Glancing up at the sign Sandy gave a huge grin. He never grew tired of seeing that sign. He loved being the S of the T & S Detective Agency and had spent quite a bit of money having the fancy sign designed.
Sandy walked into the small reception area. He removed his hat, tossed it onto his desk and unconsciously patted the ever-present cowlick that stuck up from his blond hair. He walked over to the door to his partner's office and reached out to grasp the doorknob, but paused. His partner always managed to get into the office first and Sandy had the habit of just walking into his office without knocking, but this morning there were voices behind the door. He sat down behind his desk to wait.
It wasn't long until the door to his partner's office opened and two men walked out. The man in the lead was unknown to the Sandy. He was older, perhaps in his mid seventies, with very short gray hair and a gray mustache. The other man was Sandy's partner, William "Graveyard" Toombs. A former gunfighter, he'd earned the moniker Graveyard because anyone that went against him tended to end up in one. Sandy just called him Bill.
The two men walked over to the front door and shook hands.
"Don't worry Berry, we'll take care of it."
"Thanks, Bill. Be seein' you around."
Bill watched the other man walk away then shut the door and turned to face Sandy.
"I see you finally made it in."
"Finally? I'm earlier than usual. Heck, the sun is barely up!"
"And I've already had breakfast and a meetin'."
"Yeah, well, some people actually need sleep."
Bill turned and walked back into his office.
Following his partner, Sandy pulled a stick of gum from his pocket, unwrapped it, and stuck it in his mouth. He spent a few seconds chewing the gum, while Bill settled into his chair behind a very large and old desk.
"So, who is Berry? Did he have a case for us?"
Bill tilted his head slightly to one side. "His name is Wyatt Earp."
"Wyatt Earp!" Sandy's gum nearly flew out his mouth. "You're tellin' me that man was Wyatt Earp?"
"One and the same," Bill nodded.
Sandy gave a low whistle. "I guess it shouldn't surprise me that you'd know him, being as you're a famous gun fighter and former lawman yourself."
Bill shook his head. "Just because I was once well known for bein' able to handle a gun doesn't mean that I know famous people. It just happens that he and I once crossed paths."
"Once crossed paths," Sandy snorted. "I'd have liked to have seen that. I guess your days as a deputy sheriff and Texas Ranger were nothin'."
Sandy shook his head. "So why'd you call him Berry?"
"It's a middle name. He asked me to call him that several years ago."
"And why did he come to see you now?"
"He has a friend that needs some help and he thought that we might be able to handle it."
Sandy leaned forward. "So Wyatt Earp wants us to work for him."
"Not for him, no. A friend of his."
"Okay. So what is it that his friend needs help with?"
"His friend, a man named Oliver Thompson, had his daughter kidnapped by Blackbeard the Pirate."
"Blackbeard the Pirate?!" Sandy ejaculated, his gum actually flying out of his mouth this time and landing in his lap.
"So he says."
"That's crazy! Blackbeard's been dead for over two hundred years!"
"So the history books say. But no matter who the kidnapper was, we need to find the girl. It's already been nearly two days since it happened, and since it'll probably take us a few hours to drive to the Thompson ranch, we need to leave as soon as possible."
"Right you are. Shouldn't we let them know that we're comin'?"
"After I agreed that we'd look into the kidnappin', Berry called Mr. Thompson usin' the phone here in my office and let him know."
"Good. I'll grab the standard gear, some clothes, and get the Nash ready."
Bill nodded. "I'll meet you out front in thirty minutes and we'll be on our way."
Exactly thirty minutes later, the former gunfighter was out front, waiting on his young partner. He was dressed in a black business suit with a collarless white shirt. Beside him sat a leather bag.
Suddenly, a maroon colored Nash raced up and slid to a halt. Sandy was behind the wheel.
Opening the passenger side rear door, Bill squeezed his one bag into the small space that was left. Bags and equipment filled most of the space where there once was a rear seat. Sandy removed it shortly after buying the car. He had made room to carry equipment for the duo's adventures.
A leather scabbard was strapped across the back of the front seat. Resting snuggly in the scabbard was a .375 H&H Magnum Nitro-Express rifle. This was the elephant rifle that had made Graveyard Toombs famous. While most gun fighters used only handguns, Graveyard had always had a penchant for large caliber rifles.
Bill climbed into the car. Sandy stepped on the starter and the six-cylinder engine spun over and caught. "I just love that sound!" he said as he released the parking brake and eased out on the clutch. "Nothin' like it."
"I like the quite of a horse a lot better," Bill said wryly.
"Well, we ain't on horses."
"This is goin' to be a long ride."
Sandy laughed and looked at his partner. "Yeah, but if we were on horses, it'd be a lot longer!"
Bill just shook his head.
Sandy reached up and grasped a large metal knocker, shaped to look like a ship anchor, on the large iron-banded oak door. After banging the knocker twice against the door, he stepped back.
A few seconds later he heard the sound of a bolt being drawn and the door opened inward, revealing a man wearing a dark suit. Sandy saw that he was a fair sized man with slightly graying dark brown hair, and blue eyes behind wire rim glasses.
"Mr. Thompson? I'm Tom Sandy and this here is my partner William Toombs," Sandy said, jerking his right thumb up to point at Bill. "I believe Mr. Earp told you to expect us."
Thompson's face brightened. "Yes, indeed! Berry told me he'd talked with you and that you were on the way. Come in, come in!"
Sandy and his partner followed the obviously distraught man through a spacious vestibule and into a large and brightly-lighted parlor. The room was decorated with items that wove together a strange mixture of western and nautical themes. "Please, take a seat, both of you." Thompson indicated two armchairs. "Would you gentlemen care for something to drink?"
Bill sat back in the large overstuffed chair and spoke for the first time. "No sense in wastin' any more time. Why don't you go ahead and tell us what happened."
Thompson sat down in a third chair, facing Sandy and Bill. "It all started with that damned map."
"Map?" Sandy leaned forward in his chair. "What map?"
"A secret treasure map I recently acquired which was made by my great grandfather."
"A treasure map!" Sandy exclaimed.
Thompson nodded and looked down, not saying anything.
Bill, prompted him, "Perhaps you could explain about the 'secret' and 'recently acquired' parts of your statement and how it relates to your daughters kidnappin'."
Thompson nodded. "A little over a year ago my father died. One of the items he left me was a small locked box. He said that he'd gotten it from his father whom had told him that the box had mysteriously been left on his kitchen table late one night by someone. A note was left with the box that indicated that it had come from his father, Captain William Thompson. The only thing was, William Thompson had disappeared years earlier."
"Was this the same William Thompson that was Captain of the Mary Dear?" Bill asked.
Thompson's eyes widened in surprise. "You've heard of my great grandfather and what he did?"
"Yes. Sometime back I read a newspaper article which discussed Captain Thompson and his actions in regards to the artifacts which were placed in his care by the Spanish officials of Lima, Peru."
Sandy was clearly perplexed, "I've never heard of William Thompson or the Mary Dear. Can you give me some details?"
Taking a deep breath, Thompson leaned back in his chair and forced himself to relax. "In 1820, Peru was on the verge of revolting against Spain. This concerned the officials in Lima because the Spanish had accumulated a vast amount of wealth in Peru since the arrival of Pizzaro three centuries earlier. Supposedly there was a large collection of gold and silver artifacts including hundreds of jeweled swords, solid gold crowns, over a thousand diamonds, chests of precious gems, and two life sized, solid gold statues of the Virgin Mary".
