Patsy Carroll Under Southern Skiesñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“Maybe they did land here, and struck off into the jungle, right there, where the inlet begins,” surmised Patsy. “Let’s follow the shore of the inlet. It’s almost as wide as this bit of beach and doesn’t look snaky. As long as we don’t get into the jungly part of the jungle we’re safe enough.”
“I think it will be all right for us to go up it a few rods if we stick to the shore,” decided Bee. “It looks so pretty up there under those trees that hang over the water. Truly, Dolores, we’re not thinking about the treasure now. It certainly wasn’t buried along the shore of the inlet. Why, the journal never mentioned an inlet. You go ahead and we’ll follow. You know the ground.”
Reassured by Bee’s words, Dolores first hunted about for a good-sized snake stick, then reluctantly took the lead. The trio soon reached the mouth of the inlet and continued up one side of it for a short distance. The farther they went the narrower grew the sandy shore, lying even with the jungle itself. Over the inlet hung a kind of white haze, appearing to rise from the water.
“We’re in the jungle and yet not in it,” cheerfully commented Patsy. “How misty that water looks.”
She had hardly spoken when Bee uttered a sharp exclamatory “Oh!”
Walking ahead, Dolores had come upon a noisy puff adder curled up on the shore. While it puffed its resentment at being disturbed, she deftly caught it up on the end of the stick and tossed it, hissing, into the water.
“It is not harmful,” she explained, “yet I have the sorrow to see it, because it is the snake, and all snakes are the sign of evil. Now we should perhaps turn back. You have seen – ”
Her low, musical voice suddenly trailed off into a horrified gasp. Simultaneously three pairs of eyes had glimpsed a terrifying something rising up through the mist from the inlet’s quiet waters. As it continued to rise they caught a fleeting impression of a grotesque, flat, wrinkled head, composed chiefly of a heavy upper lip from which depended a long trail of green. In its flipper-like arms the ugly monster held a grayish object, clasped close to its vast, shapeless body.
“It is an evil thing!” shrieked Dolores. Panic-stricken, she reverted to her old wood nymph tactics and bolted straight into the jungle, Patsy and Beatrice following wildly after.
“Dolores!” at last screamed Bee in desperation. “Wait for us!”
The shrill appeal checked the badly scared wood nymph’s headlong flight long enough for Bee and Patsy to come up with her. Breathless though she was, Bee’s brief terror had apparently taken wing. She was now smiling broadly.
“We’re a set of geese!” she exclaimed. “Do you know what our horrible monster is? I do. It’s nothing but a meek, harmless manatee!”
“What, then, is a manatee?” inquired Dolores, in tones that indicated doubt that so terrible a monster as she had just seen could possibly be harmless.
“Oh, it’s an animal something like a seal, only a lot larger, that lives in the sea.
It eats nothing but plants and grass and is as harmless as a kitten. I’ve seen pictures of manatees, but never saw a real one before,” explained Bee. “The minute after we started to run, I guessed what it was we’d seen. They live in lagoons and the mouths of rivers that run into the sea and inlets like this. The poor thing was holding up its baby manatee for us to see and we never stopped to admire it!”
“Let’s go back and look at it,” said Patsy. “We’ve got to get out of this jungle as soon as ever we can. We’ll have to go back the way we came, I suppose. Auntie will be awfully cross with me for this. She’ll blame me for the whole business.”
“From here it is not so far to the jungle road,” informed Dolores. “I know the little path to it. That will be best for us to take, I believe.”
“All right,” acquiesced Bee, “only do let’s stop and rest a little first. That wild run of ours took most of my breath. There’s a nice, clean place under that big tree. A five-minutes’ stop there won’t do us any harm.”
Pausing only to break off a leafy branch from a stunted sapling, Bee walked over to the spot she had designated and energetically swept it, a precautionary measure against lurking wood-ticks and scorpions. Then she dropped down on the dry ground with a little sigh of relief.
Dolores seated herself beside Bee. Patsy, however, made no move to sit down. Instead, she stopped half way to the tree and gazed about her with alert, interested eyes.
“Look at that dandy big rock!” she exclaimed, pointing to a huge boulder a little to the left of where she was standing. “I can climb up on it as easy as anything. It will be a fine perch. No snakes or scorpions or horrid old wood-ticks can get me up there.”
