The Treasure of the Incas
G. A. Henty
Part 1 out of 7
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The Treasure of the Incas
A Story of Adventure in Peru
G. A. HENTY
[Illustration: IT DID NOT TAKE LONG TO TRANSFER THE SACKS INTO THE BOAT
PREFACE TO THE ORIGINAL EDITION
The mysterious loss of a large portion of the treasure of the Incas has
never been completely cleared up. By torturing the natives to whom the
secret had been entrusted, the Spaniards made two or three discoveries,
but there can be little doubt that these finds were only a small
proportion of the total amount of the missing hoards, although for years
after their occupation of the country the Spaniards spared no pains and
hesitated at no cruelty to bring to light the hidden wealth. The story of
the boat which put to sea laden with treasure is historical, and it was
generally supposed that she was lost in a storm that took place soon after
she sailed. It was also morally certain that the Peruvians who left the
country when the Spaniards became masters carried off with them a very
large amount of treasure into that part of South America lying east of
Peru. Legends are current that they founded a great city there, and that
their descendants occupy it at the present time. But the forests are so
thick, and the Indian tribes so hostile, that the country has never yet
been explored, and it may be reserved for some future traveller,
possessing the determination of my two heroes, to clear up the mystery of
this city as they penetrated that of the lost treasure-ship. It need
hardly be said that the state of confusion, misrule, and incessant civil
wars which I have described as prevailing in Peru presents a true picture
of the country at the period in which this story is laid.
G. A. HENTY.
I. HOW IT CAME ABOUT
II. THE START
III. AT LIMA
IV. A STREET FRAY
V. AMONG THE MOUNTAINS
VI. A TROPICAL FOREST
VII. AN INDIAN ATTACK
VIII. DEFEAT OF THE NATIVES
IX. THE SIGNAL STAR
X. A FRESH START
XIII. LETTERS FROM HOME
XIV. THE CASTLE OF THE DEMONS
XVI. THE SEARCH BEGINS
XVII. AT WORK
XIX. THE TREASURE
IT DID NOT TAKE LONG TO TRANSFER THE SACKS INTO THE BOAT.
AN INDIAN SPIES THE EXPEDITION.
THEY SAW APPROACHING A PEASANT WOMAN SITTING ON A MULE.
HARRY DROPPED THE BARREL OF HIS RIFLE INTO THE PALM OF HIS LEFT HAND.
Map of Peru
[Illustration: MAP OF PERU]
THE TREASURE OF THE INCAS
HOW IT CAME ABOUT
Two men were sitting in the smoking-room of a London club. The room was
almost empty, and as they occupied arm-chairs in one corner of it, they
were able to talk freely without fear of being overheard. One of them was
a man of sixty, the other some five or six and twenty.
"I must do something," the younger man said, "for I have been kicking my
heels about London since my ship was paid off two years ago. At first, of
course, it didn't matter, for I have enough to live upon; but recently I
have been fool enough to fall in love with a girl whose parents would
never dream of allowing her to marry a half-pay lieutenant of the navy
with no chance in the world of getting employed again, for I have no
"It is an awkward case certainly, Prendergast," the other said; "and upon
my word, though I sympathize with you, I cannot blame Fortescue. He is not
what you might call a genial man, but there is no doubt that he was a
splendid lawyer and a wonderful worker. For ten years he earned more than
any man at the bar. I know that he was twice offered the solicitor-
generalship, but as he was making two or three times the official salary,
he would not take it. I believe he would have gone on working till now had
he not suddenly come in for a very fine estate, owing to the death, in the
course of two or three years, of four men who stood between him and it.
Besides, I fancy he got hints that in the general opinion of the bar he
had had a wonderfully good innings, and it was about time that younger men
had a share in it. What his savings were I do not know, but they must be
very large. His three sons are all at the bar, and are rising men, so
there was no occasion for him to go on piling up money for them. But, as I
say, he has always had the reputation of being a hard man, and it is
practically certain that he would never allow his daughter to marry a man
whom he would regard as next door to a pauper. Now, what are you thinking
"Well, sir, Miss Fortescue has agreed to wait for me for two years, and of
course I am eager to do something, but the question is what? I can sail a
ship, but even could I get the command of a merchantman, it would not
improve my position in the eyes of the parents of the lady in question.
Now, you have been knocking about all over the world, I do wish you would
give me your advice. Where is there money to be got? I am equally ready to
go to the North Pole or the Equator, to enter the service of an Indian
prince, or to start in search of a treasure hidden by the old bucaneers."
"You talk Spanish, don't you?"
"Yes; all my service has been in the Mediterranean. We were two years off
the coast of Spain, and in and out of its ports, and as time hung heavily
on our hands, I got up the language partly to amuse myself and partly to
be able to talk fluently with my partners at a ball."
The elder man did not speak for a minute or two.
"You have not thought of South America?" he said at last.
"No, Mr. Barnett; I don't know that I have ever thought of one place more
The other was again silent.
"I don't think you could do better anywhere," he said slowly. "It is a
land with great possibilities; at any rate it is a land where you could be
understood, and of course it would be folly to go anywhere without a
knowledge of the language. I was, as you know, five years out there, and
came home when the war broke out between Chili and the Spaniards. I have
been more in Peru than in Chili, and as Peru was still in the hands of the
Spanish, it would have been impossible for me to go there again as long as
the war lasted. Knocking about as I did, I heard a great deal from the
natives (I mean the Indians). I gathered from them a number of their
traditions, and I am convinced that they know of any number of gold mines
that were formerly worked, but were blocked up when the Spaniards invaded
the country, and have been kept secret ever since.
"The natives have never spoken on the subject at all to the Spaniards. If
they had, they would have been flogged until they revealed all they knew--
that is to say, they would have been flogged to death, for no tortures
will wring from an Indian anything he knows about gold. They look upon
that metal as the source of all the misfortunes that have fallen upon
their race. With an Englishman whom they knew and trusted, and who, as
they also knew, had no wish whatever to discover gold mines, they were a
little less reticent. I never asked them any questions on a subject in
which I had not a shadow of interest, but I certainly had some curiosity,
not of a pecuniary kind, because the matter had always been a riddle as to
the hiding-place of the Incas' treasures. And from what I learned I should
say it is absolutely certain that a great portion of these escaped the
search of their Spanish tyrants.
"Whether the men who were employed in the work all died without revealing
the secret, or whether it had been trusted to a chosen few, I know not;
but the natives believe that there are still a few among them to whom the
secret has been passed down from father to son. Anyhow, all had heard
vague traditions. Some said that part of the treasure was carried hundreds
of miles inland and given over to a tribe of fierce savages, in a country
into which no European can enter. Another tradition is that a portion of
it was carried off by sea in a great canoe, which was never heard of again
and was believed to have been lost. I am not for a moment supposing,
Prendergast, that if you went out there you would have the most remote
chance of discovering what the Spaniards, ever since they landed there,
have been in vain trying to find, and I certainly should not think of
recommending a mad-brained adventure, but undoubtedly there are many rich
gold mines yet to be found. There are openings for trade, too; and I can
give you introductions to merchants both in Chili and Peru. It is not a
thing I should recommend to everyone, far from it; but if you want to
combine adventure with a chance, however small, of making money, I don't
know that you can do better than go to South America. You are fitted for
no calling here; your income, counting your half-pay, would suffice to
keep you out there, and a couple of years of such a life would do you no
"It is just what I should like," the young man said enthusiastically;
"though I don't know how I should set to work if I did find a mine."
"You would have to bring home specimens, with particulars of the width of
the lode. Of course you would crush pieces up and wash them yourself, or
get your Indian to wash them; that would give you an approximate idea of
the percentage of gold. If it were rich, I could introduce you to men who
would advance money for working it, giving you a share of the profits.
They would send out a mining expert with you. He would verify your report,
and then you would take up the concession. I don't know whether there have
been any changes in the regulations, but there is no difficulty in
learning how to proceed from one or other of the men to whom I will give
you introductions. The thing would not be worth thinking of were it not
that the man who always went with me as guide and muleteer is an Indian,
and has, I am convinced, a knowledge of some of these places. He was with
me all the time I was out there. I saved his life when a puma sprang upon
him, and he more than once hinted that he could make me a rich man, but I
had no inclination that way, my income being sufficient for all my wants.
Still, on the chance that he is alive--and he was about thirty when he was
with me fifteen years ago, so it is probable that he is still to the fore
--I will give you a letter to him telling him that you are a dear friend of
mine, and that I trust to him to do any service he can for you just as he
would have done for myself. Had it not been for that I should never have
mentioned the matter to you. These old mines are the dream of every
Peruvian. They have been searching for them ever since the conquest of the
country, and as they have failed, it is absurd to think that an Englishman
would have the slightest chance of lighting upon a mine, still less of
finding any of the Incas' treasures. But with the Indian's aid it is just
possible that you may find something, though I should advise you most
strongly not to build in any way upon the chance. I consider that you
cannot possibly win Miss Fortescue; that being so, two years of knocking
about will not make your position worse, and by the time you come back,
you may have ceased to struggle against fate. It will afford you a remote
--but distinctly remote--opportunity of bettering your position, will give
you something else to think about besides that young lady's charms, and
you may even come to recognize that life is, after all, possible without
her. You may shake your head, lad; but you know children cry for the moon
sometimes, yet afterwards come to understand that it would not be a
"Well, at any rate, Mr. Barnett, I am extremely obliged for your
suggestion and for your offer of introductions. It is just the life that I
should enjoy thoroughly. As you say, the chance that anything will come of
it is extremely small, but at least there is a possibility, and I take it
as a drowning man catches at a straw."
"By the way, you mustn't think only of gold; silver is, after all, the
chief source of the riches of Peru, and there are numbers of
extraordinarily rich mines. It is calculated that three hundred millions
have been produced since the first occupation by the Spaniards.
Quicksilver is also very abundant; copper and lead are found too, but
there is not much to be done with them at present, owing to the cost of
carriage. There is good shooting in the mountains on the eastern side of
the Andes, and you will find plenty of sport there."
They talked over the matter for some time before they separated, and Harry
Prendergast became quite excited over it. On his return to his rooms he
was astonished to find the candles alight and a strong smell of tobacco
pervading the place. A lad of about sixteen leapt from the easy-chair in
which he had been sitting, with his feet on another.
"Hullo, Harry, I didn't expect you back so soon! The maid said you were
dining out, and I suppose that generally means one o'clock before you are
"Well, what brings you here, Bert? I thought I had got you off my hands
for a year at least."
