Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/175

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Tom Chist and the Treasure Box

pointed to the oaken stick with its red tip blazing against the white shimmer of sand behind it.

“And the 40 and 72 and 91,” cried the old gentleman, in a voice equally shrill—“why, that must mean the number of steps the pirate was counting when you heard him.”

“To be sure that’s what they mean!” cried Tom Chist. “That is it, and it can be nothing else. Oh, come, sir—come, sir; let us make haste and find it!”

“Stay! stay!” said the good gentleman, holding up his hand; and again Tom Chist noticed how it trembled and shook. His voice was steady enough, though very hoarse, but his hand shook and trembled as though with a palsy. “Stay! stay! First of all, we must follow these measurements. And ’tis a marvelous thing,” he croaked, after a little pause, “how this paper ever came to be here.”

“Maybe it was blown here by the storm,” suggested Tom Chist.

“Like enough; like enough,” said Parson Jones. “Like enough, after the wretches had buried the chest and killed the poor black man, they were so buffeted and bowsed about by the storm that it was shook out of the man’s pocket, and thus blew away from him without his knowing aught of it.”

“But let us find the box!” cried out Tom Chist, flaming with his excitement.

“Aye, aye,” said the good man; “only stay a little, my boy, until we make sure what we’re about. I’ve got my pocket compass here, but we must have something to measure off the feet when we have found the peg. You run across to Tom Brooke’s house and fetch that measuring rod he used to lay out his new byre. While you’re gone I’ll pace off the distance marked on the paper with my pocket compass here.”

 

VI

Tom Chist was gone for almost an hour, though he ran nearly all the way and back, upborne as on the wings of the wind. When

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