I've always wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt - Part 65
Here’s the thing...
Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.
I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.
But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.
Once again there's a new instalment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.
Ormiston from the library papers
It was a question of what was I looking for. It would be easy to say I wanted a piece of paper that definitively said where the treasure was or find a map that led straight to it.
Instead, there was, in one box, a dozen journals filled with the ramblings of a madman.
Searching for treasure had sent Ormiston senior mad. For an hour, perhaps longer, I tried to decipher the spidery writing, and then gave up when it switched to German.
I assembled the journals in order of his expeditions and found the first easy to follow because it was a time of excitement and expectation, that he would find the treasure. There were pages on exactly what he thought the treasure was worth, the sort of pieces they would find, and what he would do with the proceeds.
There were drawings of items off the map and his interpretation of what they represented. It was a rather good description of the coastline and its anomalies as they related to map landmarks. They were, almost all, the same as the Boggs interpretations.
When the discovery didn’t happen, when the first euphoria wore off and the search became bogged down in acrimony and arguments, and the realisation the map they were using was not as clear as first believed, that was where it all began to fall apart.
Reading the words, feeling the disappointment seeping off the page, it must have been quite a blow.
The second expedition didn’t start off with the same fanfare, but almost as if they were expected to fail. Too little time had been spent analysing what went wrong and reidentifying the coastal landmarks.
And, when it did fail, the last comment in the diary was fairly succinct. “What if there is no treasure?”
In another, scrawled heavily on several pages at the back, “look for the big A” repeated several times, and much underlined.
There were five other boxes with papers, charts, notebooks, and books that belonged on a shelf but instead were neatly stacked. They’d been in the boxes for some time, and had that aroma books got when left in the damp too long, and, in fact, when I tried to open some, the pages had stuck together.
A lot of the books were about pirates, reference texts and fiction. Part of one box was set aside for our particular pirate, and, reading through what could be read, a lot of the information was contradictory. One book postulated that the said pirate wasn’t a pirate at all, casting doubt on whether he ever existed at all.
The maps were a different story, and, yes, they were all similar except for small details an observation I had made before. None had what I would have called ‘new’ features, just a rehash of all the others. Some were old, but most had the appearance of being made to look old.
Then, at the bottom of a box of books, were copies of newspaper articles, aged, stained, and some in various stages of disintegration. The Bahama Argus, The Barbadian, The Antigua Herald and Gazette, The Bermuda Colonist and the Dominica Chronicle. All had references to Captain Johannsson, and his vessel, the Sea Serpent.
There was such a Captain, and there was such a ship, and there were reports of a vessel roving the seas, looking for prey. And those reports covered a great deal of plunder, definitely the sort that would find it’s way into a number of sea chests.
But, was this the treasure that Ormiston believed was hidden somewhere in The Grove?
Something caught my attention on the first diary, the way it sat and the light reflected off it, and picking it up and looking at it showed no anomaly in the surface, not until it sat on a certain angle and in the sunlight.
A slight ripple down one edge of the spine, and with careful probing, there was a split in the material of the cover pasted back down, but in the time since it had been glued back, the glue had dissolved and the simple act of picking the book up and parted the split.
Lifting it gently, I could see a piece of paper tucked in and gently coaxed it out.
It was very thin and fragile, but the writing was clear. Entries from what might have been a logbook. I knew this only because I had been out of a sailing boat once when at school, and had seen the boat’s log book, noting where the boat had been.
This page had only a few entries, the location of its departure, in latitude and longitude, a number of the daily distances travelled, and conditions, and the last, another latitude and longitude.
When I put the first coordinates into my GPS, it was near the island of Antigua, and then the destination, just up the coast near the old mall. The name of the vessel, in almost illegible writing, the Sea Serpent.
So, there was a logbook, although it might not exist now, it did at some point in the past and Ormiston had either found it or seen it. The writing on the piece of paper was his. It proved, if it was authentic, there was a ship, and it did come to this coast.
I carefully folded it and hid it in my wallet, then replaced everything where I found it. Enough research for today. I tried not to look guilty when I left.
© Charles Heath 2022