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Real Gold: A Story of Adventure

George Manville Fenn

  Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

  Real Gold, by George Manville Fenn.


  ________________________________________________________________________REAL GOLD, BY GEORGE MANVILLE FENN.



  "Bother the old fish!"

  "Yes; they won't bite."

  "It's no good, Perry; they are having their siesta. Let's get in theshade and have one too."

  "What! in the middle of the day--go to sleep? No, thank you. I'm not aforeigner."

  "More am I; but you come and live out here for a bit, and you'll beready enough to do as the Romans--I mean the Spaniards--do."

  "Not I, Cyril, and I don't believe fish do go to sleep."

  "What? Why, I've seen them lie in shoals here, perfectly still; baskingin the hot sunshine, fast asleep."

  "With their eyes shut?"

  "Gammon! Fish can't shut their eyes."

  "Then they can't go to sleep.--My! it is hot. I shan't fish any more."

  Two boys sitting in a boat half a mile from the shore, and sheltered bya ridge of rocks from the tremendous swell of the vast Pacific Ocean,which to north and south curled over in great glistening billows uponthe sand--in the former instance, to scoop it out, carry it back, andthen throw it up farther away; in the latter, to strike upon sheer rocksand fly up in silver spray with a low deep sound as of muttered thunder.Away to the west there was the great plain of smooth damasked silver,lost at last in a faint haze, and all so bright that the eyes ached andwere dazzled by its sheen. To the east, the bright-looking port of SanGeronimo, with a few ships, and half-a-dozen long, black, red-funnelledscrew-steamers at anchor; beyond them wharves and warehouses, and againbeyond these the houses of the little town, with a few scattered whitevillas rising high on terrace and shelf of the steep cliffs. The placelooked bright and attractive seen from the distance, but dry and barren.Nothing green rested and refreshed the eye. No trees, no verdant slopeof lawn or field; nothing but sand in front, glittering rock behind.Everything suggested its being a region where no rain fell.

  But, all the same, it had its beauty. More, its grandeur, forapparently close at hand, though miles away in the clear distance, rosethe great Sierra--the mighty range of mountains, next to the Himalayasthe highest in the world--and seeming to rise suddenly like a giganticwall right up into the deep blue sky, cloudless, and dazzling with theice and snow.

  The two boys, both of them, though fair by nature, tanned now of a warmreddish brown, were of about the same age, and nearly the same physique;and as now they twisted the stout lines they had been holding round thethole pins of the boat, which softly rose and fell with a pleasantlulling motion, the first who had spoken unfastened the neck-button ofhis shirt.

  "Hullo! Going to bathe?"

  "Bathe! No, thankye. I should wake up the sharks: they'd bite then."


  "Yes, you may shudder. They grow fine about here. Why, before I'd madea dozen strokes, you'd hear me squeak, and see me go down and never comeup again."

  "How horrid! You don't mean it, though, do you?"

  "Yes, it's true enough. I'm going to have a nap."

  As the boy spoke, he lay back in the stern of the boat, and placed hisbroad Panama hat over his face.

  "I say, Perry, old chap!" he continued, with his voice sounding whistlythrough the closely-woven hat.


  "If you smell me burning, wake me up."

  "All right," said the lad addressed as Perry; and resting his elbows onhis knees, he sat gazing up at the huge towering mountain nearest athand for a few minutes, then:


  "Hullo!" drowsily.

  "Don't go to sleep, old chap; I want to talk to you."

  "I can't go to sleep if you talk. What is it?"

  "I say, how rum it seems for it to be boiling hot down here, and allthat ice and snow to be up there. Look."

  "Yes," said Cyril, "'tis its nature to. I don't want to look. Seen itbefore."

  "But how far is it up to where the snow is--a thousand feet?"

  "What?" cried Cyril, starting up into a sitting position, with his hatfalling off.

  "I said how far is it up to where the snow is?"

  "I know you did," cried the boy, laughing, "and you said, was it athousand feet?"

  "Yes, and it was stupid of me. It must be twice as high."

  "Perry Campion, you are a greenhorn. I say: no offence meant; but mydear, fresh, innocent, young friend, that snow is three miles high."

  "Well, I know that, of course. It must be much more to where it is."

