THE PIRATES’ TREASURE

Frank and his companions witnessed the extermination of the gang of
pirates, and when it was completed, Barney said:

“Begorra, there’s not wan left.”

“So much the better,” Frank answered.

“Lord amassy! but it war drefful, Marse Frank,” said Pomp.

“True; but had they been captured and court-martialed, they would have
been shot, anyway,” replied the inventor.

“Sure enough,” assented Barney.

“Zamora!” called the inventor.

“Well?” the Mexican answered from his post at the wheel.

“Run her away to the eastward.”

“Ain’t you going down to interview the marines?”

“No. What’s the use? It would do no good. We have seen what happened.
The scene explains itself.”

“Faith, thim sogers moight be loikin’ to know who we are,” said Barney.

“We will mystify them by giving no information.”

That settled the matter.

On went the flying machine, and they heard the marines shout up to them,
and saw them beckoning, but they paid no heed to the calls.

The airship soon faded from the view of those below, and went scouring
along the coast for the next few days in quest of the Golden Lion.

Unfortunately, though, they did not see her.

A number of ships were encountered, but the vessels they sought were not
among them.

One morning, at breakfast, Frank said:

“It is my opinion that Captain Diavolo has taken fright, and intends to
hide until we’re gone.”

“’Deed it looks dat way,” Pomp asserted.

“What shall we do then?” queried Zamora, in troubled tones, for his mind
was constantly harassed by the fear that some harm had befallen his
little boy.

“I’m going back to the town,” said Frank, thoughtfully.

“Shure, we’ll foind no wan there,” Barney replied.

“I don’t expect to, but we may secure their treasure if Zamora will show
us its hiding place.”

“Dis am de bestest time fo’ to go dar, while de pirates am away,”
assented Pomp.

With this agreement the airship was started off, and late in the
afternoon arrived in view of the settlement.

The place had a deserted look.

“Not one of the gang left,” said Frank.

“Then we will not be molested in our efforts to get the treasure,” said
Zamora.

“You said it was in the vault under the castle?”

“That’s where I saw it, senor.”

“Do you know how to reach it?”

“Certainly.”

“Well, we will remove it from its present place, and by the time this is
done the pirates, missing us, may think we have gone away, and make
their reappearance.”

“Quite a good idea.”

“We can pounce on them, and make a struggle to get your son from their
clutches.”

This plan pleased Zamora.

A few minutes afterward the Jove settled down in the big square facing
the castle.

Leaving Barney in charge of her, the others armed themselves, took a
portable electric lantern, and strode over to Captain Diavolo’s
dwelling.

The shots they had rained down upon it had almost blown the upper part
to pieces, and it presented a battered look that spoiled its beauty.

There was a fine entrance, and the trio passed into a large corridor,
upon which several rooms opened.

Proceeding to the rear, a broad staircase was reached, which led them
into the cellar beneath the building.

By turning a switch on the lantern a bright light was caused to gush
from the bull’s-eye.

Zamora led the way, as he was familiar with the place, and going to one
of the stone foundation walls, he pointed at an iron door studded with
huge bolt heads.

“There is the treasure vault,” he exclaimed.

“It is fastened with a huge padlock,” replied Frank.

“Bust her open,” suggested Pomp.

It was easy to do this, as Frank had provided himself with several of
the hand grenades.

All hands recoiled from the door.

The inventor then hurled a bomb at the padlock; there sounded a furious
explosion, a glare of light was seen, and then the lock was blown to
pieces.

As this occurred the three rushed to the door, flung it open, the
lantern light was projected inside, and a most thrilling scene met their
view.

The floor of the storeroom was littered with boxes, bales, casks and
packages stolen from ship and shore.

They contained rich laces, silks and velvets, expensive ornaments,
paintings, statuary, silverware, and other articles made of gold and
other precious metals.

Several kegs were filled to overflowing with gold coins of foreign
countries; there was a box containing a large assortment of bejeweled
rings, pins and other jewelry, and a small casket of unset diamonds,
pearls and rubies stood upon a tiny table in one corner.

A number of vases, chalices, crucifixes and similar secular objects laid
on the floor, showing plainly that the Terror of the Coast did not
scruple about robbing churches.

No matter in what direction the glance turned, a new object of great
interest was seen.

The three gazed around spellbound.

When Frank finally recovered from his surprise, he said:

“Zamora, I am amazed at the richness of this treasure. You did not
exaggerate it any. In fact, you did not do it justice. There are several
million dollars’ worth of stuff here.”

“I’se gwine ter open a bank when I gits my share ob dis,” chuckled Pomp.
“Wonder whar it all come from, chillen?”

“The pirates waded knee deep in blood to gain this treasure,” replied
Zamora, in grave tones. “It represents many a hard-fought battle, many a
human life, many widows and orphans.”

“Let us get away from here,” said Frank.

He selected the most valuable things and each one seized a parcel, and
carried it from the vault.

As they reached the main cellar a terrible surprise awaited them, in the
form of a horde of the pirates.

They were headed by Captain Diavolo.

Every one of the rascals carried a weapon, and the Terror pointed at the
startled trio, and yelled:

“Halt!”

“Trapped!” gasped Frank.

“By golly!” said the coon; “dis am an ambush!”

“That’s the end of us!” said Zamora, bitterly.

It was very evident that the rascals had been hidden in the castle, had
seen them coming, and now expected to kill or capture them, for every
weapon was pointed their way.

For a full minute a deathly silence ensued.




Then the pirate captain roared:

“Drop those valuables!”

Obediently the three let their burdens fall to the floor.

“Well?” demanded Frank.

“Raise your hands!”

The three complied.

Turning to his men, Diavolo said:

“Aim at them, boys!”

“Going to shoot them now?” queried one of the gang.

“Yes; there’s no use delaying.”

These words sent a chill of horror through our friends, for they did not
expect their doom was to be settled so soon.

Frank was utterly at a loss what to do.

Resistance would simply hasten their deaths.

He resolved, though, to gain a short respite by parleying, for he hoped,
in a feverish way, that in the interval he might think of some method
whereby he could save the party.

Therefore he said to the captain:

“You surely do not mean to kill us in cold blood?”

“Don’t I, though?” sneered the wretch.

“Give us time to prepare for our doom.”

“Not a minute, curse you! I’ve got the whip hand now, and I’ll make you
pay dearly for the losses and trouble and indignity you have put me to.
And as for you,” he added, furiously, shaking his fist at Zamora, “I
could tear your heart from your living body, blast you! I haven’t
forgotten the choking you gave me, you dog!”

“Kill me and spare the others,” pleaded the Mexican. “I am not afraid to
die, since it seems impossible for me to wrest my unfortunate child from
your vile clutch.”

“I’ll kill you all!” shouted the captain.

“Could we bribe you to let us go?” asked Frank.

“Not with a king’s ransom! Revenge to me is far sweeter than gold. I’ll
have no mercy! Aim, boys, and when I count three, fire at them
together!”

He stepped aside.

Frank gave up all hope.

Death now seemed a moral certainty.

The grim array of weapons was turned upon them and the brutal captain
cried:

“One!”

Then there was a pause.

“Two!”

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