"I thought so, myself," the lad said coolly; "but circumstances have been
too strong for me. We were running down the Channel the night before last,
when a craft that was beating up ran smack into us. I don't know that it
was his fault more than ours; the night was dark, and it was very thick,
and we did not see each other until she was within a length of us. Luck
was against us; if she had been a few seconds quicker we should have
caught her broadside, but as it was she rammed us, knocking a hole in our
side as big as a house, and we had just time to jump on board her. Our old
craft went down two minutes after the skipper, who was of course the last
man, left her. The other fellow had stove his bow in. Luckily we were only
about a couple of miles off Dungeness, and though she leaked like a sieve,
we were able to run her into the bay, where she settled down in two and a
half fathoms of water. As soon as it was light we landed and tramped to
Dover. A hoy was starting for the river that evening, and most of us came
up in her, arriving at the Pool about three hours ago. It is a bad job,
Harry, and I am horribly put out about it. Of course nothing could be
saved, and there is all the new kit you bought for me down at the bottom.
I sha'n't bother you again; I have quite made up my mind that I shall ship
before the mast this time, and a five-pound note will buy me a good enough
outfit for that."
"We need not talk about that now, Bertie. You are certainly an unlucky
beggar; this is the second time you have been wrecked."
"It is a frightful nuisance," the boy said. "It is the kit I am thinking
of, otherwise I should not mind. I didn't care for the skipper. He seemed
all right and decent enough before we started, but I soon heard from
fellows who had sailed with him before that he was a tartar; and what was
worse, they said he was in the habit of being drunk two nights out of
three. However, that has nothing to do with it. I am really awfully sorry,
Harry. You have been a thundering good elder brother. I hated to think
that you had to shell out last time, and I have quite made up my mind that
you sha'n't do it again."
"Well, it cannot be helped; it is no fault of yours; still, of course, it
is a nuisance. Thank God that no harm has come to you, that is the
principal thing. Now, sit down and go on with your pipe, you young monkey.
I did not think you had taken to smoking."
"One has to," the lad said, "everyone else does it; and there is no doubt
that, when you have got the middle watch on cold nights with foul winds,
it is a comfort."
"Well, go on smoking," his brother said. "I will light up too. Now shut
your mouth altogether. I want to think."
They were silent for fully ten minutes, then Harry said;
"I told you about that business of mine with Miss Fortescue."
Bertie grinned all over his face, which, as he sat, was not visible to his
brother. Then with preternatural gravity he turned towards him.
"Yes, you told me about it; an uncomfortable business wasn't it?--surly
old father, lovely daughter, and so on."
"I will pull your ear for you, you young scamp," Harry said wrathfully,
"if you make fun of it; and I have a good mind not to say what I was going
"Say it, Harry, don't mind my feelings," the lad said. "You can't say I
did not stand it well when I was here last week, and gave you no end of
sympathy. Go ahead, old fellow; I dare say I shall be taken bad some day,
and then I shall be able to make allowances for you."
"I'll have nothing more to say to you, you young imp."
"Don't say that, Harry," the lad said in a tone of alarm. "You know how
sympathizing I am, and I know what a comfort it is for you to unburden
yourself; but I do think that it won't be necessary to go into personal
descriptions, you know, or to tell me what you said to her or she said to
you, because you told me all that ten days ago, also what her tyrannical
old father said. But really seriously I am awfully sorry about it all, and
if there is anything that I can possibly do for you I shall be only too
pleased. I don't see that it would be any advantage for me to go and give
the old gentleman my opinion of him; but if you think it would, and can
coach me in some of his sore points, we might see how we could work upon
"I always thought you were a young ass, Bertie," Harry said sternly, "but
I have not realized before how utterly assified you are."
"All right, Harry!" the lad said cheerfully; "hit me as hard as you like,
under the circumstances I feel that I cannot kick."
Harry said nothing for another five minutes.
"This is a serious matter," he said at last, "and I don't want any
"All right, Harry! I will be as serious as a judge."
"I am thinking of going away for two years."
The lad turned half round in his chair and had a good look at his brother.
"Where are you going to?" seeing by Harry's rather gloomy face that he was
quite in earnest.
"I believe I am going to Peru."
"What are you going there for, Harry?" the lad said quietly.
"I told you," the other went on, "that Mr. Fortescue said that he had no
personal objection to me, but that if I was in a position to give his
daughter a home equal to that which I wanted her to leave, he would be
"This seemed to me hopeless," Harry went on. "I told you that she was
willing to wait for two years, but that she couldn't promise much longer
than that, for her father had set his mind on her making a good match; he
has certainly put a tremendous pressure upon her. When I was talking at
the club this evening to Mr. Barnett--you know that he is our oldest
friend and is one of our trustees--I told him about it, and said that
though I was ready to do anything and go anywhere I could not see my way
at all to making a big fortune straight away. He agreed with me. After
talking it over he said he knew of but one way by which such a thing would
be at all possible, but the betting would be twenty thousand to one
against it. Of course I said that if there was even a possibility I would
try it. Well, you know he was in Peru for some years. He says that the
natives have all sorts of legends about rich mines that were hidden when
the Spaniards came first, and that it is certain that, tremendous as was
the amount of loot they got, a great part of the Incas' treasure was
hidden away. Once or twice there had been great finds-in one case two
million and a half dollars. It is believed that the secret is still known
to certain Indians. When he went out there he had a muleteer, whose life
he saved when he was attacked by some beast or other, and this man as much
as hinted that he knew of a place where treasure might be concealed; but
as Barnett was interested in beasts and plants and that sort of thing, and
had a comfortable fortune, he never troubled himself about it one way or
another. Well, he offered to give me a letter to this man, and he regarded
it as just possible that the fellow, who seems to be a descendant of some
of the people who were members of the Incas' court at the time the
Spaniards came, may have some knowledge of the rich mines that were then
closed down, and that he may be able to show them to me, from his feeling
of gratitude to Barnett. It is but one chance in a million, and as I can
see no other possibility of making a fortune in two years, I am going to
"Of course you will," the lad said excitedly, "and I should think that you
would take me with you."
"I certainly had not dreamt of doing so, Bertie. But if I have to keep on
getting fresh outfits for you, the idea has come into my mind during the
last half-hour that I could not do better."
"Harry, you are sure to be disappointed lots of times before you hit on a
treasure, and then if you were all by yourself you would get down in the
mouth. Now, I should be able to keep you going, pat you on the back when
you felt sick, help you to fight Indians and wild beasts, and be useful in
all sorts of ways."
"That is like your impudence, Bertie," the other laughed. "Seriously, I
know I shall be a fool to take you, and if I really thought I had any
chance to speak of I should not do so; but though I am going to try, I
don't expect for a moment that I shall succeed. I feel that really it
would be a comfort to have someone with me upon whom I could rely in such
a life as I should have to lead. It certainly would be lonely work for one
man. The only doubt in my mind is whether it will be fair to you--you have
got your profession."
"But I can go back to it if nothing good turns up, Harry. I can visit the
firm and tell them that I am going to travel with you for a bit, and hope
that on my return they will take me back again and let me finish my
apprenticeship. I should think they would be rather glad, for they always
build and never buy ships, and it will take them six months to replace the
_Stella_. Besides, it will do me a lot of good. I shall pick up Spanish--
at least, I suppose that is the language they speak out there--and shall
learn no end of things. As you know, we trade with the west coast of
America, so I should be a lot more useful to the firm when I come back
than I am now."
"Well, I will think it over, and let you know in the morning. I must
certainly consult Mr. Barnett, for he is your trustee as well as mine. If
we go I shall work my way out. It will be a big expense, anyhow, and I
don't mean, if possible, to draw upon my capital beyond three or four
hundred pounds. I believe living is cheap out there, and if I buy three or
four mules I shall then have to pay only the wages for the muleteers, and
the expenses of living. Of course I shall arrange for my income and half-
pay to be sent out to some firm at Lima. Now, you had better go off to
bed, and don't buoy yourself up with the belief that you are going, for I
have by no means decided upon taking you yet."
"You will decide to take me, Harry," the lad said confidently, and then
added with a laugh: "the fact that you should have adopted a plan like
this is quite sufficient to show that you want somebody to look after
Harry Prendergast did not get much sleep that night He blamed himself for
having mentioned the matter at all to Bertie, and yet the more he thought
over it the more he felt that it would be very pleasant to have his
brother with him. The lad was full of fun and mischief, but he knew that
he had plenty of sound sense, and would be a capital companion, and the
fact that he had been three years at sea, and was accustomed to turn his
hand to anything, was all in his favour. If nothing came of it he would
only have lost a couple of years, and, as the boy himself had said, the
time would not have been altogether wasted. Bertie was down before him in
the morning. He looked anxiously at his brother as he came in.
"Well, I have thought it over in every light. But in the first place,
Bertie, if you go with me you will have to remember that I am your
commanding officer. I am ten years older than you, and besides I am a
lieutenant in the King's Navy, while you are only a midshipman in the
merchant service. Now, I shall expect as ready obedience from you as if I
were captain of my own ship and you one of my men; that is absolutely
"Of course, Harry, it could not be otherwise."
"Very well, then; in the next place I shall abide by what Mr. Barnett
says. He is your guardian as well as trustee, and has a perfect right to
put a veto upon any wild expedition of this sort. Lastly, I should hope,
although I don't say that this is absolutely necessary, that you may get
your employer's promise to take you back again in order that you may
complete your time."
"Thank you very much, Harry!" the lad said gratefully. "The first
condition you may rely upon being performed, and I think the third will be
all right, for I know that I have always been favourably reported upon.
Old Prosser told me so himself when he said that I should have a rise in
my pay this voyage. As to Mr. Barnett, of course I can't say, but I should
think, as it was he who put you up to this, he must see that it would be
good for you to have someone to take care of you."
"I think he is much more likely to say that I shall have quite enough to
do to take care of myself, without having the bother of looking after you.
However, I will go and see him this morning. You had better call upon your
"Don't you think I had better go to Mr. Barnett with you, Harry?"
"Not as you are now anyhow, Bertie. Your appearance is positively
disgraceful. You evidently had on your worst suit of clothes when you were
wrecked, and I can see that they have not been improved by the experience.
Why, there is a split right down one sleeve, and a big rent in your
"I got them climbing on board, for I had no time to pick and choose, with
the _Stella_ sinking under my feet."
