scrip I telt ye of, and the wee bit huts and the rest.'

David's imagination was touched with the lonely beauty of the scene, the strangeness of tueir visit, the rock towards which bis father waved his long bony hand, a vast Bolid mighty stone as it seemed, with ridges cut into it and sharp ledges, and with a tall smooth crown contrasting in a. striking way with the jagged peats and points of the army of »Mi»in»l« that took their orders, as it were, from the chief, and went ranging along the coast for miles and miles, looking out to sea and at the same time peering np into the heavens. ' Shove off the gangway, David, my son,' said Alan, presently, ' we might ss wed gae ashore to our work i' comfort and i' order.' David made a gangway of one of the several planks that lay amidships with shovels, pick axes, and other implements, carefully stored out of Bight under a heavy tarpaulin. 'Noo? lad, the tools.' ^^ While David awnng a. couple of shovels over his shoulder, bis father drew forth a Blacksmith's hammer and an axe very ranch like the formidable weapon that Danuan, the dwarf, had wielded with deadly effect upon the Anne of Dartmouth. David was the first to step ashore. His were the only footprints to be seen, of either man, bird, *r animaL Millions of insects seemed to start np and carry the news from tiny hillock to tiny valley of the new and strange arrival. Shouldering his axe and carrying the great hammer in his band, Alan Keith followed his son. Their caQ shadows climbed ahead as if to pioneer them to the little cemetery. 'Noo, lad, well need the 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 tbem. . A flight of birds rushed screaming from the cavern beneath Demon's Bock as they approached it Alan started, David ottered an exclamation of surprise. The birds dis appeared among the foothills. ' When it's dark and stormy,' said Alan, proceeding on bis way, 'thafs the sort o' Una' animal the sailors mistake for J—' ™- and fiends, and the like.' 'Idon't wonder at the superstition,'' said David, 'the sea must let in upon this coast with awful force in winter.' 'Ifa just wonderfn' to me that we can stand talkin' here and Fortune wi' both her hands full waitin' our pleasure,' jaid Alan, contemplating the cairns. ' Yes, it is,' David replied, half reluctant to begin, the idea of some great disillusion awaiting bis father. ' Noo, lad, lay to,' said Alan, beginning to shovel the sand away from the base of the pile of stones that covered the centre grave, 'tek the boulders off the ton.' David inserted his pick into the interstices of the stoner, and then with a shovel began to clear away the sand and weed beneath. His heart was beating with a hopeful anticipation that all his father had led him to count upon might come true. As he worked at the unsealing of the alleged board of gold and silver, of lace and spice, and amber, and precious stones, he thought of the great things Mildred might accomplish by way of fulfilling her ambition of charity and love; what he might see of the great world sailing round it for pleasure ; what Petherick would say when he called on him at Yarmouth; what be might be permitted to do to smooth the but days of Zacchcus Webb, little think ing that the old smacksman had already on that very day Bolved the great mystery of all. ' Man,' exclaimed Alan, suddenly break ing in upon David's work and reflections, ' what if we hae been forestalled ?' 'What do you mean, father?' asked David, coming out of his first real unrestricted wnmtann of faitb in the paternal promise of wealth. ' What if that man Bentz, or some ither traitrous villain, has been here before us and robbed ye of your inheritance ?' ' I thought no one else knew of your store,' gak' David, with s, sickening doubt of the whole business, 'you said they were all lost at 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' the wide world !' ?^VVhovrasheV' David asked, 'What -was 'Jnst the maist ootrageoua traitor and vile thief your imagination can conceive. Bnt we are waistin' time, laddie ; it's natural to have a stray doubt come into one's mind after sae many years, and when ye has got yoar hand on the handle o' the door, so to speak.'

