Chase Josephine.

Patsy Carroll Under Southern Skies





When all was done the weight of the box was so great six men could scarcely bear it to the ships boat. To me was intrusted the command of these men, who were ordered to row to shore and there bury the box in the earth against the time when we might be able to return for it. This we did and found for the treasure a secure hiding place and buried it at the true sign of the Dragon, which was also His Majestys ship, sunk this day, so that we could not mistake it on our return. Our interest was then to proceed speedily to the ship, for we had agreed to weigh anchor and sail away, crippled though we were.

Yet while we floundered our way back to the shore, through well-nigh impassable green growths, infested with loathsome serpents which we slaughtered in numbers, we heard shots and knew that disaster had come upon our ship. So we made haste to gain the shore, but bethought ourselves to hide at the edge of the jungle rather than show ourselves before we had learned the cause of the firing. And we saw a mighty Spanish galleon bearing down on the Dragon and knowing that we could do nothing were compelled to lie where we were and watch the unequal fight between our gallant ship and the great, high-built galleon.

But the Dragon fought on until her masts were beaten overboard and all her tackle cut asunder and her upper work altogether razed, until, in effect, she evened with the water, nothing of her being left overhead either for flight or defense.

Then our captain, who well knew what torture awaited those on board the Dragon when the Spaniard should set foot upon her, must surely have ordered the master gunner to split and sink the ship. This I believe, because suddenly on board the Dragon a terrific explosion took place and she broke in two and sank with all her crew and passengers.

Then those of us who survived because of our errand on shore took counsel among ourselves and there seemed naught to be done save to go deeper into the jungle and hide ourselves until such time as we might be safe to come forth and trust ourselves to the mercy of the sea in our frail boat. For we had bethought ourselves when we landed to carry our boat across the sands and conceal it in the bushes. We were convinced that of the two the sea was possessed of more mercy than the Spaniard.

So we lay for a little and watched the galleon which went not away but hovered near where our ill-fated ship had disappeared beneath the waters. Presently we saw that which gave us sore alarm. We observed the putting down of a boat from the galleons side, and we counted ten men, all stoutly armed, who quickly betook themselves over the side and manned this boat as soon as it rode the waters. Then we were of the belief that this galleon had been lurking in the waters behind a small but thickly wooded tongue of land to the north of us, this tongue of land forming one end of a curve in the sands which in shape bore the likeness to a new moon.

We doubted not that the first galleon which we had worsted was in complicity with this second.

We were convinced that both these had stolen upon us in the night. Whereas the first had been driven off by us, but with dear loss to ourselves. Those on board the second galleon must surely have observed our plight and thus bided their hour to attack us and complete our destruction. And while they thus waited it is certain they must in some manner have become aware of the lowering of the strong box into our boat and this same boat putting off to shore.

And we knew that we were undone and must seek such refuge as we might find in the jungle. Thereupon we set off in great haste, this time paying no heed to the disgusting serpents which frequently wriggled under our feet and hissed their displeasure of us, though by miracle we were stung by none of them.

Thus we continued to struggle deeper into the jungle with as much speed as we could, and we marveled that we had not yet heard our pursuers behind us. For we were determined to push ever forward until we discovered a fitting place of concealment in the hope that there we might escape being hunted out by them. We were resolved, should they discover us, to fight to the death, for we were well armed.

And after much painful wandering we came into a ravine and found a natural cavern the mouth of which was so overhung with broad-leaved green vines and obscured by bushes as to deceive us at first that aught of a cave was there. And we were overjoyed at this unexpected gain, for we reckoned that even as it had deceived us so it might deceive the Spaniard. Whereupon we severed with exceeding care enough of the vines as would permit us room to pass into the cavern and crept therein, one after another. And by good fortune one of the men had with him a bit of wax candle which we lighted by means of a flint and steel. And we were relieved to find the cave dry and free from scorpions and serpents.

It is now well past midday and still we are undiscovered. Having naught else to do I have taken my book, which never leaveth my person, and inscribed these facts therein by such dim light as filtereth through a little between our sheltering curtain of vines. If, by the grace of God, I survive this trial I shall ever regard this record as of higher interest than those which I have on divers occasions previous to this derived pleasure in inscribing herein. Should we escape the Spaniard we shall be still in an evil case to procure food, and defend ourselves against wild beasts and savages. These last we have not yet seen, yet I doubt not their presence in this untamed wilderness which now encompasseth us. We are resolved to be of steady courage and good cheer. Our faith reposeth in the Almighty who holdeth us in the hollow of His hand and who will deal with us as He deemeth best. We hold

Patsy suddenly stopped reading.

