Part 7 out of 7
you for the freight agreed upon at once. They have all got labels on them,
and on your arrival, after being handed into store, are to remain till
called for. I am coming on in the _Nancy_. I do not know whether she is
faster than you are or not. At any rate, she is not likely to be long
"I think that possibly you will be home first, sir; the _Nancy_ made the
voyage out here a fortnight quicker than we did; but it depends, of
course, on what weather we meet with. I was on board her this afternoon,
and her captain and I made a bet of five pounds each as to which would be
in the port of London first. I shall have the anchor up by daylight. Now,
gentlemen, will you come down into the cabin and we will take a glass
Harry did so, and after emptying a tumbler and wishing the captain a quick
and pleasant voyage, he got into the boat and rowed two or three miles
along the shore, as a landing at that time of night might cause questions
to be asked; and then they lay down and slept by turns until morning
broke. A light breeze then sprang up, and hoisting sail they returned to
Callao. The _London_ was already far out at sea.
Two days later, Dias, José, and Maria arrived at Callao, having left the
mules at Lima.
"Was it got off all right, señor?" Dias asked.
"Yes. It was a pretty near touch, for we had to row nine hours, and only
saved our time by an hour."
"And when will you start again?"
"The _Nancy_ sails in four days, so I shall go down tomorrow morning. I
don't want to run the risk again of losing the boat."
"Well, we shall be stronger handed," Bertie said. "Of course I shall go
down with you; Dias says he will too; so we will be able to man four oars,
"What have you done with the goods?" Harry asked.
"I sold them all at Lima, señor, to the man I got them from. He took off a
third of the price, and said he could not have taken them if it had not
been that he had just got an order down from the Cerro mines, and was
short of some of the things they had ordered."
"That is all right, Dias."
Harry secured two rooms at the hotel, and they all sat talking far into
the night. "I hope you will get your silver down as comfortably as we have
got the gold."
"I have no fear about doing that, señor. The difficulty will be for me to
know what to do with it. I can never spend so much."
"Oh, nonsense, Dias!"
"I mean it, señor. Maria and I are quite agreed that we don't want any
larger house than we have got; and I know that if we did want a big one,
there would be all sorts of questions as to where I had got the money
"There would be no difficulty in answering that, Dias. You told me how
your friend found five mule-loads of silver in the bats' cave. You have
only got to say that you found yours hidden away, which would be the
truth. José is nineteen now, and you will want to provide him with some
good mules, and to put by some money for him when he wants to marry and
settle. I know you spoke very highly of an institution at Lima for the
orphans of natives. You can hand them over some, and when you and Maria
don't want it any longer you can leave them the rest."
Maria cried bitterly in the morning when they said goodbye. "I shall love
you and pray for you always, señors," she sobbed. "I shall never forget
all your kindness."
"We owe you more than you owe us," Harry said. "You have always been ready
to do everything, and you have kept us alive with your merry talk and good
spirits. You may be very sure that we shall never forget you."
José was almost equally affected. "You will never come back, señor," he
said, as the tears rolled down his cheeks.
"I may some day, José. I think it likely that I shall some day get up a
company to drain that lake in the golden valley. The gold will be more
useful as money than lying there. It must depend partly upon whether the
country is settled. People will not put money into Peru as long as you are
always fighting here."
Maria and José would have accompanied them down to the boat the next
morning, but Dias pointed out to them that they were apparently only going
out for a day's sail, and that if there were any partings on the shore it
would at once attract the suspicions of the customs-house officials there.
Accordingly, after a painful farewell, Dias and the two brothers went down
to the boat, where the mate was already awaiting them. The voyage was as
successful as the previous one had been. On the return journey the wind
held, and they arrived alongside of the _Nancy_ by eleven o'clock; the
bags were all safely in the hold by midnight. The first mate of the ship
had two days before been taken with fever and sent ashore, and the captain
had gladly accepted the offer of Harry's assistant to take the berth of
second mate, that officer having succeeded to the post of the first. Harry
had told him that he could sell the boat, and he had, before starting on
the trip, done so, on the understanding that it would be found on the
beach in charge of Dias when the _Nancy_ had sailed.
Harry had given him another ten pounds to provide himself with an outfit,
and had also asked him to distribute twenty among his former shipmates for
the same purpose, as these had lost all their clothing except what they
stood in. The ship's dinghy, with a couple of hands, towed the boat, with
Dias in it, to the shore. The muleteer was greatly affected at parting
with Harry and his brother.
