A Chat at the Inn

Treasure on the Southern Moor; Chapter 1: The Voyage; Pgs. 19-22

.     “Come in; come in,” said Captain Horne in a whisper, “though I find it strange I am letting you into this place for a change. It should be the other way around, Captain.”
.     “It’s just Samuel to you, Jim,” said Mr. Underwood. “I gave up that line of work long ago. Is there any supper left?”
.     “More like breakfast,” replied Captain Horne. “It is rather late. But I think the keeper kept something warm on the back stove in the kitchen.”
.     “Old Bill,” said Mr. Underwood. “Bless him. I’ll have a look.” He left the room, and Captain Horne sat down at the table closest to the fire, pulling up a lamp to light the table’s surface. It was only a moment before Mr. Underwood had returned, holding an iron skillet with a closed lid.
.     “Supper and breakfast,” said Mr. Underwood hurriedly. “There is leftover trout and fried eggs and mushrooms. Would you like some?”
.     “No, thank you,” said Captain Horne. “I have had mine. And now,” he continued as Mr. Underwood sat down opposite him, “for the reason of this meeting.”
.     Captain Horne paused a moment as he sat back, and Mr. Underwood prompted, “Go on.”
.     “Well,” said Captain Horne decidedly, “as I said, we ran into pirates.” He paused as he looked into Mr. Underwood’s eyes, almost expecting some kind of response. “Pirates, Samuel, I say pirates – people who rob treasure and gold.”
.     Mr . Underwood hesitated. He bowed his head and said a silent prayer and then was busy picking up his utensils and looking over the cooked food. “Did you find any?” he asked mildly as he began eating.
.     “Chests upon chests of it,” Captain Horne said with a glint in his eye, knowing he had sparked his friend’s interest. “We counted over two dozen chests, and we know there is more hidden in other chambers of the hull.” He spoke as though finding such wealth was an everyday occurrence.
.     “How do you know gold is inside?” asked Mr. Underwood, but his eyes were lit with wonder despite himself.
.     “We opened a few of them,” said Captain Horne. He thrust his hand into a fold of his clothing and threw a handful of something onto the tabletop. It clattered and clanked as it hit the table, and in the lamplight, what lay before the eyes of the two friends was undoubtedly solid gold coins, glittering back at them and sparkling as if on fire.
.     Mr. Underwood looked at the treasure for a moment in surprise; then he reached and picked up something he couldn’t see too well. Only once he had it in his fingers did he know it was a gem, a ruby, shining back the light as he held it up to the lantern. “But surely it is gone now,” he said. “That must have been at least a few months ago.”
.     “It’s a risk; that’s for sure,” said Captain Horne, “but my crew and I don’t think it is gone. Of course, we could not take it with us, for there was too much weight with all the cargo we already had on board. But we took the pirates, and they were allegedly the only ones who knew about it. The ship was wrecked in a small harbor, well hidden among mountains, and I would assume generally unknown, for there are much better and larger harbors to the north and south.”
.     “And natives?” prompted Mr. Underwood.
.     “We searched the land,” said Captain Horne. “It is clear there is no one for several miles in all directions. No one saw the wreck or battle, and we made sure to smash up the masts and rigging so as to not draw attention to the site. The deepest treasure is buried in about two fathoms of water.”
.     “It would take some time and skill hauling it out,” said Mr. Underwood.
.     “That it would,” said Captain Horne, “but not unprofitable.”
.     The two sat in silence for a few minutes. Mr. Underwood finished his meal, and Captain Horne looked about the room, sometimes at the walls, sometimes at the roof timbers, sometimes in the firelight (now just a dim red glow of coals), and sometimes into his friend’s eyes. The lamplight continued to burn, casting the room in a murky yellow.

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Joshua Reynolds on Conservative Cornerstones – Author of Children’s Books, Young Adult, Historical Fiction / Family Stories – Finding Conservative Thought in Olde Books. Check out my Authoring Conservatism Post. Look up my two books, The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor in my bookstore!

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