Wednesday, 20 November 2013

They Found Gold -Chs 5 and 6

Chapter V.
How a treasure hunter found the Vera Cruz treasure only to lose it.

Chapter VI.

The story of the Valverde treasure and how one man found the hidden crater. 

A Treasure That Was Found and Lost

JOHNSON had pored over the old chart until he could shut his eyes and see every detail, every crease and wrinkle of the ancient parchment, every crudely-drawn symbol, every quaintly-formed letter on the pirates' map which had come into his possession by mere chance. That it was genuine Johnson did not doubt. It bore all the earmarks of age, of passing through many hands, and of having been made by a seaman. Neither was there any question of the locality where, according to the old map, the vast treasure looted from the churches of Vera Cruz had been buried. Rough and sketchy as were the outlines and landmarks there was no difficulty in recognizing the island as the Isle of Pines and the mountain as Mt. Columbo. Yet Johnson had searched and searched, tramping slowly, examining every rock, every old tree, every ledge in his efforts to find the markers mentioned and sketched on the old chart; a man's hand clutching a dagger, and a second hand holding a cutlass. It was neither a very easy nor simple matter to search the district, for there were people about and the natives, knowing he was a confirmed treasure hunter, might suspect he was on the trail of some hidden hoard and might dog his footsteps or watch him. Hence he was compelled to carry on his investigations at unseemly hours or very cautiously. It was exasperating, maddening, to have the old chart, to know beyond any reasonable doubt that the treasure was there within an area of a few square rods, and yet be as hopelessly at a loss as to where it was as though he had never seen the chart.
Mentally cursing his luck, Johnson seated himself upon a fragment of rock and idly, as men and boys will do, gave vent to his feelings by hurling stones at the nearby cliffside. Suddenly his jaw gaped, his arm already lifted to heave another rock, dropped to his side, his eyes remained fixed, staring incredulously at the cliff. The next moment he leaped from his seat as if a coiled spring had been released under him and gave a yell that would have been a credit to an Apache warrior. The last stone he had flung had dislodged a mass of moss and clinging plants from the cliff and there, plain on the freshly-exposed surface, was the rudely-cut outline of a human hand grasping a cutlass!
Feverishly Johnson compared the incised marking on the stone with the sketches on the old chart There could be no doubt of it. By merest accident, by the medium of a carelessly thrown stone, he had discovered that for which he had been searching for weeks past The rest, he felt, would be simple. By following the directions set down on the map he could locate the second marker and then the treasure in its hidden cache.
Hastily stuffing the precious parchment into his pocket, he glanced about. Suppose some prying eyes had seen him! It would never do to leave that sculptured hand within plain sight, and having assured himself that no one was near, he busied himself smearing the carving with mud and plastering it with moss.
Then, following the directions of the map, pacing the distances, taking careful note of his compass bearings, he searched for the second marker of the treasure. Presently a puzzled frown wrinkled his forehead, and halting, he gazed about. Something must be wrong, he decided. He had not gone half the distance indicated on the chart and yet before him rose a solid wall of rock, projecting above a rank growth of weeds, brush and tangled vines.
For a space he hesitated, puzzled, wondering. He was positive he could not have made a mistake, could not have misinterpreted the directions on the chart, yet—Possibly, he decided, there was a way to pass around or to climb the rock. Perhaps— Pressing through the growth that concealed the base of the cliff he came within view of the rock and the mass of fallen debris.
The next instant he was on his knees, hurling fragments of rock aside utterly oblivious of bruised and bleeding hands. Half-hidden by the debris of centuries was the dark opening of a cavern, and, just above it, overgrown by delicate lichens but still visible, was the incised outline of a man's hand gripping a dagger!