The rock on which Patsy proposed to perch was perhaps five feet high and correspondingly thick through. It measured at least eight feet across. One end of it tapered down to a blunt point, thereby furnishing Patsy an easy means of reaching its rather flat top.
“Hurray!” was her jubilant exclamation when a moment later she stood on top of the boulder and waved a triumphant hand to her companions. “The world is mine!”
Patsy made an elaborate bow, first to the right, then to the left. Her eyes coming to rest on the pointed end of the boulder she called out:
“What does this end of the rock make you think of?”
“It reminds me of a rock,” jibed Bee. “I can’t see that it looks like anything else.”
“That’s because you’re not up here,” retorted Patsy. “Standing on the top, looking down, this end is like an alligator’s head. No it isn’t, either. It’s more like the head of a queer, prehistoric monster. Why, girls!” Patsy’s voice suddenly rose to an excited squeal. “Come up here, quick! I want to show you something!”
Quite in the dark regarding the cause of Patsy’s agitation, Bee and Dolores lost no time, however, in scrambling up on the boulder.
“Look!” Patsy pointed a shaking finger downward. “Can’t you see it? Don’t you know what it’s like?”
“It does look a little like one of those prehistoric monster’s heads,” agreed Bee.
“It looks like more than that. It looks like a dragon’s head. Now I know what Sir John Holden meant when he wrote, ‘And we buried the treasure at the true sign of the Dragon, which was also His Majesty’s ship sunk this day.’ He and his men came here with the box and found this rock. He must have climbed to the top of it to take an observation. He must have seen the queer resemblance of this end of the rock to a dragon’s head. He thought it would be a good thing to bury the box near it, because then they couldn’t mistake the place if they came back again. I truly believe that somewhere in the ground around this rock and close to it is the treasure of Las Golondrinas!”
THE TREASURE OF LAS GOLONDRINAS
Two mornings after Patsy’s amazing discovery of what she believed to be the place where Sir John Holden had buried the treasure box, an interested but not entirely credulous delegation set out for the jungle.
It consisted of the Wayfarers, Dolores, Mr. and Miss Carroll, Uncle Jemmy and two negro laborers. These last were laden with picks and shovels. It had taken lengthy and insistent pleading on Patsy’s part to bring about this much-desired state of affairs.
Despite the fact that she had been soundly taken to task by her aunt and her father for disobedience of orders, her reiterated plea was: “You may scold me as much as you like, Dad, if only you’ll send somebody to dig up the earth around Dragon Rock.” Thus Patsy had named the big boulder. She was firmly convinced that her theory concerning the location of the treasure would prove correct, if investigated thoroughly.
Demurring at first, the fascination of treasure hunting had finally laid sufficient hold on Mr. Carroll to the point of consenting to humor Patsy’s belief. Hence the party that, guided by Dolores, was now on its way to Dragon Rock.
To the Wayfarers it was the great hour of their young lives. They regarded the expedition as the very height of adventure. Miss Martha was also rather stirred up over it, though she maintained her usual lofty attitude of pretending she was not. Dolores was solemnly superstitious lest evil might overtake the whole party. Mr. Carroll was frankly sceptical. As for the darkies, they had no inkling of what it was all about. Neither were they in the least concerned. Sufficient that Massa Carroll “wanted dem woods dug up.”
Finally arrived at Dragon Rock, Patsy constituted herself master of ceremonies, gravely escorting her father to the top of the boulder to show him the dragon’s head. Mabel and Eleanor also clambered up to see and were duly impressed. Miss Martha, however, had too much dignity for rock climbing.
“Well, Patsy, I guess the boys might as well start digging,” was Mr. Carroll’s opinion after a brief inspection of the ground around the boulder. “Better stand well back, all of you. I’m going to have a circular ditch dug around the rock, say about four feet wide and four deep. If there is really a box buried there, it is probably buried close to the rock. That’s the theory I’m going to proceed on.”
With this, Mr. Carroll left her and went over to where Uncle Jemmy and his two assistants stood leaning on their picks, indolently awaiting his orders. Instructing them as to the width and depth of the ditch he purposed they should dig, he set them to work and stood watching them for a moment, a half-amused smile on his face.
“We never thought we’d ever go treasure-hunting, did we, Martha?” he remarked as he joined the interested group of spectators, drawn up a little to the left of the rock. “It takes me back to the days when we were youngsters and read dozens of treasure stories and wondered if we should ever be lucky enough to stumble upon a real treasure.”
