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Chapter 9
Bart and Pat take a Walk.—A Conversation.—Pat makes a Suggestion.—Bart adopts it.—A Tunnel to the Treasure of the Sea.—A Plot kepi secret from the others.—Plans for Aspotogon.—Keeping their own Council.—Bart and Pat set forth.—Stealing a Boat.—The Search for the Treasure Island.—The Intelligent Native.—A new Way of getting at the Treasure.—Blood and Thunder!—Once more on the Way.—The Pirates’ Isle!

THE landlord’s story had produced a very profound impression upon the minds of the boys, and the reiterated emphasis which he placed upon the treasure supposed to be buried there did not fail to kindle their imaginations to a wonderful degree. But together with this excitement, and astonishment at the magnitude of the supposed treasure, there were also other feelings, which latter tended to repel them as much as the former tended to attract them. These feelings consisted of discouragement and disappointment, at learning the insuportable difficulties that lay in in the way, and at hearing the story of repeated failures. Efforts had been made, as they now know, far greater than any which were possible to their feeble arms; and in every case the money diggers, whether digging in person or by deputy, had failed utterly and miserably, each one only learning of some new difficulty which necessitated still more arduous toils.

As the landlord strolled off, Bart and Pat moved away also up the hill towards the back part of the town; and here they sat on a secluded grassy slope, looking down into the back bay, whose blue waters lay at their feet.

“Sure an it’s a great thing entirely, so it is,” said Pat, “an that’s all about it.”

“I hadn’t any idea,” said Bart, “that people knew so much about it I didn’t imagine that any body had tried to dig there.”

“Sure an it’s natural enough for them to do that same, if they thought there was money in it.”

“Of course it was, an that’s the very thing we haven’t been taking into account.”

“Faith, an that same’s true for you, thin; niver a bit did we take it into account. Haven’t we been making a wonderful secret of it, when all the wurruld knows it like A, B, C.”

“Yes, and what’s worse, at this very moment they are sending out agents in all directions, all over the province, I dare say, to try to get people to take stock in the new mining company. Why, every body must know all about Oak Inland. I don’t see how we never heard of it before.”

“Deed, thin, an I think they must have kept it all to thimselves here in Cheater, so I do, or else we’d have heard some talk about it at school, so we would; an if there’s any talk about it now through the country, it’s something new entirely, so it is, and is the doin of this new company, sure.”

“I don’t see what we can do,” said Bart, in a dejected tone; “we can’t do a single thing.”

“Sure, thin,” said Pat, “but it’s meself that’s boon thinkin different; an I don’t know now but what the chances for us are better thin they were before.”

“Chances for us better? What in the world do you mean by that?” asked Bart, in surprise.

“Sure an it’s plain enough. Ye see that treasure was a hundred feet an more under ground, an so it was clane beyond anything that we could do But these companies have been a workin, an a diggin, an a pumpin, an a borin holes all about, an we’ve got that much of the work done.”

“Yes, but what good ’ll that do us? These holes weren’t any good to the companies. They couldn’t get to the money-hole, after all.”

“Yis, but sure an may be they didn’t go to work the right way.”

“O, I dare say they did all that could be done; and I don’t see how anybody could do any more, except they get a steam engine, the way they ’re going to do.”

“O, sure an that’s all very well; but still, whin the holes ere already bored, the hardest of the work’s done; an a handy boy might be more use than a stame ingin, so he might. Sore an I’d like to see meself at the bottom of one of thim pits that’s nearest to the money-hole. I’d make a grab for the trisure, so I would.”

“Pooh, nonsense! What could you do?”

“Sure I’d make a dash for it. There’s nothin like tryin. Nothin venture, nothin have. I’ve got a notion that a body might make a bit of a tunnel in undor there, an git at the money-box. At any rate it’s worth tryin for, so it is.”

“A tunnol!” exclaimed Bart “I never thought of that Do you really think that you could do it?”

“Why not?” said Pat “Sure I’ve seen it done. All ye’ve got to do is to have on archway, an there it is. It’ll howld till doomsday. A tunnol is it? Sure I’d like to see meself down there with a bit of a pick, an I’d soon have the tunnel. An besides, it’s only blue clay I’d have to work in.”

“So it is,” said Burt, in great excitement “He said blue clay. It’s only in the money-hole where the sand and gravel are.”

“An blue clay,” said Pat, “to my mind, is as aisy cuttin as chalk or chaise. It’s like cuttin into butther, so it is. Why, there’s nothin in the wide wurrld to hender you an me from goin down there an tannelin through the blue day from the nearest pit straight into the money-hole.”

“But what can we do about the water rushing in?” asked Bart.

