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Produced by Suzanne Shell, Mary Meehan and the Online
THE VOODOO GOLD TRAIL
BY WALTER WALDEN
Author of The Hidden Islands, Etc.
SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY
BY SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY
Printed in the United States of America
THE MURRAY PRINTING COMPANY
CHAPTER I. We Get Interesting News
CHAPTER II. We Meet with A Serious Reverse
CHAPTER III. We Sail on a Different Quest
CHAPTER IV. We Pick up the Trail
CHAPTER V. We Gain an Ally
CHAPTER VI. We Break up the Voodoo Ceremonial
CHAPTER VII. A Distress Call Goes to the Pearl
CHAPTER VIII. The Voodoo Stronghold
CHAPTER IX. The Stampede
CHAPTER X. The Gold Trail Again
CHAPTER XI. At Hide and Seek with the Enemy
CHAPTER XII. In Captivity—The Message
CHAPTER XIII. Julian’s Narrative—The Secret Message
CHAPTER XIV. Julian Continues the Narrative—Norris’s Big Gun
CHAPTER XV. An Exchange of Prisons
CHAPTER XVI. The Escape
CHAPTER XVII. Julian’s Story Again—The Search for the Lost Comrades
CHAPTER XVIII. Our Boat is Scuttled
CHAPTER XIX. We Steal a March on the Enemy
CHAPTER XX. The Mysterious Trail
CHAPTER XXI. We Seek in Vain for a Lost Trail; and Discover a Lone Monkey
CHAPTER XXII. The Isle in Crow Bay
CHAPTER XXIII. What the Water Hid
CHAPTER XXIV. In the Hidden Vale—A New Acquaintance
CHAPTER XXV. We Consort with a Pickpocket
CHAPTER XXVI. Doings on the Little Isle Again
CHAPTER XXVII. The Gold-Mine
CHAPTER XXVIII. We Are Trapped—The Battle
CHAPTER XXIX. How the Enemy Perish, and the Monkey Discovers the Treasure
CHAPTER XXX. The Cache on the Isle
CHAPTER XXXI. We Run the Gauntlet—Home Bound
THE VOODOO GOLD TRAIL
WE GET INTERESTING NEWS
It was on a tropic sea, and night, that I heard a little scrap of a tale that had in it that which was destined to preserve my life. The waning moon had not yet risen; the stars were all out, the Milky Way more than commonly near. The schooner’s sails were barely drawing, and flapped idly at times. I leaned on the rail, listening to the purling of the sea against the vessel’s side, and watching the phosphorescence where the water broke. The bell had just sounded a double stroke—two bells. Near by, the taciturn black fellow—who was our guide, and who alone (as shall appear) knew our course and destination—was in talk with Rufe, our black cook.
Heretofore, this man—black he was, but having hair straight as an Indian’s—had been steadfastly mum on the subject of his past; this manifestly being but part and parcel of his policy to avoid any hint of the place to which he was piloting us. But now, I gathered, he was reciting to Rufe an episode set in this far away land to the south; and I cocked my ear. He was telling of something that had happened in his grandfather’s experience, who, as he said, was in the service of the king of that land. It was one day when this king was set upon by his enemies, who came thundering on the doors; and the king employed the narrator’s grandfather to assist him in his escape. The king collected his jewels and much gold which he put in a bag, and set it on the back of his servant. Then he led the way to a dungeon in the palace. Set in the thick rock wall of this dark cell was a shrine, a carved Calvary—Christ on the cross and figures at the foot.
“The king,” the black narrator was saying, “horrify my gran’father, when he put his hand right on the Virgin, and pull that piece out. Then the sacrarium swing open, and there is one big hole, and the king push my gran’father through, and come after.”
And he went on to tell how the king had led on, groping down the steps of this secret passage, and presently out into the forest; and how they two finally came to a fortress, and found safety.
It is this circumstance that (for the very good reason indicated) stands most forward, as I look back over the early days of that voyage. And you are to hear more of that.
Sailing the seas in search of adventure was not altogether a new thing for me. Nor was it to be quite a novelty—the drifting into mysterious places, and the poking into hornets’ nests. Indeed, my friend, Ray Reid, declared that it seemed like I was picked out to drag poor, inoffensive young innocents (meaning himself) into all kinds of scrapes—and that every little while. But it was with neither a light heart nor an indifferent purpose that I, for one, set forth on this new enterprise, of which it has been given me to tell the tale. I had been orphaned of my dear mother two years before, when I was barely sixteen; and recently my father, who was a builder of houses, had variously suffered, in pocket and in health, and had journeyed far to the west, in the hope to recuperate both. And I lay awake nights, trying to hatch schemes for earning money, and that in considerable amount. It was mortgages harassed us; one on our home, and more on other property.
It was then there came the letter from Julian Lamartine, a good friend, far south in New Orleans, and in whose company my comrades and I had sailed in a former voyage. He now proposed—in fact he had long planned—another adventure. This time it was to seek certain gold fields in the tropics, his letter said, of which he had had some private news. The real mainspring of his enterprise, I allege, was to seek to make some return to my comrades and myself for certain services we had rendered him on this former voyage. For it was on this occasion he came into his wealth; and he maintained he owed it all to us. Thus, it was Julian Lamartine, who was finding the ship and all the equipment—in short paying the whole shot.
Most of our original crew were either scattered or hopelessly entangled in some employment or other, so that there remained only three to make that journey from Illinois to the point of departure in the southland: Ray Reid, Robert Murtry, and myself (Wayne Scott, to give you my name). Two old friends met us in the station in New Orleans. They were Julian and our former sailing master, Jean Marat.
“I am so ver’ glad to see you once again,” said Jean Marat, as with his beaming smile he took our hands. “We go some more an’ fight thee pirates, eh?” he continued.
