Monday, 2 December 2013

Incas Treasure House Pt3

The Open Road for Boys, 1932 January
The Incas' Treasure House (Part 3 of 5)
By A. Hyatt Verrill

The Open Road for Boys magazine, January, 1932
Illustrated by Heman Fay, Jr.

The Story So Far
Bob Stillwell and Pancho McLean become lost in the Andes on their way to La Raya, a mining camp in Peru where Bob's father is manager. Luckily they save the life of an Indian chief, disabled by a jaguar. Because of this they are well treated by the Indians of the chief's village, but the chief declines to send them to La Raya until he has recovered. He dispatches a messenger, however, to report the boys' safety. The boys find these Indians different from all others and they conclude that they are a lost tribe, living as did the Indians under the Incas before the time of Pizarro. They discover a temple with amazing golden ornaments and relics of the Spanish conquest.
At La Raya, Mr. Stillwell has left on a prospecting expedition without knowing that the boys are lost, but when they fail to arrive Mr. Griswold, the chief of operations, is worried. A search fails, and a talk with an old-time prospector, Carmody, throws no light on the boys' whereabouts.

ALTHOUGH La Raya was called a "camp," it was really a sizable town. Far up on the mountain sides, colored a vivid rose, with splashes of vermilion and orange from the lead and silver oxides, were the tunnels and shafts of the workings. Along the east bank of a river near-by stood the mills and refineries, while on the western shore squatted the long, low quarters of the native Indian and Cholo laborers. In a level space where the valley widened, was the town itself. La Raya, originally an almost unknown Indian village, had become an obscure Peruvian town, dirty, poverty-stricken, despite the fact that untold fortunes were hidden in the mountain overhanging its red-tiled roofs. Then the Americans had acquired the mines, and had cleaned, rebuilt and modernized the place. A neat, green little plaza faced the cabildo, or city hall, presided over by the fat, fiercely-moustached but good-natured Alcade, Don Diogenes Beltran, who represented the Peruvian government but who never had anything to do except to gossip with Padre Augustin, doze in the sun, or play cards with Lieutenant Navez. The lieutenant, a boyish, smiling youth with a budding moustache and a sword almost as long as himself, represented the Peruvian army. He had six brown-faced little soldiers and four policemen in khaki and scarlet uniforms to aid him in maintaining order in this spot where disorders were almost unknown.
In the old town dwelt the Peruvian employees of the company, the few Peruvian officials and their families, and some of the American and British employees. But the majority of the Anglo-Saxons lived in attractive bungalows on a little rise beyond the town.
Such was the "camp" to which the missing boys had been invited, a community of more than five hundred inhabitants, including the Indians and Cholos. The natives came and went as they pleased, on foot, on burros, or driving strings of donkeys or llamas in from the hills; sometimes to seek work, sometimes to visit friends, but more often bringing fruits, vegetables or native handiwork to the La Raya market. No one paid any heed to these brown-skinned, sturdy, poncho-clad natives of the mountains who seldom ventured in the American section, but strolled through the streets of the lower town or gravitated naturally to the Indians' barracks across the river.
So, when, on the day old Carmody had talked with Mr. Griswold, a strange Indian drifted into La Raya, none of the Americans or Peruvians noticed him; but the other Indians he met looked at him curiously. Those whom he passed raised their hands to their foreheads in salute, and the market place and barracks were soon buzzing with speculation as word of the strange Indian's arrival spread.
Taller by a head than the brown-skinned employees of the mines, erect, with a keen, hawk-like face and pale ochre-colored skin he was obviously of a distinct and superior race. And his costume—though to the unobservant eyes of the white men it seemed merely a variation of the inevitable poncho and loose trousers—instantly identified him to the Indian denizens of La Raya.