"It has been a fortunate journey for us both," Dias said, "and I shall
always look back to the time we spent together with the greatest
"Here is a piece of paper with my address in London. I know that you will
have no difficulty in getting letters written for you. Let me hear from
you once every six months or so, telling me how you are getting on, and I
will write to you. Good-bye! We shall always remember you, and be thankful
that we had so faithful a guide here, and, I may say, so faithful a
The voyage home was an uneventful one, save that they met with a heavy
storm while rounding the Horn, and for some days the vessel was in great
danger. However, she weathered it safely, and when she arrived in the
Thames she found that the _London_ had come up on the previous tide.
"If it hadn't been for that storm we should have beaten her easily," the
captain said. "But I don't mind losing that fiver, considering that we
have gained four days on her."
On landing, Harry went straight to the Bank of England and informed the
managers that he had two hundred and eighty-two ingots of gold, weighing
about twenty pounds each, which he wished to deposit in their vaults until
they could weigh them and place their value to his credit, and he
requested them to send down one of their waggons to the docks the next day
to receive them. On the following evening he had the satisfaction of
knowing that the whole of the treasure was at last in safe-keeping. Then
he took a hackney-coach and drove to Jermyn Street, where he had taken
rooms, having the night before carried there the trunks which he had
stored before he left England. He smiled as he spread out suit after suit.
"I don't know anything about the fashions now," he said, "and for aught I
can tell they may have changed altogether. However, I don't suppose there
will be such an alteration that I shall look as if I had come out of the
ark. Certainly I am not going to wait till I get a new outfit.
"It did not seem to me," he said to himself, "that I left a ridiculously
large wardrobe before I went. But after knocking about for two years with
a single change, it really does seem absurd that I should ever have
thought I absolutely required all these things. Now, I suppose I had
better write to the old man and say that I have returned, and shall call
upon him to-morrow. The chances are ten to one against my catching him in
now, and as this is rather a formal sort of business, I had better give
him due notice; but I cannot keep Hilda in suspense. I wonder whether she
has the same maid as she had before I went away. I have given the girl
more than one half-guinea, and to do her justice I believe that she was so
attached to her mistress that she would have done anything for her without
them. Still, I can't very well knock at the door and ask for Miss
Fortescue's maid; I expect I must trust the note to a footman. If she does
not get it, there is no harm done; if he hands it to her father, no doubt
it would put him in a towering rage, but he will cool down by the time I
see him in the morning."
He sat down and wrote two notes. The first was to Mr. Fortescue; it only
"Dear Sir,--I have returned from abroad, and shall do myself the pleasure
of calling upon you at eleven o'clock tomorrow morning to discuss with you
a matter of much importance to myself."
The note to Hilda was still shorter:--
"My darling,--I am home and am going to call on your father at eleven
o'clock tomorrow morning. I am two months within the two years.--Yours
Having sealed both letters, he walked to Bedford Square. When the door
opened, he saw that the footman was one of those who had been in Mr.
Fortescue's service before he left.
"You have not forgotten me, Edward, have you?"
"Why, it is Mr. Prendergast! Well, sir, it is a long time since we saw
"Yes, I have been abroad. Will you hand this letter to Mr. Fortescue. Is
he in at present?"
"No, sir; he and Mrs. Fortescue are both out. Miss Fortescue is out too."
"Well now, Edward, will you hand this letter quietly to Miss Fortescue
when she comes in?" and he held out the note and a guinea with it.
The man hesitated.
"You need not be afraid of giving it to her," Harry went on. "It is only
to tell her what I have told your master in my letter to him, that I am
going to call tomorrow."
"Then I shall be glad to do it," the man said--for, as usual, the servants
were pretty well acquainted with the state of affairs, and when Harry went
away, and their young mistress was evidently in disgrace with her father,
they guessed pretty accurately what had happened, and their sympathies
were with the lovers. Harry returned to Jermyn Street confident that Hilda
would get his note that evening. He had no feeling of animosity against
her father, It was natural that, as a large land-owner, and belonging to
an old family, and closely connected with more than one peer of the realm,
he should offer strong opposition to the marriage of his daughter to a
half-pay lieutenant, and he had been quite prepared for the burst of anger
with which his request for her hand had been received. He had felt that it
was a forlorn hope; but he and Hilda hoped that in time the old man would
soften, especially as they had an ally in her mother. Hilda had three
brothers, and as the estates and the bulk of Mr. Fortescue's fortune would
go to them, she was not a great heiress, though undoubtedly she would be
On arriving the next morning Harry was shown into the library. Mr.