"Well, you may as well go as you are, but you had better borrow a needle
and thread from the landlady and mend up the holes. You really cannot walk
through the city in that state. I will see about getting you some more
clothes when we get back, for I cannot have you coming here in these in
broad daylight. Here are three guineas; get yourself a suit of pilot cloth
at some outfitter's at the East End. It will be useful to you anyhow,
whether you go with me or ship again here."
"There is a good deal in what you say, Harry," Mr. Barnett said when
Prendergast asked his opinion as to his taking his brother with him. "Two
years would not make any material difference in his career as a sailor; it
simply means that he will be so much older when he passes as mate. There
is no harm in that. Two or three and twenty is quite young enough for a
young fellow to become an officer, and I don't think that many captains
care about having lads who have just got their certificate. They have not
the same sense of responsibility or the same power of managing. Then, too,
Bertie will certainly have a good deal of knocking about if he spends a
couple of years in South America, and the knowledge he will gain of
Spanish will add to his value with any firm trading on that coast. As far
as you are concerned, I think it would be a great advantage to have him
with you. In a long expedition, such as you propose, it is a gain to have
a companion with you. It makes the work more pleasant, and two men can
laugh over hardships and disagreeables that one alone would grumble at;
but apart from this, it is very important in case of illness.
"A lonely man laid up with fever, or accidental injury, fares badly indeed
if he is at a distance from any town where he can obtain medical
attendance, and surrounded only by ignorant natives. I was myself at one
time down with fever for six weeks in a native hut, and during that time I
would have given pretty nearly all that I was worth for the sight of a
white face and the sound of an English voice. As to the fact that it is
possible that the lad might catch fever, or be killed in an affray with
natives, that must, of course, be faced; but as a sailor he runs the risk
of shipwreck, or of being washed overboard, or killed by a falling spar.
Everything considered, I think the idea of his going with you is a good
one. I don't suppose that many guardians would be of the same opinion, but
I have been so many years knocking about in one part of the world or
another, that I don't look at things in the same light as men who have
never been out of England."
"I am glad you see it in that way, sir. I own that it would be a great
satisfaction to have him with me. He certainly would be a cheery
companion, and I should say that he is as hard as nails, and can stand as
much fatigue and hardship as myself. Besides, there is no doubt that in
case of any trouble two men are better than one."
"I cannot advance any money out of the thousand pounds that will come to
him when he is of age. By your father's will it was ordered that, in the
event of his own death before that time, the interest was to accumulate.
Your father foresaw that, like you, probably Bertie would take to the sea,
and as the amount would be fully two thousand pounds by the time he comes
of age, it would enable him to buy a share in any ship that he might, when
he passed his last examination, command; but I will myself draw a cheque
for a hundred pounds, which will help towards meeting expenses. I feel
myself to some extent responsible for this expedition. I somewhat regret
now having ever spoken to you on the subject, for I cannot conceal from
myself that the chance of your making a discovery, where the Spaniards,
with all their power of putting pressure on the natives for the past two
or three hundred years, have failed, is so slight as to be scarcely worth
"I tell you frankly that I broached the subject chiefly because I thought
it was much better for you to be doing something than kicking your heels
about London, and mooning over this affair with Miss Fortescue. There is
nothing worse for a young man than living in London with just enough to
keep him comfortably without the necessity of working. Therefore I thought
you would be far better travelling and hunting for treasure in Peru, than
staying here. Even if you fail, as I feel is almost certain, in the object
for which you go out, you will have plenty to occupy your thoughts, and
not be dwelling continually upon an attachment which in all probability
will not turn out satisfactorily. I do not suppose that you are likely to
forget Miss Fortescue, but by the time you return you will have accustomed
yourself to the thought that it is useless to cry for the moon, and that,
after all, life may be very endurable even if she does not share it.
Therefore I propounded this Peruvian adventure, feeling sure that,
whatever came of it, it would be a benefit to you."
"No doubt it will, sir. I see myself the chance of success is small
indeed, but there is none at all in any other way. It is just the sort of
thing I should like, and I quite feel myself that it would be good for me
to have plenty to think about; and now that you have consented to Bertie's
going with me, I feel more eager than before to undertake the expedition.
The place is in rather a disturbed state, isn't it?"
"If you are going to wait until Peru ceases to be in a disturbed state,
Harry, you may wait another hundred years. The Spanish rule was bad, but
Peru was then a pleasant place to live in compared with what it is now. It
is a sort of cock-pit, where a succession of ambitious rascals struggle
for the spoils, and the moment one gets the better of his rivals fresh
intrigues are set on foot, and fresh rebellions break out. There are good
Peruvians--men who have estates and live upon them, and who are good
masters. But as to the politicians, there is no principle whatever at
stake. It is simply a question of who shall have the handling of the
national revenue, and divide it and the innumerable posts among his
adherents. But these struggles will not affect you largely. In one respect
they will even be an advantage. Bent upon their own factious aims, the
combatants have no time to concern themselves with the doings of an
English traveller, whose object out there is ostensibly to botanize and
shoot. Were one of them to obtain the undisputed control of affairs he
might meddle in all sorts of ways; but, as it is, after you have once got
pretty well beyond the area of their operations, you can regard their
doings with indifference, knowing that the longer they go on fighting the
fewer scoundrels there will be in the land.
"But even were they to think that it was mining, and not science or sport
that took you out there, they would scarcely interfere with you. It is
admitted by all the factions that Peru needs capital for her development,
and at present that can best be got from this country. The discovery of a
fresh mine means employment to a large number of people, and the increase
of the revenues by a royalty or taxation. English explorers who have gone
out have never had any reason to complain of interference on the part of
the authorities. You will find the average better class of Peruvians a
charming people, and extremely hospitable. The ladies are pretty enough to
turn the head of anyone whose affections are not already engaged. The men
are kindly and courteous in the extreme. However, you would have little to
do with these.
"In the mountains you would largely depend upon your rifle for food, and
on what you could get in the scattered native villages. The Indians have
no love for the Peruvians. They find their condition no better off under
them than it was under the Spaniards. Once they find out that you are
English they will do all in their power for you. It is to Cochrane and the
English officers with him that they owe the overthrow and expulsion of
their Spanish tyrants, and they are vastly more grateful than either the
Chilians or Peruvians have shown themselves to be."
On returning to their lodgings Harry met his brother, who had been into
"Old Prosser was very civil," said Bertie. "He said that as their ships
were chiefly in the South American trade it would be a great advantage for
me to learn to speak Spanish well. They had not yet thought anything about
whether they should order another ship to replace the _Stella_; at any
rate, at present they had no vacancy, and would gladly give me permission
to travel in South America, and would find me a berth to finish my
apprenticeship when I returned. More than that, they said that as I had
always been so favourably reported upon they would put me on as a
supernumerary in the _Para_, which will sail in a fortnight for Callao. I
should not draw pay, but I should be in their service, and the time would
count, which would be a great pull, and I should get my passage for
"That is capital. Of course I will take a passage in her too."
"And what does Mr. Barnett say?"
"Rather to my surprise, Bertie, he did not disapprove of the plan at all.
He thought it would be a good thing for me to have you with me in case of
illness or anything of that sort. Then no doubt he thought to some extent
it would keep you out of mischief."
"I don't believe he thought anything of the sort. Did he say so?"
"Well, no, he didn't; but I have no doubt he felt it in some way a sort of
"That is all very fine. I know, when I have been down to his place in the
country between voyages, I have always been as well behaved as if I had
been a model mid."
"Well, I have heard some tales of your doings, Bertie, that didn't seem
quite in accord with the character you give yourself."
"Oh, of course I had a few larks! You cannot expect a fellow who has been
away from England for a year to walk about as soberly as if he were a
"No, I should not expect that, Bertie. But, on the other hand, I should
hardly have expected that he would, for example, risk breaking his neck by
climbing up to the top of the steeple and fastening a straw-hat on the
head of the weathercock."
"It gave it a very ornamental appearance; and that weathercock was never
before watched so regularly by the people of the village as it was from
that time till the hat was blown away in a gale."
"That I can quite believe. Still, Mr. Barnett told me that the rector
lodged a complaint about it."
"He might complain as much as he liked; there is no law in the land, as
far as I know, that makes the fixing of a straw-hat upon a weathercock a
penal offence. It did no end of good in the village, gave them something
to talk about, and woke them up wonderfully."
"And there were other things too, I think," his brother went on.
"Oh, well, you need not go into them now! they are an old story. Besides,
I fancy I have heard of various tricks played by Mr. Midshipman Harry
Prendergast, and, as I heard them from your lips, I cannot doubt but that
they were strictly veracious. Well, this is jolly now. When are we going
to begin to get our outfit?"
"We will lose no time about that. But really there is not much to get--a
couple of good rifles and two brace of pistols, with a good store of
ammunition, those clothes you have just bought, and two or three suits of
duck for the voyage. I shan't get any special kit until we arrive there,
and can take the advice of people at Lima whether we had better travel in
European clothes or in those worn by the Peruvians. Of course saddles and
bridles and all that sort of thing we can buy there, and we shall want a
small tent to use when we get into out-of-the-way places. I shall take
three hundred pounds in gold. I have no doubt we can exchange it into
silver profitably; besides, it is much more handy for carrying about. I
shall go down this afternoon and see Prosser and secure a berth."
"I think you will have to arrange that with the captain. Very few of our
ships have accommodation for passengers, but the captains are allowed to
take one or two if they like."
"All right! At any rate I must go to the office first. They can refer me
to the skipper if they like; that would be better than my going to him
Harry Prendergast went down to Leadenhall Street and saw the managing
owner of the _Para_. As Bertie had anticipated, Mr. Prosser, after hearing
Harry's statement that he wished to take a passage to Callao in the vessel
advertised to start in a week's time, and that he was much obliged to them
for giving Bertie a berth as supernumerary midshipman, said:
"We shall certainly have pleasure in putting your brother's name on the
ship's books. He has already explained to me his desire to go out with
you; we have had every reason to be satisfied with him since he entered
our service, and he had better draw pay as usual, as his service during
the voyage will then count towards his time. As for yourself, we do not
book passengers, it is more bother than it is worth; but we have no
objection to our masters taking one or two. The addition of a mouth or so
practically makes very little difference in the amount of ships' stores
consumed. The masters pay us a small sum a head and make their own terms
with the passengers they take. In that way we are saved all complaints as
to food and other matters. Of course a passenger would put on board for
himself a stock of such wines, spirits, and little luxuries as he may
"You will find Captain Peters down at the docks. The last cargo has been
discharged, and they are giving an overhaul to the rigging and making a
few repairs; he is not a man to leave his ship if he can help it while
work is going on there."