Sandy let out a low whistle.
"In fact," Thompson continued, "it has been estimated that, in total, there was over one hundred tons of artifacts."
"100 tons?" Sandy gasped.
"Yes. An amount which apparently proved irresistible to my great grandfather when the Spanish officials asked him to transport the treasure to Mexico for safekeeping. As captain of the British ship Mary Dear, and as someone with whom they'd had previous dealings, he was trusted by the officials in Lima. But I guess the temptation of such a large treasure proved too great. According to the tale, Captain Thompson and his crew killed the soldiers and priests that had come aboard ship to guard the treasure, then set sail for Cocos island, which lies off Costa Rica.
"Supposedly, the treasure was off-loaded and hidden in a cave. Then, as they were sailing away from the island, they were sighted and captured by the Spanish Frigate Espsigle. The Spanish hanged the entire crew except for Captain Thompson and one other man, believed to have been named Chapelle, on the condition that they would give up the location of the treasure."
"Did they? Sandy asked, riveted to his seat.
Thompson shook his head, "Not exactly. They lead the Spanish back to the island, but once there, they managed to escape. The crew of the Espsigle searched for them, unsuccessfully, for a week before giving up and sailing away."
"So they were stranded on the island?"
"For a short while. A whaling ship stopped at the island for water and rescued them. Shortly thereafter, the man Chapelle died from a fever."
"What happened next?" Sandy asked, intrigued.
"Sometime later, during a Trans-Atlantic voyage, Captain Thompson met a man named Keating and the two became friends. Eventually he told Keating the story of the treasure and supposedly, according to writings that Keating left, gave him documents and maps with which to find the treasure. But apparently Keating died before ever mounting an expedition to the island and my great grandfather simply disappeared. At least until the box with the map showed up in my grandfather's kitchen late one night."
"So the treasure was never found!" Sandy exclaimed.
"Not that anyone ever claimed." Thompson said
"What became of the documents and maps that were given to Keating?" Bill inquired.
"No idea," Thompson shrugged. "Unless the map in the box my father left to me came from Keating."
"And this map shows where the treasure is located?"
"Supposedly, but the thing is encrypted. There's also writing on the back but that's encrypted as well."
"How does this tie in with your daughter's kidnapping?" Bill inquired, trying to get to the heart of the matter.
"Well, no one had been able to make heads or tails of the map until my daughter took an interest in it. My daughter's only eighteen years old, but she's highly intelligent."
"Interesting," Sandy murmured. "She was able to figure out the map?"
"I think so. Being an excellent artist, she hand copied two exact duplicates of the map, and then started trying to decrypt it. Every afternoon she'd take a copy of the map, and go out to the gazebo to spend a couple of hours trying to figure it out. She'd been working on it for a couple of months when one evening she burst into the dining room, late for supper. She was all excited and said she'd broken it. I told her to calm down and have something to eat, that the map would wait. She knew better than to argue with me so she laid her notes down on the table and put the map into her pocket, where she always kept it."
Thompson paused for a second to clear his throat, then continued, "Anyway, we had finished eating and were talking over the day's events, when someone knocked at the front door. Genny leaped up and was gone before I could say a word. After a couple of minutes I heard what sounded like a scuffle and heard Genny shout. I ran to the front door, which was standing wide open. I looked out and saw a man carrying Genny over his shoulder. He turned and looked back at me and I swear to God that it was Blackbeard the Pirate looking at me. I was so startled that I froze and before I knew it they were both gone, vanished into the dark."
"Did you go after them?" Bill asked.
"Yes, sir, I most certainly did. I was wandering around in the dark when I heard Genny scream. I ran in the direction that the sound had come from but found nothing. I stopped to catch my breath and then Genny screamed again. I started running and then suddenly I saw a campfire.
"I moved towards the fire and saw a young cowboy heading in my direction. I pointed my gun at him and made him walk to the campfire. Turns out he didn't have anything to do with the kidnapping. Blackbeard had stolen his horse and gun. After he told me what had happened, he helped me look for Genny. It took awhile but eventually we managed to find tracks. Those led us down to the bay where apparently they boarded a boat. The trail ended there. We made our way back to the house and that's when I called Berry to ask if he could help."
Sandy's brow furrowed in thought. "What happened to the cowboy?"
"I asked him to stick around just in case he could be of some use. He was looking for a job anyway and I can always use a good ranch hand."
"What's his name and can we speak with him?"
"Sure, no problem, he'll be glad to speak with you. His names Nils Jameson."
"Sandy, why don't you take a look at the map and I'll go talk with Jameson." Bill said.
"Okay. I've always wanted to see a treasure map!"
Thompson nodded at Sandy, "I'll get Genny's notes and the map." To Bill he said, "The bunk house is around back. Nils should be there."
"Right." Bill stood and exited.
Thompson stood. "I'll be right back. Please make yourself at home."
"Yes, sir." Sandy nodded. He watched Thompson exit via a door that led deeper into the house.
"Here we go," Thomson said, reentering the room a few minutes later. This is the original map. As I mentioned earlier, she had a copy with her when she was kidnapped. Luckily, however, we still have her notes."
Sandy spread the papers out on a tabletop. On the left top of the map was a small outline of an island with the word Cocos beside it.. The rest of the map seemed to show features and places of the interior of the island. There were various labels and descriptions on the map but they just looked like random letters, obviously encrypted.
Looking over the girl's notes, Sandy saw that she'd made dated entries. He saw that she'd tried various methods of decryption, but none seemed to have worked. The last entry, dated the day she had disappeared, simple read "Declaration!"
"What did she mean by declaration?" Sandy asked, looking up.
"I have no idea."
"Are there any more papers? I don't see where she successfully decrypted the cipher."
"That's all the papers she had. There's nothing else."
"Hmmm." Sandy bent back over the map for a closer look.
Sandy had been looking over the map for awhile when Bill came back into the room carrying the unconscious form of a man over his shoulder.
"Who's that?" Sandy inquired. "What happened?"
"I was gettin' Jameson's story when this fellow, after learnin' who I was, made himself scarce. A few minutes later someone took a shot at me and Jameson, but missed. I shot back, and didn't miss. While we were seein' who it was that had done the shootin', a ranch hand called Lem said the dead fellow, name of Morgan, worked over at the Bar D ranch, just like this fellow here, used to do. Seems he'd been was arguin' with Morgan and then after the shootin' tried to high-tail it but another ranch hand saw him, and figurin' he was up to no good, knocked him out before he could leave."
Thompson, who had been sitting down when Bill walked in carrying the ranch hand over his shoulder, took a close look and said "This man's name is Dooley."
After placing the still unconscious man into one of the large overstuffed armchairs, Bill stood back and glanced at Sandy. "Have anything that'll wake him up?"
Sandy nodded. "I have that and a couple of other things that should prove useful as well. I'll go get them out of the car."
As Sandy headed outside, Thompson, taking a seat in another chair, asked, "Do you think he'll tell us anything?"
"Well find out what he knows, one way or another," said Bill.
A few minutes later, Sandy reentered the room carrying a large leather case in one hand and a slightly smaller one in the other. He placed the cases on a table.
The two older men watched as Sandy opened the larger of the two cases and withdrew some sort of apparatus. It appeared to be a wood and metal box with inset meters of some sort as well as a paper wrapped cylinder. There were different wires and leads attached to the device as well.