Thats all! she exclaimed disappointedly. It breaks off at We hold with a long scrawl of the d as though Sir John Holden had been suddenly interrupted.

Its wonderful! Bee drew a long breath. While Patsy was reading that last entry I imagined I could see those poor men fleeing for their lives through the jungle. The queer part of it is that it must be true. Its almost as though this Sir John Holden, who lived three hundred years ago, had suddenly come back and spoken to us.

Do you suppose the Spaniards found their hiding place and killed them? asked Eleanor. Do let me look at the ending of that last entry, Patsy.

Patsy handed the open book to Eleanor. Peering over her shoulder, Bee, Dolores and Mabel scrutinized it with her. For a time a lively discussion went on among the five girls concerning the book and the amazing narrative it contained. Its abrupt ending pointed to disaster to the fugitive Englishmen.

I believe the strong box these men buried was the treasure that old Manuel Fereda spent his life hunting for, finally asserted Bee. According to description, the place where they went ashore corresponds to the new moon curve of our bathing beach. Dont you remember how the north end of the curve runs out to a point? The beach goes deep in above there in another shorter curve that makes a natural harbor. I noticed it the other day when we had the race. We swam just a little way past that point.

I remember it now, Patsy looked up, an almost startled expression in her eyes. It doesnt seem possible that all this Ive been reading about ever happened on the very shore weve been using for a bathing beach. If it did happen there, then they buried the treasure somewhere in the woods back of it. How did Manuel come by this journal? Thats what Id like to know.

This journal has been handed down from one generation of Feredas to another, returned Bee promptly. What about Camillo de Fereda, the portrait cavalier? Judging from his costume in the picture he must have lived at about the same time as this journal was written. Eulalie told Dolores that he was a pirate and a murderer. He might have been on the very galleon that fought the Dragon. He might have been among the Spaniards who went ashore after Sir John and his men. Maybe the Spaniards found them and killed them all and brought back this book to the galleon. Ive been trying to figure it out and thats the way I think it was.

It sounds very plausible, agreed Patsy, much impressed. Isnt it maddening to find out this much only to realize that well never know the rest? If theres a treasure no wonder the Feredas could never find it. All Sir John says about it is that they buried it at the true sign of the Dragon. Now what did he mean by that?

Well never know, nor will anyone else. If theres really a treasure buried in the woods behind the beach it will probably stay there forever, predicted Mabel.

I guess it will, agreed Patsy. I know well never hunt for it. I can imagine Aunties face if I proposed digging up those woods to find it. I wonder what shell say about this journal? Its a treasure in itself. It really belongs to you, Bee. You found it.

Yes; but in your room, reminded Beatrice.

Nevertheless she looked rather wistfully at the little sheepskin-covered book. It was indeed a treasure worth having.

Ill offer it to Auntie, Bee, Patsy replied, noting the wistful look in Bees eyes. We ought to consider her first. If she doesnt care for it, its yours.

Oh, no, you keep it, protested Bee. I couldnt accept it, really.

Well settle that later. Oh, I forgot! We havent looked at the folded paper yet that fell out of the book.

Patsy turned to the table and picked up the forgotten paper.

Its a letter, she informed. Then her face clouded. Its written in Spanish, she added disgustedly. You can read it, Mab, I suppose.

Patsy, querida, give me the letter, eagerly begged Dolores, who as usual had played the silent but always avidly interested listener. I would read it for you.

Why, thats so! I forgot all about your being Spanish, Dolores, smiled Patsy.

Let Dolores read it, urged Mabel. She can make a much better translation of it than I.

Go ahead, Dolores, Patsy handed her the letter. Eleanor and Bee also echoed the request.

Shyly delighted at being thus importuned by the girls she so greatly loved and admired, Dolores took the letter and scanned it with knitted brows:

Mi querido hijo, she read aloud. That means, My dear son. I will not read more of this in the Spanish, but try to tell you of it in the English as I read it in my own language. This it says:

It is long since I have written to you. I have waited for you to come to me, but you have not come. I grow old and but last month I received the wound in the side from an accursed English captain whose ship we set upon and captured. But he paid dearly for this outrage to my person. We put him and all on board to the torture.