Harry at once went down.
"Well, sir," the captain said, when he had told him that he wished to take
a passage to Callao, and that the owners had referred him to him, "I had
fully made up my mind that I would not take passengers again. On my last
voyage they were always grumbling at the food, expecting to be treated as
if they were in a first-class hotel."
"I am not likely to grumble, Captain; I have been knocking about the
King's service since I was fourteen."
"Oh, you are a royal navy man, are you, sir?"
"I am; I am a lieutenant."
"That makes a difference; and I have no doubt we can arrange the matter to
"I may tell you," Harry said, "that I have a younger brother coming out
with me. He is an apprentice nearly out of his time, and was on board the
_Stella_ when she was sunk in the Channel. Your owners have kindly
arranged that he shall go out with you as a supernumerary; that is one
reason why I wish to go in your ship."
The Master thought for a minute or two. "Well, Mr. Prendergast," he said,
"I like having one of you naval gentlemen on board; if anything goes wrong
it is a comfort to have your advice. If we have bad weather round the
Horn, could I rely upon you to give me a helping hand should I need it? I
don't mean that you should keep watch or anything of that sort, but that
you should, as it were, stand by me. I have a new first mate, and there is
no saying how he may turn out. No doubt the firm would make every enquiry.
Still, such enquiries don't mean much; a master doesn't like to damn a man
by refusing to give him a good character I dare say he is all right.
Still, I should certainly feel very much more comfortable if I had a naval
officer with me. Now, sir, I pay the firm twelve pounds for each passenger
I take as his share of the cabin stores; you pay me that, and I will ask
for nothing for your passage. I cannot say fairer than that."
"You cannot indeed, Captain, and I feel very much obliged to you for the
offer--very much obliged. It will suit me admirably, and in case of any
emergency you may rely upon my aid; and if you have a spell of bad weather
I shall be quite willing to take a watch, for I know that in the long
heavy gales you meet with going round the Horn the officers get terribly
"And how about your brother?" the captain said; "as he is to be a
supernumerary, I suppose that only means that the firm are willing that he
shall put in his time for his rating. I have never had a supernumerary on
board, but I suppose he is to be regarded as a passenger rather than one
of the ship's complement."
"No, Captain, he is to be on the pay-sheet; and I think he had much better
be put into a watch. He would find the time hang very heavy on his hands
if he had nothing to do, and I know he is anxious to learn his profession
thoroughly. As he is to be paid, there is no reason why he should not
"Very well; if you think so we will say nothing more about it. I thought
perhaps you would like to have him aft with you."
"I am much obliged to you, but I think the other way will be best; and I
am sure he would feel more comfortable with the other apprentices than as
"Are you going out for long, may I ask you, Mr. Prendergast?"
"For a couple of years or so. I am going to wander about and do some
shooting and exploring and that sort of thing, and I am taking him with me
as companion. I speak Spanish fairly well myself, and shall teach him on
the voyage, if you will allow me to do so. A knowledge of that language
will be an advantage to him when he comes back into Prosser & Co.'s
"A great advantage," the captain agreed. "Most of us speak a little
Spanish, but I have often thought that it would pay the company to send a
man who could talk the lingo well in each ship. They could call him
supercargo, and I am sure he would pay his wages three or four times over
by being able to bargain and arrange with the Chilians and Peruvians. In
ports like Callao, where there is a British consul, things are all right,
but in the little ports we are fleeced right and left. Boatmen and
shopkeepers charge us two or three times as much as they do their own
countrymen, and I am sure that we could get better bargains in hides and
other produce if we had someone who could knock down their prices."
"When do you sail, Captain?"
"This day week. It will be high tide about eight, and we shall start to
warp out of dock a good half-hour earlier, so you can either come on board
the night before or about seven in the morning."
"Very well, sir; we shall be here in good time. I shall bring my things on
board with me; it is of no use sending them on before, as they will not be
bulky and can be stored away in my cabin."
"This will be your state-room," the captain said, opening a door. "I have
the one aft, and the first mate has the one opposite to you. The others
are empty, so you can stow any baggage that you have in one of them; the
second and third officers and the apprentices are in the deck-house
"In that case, Captain, I will send the wine and spirits on board the day
before. Of course I shall get them out of bond; I might have difficulty in
doing that so early in the morning. You will perhaps be good enough to
order them to be stowed in one of the empty cabins."
"That will be the best plan," the captain said.
"When do the apprentices come on board?"
"The morning before we sail. There is always plenty to be done in getting
the last stores on board."
"All right! my brother will be here. Good-morning, Captain, and thank
The following morning at eleven Harry Prendergast was standing in front of
the entrance to the British Museum. A young lady came up. "It is very
imprudent of you, Harry," she said, after the first greeting, "to ask me
to meet you."
"I could not help it, dear; it was absolutely necessary that I should see
"But it is of no use, Harry."
"I consider that it is of particular use, Hilda."
"But you know, Harry, when you had that very unpleasant talk with my
father, I was called in, and said that I had promised to wait two years
for you. When he found that I would not give way, he promised that he
would not press me, on the understanding that we were not to meet again
except in public, and I all but promised."
"Quite so, dear; but it appears to me that this is surely a public place."
"No, no, Harry; what he meant was that I was not to meet you except at
"Well, I should have asked you to meet me to-day even if I had had to
storm your father's house to see you. I am going away, dear, and he could
scarcely say much if he came along and found us talking here. You see, it
was not likely that I should stumble across a fortune in the streets of
London. I have talked the matter over with Barnett--you know our trustee,
you have met him once or twice--and we came to the conclusion that the
only possible chance of my being able to satisfy your father as to my
means, was for me to go to Peru and try to discover a gold mine there or
hidden treasure. Such discoveries have been made, and may be made again;
and he has supplied me with a letter to an Indian, who may possibly be
able to help me."
"To Peru, Harry! Why, they are always fighting there."
"Yes, they do a good deal of squabbling, but the people in general have
little to do with it; and certainly I am not going out to take any part in
their revolutions. There is not a shadow of doubt that a number of gold
mines worked by the old people were never discovered by the Spaniards, and
it is also certain that a great portion of the treasures of the Incas is
still lying hid. Barnett saved the life of a muleteer out there, and from
what he said he believed that the man did know something about one of
these lost mines, and might possibly let me into the secret. It is just an
off chance, but it is the only chance I can see. You promised your father
that you would never marry without his consent, and he would never give it
unless I were a rich man. If nothing comes of this adventure I shall be no
worse off than I am at present. If I am fortunate enough to discover a
rich mine or a hidden treasure, I shall be in a position to satisfy his
demand. I am going to take Bertie with me; he will be a cheerful
companion, and even now he is a powerful young fellow. At any rate, if I
get sick or anything of that sort, it would be an immense advantage to
have him with me."
"I don't like the idea of your going, Harry," she said tearfully. "No,
dear; and if I had the chance of seeing you sometimes, and of some day
obtaining your father's consent to the marriage, all the gold mines in
Peru would offer no temptation to me. As it is, I can see nothing else for
it. In some respects it is better; if I were to stay here I should only be
meeting you frequently at dances and dinners, never able to talk to you
privately, and feeling always that you could never be mine. It would be a
constant torture. Here is a possibility--a very remote one, I admit, but
still a possibility--and even if it fails I shall have the satisfaction of
knowing that I have done all that a man could do to win you."
"I think it is best that you should go somewhere, Harry, but Peru seems to
be a horrible place." "Barnett speaks of it in high terms. You know he
was four or five years out there. He describes the people as being
delightful, and he has nothing to say against the climate."
"I will not try to dissuade you," she said bravely after a pause. "At
present I am hopeless, but I shall have something to hope and pray for
while you are away. We will say good-bye now, dear. I have come to meet
you this once, but I will not do so again, another meeting would but give
us fresh pain. I am very glad to know that your brother is going with you.
I shall not have to imagine that you are ill in some out-of-the-way place
without a friend near you; and in spite of the dangers you may have to
run, I would rather think of you as bravely doing your best than eating
your heart out here in London. I shall not tell my father that we have met
here; you had better write to him and say that you are leaving London at
once, and that you hope in two years to return and claim me in accordance
with his promise. I am sure he will be glad to know that you have gone,
and that we shall not be constantly meeting. He will be kinder to me than
he has been of late, for as he will think it quite impossible that you can
make a fortune in two years he will be inclined to dismiss you altogether
from his mind."
For another half-hour they talked together, and then they parted with
renewed protestations on her part that nothing should induce her to break
her promise to wait for him for two years. He had given her the address of
one of the merchants to whom Mr. Barnett had promised him a letter of
introduction, so that she might from time to time write, for the voyage
would take at least four months and as much more would be required for his
first letter to come back. He walked moodily home after parting with her.
"Hullo, Harry! nothing wrong with you, I hope? why, you look as grave as
"I feel grave, Bertie. I have just said good-bye to Hilda; and though I
kept up my spirits and made the best of this expedition of ours, I cannot
but feel how improbable it is that we shall meet again--that is to say, in
our present relations; for if I fail I certainly shall not return home for
some years; it would be only fair to her that I should not do so. I know
that she would keep on as long as there was any hope, but I should not
care to think that she was wasting her life. I was an ass to believe it
could ever be otherwise, and I feel that the best thing for us both would
have been for me to go away as soon as I found that I was getting fond of
"Well, of course I cannot understand it, Harry, and it seems to me that
one girl is very like another; she may be a bit prettier than the average,
but I suppose that comes to all the same thing in another twenty years. I
can understand a man getting awfully fond of his ship, especially when she
is a clipper. However, some day I may feel different; besides, how could
you tell that her father would turn out such a crusty old beggar?"
"I suppose I did not think about it one way or the other, Bertie," Harry
said quietly. "However, the mischief is done, and even if there was no
chance whatever of making money I should go now for my own sake as well as
hers. Well, it is of no use talking more about it; we will go out now and
buy the rifles. I shan't get them new, one can pick up guns just as good
at half the price, and as I know something about rifles I am not likely to
be taken in. Of course I have got my pistols and only have a brace to buy
for you. You will have time on the voyage to practise with them; if you
did not do that you would be as likely to shoot me as a hostile Indian."