“Sure an we can only try,” said Pat “If we can’t kape the water out, well give up. But we may work along so as to kape clear of the water.”

“But can we do that?” asked Bart.

“Do it?” said Pat. “Sure an what’s to hender us?”

“The other workmen couldn’t, you know,” said Bart.

“I don’t know it,” said Pat, “an you don’t, either. How do we know that they ever tried? They dug the pits to try and stop the drain; that’s what they tried to do. But we’re a goin to try to tunnel into the money-hole; an there’s all the difference in the wurruld between the two, so there is. Besides, there’s no harrum in tryin. If we can’t do it we can come back, an no harrum done.”

“Shall we tell the other follows?” said Bart, after a thoughtful pause.

“Sorra a one of them,” said Pat. “Tell them, is it? Not me. What for? Sure only two can work in a hole at a time, an that’s me an you; an what do we wont of any more? We’ll tell them after we’ve got the trisure; and thin we’ll all go halves all around, so we will; only well have the glory of gettin it, an no harruum done to anybody.”

“Well, it isn’t a bad idea,” said Bart, thoughtfully. “The other fellows needn’t know. They haven’t heard the story, and perhaps won’t hear it; at any rate, not before to-morrow; and it’s a crazy sort of an undertaking, and mayn’t amount to anything; so, as you say, Pat, it may be best for us to start off, us two, on our own hooks, and investigate. My idea is, for us to get off there in a quiet way, land on Oak Island, and look around to see if any of the holes are suitable.”

“Shuitable!” said Pat. “Sure they’ll all shuit, so they will, if they ain’t full of water. All we want is, a impty pit, within aisy an accissible distance of the money-hole for us to tunnel.”

“Well, that’s what we’ll have to find out first. But when can we go?”

“To-morrow morning,” said Pat, “airly.”

“But we’re going to Aspotogon,” said Bart.

“Sure an we may slip off an let the others go by thimselves. We’ll go to Oak Island at four in the morrnin, an ’ll be back by nine or tin—about the time when they’re startin. If they wait for us, all right; we may go with them there or not, just as it shuits us; that depinds on the prospects at Oak Island. But if they don’t wait for us it won’t make any difference in the wurruld, so it won’t.”

After some further conversation, the two boys resolved to carry out this proposal. They thought they could easily leave the hotel on the following morning, at the earliest light, and then go off to explore Oak Island by themselves. The others would not probably start for Aspotogon before nine or ten. If they found Oak Island affording no prospect of success in their plan, they could easily return to Chester, in time to start for Aspotogon with the others; while if, on the other hand, they did see any chance to make Pat’s tunnel, they could remain there and go to work. The others would probably think they had gone fishing, and set off without them.

The proposal of Pat was a wild and impracticable one, but to Bart it seemed easy enough. The thing that had influenced him most was the idea of a “tunnel,” of which Pat spoke so knowingly. Without having any very distinct conception of the difficulties in the way of a “tunnel,” he allowed himself to be fascinated by the very mention of it, and so flung himself headlong into the scheme.

Their determination to keep this plan a secret from the others, did not, of course, arise out of any desire to forestall them, or to seize for themselves the treasure which they supposed to be on the island. It was rather the design of achieving some exploit which should astonish their friends. It was glory, not covetousness, that animated them.

In this frame of mind, then, and with this purpose, they returned to the inn. Nothing was said about Oak Island. The landlord himself did not refer to it. Perhaps he had talked enough about it for one day, and was tired of it; or perhaps he was merely husbanding his resources, so as to tell it with full effect on the following day to those of the party who had not yet heard it; for when a man has a good story, and meets with a perfectly fresh crowd of hearers, he naturally feels unwilling to throw the story away, and prefers to toll it under the best possible circumstances. That evening they talked chiefly about the expedition to Aspotogon. Bruce, Arthur, Tom, and Phil did the talking. Bart and Pat were comparatively silent. The first four said nothing, however, about the buccaneers, for they, like the landlord, were reserving this subject for the following day. They also had all conceived the idea that Aspotogon was the very place where the treasure of the buccaneers might be buried; and this, of course, threw additional attractions around the proposed trip. The name seemed suitable to such a deed. It was sonorous and impressive; and to them it seemed to suggest all sorts of possible crimes and tragedies. Deep Cove, also, was a name not without its significance; and they fancied in this place they might find the hiding-place of the old pirates of which the governor of Sable Island had spoken.

Before retiring, they decided that they would not start till nine o’clock, which hour would be most convenient for all, especially the landlord, who protested against getting out of bed at any unusually early hour. With this understanding they all retired.