“Judging from appearances, I should say our ideas haven’t changed much,” dryly returned his sister. “We are as deep in the mud as Patsy is in the mire.”
“What are you going to do with this great treasure, when we find it, Patsy?” humorously questioned her father.
“Give half of it to Dolores, and then we’ll divide the other half among us,” returned Patsy.
This immediately evoked a chorus of laughing approval on the part of everyone save Dolores, who protested stoutly against any such division.
Meanwhile the three darkies had proceeded stolidly with their task. The loose sandy soil made digging comparatively easy and before long a shallow ditch circled the rock. As they continued to work at deepening it, conversation among the watchers died out and a curious hush fell upon the group, broken only by the forest sounds around them and the dull grating of pick and shovel coming in contact with the sand.
Patsy, however, could not resist going over to the ditch from time to time for a close-up view of it. She was beginning to feel a keen sense of disappointment. It looked as though her wonderful treasure theory was about to tumble down.
“I guess I was away off on my sign of the Dragon,” she ruefully admitted, as she returned to her friends after a gloomy inspection of the sandy ditch. “Where Uncle Jemmy’s digging, he’s got down at least three feet and there’s not a sign of – ”
Patsy did not finish. A sudden hail from Uncle Jemmy of: “Ah reckon, Massa Carroll, dey am suthin’ heah ’sides dirt!” caused her to dash back to the ditch. Immediately the others hurried after her to the spot.
Standing in the ditch the old man was tapping lightly with his shovel on a partially uncovered oblong of wood that appeared to form the top of a box or casket. As nearly as could be seen it was about three feet long and eighteen inches wide.
“Oh, Uncle Jemmy, do please hurry and dig it out!” implored Patsy, almost tumbling into the ditch in her excitement. “It’s the treasure box! It truly is! I was right after all about the sign of the Dragon!”
“Move back, girls,” ordered Mr. Carroll. “Give Jemmy room to get at the thing. This certainly dashes me.”
Amid a babble of excited comment, the party moved back from the opening, breathlessly watching Uncle Jemmy as he loosened the earth around the box. It was so tightly packed as to suggest the labor of purposeful hands. It needed but a little more effort on the part of the old man to reveal what was undoubtedly a seaman’s chest, belonging to a remote period.
Next instant Mr. Carroll had stepped into the ditch beside the old man and was bending over the old chest. Above, a circle of eager faces peered down at him. The other two darkies had also dropped shovels and rushed to the scene, mouths agape with curiosity, eyes wildly rolling.
Grasping one end of the chest with both hands, Mr. Carroll received a surprise. The lid of the chest moved under his hands. A concerted murmur came from above as he lifted it free. Then the murmur welled to a united shout. What the watchers had expected to see, none of them had been prepared to state. What they really saw was something entirely different from any idea each might have formed of the lost treasure of Las Golondrinas.
Following the shout that had ascended, came an instant of silence. It was Patsy who first spoke.
“Lift the box out of there, Dad,” she said in a rather unsteady tone. “Let us have it up where we can get a good look at the wonderful treasure.”
Suddenly she burst into a peal of high, clear laughter which went the rounds of the amazed treasure-seekers. Amid almost hysterical mirth the chest was raised from its resting place.
“It’s ready to fall to pieces,” commented Mr. Carroll, as he carefully set the box on the ground. “It’s made of good tough wood or it wouldn’t have held together all these years. Well, Patsy, what do you think of your treasure now?”
“Not much, except that Sir John Holden never put that stuff in there. It tells its own story, though.”
Kneeling beside the chest she reached into it and fished up a rudely fashioned tomahawk, the blade of which was merely a sharp stone.
“This, and this,” she again reached down and added a long, wicked-looking arrow-head to the tomahawk, “tell me that the people who really found the treasure were the Indians. Don’t you remember that Sir John wrote in the journal that he didn’t doubt that there were Indians lurking about in this jungle? They were watching when Sir John and his men buried the treasure. After they’d gone, the Indians came here and dug it up.”
“It seems queer that they didn’t just throw the chest away instead of burying it again with those queer weapons in it,” declared Mabel.
The Wayfarers were now down on their knees in a little circle about the chest, interestedly lifting and inspecting the few articles it still contained. There was another tomahawk, a murderous-looking mace and a number of stone arrow-heads of various sizes. This, then, was the treasure of Las Golondrinas. For it, one Fereda had taken many lives, and because of it, his descendants had wasted long years of bitter, unavailing search.
