Hogan's Treasure

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
A story for my granddaughters, a little longer than I intended.

Submitted: October 04, 2018

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Submitted: October 04, 2018

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Tessa stormed out of the house in a temper because her mother wouldn’t let her bake a chocolate cake! Well it was a rainy summer’s day and there was nothing else to do! Which wasn’t exactly true because she lots of books, way too many toys, crayons and of course her Dad’s annoyingly slow old laptop. Her temper made her forget that in just three days it would be her ninth birthday and although small for her age, she was a healthy, strong little girl, mainly because she liked to jump on the trampoline, and ride her bicycle.

They lived in a seaside village, almost on the beach and she liked to look out of the sitting room window at the crashing waves, soaring gulls and Shultz’s Island out beyond the breakers.  Even though the wind could be fierce and cold, she loved living there. Her favorite game was to run as close to the water as possible, chasing each wave out and running back in front of the next wave trying her best not to get her feet wet. Today, although it was wet, it wasn’t cold and but she was in no mood to care about getting wet, even though she knew her Mum would growl!

The rain soon cooled Tessa’s temper. She was normally a placid kid. She picked up sticks of driftwood and threw them out into the sea as far as she could, not watching to see them come ashore. Suddenly, there at her feet, half buried in the sand was a clear bottle with a sealed top. She had to scratch some of the sand away to free the bottle but soon she held it in her had. She could see a piece of paper inside, but couldn’t pull out the stopper sealing the bottle.

Tessa didn’t think the bottle or the note would be important but she decided to take it home and to ask her father if he could open the bottle for her so she could read the note.

‘Do you think there’s a treasure map in there?’ teased Tessa’s Dad.

‘Not really,’ replied Tessa, ‘I just want to see what the note says.’

The stopper wouldn’t come out so Dad found an old towel and wrapped the bottle in it, then he smacked it with his hammer. They unwrapped the broken bottle and Dad extracted the note, which was folded.

‘It isn’t paper you know Tessa,’ he said, ‘it’s more like thin bark.’

Her Dad carefully unfolded the note and spread it on the bench to read.

The note said: You will find that which you seek on Shultz’s Island. Between the pillar rocks follow the line of the sun to the Cleft Rock. Bring not guns or swords.

‘Daddy, it is a treasure map! A real treasure map!’ Tessa blushed with excitement. ‘Can we go over to Shultz’s Island to follow the directions? Please!’

‘Don’t be silly!’ replied Dad, ‘It’s just a dumb trick – there’s nothing to it.’

‘Please Dad!’ she pleaded, using her soft, big eyes that often got the results she wanted. ‘Please.’ She said it quietly this time.

‘No Tessa, someone has just played a trick.’ she knew from his tone that her father was no longer interested in the note, but she was certain there was treasure on Shultz’s Island and began thinking how she could get there. Shultz’s Island was not really big enough to call and island. It was not even on most maps because it was so small.  She decided to confide in her little sister, Mayzie, maybe she could come up with a plan, after all, she always had good ideas!

‘Old man Hovis might help,’ Mayzie suggested brightly, ‘he’s got that boat with the putt-putt motor. He goes out, fishing, if the sea’s not rough.’

Tessa was surprised that Mayzie knew about old Hovis, because she certainly didn’t. She had heard the putt-putt motor sure enough but hadn’t given it any thought.

‘Do you know him?’ asked Tessa.

‘Oh yes,’ replied her sister enthusiastically, ‘I help him mend his nets ’cos he can’t see too good close up.’

Tessa didn’t know that either.

Mayzie and Tessa hurried to find old Hovis who was fast asleep in a bed of fishing nets.

Mayzie coughed to warn him that they were near so as not to give him a fright.

‘Did you catch any fish today, Mr. Hovis?’ Mayzie asked brightly.

‘Oh hello Mayzie,’ he said sitting up and squinting, ‘only a couple. Who’s this you’ve brought to see me?’

‘This is my big sister, Tessa,’ she replied, ‘she wants to ask you to take us out to Shultz’s Island.’

‘Does she now? Why do you want to go out there?’ old Hovis looked at Tessa. ‘There’s nothing much to see out there.’

‘Just for adventure, and to see what’s over there.’ replied Tessa.