"What in the world is that?" asked Thompson.
Sandy smiled. "Let me wake up our friend here and then I'll explain it to everyone at the same time."
Opening the smaller leather case, Sandy reached in and withdrew a cobalt blue bottle, a dark brown bottle, and a small vial. After decanting a small amount of the contents of both bottles into the vial, Sandy placed the vial under the nose of the unconscious man.
After only a couple of seconds the cowboy took in a deep breath and then started coughing. He said to the cowboy, "The coughing will pass in a few seconds and then you'll feel okay."
Dooley looked around, a look of confusion on his face. "Wha, what happened?"
Thompson leaned forward. "Someone took a shot a Nils and Mr. Toombs here. Lem said he saw you arguing with Morgan and then after the shots were fired, saw you trying to leave. He knocked you out to keep you from getting away."
"But. . . ."
"Hold up," Sandy interjected. "Don't say another word, Dooley."
"Huh? What do you mean?" The cowboy looked puzzled.
"I need to attach this device to you. Just hold still and it won't take me but just a minute."
Dooley looked puzzled then put on a sullen look. "What are you, some kinda quack? You ain't hookin' nothin' up to me!"
"I suggest you hold still and let Sandy do whatever he wants, if you know what's good for you," said Graveyard, his voice sounding colder than glacial ice in a blizzard.
Dooley whipped his head around, his mouth open as if to make a smart reply, but when he realized that it was Graveyard Toombs whom had spoken, his face turned white as a sheet. After a second, he nodded slightly.
Sandy started connecting leads to Dooley.
Thompson spoke up. "What is going on here, young man? What is that contraption?"
"This," Sandy explained, "is a device that my friend John Larsen and I have been working on for quite some time. We call it a polygraph."
"Polygraph?" Thomson was clearly puzzled. "What does it do?"
"It monitors blood pressure, respiration, and pulse rate. Those can be used as indicators as to the veracity of statements made by a subject as he is questioned."
Suddenly Thompson's look of puzzlement turned to understanding. "It's a device that can tell if a person is lying!"
Sandy smiled. "That's the idea."
Dooley, his face seeming to turn even whiter, looked at Sandy. "You're crazy! Some hair brained machine cain't tell if I'm lyin' or not!"
"Unfortunately for you, it can and does."
"The hell with this!" Dooley reached as if to pull off the leads and wires that Sandy had just finished attaching to him but froze when he heard the sound of a Colt .45 cocking.
"Leave'em be. You can either let Sandy get the truth out of you his way, or I can do it my way."
Dooley turned his head and found himself staring down the barrel of Graveyard's pistol. Dooley slowly leaned back in the chair.
Sandy spent several minutes asking the surly cowboy simple questions such as his name and where he worked, all the while watching the output produced by the machine. Then, after being satisfied by what he was seeing, he started asking more important questions.
"Do you know where Genny Thompson is?"
"No. I don't know where she is," spat Dooley.
"Do you know who kidnapped her?"
Dooley, paused, looking around at the three men, then shook his head.
"Answer the question out loud," Sandy chided.
"NO! I don't know who took her."
Sandy cocked his head, watching the output from the machine. "You're lying about that, Dooley. I'd suggest telling the truth before Graveyard gets upset."
Dooley was beginning to sweat profusely. "Look," he pleaded, "I only did what I was told! If I hadn't, that crazy old man woulda killed me!"
"What crazy old man?! And what did you do?" Thompson was looking at Dooley with fury in his eyes.
Sandy interjected. "Dooley, I think it's best if you just start at the beginning and tell us what happened. And if you lie, I'll know it."
The cowboy slumped dejectedly in the chair. "About a year ago, old man Ned Thatch, owner of the Bar D ranch, where I was working, sent the foreman, Morgan, out to fetch me in for a talk. Thing was, Thatch never talked to nobody, exceptin' Morgan. Far as I know, no one had ever even laid eyes on 'im! So Morgan tells me to go on into the ranch house and there he was. Craziest lookin' old man I've ever seen! He had wild hair and a big black beard with pieces of string or something tied in it."
Thompson sat bolt upright. "That's the man I saw! He's the bastard that took Genny!"
"Sounds like it," Sandy agreed. "Continue you story, Dooley."
"Well, I asked what he needed and first thing he done was pull out some old sword. He pointed it at me and said he had a job for me. Said I was to come over here and get hired on. Said he had heard you needed another hand and he wanted me to work here. Told me if I didn't do what he wanted, he'd run me through with that sword."
"Why did he want you working here, at Mr. Thompson's ranch?"
"Said I was to watch Genny, to let 'im know if she made any progress in figuring out a map."
"You son of a bitch! I knew you had something to do with it! I'll flay the skin off your cowardly back!" Thompson roared.
Sandy placed a hand on Thompson's arm. "Let him talk. We need to find out what happened."
Thompson glared at Sandy a second, then nodded.
Dooley looked at his boss. "I didn't do nothin' to Genny, Mr. Thompson, I swear! "
Bill frowned. "Don't lie. Tell us what you did."
"I, I, just watched Genny. She liked to sit out in the gazebo, as she called it, and work on that map. Then one day she got all excited. She laughed and said the declaration was the answer. She grabbed everything and ran into the house. I went to the bunkhouse and used a telephone to call Morgan and tell him that it looked like Genny had figured out the map. That's all I done!"
Sandy had stiffened when Dooley had mentioned the word declaration. He asked the cowboy, "What exactly did she mean by declaration?"
"I guess she meant the Declaration of Independence. A few days earlier she had asked me if I had ever read it. I told her no, on account I don't read too well."
Sandy snapped his fingers. "Of course!" He stopped talking and started chewing his gum furiously, apparently deep in thought.
"You might want to explain what you're thinking, Sandy," Bill prompted.
Sandy snapped out of his reverie. "Huh? Oh, yeah, sure! It has to be a modified book cipher!"
Thompson wrinkled his forehead. "Modified…what?"
Sandy explained, "Book cipher. It's where you replace words or letters in a message with the location of words from some particular book. Or in this case, a document, specifically the Declaration of Independence!"
"Now that I think of it, I do remember Genny talking about a copy of The Declaration of Independence. I'm sure it's still in her room!" Thompson exclaimed.
"I'll ask you to get it when we finish questioning Dooley," Sandy said excitedly.
"Dooley, where did your boss take Genny?"
"I don't know! All I done was call Morgan. I didn't know old man Thatch was gonna grab Genny. Heck, I never knew of him leavin' his house!"
Thompson leaned forward in his chair. "Dooley, you better hope to God that nothing happens to Genny. If it does, I'll personally take a whip to you and strip the hide from your back, then I'll see that you hang!"
Dooley gulped, and turned to Sandy. "Tell him that I'm tellin' the truth!"
Sandy looked up from his polygraph. "Well, I think maybe you're telling the truth about not knowing where Genny was taken, but I think there's more you can tell us."
"The only thing I know is that wherever that crazy old man took Genny, he used one of his ships."
"Ships?" Sandy asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah, one of them disappeared when he and Genny did."
Sandy thought a second. "Let me guess, the ship's name is Queen Anne's Revenge."
"Yeah! How'd you know?" Dooley asked, clearly surprised.
"That's the name of Blackbeard's ship!" Thompson exclaimed.