But my wound heals not and promises yet to prove my death. Therefore I charge you to continue to search for the treasure which the accursed English brought ashore and buried on the morning when my galleon fought them and caused their destruction. You know well how we hunted down those who concealed the treasure and put them to torture. Stubborn pigs that they were, they perished, unconfessed.

Since that time I have searched long and frequently for this box which I doubt not to be filled with gold. I have wasted many hours over the stupid book, but understand not at all. Neither dare I give it to any who have knowledge of English lest the secret hiding place of the treasure thus become known to him who reads.

Therefore I charge you to come to me soon in order that I may deliver this book into your hands with such instructions as I have for you. For I am unable to come to you. When I shall have passed out of this life and into the eternal darkness, as I must surely do, since I have no belief in life after death, cease not to search for the treasure. From His Majesty I have received full title to the portion of land we marked off for our own. Thus it becomes yours when I have finished with it. Delay not, but come speedily if you would see your father once more.

Don Camillo de Fereda.

Its the one thing we needed to complete our case.

It was Bee who shattered the hush that had fallen upon the group.

Yes. We know now that Don Camillo de Fereda was really a pirate. That he commanded the galleon that finished the Dragon. We know what happened to Sir John Holden and his men and how the book came into the possession of the Feredas, enumerated Patsy. The letter and the book have been handed down from generation to generation because none of the Feredas ever found the treasure of Las Golondrinas.

That was because of the wickedness of Don Camillo de Fereda, asserted Dolores. It was not intended that either he or any of this family should find. Because of it old Manuel died bitter and without faith. To Rosita it brought the madness. I believe that it has the curse laid upon it.

CHAPTER XXVI
THE TRUE SIGN OF THE DRAGON

The story of the treasure of Las Golondrinas was not to be thus easily dismissed from the minds of the Wayfarers. Quite the contrary, it became paramount as a topic of conversation. The journal of the unfortunate Englishman, Sir John Holden, and the letter written by Don Camillo de Fereda were duly exhibited to and read by Miss Martha and Mr. Carroll.

Though both were considerably impressed by the girls find neither was in sympathy with Patsys half-jesting, half-earnest assertion: It would be fun to poke around in the woods a little and hunt for the treasure, if we had the least bit of an idea what the sign of the Dragon was.

Miss Carroll had promptly vetoed the poking around in the woods plan, appealing to Mr. Carroll to support her in prohibiting such a proceeding. He had been equally ready on his own account, however, to decry Patsys proposal.

Dont allow this treasure story to take hold on your minds, he had discouraged. Its highly interesting, of course, but thats all. Youre not apt to discover a treasure that generations of Feredas failed to locate. They knew the ground thoroughly and failed. You know nothing of that jungle behind the beach.

With no one save Bee as an ally, Patsys ambition saw no prospect of realization. Still the treasure story remained uppermost in her mind. It haunted her, particularly during the morning excursions to and from the bathing beach. The portion of jungle through which the white, sandy beach-road ran became invested with new interest. Its green depths concealed a treasure, once the treasure of the Dragon, now the treasure of Las Golondrinas.

Do you suppose this part of the coast has changed very much since 1618? Patsy reflectively questioned one morning, as she and Bee lay on the warm sands sunning themselves after a long swim.

I dont know. Bee was gazing absently seaward. Youre thinking about the treasure, of course, she added with a smile.

Yes, Patsy admitted. Too bad Sir John wasnt captain of the Dragon. Hed have kept a log instead of a journal, and in it he would have set down the ships exact position. How far it was from shore, I mean, and all that.

I have an idea that the Dragon anchored quite a way below this part of the beach, declared Beatrice, and not so very far from land. Its just as Sir John said, the beach along here curves a little like a new moon. The upper end of the curve runs farther out into the water than the lower end. Above the upper end is the little bay where the galleons must have anchored in the night. You know how deep the water is there. If the Dragon had been directly opposite this curve, those on board would have probably sighted the galleons and the captain would have tried to get away when the first one attacked him. Theyd been fixing up the ship all that day, you know.

Yes, thats so, nodded Patsy. But where do you think the men landed who went ashore in the row-boat?