Confident that the treasure lay within the cave—what a fool he had been not to have grasped the meaning of that heavily outlined area on the chart—he cleared away the accumulation of rock fragments until he could squeeze his body through the opening. It was dark within and he had not provided himself with an electric torch. But he had plenty of matches, and gathering some dry pine branches he made an extemporized torch and by its light examined the cavern. It was not large, scarcely more than a fissure in the limestone, and he took in the entire interior at a glance. But not a sign of treasure, not a cask, chest or barrel was visible. Johnson's heart sank. It was bitterly disappointing, maddening, to find the hiding place of the treasure only to find it missing, removed no doubt by some one years before.
And then, as he was on the point of turning back, he noticed one spot on the floor of the cavern which seemed different from the rest. Here, instead of the smooth waterworn limestone surface, was a large mass of rock, a slab which at first he had assumed had fallen from the cavern roof.
But as he examined it more closely, elation and hope again surged through his veins. The rock bore half-obliterated symbols!
Exerting all his strength, prying and lifting with an improvised lever, Johnson managed to move the rock slightly, enough to reveal a cavity beneath it. With heart beating like a triphammer, he flung himself down and thrust the flickering light into the hole. He could scarcely believe his eyes.
Within the pit were chests, kegs, rawhide sacks and earthen jars. The loot of Vera Cruz was there!
But unaided Johnson could not recover it. And, he realized, even if he could reach it, if he could help himself to the contents of those old chests and casks and jars, he could not carry one tenth, one hundredth of the treasure on his person. There was only one thing to be done. He would conceal the entrance to the cavern as thoroughly as possible, obliterate the marker over the spot. Then, returning to the town, he would confide in some trusted friend, return with bars and picks at night, and under cover of darkness cart the treasure away.
But Fate willed otherwise. The next day dawned with a tawny, lowering sky and a West Indian hurricane came roaring, howling demoniacally, from the Caribbean, with the island directly in its path. Trees were torn up and hurled about, houses were unroofed or blown to bits, vessels were wrecked, and scores of the inhabitants were killed or injured by the fiercest, most destructive hurricane that had devastated the island in many years.
Johnson was among the injured and, partially disabled, and with all thoughts of recovering the treasure in the immediate future driven from his mind, he returned to his home in California to recuperate. But he had little fear of the treasure being disturbed before he could go back to the island. It had lain there in the cavern for centuries and the chances were all in favor of its remaining there for centuries more, unless he removed it.
But events transpired which no one could have foreseen. A revolution was sweeping over Cuba, and when at last it had been suppressed hundreds of rebel prisoners crowded the prisons and jails of Havana and other Cuban cities. From time immemorial the Isle of Pines had been used as a prison by the Spaniards, and later by the Cubans, and by scores the captive rebels and other criminals were shipped to the island prison. Soon it was evident that the place could not accommodate them all, and the government ordered a large area of land cleared and surrounded by a high, barbed-wire fence to add to the prison's confines. And when Johnson returned, feeling confident that he would still find the treasure intact, he discovered that the cave and its hidden riches lay within the prison grounds! However, as there were no rumors of the treasures having been discovered, he still had hopes of securing them. But in order to do so it was necessary for him to obtain permission, and that meant dividing the riches with the officials. Still, half a loaf was better than no bread, and if there proved to be one-half as much treasure as reputed there would be enough to make him a rich man, even if the Government got the lion's share.
Officials, however, and more especially Cuban officials, are not to be depended upon when a matter of easily-gotten riches is concerned.
Assuring Johnson of their cooperation, and explaining that there must be a certain delay owing to official red tape, the smiling authorities lost no time in seeking to find the treasure themselves. And when the allotted time for the necessary permit to be ready had expired, and Johnson called upon the officials, they blandly informed him that he was merely wasting his time, for seven wheelbarrows full of gold and silver had already been taken from the treasure cave!

The Treasure of the Hidden Crater

IN most cases the value of lost or hidden treasures, even if they actually exist, is greatly exaggerated. In the course of a few centuries hoards of thousands of dollars grow into millions as the tales of some cache of treasure are handed down, usually by word of mouth, each narrator adding a little to the estimated value of the riches.
