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Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Secret Treasure Of Cap McGee

Have you ever dreamed about being on a pirate ship where you'd sail the seven seas, swab the deck or hunt for buried treasure? Well, here's a story that will take you on such an adventure. It's the tale about a pirate by the name of Cap McGee & his ship, The Maiden Queen. 

Now, Cap McGee was a pirate, but not some ordinary pirate, for you see, whatever he tried to do, things always seemed to go wrong for him. He could set sail for a certain port , and end up in the opposite direction. Once he became so confused that he tried to hail a ship that he mistook for a friend, but turned out to be an enemy. There was the  time he landed on what he thought to be a deserted island, only to be chased & nearly captured by the wild natives who lived there. Here they were, chasing him with clubs & rocks while he & his men  were rowing as fast as their arms could move. Not very becoming for a captain, one would think. 

Cap was a little fellow who stood about five feet tall & had a wily way about him. He was ruff as the coral that lined the ocean floor, barking out his orders in command fashion, with a " heave ho" to the hundred men that rowed his ship for him. His wardrobe left something to be desired, as he'd march around in scruffy clothes & an old hat that he had won in a card game years before. It didn't matter to him that the hat had a hole in it where a bullet had just missed the top of its former owners scull. 

He loved to play Lord Of The Seas, & looked the part of his role, almost while feeling proud of the fact that he was the ships captain. Times where changing & he knew that he too must change with the passing tide. Old Cap McGee  was the last of his breed. He was the kind of person who liked to roam free, answering to no man & holding onto what he could gain for himself. It wasn't a very admirable way to live, but it was his way. 

Cap was on his way to reclaim a treasure chest he had hidden years before. It had been waiting for him for a long time & he figured it was about time the two of them got together again. He was like a child at Christmas time waiting for the moment when they could open their presents. Cap had another reason for making the trip though. It had been more than two years since he had seen his old friend Barnacle Jack. Now, Jack was as tall as Cap McGee was short with is bean pole figure. He looked like a scrawny fence post  as he stood on the rocks of the shore awaiting the arrival of his friend. 

 Jack had spent a good of his life sailing the high seas, but the time had come that he wanted to rest from his travels. It was a hard & lonely life & he figured he was getting too old to travel, so he built himself a log cabin & tried to settle down. As he stood there on the rocks looking out over the water, that old yearning began to return. It was a calling that he felt many times before, beckoning him back to the sea. It was a haunting voice that was unmistakable, & his heart ached to ride the tall ships again, to be able to feel the lunge as she would drop deep into the watery depths, only to rise higher & higher toward the heavens as her stern climbed ever upward as if it were a person reaching out for that last gasp of air, while trying to hold onto life from the darkest recesses of the deep.            

He remembered the good times, the times of plenty, & the bad when starvation & trouble seemed to have the ruling hand. But, he cherished all his memories for he had learned from each & every lesson.

It was high noon as he watched Cap's ship carefully lower one of its row boats into the balmy waters below. It was a secret cove in which they anchored, known only to a few. Jack pulled from his pocket an old red handkerchief & slowly wiped his ancient brow. There was a gentle breeze blowing, but to no avail, for the heat seemed to overpower any good the wind might do to cool the day. His old dog Whiskers, stood patiently beside him, panting,as his tongue lapped the air for some relief. This would surly be a day of celebration for the two of them. 

Morning arrived & the sun streamed in the old cabin window. Cap hadn't slept much the night before, feeling anxious about finding his treasure again. Deciding the time had come to head out on their adventure, Cap, Jack & two of the shipmates climbed into the row boat & headed toward the mouth of the river that flowed into the cove. The had to be careful as they rowed, for the river was full of obstacles & snares such as the sunken log with part of its end protruding from the water, & the jagged tops of the rocks that seemed to almost reach up & grab the bottom of the boat. The river was full of twists & turns & travel was slower than Cap would have liked. He was in a hurry & found himself becoming impatient with the whole ordeal. Weeping willows lined the shore with their long branches dangling as they reached out, over hanging the waters edge. An old crow sat high up in an dead oak tree, screaming out his song of, " Caw, caw, caw, " as if to poke fun at their endeavors. His jet black feathers shining brightly against the suns rays. He was safe up there, & felt justified in his remarks.

They were nearing the place where Cap had made his mark, the triangle within the circle. As they stepped out of the boat, he made his crew stay behind.The treasure was his, & he wasn't about to be robbed by his own men. A feeling of cautiousness overwhelmed them as they looked to the left, then to the right, making sure no one was around. It was a risky business, & they wanted to leave nothing to chance. Up the hill they went, clawing & pawing at branches & clumps of grass to help them make the climb. It was a steep hill, & one slip could mean disaster.