‘Well, it’s good for kids to have adventures.’ smiled old Hovis. ‘Tell you what, I’ll come and see your Dad to make sure it’s ok, if he says yes, I’ll take you there tomorrow as long as the sea’s quiet.’

‘But I wanted to keep it a secret!’ protested Tessa, but not in a cheeky way. ‘Dad mightn’t let us go.’

‘Ah well, it’s up to him.’ insisted old Hovis. ‘We won’t be going without his say so.’

Together they walked to the girls’ house and found their father pulling weeds in the vegetable garden. He looked up.

‘Hey Larry, how have you been?’ he asked old Hovis.

‘Oh me old back’s been giving me jip lately,’ replied Hovis, ‘but I’m good. How about you?’

‘Can’t complain.’ replied the girl’s Dad. He knew something was up and thought it best to wait to be told.

‘Young Tessa here,’ Hovis explained, ‘wants an adventure so needs a lift over to Shultz’s Island.’

Tessa’s dark look showed her father that he shouldn’t mention about the treasure map!

‘Adventure eh?’ said their father pretending to be thoughtful. He knew old Hovis well and trusted him.

‘There’s good weather forecast for tomorrow, I could drop them off for a couple of hours.’

‘Three!’ cut in Tessa. ‘Can we be there for three hours?’

‘Ok by me.’ old Hovis shrugged, ‘what’s your Dad say?’

‘That’s ok as long as you take water and something to eat. What time Larry?’

‘You girls be at my place by about nine in the morning and we’ll set sail!’

Old Hovis dropped the girls off on the island’s sandy beach with their pack of food and water.

‘I’ll be back in three hours to pick you up.’ he told them and puttered off in his small boat.

Tessa took over! Well she was the boss on this trip, wasn’t she? They walked up the sandy beach and pushed through a narrow line of tall rushes.

‘Let’s climb on that rock!’ suggested Mayzie, ‘We’ll be able to see where we’re going from up there.’

‘I was just going to suggest that.’ replied Tessa.

They climbed the rock and could see that there were a few low hillocks, some big boulders, and small trees dotted here. There were also several gulls squawking in flight.

‘Look!’ pointed Tessa, ‘those two tall rocks over there, they look like pillars, I bet that’s where we are supposed to be!’

It wasn’t far and soon the girls stood between the rock pillars.

‘Now then,’ said Tessa happily, ‘what’s the line of the sun?’ And she looked up at the sun.

‘Hmm,’ she said thoughtfully, ‘the sun comes up out of the sea over there, and it’s up there now, so that’s the direction we go.’

They walked into a shallow gulley.

‘Now,’ said Tessa, ‘we look out for a cleft rock.’

‘What’s a cleft rock?’ asked Mayzie.

‘I don’t know.’ shrugged Tessa, ‘what’s cleft mean?’

‘Well I don’t know either.’  Confirmed Mayzie. ‘Are we stuck then?’

‘Not likely.’ replied her older sister, ‘It must be some sort of different rock, one that’s not the same as the rest.’

‘What about that one?’ Mayzie suggested pointing to a round-looking rock.

‘That one’s not very different,’ Tessa said half-heartedly looking around and remembered it had to be in line with the sun. ‘Look there’s a rock that’s split in half by a tree growing out of it. Cleft might mean cut in half! Let’s look!’

They ran to the cleft rock and looked around it.

‘Do you see a clue?’ asked Tessa.

‘Ewww!’ exclaimed Mayzie, ‘look up in the tree, there’s the bones of a dead animal!’

Tangled in the branches were the bones of a long-dead snake!

‘Look!’ exclaimed Tessa, ‘is that parchment stuck in the snake’s mouth? I can’t reach it!’ And she tried jumping to reach it.

‘I’ll lift you up.’ She said to Mayzie, excitement in her voice.

‘No way!’ replied Mayzie, ‘I’m not touching that yukky thing!’

‘You have to Mayzie!’ Tessa pleaded, ‘tell you what, I’ll push you on the swing for an hour when we get home.’

She just nodded acceptance as her big sister lifted her to reach the mouth of the snake. She caught hold of the parchment but the snake’s teeth were still sharp and held on to it, so Mayzie pulled a little harder. With a rattle and clatter of bones and a yelp from Mayzie, she fell on top of Tessa, parchment, bones and all!