FOR a time, the stranger wandered about, gazing into shop windows and staring at the two ramshackle cars the place boasted. Then he made his way toward the American camp. Carmody was talking with the superintendent when one of the assistants entered the office.
"There's an Indian outside who insists on seeing you, sir," he informed the superintendent. "He doesn't speak more than a few words of Spanish and I'm not much on Quichua. He won't tell me what he wants, but he said to give you these."
As he spoke, Johnson placed four empty rifle cartridges on the desk. The superintendent stared at them, a puzzled frown on his face, but Carmody sprang forward, seized one of the shells, and examined it intently.
"By gum an' Godfrey, bring him in!" he cried excitedly. "These here ca't'idges is from them missin' boys' rifle! I'll bet my boots this Injun's got a message from em.”
By Jupiter's black pocket!
"Good Heavens!" exclaimed the superintendent. "Maybe you're right. Perhaps —" His words were interrupted by the reappearance of Johnson followed by the stranger, with Chico, one of the company's natives, to serve as interpreter.
As the Indian entered, Carmody uttered a sharp ejaculation, and gazed at the fellow with a strange expression of amazement and perplexity.
"By Jupiter's black pocket!" he exclaimed. "Now where the everlastin' blazes did that there bird come from?"
"What's the matter with him?" demanded the superintendent. "He looks just like any cacique to me."
Carmody snorted. "Why, he's a everlastin' ap-ap'rition, that's what he is. There ain't nothin' like him been seen knockin' 'bout these here diggin's since old man Pizarro killed the Inca. He's a reg'-lar chasqui, that's what he is. He—"
"Chasqui?" enquired the superintendent, whose knowledge of Peruvian history was limited to the country's mining industries. "What's that?"
"Lor' bless your dumbness!" replied the old prospector. "A chasqui was a runner what them ol' Incas used for to send messages. But shucks! there ain't no Incas an' no chasquis nor nothin' o' the sort left, less'n—Here we be, wastin' time chinnin' 'stead of finding out what this bird's got to say 'bout them two boys."
Turning to the Indian, Carmody spoke to him in Quichua, telling him the man at the desk was the "chief" of the place, and asking him what he wanted to tell him.
At the fellow's reply, Carmody started. "By gum, he ain't speakin' no Quichua like I ever heard afore," he muttered under his breath. Then, turning to the superintendent: "He says them two boys is O. K. up to his village. I don't savvy every word what he says, 'cause he's chinnin' some dialec' what I ain't never heard afore, but I get the meanin' right enough. And he says somethin' 'bout them boys havin' killed the 'spotted one'—meanin' of a jag'ar, I 'spect, an' a-savin' of his curaca's life— ain't been no such thing as a curaca for nobody knows how long—an' how, soon's ever the ol' chief's able to git about on his pins, he'll be bringin' the boys down his-self. Them there ca'ti'ges he brung in is to show you he's on the level."
"Where's the village? Why didn't the boys send a message?" snapped the superintendent. "How do I know he didn't pick those shells up somewhere and cook up the whole yarn? Sounds fishy to me, Carmody."
The old prospector shook his head. "Seems likely enough to me," he declared. "Derned sight likelier than to be here chinnin' with a Injun what might have come to life outen one o' them there old graves."
Turning to the silent, impassive Indian he again questioned him. "Nothin doin'," he announced presently. "Says his village is way back in the hills; Chaca-Lyacta, he calls it, meanin' 'Place of the Bridge,' but shuts up tighter'n a sardine tin soon's ever I ask him anythin' 'bout it."
"Tell him we'll send men back with him when he goes—you can go along to interpret, can't you, Carmody? No sense in those two boys waiting for some fool Indian to get well. Tell him we'll leave first thing tomorrow morning, and meantime he can bunk with Chico and Manuel."
Carmody grinned and chuckled. "Lor' bless your soul, boss!" he cried, "I don't know how to figger it out, but howsom-ever 'tis, he's a king's messenger. You might just as well ask the British Minister over to Lima to bunk in with Chico an' Manuel. An' nothin'd ever get them two Injuns to dare act like they was his eq'als neither. They'll clear out an' let his nibs have their quarters to hisself. But I shouldn't be a mite s'prised if he'd enjoy seein' of a movie. Reckon Chico wouldn't mind takin' him to one."
When asked, Chico seemed highly honored at the opportunity, and trotted off at the strange Indian's side.
"Now I'm a-goin' to hunt up Griswold and tell him the news," the old prospector announced. "He'll be glad to know them there boys is safe an' sound."