According to their calculations, the cave should be directly above them, so they kept up their pace of slipping & sliding, huffing & puffing until they made it to the top. Old Cap had it measured out to be exactly two hundred yards  due south of the huge man-rock, so called because of its resemblance to a human in design. They were almost to the mouth of the cave when they saw Caps mark carved deep in the bark of a dead tree. It was surly his symbol & all who knew him recognized it as belonging to him, & him alone. He had carved it at the time he had hidden the treasure.

There it was, standing before them, the entrance to the cave. They had come along way, but had finally reached the place that Cap had set out to find. It seemed as if something were different this time though. It was something neither of them could put their finger on. Something or someone had been here recently. Apprehension gripped Caps heart as the thought crossed his mind that maybe the treasure had been stolen from its hiding place.

They entered the cave, torches blazing in hand, their reflections casting weird shadows that danced on the walls & ceiling with each step they took. The cave seemed darker than either of them remembered, & it held a strange odour that they knew was familiar but couldn't think as to what it was.

They were halfway in the cave when they heard a low moaning coming from deep inside the darkness. They froze in their tracks, not daring to move. Goose bumps rising in clusters on the surface of their skin, sending cold chills through their bodies. Ordinarily, they were not men of fear, but when you're standing in the centre of the unknown realms of darkness with strange moaning noises coming from the blackness before you, it makes funny things happen to you like that wet spot you find that wasn't there before. 

You could have heard a pin drop, as the two men stood glued to their spot. With great reservations & a voice that seemed squeakier & a lot fainter than usual, Cap urged Old Jack to take the first step. There was no way he was going to move. After all, the treasure was Caps, & if anyone was gong in there, it was Cap.

There it was again, that same low, gruff moan. Cap decided that someone better do something, so not wanting to play down his part as a rough & tough seaman, he decided to make the first move, like it or not. His foot felt extra heavy as he made an effort to lift it for that momentous step. As he crept toward the noise, something appeared out of the darkness. Cap knew that his eyesight wasn't the best, but after hearing such noises, he also knew that anything was possible. With one last stride of determination, he lunged forward in what he determined to be his last act of bravery. 

Suddenly, the room filled with with the presence of something that loomed like a tower over him. making him feel small by comparison, & of course he was. The reality of the moment hit him as the bear started towards him like a giant on its hind legs. He thought he had known trouble before, but nothing compared to this. He turned like a wild man, his feet moving as fats as they could go, barely touching the ground. It was a race to see who could get out of the cave first, Old Cap, Barnacle Jack or the bear. 

They could see the light of the entrance up ahead, & each in turn was pushing & shoving , trying to get ahead of the other. They had been friends for years but this was pushing their friendship a little too far. neither one wanted to end up in a wrestling match with a bear, & at this point, their theory of friend helping friend went out the window. Here they were, two of the closest mates that ever walked the earth, trying to outdo the other to save their own skin, while the bear moved in leaps & bounds right behind them, closing in with each passing second. The big question was, as which of the two was to be the surviving friend.   

As they left the cave, Caps first instinct was to climb the first tree he ran across, or into, as the case may be. Jack headed off in the opposite direction never to lay eyes on Old Cap McGee or that crazy bear again. 

    As Cap climbed higher in the branches, he felt a jolt on his trousers & then heard a rip that was unmistakable. The draft from the breeze confirmed his suspicions as to what had happened. Luckily, his trap door was shut. He sat there thinking to himself that this was totally undignified for a man in his position. And his position told him that if he wanted to save the rest of his honourable hide, he'd better stay put.

Was he going to tell his shipmates about his dilemma ? Not on you life. He was already dealing with the " bear facts " of life, so to speak. He was more than willing to forget about the treasure if the bear would just forget about him.The last thing he needed was to be ribbed about something like this.

Poor Old Cap sat there, high up in that tree. The bear still below growling & shaking his head in frustration, neither of them willing to move. After two hours of a one sided debate & pleading on Caps part, the bear decided he had had enough. He wouldn't climb up & Cap wouldn't come down.So, in total surrender for lack of a more sporting opponent, old grumpy gave up in despair. No treasure was worth all this trouble. It seemed that no one but the bear had emerged the victor this day, for as far as Cap & Barnacle Jack went, it was at the mouth of the cave where their friendship parted. Cap returning to his ship to sail the high seas,while old Jack, so far as we know, never did stop running from that bear.

Dalton Lasher

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