But such is not the case with the lost and hidden treasures of the Incas and their predecessors in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. In the first place, it would be next to impossible to exaggerate the values of these ancient treasures, and in the second place, unquestionable records and historic documents prove the almost incredible value of the gold, silver and precious stones actually taken by the conquering Spaniards, and these were but as a drop in the bucket to the treasures the Dons never found or secured.
Although Pizarro and his followers secured nearly twenty million dollars worth of gold as a portion of Atahualpa's ransom, yet fully ten times as much more was being brought to buy the freedom of the captive Inca, but was concealed in the Andes when the carriers learned of the Spaniard's treachery and the murder of Atahualpa.
There is no doubt that, at the time of the conquest, the Incas possessed more gold than all the countries of Europe combined, and while the Spaniards secured stupendous sums, and shipped over half a billion dollars worth of gold and silver to Spain, yet there were even greater treasures which they missed completely. And although four hundred years have passed since then, these incalculable millions in precious metals and precious stones still remain hidden where they were placed so securely by the Indians in the long ago, despite the countless attempts that have been made to find them.
Of all these lost or hidden treasures of the Incas and pre-Incas, none has a more romantic story than that of the treasure of the Incan princess, or as it is more often called, the Valverde Treasure.
Unfortunately, neither the origin nor the history of this vast hoard is known. Although often referred to as the "Inca's Treasure" or as "Atahualpa's Treasure," yet it is certain that it is not the treasure of the betrayed and murdered Inca. But it is equally certain that its hiding place, deep in a remote section of the Andes, was well known to some of the Incan people.
Possibly it may have formed some portion of the vast quantities of gold and silver that were being hurried to Cajamarca to save the Inca; but this is scarcely probable, as the hiding place is far off any known route between Cajamarca and other centers of the Incan Empire.
Far more probably, it was a treasure that was being moved from some deserted and "lost" city in the trans-Andean jungles to Quito or elsewhere, and was hastily concealed when word reached the carriers that the Spaniards were invading the land. No one can say how many great stone cities may yet lie hidden in the unknown, unexplored area between the Andes and the Amazon. For hundreds of years Macchu Picchu had been forgotten and "lost," although it had been occupied by the Incans under Manco during their heroic but futile struggle to drive the Spaniards from Cuzco and Peru. And just as that marvelous pre-Incan city was abandoned because of constant raids by jungle savages, and its treasures were transferred to Cuzco, so other equally large cities may have been deserted by the Incans or pre-Incans.
But regardless of the origin of the treasure, its known history begins with the story of a humble and penniless Spaniard named Valverde. As a common soldier he had taken part in the conquest, and his warlike service over, he settled down and took to wife an Indian woman. Just as today a white man who marries an Indian is often regarded with contempt and is referred to as a "squaw man," so in Valverde's day his fellow Spaniards scoffed at him. And this, combined with the fact that he was abjectly poor, made his life a most unhappy one. Perhaps he married the Indian woman merely because she was beautiful and he loved her, and was ignorant of the fact that she was other than an ordinary everyday member of her race. On the other hand, he may have known that she came of royal blood and was an Incan princess, and thought to better himself by the match. Whatever the truth may be, when he complained of his unfortunate lot and became more and more unhappy and morose and she learned the reason for his discontent, she revealed the truth and declared that if such matters were all that troubled him it could soon be remedied and that she would show him how he could become the richest Spaniard in the country and the envy of all men.
