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Many adventures start in the most innocent manner. This one started one bright summer day, just after school was let out for the summer holidays. The adventure of the Fossil Creature was long over. I was not actually looking for another adventure. It sort of just happened. Andrew my eleven-year old, older brother and I were going fishing in the pond at the back of the old gristmill. We decided to take the shortcut by way of the Transect road, which cuts across the swamp. This road had been abandoned years ago due to the poor soil substrata, and was changed into a narrow path by overgrown weeds and bushes.
Why you know there is something to be found or something that is different, I don't know Perhaps it is something called fate. But when Andrew came with me and we began to search on the edge of the swamp, I knew I'd find something. What I'd find wasn't clear. Yet I knew I'd discover something important. It was something that would lead to a mystery that would fill our minds and use all our energy to solve
Andrew was almost fully recovered from his bout with jaundice and to have him full of life again was a good sign. I usually spent my time looking for treasures, like matchboxes, pencils, neat rocks and money. I once found enough money to keep me in jawbreakers for nearly two weeks. This day I found the object that started the chain of events I am about to relate. The object was a cylinder of metal with a flattened end. It was partially buried in the ground. At first I thought it might be a small flintlock, the sort of gun used by the explorers and soldiers in the 17th century. It was all rusty and dirty, so I put it inmy backpack and followed Andrew to the millpond.
The fish were not biting. The mosquitoes and black flies made our lives miserable. After enduring the torture for a time, Andrew yelled!
"Let's get out of here, they're driving me crazy!"
I didn't need any encouragement, so we both took off toward home fast.
At home I went into Dad's workshop and used his oiling can to help clean off my new discovery. It turned out to be an old key. There were some symbols on it, including an arrow with a number 35 under it. With a magnifying glass I could see even more symbols, fancy script and several animal creatures.
"Hey I bet this is a key to a pirate's treasure, we'll be rich."
The word 'pirate' has a special meaning and Andrew's eyes brightened. "Wouldn't it be neat if we discovered a pirate's treasure?"
He had already read about Blackbeard and Captain Kid. He told me about the book Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and I borrowed it from the library, and it fed my wildest dreams that pirate treasures were to be found..
My father had told us about an actor called Errol Flynn and his swashbuckler adventure movies. He had rented several for us and for many nights in the winter we enjoyed the old back and white movies that were made before my father was even born. One was called Captain Blood. These movies only added to our hopes that we could find a pirate's treasure. Andrew and I decided to hurry back to the site where we discovered the key, in hopes of finding further clues. "You know I think the number 35 under the arrow is a clue to go 35 paces in this direction." I remembered the position of the key and the direction in which it was pointing.
Andrew shook his head. "I doubt it could be that simple. From what I've read, anyone who buries treasure always has special codes and it's only those people with the keys to the codes who can decipher what the symbols or writing means."
I wasn't convinced. "But perhaps we don't have a very clever pirate. Didn't you once tell me that back then there were only a few people who could read and write. So maybe we have an illiterate pirate."
Andrew laughed. "All right, you have a point. You could be right. Thirty-five could mean 35 kilometres or 35 leagues or any form of measurement. Well, I'm willing to try. Let's see if your idea is right."
Andrew looked in the direction I was pointing and saw it led into the swamp. "We have to go in the swamp? It doesn't seem likely that a pirate would bury a treasure in a swamp."
"That's where you are wrong. Maybe the pirate couldn't read, but it doesn't mean he's not clever. Because who would search for a treasure in a swamp? Most people would avoid a swamp with all its bugs, poisonous snakes and quicksand. So if I were a pirate and I had bagsful of gold and jewels, a swamp would be a perfect place to hide my loot. Besides in a swamp it would be easier to dig. Pirates never liked hard work."
Andrew didn't bother to poke holes in his young brother's logic. I guess he thought that in a funny way maybe I was right. We crossed the rail fence and carefully tiptoed from stone to stone to avoid sinking into any quicksand in the swamp. After 35 paces we came to a large triangular shaped rock. "O.K. if 35 means steps, then this rock has to mean something."
We examined it. "Can you give me a hand in moving it? It sure is heavy."
Together we dug it out of the bog after several minutes of grunting and groaning and set the large boulder on a dry spot of ground.
"Look it has an arrow carved on it, and it's pointing in a southwest direction.'
Andrew took out his jackknife and scraped off the moss and lichen, revealing the number 170.
"Boy, we must be onto something; no one would go to this much trouble for a joke, eh, Michael?" questioned Andrew.
Again with care we jumped from rock to rock, and counted to 170. There wasn't anything in sight.
"Maybe we didn't follow a straight line and our direction is wrong," said Andrew. "We should go home to get a compass."
Copyright © 2004 George W. J. Laidlaw