"Oh, that is bosh!" the boy said; "still, I certainly should like to be a
After getting the rifles and pistols, Harry went into the city and ordered
six dozen of wine and three dozen of brandy to be sent on board out of
bond; he also ordered a bag of twenty pounds of raw coffee, a chest of
tea, and a couple of dozen bottles of pickles and sauces, to be sent down
to the docks on the day before the _Para_ sailed. Another suit of
seafaring clothes and a stock of underclothing was ordered for Bertie.
Harry spent the intervening time before the vessel sailed in looking up
his friends and saying good-bye to them, and drove down to the docks at
the appointed time, his brother having joined the ship on the previous
The _Para_ was a barque-rigged ship of some eight hundred tons. At present
she did not show to advantage, her deck being littered with stores of all
kinds that had come on board late. The deck planks where they could be
seen were almost black, the sails had been partly loosed from the gaskets,
and to an eye accustomed to the neatness and order of a man-of-war her
appearance was by no means favourable; but her sides shone with fresh
paint, and, looking at her lines from the wharf, Harry thought she would
be both fast and a good sea-boat. She was not heavily laden, and stood
boldly up in the water. Nodding to Bertie, who was working hard among the
men, he went up on to the poop, from which Captain Peters was shouting
"Glad to see you, sir," the captain said; "she looks rather in a litter at
present, doesn't she? We shall get her all ataunto before we get down to
the Nore. These confounded people won't send their stores on board till
the last moment. If I were an owner I should tell all shippers that no
goods would be received within five or six hours of the ship's time for
sailing; that would give us a fair chance, instead of starting all in a
muddle, just at the time, too, when more than any other one wants to have
the decks free for making short tacks down these narrow reaches. I believe
half the wrecks on the sands at the mouth of the river are due to the
confusion in which the ships start. How can a crew be lively in getting
the yards over when they have to go about decks lumbered up like this, and
half of them are only just recovering from their bout of drink the day
Up to the last moment everyone on board was hard at work, and when the
order was given to throw off the hawsers the deck was already
comparatively clear. Half an hour later the vessel passed out through the
dock gates, with two boats towing ahead so as to take her well out into
the river; the rest of the crew were employed in letting the sails drop.
As soon as she gathered way the men in the boats were called in, the boats
themselves being towed behind in case they might again be required.
The passage from the Pool to the mouth of the river was in those days the
most dangerous portion of the voyage. There were no tugs to seize the
ships and carry them down to the open water, while the channels below the
Nore were badly buoyed and lighted, and it was no uncommon thing for
twenty vessels to get upon the sands in the course of a single tide.
The wind was light, and being northerly helped them well on their way, and
it was only in one or two reaches that the _Para_ was unable to lay her
course. She overtook many craft that had been far ahead of her, and
answered the helm quickly.
"She is both fast and handy, I see," Harry Prendergast, who had been
watching her movements with interest, remarked.
"Yes; there are not many craft out of London can show her their heels when
the wind is free. She does not look quite so well into the wind as I
should wish; still, I think she is as good as most of them."
"I suppose you will get down to Gravesend before the tide turns?"
"Yes, we shall anchor there. The wind is not strong enough for us to stem
the tide, which runs like a sluice there. Once past the Nore one can do
better, but there is no fighting the tide here unless one has a steady
breeze aft. I never feel really comfortable till we are fairly round the
South Foreland; after that it is plain sailing enough. Though there are a
few shoals in the Channel, one can give them a wide berth; fogs are the
things we have to fear there."
"Yes. I have never been down the river, having always joined my ships
either at Portsmouth or Plymouth, so I know very little about it; but I
know from men who have been on board vessels commissioned at Chatham or
Sheerness that they are thankful indeed when they once get round the Good
wins and head west."
"Well, Mr. Prendergast, I am against these new-fangled steamboats--I
suppose every true sailor is; but when the _Marjory_ began to run between
London and Gravesend eighteen years ago--in '15 I think it was--folks did
say that it would not be long before sailing craft would be driven off the
sea. I did not believe that then, and I don't believe it now; but I do say
that I hope before long there will be a lot of small steamers on the
Thames, to tow vessels down till they are off the North Foreland. It would
be a blessing and a comfort to us master mariners. Once there we have the
choice of going outside the Goodwins, or taking a short cut inside if the
wind is aft. Why, sir, it would add years to our lives and shorten voyages
by weeks. There we are, now, sometimes lying off the Nore, five hundred
sail, waiting for the wind to shift out of the east, and when we do get
under weigh we have always to keep the lead going. One never knows when
one may bump upon the sands. Some masters will grope their way along in
the dark, but for my part I always anchor. There are few enough buoys and
beacons in daytime, but I consider that it is tempting Providence to try
and go down in a dark night. The owners are sensible men and they know
that it is not worth while running risks just to save a day or two when
you have got a four months' voyage before you. Once past Dover I am ready
to hold on with anyone, but between the Nore and the North Foreland I pick
my way as carefully as a woman going across a muddy street."
"You are quite right, Captain; I thoroughly agree with you. More ships get
ashore going down to the mouth of the Thames than in any other part of the
world; and, as you say, if all sailing ships might be taken down by a
steamer, it would be the making of the port of London."
"Your brother is a smart young chap, Mr. Prendergast. I was watching him
yesterday, and he is working away now as if he liked work. He has the
makings of a first-rate sailor. I hold that a man will never become a
first-class seaman unless he likes work for its own sake. There are three
sorts of hands. There is the fellow who shirks his work whenever he has a
chance; there is the man who does his work, but who does it because he has
to do it, and always looks glad when a job is over; and there is the lad
who jumps to his work, chucks himself right into it, and puts his last
ounce of strength on a rope. That is the fellow who will make a good
officer, and who, if needs be, can set an example to the men when they
have to go aloft to reef a sail in a stiff gale. So, as I understand, Mr.
Prendergast, he is going to leave the sea for a bit. It seems a pity too."
"He will be none the worse for it, Captain. A year or so knocking about
among the mountains of Peru will do more good to him than an equal time on
board ship. It will sharpen him up, and give him habits of reliance and
confidence. He will be all the better for it afterwards, even putting
aside the advantage it will be to him to pick up Spanish."
"Yes, it may do him good," the captain agreed, "if it does not take away
his liking for the sea."
"I don't think it will do that. If the first voyage or two don't sicken a
lad, I think it is pretty certain he is cut out for the sea. Of course it
is a very hard life at first, especially if the officers are a rough lot,
but when a boy gets to know his duty things go more easily with him; he is
accustomed to the surroundings, and takes to the food, which you know is
not always of the best, with a good appetite. Bertie has had three years
of it now, and when he has come home I have never heard a grumble from
him; and he is not likely to meet with such luxuries while we are knocking
about as to make him turn up his nose at salt junk."
The tide was already turning when they reached Gravesend. As soon as the
anchor was down the steward came up to say that dinner was ready.
"I am not at all sorry," Harry said as he went below with the captain. "I
ate a good breakfast before I started at half-past six, and I went below
and had a biscuit and bottle of beer at eleven, but I feel as hungry as a
hunter now. There is nothing like a sea appetite. I have been nearly two
years on shore, and I never enjoyed a meal as I do at sea."
The crew had been busy ever since they left the dock, and the deck had now
been scrubbed and made tidy, and presented a very different appearance
from that which met Harry's eye as he came on board.
Johnson, the first mate, also dined with the skipper. He was a tall,
powerfully-built man. He was singularly taciturn, and took no share in the
conversation unless directly asked. He seemed, however, to be able to
appreciate a joke, but never laughed audibly, contenting himself with
drawing his lips apart and showing his teeth.
The wind was light and baffling, so that they did not round the South
Foreland until the seventh day after leaving dock. After that it was
favourable and steady, and they ran without any change until they
approached the line; then there was a fortnight of calm. At last they got
the wind again, and made a rapid run until within five hundred miles of
Cape Horn. The captain was in high glee.
"We have done capitally so far, Mr. Prendergast. I don't think I ever made
so rapid a run. If she goes on like this we shall reach Callao within
three months of starting."
"I don't think the weather will continue like this," the mate said.
This was the first original observation he had made since he had sailed,
and Harry and the captain looked at him in surprise.
"You think there is going to be a change, Mr. Johnson?" the captain said,
after a short pause to recover from his astonishment.
The mate nodded.
"Glass falling, sky hazy."
"Is the glass falling? I am ashamed to say I have not looked at it for the
past twenty-four hours. It has stuck so long at the same point that I have
quite ceased to look at it two or three times a day as I usually do."
"It has not fallen much, but it is sinking."
The captain got up from the table, and went to look at the glass.
"You are right, it has fallen a good eighth; but that may mean a change of
wind. Did you notice any change, Mr. Prendergast?"
"No, I can't say that I did. I looked up, as a sailor always does, when I
was on deck this morning, but it was clear enough then, and I have not
noticed it particularly since."
But when they went up on deck half an hour later both agreed that the mate
was right. The change overhead was slight, but away to the west a dull
reddish mist seemed to obscure the horizon.
"We will get the upper sails off at once, Mr. Johnson. These storms come
so suddenly off the coast that it is as well to lose no time in shortening
sail when one sees any indication of such a change."
The mate at once gave the necessary orders. The sailors started up with
looks of surprise.
"Look sharp, men!" the mate said. "We shall have wind, and plenty of it.
It will be here before long."
The men, who were by no means sorry for a spell of work after going so
long without shifting sail or tack, worked hard, and the white sheets of
canvas were soon snugly furled. By this time all the sailors who had been
to sea for any time recognized the utility of their work. The low bank had
risen and extended the whole width of the western horizon.
"What do you think, Mr. Prendergast? Have we got enough off her?"
"I don't know about your storms here, Captain; but if it were in the
Levant I should get every stitch of canvas off her excepting closely-
reefed topsails, a storm jib, and fore stay-sail. The first burst over,
one can always shake out more canvas. However, you know these seas, and I
"I think you are right. These pamperos, as we call them, are not to be
"In that case there is no time to be lost, Captain, and with your
permission I will lend a hand."
"All hands take in sail!" the captain shouted.
The mate led the way up the starboard shrouds, while Harry, throwing off
his coat, mounted those to port, closely followed by Bertie. Five minutes'
hard work, and the _Para_ was stripped for the struggle.
"That is a good job done," the skipper said to Harry as he reached the
"A very good job, sir. The wind may come, but we are prepared for it;
there is nothing like being ready in time."