Thats hard to guess, returned Bee. If the ship were anchored down there, they might have rowed in a straight line to land without being seen by the Spaniards. If the beach was then just as it is now, right along here would have been a better place for them to land than down there. Maybe the Spaniards had a lookout posted in the woods watching them.

If they had, its funny that Don Camillo didnt send some of his men to follow them right then, instead of waiting until after the attack, argued Patsy.

I suppose he thought he had those poor Englishmen just where he wanted them, replied Bee. He knew that they couldnt escape him. He thought, perhaps, that it would be easy to make them confess where theyd buried the box. You know history says that the Spanish adventurers who first came over here made a practice of torturing the Indians to find out where they kept their gold. Sir John and his men knew theyd be killed by Don Camillo even if they confessed, so they preferred to die by torture rather than tell the secret.

Its horrible to think of, isnt it? shuddered Patsy. Im glad we were born three hundred years later than those dangerous times. No ones life was safe then. Say, Bee, Patsy sat up with sudden energy. Im going to ask Auntie if we cant walk a little way down the beach this morning. If she says yes well change our bathing suits and ask Dolores to go with us. Im anxious to see how it looks down there at that lower end of the curve. Come on.

Springing to her feet, Patsy raced across the sands to where her aunt and Dolores were quietly sitting, each absorbed in a book. Dolores fondness for Nature did not include any desire whatever for a close acquaintance with the ocean. No amount of persuasion on the part of the Wayfarers could induce her to go bathing with them.

Auntie, dear, began Patsy in coaxing tones, as she and Bee came to a pause before the two on the sands, do you care if we change our bathing suits and go for a little walk down the beach? We want you to go with us, Dolores. We wont go far, Aunt Martha, and will be back in just a little while.

Very well. Miss Carroll looked up placidly from her reading. I trust you, Dolores, to keep these two reckless girls out of mischief, she added, turning to her companion.

Dolores laid her book aside and rose in instant acquiescence to Patsys plea.

Surely, I will go with you, Patsy, querida, she said in her soft voice. Have no fear, Se?ora Martha, that I shall not keep the very stern eyes upon these two, she mischievously assured Miss Carroll.

Wait a minute till I see if Mab and Nellie want to go, Patsy said. Running down to the waters edge, she called out her invitation to the Perry girls, who were industriously practising a new swimming stroke which Mr. Carroll had taught them on the previous day.

No, we dont want to go, declined Mabel. Were just beginning to get this stroke down fine. Go away, Patsy Carroll.

Come along, Bee. The Perry children dont appreciate us, Patsy commented satirically.

A little later, Bee and Patsy emerged from the bath house, ready for their walk. Accompanied by Dolores the trio started off down the beach.

Weve been quite a little way up the beach, Dolores, but weve never gone a dozen yards down it, remarked Patsy, as they strolled along in the sunshine. Were going as far as that point down there and maybe farther. We want to see how it looks on the other side of it. We were talking about the Dragon this morning and

I beg of you, Patsy, querida, think no more of that horrible treasure. Dolores had stopped short, her dark eyes full of distress. It is forbidden by the se?ora that you should walk in the jungle. I have given the promise to keep the care of you. So must I

Come along, goosie, dear. Patsy laid gentle hold on Dolores arm. Were not going into the jungle to hunt for the stupid old treasure. We just want to go a little way and see things. Bee and I have an idea that the men from the Dragon might have touched shore on the other side of the point when they rowed to land. We only want to see how it looks there.

It is not so different from this, Dolores declared, except that beyond the point is the small inlet.

Is that so? Bee remarked in surprise. I supposed that beyond the point was only a little bay. The beach is narrow at the point on account of the woods coming down so close to the water. Thats the way it is with the upper end of the curve, you know. Can we walk around the point and along the shore of the inlet for a little way without actually getting into the jungle?

Si, returned Dolores, but not very far.

Then lets go as far as we dare, proposed intrepid Patsy. You lead the way, Dolores.

Presently arriving at the place where the beach itself was merely a strip of sand extending out into the water, the three girls rounded the point and walked along the sandy shore of the inlet.

They had gone only a few steps when Bee stopped short and pointed out to sea.

The Dragon might have been anchored right over there, Patsy, she asserted. This would have been a splendid place for the men in the row-boat to land.





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