'I should say tiese stonss have not been removed since they were first stacked here,' said David, 'if there was ever anything of value buried beneath them, depend upon it we shall find it.' ' If I d'ye say if, David ? Wed, weel ! Idinna wonder ye should doubt if I can doubt mysei —stand by and gie me shovel and pick ; 111 need the axe later on; met nae doubt roots o' trees mixed up wf my ain particular bank npyonder.' David stood aside wiping bis hot face and preparing himself generally for the dis appointment be had all along feared. His father went to work with a vigour that was remarkable for bis years. He bent bis back over the excavation, and flung out the sand in a continuous shower, sand and pebbles, sand and bits of straw, and sprigs of trees that had been packed with the sand to bind it. 'Laddie, I believe ye're reight ; nae sacreugious hands hae been pottering about the cemetery o' Wilderness Creek sin' the St. Dennis sailed oat o' the hsrbour never to return,' aaid Alan, pausing in his work to catch his breath and cheer his despondent son and comrade. ?Tin glad yon think so, father,' David '(Sie me the pick, lad,' said Alan, laying down his shovel and turning up his sleeves. _ Alan took the implement, and, swinging it above bis head, brought it dawn open the spot which he and David bad partially cleared. The pick fell with a dull thud npon something that was neither sand nor rock. ' Stand by,' he said, his eyes brightening, 'stand by, David. It's a'reight, I'm tuink

David took a step nearer to the old man, who once more brought his pick down npon the place be had struck before. 'It's there !' be exclaimed, as he drew the pick forth with a tug, ' it's there ! The shovel, laddie, die shovel !' ' Let me help you now,' said David, band ing his father the shovcL Alan took no heed of the remark, but set to work again with unsubdued energy, only to pause when he was assured that at least the cask he bad dug for was beneath his feet. ' It's the fresh air and the happiness ye hae brought me that's made me young again,' be said, as if answering the point of David's admiration of bis father's strength. 'My lad, I amna so auld that my sinews are unstrung, my muscles dried up ; why, just noo, I feel as if I were ainly beginning life, and I tell ye I dinna mean to dee for many and many a year ' Let mi help you,' said David once more, wondering at the same time how even bis strange and eccentric father could pause to boast in the midst of the exceptional work in which he was engaged, and with a vast prize ora terrible blank within reach of his band. 'Shovel the staff away {rae the side o' the hole,' Alan said, ss he took np the pick once more, ' and gie me elbow room.' David made the mouth of the excavation free from sand and stones, and Alan drove the pick once more into the obstruction that had gripped it. The result was a portion «' the end of a cask. Another attack brought up a second piece, rotten and soft. Alan laid the two pieces of wood within arm's length of the bole and then, lying prone by its aide, thrust his right band into it 'The Frenchman's silver flagon, sure aa fate !' he exclaimed, placing npon the bank a beautifully shaped jug, its gold arabesque shining out through the --ji-n;A of the sHvet. David could not speak. He stood with parted lips, watching the unearthing of the 'Man, I ken them a,'! I remember Preedie cramming the last lot o' the bright and jewelled trinkets and what not into tie top o' the cask. I've gotten hood o' the dagger the Frenchman said he'd looted wf a heap o' preedons things frae a palace i' the East; nay, I dinna ken where. Here it is, and by the might o' bonnie Scotland, there's the same grand ughtblazing on tne hilt that I remember as weel as if it were yesterday.' David stooped to take the dagger, and before he bad looked at it out came a- metal box, with the remark of the excavator, 'Solid silver'; followed by a chafing dish, and the remark, ' Solid silver wi' goud orna ments'! then a wooden box with seals upon it. with the remark 'Amber'; to be succeeded by other packages and curios, handed out with the same lively running j^nmrtrq^ ?* £ jewelled snuff-box, atta of roses, a little idol made o' a great pearl, wi' diamonds for eyes and a sapphire headpiece. Man ! I remember them as if it was yesterday, the Frenchman bragged o' them as he got fuddled wi' his red wine, which me and my crew could drink like watter and never wink. ' David shook himself to be sure that he was David ; that he was not in bed at Yarmouth ; and then he felt inclined to shout, ' Father, forgive me, I thought yon were mad.' 