"Apparently he thinks he is Blackbeard. He's even been going by his name." Sandy said. "I realized that earlier when I heard his name was Ned Thatch. Blackbeards name was thought to be Edward Thatch."
Thompson looked stunned. "Of course. Ned Thatch. I just never made that connection."
Dooley shook his head. "If I knew where he took Genny, I'd tell ya."
"I think we can assume that he's headed to where the map shows the treasure is located," Bill said.
"You're right!" Thompson agreed. "I think he grabbed Genny to make her show him where the treasure is. Sandy, you have to figure out where that is!"
"If you'll go ahead and get me that copy of the Declaration of Independence, I'll get started on it as soon as I finish with Dooley," Sandy said.
Thompson stood up. "I'll be right back."
Turning back to Dooley, Sandy asked, "Why were you arguing with Morgan?"
"He wanted to know who that was talkin' with Nils and when he heard the name Graveyard Toombs, I thought he was gonna have a heart attack. Said he was gonna have to take care of things and pulled out his rifle. I told him he was crazy and the next thing I know, he's takin' a shot! I figured I'd better high tail it. Went to saddle ma horse and blam! Next thing I know, I woke up here."
Thompson reentered the room, a document clasped in his hand. "Here's the Declaration!"
Sandy reached for it. "I'll get started deciphering the map. Oh, do you have somewhere we can keep Dooley?"
"Yes, there's a room in the bunkhouse that we can lock him in. It's secure."
"I'll take him, Sandy," Bill said, "while you and Mr. Thompson work on the map. Be back shortly."
Once that Sandy knew the Declaration of Independence was the key to deciphering the message on the map, it did not take him more than an hour to complete the decryption.
After finishing, he looked up at Mr. Thompson and his partner, whom had returned shortly after locking Dooley in the bunkhouse.
"Looks like Cocos Island was just a decoy. The decrypted message gives the location of a different island off of Central America."
"What's it called?" Thompson asked, leaning forward.
"No name is given, it just tells how to find it. It should be easy to find with these directions, but the treasure may take more work since its location isn't given in the greatest detail, even though you'd think it would be."
"Well, the main thing we're looking for is Genny, so the location of the island should suffice," Bill said.
Sandy agreed. "You're correct, Genny is our priority. Now we just need to find a ship."
"You can use mine," Thompson said.
"You have a ship?" Sandy sounded surprised.
"Well, a boat. It's a 40 foot, two-masted schooner named Albatross. Nothing too big, but it'll get you where you need to go. It's anchored in my bay, not too far from here. Do you two have any nautical experience?"
"No," Sandy said shaking his head.
"Yes," said Bill.
Sandy turned to look at his partner in surprise. "You do? You've never mentioned it to me."
Bill shrugged. "Never came up before." He turned to Thompson. "If you have one other person with experience that you could send with us, I'm sure that he and I could handle the boat just fine."
"I have just the man in mind. I'll call him. Be right back." Thompson left the room, to use his telephone. It was only a few minutes before he returned.
"I called my friend Sig Clausen, a man with 40 years experience on the open sea, and he's agreed to captain the Albatross with your help, Bill."
"Fine with me."
"He's already heading over to start prepping the Albatross. He'll meet you two there."
Bill nodded. "We'll do our best to find your daughter."
"Please do. I don't care about any god-forsaken treasure. If you find any, keep it, or leave it, I couldn't care less. I'm already a wealthy man. Just bring my daughter back to me."
Thompson reached out to shake the two men's hands, one after the other. "God speed to you both."
After nearly three weeks on the ocean the Albatross was approaching the island. Sandy stood looking at it in the pre-dawn twilight, trying to spot the ship that they had been chasing. Bill was standing beside him, looking through a powerful spyglass that Sandy had designed.
"I can just make out the ship. Looks like it's anchored in the cove there. I think we should remain out of site by sailing part way around the island. We'll drop anchor and then assess the situation." Bill lowered the spyglass and held it out to Sandy. "There is one bit of good news, though."
"Really? What would that be?" Sandy asked.
"This Queen Anne's Revenge is a much smaller ship than the original, which means a much smaller crew and less people we have to deal with."
Sandy, puzzled, asked, "How do you know how large the original Queen Anne's Revenge was?"
"Just a bit of knowledge stuck in my head.
"Yeah, well, I'm hoping they won't know we're here until it's too late. I'm sure we'll be outnumbered."
"That's their bad luck."
Sandy knew that Bill was not joking because on more than one occasion he'd seen the man go against some very high odds and come out the victor.
Sandy glanced at Bill. "Yeah, I guess it would be."
"I'll go tell Sig what we want to do. Start getting together whatever you need to take ashore, but essentials only."
"Right," Sandy nodded.
Shortly thereafter the Albatross was anchored in a small cove, well out of site of the Queen Anne's Revenge. Bill and Sandy used the Albatross' small dinghy to get to shore.
Sandy normally carried a large leather suitcase filled with all sorts of chemicals, and gadgets; however, for the trip to the island, he'd converted it into a backpack.
Bill's backpack contained food and ammunition, enough for both men. Each man also had a canteen of water, and a knife attached to his belt. In addition, Sandy had a waterproof flashlight on his belt.
Bill also had his rifle and Sandy his pistol, a Luger.
"Let's go." Bill said as he turned and headed down the beach.
They skirted along the edge of the beach, occasionally having to duck into the edges of the jungle, and just as the sun was starting to rise above the horizon, they came into sight of the Queen Anne's Revenge.
Peering out from the thick foliage in which they had ensconced themselves, they observed only two men on the deck of the ship anchored about 150 yards from the shore. A boat was pulled up on the beach and there were two more men there. They had built a fire.
The two men on the beach were obviously supposed to be keeping a look out but both were sitting down watching the fire while they chatted. Behind them, two rifles leaned against the boat.
"We need to disable these two men and then the ones on the ship," Bill whispered.
"Okay," Sandy agreed. "As for these two, I've got just the thing."
Sandy removed his backpack, opened it, and removed a small wooden box. From the box he took an oblong metal device.
"Is that what I think it is?"
"If you think it's a grenade, you're right. But instead of explosive, it contains a gas that will knock out those men. It's powerful but it dissipates in only a couple of minutes, so I'll need to get it close to them."
Sandy pulled a catch on the side of the grenade, waited a second, and then pitched it so that it landed close to the two men. It landed softly in the sand, making very little sound.
The man that was closest to where the gas grenade landed stiffened. "Did you hear something?"
The other man shook his head. "Nothin' but the wood in the fire poppin'"
The first man shrugged. "Yeah, I guess I'm just jumpy." His head dipped forward and he mumbled, "Think I'll take a nap." The anesthetic gas from the grenade was quickly making him groggy.
"Yeah, I'm kinda sleepy too," the other sailor said. After a few more seconds, the two men were completely unconscious.
After a couple of minutes, Sandy and Bill moved over to the two men, staying low and keeping the overturned boat between them and the ocean. They quickly tied up the men with pieces of wire from Sandy's backpack. They searched the men but found nothing.
"What should we do about the two we saw on the ship?" Sandy asked.
Bill rubbed his jaw. "I'll take a little swim and take care of them. You stay here and I'll be back shortly."
Bill stripped off his clothing, underneath which he was wearing swimming trunks. He looked extremely fit and muscular. Which seemed out of the ordinary for a man who had to be at least in his seventies.