"She is in good trim for it," said the captain, "not above two-thirds
laden, and as the wind is off the land, there is nothing to worry us
except the Falklands. I shall go outside them. Of course that will
lengthen the voyage, but with this westerly wind I should not care about
being between them and the mainland. You think the same, Mr. Prendergast?"
"I do, sir; they are a scattered group, and it would not be pleasant to
have them under lee."
It had grown sensibly darker, but the line of mist had not risen higher.
Harry remarked upon this.
"I almost doubt whether it is coming after all," he said.
The captain shook his head.
"It does not spread over the sky," he said, "because it is largely dust
blown off the land. After the first burst you will see that we shall have
a bright blue sky and a roaring wind, just as one gets it sometimes in an
easterly gale in the Channel. We shall have it in another five minutes, I
fancy. I don't think it will be very strong, or we should have had it here
It was not long before a dull, moaning sound was heard, the brown-red fog
changed its appearance, swirls of vapour seemed to dash out in front of
it, and the whole swelled and heaved as if it were being pushed forward by
some tremendous pressure in its rear.
The ship's head was pointing nearly east, the canvas hung down motionless,
and there was not a breath of wind.
"Hold on all!" the captain shouted. Half a minute later the billowly
clouds swept across the vessel, and a sudden darkness overspread them.
Then there was a glow of white light, a line of foam approached as fleet
as a race-horse, and with a shriek the gale was upon them. The vessel
shook from stem to stern as if she had struck against a rock, and her bow
was pressed down lower and lower until she seemed as if she were going to
dive head-foremost. But as she gathered way, her bow rose, and in a minute
she was flying along at some eighteen knots an hour.
"She is all right now, Mr. Prendergast," the captain said. "It is well we
stripped her so thoroughly, and that she is not heavily laden."
Four men had been placed at the wheel, and it needed all their strength to
keep her from yawing. In half an hour the sea began to get up, and the
captain laid her course south-east, which put the wind on her quarter.
"It is well we were not a degree or so farther south, Captain."
"Yes; it would have been as much as we could do to weather the Falklands;
for with this small amount of sail we should have made a terrible amount
of leeway. As it is, all is fair sailing."
The darkness gradually passed away, and in an hour after the gale had
struck her the _Para_ was sailing under a bright blue sky. Although but
few points off the wind, she was lying down till her lee scuppers were
under water. The spray was flying over her sparkling in the sun; the
sailors were crouched under the weather bulwark, lashed to belaying-pins
and stanchions to prevent themselves from shifting down to leewards. Six
hours later it was evident that there was some slight diminution in the
force of the wind.
"She is going about fourteen knots now," the captain said; "we can head
her more to the south. We must be nearly abreast of the islands, and
according to my reckoning forty or fifty miles to the east of them."
It was now dark, and the watch was sent below.
"To-morrow morning we shall be able to get some more sail on her," the
master said, "and I hope by the next morning the squall will be over, for
we shall then have made our southing, and the wind will be right in our
teeth when we turn her head west. There is no saying which way it will
come when the squall dies out. What do you think, Johnson?"
"We are pretty sure to get it hot from one quarter or another," the man
said. "I should say most likely from the south."
"Except for the cold that would be better than west," Harry remarked.
"Yes, if it is not too strong; but it is likely to be strong. After such a
gale as we have had, it seldom settles down for some time. As like as not
there will be bad weather for the next month."
The next morning when Harry went on deck he saw that the reefs had been
shaken out of the topsails and the spanker hoisted. There was still a
fresh wind, but it had backed round more to the south, and there was so
sharp a nip in it that he went below and put on a pea-jacket. Then he
beckoned to Bertie, who was off duty, to join him on the poop.
"That has been a smart blow, Bertie."
"Yes, but I had it worse than that the last time I came round the Horn. I
think we shall be shortening sail again before long. The clouds are
banking up to the south-west. She is a good sea-boat, isn't she?"
"She has behaved uncommonly well. We shall want all our clothes before
night, Bertie. It was May when we started, and it is nearly mid-winter
"There is one thing, we shan't have so much risk of coming across drifting
icebergs, most of them will be frozen up hard and fast down in the south.
They don't matter much when the weather is clear, but if it is thick one
has an awful time of it. On my first voyage it was like that, and I tell
you I didn't think I was going to see England again. We had some
desperately close shaves."
The wind speedily freshened, and by evening the ship was under close-
reefed canvas again. The clouds were flying fast overhead and the air was
thick. Before the evening watch was set the ship was brought round on the
other tack, and was running to the east of south.
"We will lie on this course till morning, Mr. Prendergast," said the
captain, "and then if the wind holds, I think we shall be able to make a
long leg and weather the Horn."
For six days the storm raged with unabated violence. The cold was intense,
the spray breaking over the bows froze as it fell, and the crew were
engaged for hours at a time in breaking up the masses of ice thus formed.
Harry had volunteered to take a watch in turn with the first and second
mates. The captain was almost continuously on deck. Twice they encountered
icebergs, and once in a driving snow-storm nearly ran foul of one.
Fortunately it was daylight, and the whole crew being on deck, they were
able to put the vessel about just in time. During this time the vessel had
only gained a few miles' westing. All on board were utterly exhausted with
the struggle against the bitter wind; their hands were sore and bleeding
through pulling upon frozen ropes, their faces inflamed, and their eyelids
so swollen and sore that they could scarcely see. Then the wind began to
abate, and more sail being got on the _Para_, she was able to lie her
Three days later the sky cleared, and the captain, getting an observation,
found that they had rounded the southernmost point of the Cape. Another
day and the _Para's_ head was turned north, and a week later they were
running smoothly along before a gentle breeze, with the coast of Chili
twenty miles away. The heavy wraps had all been laid aside, and although
the air was still frosty, the crew felt it warm after what they had
endured. The upper spars and yards had all been sent up, and she was now
carrying a crowd of canvas. The mate had thawed out under the more
congenial surroundings. He had worked like a horse during the storm,
setting an example, whether in going aloft or in the work of clearing off
the ice from the bows, and even when his watch was relieved he seldom went
"Well, I hope, Mr. Johnson, we shall sail together until you get your next
step," the captain said. "I could not wish for a better first officer."
"I want nothing better, sir. She is a fine ship, well manned and well
commanded. I begin to feel at home in her now; at first I didn't. I hate
changes; and though the last captain I sailed with was a surly fellow, we
got on very well together. I would rather sail with a man like that than
with a skipper who is always talking. I am a silent man myself, and am
quite content to eat my meal and enjoy it, without having to stop every
time I am putting my fork into my mouth to answer some question or other.
I was once six months up in the north without ever speaking to a soul. I
was whaling then, and a snow-storm came on when we were fast on to a fish.
It was twenty-four hours before it cleared off, and when it did there was
no ship to be seen. We were in an inlet at the time in Baffin's Bay. We
thought that the ship would come back, and we landed and hauled up the
boat. The ship didn't come back, and, as I learned long afterwards, was
never heard of again. I suppose she got nipped between two icebergs.
"Winter was coming on fast, and the men all agreed that they would rather
try and make their way south overland than stay there. I told them that
they were fools, but I admit that the prospect of a winter there was
enough to frighten any man. I did not like it myself, but I thought it was
wiser to remain there than to move. Some of the men went along the shore,
or out in the boat, and managed to kill several sea-cows. They made a
sledge, piled the meat on it, and started.
"Meanwhile I had been busy building a sort of hut. I piled great stones
against the foot of the cliffs, and turned the boat upside down to form a
roof. The men helped me to do that job the last thing before they started.
Then I blocked up the entrance, leaving only just room for me to crawl in
and out. The snow began to fall steadily three days after the others had
gone, and very soon covered my hut two feet deep. I melted the blubber of
the whale in the boat's baler, for we had towed the fish ashore. The first
potful or two I boiled over a few bits of drift-wood. After that it was
easy enough, as I unravelled some of the boat's rope, dipped it in the hot
blubber, and made a store of big candles. There was a lot of meat left on
the sea-cows, so I cut that up, froze it, and stowed as much as I could in
the hut. I was bothered about the rest, as I knew the bears were likely to
come down; but I found a ledge on the face of the perpendicular rock, and
by putting the boat's mast against it I was able to get up to it. Here I
piled, I should say, a ton of meat and blubber. Then I set to work and
collected some dried grass, and soon I had enough to serve as bed and
covers. It took me a month to do all this, and by that time winter was
down on me in earnest. I had spent my evenings in making myself, out of
the skins of the three cows, breeches, high boots, and a coat with a hood
over the head, and in order to make these soft I rubbed them with hot oil.
They were rough things, but I hoped that I might get a bear later on.
Fortunately the boat had two balers, for I required one in which to melt
the snow over the lamp.
"Well, sir, I lived there during that winter. I did not find it altogether
dull, for I had several bits of excitement. For a month or so bears and
wolves came down and fought over the carcass of the whale. When that was
eaten up they turned their attention to me, and over and over again they
tried to break in. They had better have left me alone, for though they
were strong enough to have pulled away the rocks that blocked the
entrance, they could not stand fire. As I had any amount of rope, I used
to soak it in rock-oil, set it on fire, and shove it out of the entrance.
Twice small bears managed to wriggle up the passage, but I had sharpened
the boat-hook and managed to kill them both. One skin made me a whole
suit, and the other a first-rate blanket. Not that it was ever
unpleasantly cold, for a couple of my big candles, and the thick coating
of snow over it, kept the place as warm as I cared for. Occasionally, when
the bears had cleared off, I went out, climbed the mast, and got fresh
supplies down. They had made desperate efforts to get at the meat, but the
face of the rock was luckily too smooth for them to get any hold. When
spring came and the ice broke up, I planted the mast on the top of the
cliff with the sail fastened as a flag, and a month after the sea was
clear a whaler came in and took me off. That was how I pretty well lost
the use of my tongue, and though I am better than I was, I don't use it
much now except on duty."
"That certainly accounts for it," Harry said; "you must have had an awful
"I don't think I minded it very much, sir. Except when I was bothered by
the bears I slept a good lot. I think at first I used to talk out loud a
good deal. But I soon dropped that, though I used to whistle sometimes
when I was cooking the food. I don't think I should have held on so long
if I had only had the sea-cow flesh, but the bears made a nice change, and
I only wished that one or two more had managed to crawl in."
"I wonder you were able to kill them with a boat-hook."
"I didn't, sir. You know every whaler carries an axe to cut the line if
necessary, and I was able to split their skulls as they crawled in before
they could get fairly on to their feet and use their paws. I was getting
very weak with scurvy towards the end; but as soon as the snow melted
plants began to shoot, and I was able to collect green stuff, so that I
was nearly well by the time I was picked up."