Perhaps he thought she was only romancing and laughed at her, but far more probably, being a sensible man and well aware that the natives had knowledge of hidden treasures, he had complete faith in her ability to make good her words. At all events he had sufficient confidence in her to accompany her on a long and difficult trip into the fastnesses of the mountains, following secret trails, climbing the lofty peaks, traversing ridges and dark cañons, until at last they reached the crater of an extinct volcano. A great bowl-shaped valley in whose center was a turquoise glacier lake reflecting the three snow-capped pinnacles soaring upward thousands of feet above the ancient crater. Already Valverde's eyes had grown wide with wonder and his pulses had throbbed, as passing through a marshy patch where a small stream trickled over the pebbles, he had seen raw gold gleaming on the bed of the brook where he had stooped to drink. But his Incan wife had laughed at his excitement over this discovery and had urged him on. And now, crossing the crater, she guided him to a dark cleft in the mountain side an arched opening like a church door, as Valverde described it, and, picking her way along a tunnel-like narrow crevice she led him to a great cavern. Valverde's breath came in hard short gasps, his senses fairly reeled as his eyes became accustomed to the dim light, for piled within the cave was such a vast treasure as he had never dreamed could exist on earth.
Everywhere, on every side, the dull gleam of gold reflected the ruddy light from the flickering greasewood torches the two carried.
Golden statues and idols, plates and vessels of solid gold, bundles of thin golden plumes and sheets of beaten gold, ingots of gold and bags of gold nuggets and dust, golden ornaments, and models of birds, animals and other objects wrought in gold and silver; golden ears of corn with husks and silk of silver; coronets and head ornaments, ceremonial utensils and armlets of gold ablaze with gems, and massive bars of silver filled the cave to capacity—countless tons of the precious metals, minions in treasure. It is a marvel that poor Valverde did not go raving mad at the mere sight of such unlimited riches. But he was an uncommonly sensible and level-headed man, and after the first mad excitement of gazing upon such vast treasures had passed off, he examined the contents of the cavern with an appraising eye, and aided by his Incan Princess wife, selected the objects that represented the greatest value for their size and weight. Then, having collected all that he and his faithful spouse could safely carry with them, they shouldered their loads and retraced their way to the crater.
It was a long hard journey to their home, made all the harder by the weight of their loads. But who would not be willing to stagger onward under heavy burdens when the burdens were of solid gold?
No doubt Valverde's friends and neighbors were properly astonished when the erstwhile poverty-stricken ex-soldier suddenly blossomed out as a wealthy man. But in all probability it did not excite so much wonder and curiosity as such a transformation would arouse today, for all knew that there were Incan treasures hidden away, and in order to profit by his riches Valverde had to dispose of the golden objects and could not keep secret the source of his wealth. But both he and his Incan princess wife managed to keep secret the location of the vast treasure whence came their affluence. Whether or not they were spied upon or followed, history fails to record, but if so those who essayed to learn their secret failed, for over and over again the two journeyed to the secret cavern beside the crater, each time returning with all the precious metal and gems they could carry, until Valverde became the richest man in the country and his wife had thus made good her promise. Yet all that they took from the ancient hoard through many years made no appreciable impression upon the vast accumulation of gold, silver and precious stones in the cave.
Although the Senora Valverde needed no chart to guide her footsteps to the hidden treasure, but like the Indian she was followed trails and landmarks invisible or unrecognizable to her Spanish mate, Valverde realized that should anything happen to her and he were thus bereft of his guide he would be at a loss. So he made a fairly good and accurate map crudely drawn and out of all true proportion to be sure with quaintly written notes and directions to aid in following it, although being an ignorant, uneducated man his choice of words and his meaning left much to be desired.
When in due course of time, the wealthy, respected, sought-after and envied Señor Valverde realized that even vast riches could not buy immortality or bribe Death, his thoughts turned to his youth and to Spain. Already his Incan wife had passed away. He had a longing to be buried in the land of his birth, and being a patriotic Don and aware of the fact that shrouds have no pockets, he made a will by which he bequeathed his precious map, together with all treasures remaining in the cave, to the King of Spain on condition that his body be taken overseas and properly interred in his homeland.