Fortescue rose from his chair and bowed coldly.
"To what am I indebted for the honour of this visit, Mr. Prendergast? I
had hoped that the emphatic way in which I rejected your--you will excuse
my saying--presumptuous request for the hand of my daughter, would have
settled the matter once and for all; and I trust that your request for an
interview to-day does not imply that you intend to renew that proposal,
which I may say at once would receive, and will receive as long as I live,
the same answer as I before gave you."
"It has that object, sir," Harry said quietly, "but under somewhat changed
conditions. I asked you at that time to give me two years, in which time
possibly my circumstances might change. You refused to give me a single
week; but your daughter was more kind, and promised to wait for the two
years, which will not be up for two more months."
"She has behaved like a froward and obstinate girl," her father said
angrily. "She has refused several most eligible offers, and I have to
thank you for it. Well, sir, I hope at least that you have the grace to
feel that it is preposterous that you should any longer stand in the way
of this misguided girl."
"I have come to say that if it is her wish and yours that I should stand
aside, as you say, I will do so, and in my letters I told her that unless
circumstances should be changed before the two years have expired I would
disappear altogether from her path."
"That is something at least, sir," Mr. Fortescue said with more courtesy
than he had hitherto shown. "I need not say that there is no prospect of
your obtaining my consent, and may inform you that my daughter promised
not to withstand my commands as far as you are concerned beyond the
expiration of the two years. I do not know that there is anything more to
"I should not have come here, sir, had there not been more to say, but
should simply have addressed a letter to you saying that I withdrew all
pretensions to your daughter's hand. But I have a good deal more to say. I
have during the time that I have been away succeeded in improving my
condition to a certain extent."
"Pooh, pooh, sir!" the other said angrily. "Suppose you made a thousand or
two, what possible difference could it make?"
"I am not foolish enough to suppose that it would do so; but at least this
receipt from the Bank of England, for gold deposited in their hands, will
show you that the sums you mention have been somewhat exceeded."
"Tut, tut, I don't wish to see it! it can make no possible difference in
"At least, sir, you wall do me the courtesy to read it, or if you prefer
not to do so I will read it myself."
"Give it me," Mr. Fortescue said, holding out his hand. "Let us get
through this farce as soon as possible; it is painful to us both."
He put on his spectacles, glanced at the paper, and gave a sudden start,
read it again, carefully this time, and then said slowly:
"Do you mean that the two hundred and eighty-two ingots, containing in all
five thousand six hundred and forty pounds weight of gold, are your
property? That is to say, that you are the sole owner of them, and not
only the representative of some mining company?"
"It is the sole property, Mr. Fortescue, of my brother and myself. I own
two-thirds of it. It is lost treasure recovered by us from the sea, where
it has been lying ever since the conquest of Peru by Pizarro."
"There is no mistake about this? The word pounds is not a mistake for
ounces?--although even that would represent a very large sum."
"The bank would not be likely to make such a mistake as that, sir. The
ingots weigh about twenty pounds each. I had a small piece of the gold
assayed at Callao, and its value was estimated at four pounds per ounce.
Roughly, then, the value of the sum deposited at the bank is two hundred
and seventy thousand pounds."
"Prodigious!" Mr. Fortescue murmured.
"Well, Mr. Prendergast, I own that you have astounded me. It would be
absurd to deny that this altogether alters the position. Against you
personally I have never had anything to say. You were always a welcome
visitor to my house till I saw how matters were tending. Your family, like
my own, is an old one, and your position as an officer in the King's Naval
Service is an honourable one. However, I must ask you to give me a day to
reflect over the matter, to consult with my wife, and to ascertain that my
daughter's disposition in the matter is unchanged."
"Thank you, sir! But I trust that you will allow me to have an interview
with Miss Fortescue now. It is two years since we parted, and she has
suffered great anxiety on my account, and on the matter of my safety at
least I would not keep her a moment longer in suspense."
"I think that after the turn the matter has taken your request is a
reasonable one. You are sure to find her in the drawing-room with her
mother at present. I think it is desirable that you should not see her
alone until the matter is formally arranged."