  "Sixty or seventy," said Cyril, whose drowsiness had departed, and whowas now all life and eagerness. "The air's so clear here that it'shorribly deceiving. But I didn't mean that: I meant that the snow'squite three miles straight up perpendicular in the air."


  "But I tell you it is. If you were to rise straight up in a balloonfrom here, you'd have to go up three miles to get on a level with thesnow."

  Perry Campion looked fixedly at his companion, but there was noflinching.

  "I'm not gammoning you," said Cyril earnestly. "Things are so muchbigger out here than they look."

  "Then how big--how high is that mountain?" said Perry.

  "Nearly four miles."

  "But it seems to be impossible."

  "It isn't, though," said Cyril. "That one's over twenty thousand feethigh, and father has seen much bigger ones up to the north. I say,squire, you've got some climbing to do. You won't hop over those hillsvery easily."

  "No," said Perry thoughtfully. "It will be a climb."

  "I say: whereabouts are you going?"

  "I don't know. Right up in the mountains somewhere."

  "But what are you going for?"

  "I don't know that either. To travel, I suppose."

  "Oh, but the colonel must be going for something," cried Cyril. "Ibelieve I know."

  "Do you? What?"

  "Well, you don't want me to tell you. I suppose the colonel has toldyou not to tell anybody."

  "No," said Perry quickly. "He has not told me. Why do you think he'sgoing?"

  "Prospecting. To search out a good place for a mine."

  Perry looked at him eagerly.

  "The Andes are full of places where there might be mines. There's gold,and silver, and quicksilver, and precious stones. Lots of treasuresnever been found yet."

  "Yes, I've heard that there are plenty of minerals," said Perrythoughtfully.

  "And besides," said Cyril, grinning, "there's all the gold and silverthat belonged to the Incas. The Indians buried it, and they have handeddown the secret of the different places to their children."

  "Who have dug it up and spent it," said Perry.

  "No. They're too religious. They dare not. They keep the secret ofthe places till the Incas come again to claim their country, and then itwill all be dug up, golden wheels, and suns, and flowers, and cups, andthings that the Spaniards never found. That's it; your father's goingafter the treasures. But if he is, you'd better look out."


  "Because if the Indians thought you were after that, they'd kill you inno time."

  Perry looked at him searchingly.

  "Oh, I mean it," said Cyril. "Father has often talked about it, and hesays that the Indians consider it a religious duty to protect thehiding-places of these treasures. There was a man took a party with himup into the mountains on purpose to search for them."

  "Well? Did he find anything?"

  "Don't know. Nobody ever did k

  "How was that?"

  "He never came back. Nor any of his people."

  "Why? What became of them?"

  "I tell you they went up into the mountains and never came back. TheIndians know what became of them."

  "But was no search made for them--no examination made of the Indians?"cried Perry, looking aghast.

  "Search! Where? Indians! What Indians?" said Cyril sharply. "Youforget how big the place is, and what great forests and wilds there areover the other side."

  "But it sounds so horrible for a party like that to disappear, and nomore to be heard of them," said Perry.

  "Yes, but the Indians are savages, and, as father said, they think theyare doing their duty against people who have no right in the country, soyour father will have to look out. I wish I were going with you, allthe same."

  "You're safer in San Geronimo, if it's as bad as you say," cried Perry.

  "Oh, it's bad enough, but I shouldn't mind."

  There was silence for a few minutes, during which time both lads satgazing dreamily up at the vast range of mountains before them, with itsglittering peaks, dark cavernous valleys, and mysterious shades, towardswhere the high tablelands lay which had been the seat and home of thebarbaric civilisation of the Incas, before ruin and destruction came inthe train of the Spanish adventurers who swept the land in search for ElDorado, the City of Gold.

  Perry Campion was the first to break the silence.

  "How long have you been out here, Cyril?--Cil, I say, I shall call youCil."

  "All right, I don't mind, only it won't be for long. You go next week,don't you?"

  "Yes, I suppose so," said Perry, glancing again at the mountains.

  "Wish I were going with you. What did you say?--how long have I beenout here? Nearly four years. Father sent me over to England to beeducated when I was six, and I was at a big school at Worksop till I wastwelve, and then he sent for me to come out here again."

  "Weren't you glad?"

  "Of course. It was very jolly at school; but school isn't home, is it?"