But when Valverde had breathed his last, and the King's representatives sought with the aid of the map to garner the famous treasure, they found themselves hopelessly at a loss. Although doubtless the marks upon the chart, together with the written directions in the document or "deroterro" accompanying it, seemed plain and clear enough, yet the searchers discovered that, in reality, they were most confusing and ambiguous. For much of the way the route was clear and there was no difficulty in following the trail; but as the vicinity of the crater was reached it became more and more confusing. Mainly the trouble centered about a lofty mountain called Margasitas, for while Valverde's map and directions made it dear enough that this isolated peak must be passed, yet there was nothing on the chart nor in the directions to show just how or where this feat was to be accomplished.
At last those who had been given the task of securing the treasure for the Crown gave up in despair. The map and directions were regarded as useless many claiming that Valverde had purposely altered portions of the chart and had penned false directions in order to mislead any who might find or steal the documents; in other words, that they were a form of code which he alone could interpret, and that he had failed to leave the key ere he had died. Be that as it may, the map became more or less common property, and again and again searchers set forth, each feeling assured that he could succeed where others had failed. Some abandoned their quest after traveling but a short distance, unable to face the rigors of the high altitudes, the cold and the hardships of the trip. But there were others who carried on and reached Margasitas, only to become confused, to lose their way and to return utterly discouraged. And there were many who set forth who never returned, but who perished miserably somewhere in the wild, unknown fastnesses of the Andes. But never a man reached the crater in the shadow of the three peaks where the glacier lake gleamed like a gigantic emerald and beyond the arched opening in the cliffside reposed the vast treasure.
Years passed and Valverde and his treasure map became little more than a tradition. Then, in 1857, Richard Spruce, the famous English botanist, while traveling in Ecuador, heard of Valverde's treasure-trove and at once became interested. From somewhere he secured a copy of the ancient map, and, being an adventurer born as well as an experienced explorer, he determined to have a try for the treasure himself.
Following the marks and directions on the map, Spruce found no difficulty in reaching Margasitas Mountain. But here, like all of those who had preceded him, he became hopelessly confused and at last gave up.
But in a book which he wrote of his travels in South America, he gave a full account of his search and published a copy of the famous map. Moreover, he declared that there was no doubt of the authenticity of the chart, that it corresponded perfectly with the country and the landmarks as far as he had gone, and that, in his opinion, the only reason why he or some other had not succeeded was because of a mistaken interpretation of the directions for passing the mountain.
Even he, however, did not attempt to explain how the mountain should be passed nor did he state which particular portion of Valverde's directions had been for so long misinterpreted.
Again years passed and the treasure remained undiscovered, almost forgotten and as far as known unsought for, until the representative of the American Bank Note Company of New York visited Ecuador.
Colonel E. C. Brooks was a practical, hard-headed, matter-of-fact business man nothing of the imaginative, romantic treasure-hunter about him. A graduate of West Point, he had served in the Army, and at the close of the Spanish War had been made Auditor of Cuba. With Cuba freed and paddling her own canoe, Colonel (then Major) Brooks had retired from the United States Army and had been for several years the South American representative of the Bank Note Company. He was familiar with the various countries and their people, he spoke Spanish fluently, and he was noted for his acumen, his business ability and his caution. In his lexicon there was no such word as "gamble." All of which makes it the more remarkable that Colonel Brooks should have been bitten by the treasure-hunting bug when he read Spruce's book and studied the copy of the ancient map of Señor Valverde.
He was not, however, the type to dash blindly into the mountains on the spur of the moment, and not until he had dug into all the old records, had studied every aspect of the case and had convinced himself that the story of the Valverde treasure was fact and not fiction, and that there was no logical reason why it should not be found, did he decide to add his name to the long list of treasure seekers who had been before him.
Unfortunately, however, he had had no experience in exploratory work and was ignorant of the character of the country he would have to enter, and he set out inadequately equipped and at the very worst season of the year. He was drenched by torrential rains, buffeted by blizzards, faced with difficulties and hardships he could not overcome, and convinced that it was hopeless to proceed under such adverse conditions, he turned back. But he had by no manner of means abandoned his search. On the contrary, he was more than ever obsessed with his idea, for he had studied the map and the directions, and had come to the conclusion that he had solved the puzzle of getting beyond Margasitas. Waiting until the winter season had passed, and provided with waterproof coats and containers, with adequate supplies and with eight Indians, he again started out. And, most luckily for him, as it turned out, before starting on his search he left instructions with a friend to send a relief party in search of him if he failed to return within a specified time.
