An Acadian Adventure

Article Title
An Acadian Adventure
Lynn C. Doyle
Page Number
Article Type
Article Contents
AN ACADIAN ADVENTURE. BY LYNN C. DOYLE. (Continued.) The physical and mental strain was more than Nature would tolerate. Weird and fantastic figures floated before my vision, and then all was darkness. With returning consciousness an examination of my strange surroundings was determined upon. The fact that no water had entered the cave, though the door remained partially opened, was a source of great relief. Further investigation in this direction assured me that the tide had reached its greatest elevation, prior to, or about the time that I had effected my escape from the tunnel. The water had fallen a foot or more. Realizing that at least five hours must elapse before the tide would reach the extreme ebb, when I could again reach the outside world, I proceeded with my investigations. The cave was irregular in shape, its length probably fifty feet; its greatest breadth possibly twenty-five. In the semi-darkness near the door objects were but faintly discernible, but from the farther end came a subdued light such as would be transmitted through a ground glass window. The floor was laid with flat stones whose surfaces were broken and irregular. As I approached the end from which the light proceeded, my feet became entangled in a mass of debris -- apparently the remains of a ship's tackle strewn promiscuously about. The white deposit so prominent in the tunnel, was here again in evidence aiding materially in making objects easily visible. I now discovered the source from which the strange light originated. At the end of the cave was a portion of the rough and irregular wall, in area possibly fifty square feet, through which the light was penetrating. Several feet above the floor a dark shadow was cast across this natural window, the line of demarcation though clearly defined, appeared irregular and disturbed. As I stood contemplating this phenomenon, a school of small fish resembling brook trout darted past, their shadowy forms emitting a phosphorescent light. I now recalled a conversation in which Captain Tipping had informed me of the location of a lake near the eastern end of the island, on the shores of which had been discovered a semi-transparent formation resembling mica. The window before me was undoubtedly a stratum of this peculiar rock, the dark shadow at the base was the water of the lake, the irregular and agitated line its surface, disturbed and rip- pled by the wind. Subsequent investigation has proved this hypothesis to be correct. My attention was now attracted by what appeared to be a shelf or locker extending from the window along the rocky wall, a distance of eight or ten feet. On this shelf lay a queer collection of oddly fashioned weapons; the old flint muskets, the rusted dirks and sabres, the boarding pikes and antiquated pistols lent a fierce and warlike aspect to the place. From whence came these implements of war? At first I fancied them the possessions of the Indians but a second thought dispelled this illusion. They were unquestionably the handiwork of civilization rather than the product of the crude barbarian; the manufacture of such weapons was beyond the conception of the uncultivated savage. Here another mystery confronted me, but not waiting for further inspiration, I removed the heterogeneous collection, and found beneath, the remains of several large tarpaulins -- the fabric now delicate as a cobweb. Thrusting these aside, three boxes resembling seamen’s chests were brought to view. These were begirt with heavy metal bands, while from the front of each was suspended a massive and rudely fashioned lock. This truly was a day pregnant with thrilling climaxes and startling revelations. I now determined to learn the contents of these chests. Selecting a musket from the stack upon the floor I proceeded to demolish the cover of the box nearest the window. The rotten wood soon gave way and between the metal straps I peered within. The chest contained a number of quaintly fashioned earthen jars of about five gallons capacity, their tops sealed with some resinous substance resembling wax. Not waiting to learn the contents of these vessels I attacked the second chest. The wooden top was soon removed but beneath this was a metal lining which, for some time, stubbornly resisted my now redoubled efforts. At length it yielded, and inserting my hand through the aperture, I drew forth a number of black and tarnished coins. Turning toward the window and selecting the largest, I rubbed it briskly on my sleeve, after which the characters stood out clear and distinct -- I held in my hand a gold coin -- a Spanish doubloon. Now all was clear. I had located the treasure of the notorious free-booter, Captain Kidd. Our skipper’s prediction had been verified. Here within a few square feet, according to the legend, were two million pounds sterling. When the full conception of the discovery dawned upon me, it was accompanied by feelings of guilt and trepidation in having thus ruthlessly invaded the precincts of the cavern where the pirate’s treasure lay. Instinctively I faced about, as if expecting to find myself in the august presence of him, who two hundred years ago, roamed the pathless ocean from the Bay of Biscay to the Chesapeake, spreading terror and consternation through the shipping ports of the civilized world. Woe to the unwary merchantmen who sighted that black flag for well they knew that death and destruction lurked beneath its treacherous folds. “No quarter” was the watch-word of that murderous crew, when once their boarding-pikes appeared above the bulwarks. Annihilation followed. Returning to the chest I further examined its contents, and after satisfying myself that it was at least two thirds full of coin and bullion, I directed my attention to the third and last box in the row. Treating this as I had the other two I found it nearly full of silver bars. These in the shape of table service, had been, no doubt, at one time, the possessions of the refined and opulent, but to facilitate transportation had been converted by the pirate into their present form. My clothes hung wet and cold about my aching limbs. Recalling the earthen jars which had been discovered in the chest near the window I now returned and removing one, with the blade of a sabre I broke the neck. From the pungent odor which arose, I judged the contents to be rum. Had I been accustomed to the use of intoxicants, this discovery following that of the treasure would no doubt have produced a degree of exultation, which would only have been exceeded by partaking of frequent and copious draughts. As a very small boy, the principles of total abstinence had been firmly fixed, and until now, the taste of intoxicants was unknown to me; but I fancied under the circumstances, together with the fact that the beverage was over two hundred years old, a moderate indulgence would perhaps prove beneficial rather than injurious. Raising the vessel to my lips, possibly I partook of more than might be termed a regulation drink, but this was due to my ignorance of the beverage and its effects. The blood went surging through my veins. The sensation was exhilarating. I was a new man. Air castles were constructed with startling rapidity; the expenditure of this newly acquired wealth, the hearts that would be gladdened, the misery and suffering in this cold and uncharitable world that I would in some measure relieve -- such were my thoughts as I sat and gazed upon the treasure. Realizing that darkness would overtake me before the tide would admit of exit from the tunnel, I looked about for some means with which to produce a light. Hampered by the absence of matches, I here encountered not a little difficulty. Selecting a musket from the collection upon the floor, I closely examined the mechanism of the lock. The hammer had long since rusted to a shell but the flint was still intact. Repeated blows upon the flint with a sabre blade produced a spark. Hastily removing my cravat, which was about the only portion of my clothing that had escaped the water, I proceeded with the primitive means at hand to convert a portion of it into lint. These particles were carefully deposited on a smooth stone near the window. When a small pile had been collected, I removed the jar of spirits from the case, and dropped the end of the cravat through the neck, hoping thus to form a wick. (To be Continued.)