Bill picked up his knife belt and began strapping it to his waist.
"Are you sure about this, Bill? It could be very dangerous."
Bill finished with the knife belt, looked up at Sandy, nodded, then slipped around the boat and into the surf, vanishing into the water.
It had been sometime since Bill had left. Sandy was straining his eyes staring over the water, trying to catch a glimpse of his partner, when a slight hissing sound came from behind him. He whipped around and found himself face to face with Bill. It took everything he had not to jump in surprise.
"Dang it, Bill!" Sandy ejaculated in a hoarse whisper. "You about scared me to death. Give a fellow some warning!"
"I hissed at you, didn't I? I Can't help it if you're not so good at watching out."
"You move quieter than a snake in silk!" Sandy paused to collect himself then asked, "Have any problems on the ship?"
Bill shook his head. "Used the anchor chain to climb aboard. Turns out there were only three men aboard. After a little scuffle there was only one."
Sandy frowned. "Did you learn anything from them?"
"Yep. Their landing party isn't too far ahead of us."
"Is Genny okay?" Sandy asked, concerned for the well being of the girl.
"Seems to be. Thatch made sure that she was treated decent. He needs her to interpret the map."
"So, I guess we need to catch up to them."
"I reckon so. We'd best get started."
Sandy nodded towards the two unconscious men, "What should we do with these two?"
"Leave'em. We'll be long gone by the time they wake up.."
While they had been talking, Bill had donned his clothes. He then removed the wire from each of the two unconscious men and handed it to his partner and nodded towards the jungle: "Let's go."
A few hours had passed and Sandy was sweating profusely as he followed Bill through the jungle, who was tracking the trail left by Thatch's party. Pausing to wipe the sweat from his face, Sandy groaned, "I think this is the hottest place I've ever been!"
"It's the high humidity."
"Yeah, don't I know it." Sandy eyed his partner a second. "And how is it that you're barely even sweating?!"
Bill shrugged. "Heat don't bother me much. But if you're too hot, you can lay down in this stream we're following."
"I'll pass for now."
The two men had gone perhaps another thousand yards when suddenly the ravine they were following opened up and dropped into a small valley. The stream formed a small waterfall that fell about fifty feet into a pool below.
Sandy, walking up behind Bill, saw him reach and push his hat up on his head and give a low whistle, as if in surprise. That was a very uncommon action for Bill. Sandy quickened his pace until he stood beside Bill, looking into the small valley.
"Holy Cow!" Sandy ejaculated, his eyes growing round
Below them, a German U-boat lay just beyond the pool, not quite on its side, but at an angle, leaning against boulders piled there by years of running water. Vines, shrubs, and small trees were growing around and over it.
"What is a submarine doing here? And how did it get here?"
Bill scratched his right cheek with a finger. "Looks like it's been laying there for awhile. I'd say there must have been a large storm, probably a typhoon, and the U-boat was washed ashore in the storm surge. I've seen some signs that would be consistent with storm damage from several years in the past."
After staring at the submarine for several seconds, Sandy turned to Bill. "Do you think we could see if we can get inside of it?"
Bill shook his head. "I wouldn't recommend it for now. After we get Genny back and deal with Thatch, maybe then."
"You're right, Genny comes first. At least we found the valley." Sandy pulled his binoculars out and put them to his eyes. "Yep, that's where we need to go. See those two hills on the far side of the valley? We need to go right between them. That should lead us directly to where we need to go. According to the map, it's supposed to be the entrance into a bowl shaped valley that's surrounded by high cliffs. In there is where the treasure is supposed to be cached."
Sandy followed Bill as he made his way down into the valley. They skirted the pool of water into which the stream fell from above and walked beside the U-boat.
Sandy looked longingly at the submarine as they passed by.
Before long they were standing at the base of a steep incline that went between the two hills they had sighted earlier.
"That is where the map says we should go," Sandy said, pointing towards the relatively narrow passage between the two large hills that rose above them.
Bill eyed the passage. "Wait a bit, before following me up. If you don't see me for awhile, just continue on. I'll be scouting around."
From experience, Sandy knew that Bill often liked to go off on his own to check out the situation.
"Okay, just be careful, Bill."
"I'm always particular." With that, Bill turned and slowly made his way up the incline, and then disappeared over the top.
After about thirty minutes, Sandy's decided that he'd waited long enough. He then started up the incline, moving slowly.
As it neared the top, the passage narrowed considerably. After reaching the top, Sandy looked out over the rim of a large bowl shaped, jungle filled, valley.
Glancing to his right, Sandy saw a rock ledge that worked its way down the rim until it reached the jungle below.
Sandy made his way down the rock ledge path as quickly as he safely could. On the valley floor he found an old path leading into the jungle. He moved ahead, past a clump of foliage. Suddenly there was the sound of a gun cocking! Sandy spun around. A man had stepped out from behind the clump of bushes that Sandy had just walked past, and was holding a revolver.
"Don't make no sudden move to grab your pistol," the man growled. "Else I'll have to put a bullet in ya."
Sandy slowly raised his hands. "Hey, I ain't itchin' to be shot."
"Take it out of the holster, real slow like, and drop it on the ground. Do the same with your knife and then back up."
"Sure thing," Sandy followed the man's instructions.
The man picked up the Luger and the knife, then slipped them under his belt, all the while keeping his gun pointed at the young detective.
"All right, head on down the path."
Sandy turned and started walking.
The jungle path on which Sandy and his captor had started down didn't go far into the jungle before it made a sharp left turn .
Shortly thereafter, they walked into a clearing. To the left was the cliff wall of the valley and about halfway up, a river gushed from a large hole. Apparently, at sometime long in the past, an underground river had burst from the cliff side, creating the river that now flowed into the jungle.
Sandy took in the clearing at a glance. He saw that two armed men stood guard, standing on opposite sides of the clearing. A small campsite, consisting of some tents around a fire, stood beside the river.
The men with the rifles came to attention and pointed their weapons at the two men as they walked slowly into camp.
"Hey boys, looks what I found. I guess the old man was right, we were followed."
The guard standing closest spoke up. "Ain't no way he's by hisself, Roscoe, who else is out there?"
Roscoe touched Sandy in the back with the barrel of this pistol. "I'm sure he'll tell us everything we want to know. Ain't that right, boy?"
They had continued walking into the camp as they were talking and now they were close to the tents and the fire. Some folding stools had been set up and Roscoe pointed to one with his pistol. "Pull that backpack off, then sit down, slow like."
Sandy removed his backpack, placed it on the ground, then sat down and slowly looked around, taking in everything.
Stepping back, Roscoe also looked around. "Where's the Captain, Jed?"
Jed, who'd been tending to a pot of food over the fire, walked over. "He and the girl went swimming."
"Swimming? What the hell for?" Roscoe looked at the river. "I don't see them anywhere."
"Captain said he figured out that the treasure could only be gotten to from underwater. He took the girl and they went into the river. They dived down by that big rock over there, then disappeared. They only been gone a few minutes."
Roscue whistled silently. "I hope that crazy old man ain't done drowned hisself and that girl."
"What treasure are you fellows looking for?" Sandy asked, trying his best to look innocent.
"Just who is this guy?" Jed asked.
"That's what I'm about to find out." Roscoe holstered his pistol then tapped the hilt of a large knife in a scabbard on his belt. "Tell us who you are and what you're doin' here, or I'll slice you up."
