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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Mercer Boys on a Treasure Hunt » CHAPTER XXIV NED TAKES A NEW OVERSEER
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They were all glad enough to rest that night around the campfire. The muscles of the party were stiff and sore, and Don and Ned declared that their bodies ached from head to foot.

“Got enough sand in me to build a new bunkhouse at the ranch,” Ned, declared.

They told their sensations as the wall of sand closed over them, sensations by no means pleasant. Smothering in sand was not an enviable means of ending one’s life, according to Ned, who had been closest to it. Don had felt that he had a good chance for his life, for he had been near the surface, but his chief worriment had been for his friend, whom he knew to be lower down.

“All things considered, I rather think we earned that treasure,” the professor remarked, and the others agreed with him heartily.

Yappi could not be persuaded to go near the place again. He was firm in the belief that an evil spirit had tried to punish them for meddling with the gold of dead men. During the time they had needed his help he had been brave enough, but now that there was nothing to fear he was more frightened than he had ever been. More than all the others, he looked forward to going home in the morning.

They slept the sleep of the utterly exhausted that night and were late in getting up on the following day. When all their things were packed and the treasure which they had taken placed on the horses they left the place and started for the ranch.

“That place isn’t the best place in the world for us,” laughed Don, as they paused on a rise and looked around. “Jim and Terry were nearly killed near there and then Ned and I got a sand bath. That guardian dragon doesn’t appear to like young men!”

“Maybe he doesn’t object to the professor and me,” observed the captain, with a broad smile. “We both have beards and are more nearly his age!”

The journey back to the ranch was made without incident and they were glad to arrive. After remaining there for a day the professor and the captain took the treasure and set out with it to the coast, there to go to San Diego and claim legal right to it. The boys accompanied them to Quito, where Blow’s own schooner, which was fortunately lying at anchor, took them to their destination. The boys left them in the town and returned to the ranch.

There they passed several happy days, riding, visiting the mines, going once or twice to visit the senorita, and generally having a good time. Ned went several times to the senorita’s and Terry wisely nodded his head.

“Big doings pretty soon,” he observed, wisely.

“What do you mean?” asked Don. They were out near the barn and Ned was not with them.

“Wait and see. The young man is going over the hill quite frequently now, and you wait and see if something exciting doesn’t happen.”

“Getting married isn’t exciting,” said Jim.

“Don’t know, my boy,” drawled Terry, trying to throw a lasso. “Never been that way, myself! Look at that for a throw, will you! Aimed it at the fence post and got the corner of the barn!”

When the professor and the captain returned they reported success. Their claim was legal and they had authority to recruit a gang of men to excavate the ancient ship.

“That’s the end of the phantom galleon,” observed Don. “It won’t be a phantom any more.”

“You pretty nearly joined the phantoms yourself,” Jim reminded him.

Terry’s surmise regarding the state of affairs at the Mercedes ranch turned out to be correct. In a few days Ned announced that they were to be married.

“There is no use in allowing her to stay over there and try to run that little ranch all by herself,” he said, as they sat in the living room one night. “So we are going to combine and form one big ranch, after we are married. That will end all of her troubles about getting help and overseers.”

“I see,” said Terry, dryly. “You are doing it so as to help her run her ranch. Funny way to get married.”

Ned made a pass at him and the red-headed boy dodged. The professor smiled.

“That’s the easiest way of saying it,” he said. “Ned wouldn’t want you to suspect that he loves the young lady!”

“Ned spoke about her difficulty in getting an overseer,” remarked Don. “Another way to look at it is that Ned himself is getting an overseer!”

“Yes, he’ll have to behave himself now,” said the captain, as they all laughed at Ned’s red face.

In the days that followed an excavating crew came down from San Francisco and went to work on the wreck of the galleon. In a remarkably short time it was unearthed and systematically cleaned out. A treasure estimated in value at something like fifty thousand dollars was found in the wreck, a treasure that consisted of gold and silver plate, gold coins, silver coins and several gold chains. There was also some silk, but it had been spoiled. The wreck itself, when uncovered, showed that it had been burned to the water’s edge before being covered with the sands of the plains.

“Well, when that is all divided, up, we’ll have plenty, each one of us,” said the professor.

“At last my mother will get a few of the things in life that she has really needed,” said Terry, to whom the fortune meant most.

Not long after that there was a simple wedding in the Scott ranch. A minister came to the ranch from Quito and Ned and the senorita were married in the living room of the ranch which was now to be her home. Ned was quietly happy and the senorita brilliantly so. All the lonely years of living alone were now over, and she looked forward to a life of happiness with the American boy whose simple manliness had always appealed to her. Don was Ned’s best man.

“By golly,” said Terry, when it was all over. “If getting married makes you feel as happy as Ned and his lady friend looked, I think I’ll try it!”

“That’ll be fine, Terry,” responded Jim. “By the way, who is the lady?”

“What?” asked the red-headed boy, blankly.

“Who is the lady that will look so happy when you marry her?” Jim answered.

“Gee, I don’t know!” was the reply. “You have to have a lady friend, don’t you? I hadn’t thought of that!”

“You had better give it some thought,” retorted Don. “Most people have one when they get married.”

After a few more days the boys prepared to return home, along with the professor, who was eager to return to his classes in school. The boys were looking forward to their second year at Woodcrest, to the study and the sports of the coming season. Captain Blow left them a few days earlier, expressing his pleasure at having met them once more.

“I hope I fall in with you Mercer boys again sometime,” he said, as he shook hands at the dock. “I always have a barrel of fun when I’m with you. Makes me young again. If you ever sail past old Mystery Island, think of me, will you?”

A few days later they all said goodbye to the new Mr. and Mrs. Scott, wishing them well and promising to come and see them if they were ever in that part of the world again. Before long they were back in San Francisco and on the train, bound for home and school. Terry was with them, having had “Jumpiter” shipped by rail.

“Well,” remarked Don, as they rolled past long fields of grain. “That’s the end of one of the best vacations we ever had. Now we’ll go back to school, to settle down and take things easy for a change.”

But if Don could have seen the events that awaited them in the coming school term in the form of a baffling mystery he would not have been so sure that they would settle down. In the next volume, entitled The Mercer Boys’ Mystery Case, or the ’13 Class Trophy Riddle the exciting things which befell them will be related.

The End


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