'What d'ye think about it now?' Alan asked, looking up, his eyes ablaze, his face streaming with perspiration, his mouth wreathed in Bm,l,»» 'I cannot think,' said David, 'I want to ' Then dance, lad ! and m set ye the tune.' he said ; ' here it is,' and be handed David a small bag. ' Press it to your heart, David, and dance like your great namesake who danced before the Laird ; for ye hae got a treasure now that Mildred can build her hospital wi,' and set a' her needy poor i' busi ness from Caistor to Gorleston ; and ye can build the church we promised Father Lavello, i1 the midst o' Heart's Content ; aud poor auld Alan Keith can raise a monument i' the forest to God's angel upon earth.' As be said these words lie rose to his feet and David seized him by the lianiL ' Father,' he exclaimed, ' I never thought it was quite true ; not that I doubted vour word, but it passed beyond all my hopes.'and now I don't know bow to contain myself.1' 'I'll sit me doon,' said Alan, 'notbere—

HI eae aboard; I'm feelin' «, trifle tired, sad aweebttthouehtfn.' Eh, man, I only wish the comrades who stood here V the past, and who helped store these things were here to tek their share and divide wi' me. Nay, nay, on second thoughts I dinna wish anything o' the kind, except, perhaps, i' the ease o' Preedie and Donald Kieol— tbe others wad just « misapplied it David I dinna ken quite what I'm aayin'; HI gae aboard and hae another wee drap to steady myseL'' ? 'But the bag, fader,'' said David, atffl holding tbe email leather bag that hfa father bad placed in his bands with so many erdam ations as to its value. It was a soft, thick bag, drawn together with thongs of leather; it had once been sealed, but the wax was broken, and the thongs bad been clumsily re- ? tied. 'Preedie understood a,' about precious stones and the like, I couldna tell them frae - glass for my part, bnt rVeedie just loved tosit doon end finger these f die bag, finger them and gloat ower them, And he said they were worth a king's ransom ; pearls, diamonds, sapphires and rubies, one c? the biggest dia monds to be re-cut, be said, and he talked o Amsterdam, and dealers in atones, and cutters and the like, that wise that I often wondered if he'd been i' the trade. Open die bag, David.' David undid tbe thongs and emptied a few of the stones into the paun of his band. 'fcot changed one bit,' said AIM, 'tbe same wonderf u' sky bine, the same blude red, the same glassy wite wi' ten thousands sparks in 'em— weel, David, what d'ye make on 'I should say they are' all Mr. Preedie thought tbem : thev are wonderful.'

' A king's ransom be said they were wortli. But gin there be any mistake why (here's a barrel o' English guineas and braw^ew shellim and Spanish coins, that'll met amends.' -' Aim went on board- the smack. David watched him until he disappeared below. It was a small cabin, but there were two bonks in it, and the old man bad evidently decided to lie down. David now began to think that Wilderness Creek might not be quite the bunvii tJ«*»» his father imagined. He suddenly felt tberesponsibity of wealth and looked about him to be sure that he was not under tbe surveflknra of some desperado. He thought of tbe description of the coast which the captain of tbe Morning Star had given him, and felt if his pistefwas safe in his belt. Then be laid his Jacket over the treasures that werelyingou tbe ground, and potting -tbe bag of precious stones beneath it, shovelled more of the sand from tbe mouth of the buried cask and cautiously dropped into it, stooping down and proceeding with die work of emptying it. He hauled out all Jdndd of packages, caps, ornaments, chalices, packets of lace, flasks bound in woven reeds and sealed with seals, and at last concluded that it would be wise to ffll the leather trunk which his father had brought to carry tbe treasure on board. After a while, looking towards die smack, he saw bis father sitting calmly amidships smoking his chibouk. He waved bis band to tbe old man, who responded by raising his pipe and tainting with it as if it were aaword. rhen David began to pack the trunk. He laid the dagger and all the boxes that were Oat at the bottom, the quaint packages of laces, the well wrapped amber, the cups and chalices, the carious ornaments, a pair of jewelled belts heavy with gold and thick with cose diamonds that did not sparkle much, bnt had a very grand and regal appearance. In a corner ?etween soft packages and recd-wrapped flasks of perfumes and strange spicea, he placed the bag of stones. To keep the whole fairly firm he filled the remainder of the trunk with sand and dry weed, and tbe debris of by gone storm and stress mud beat and cold, and proceeded to drag tbe treasure to the muck. 