‘Ewww!’ cried Mayzie

The parchment simply said: Polly sits in the shade of the umbrella tree.

Who’s Polly?’ whispered Mayzie.

‘I don’t know,’ replied Tessa, ‘must be the name of a pirate’s parrot!’

‘Pirates!’ exclaimed Mayzie, ‘Pirates are bad, I didn’t know pirates were here, let’s go!’

‘No, no, this is a treasure hunt and only pirates bury treasure.’ Explained Tessa. ‘That was long ago, there aren’t any pirates here now!’

‘So what are we looking for now?’ asked Mayzie nervously.

‘An umbrella tree?’ replied Tessa and she asked, ‘what tree is an umbrella tree? We don’t even know what direction it’s in.’

 By now they were nearly on the other side of the island. Mayzie scaled a boulder, shaded her eyes with her hand and looked around.

‘What do you see?’ called Tessa.

Mayzie didn’t answer, but turned her back to the sea and bent down to look towards the sea from between her legs.

‘I thought that!’ she mumbled.

‘What?’ called Tessa, a bit impatiently.

‘If you look at that tree over there, it looks like an upside down, closed umbrella.’ Mayzie called.

Tessa climbed the rock and copied her sister. The constant onshore wind had trimmed the tree so it really did look like a not-properly- closed umbrella. Once you knew it, you didn’t need to stand funny to see it.

It was east to get to the tree and there they found a skeleton! The skeleton of, according to its beak… a parrot! It was standing large as life, in the shade, propped against the leeward side of the tree! 

‘You didn’t expect a live parrot, did you?’ returned Tessa to Mayzie’s look, ‘remember, the pirates were here a hundred years ago!’

There was parchment lodged in the parrot skeleton’s beak. The writing on it was red! Written in blood it said, ‘The treasure you seek is twenty paces towards the needle.’

The needle?’ said a mystified Tessa.

‘There are needles in Mum’s sewing bag.’ Said Mayzie unhelpfully.

Tessa walked around in circles and kept repeating the word, needle. Thinking. She looked up at the squawk of a seagull as it tried to steal a cockle from another bird, and during the in-flight struggle, the cockle dropped, her gaze followed its path as it dropped, plop, into the sea. Her focus changed from the plop, to the sea just beyond and then she saw it.

‘Look Mayzie!’ she yelped excitedly, ‘that rock in the ocean is tall and thin like a needle! That must be it!’

‘Twenty paces,’ Tessa repeated, ‘pirates will have bigger paces than me.’

So, she counted out the twenty paces which ended in the middle of a sandy area. Looking, thinking.

‘I’ll go another ten!’ she told her sister. Not yet eight paces, almost buried in sand-drifts were white stones that seemed to be in a pattern. The girls began brushing the sand away, and realised they formed a large x!

‘X marks the spot!’ said Tessa excitedly, ‘we have to dig here!’

‘What with?’ asked practical Mayzie, ‘we didn’t bring a spade!’

‘With our hands of course!’ replied Tessa already starting, ‘It’s only sand.’

They dug under the middle stone but Tessa realized they would have to make a wider hole because the dry sand kept falling into the hole, but not so far down, there in the sand was an old wooden box!

‘We’ve found the treasure!’ exclaimed Tessa. ‘Look, there’s a label. It says, “Hogan’s Treasure”.’

There was no lock on the box, just a little snib, so Tessa undid it, pleased it wasn’t rusty. With wide eyes, she opened it. The hinges creaked!  Inside was a beautiful blue necklace and a matching bracelet! Oh! They were exactly the same as the set in the window of the jewelry store! The very same she had begged her mother to buy for her birthday! There was a gold envelope in the bottom of the box! Tessa excitedly opened it and to read the card inside.

‘Happy Birthday Tessa, from Mum, Dad & Mayzie!’ it read!

Of course! In all the excitement she had completely forgotten her birthday!

Back at the pickup point, not only was Mr. Hovis waiting, there was also a big crowd of friends and Dad was cooking sausages on the barbeque! And Mum had baked and iced a big chocolate cake!

This was Tessa’s best ever birthday!

 

 

 

 

 


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