But Bart and Pat were awake and up before the dawn. Dressing themselves hastily, they quitted the house as noiselessly as possible, and went off to the promenade or square, at the end of the town. Here a number of boats were drawn up on the beach. At that early hour it was impossible to find any owner; nor did Bart or Pat feel inclined to stand on any ceremony. They selected the best of them, and thought that on their return they might apologize to the owner, whoever he might turn out to be, and pay him for the use of the boat.

The question now was, how to find Oak Island. That the island was somewhere in the bay on this side of Chester they knew from what the landlord had told them, but which particular one it might be among the hundreds of the bay they could not imagine. The knowledge that it was covered with oaks, was the only guide they had; and with this they set forth, hoping to find the object of their search. There was a sail in the boat, and a pair of oars, and a gentle breeze was blowing; so they hoisted the sail, and slipped at a very good pace over the water. On their way they passed several islands. One of these had farm-houses on it; another had no houses at all; but still they saw nothing of those oak trees, and frames, and pumps, and other engines which marked Oak Island.

They kept on; however, sailing past some islands, and around others, until more than an hour had passed, and they both concluded that it would be far better to go ashore somewhere and ask directions. They saw a house not far away on the main land, and at once sailed in this direction. The wind still continued very moderate, and though neither Bart nor Pat knew much about navigating a boat, they managed to get along in this breeze without any trouble whatever.

On landing, Pat remained in the boat, while Bart went to the house just mentioned. On his way he crossed the high road which here runs along the shore, winding beautifully around every curve and inlet as it encircles the bay. Bart had some difficulty in rousing the people, for it was yet very early in the morning, and they were all sound asleep. At last, however, he heard sounds of movement inside, and then a man appeared, half dressed, and rubbing his eyes.

“Good morning,” said Bart, pleasantly.

“Morn’n, said the man, with a yawn.

“Can you tell me where I can find Oak Island?”

“Oak Island?” repeated the man, stretching himself with another yawn and looking at Bart,—“Oak Island?”

“Yes,” said Bart; “Oak Island.”

“Why, you ain’t a tryin to walk there, surely!” said the man, in some surprise.

“O, no,” said Bart; “that’s my boat just down there.”

“O,” said the man. “Wal, Oak Island’s jest over there;” and he pointed up the bay farther, in a direction which Bart had not taken at all. “You go straight up about two miles from here, an you’ll hit it. You can’t mistake it. It’s a little island with some oak trees and some stagins.”

“There’s no one there now, I suppose,” said Bart. “No,” said the man, “not jest now. They’ve knocked off,—the last batch did,—and there ain’t likely to be no more till the next lot of fools turns up that’s got more money than brains.”

From which remark Bart gathered that the man was an unbeliever.

“You don’t seem to believe in Kidd’s treasure,” said he.

“Wal,” said the man, “I ain’t goin to say that; but I’ll tell you what I don’t believe in. I don’t believe in people a throwin of their money away into the airth an into the sea when they might be doin better with it. Yes, a throwin of it away, tryin to get at a money-box that’s out of the power of man to touch. Yes, sir; flesh and blood won’t never lay hands on Kidd’s treasure—leastways not unless there’s a sacrifice made.”

“A sacrifice!” repeated Bart, in amazement. “Yes,” said the man. “It’s an old sayin hereabouts, as to the fact as that that thar treasure bein buried there with the sacrifice of human life, is laid under a cuss, and the cuss can’t ever be lifted, nor the money-box either, till some of the diggers kills a man. That’s the old sayin; an mind you, it’ll have to come to that. Blood must be shed!”

The man uttered these last words in a deep tone, that suggested all sorts of superstitious horrors; and from the tenor of these last remarks, Bart perceived that this man, far from being an unbeliever, as he had at first supposed, was one of the firmest possible believers, and surrounded his belief with the accompaniments of the darkest superstition. To Bart this only served to intensify the interest which he already felt in Oak Island; for he saw that the people of the neighborhood were the firmest believers in the existence of the treasure.

A few more questions followed, referring chiefly to the appearance of the island; and having at length gathered all the information that he wanted, Bart returned to the boat, and once more the two boys proceeded on their way. The place towards which the man had pointed was straight before them, and every little while grew more and more plainly defined against the line of land beyond, until at length they could see that it was an island. Nearer and nearer they drew, and gradually they saw the oak trees, which differed from the trees of the other islands. The trees stood apart more like a grove planted by man than a forest of nature’s planting. Other signs soon appeared; a rough hut, some stagings in different places, of peculiar construction, and here and there mounds of earth. There could be no doubt about it. This was the place which they sought. This was the home of the buccaneers; the haunt of Captain Kidd; the place where lay buried far down in the earth, and far beneath the sea, the plunder of the Spanish Main!


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