Rock and Benson dug a deep hole, about 5 feet and hit something hard and rectangular. It was a large strong box, heavy metal. They lifted it out slowly, it was obviously very heavy. Finally it was on the ground and everyone was standing around waiting for it to be opened. But the key I have certainly will not fit that lock, so Rock took his axe and smashed the lock off. By now he did not want to wait.
It was filled with rocks! Rock and Benson were about ready to hit their heads on the tree! I started tossing the rocks into the hole and at the bottom of the box was a leather pouch. Inside were diamonds, rubies and emeralds, very good quality too. And a note. With a map leading to what the note said was a mine. We followed the map to a steeper part of the mountainside about 1,000 feet from the cabin.
The spot was thickly grown over with trees and bushes, but behind them, after Rock and Benson cleared the way, was the entrance to a mine. We walked inside and already the gold was showing in the walls of the mine tunnel. We knew that Hermit Pete kept bringing gold into the town below, just small amounts, which we had figured came from the gold in the cellar, but instead it came from this gold mine.
We later confirmed this by an analysis of the gold, which matched the analysis of the gold Hermit Pete had brought in. Fortunately they still had those records on file. The note was a type of will leaving the mine to whoever found it by following his clues. He said in the note that he had no living relatives, which we found to be true. Except for relatives of his wife, but that part is for later. “You just inherited a gold mine Steve!”, said Jenny excitedly.
In fact, everyone was very excited by now. Although there were still some puzzle pieces that did not quite fit. “Well,” I answered, “if this is legal then the mine belongs to all of us, not just me and Kat. We are a team and we share the bad and the good, remember?” The girls and cats were jumping around with excitement, Rock and Benson had big smiles, then the girls hugged the 3 of us guys one by one. Poor Rock and Benson, I am not sure which of them was more embarrassed.
We continued to look around the cabin and nearby area for any other clues. I still had that key which must fit something, Hermit Pete would have no reason to hide it so well if it was not important. “Steve, come look here,” said Sigurbjorn. I went over to the fireplace where she was sitting getting herself covered with soot. She pointed to a spot inside the fireplace. It looked like a small door, which was locked. I gave her the key and it fit.
The door squeaked open and inside was a small metal box and another note. At least this box was not locked. I opened it. It was full of jewelry. Another puzzle piece that just did not fit. Until I read the note that was with the box. I smiled. “Now it all fits together,” I said and let the others read the note for themselves. It was getting late but we made our way back to the resort anyway and managed to make it before dark.
They had some food ready for us which was very welcome, especially by Rock and Benson. Those two sure can eat. Later, back in our cabin, I contacted Annelie. Jake was there too and he added some interesting information for us. Now we have the whole story. In the morning we got everyone together into the lodge for a meeting. “It seems that almost everyone here is involved in chasing the treasure from Hermit Pete,” I began,
“there were 4 sisters, you two ladies (referring to the older ladies), the mother of our cook and the wife of Hermit Pete. It was she who informed the other sisters of the treasure. Then you 3 sisters killed her hoping that Hermit Pete would be charged with murder, but that did not work, just was not enough evidence to convict him. So you waited, coming here each anniversary hoping he had died. Then another sister died mysteriously, I think you killed her too, but so far I have no evidence.” They smiled smugly at that news.
To Be Continued.
©2022 Steve McLeod.