So there we sat in the woods drinking and trying to figure out what to do next. The lantern light lit up the little clearing and even in the 90 degree heat, everyone was still ready to continue. We discussed the map and the notation of 690 feet beside the X. Everyone knew we had found the marker we were looking for but not how to use it.
I called Cookie on my cell phone and told him the bad news but not to give up on us.
Mark cleared out around the metal rod protruding from the hole and finally sat down to have a drink and relax. He and I both had checked with the metal detector and I can assure you that no cannon full of gold was buried at the bottom of the hole. We relaxed and drank away the heat of the day and it seemed like a good time to retell the whole story about the journal of Julian Christmas and everyone sat quietly while I retold the tale in the glow of the lantern light.
I guess we would have sat there for another hundred years if it was not for Bob. He had spent a lot of time gazing at the metal rod tip and suddenly said “ It looks like you put something on top and turn it.” I peeped over in the hole as all talk suddenly stopped.
Instantly I knew exactly what to do next.
“Eureka!” I said and gave Bob a hug. Everyone crowded around the hole again to look at the tip of the rod and see if they could figure out what the heck I was talking about and I went back up the hill to the Gator and got my backpack out. I zipped it open and pulled out the strange wrench I had found and hurried back to the glow of the lantern. I slid the wrench down on the tip but we had to dig out around it a little more. I tried again, it would not fit. I moved it round the square end, turned it over, kept going and suddenly it slipped on perfectly. Everyone looked down the line it pointed. I tried it from every position but it only fit in that one particular spot. A cheer went up and Mark and I quickly moved the survey instrument over it.
The wrench pointed almost due Southwest.
All we lacked was 690 feet to find the treasure.
It was almost 10:00 PM now but everyone started cutting and moving brush, while Mark and I tried to figure out how to look through the survey instrument in the pitch dark. After about thirty minutes we got the first 75 feet shot by Mark holding the stake in front of him while Denise shone a flashlight at his chest. We moved, shot our back line by holding a light there and got ready for the next shot.
The open woods had disintegrated into a giant thicket of cane, thorns, and thick brush but everyone kept hacking on it. We got another 100 feet through this mess until all of the gang was completely exhausted. We took a break, then Mark and I looked at each other, picked up the big curved blades and waded into the wall of thick vines and cane again. We put a flashlight down on the ground to see by and started cutting away.
What came next was a complete surprise.
Mark and I stood almost shoulder to shoulder cutting away when the ground gave way under our feet. We both yelled as down we fell. We tried to grab anything to hold onto. I flipped, rolled, fell against him and then there was a giant SPLASH.
When I came up sputtering, I was neck deep in the lake. Mark surfaced and we spent a second or two just staring at each other and deciding if our bodies were broken and if we would live. Nothing was hurt except my pride. We looked at each other a moment, we both looked out across the lake, then almost straight up to where a sharp overhanging bank had broken off from our weight. Lantern light shone down on us and Marian yelled “Did-You-Find-ittttt?” Mark and I turned and looked out at the center of the lake. He yelled up “Nooooo, But-We-knows-Where-It-Issss!”
Wet and muddy we staggered out of the lake and so ended our treasure hunt. We marked our last survey point and if we ever drain the lake we can start from that spot.
Everyone has kept the secret (GuyK evens laugh about it now) but I can’t convince Dad that he needs to drain the lake to restock it. If I tell him the treasure is there he will call me a fool and laugh at me again.
Somewhere under that 40 acre lake, I still believe there is a cannon barrel full of gold and one day I’m going to get it.