"I am content to wait," he said with a slight smile.
"I will take you up myself," the other said.
Harry could have done without the guidance, for he knew the house well.
However, he only bowed again, and followed the old man upstairs.
The latter opened the door and said to his wife: "My dear, I have brought
an old friend up to see you;" and as Harry entered he closed the door and
went down to the library again.
"Nearly two hundred thousand pounds!" he said. "A splendid fortune! Nearly
twice as much as I put by before I left the bar. How in the world could he
have got it? 'Got it up out of the sea,' he said; a curious story.
However, with that acknowledgment from the bank there can be no mistake
about it. Well, well, it might be worse. I always liked the young fellow
till he was fool enough to fall in love with Hilda, and worse still, she
with him. The silly girl might have had a coronet. However, there is no
accounting for these things, and I am glad that the battle between us is
at an end. I was only acting for her good, and I should have been mad to
let her throw herself away on a penniless officer on half-pay."
Mrs. Fortescue waved her hand as Harry, on entering, was about to speak to
"Go to her first," she said; "she has waited long enough for you." And he
turned to Hilda. He made a step towards her and held out his arms, and
with a little cry of joy she ran into them. "And is it all right?" she
said a minute later. "Can it really be all right?" "You may be quite sure
that it is all right, Hilda," Mrs. Fortescue said. "Do you think your
father would have brought him up here if it hadn't been? Now you can come
to me, Harry." "I am glad," she said heartily. "We have had a very bad
time. Now, thank God, it is all over. You see she has only had me to stand
by her, for her brothers, although they have not taken open part against
her, have been disposed to think that it was madness her wasting two years
on the chance of your making a fortune. Of course you have done so, or you
would not be in this drawing-room at present." "I have done very well,
Mrs. Fortescue. I was able to show Mr. Fortescue a receipt for gold
amounting to nearly three hundred thousand pounds, of which two-thirds
belong to me, the rest to my brother." Mrs. Fortescue uttered an
exclamation of astonishment. "What have you been doing, Harry?" she
asked--"plundering a Nabob?" "Nabobs do not dwell in Peru," he laughed.
"No, I have discovered a long-lost treasure, which, beyond any doubt, was
part of the wealth of Atahualpa, the unfortunate monarch whom Pizarro
first plundered and then slew. It had been sent off by sea, and the vessel
was lost. It is too long a story to tell now." "And Papa has quite
consented, Harry?" Harry smiled. "Virtually so, as you might suppose by
his bringing me up here. Actually he has deferred the matter, pending a
consultation with you and Mrs. Fortescue, and will give me his formal
answer to-morrow." The two ladies both smiled. "If he said that, the
matter is settled," the elder said; "he has never asked my opinion before
on the subject, and I have never volunteered it. But I am sure he has not
the slightest doubt as to what I thought of it. So we can consider it as
happily settled after all. If I had thought that there was the slightest
chance of your making a fortune quickly I should have spoken out; but as I
thought it absolutely hopeless, I have done what I could privately to
support Hilda, always saying, however, that if at the end of the two years
nothing came of it, I could not in any way countenance her throwing away
the chances of her life." "You were quite right, Mrs. Fortescue. I had
fully intended to write to Hilda at the end of that time releasing her
from all promises that she had made to me, and saying that I felt that I
had no right to trouble her further; but from what she wrote to me, I
doubt whether her father would have found her altogether amenable to his
wishes even at the end of the two years." A month later there was a
wedding in Bedford Square. Among those present no one was more gratified
than Mr. Barnett, whose surprise and satisfaction were great when Harry
told him in confidence the result of his advice, and especially of his
introduction to the Indian guide. It had been arranged that nothing
should be said as to the source from which Harry had obtained his wealth,
as it was possible that the Peruvian government might set up some claim to
it, and it was in Mr. Fortescue's opinion very doubtful what the result
would be, as it had been discovered so close to the shore. Harry never
took any steps with reference to the gold valley, for the constant
troubles in Peru were sufficient to deter any wealthy men from investing
money there. The correspondence between him and Dias and his wife was
maintained until they died full of years and greatly lamented by numbers
of their countrymen to whom they had been benefactors. Bertie never went
to sea again except in his own yacht, but when he came of age, bought an
estate near Southampton, and six years later brought home a mistress for