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HOME > Short Stories > The Sunken Isthmus > CHAPTER X. AT THE TREASURE CAVE.
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Slowly and steadily the Diver crept along the shore of the sunken island. The voyagers were on the qui vive.

“Perhaps Poole is there before us,” said Wade. “He has had plenty of time.”

But Frank was incredulous.

“I don’t believe it,” he said. “It would take him a long while to locate the exact spot. Hello! what is that?”

A dark object loomed up before the gaze of the voyagers. It required but a moment’s scrutiny to make it out as the hull of a sunken vessel.

It lay upon the shore of the sunken isle, and might have foundered at the time of the earthquake. She was a small schooner of the coast trading class.

The submarine boat sailed near to her and the searchlight was focused upon her. But there seemed no good reason for paying her a visit, so presently she was left behind.

But now developments came in swift order. Rounding a headland the Diver came upon a collection of partly demolished huts and other evidences of habitation. This was doubtless the village of the savage Caribs who had descended upon the gold hunters.

Wade was now much excited.

“We ought to be getting near the spot where the treasure is located,” he said. “I surely hope so!”

A few moments later a long cliff-wall was reached. Then a huge, dark-mouthed cavern yawned to view.

“Down with the boat!” cried Frank. “Let her rest here, Barney. This is the spot beyond doubt.”

The order was obeyed. The submarine boat rested upon the sands and hastily preparations were made for leaving the cabin.

As usual Barney and Pomp were left aboard. Frank and Wade quickly donned their diving-suits.

Then they left the cabin and soon were striding along the beach. They had not gone a dozen yards before Wade paused.

There, imbedded in the sand, was a skeleton. The fishes had long since eaten away all but the bones. Whether it 39was the skeleton of one of the gold hunters or a Carib it was not easy to guess.

Other skeletons were also found in the vicinity. Then they reached the mouth of the cave.

Here were found the rusted digging tools of the gold diggers. Also a huge cavity in the cavern floor was revealed.

And partly upon its verge there was a huge chest, with one end knocked out. In the chest was a heap of round objects. They were coins.

Much corroded they were, and as Frank and Wade picked up several of them it was hard to tell whether they were gold or merely silver.

There were others strewn in the sands of the cavern. The cavity in the sands did not seem to contain any other chest.

If this was the total amount of the treasure it certainly was small, and did not greatly pay for the effort to recover it. However, Frank and Wade had begun to make preparations to remove it when a startling thing happened.

Suddenly into the cavern there flashed a light. Astonished the two divers turned. Two forms were at the entrance.

It required but a glance to see that they were divers. Moreover, they wore the common diving-suit, hampered with life-lines and cords. In an instant the truth burst upon Frank and Wade.

They were beyond doubt members of the crew of the Meta. Indeed, Poole himself doubtless was one of them.

Frank and Wade placed their helmets together tightly.

“By Jove!” cried the young inventor, “we’re in a scrape now!”

“You’re right, Frank. I believe one of them is Poole himself.”

“There is little doubt of it.”

“What shall we do?”

“There is no way but to face them.”

“Will it be safe? Will they not attack us?”

“It is likely; but I can see no way to evade them.”

“Then we must defend ourselves!”

“Just so; our chances are as good as theirs, and we have an advantage in having no life-lines to bother us. Come along, we might as well meet them half way!”

Poole and his men, for there were now four of the divers in the cavern, had caught sight of Frank and Wade.

It could be easily seen from their actions that they were frantic and would present a hostile front. But Frank and Wade gripped the handles of their axes and marched steadily on.

40In a few moments they were near the other divers. One of them was recognized as Poole.

The villain was the personification of fury. He swung his ax aloft and made a rush at Frank.

His companions did the same. It was fortunate for our friends that they did not come to close quarters. They evaded the attack, for they could move more easily.

Frank’s purpose was to get out of the cavern. He knew that if they were hemmed in there, their fate would be sealed.

So he motioned Wade to follow him, and, parrying Poole’s attack, hurled one of his foes back and with a swift rush gained the object. Wade came close behind him.

Once outside the cavern the danger was over. The rascals could follow them but a limited ways.

Back to the submarine boat Frank and Wade rushed. They clambered aboard and soon were in the cabin.

Barney and Pomp were astonished.

“Fo’ de lan’s sake,” cried the coon, “wha’ am de mattah? Wh............
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