Sandy smiled. "Hey, no need for the knife. I'll tell you whatever you want to know." He stuck out his hand, "I'm Tom Sandy."
Roscoe, being used to shaking someone's hand when it was proffered, unthinkingly grabbed Sandy's hand. He realized what he'd done a moment too late to keep Sandy from squeezing his hand. The thug let out a yelp and jerked his hand back, shaking it.
"What's the matter Roscoe?" Jed asked, taking a step back.
Roscoe was examining a small spot on the palm of his hand. "Felt like something stung me!" He looked at Sandy. "What the hell did you do?!"
The young detective just smiled and shrugged.
Roscoe suddenly toppled over, right on to Jed, who tried to grab him.
Sandy stood up and slapped Jed on the arm. At the same instant, he threw down a couple of what looked like glass "marbles" that he pulled from hidden pockets sewn into his shirt. He had reached for them as he stood. The instant the round glass containers shattered, a thick black smoke began welling up, surrounding the three men.
Inside the cloud of smoke, Jed, knocked off balance by Roscoe, fell to the ground with Roscoe on top of him. For a second he attempted to push the larger man off him, but then stopped struggling and lay still. Both men had been rendered unconscious by a fast acting drug, delivered via miniature needle that was hidden in a ring that Sandy wore.
Both of the guards, startled by the sudden action, quickly pulled up their rifles, but couldn't see what was happening because of the smoke.
"Should we just shoot into the smoke?" the smaller of the two men asked.
"Are you crazy? We might hit Jed or Roscoe! You go around to the other side of that smoke and watch out for the prisoner!"
"Right!" The man trotted around the cloud of smoke, not getting too close in case it contained poison gas.
The smoke rapidly began to dissipate, allowing the two men to see Jed and Roscoe lying on the ground. However, there was no sign of their prisoner!
The water was very cold as Sandy slipped quietly into the river. He'd made a quick dash for the river, letting the thick smoke between him and the two guards cover his escape
The bottom dropped away almost instantly. Sinking to the bottom, Sandy squinted, looking around. He knew he didn't have long to find what he knew must be close by.
There it was! A small opening in the rocky side of the river. As Sandy moved towards it, he realized that there were actually two openings, a few feet apart. He had very little time to make a decision, so he chose the one to his right.
Sandy moved to the opening he'd chosen. He grasped the sides with his hands and pulled himself into the cave entrance. He began half-pulling and half-swimming along the passage.
Just as Sandy was starting to think that he could hold his breath no longer, his head burst out of the water! He gulped down air and after a minute or so, his breathing slowed. Sandy pulled himself out of the water. Slipping the waterproof flashlight from his belt, Sandy turned it on and played the beam around. He was on one side of a small chamber and the beam of the flashlight showed him an opening on the far side. It was a small cave that angled downward.
He entered the small cave and after a few minutes, his ears picked up the sound of voices! After switching off his flashlight, he slowly moved forward until suddenly the cave opened into a very large chamber.
The space was dimly lighted by the glow of a lantern being held by one of two people who were standing close to a pool of water in the middle of the chamber. To one side there was a smaller pool of water.
Sandy saw that the person holding the lantern had wild hair and a large beard, although both were matted from being wet. It had to be Ned Thatch! In his right hand was a sword and he was pointing it at the smaller person: Genny!
"Captain, you don't need me anymore. There is no treasure here, so let me go!" The young girl pleaded. "Belay that bilge!" The man said, raising his voice. "Do ye think I be after baubles an' trinkets made of gold? Lass, ye know nothin'!"
After setting the lantern on the floor, he gestured with his now empty left hand towards the smaller pool of water. "Thar be what I been searchin' for all these years!"
Genny looked at the pool of water, then turned back to Thatch, clearly puzzled.
Thatch reached down with his left hand and unhitched the canteen hanging from his side. He deftly tossed it to his captive.
Catching the canteen, Genny grew even more puzzled. "What's this for? It's empty."
"Lass, go ov'r to the small pool o' water and fill the canteen."
Thatch's demeanor as well as the sword he was once again pointing at her made a convincing argument to continue doing whatever he wanted.
The girl walked to the pool and filled the canteen. She replaced the cap and turned back to Thatch.
"Throw it to me."
Genny tossed the canteen. Thatch reached up and caught the canteen with no trouble even though it was now much heavier than before. He reattached it to his belt then started moving towards the girl, his sword still pointed at her.
Sandy, alarmed, knew he had to get Genny away from the madman quickly! He spoke up, "Put the sword down, Thatch, and let Genny go!"
Thatch jerked his head around to stare at Sandy, his eyes widening. The sword never wavered, holding steady. Suddenly the man let out a large guffaw, and gave a large toothed grin, barely visible through his beard.
"Shiver me timbers if it ain't Jack Morgan's matey. Where be the ole scurvy dog?"
The crazy old man laughed . "I'll have to keelhaul the both of ya. Can't ha'e ya knowin' where that be," he said has he swept the sword around to point at the pool of water.
Genny shook her head in puzzlement. "Know where what is? There's nothing there but a pool of water."
Whipping his head around to face Genny, Thatch's voice dropped low with intensity, "Nay, lass. It be the Fountain of Youth! That be the real treasure the map was pointin' to!"
"Fountain of Youth?" Sandy muttered under his breath. "He really is crazy."
Surreptitiously, Sandy reached into a pocket on his shirt and removed two darts that were hidden therein. Thatch didn't notice. Each dart tip was coated with the same anesthetic that Sandy used in his ring.
Sandy demanded "Let her go, Thatch. There's no such thing as a 'Fountain of Youth', so you can have your pool of water, we don't want it."
"Arrrrrhh! No Fountain of Youth, ya say! How do ye think I still live after 243 years, boy? I came upon a bottle of water from the Fountain in the booty of a ship I took! I been lookin' fer the Fountain ever since!"
"I don't think you're over two century's old. Now move away from Genny and we'll be on our way."
Thatch watched the young detective a second, then suddenly moved the sword back towards Genny!
Sandy lunged towards the girl and at the same time threw the two darts at the madman!
Knocking the girl to the cavern floor, Sandy ducked just in time, the sword swooshing through the air above his head!
After missing both the girl and the young man with his sword, Thatch drew his right arm above his head. He stopped and looked down, seeing two darts sticking out of his chest. He laughed. "Darts? Ya think these puny things will stop me, lad?"
Suddenly his grin melted and he looked puzzled. His sword arm dropped to his side. He glanced down at his hand as the blade clattered to the cave floor. He dropped to his knees and swayed back and forth.
Sandy, knowing that the danger from the man was over, turned to help the girl. "Are you all right?"
Genny pushed herself up into a sitting position then took the hand that Sandy proffered. "I think I'll be just -- LOOK OUT!"
Sandy spun around! In disbelief he saw that Thatch had regained his feet and had his sword back in his hand. But instead of coming at Sandy and the girl, Thatch whirled around, ran unsteadily to the large pool of water, and dive in.
Sandy reached down and grabbed the lantern and ran over to the pool, looking, but there was no sign of the crazy old man in the dark water.
Genny rushed over to Sandy's side. "He's getting away! That's the way we came in! Go after him!"
Sandy shook his head. "My first priority is you."
Suddenly, as if she had just realized that she didn't know whom this young man was, Genny backed away.