  "Of course not."

  "Father said I could go on reading with him, and it would brush up hisclassics, which had grown rusty since he turned merchant."

  "Wasn't he always a merchant, then?"

  "My father?" cried Cyril. "No, he was a captain in the army, and had togive up on account of his health. The doctors said he was dying. Thatwas twelve years ago; but he doesn't look like dying now, does he?"

  "No, he looks wonderfully strong and well."

  "Yes. This place suited him and mother because it was so dry."

  "And then he took to being a merchant?"

  "Yes; and ships off drugs, and minerals, and guano, and bark."

  "What! for tanning?"

  "Tanning! Ha! ha! No, no; Peruvian bark, that they make quinine of.Physic for fevers."

  "Oh! I see."

  "It's very jolly, and he makes plenty of money; but I do get so tiredsometimes. I should like to go to sea, or to travel, or something. Ihate being always either at studies or keeping accounts. I wish I weregoing along with you."

  "To be killed by the Indians," said Perry drily.

  "I should like to catch 'em at it," cried Cyril. "But I'd risk it.What an adventure, to go with your father to hunt out the places wherethe Indians buried the Incas' gold!"

  "My father did not say he was going in search of that," said Perry.

  "No; he's too close. But that's it, safe enough; you see if it isn't.Only think of it--right up in the grand valleys, where it's almost darkat mid-day, and you walk along shelves over the torrents where thereisn't room for two mules to pass, and there are storms that are quiteawful sometimes. I say, I'd give anything to go."

  "I wish you were going, Cil."

  "You do?" cried the boy excitedly. "I say: do you mean that?"

  "Of course I do," said Perry, looking amused at his companion'seagerness. "We've got on right enough together since we have beenstaying at your house."

  "Got on? I should think we have," cried Cyril. "Why, it has been noend of a treat to me for you to be at our place. I can't get on verywell with the half-Spanish chaps about here. They're gentlemen, ofcourse, with tremendously grand descents from Don this and Don that; butthey're not English boys, and you can't make English boys of them."

  "Of course not."

  "Ah, you may laugh," continued Cyril, "but would you believe it? Itried to get up a cricket club, and took no end of pains to show themthe game, and they all laughed at it, and said I must be half mad.That's being Spanish, that is! It's no wonder their country's left allbehind."

  "Then the cricket was a failure?" said Perry.

  "Failure? It ended in a fight, and I went home and burned the stumps,bats, and balls."

  "What a pity!" cried Perry.

  "That's what father said, and it did seem too bad, after he'd had thetackle brought out from England on purpose. I was sorry afterwards; butI was so jolly wild then, I couldn't help it."

  "How came there to be a fight?" said Perry after a pause, during whichhe watched the frank, handsome face of his companion, who was looking atthe great peak again.

  "Oh, it was all about nothing. These Spanish chaps are so cocky andbumptious, and ready to take everything as being meant as an insult.Little stupid things, too, which an English boy wouldn't notice. I wasbowling one evening, and young Mariniaz was batting. Of course he'd gothis bat and his wits, and he ought to have taken care of himself. Inever thought of hitting him, but I sent in a shooter that would havetaken off the bail on his side, and instead of blocking it, he steppedright before the wicket."

  "What for?" said Perry.

  "Ah, that's more than I know," said Cyril; "and the next moment hecaught it right in the centre of his--er--middle."

  "Ha! ha!" laughed Perry merrily.

  "It knocked all the wind out of him for a minute, and then, as soon ashe could speak, he was furious, and said I did it on purpose--inSpanish--and I said it was an accident that all people were liable to incricket, and that they ought to be able to defend themselves. Then hesaid he was able to defend himself."

  "That meant fighting," cried Perry, growing more interested.

  "Of course it did, but I wasn't going to notice it, for the mater said Iwas to be very careful not to get into any quarrel with the Spanishfellows, because they are none too friendly about my father being here.They're jealous because he's a foreigner, when all the time there isn'ta more splendid fellow living than my father," cried the boy warmly."You don't half know him yet."

  "Well, what happened then?" said Perry, as he noted the warm glow in theboy's cheeks and the flash of his eyes.

  "Oh, Mariniaz appealed to three or four of the others, and they sidedwith him, and said that they saw me take a long breath and gather myselfup and take a deadly aim at his chest, and then hurl the ball with allmy might, as if I meant to kill him."