"THANK Heaven!" Mr. Griswold exclaimed when the old prospector had related all that had occurred. "I'm going along with the others, Carmody. I'll leave a note here for Mr. Stillwell before I go. Thought you said there were no Indians in that district!"
The old prospector's eyes half closed and his face set in a new expression. "I did, Mr. Griswold," he admitted. "But I was meanin' these here ord'nary Injuns. Ain't I been tellin' you this chap's different? Now, like as not you'll be laffin' at me, but I'll tell you somethin', sir, that I ain't breathed to no other livin' soul. Member what I tol' you 'bout the natives back in the ol' times knockin' down a bridge to keep the Dons from a-gettin' through by the Inca road, an' a-ambushin' of 'em arter-wards? Now I 'aint never had no such faith in findin' that there Inca treasure as mos' folks think, but there's that story 'bout them Inca folk an' the bridge. Why'd they knock it down, I'm askin'. Why didn't that bunch of Injuns do jus' like all the others did—clear out, or else treat the Dons friendly-like?
"Now then, by gum an' Godfrey, this is how I figger it out. The treasure was hid up there, an' the Injuns tore down the bridge to keep them Dons from findin' of it. Then, arter the Spaniards had gone, they come back and went on livin' there jus' the way they allus done afore a Spaniard stuck his long nose into the Inca pie. An ' by crickety chop-sticks, I'll bet this here chasqui's one o' them guys. Didn't he say his village was called the 'Place of the Bridge' ?"
"But my dear man!" exclaimed Mr. Griswold, trying hard not to smile at the old fellow's earnestness, "if by chance the boys had stumbled on such a hidden treasure-house and lost city they would have been done away with. The Indians never would permit them to live and still less return to civilization."
Carmody nodded and stroked his scraggly gray beard reflectively. "I've thought of all them things," he declared. "Like as not the boys would have been put out o' the way 'ceptin' for the fact they done the Injuns a good turn— killed a jaguar what was maulin' of the ol' chief, you know. No Injun'd ever harm anyone who done a thing like that. No, sir, they'd be treated like frien's and r'yalty, by Jiminy. Only thing bothers me is, why in thunder that chasqui will take us back! That's beyond me."

NEXT morning, Mr. Griswold was up early. He was lacing one of his high boots when Carmody burst into the room without the formality of knocking.
"Great jumpin' Jemima!" he exploded. "He's gone! Vamoosed! Cleared out! By gum and Godfrey, he's given us the slip! That Injun chasqui, I mean."
"What!" exclaimed Mr. Griswold, "you mean the fellow has left?"
The old man flung himself into a chair. "Yep!" he replied. "I knowed there was somethin' funny 'bout him bein' willin' to guide us back there. He didn't never mean for to do it. An', by Jupiter, I'm dead certain now I figgered out things kerect."
"Can't—don't the other Indians know where he went?" asked Mr. Griswold.
Carmody laughed hoarsely. "Lor' bless you, they know more or less," he cried. "But they'd never tell. No, sir, we just got to set here an' wait for them there boys to turn up. Yes, by cricky, he's gone, an' less'n I'm plumb lucky I ain't never goin' to set eyes onto that there Place of the Bridge an' know whether them strange Injuns have got that treasure or not."
"Perhaps," suggested Mr. Griswold, "the boys will be able to tell you all about it."