The weather continued fine all the time they were coasting up the Chilian
coast. They were a week at Valparaiso getting out the cargo they had
brought for that town, and did some trading at smaller ports; but at last,
just four months after leaving England, they dropped anchor off Callao.
"Well, it has been a jolly voyage, Harry," his brother said as they were
rowed ashore, after a hearty farewell from the captain and the first
"I am glad you enjoyed it, Bertie. I was sorry all the time I hadn't taken
a passage for you aft."
"I am better pleased to have been at work; it would have been awfully slow
otherwise. The mates were both good fellows, and I got on well with the
other apprentices. I tried at first not to turn out on night watch, as I
was not obliged to do so, but I soon gave it up; it seemed disgusting to
be lying there when the others had to turn out. It has been a jolly
voyage, but I am glad that we are here at last, and are going to set to
work in search of treasures."
"I had begun to think that we should not get on shore to-day," Harry said
as they neared the landing-place. "What with three hours' waiting for the
medical officer, and another three for that bumptious official whom they
call the port officer, and without whose permission no one is allowed to
land, I think everyone on board was so disgusted that we should have liked
nothing better than to pitch the fellow overboard. It was rather amusing
to watch all those boatmen crowding round shouting the praises of their
own craft and running down the others. But a little of it goes a long way.
It is the same pretty nearly at every port I have entered. Boatmen are
harpies of the worst kind. It is lucky that we had so little baggage; a
tip of a couple of dollars was enough to render the custom-house officer
not only civil but servile."
As they mounted the steps they were assailed by a motley crowd, half of
whom struggled to get near them to hold out their hands for alms, while
the other half struggled and fought for the right of carrying their
baggage. Accustomed to such scenes, Harry at once seized upon two of them,
gave them the portmanteaux, and, keeping behind them, pushed them through
the crowd, telling them to lead the way to the hotel that the captain had
recommended as being the least filthy in the place. They crossed a square
covered with goods of all kinds. There were long rows of great jars filled
with native spirit, bales of cinchona bark, piles of wheat from Chili,
white and rose-coloured blocks of salt, pyramids of unrefined sugar, and a
block of great bars of silver; among these again were bales and boxes
landed from foreign countries, logs of timber, and old anchors and chains.
Numbers of people who appeared to have nothing to do sauntered about or
sat on logs. In odd corners were native women engaged in making the
picanties upon which the poor largely exist; these were composed of fresh
and salt meat, potatoes, crabs, the juice of bitter oranges, lard, salt,
and an abundance of pepper pods.
"That is the sort of thing we shall have to eat, Bertie."
"Well, I should not mind if I had not got to look on at the making; they
smell uncommonly good."
The hotel was larger and even more dirty than the captain's description
had led them to expect. However, the dinner that was served to them was
better than they had looked for, and being very hungry after their long
wait, they did full justice to it.
"It might have been a good deal worse, Bertie."
"I should think so; after four months of salt junk it is splendid!"
A cup of really good coffee, followed by a little glass of native spirits,
added to their satisfaction. They had hesitated before whether to push on
at once to Lima or wait there till next morning. Their meal decided them--
they would start at daybreak, so as to get to Lima before the sun became
really hot. Harry asked the landlord to bargain for two riding mules and
one for baggage to be ready at that hour, and they then strolled out to
view the place, although Bertie assured his brother that there was nothing
whatever to see in it.
"That may be, Bertie; but we are not going to begin by being lazy. There
is always something to see in foreign lands by those who keep their eyes
After an hour's walk Harry was inclined to think that his brother was
right. The houses were generally constructed of canes, plastered with mud,
and painted yellow. As the result of earthquakes, scarce a house stood
upright--some leaned sideways, and looked as if they were going to topple
over into the road; while others leaned back, as if, were you to push
against them, they would collapse and crush the inmates.
Their night was not a pleasant one. The beds were simple, consisting only
of hides stretched across wooden frames, but, as they very speedily found,
there were numerous other inhabitants. They therefore slept but little,
and were heartily glad when the first gleam of dawn appeared.
Slipping on their clothes, they ran down to the shore and had a bath. By
the time they returned breakfast was ready--coffee, fish, and eggs. The
mules did not appear for another hour, by which time their patience was
all but exhausted. The portmanteaux were speedily strapped on to the back
of the baggage mule, and they mounted the two others. The muleteer had
brought one for himself, and, fastening the baggage animal behind it, they
It was six miles to Lima, but as the city is five hundred and twelve feet
above the sea, the ascent was steady and somewhat steep. The road was
desperately bad, and the country uninteresting, being for the most part
dried up. Occasionally they saw great mounds of adobe bricks, the remains
of the ancient habitations. As they neared the town vegetation became
general, small canals irrigating the country. Here were fruit and
vegetable gardens, with oranges, plantains, vines, and flowers.
Passing through a gate in the walls they entered the town, which afforded
a pleasant contrast to the squalid misery of Callao. The city, however,
could not be called imposing; the houses were low and irregular,
fantastically painted in squares or stripes, and almost all had great
balconies shut in with trellis-work.
Few of the houses had any windows towards the street, the larger ones
being constructed with a central courtyard, into which the rooms all
opened. The streets were all built at right angles, the principal ones
leading from the grand square, in which stood the cathedral and the palace
of the Spanish viceroys, the other sides consisting of private houses,
with shops and arcades below them. The hotel to which they had been
recommended was a large building with a courtyard, with dining and other
rooms opening from it, and above them the bedrooms. In comparison with the
inn at Callao it was magnificent, but in point of cleanliness it left a
great deal to be desired. After settling themselves in their room they
went out. The change in temperature since they had left Callao had been
"The first thing to do, Bertie, is to buy ourselves a couple of good
ponchos. You see all the natives are wearing them."
"We certainly want something of the sort, Harry. I thought it was heat
that we were going to suffer from, but it seems just the other way. To
judge from the temperature we might be in Scotland, and this damp mist
chills one to the bone."
"I am not much surprised, for of course I got the subject up as much as I
could before starting; and Barnett told me that Lima was altogether an
exceptional place, and that while it was bright and warm during the winter
months, from May till November on the plains only a few miles away, even
in the summer months there was almost always a clammy mist at Lima, and
that inside the house as well as outside everything streamed with
moisture. He said that this had never been satisfactorily accounted for.
Some say that it is due to the coldness of the river here--the Rimac--
which comes down from the snowy mountains. Others think that the cold wind
that always blows down the valley of the river meets the winds from the
sea here, and the moisture contained in them is thus precipitated. I
believe that a few miles higher up we shall get out of this atmosphere
altogether. Still, the ponchos will be very useful, for it will be really
cold up in the mountains. They serve for cloaks in the daytime and
blankets at night. The best are made of the wool of the guanacos, a sort
of llama. Their wool is very fine, and before we start we will get two of
coarser wool to use as blankets to sleep on, while we have the finer ones
to cover us."
There was no difficulty in finding a shop with the goods they wanted, and
the prices, even of the best, were very moderate. They next bought two
soft felt hats with broad brims.
"That is ever so much more comfortable. We will wait until to-morrow
before we begin what we may call business, Bertie. Of course I shall
deliver the other letters of introduction that Mr. Barnett gave me; but
the principal one--that to his former muleteer--is more important than all
put together. If anything has happened to him, there is an end of any
chance whatever of finding treasure. Of course he may have moved away, or
be absent on a journey with his mules, in which case we shall have either
to follow him or wait for his return."
"That would be a frightful nuisance."
"Yes; still, it is one of the things that we foresaw might happen."
"I vote we go at once, Harry, and see if he is here."
"I don't think we shall find him here; for Barnett said that he lived in
the village of Miraflores, five miles away on the north, and that if he is
not there, Seņor Pasquez, to whom I have a letter, will be likely to tell
me where he is to be found, for he is often employed by him. However, I am
as anxious as you to see him. As it is only eleven o'clock yet, there is
no reason why we should not go to Miraflores. They will get mules for us
at the hotel, and tell us which road to take."
It was not necessary, however, to go into the hotel, for when they
returned, two or three men with mules were waiting to be hired. They
engaged two animals, and as the man of whom they hired them had a third,
and he was ready to accompany them for a small fee, they agreed to take
him with them.
Before they were a mile out of the town the mist cleared off and the sun
shone brightly. The heat, however, was by no means too great to be
pleasant. Miraflores was a charming village, or rather small town,
nestling among gardens and orchards.
"I want to find a muleteer named Dias Otero," Harry said to their guide as
they rode into the place.
"I know him well," he said. "Everyone about here knows Dias. His wife was
a cousin of my mother's."
"Do you know whether he is at home now?"
"Yes, seņor; I saw him in Lima three days ago. He had just come down from
the mountains. He had been away two months, and certainly will not have
started again so soon. Shall I lead you to his house at once?"
"Do so; it is to see him that I have come to this town. He worked for a
long time with a friend of mine some years ago, and I have brought a
message from him. I may be some time talking with him, so when I go in you
can tie up your mules for a while."
"That is his house," the man said presently.
It lay in the outskirts of the town, and was neater than the generality of
houses, and the garden was a mass of flowers. They dismounted, handed over
the mules to their owner, and walked to the door. An Indian of some five-
and-forty years came out as they did so.
"Are you Dias Otero?" Harry asked.
"The same, seņor."
"I have just arrived from England, and bring a letter to you from Seņor
Barnett, with whom you travelled for two or three years some time ago."
The man's face lit up with pleasure. "Will you enter, seņor. Friends of
Seņor Barnett may command my services in any way. It is a delight to hear
from him. He writes to me sometimes, but in these troubles letters do not
always come. I love the seņor; there never was a kinder master. He once
saved my life at the risk of his own. Is there any hope of his coming out
"I do not think so, Dias. He is strong and well, but I do not think he is
likely to start again on a journey of exploration. He is my greatest
friend. My brother and I were left under his charge when we were young,
and he has been almost a father to us. It is he who has sent us out to
you. Here is his letter."
"Will you read it to me, seņor. I cannot read; I am always obliged to get
somebody to read my letters, and write answers for me."
The letter was of course in Spanish, and Harry read:
"Dear friend Dias,
"I am sending out to you a gentleman, Mr. Prendergast, an officer of the
British Navy, in whom I am deeply interested. His brother accompanies him.