“Say now!” broke in Ray, “I want you to let me get my full growth before you steer me among any more of that crew.” Ray often told how he had been scared out of two years’ growth in a minute, that he never would be able to raise a moustache, and that the reason he hadn’t lost his hair was because he had had his hat on. I don’t believe Ray ever knew what it was to be really scared. An earthquake wouldn’t disconcert him; he’d make sport while the ground was shaking him off his feet.
When greetings were over, Julian spoke up, “Madame Marat has insisted that we take supper with her. The carriage is outside, and it’s time we were going.”
Madame Marat was the mother of Jean Marat. She was a handsome, sympathetic, motherly soul, and we had all sampled her cookery. When we were bowling along behind the horses, Julian put his hand on my knee. “Wayne,” he said, “You ought to have seen how she took on when I told her you had lost your mother. If it hadn’t been winter she would have taken the train next day, and gone to you. But she declared she would never have lived to reach there in the cold.”
When we had climbed the stairs and gone into the little parlor, Madame Marat held forth her hands to me, “Ah, mon chere!” she said. And she had me in her motherly clasp—only a mother knows how.
Madame pushed us in, to a table steaming and savory with her French things, dishes she knew so well how to concoct. And there was grinning black Rufe, who had been all his life in the service of Julian Lamartine’s family. And then, when the meal was well under way, and we had all had our fill of comparing notes, Julian opened the business of our projected voyage.
“You probably noticed that I hadn’t much to say in my letter regarding details,” he said, “where we’re going and so on. The fact is, I don’t know.”
We showed our interest.
“It was Rufe, here, that picked up the information,” went on Julian. “I’m going to let him tell you how it was. Rufe,” he turned to the black fellow, “tell the boys how you found the man.”
“Well,” began Rufe, “you sees I got some kin living up Tchoupetoulas way, an’ I hadn’ been to see um fo’ a right smart long time. So I goes. An’ dere I meets up wid a niggah I ain’t seed befo’, whose name is Amos. He ben in town moh dan a week, an’ he was low down sick—lef’ by some ship he been a’ sailin’ on. He’s home way off some’ere, he don’ say where. Well, I dopes him up on calomel and quinine, like ol’ Mistah Lamartine use ter do, an’ he soon gets well, an’ he kinder tuck a shine to me. An’ after a while he tells me how he an’ a brother of hisn has got a gol’ mine some’eres, an’ as how his father discover dat gol’ mine. Amos was a little pickaninny then, an’ his father tells him as how he is goin’ to show him dat gol’ mine when he gits big ’nuff. But when he try to sell the gol’ wat he take fum de mine, a ornery debbil of a white man gits in wid Amos’ father in de mine, an’ murder him. Amos say he know dat, ’cause he’s father nebber come back, and dat white man, he jis’ is swimmin’ in gol’ fum dat time on.
“Amos plumb refuse to tell whar dat place is, ‘cept hit on an islan’ down South America way. But he say ef I got some sure ’nuff hones’ folks dat’ll go, he take ’em to dat island and divide up fair an’ square, w’en de gol’ mine is foun’. He say he an’ his brother ain’t nebber foun’ de mine, cause dat white man tol’ ’em dat ef dey come nosin’ roun’ dey is goin’ to get shot. And Amos showed me in his leg where he once did git shot.”
“Well say,” broke in Ray, “did this Amos ever show you what kind of stuff he burns in his pipe?”
“Yes, perhaps he’s just yarning,” spoke up Robert, “so as to get somebody to take him back home.”
Julian shook his head.
“No,” he said. “That’s what I thought when Rufe first told me the story. But I’ve talked with him enough times to feel satisfied he’s in earnest. He tells a straight story, so far as he will tell. And he refuses to say where the island is, but agrees to take us there.”
We all saw this black fellow, Amos, the next day, and we came to Julian’s conviction of the fellow’s truthfulness; though I will not avouch that our willingness to believe had not something to do with it. He was rather a taciturn, sober-featured being. His hair was not crinkly like the average negro, and his nose resembled an Indian’s. Though illiterate, he showed intelligence, and he would add nothing to the tale he had told to Rufe, except that the islands of Cuba and Jamaica might be considered to lie in the path to this island of his nativity and our goal.
WE MEET WITH A SERIOUS REVERSE
I shall not dwell on our preparations for the voyage; nor shall I attempt a lengthy description of the schooner Pearl which lay in the Basin. Jean Marat’s eyes sparkled, when first we came in view of her. She was of one hundred and twenty-one tons burden, and sported a flying-jib, jib, fore mainsail, foresail, fore gaff top-sail, mainsail, and main gaff top-sail. Forward, a companionway led down to the men’s quarters; after, the cabin roof, with its grated skylight, was raised but a little above the deck. Two small boats hung in davits. The cabin was sufficiently spacious, and there were four staterooms, and then there was the galley—the jolly Rufe’s domain. And he took great pride in exhibiting its treasures.
A day early in August saw us out in the broad Gulf of Mexico, all of the Pearl’s sails set to the westerly breeze. Madame Marat mothered our party. In fair weather when she was engineering Rufe’s activities in the galley, she sat with her lace-work on the deck. Even the roughest of the sailors would put himself in the way of her smile.
And then, late one afternoon there gradually rose out of the sea the higher peaks of Jamaica. And on the following day we made the harbor of Kingston, a beautiful city, with its fringe of cocoa palms at the front, and at its back the mountains clad in tropical vegetation. It was here events were brewing that were to set a kink in our plans. It was here, too, that Madame Marat had old friends expecting her arrival. Indeed, we had not long been at anchor till they had found us out; Monsieur Paul Duchanel and Madame Duchanel.