IN THE lost Inca village, Bob and Pancho found that the days and weeks passed quickly. Almost before they realized how time had flown, Tonak was up and about, apparently as well as ever except for his wrist, which was twisted and partly useless. At last the boys asked him how soon he could guide them back to La Raya.
The chief shook his head sadly. For a moment he sat gazing into space and the boys began to fear he was about to tell them he had no intention of ever letting them go. Then, rising, he placed his hands on their heads. "My sons and brothers must leave us," he said. "I and my people will grieve that it is so. But it is the call of nature. Each creature must go with its kind and so must each tribe of men. Does the Chuncho of the jungles dwell with the Collas on the mountains? Does the Huanca find happiness in the villages of the Panos? No. When the great Pachakamak made all things on earth and breathed life into them he ordered that each living thing should ever seek those of its own kind. Though we of Chaca-Lyacta love you as our own, it is best that you should go to your people. I and my people owe you what we cannot repay. But my sons' race loves riches and riches will be given you. Tomorrow I, Tonak of the house of Yupanqui Inca, will lead you forth to your friends and to you will give that which will make you mighty chiefs. Now, my sons, I go to prepare for the journey."
Much that the chief said had been in his own dialect, and his broken Spanish was difficult for the boys to understand, but they caught the meaning of his words.
"Whoopee! Tomorrow we'll scram!" cried Bob.
"Didn't I say he was a real Inca?" exclaimed Pancho triumphantly.
"How do you know he is?" demanded Bob. "He didn't say so."
"Didn't he?" retorted Pancho. "Didn't he say he was Tonak of the house of Yupanqui Inca? Let's see—" Pancho was silent for a moment counting on his fingers—"I think Yupanqui was the father of Huayna Kapak who was the father of Atahualpa. Gosh, Bob, this fellow must be a direct descendent! Say perhaps he's going to make us a present of some of those things in the temple!"
"I hope he doesn't give us one of those old mummies or that dead man in the armor," interrupted Bob. "And I don't see how anything he's got will make us chiefs, as he calls it, at home."

THE boys found Tonak waiting for them when they appeared the following morning. He was dressed like the other Indians, wearing nothing to denote his rank, and was leaning on a heavy staff of polished hardwood with an elaborately wrought silver head and decorated with silver bands. With him were Kespi and Kenko, each carrying a pack supported by brow-bands, while gathered in a circle were the villagers, all waiting to bid the white boys farewell.
One by one they approached, lifted Bob's and Pancho's hands to their foreheads and solemnly repeated the words: "Ayhualya Huauki Nyukapak Inti Huakaychar." (Farewell, my brother, may God guard you.)
When the last good-bye had been said, with Tonak leading the way the little party descended into the ravine and clambered up the further side while the entire population of the village chanted in unison the farewell song of the Incan people.
"Ayhualya! Ayhualya!Inti guard thy weary journey
Over deserts, over mountains
All our prayers and thoughts are of thee.
Ayhualya! Ayhualya!Inti guard thee on thy journey.
All we live for, all we wait for
Is for thee to come again
Ayhualya! Ayhualya!"

In a plaintive wail the cadence ended, and though the boys could understand only a few of the words of the ancient song, they were far more deeply touched than they would have liked to admit. Presently they reached the summit of the hill, and glancing back for a last view of the village, saw the people still gathered at the brink of the ravine, waving a last farewell.
Along an almost undistinguishable trail they plodded on, Tonak always in the lead, turning and twisting, doubling back and forth, ascending hills, slipping and sliding into ravines, traversing cañons, at times following the beds of streams. Four hours after leaving the village, Tonak came to a halt in a deep cañon which had become narrower and narrower, until now it ended in a blind wall. From the base of the seeming cul-de-sac rose a conical hill, towering for nearly a hundred feet above the summits of the banks.
"Behold, my sons!" exclaimed Tonak. "Did I not promise to lead you to the place of riches? You alone of all save the people of Chaca-Lyacta may look upon the treasure house of the Incas!"
The boys gasped. They could scarcely believe their ears. Treasure house of the Incas! They had heard of the fabulous hoard of gold and gems that, according to legend, had been gathered for the ransom of the captive Inca, Atahualpa, but which had been buried somewhere in Peru when the carriers learned of their ruler's death at Pizarro's hands. Neither of the boys had ever given the story a second thought, yet here was Tonak—who claimed to be a descendent of the Incas—telling them that they were looking on the Incan treasure house. But they could see nothing that appeared in the least like a ruin, a building, or even a cave. Wondering, they gazed about while Tonak and the other Indians grinned.
"I don't see—" began Bob.
Pancho gripped his arm. "Look!" he exclaimed. "Look at that hill, Bob! It's not a real hill, it's built of stones! It's a —a pyramid! That must be the treasure house!"
Bob whistled. "But there isn't a door or a window or anything in it. And—"
Tonak again spoke. "To none but he who rules in Chaca-Lyacta and those of the village is the treasure known," he said. "Through four times four hundred hundred suns have we watched over it that, if need should come, we might buy the freedom of our people. But now the time has passed. Never again will an Inca sit upon the golden throne of Cuzco and rule over the kingdom of Tihuantisuyo (the Incan name of the empire meaning The Four Corners of the Earth). We are few and scattered, and aside from us of Chaca-Lyacta all are but vassals of the sons of the Bearded Ones who conquered our land and destroyed our Inca. Some time will come the Spaniards and force the secret of the treasure; but to you, my sons, we give gladly. From what lies within the secret portals take what you desire as a parting gift from Tonak and his people."
The boys were speechless. Were they actually about to gaze upon that mythical, fabulous treasure? No, that was too fantastic to be true. And yet—