All went well with the Colonel on this trip, and the party made good time to Margasitas. And we can imagine Colonel Brooks' delight when he proved he had interpreted the directions correctly, and having succeeded in passing the mountain which had baffled so many, he saw three snow-capped peaks gleaming against the blue sky to the east.
Not since Valverde and his Incan wife had followed the trail had any one accomplished this much, and now feeling positive that the treasure was almost within his grasp, and that he would have no difficulty in finding the crater and the lake as described by Valverde, Colonel Brooks hurried on.
Then, for the first time, he noticed the strange behavior of his Indians. All but one were natives of Ecuador, the only exception being a Peruvian Cholo or half-breed, and the Ecuadorean Indians were acting strangely. Had Colonel Brooks had as much experience with Indians and Indian ways as with business men and business ways, he would have understood. For that matter he never would have employed native Indians, for the old gods die hard and although nominally good Christians, civilized, and citizens of the Republic, the Andean Indians still pin their faith on the religions and beliefs of their ancestors. To them, the hidden treasure was an almost sacred thing—the property of semi-divine Incas, and, moreover, they felt certain it had been guarded by a spell or perhaps by evil spirits and that to molest or even approach it was inviting disaster. The fact that Valverde had helped himself and had met with no harm thereby was a totally different matter, for he had an Incan wife who had a perfect right to the treasure. But here was a Gringo, a white man and a foreigner, intent upon robbing the long-dead Incas of their secret riches, their sacred vessels, their ceremonial objects, the images of their gods, their very jewelry and ornaments. Faithful as they might be under any ordinary circumstances, the Indians became more and more nervous and loath to go farther. They hung back, glanced apprehensively about, and tried in every way to induce Colonel Brooks to turn back, declaring that a storm was coming on, that there were fearful perils to be faced and that all would perish if he persisted.
But Brooks merely laughed at their warnings and their fears, and cursing and berating them in Spanish which they barely understood he commanded them to proceed. The trail was easily followed and was precisely as indicated on the old map, and with no difficulty and in a much shorter time than he had expected, the party reached the crater valley at the base of the three peaks and saw the mirror-like lake before them.
Success had crowned his efforts, the Colonel felt sure. Somewhere in the cliffs close at hand was the dark, arched entrance to the treasure cavern, and it would be a simple matter to locate that.
But it was late in the afternoon, all were tired with their long march, and deciding to postpone his search until the next morning, Colonel Brooks ordered his men to pitch their camp beside the lake. And here, again, he made a grave mistake which no true explorer would have made.
Confident that he would be gazing at the long-lost treasure in the morning, Colonel Brooks dropped off to sleep and to dream of limitless wealth.
Frenzied shouts, and the crash of thunder awakened him, and he leaped from his camp bed to find himself knee-deep in water with rain and hail coming down in a perfect deluge. Struggling through the water he dashed from his shelter-tent to find his camp inundated by the rapidly-rising waters of the lake. Flooded by the torrential rain, the bowl-like valley was fast filling with the water pouring down the mountain sides. How far the flood might rise neither Brooks nor his Indians could foresee, but only a narrow strip of dry land remained, and dashing across this they reached a cave-like recess in the mountain side where they were protected from the fury of the storm. With no fire, with teeth chattering, and chilled to the bone by their drenched garments and the cold thin air, they passed the long and terrible hours until dawn. And when at last light showed above the gleaming, ice-sheeted peaks, they found their condition even worse than they had expected. Where a tiny lake had nestled in the bottom of the crater was now a vast expanse of water.