'When ye bae got your treasure,' said Alan at night, as they sat in the little cabin after nipper, 'then comes tbe anxiety of guarding it Comdderin' that there is some and o' law about treasure trove we hae got to le carefn' and discreet. It is tme Preedie ?ought most o' the land hereabouts ; it is true he has endowed ye witii the same ; I am not quite sure that his precautions bar what are ca'd the rejghts o' tbe crown ; not that I bae asked our friend Lawyer Margrave or anyone whether such rights hae ony weight here, i' Labrador ; bnt ye will see the wisdom o' the -wee bit furnace in which we can melt down such coins and such silver as we may deem best in ingots, so to speak.' ' I don t question your judgment in any thing,'' said David, 'and I think you are as wonderful as you arc good ; to have main tained your sanityand your purpose through such sufferings and sorrows aa have fallen to your lot is ''rn'ttlmm.' ?'Aye, 'tis in tbe way, David ; but I began wi an enormous constitution : my father and grandfather and every Keith I ever beard on, were a' mighty folk, soldiers and sailors, fighting men, wi' tough smews and big bones ' And lag hearts,' said David. 'Ye may saythar,'Alau replied, 'and yet left my am father promuing to go hame, and didna gae hame, and he deed, and was buried wrout a hand o' mine to help lay him to rest ; but he'd bae forgiven me if be had seen your mother, David ; but there, we munna waBte time talkin' o' tbe past sae far away. Well ship a cargo wi' a' convenient speed and tek it to St. John's ; there's a cellar i' the house that'll keep the chest safe enough ; and we can negotiate some o' the stones and things through your trustee, Mr Margrave, who seems to be baith shrewd and reliable. I induced him to remain at St Johns sac lang as I miglit want him, and I made him tek a fee that was not out o' pro portion wi' any reasonable sen-ice I might require.' 'It is a pity we could not trust any one to help us,' said David. ' I am feaiful of leav ing the place.' 'Ye needna be,' Alan replied; 'depeud npon it i' a' these years Wilderness Creek is ust the lonely unvisited spot I found it when

Ins as sdvcabironByonngfeJW, and Flora wT your dew mother, who wad often say she fcmr'd I didu quite ken boo dnadfs' the coot n hereabouts.' ' ITas think it is best to sail home with this fast poctian of oar cargo!' 'That's my opinion,' Saul Alan; dinnapat s'yoareggs i' one basket is a glide proverb; I had to disregard it when I was ccarin7 to defaad the rebelnag as they ea'd it, tbough ifa a grand flag enough noo in general estimatioo. Besides, laddie, we amd a dayto return, anddinna ye think HOdred v91 be anxfcms about ye V 'Of wane, of course,' said David, whose thought* were not wandering sway from Mildred, while they were bent upon the treasoresidiat were to be so great a boon to herasweVasto hlmsdl. 'My idea is jut to tek this first cargo clean hone, the contents o'the one cask, sod to mek two other tons, perhaps three : Ihae thought it a' oot, David, mair than ye faae, laddie, for the nason that ye faae aae quite realised what we faae been shoot until ye stood lace to face wi' the reality o' the romance I has been telling ye sboot a' this time. Duma fash yonneViad, well bud the treasure and convert it, mvrer fear.' 'I hope so,' said David. 'Ian sure so,' was Alan's quick reply. 'To^oorroar we*H land onr fnmace and set it up : it's ama' bat it'll do *' ire require, and ye shall blow the bellows, David, to the finest music ye faae heard for many a year; and wi' all due reverence we'll just worship at the altar that all die world worships at, W well melt onr golden images to build hospitals wf snd mek folks happy— onrsels araang the rest, David, we are nae gaeing to forget oar sels.' Night came down dark and silent, with here and there a star and, notwithstanding bis anxieties, David slept so socndly that the sun had risen and bis father was up and preparing breakfast before be awoke. 'Another glorious day,' said Alan, as David robbed Us eyes and sat np in his bonk, 'and yesterday is true ! We are mteanUnj the treasure ! Ye bae come into a fortune. Noo, lad, np ye get and take a swim i' the waters o' Wilderness Creek, where ye are monarch of all ye survey— and mair, snd much mair David, my son— and God bless ye lad!' (TobtCoadttdtdKUvxtk.)