“It strikes me that the Indians of three hundred years ago liked to play jokes,” was Mr. Carroll’s opinion. “That seems to be about the only explanation of this stuff being here in the box. They took the treasure and decided to leave a grim message for the other fellows if they ever came back for their valuables. It was their way of saying ‘Stung!’ I guess.”
“We’ve all been stung,” giggled Patsy.
“Too bad it wasn’t that wicked old Camillo instead of nice harmless people like us,” said Bee.
“And we were going to give Dolores half of it,” mourned Patsy. “Now we’ve nothing to give her except a war-club and a couple of old tomahawks which she certainly won’t have any use for.”
This raised a laugh in which even Dolores joined. She had looked unduly solemn since the beginning of the expedition. Now for the first time her sober face lighted into its wonderful radiant beauty.
“For this I am glad,” she declared earnestly. “To find in this box gold and jewels would have been the sorrow, because such treasure cost some lives. So it was surely evil. Now we know all and thus Las Golondrinas which was always the unlucky place becomes the lucky. So shall good fortune stay here now, for always.
“I have read in the books the stories of the princesses who, because they were good and lovely, broke the wicked spells of the bad ones. So is querida Patsy, the dear princess, who because she would not give up seeking the treasure, broke the spell and made all good again here. There is now no more of mystery, so there will be no more of the unhappiness. Querida princess, I kiss your hand.”
Carried away by her own fanciful comparisons, Dolores caught Patsy’s hand and kissed it.
“You’re the sweetest old dear alive.” Patsy wound her arms about Dolores. “Since you will have it that I am a princess, I’ll add a little more to the tale. Princess Patsy freed a wood nymph from a wicked witch. Then the wood nymph was so grateful to the princess that she promised never to go away from her. She said, ‘I will go to the far North with you and the Se?ora Martha and the Se?or Carroll and live in your house and become your very own sister.’ Isn’t that what she said, Dolores?”
A flood of color rushed to Dolores’ cheeks. Her great dark eyes grew misty. For a moment she stood silent, fighting for self-control. Then she raised her eyes timidly to Miss Martha’s dignified countenance. It was a smiling face now and very tender. Next her glance wandered to Mr. Carroll as though in question. What she saw in his face was also reassuring.
“Isn’t that what she said, Dolores?” repeated Patsy encouragingly.
“Si,” was the soft answer.
And thus the future of Dolores the wood nymph was settled, thereby proving that for her at least the era of good fortune had begun.
“Dad,” began Patsy that evening at dinner, “when are we going on that expedition into the Everglades? We’ve only two more weeks’ vacation, you know.”
“We can go next week, if you like,” amiably responded her father.
“I was in hopes you had forgotten all about that, Patsy,” complained her aunt. “Haven’t you had enough excitement? Why not settle down quietly for the rest of the time we are to be here? I can’t say I enjoy the prospect of such a jaunt.”
“Why, Auntie!” Patsy stared across the table at Miss Martha in beaming amazement. “Are you really going with us? I thought you said – ”
“So I did,” cut off her aunt, “but I have changed my mind. I’ve discovered that I can walk around in a jungle as well as the rest of you. In fact, I prefer it to staying alone in this house. I shall never feel easy until that hobgoblin collection of portraits is cleared out of the gallery and the whole place renovated.”
“That reminds me, Eulalie never answered our letter,” commented Beatrice.
“Well, we don’t care now. We solved all the mysteries of Las Golondrinas for ourselves,” asserted Patsy. “We know all about the painted cavalier, we captured the ghost, found a secret door, a secret drawer and the treasure of Las Golondrinas. We’ve got the journal of Sir John Holden. It’s a perfect jewel in itself, and I’ve found a foster-sister. Can you beat it?”
She cast a roguish glance at her aunt as she perpetrated this slangy offense.
“Our vacation’s almost over, but we’ve another one coming next summer,” she continued. “We’re five Wayfarers now, and we’ll wayfare into strange lands and find new and curious things. The Wayfarers can’t be like other people, you know. They just have to do startling things and live in startling places. They’ve proved that twice – and oh, joy! Summer’s coming. When it does come and the Wayfarers take the road again, who knows what wonderful things may happen to them?”
How the Wayfarers spent the summer vacation, to which Patsy was already looking forward with eager zest, will be told in the third volume of this series entitled, “Patsy Carroll in the Golden West.”
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