No vestige of their camp remained; clothing, equipment, supplies, provisions all had disappeared. A few water-soaked garments, a single ham, and some hermetically-sealed foods were the only things they could find. Moreover, the weather had not cleared, and though its first fury had abated, the storm still raged, and sleet and rain were falling steadily. To attempt to retrace their way under such conditions was impossible. It was equally impossible to explore the flooded valley and search for the treasure cave, and to remain in the inadequate shelter of their cave refuge without food or other necessities until the waters receded was as impossible as either.
But hunting for a treasure, even if so close at hand, had lost all interest in the face of such very pressing and imminent danger of starvation. Colonel Brooks' one thought was to conserve what little food they had, and at the first sign of clear weather to hurry back the way he had come.
To make matters even worse the Indians had become sullen and almost hostile. To their minds the flood was the direct result of the white man's attempt to secure the treasure, and although not in the least superstitious, Colonel Brooks could not help thinking how strange it was that his Indians had warned him of the danger of a storm and had declared one was near, although there had been no signs of it
When the next day dawned, the Colonel found only one Indian remaining. Filled with terror, convinced that the gods of their ancestors were wreaking vengeance upon the white man, they had stolen silently away during the darkness, leaving Colonel Brooks alone with the Peruvian Cholo.
Luckily for them the last storm-torn clouds were drifting from about the mountain tops, a few flecks of blue sky were visible, and the rain had decreased to a drizzle. Gathering their slender supply of food, the two took the last desperate chance of making a forced march back to civilization.
It was a terrible nightmarish journey. Half-starved, chilled to the bone, sleepless and foot-sore they hurried on. They passed Margasitas and gained the high, stone-riddled mountain desert or "puna." Then, down from the Andean heights swept a blinding snow storm, and in the blizzard they lost their way completely.
Only the Colonel's forethought saved them from perishing miserably as they wandered aimlessly about. But just as the two were on the verge of giving up their seemingly hopeless struggle, they saw men in the distance, and a few minutes later, were safe with the relief party that had been sent out.
Of all those who had sought the vast treasure of the secret crater, since Valverde's day, Colonel Brooks alone had passed Margasitas and had actually been within sight of the treasure cave. Yet like all the others, he had failed, and the guardian spirits of the Incans' treasures must have chuckled with unholy glee at his discomfiture.
But he had accomplished much. He had not only verified the accuracy of the old map and the strangely worded directions left by Valverde, but in addition, he had solved the mystery of passing Margasitas.
Despite all that he had suffered, all he had risked, and his narrow escape from death, the Colonel was anxious to go back, to have another try at finding the treasure of the Incan princess.
Many a time he related the story of his ill-fated trip to me, many a time we discussed the possibilities of taking another expedition to the crater at the foot of the three peaks. But before anything definite could be accomplished his health failed. It would have been dangerous in the extreme for him to have attempted to go on the trip, and he passed away with his one romantic adventure uncompleted.
From time to time since Colonel Brooks' death, rumors of the finding of the crater's treasure have been heard; but in every case so far they have proved unfounded. Small treasures or hoards of gold have been found in the hinterland of Ecuador. Some rich placers have been located; but the vast cache of pre-Incan golden objects and raw gold, hidden in the cave by the crater lake, still remains unfound, untouched, since the last visit of Valverde.
But now, as this book is being written, another expedition is being fitted out in New York to search for the famous long-lost treasure. Primarily it is a scientific expedition, with ethnological collections, surveys and motion picture records of wild life and of Indians its chief objects. But as the scientific work will take it to the vicinity of the Valverde treasure, it is planned to make a serious attempt to recover the riches within the cave. Whether success or failure results remains to be seen. Perchance, before this book is published, the treasures of the crater will be found and the finders will be enriched by minions. But, on the other hand, the secret of the vast hoard of gold may still remain unsolved and the spirit guardians of the ancient treasure may again triumph over modern methods, scientific instruments and the most strenuous efforts of experienced and seasoned explorers. 
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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.