Sandy, understanding her fear, held out his hand and smiled. "It's okay. Your dad sent us to find you. I'm Tom Sandy."
Genny stared at him a few seconds then shook his hand.
"My dad? He really sent you!?"
"He sure did. He hired me and my partner, William Toombs. We're detectives."
"William Toombs?" Suddenly her eyes widened. "Graveyard Toombs?! The gun fighter?"
Sandy grinned. "One and the same. He and I opened a detective agency. But this is the first time we ever took on a kidnapping case or a crazy old man what thought he was a famous dead pirate."
Genny glanced at the pool of water into which Thatch had disappeared. "He certainly seemed to be crazy." She then glanced around the cavern. "And it looks as if someone has already taken the treasure, if it was ever here at all."
"Assuming this the right spot, I guess so. "
Genny shrugged. "I guess we were just too late. It's probably been gone for years."
"You're probably right. Are you ready to get out of here?"
Genny nodded, and shivered. "Yes, let's go." They headed back down the tunnel from which Sandy had come.
Shortly thereafter, their heads slowly breaking the surface of the stream, Sandy and Genny looked towards the spot where Thatch and his men had set up camp. There was no one there.
They spent a few minutes moving about the camp, then Sandy spoke. "Looks like they left. I was hoping they might have left my gun, but they didn't. However, they did leave my backpack." He strapped on the backpack then said, "We should get going. These guys probably headed back to their ship and they might try to find our boat and cause problems. Plus I'd like to know where Bill is."
"Bill? You mean Graveyard?" Genny asked.
"Yeah, I just call him Bill. He's got to be around here somewhere. The last I saw of him he was scouting ahead, so there's no telling where he is. I'm sure he'll find us though. He has a knack for that. Are you ready?"
Genny glanced around. "I've been ready."
A good deal of time had passed by the time that Sandy and Genny made it to the top of the valley rim. They hadn't walked much further when suddenly a voice from behind said "Have any problems?"
Genny gave out a squeak of fright and Sandy spun around, his hand grabbing for his missing Luger, when he saw who had spoken. "Damn it all to hell, Bill! You have got to stop sneaking up on me like that!"
Shaking his head, Sandy asked, "Where have you been?"
"Was scouting around when I had a run in with a survivor of your U-boat."
"What?! You found a German?"
"More like he found me. Turns out, he wasn't very friendly."
"Where is he now?"
Bill's eyes grew hard. "He didn't leave me much of a choice. I had to shoot him."
Sandy stared at Bill, his shoulders sinking. He'd hoped to talk to the German.
Bill looked at the girl, "Genny?"
Genny nodded. "And you're Graveyard Toombs?"
"Yes. But you can call me William or Bill." He faced Sandy. "Let's walk as we talk."
The three of them started walking.
"The last I saw of him, he dived into a pool of water down in a cave." Sandy went on to tell his partner everything that had happened since they had separated.
Bill didn't interrupt Sandy while he was recounting the tale, but after his partner finished, Bill asked, "He thought he had found the Fountain of Youth?"
"That's what he said. He was crazy as a loon." Sandy turned to look at Bill. "So what happened with you and that German fellow?"
"He got the drop on me and hit me in the head with a rock. Then he took me down into a cave."
Sandy's eye widened and he shook his head in stunned disbelief. "This guy actually got the drop on you and knocked you out?!"
"Well, I weren't exactly knocked out. Thought I'd play possum and see where it got me. Ended up in a scuffle and he didn't leave me any choice."
"I should've known," said Sandy then switched subjects. "I'm afraid these men will be able to get to their ship and be gone before we can get there!" Sandy said with disgust.
"Maybe not. I did a few things when I was on their ship that should slow them. We just need to move quickly."
When they reached the beach, Bill moved ahead, scouting, to make sure no one was lying in wait. They pushed the dinghy into the water and then made their way to the Albatross.
Shortly thereafter, Captain Clausen was helping them aboard with a smile.
"Good you see you back! And Genny, I'm so glad to see that you're okay!"
Genny gave the Captain a hug. "You and me both, Captain Clausen. All that time with that madman Thatch, I never knew what was going to happen."
"Come young lady, there's fresh clothes and good food waiting for you."
Bill, climbing aboard after Genny and Sandy, addressed the Captain. "We need to get moving as soon as possible. We need to catch the Queen Anne's Revenge."
Clausen motioned for Genny to go below deck to get the clothes and food, then turned to Bill. "Let's weigh anchor."
Soon they were underway and before long the Albatross rounded a beachhead and the Queen Anne's Revenge hove into sight. They were closing upon her quickly.
Sandy pulled out his spyglass and took a close up look at their adversary. "I don't believe it! Thatch made it! He's on deck!"
"Figured as much." Bill didn't seem surprised.
"They've weighed anchor, so they must have fixed whatever you did."
Sandy lowered his telescope, his face suddenly white. "I think there's something we forgot, Bill."
Bill raised an eyebrow. "Forgot?"
"They have cannon on that ship!"
"Do they, now. Well, I'd say we're a bit lucky," Bill continued.
"Lucky?!" Sandy exploded. " How's that?"
Bill explained, "The original Queen Anne's Revenge had forty guns. This one only has six. And there's only enough crew left to man two of 'em."
"I'd say two is plenty!" Sandy turned back to look at the other ship.
Now that the two ships were not far apart, Thatch strode to the rail of his ship, faced the Albatross, and cupped his mouth with his hands. "Ahoy, Jack Morgan! Back away or I'll be blastin' you to Davy Jones' Locker!"
"Just who is Jack Morgan?" Sandy asked Bill. "He mentioned him before."
"He was a member of Blackbeard's crew, two hundred years ago," Bill said quietly.
He then cupped his hands around his mouth and addressed Thatch. "Don't even think of using them guns or you'll be sorry! Heave-to and stand down."
"I found what I was lookin' for, Jack, me old matey. Leave me be or I'll put the black mark on ya. If ye were anyone else, I'd make ya kiss the gunners's daughter and then keelhaul ya. "
"You kidnapped that girl and now you have to pay. You know I ain't gonna let you go."
Thatch threw back his head and laughed. "Begad! I think I'm whistlin' psalms to the taffrail! Heed me advice and maybe one day we'll meet again and splice the main brace. Ignore it, ya scurvy ole dog, and ye'll be feedin' the fishes!"
Sandy, who had been watching and listening, saw a man in the crow's nest of the other ship suddenly pull up a rifle. "Watch. . . !"
Before Sandy could finish the warning, Bill had unslung his rifle from his shoulder with explosive speed, and brought it to bear!
BOOOOM! The explosion from Graveyard's .375 H&H Magnum Nitro-Express rifle spread over the water, preceded by the large bullet that knocked the man from the crow's nest on the Queen Anne's Revenge.
Thatch looked at the dead sailor lying on the deck. He raised his right fist sand shook it at Bill. "Enough o' this you cursed old Jack Tar! Say hello to Davy Jones!" With that he shouted to his men. "Ready the guns and fire on me command!" He then ducked down behind the railing of the ship.
Suddenly two cannon moved forward through gun ports, their ugly maws ready to spout death!
Bill swung his rifle over to try and get a bead on the men manning the cannon.
"Can you see them, Bill?"
"No, they're behind the bulwark."
"I'll go grab one of my gas grenades that's rigged for a rifle and you can shoot it over there!" Sandy said, headed below deck where he had stowed his gear.