TONAK had turned and was moving forward towards the blank wall at the head of the ravine. There Kespi and Kenko dropped their burdens and at Tonak's direction began tossing the stones to one side while the two boys watched fascinated. Presently a rectangular, sculptured stone was revealed. Then, as the last of the rocks were removed, Tonak placed his staff in the mouth of a carved jaguar and leaned hard against it while the two Indian youths put their shoulders to the stone. It swung aside slowly, silently, revealing a low, dark doorway.
From their packs Kespi and Kenko produced torches. With flint and steel they were lit, and, taking one, Tonak bent and entered the portal, beckoning the boys to follow. For perhaps fifty feet they passed along a narrow stone corridor barely three feet in width and five feet in height. Then they descended a short flight of stone steps, entered a large circular room, crossed this past an immense stone statue of a jaguar-headed god, entered another low, narrow passage, and, traversing this for another fifty feet, came to a smaller square court in the centre of which was a stone image of the sun god.
Bowing before this, Tonak and the two Indians ascended the low pyramidal dais on which the statue stood, and tugged with all their strength at a projecting stone ornament. Slowly the monolith moved to one side, disclosing a dark opening. Excited, with fast beating hearts, the two boys followed the Indians into the aperture. Descending a flight of stone steps they entered a narrow corridor, passed along it, turned right and then left into other passageways, ascended more stairs and entered a large room. As the Indians halted and held high their flaring torches the boys gasped, staring speechlessly, incredulously, at what they saw.
Piled in the corners and about the walls of the stone chamber were great heaps of glittering yellow gold! Bars and ingots, hammered breastplates and great wheel-like suns; stacks of thin gold sheets; ceremonial axes and maces; spears and sceptres; massive chains and crowns; ornaments of every form; vases and lamps; dishes and utensils were everywhere. In one spot, piled almost to the ceiling, were cloth bags and rawhide sacks, some of which had burst. From the rents, streams of yellow gold dust had trickled to the floor. There seemed to be tons of the precious metal, and the boys scarcely noticed the great stacks of silver bars, the silver vases and utensils and weapons that lay on every side.
Heaps of glittering yellow gold!
"Do—do you suppose all that really is gold?" whispered Bob in awed tones.
"It must be," replied Pancho. "But I never thought there was so much in the whole world."
Tonak's voice interrupted their thoughts. "It is yours, my sons," he announced. "Take what you desire. Did I not say that my white sons would be great chiefs amid their own people?"
"Great millionaires!" exclaimed Pancho. "Whew, there must be more treasure here than in the Treasury at Washington. It—"
"And he says we can have all we want!" cried Bob, gazing about at the vast store of riches. "But that's just a joke. How could we carry off all we wanted? It must weigh tons."
Apparently the old chief read their thoughts. "Two times ten hundred yana-conas (cargo carriers) and two score trains of llamas groaned beneath the treasure that you gaze upon," he told them. "We are but five, and we have far to go and gold is heavy. Yet my sons have not seen all. Behold! This treasure may you take more easily."
As he spoke Tonak stepped to a carved chest hasped and bound with massive silver, and lifted the lid. The boys leaned forward with sharp exclamations of amazement.

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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.