I beg that you will treat them as you would me, and every service you can
render him consider as rendered to myself. From a reason which he will no
doubt explain to you in time, it is of the deepest importance to him that
he should grow rich in the course of the next two years. He asked my
advice, and I said to him, 'There is no one I know of who could possibly
put you in the way of so doing better than my friend Dias Otero. I believe
it is in his power to do so if he is willing.' I also believe that for my
sake you will aid him. He will place himself wholly in your hands. He does
not care what danger he runs, or what hardships he has to go through in
order to attain his purpose. I know that I need not say more to you. He
has two years before him; long before that I am sure you will be as
interested in him as you were in me. He has sufficient means to pay all
expenses of travel for the time he will be out there. I know that you are
descended from nobles of high rank at the court of the Incas when the
Spaniards arrived, and that secrets known to but few were passed down from
father to son in your family. If you can use any of those secrets to the
advantage of my friend, I pray you most earnestly to do so. I trust that
this letter will find you and your good wife in health. Had I been ten
years younger I would have come out with my friends to aid them in their
adventure, but I know that in putting them into your hands I shall be
doing them a vastly greater service than I could do were I able to come in
When Harry ceased, the Indian sat for some time without speaking, then he
"It is a matter that I must think over, seņor. It is a very grave one, and
had any other man than Seņor Barnett asked this service of me no money
could have tempted me to assent to it. It is not only that my life would
be in danger, but that my name would be held up to execration by all my
people were I to divulge the secret that even the tortures of the
Spaniards could not wring from us. I must think it over before I answer. I
suppose you are staying at the Hotel Morin; I will call and see you when I
have thought the matter over. It is a grave question, and it may be three
or four days before I can decide."
"I thank you, Dias; but there is no occasion for you to give a final
decision now. Whether or no, we shall travel for a while, and I trust that
you will go with us with your mules and be our guide, as you did to Mr.
Barnett. It will be time enough when you know us better to give us a final
answer; it is not to be expected that even for Seņor Barnett's sake you
would do this immense service for strangers, therefore I pray you to leave
the matter open. Make arrangements for your mules and yourself for a three
months' journey in the mountains, show us what there is to see of the gold
and silver placers, and the quicksilver mines at Huanuco. At the end of
that time you will know us and can say whether you are ready to aid us in
The native bowed his head gravely.
"I will think it over," he said; "and now, seņors, let us put that aside.
My wife has been busy since you entered in preparing a simple meal, and I
ask you to honour me by partaking of it."
"With pleasure, Dias."
It consisted of _puchero_, a stew consisting of a piece of beef, cabbage,
sweet-potatoes, salt pork, sausage-meat, pigs' feet, yuccas, bananas,
quinces, peas, rice, salt, and an abundance of Chili peppers. This had
been cooked for six hours and was now warmed up. Two bottles of excellent
native wine, a flask of spirits, and some water were also put on the
table. The Indian declined to sit down with them, saying that he had taken
a meal an hour before.
While they ate he chatted with them, asking questions of their voyage and
telling them of the state of things in the country.
"It is always the same, seņors, there is a revolution and two or three
battles; then either the president or the one who wants to be president
escapes from the country or is taken and shot, and in a day or two there
is a fresh pronunciamiento. We thought that when the Spaniards had been
driven out we should have had peace, but it is not so; we have had San
Martin, and Bolivar, and Aguero, and Santa Cruz, and Sucre. Bolivar again
finally defeated the Spaniards at Ayacucho. Rodil held possession of
Callao castle, and defended it until January of this year. We in the
villages have not suffered--those who liked fighting went out with one or
other of the generals; some have returned, others have been killed--but
Lima has suffered greatly. Sometimes the people have taken one side,
sometimes the other, and though the general they supported was sometimes
victorious for a short time, in the end they suffered. Most of the old
Spanish families perished; numbers died in the castle of Callao, where
many thousands of the best blood of Lima took refuge, and of these well-
nigh half died of hunger and misery before Rodil surrendered."
"But does not this make travelling very unsafe?"
The Indian shrugged his shoulders.
"Peru is a large country, seņor, and those who want to keep out of the way
of the armies and lighting can do so; I myself have continued my
occupation and have never fallen in with the armies. That is because the
fighting is principally in the plains, or round Cuzco; for the men do not
go into the mountains except as fugitives, as they could not find food
there for an army. It is these fugitives who render the road somewhat
unsafe; starving men must take what they can get. They do not interfere
with the great silver convoys from Potosi or other mines--a loaf of bread
is worth more than a bar of silver in the mountains--but they will plunder
persons coming down with goods to the town or going up with their
purchases. Once or twice I have had to give up the food I carried with me,
but I have had little to grumble at, and I do not think you need trouble
yourself about them; we will take care to avoid them as far as possible."
After chatting for an hour they left the cottage, and, mounting their
mules, returned to Lima.
"I think he will help us, Harry," Bertie said as soon as they set out.
"I think so too, but we must not press him to begin with. Of course there
is a question too as to how far he can help us. He may know vaguely where
the rich mines once existed; but you must remember that they have been
lost for three hundred years, and it may be impossible for even a man who
has received the traditions as to their positions to hit upon the precise
spot. The mountains, you see, are tremendous; there must be innumerable
ravines and gorges among them. It is certain that nothing approaching an
accurate map can ever have been made of the mountains, and I should say
that in most cases the indications that may have been given are very
vague. They would no doubt have been sufficient for those who lived soon
after the money was hidden, and were natives of that part of the country
and thoroughly acquainted with all the surroundings, but when the
information came to be handed down from mouth to mouth during many
generations, the local knowledge would be lost, and what were at first
detailed instructions would become little better than vague legends. You
know how three hundred years will alter the face of a country--rocks roll
down the hills, torrents wash away the soil, forests grow or are cleared
away. I believe with you that the Indian will do his best, but I have
grave doubts whether he will be able to locate any big thing."
"Well, you don't take a very cheerful view of things, Harry; you certainly
seemed more hopeful when we first started."
"Yes. I don't say I am not hopeful still, but it is one thing to plan out
an enterprise at a distance and quite another when you are face to face
with its execution. As we have come down the coast, and seen that great
range of mountains stretching along for hundreds of miles, and we know
that there is another quite as big lying behind it, I have begun to
realize the difficulties of the adventures that we are undertaking.
However, we shall hear, when Dias comes over to see us, what he thinks of
the matter. I fancy he will say that he is willing to go with us and help
us as far as he can, but that although he will do his best he cannot
promise that he will be able to point out, with anything like certainty,
the position of any of the old mines."
Next day they called on Seņor Pasquez, who received them very cordially.
"So you are going to follow the example of Seņor Barnett and spend some
time in exploring the country and doing some shooting. Have you found
"Yes, seņor, and I think he will go with us, though he has not given a
"You will be fortunate if you get him; he is one of the best-known
muleteers in the country, and if anyone comes here and wants a guide Dias
is sure to be the first to be recommended. If he goes with you he can give
you much useful advice; he knows exactly what you will have to take with
you, the best districts to visit for your purpose, and the best way of
getting there. For the rest, I shall be very happy to take charge of any
money you may wish to leave behind, and to act as your banker and cash any
orders you may draw upon me. I will also receive and place to your account
any sums that may be sent you from England."
"That, sir, is a matter which Mr. Barnett advised me to place in your
hands. After making what few purchases we require, and taking fifty pounds
in silver, I shall have two hundred and fifty pounds to place in your
hands. Mr. Barnett will manage my affairs in my absence, and will send to
you fifty pounds quarterly."
"You will find difficulty in spending it all in two years," the merchant
said with a smile. "If you are content to live on what can be bought in
the country, it costs very little; and as for the mules, they can
generally pick up enough at their halting-places to serve them, with a
small allowance of grain. You can hire them cheaply, or you can buy them.
The latter is cheaper in the end, but you cannot be sure of getting mules
accustomed to mountains, and you would therefore run the risk of their
losing their foothold, and not only being dashed to pieces but destroying
their saddles and loads. However, if you secure the services of Dias
Otero, you will get mules that know every path in the mountains. He is
famous for his animals, and he himself is considered the most trusty
muleteer here; men think themselves lucky in obtaining his services. I
would send him with loads of uncounted gold and should be sure that there
would not be a piece missing."
Next day Dias came to the hotel.
"I have thought it over, seņor," he said. "I need not say that were it
only ordinary service, instead of exploring the mountains, I should be
glad indeed to do my best for a friend of Seņor Barnett; but as to the
real purpose of your journey I wish, before making any arrangement, that
the matter should be thoroughly understood. I have no certain knowledge
whatever as to any of the lost mines, still less of any hidden treasures;
but I know all the traditions that have passed down concerning them. I
doubt whether any Indians now possess a certain knowledge of these things.
For generations, no doubt, the secrets were handed down from father to
son, and it is possible that some few may still know of these places; but
I doubt it. Think of the hundreds and thousands of our people who have
been killed in battle, or died as slaves in the mines, and you will see
that numbers of those to whom the secrets were entrusted must have taken
their knowledge to the grave with them.
"In each generation the number of those who knew the particulars of these
hiding-places must have diminished. Few now can know more than I do, yet I
am sure of nothing. I know generally where the mines were situated and
where some treasures were concealed, and what knowledge I have I will
place at your service; but so great a care was used in the concealment of
the entrances to the mines, so carefully were the hiding-places of the
treasures chosen, and so cunningly concealed, that, without the surest
indications and the most minute instructions, we might search for years,
as men indeed have done ever since the Spanish came here, without finding
them. I am glad that I can lay my hand upon my heart and say, that
whatever may have been possessed by ancestors of mine, no actual details
have ever come down to me; for, had it been so, I could not have revealed
them to you. We know that all who were instructed in these were bound by
the most terrible oaths not to reveal them. Numbers have died under the
torture rather than break those oaths; and even now, were one of us to
betray the secrets that had come down to him, he would be regarded as
accursed. No one would break bread with him, every door would be closed
against him, and if he died his body would rot where it fell. But my
knowledge is merely general, gathered not only from the traditions known
to all our people, but from confidences made by one member of our family
to another. Full knowledge was undoubtedly given to some of them; but all
these must have died without initiating others into the full particulars.
Such knowledge as I have is at your disposal. I can take you to the
localities, I can say to you, 'Near this place was a great mine,' but
unless chance favours you you may search in vain."
"That is quite as much as I had hoped for, Dias, and I am grateful for
your willingness to do what you can for us, just as you did for Seņor
A STREET FRAY
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