Bill lowered his rifle, turned, and raised his voice, addressing Captain Clausen. "Sig, we need to turn away from the Queen Anne's Revenge."
The captain nodded.
Bill turned back to face his adversary, ready to raise his rifle if anyone so much as peeked over the railing of the other ship.
Sandy had just come back on deck when he heard Thatch's voice carry across the water ."FIRE!" Sandy realized that it was too late to use his grenade. As he turned and dived back down below, he heard two explosions, coming almost simultaneously, and then a split-second later, a third, much larger explosion!
Sandy lay sprawled where he had landed, braced for the impact of cannonballs. But after a few seconds, nothing had happened. Scrambling to his feet, he climbed back up on deck.
The sight that greeted the young detective caused his eyes to open wide. He moved up to stand beside his partner. To Sandy's utter disbelief, there was massive destruction to Queen Anne's Revenge. Debris was still falling from the sky, joining that which already littered the water round the ship.
Genny appeared from below deck. Her eyes growing even larger than Sandy's when she saw the destruction to the pirate ship.
"What happened?!" Genny ejaculated.
"I might have rigged the guns," Bill said calmly. "I warned Thatch not to use'em."
Sandy stared as this partner. "You might have…," he said, trailing off before continuing. "I should've known you had somethin' up your sleeve. But it looks like more than just two cannon exploded!"
Bill nodded. "I'd say the ship's magazine went up as well. They had quite a bit of gunpowder stored in there."
The young detective eyed his partner a second, then turned back to the pirate ship. The Queen Anne's Revenge was starting to list, apparently taking on water.
"Where's Thatch?" Sandy asked. "Or anyone. I don't see a soul."
"I'd say it'd be highly unlikely anyone survived," Bill said.
"Should we try to board her and see if we can find anyone?"
Bill shook his head. "No, she'll be on the bottom shortly."
Sure enough, within just a matter of minutes the ship was completely submerged. Genny then made a statement that seemed to sum up everyone's feelings: "Good riddance."
They had returned her to an overjoyed father who couldn't thank them enough. He had attempted to write them a large check for their services, but much to Sandy's chagrin, Bill wouldn't allow it.
Sandy had gotten a good night's rest, had arisen to a hearty breakfast, but was now eager to write up his notes on the case.
As usual, Bill was already in the office. He was sitting at his desk, reading a piece of paper. Lying to one side on the desktop was Bill's backpack and canteen.
As Sandy sat down in the chair facing the desk, Bill looked up. "Sleep late, again?"
Sandy shook his head. "Yeah, late," he said sarcastically with a grin. " I'm convinced you just don't sleep, Bill."
"Not as much as I'd like. But, truth be told, I just got here myself."
"Ha! That's a first! I guess you were as tired as I was."
"Maybe, maybe not."
"You know, I still can't get over that crazy old man thinking he was actually Blackbeard and that you were a member of his old crew named Jack Morgan!"
"Ever consider the possibility that he might actually have been Blackbeard?"
"What?!" Sandy was surprised. "Everyone's been looking for the Fountain of Youth since Ponce de Leon and it just doesn't exist. And no one can live for two hundred years!"
"I thought your scientific trainin' helped you keep an open mind."
"It does, but not enough for my brains to fall out!" He laughed then grew serious again. "What we should be talkin' about is payin' the bills! I'm not sure how we're goin' to pay them if you start lettin' people get away with not payin' us for our services. Mr. Thompson was willin' to pay us a nice sum for bringin' Genny home."
Bill leaned back and said, "I'd say we made out okay."
"Okay?!" Sandy spouted. "How's that? We didn't get paid one red cent!"
"Well now, I wouldn't say that," Bill said and he reached for his backpack, pulling it over to the center of the desk. He opened the top flap, and slowly upended the pack, spilling diamonds, rubies, and emeralds out onto the desktop.
Sandy's mouth dropped open. "Holy cow! Where did you get all of that?!"
"After my run in with that German, I looked around a bit and found a chest filled with these gems hidden in the cave."
"You found the treasure?"
"No, I only found the one chest. I suspect that it was all that remained of the treasure. Maybe the Germans took it. There's no telling what really happened to it. I'd say it gives us an excuse to go back to the island and explore, though."
"We should have gone right back to the island instead of coming straight home after the Queen Anne's Revenge sunk! What if someone else goes there first?"
"I get the feeling that very few people ever visit that island. It's in a location that's not easy to find without the map. And if any treasure does remain, it's well hidden."
"I suppose you're right." Sandy picked up one of the diamonds, turning it in his hand, watching it sparkle. "We should have offered to split these with Mr. Thompson. I think it would've only been fair."
"I made an offer to him while you were out of the room. I explained to him what I'd found and he wasn't interested at all. But I think we should make a large contribution to the church, however. They'll be able to help lots of people with the money."
Sandy nodded. "Yes, I think that would be just fine."
"Why don't you go ahead and start writin' up your notes on the case since I know you're just itchin' to do so."
Sandy laid the diamond he was holding back down on the desk and stood up. "Sounds like a plan. I'll get to it." He turned and started for the door.
Bill leaned forward. "I'll put the gems in the safe," he said. "Close the door behind you, if you don't mind."
"Sure thing," Sandy said and pulled the door shut behind him.
Striding over to his desk, the blond detective sat down in front of his typewriter. He always enjoyed writing the notes to the cases that he and Bill closed.
He reached into a drawer and pulled out several sheets of paper. He gave a huge grin as he started to put a sheet into the typewriter. He loved nothing more than being a science detective!
As the door shut behind Sandy, Bill scooped the gems back into the backpack, picked it up, along with the canteen, and walked over to the vault door set in one wall of the office. The vault was left over from when the building had been a bank. The bank had gone out of business and Bill and Sandy had rented the building sometime afterwards.
Bill worked the dial, spinning it back and forth and then opened the heavy door and stepped inside. Various items from their previous cases were stored inside the vault.
Bill stepped to one side of the vault where there were many drawers set into the wall. He pulled open an empty one into which he poured the gems. Next he moved to the back of the vault. Sitting there was a large safe, one that had been designed by Sandy at Bill's request. This was Bill's personal safe and no one else, not even Sandy, had access to it.
Bill reached into a pocket and pulled out a coin. Although it would look like an ordinary coin to anyone who didn't know any better, it was a special magnetic coin created by Sandy. Bill placed the coin on top of the safe in a very particular, if unmarked, location. Next, Bill pulled out a key and inserted it into a hole on the front of the safe and gave it a 180-degree turn to the left. He then spun the dial back and forth, entering a six-digit combination instead of a standard three-digit one. He moved the coin on top to another particular location and then gave the key another 180-degree turn to the left. He grasped the door handle and twisted it upwards and pulled, swinging the safe door open without a sound.
Bill reached into the safe and removed a glass bottle with a glass stopper. Inside the bottle was what appeared to be a very small amount of water. After removing the glass stopper, Bill carefully poured the water from the canteen into the bottle, making sure to not spill a single drop. He then replaced the stopper, and put the bottle back into the safe.
Lying on the shelf next to the bottle was a small book. Bill picked it up and looked at it. In very faded writing across the front was written, "The Diary of Jack Morgan." He stared at the book a few seconds, before placing it back beside the bottle. He shut the safe door and locked it.
Anyone watching Bill when he was holding the book would have noticed a very strange thing indeed: They would have seen that his hands were shaking.
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