  "What rubbish!" cried Perry.

  "Wasn't it? You couldn't teach chaps like that to play cricket, couldyou?"

  "Of course not. They didn't want to learn."

  "That was it; and they egged Mariniaz on till he called me an Englishbeast, and that upset me and made my tongue loose."


  "He said he knew from the first I had a spite against him, and had beentrying to knock him over with the ball; and, feeling what a lie it was,I grew pepper, and told him it wasn't the first time an English ball hadknocked over a Spaniard, for I got thinking about our old chaps playingbowls when the news came about the Armada."

  "Yes?" cried Perry, for Cyril had stopped.

  "Well, then, he turned more yellow than usual, and he gave me abackhanded smack across the face."

  "And what did you do?" cried Perry hotly, for the boy once more stopped.

  "Oh, I went mad for a bit."

  "You--went mad?"

  "I suppose so. My mother said I must have been mad, so I expect I was."

  "But you
don't tell me," cried Perry impatiently. "What did you do?"

  "I don't know."

  "Yes, you do: tell me."

  "I can't recollect, and I never could. I only know I turned very hotand saw sparks, and that there was a regular banging about, andsometimes I was up and sometimes I was down; and then all at once I wasstanding there, with Mariniaz lying on the ground crying, and with hisnose bleeding. Another chap was sitting holding his handkerchief to oneeye, and two more were being held up by some of the players, who weregiving one of them some water to drink, while the other was showing thema tooth which he held in his fingers."

  "Then you'd whacked four of them?" cried Perry excitedly.

  "I don't know," said Cyril, with his face screwed up. "I suppose I hadbeen knocking them about a bit, and they wouldn't fight any more. Theyall said I was an English savage, and that I ought to be sent out of theplace; and then I began to get a bit cooler, and felt sorry I hadknocked them all about so much."

  "I don't see why you should," cried Perry.

  "But I did. It made such an upset. There was no end of a bother. Mymother cried about it when I went home, and said I should never lookmyself again; and when my father came home and saw me with bits ofsticking plaster all over my face and knuckles, he was in a regularpassion, for he had been hearing about it in the town, and had wordswith the other boys' fathers. Then he made me tell him all about itfrom the beginning, sitting back, looking as fierce and stern as couldbe, till I had done; and I finished off by saying, `What would you havedone if you had been me?'

  "`Just the same as you did, Cil, my boy,' he cried, shaking hands; andthen my mother looked astonished, and he sat back in his chair andlaughed till he cried. `Why, mother,' he said, `they tell us that theEnglish stock is falling off. Not very much, eh? One English to fourSpanish.'

  "`But it's so terrible,' my mother said. `Yes,' said my father,`fighting is very disgraceful. No more of it, Cil, my lad; but I'vemade a mistake: I ought to have made a soldier of you, after all.' Isay, though, Perry, I do wish I were going with you, all the same."

  "I tell you what," cried Perry; "I'll ask my father to ask yours to letyou go with us."

  "You will?" cried Cyril, making a rush.

  "Mind! we shall have the boat over."

  It was a narrow escape, but by sitting down they made the boat rightitself.

  "Yes, I'll ask him to. I say, though, it isn't so dangerous as you say,is it?"

  "They say it is, particularly if you are going to hunt for the gold theIndians have buried."

  "But I don't know that we are. Would you go, even if it is sodangerous."

  "Of course I would," cried Cyril excitedly. "I do so want a change.Ahoy! Hurray! Dinner!"

  "Eh? Where?" cried Perry.

  "Look. Father's hoisting the flag."

  He pointed in the direction of one of the white villas up on the highcliff slope, where a union jack was being run up a tall signal staff bya figure in white, clearly seen in the bright sunshine, while anotherfigure was evidently using a telescope.

  "There's my father watching us," said Perry, shading his eyes.

  "Lend a hand here and help to haul up this stone," cried Cyril, andtogether the boys hauled up the heavy block which served for an anchor.

  Five minutes after, they were rowing steadily for the wharf--Incas'treasure, perils from Indians, fights with Spanish boys, and heights ofsnow peaks forgotten in the one important of all questions to a hungryyouth--_Dinner_.