The mysterious loss of a large portion of the treasure of the Incas hasnever been completely cleared up. By torturing the natives to whom thesecret had been entrusted, the Spaniards made two or three discoveries,but there can be little doubt that these finds were only a smallproportion of the total amount of the missing hoards, although for yearsafter their occupation of the country the Spaniards spared no pains andhesitated at no cruelty to bring to light the hidden wealth. The story ofthe boat which put to sea laden with treasure is historical, and it wasgenerally supposed that she was lost in a storm that took place soon aftershe sailed. It was also morally certain that the Peruvians who left thecountry when the Spaniards became masters carried off with them a verylarge amount of treasure into that part of South America lying east ofPeru. Legends are current that they founded a great city there, and thattheir descendants occupy it at the present time. But the forests are sothick, and the Indian tribes so hostile, that the country has never yetbeen explored, and it may be reserved for some future traveller,possessing the determination of my two heroes, to clear up the mystery ofthis city as they penetrated that of the lost treasure-ship. It needhardly be said that the state of confusion, misrule, and incessant civilwars which I have described as prevailing in Peru presents a true pictureof the country at the period in which this story is laid.
G. A. HENTY.
Two men were sitting in the smoking-room of a London club. The room wasalmost empty, and as they occupied arm-chairs in one corner of it, theywere able to talk freely without fear of being overheard. One of them wasa man of sixty, the other some five or six and twenty.
“I must do something,” the younger man said, “for I have been kicking myheels about London since my ship was paid off two years ago. At first, ofcourse, it didn’t matter, for I have enough to live upon; but recently Ihave been fool enough to fall in love with a girl whose parents wouldnever dream of allowing her to marry a half-pay lieutenant of the navywith no chance in the world of getting employed again, for I have nointerest whatever.”
“It is an awkward case certainly, Prendergast,” the other said; “and uponmy word, though I sympathize with you, I cannot blame Fortescue. He is notwhat you might call a genial man, but there is no doubt that he was asplendid lawyer and a wonderful worker. For ten years he earned more thanany man at the bar. I know that he was twice offered thesolicitor-generalship, but as he was making two or three times theofficial salary, he would not take it. I believe he would have gone onworking till now had he not suddenly come in for a very fine estate, owingto the death, in the course of two or three years, of four men who stoodbetween him and it. Besides, I fancy he got hints that in the generalopinion of the bar he had had a wonderfully good innings, and it was abouttime that younger men had a share in it. What his savings were I do notknow, but they must be very large. His three sons are all at the bar, andare rising men, so there was no occasion for him to go on piling up moneyfor them. But, as I say, he has always had the reputation of being a hardman, and it is practically certain that he would never allow his daughterto marry a man whom he would regard as next door to a pauper. Now, whatare you thinking of doing?”
“Well, sir, Miss Fortescue has agreed to wait for me for two years, and ofcourse I am eager to do something, but the question is what? I can sail aship, but even could I get the command of a merchantman, it would notimprove my position in the eyes of the parents of the lady in question.Now, you have been knocking about all over the world, I do wish you wouldgive me your advice. Where is there money to be got? I am equally ready togo to the North Pole or the Equator, to enter the service of an Indianprince, or to start in search of a treasure hidden by the old bucaneers.”
“You talk Spanish, don’t you?”
“Yes; all my service has been in the Mediterranean. We were two years offthe coast of Spain, and in and out of its ports, and as time hung heavilyon our hands, I got up the language partly to amuse myself and partly tobe able to talk fluently with my partners at a ball.”
The elder man did not speak for a minute or two.
“You have not thought of South America?” he said at last.
“No, Mr. Barnett; I don’t know that I have ever thought of one place morethan another.”
The other was again silent.