He had talked them all into coming up here with him, searching for something that no one else had found. The French had hidden it, the Spanish claimed it was theirs even though it hadn't been found. And although he and the others for years had heard the legend, none of them had believed it until now. Now they had a map that Josiah had checked out and said it was authentic French writing and that it did date to the right time period. A map a dying man had handed him when he had pulled him out of his wrecked truck on the back road to Chris's.
Buck looked up and could see Vin was about two hundred yards ahead of them, and had stopped to study the map again. “You think Vin is having trouble with the markings?” he asked Chris.
“Don't know, Buck, but if anyone can make out or figure out the land markers out here it will be him. He knows the mountains up here better than anyone I know,” Chris answered.
“I can't believe we’re actually looking for the lost Spanish treasure. I mean the French hide it back when the Louisiana Purchase was happening for Napoleon. This is just too cool. Can't you just imagine what it was like for them mining it and minting it back then and keeping it secret?” JD excitedly said catching up to Buck.
“I can't believe were looking here. Everybody knows that the treasure is on Treasure Mountain somewhere, they even found the ruins of the French's encampment. Why is it we’re so sure that the elderly man was right and not mistaken and that map wasn't of something else?” Nathan grumbled, for he had turned down a weekend with Raine, just knowing one of his friends would get them selves hurt on this fool's treasure hunt.
“Nathan, you know Ezra, you know how he hates the outdoors. When he and I came back from the history department at the university, do you really think he would of agreed so fast with Buck about coming on this trip if he didn't think that it’s not only the real thing, but that it was a real map from the sole survivor of the two hundred French men that came here to mine the gold for Napoleon?” Josiah reported.
Nodding his head the group of five started toward their two friends that were farther up the side of the mountain.
“So, Mr. Tanner, do you think we are on the right trail? Or do you think we might have gotten off onto the wrong direction?” Ezra asked as he studied the map over Vin's shoulder that he was carefully looking over.
Instead of answering, Vin asked. “Ez, what do these words here mean above these two markings?”
Ezra looked at the French words. “It means ‘heighten watering’. Wait, that can’t be right, it wouldn't make any sense.” Ezra answered, then mumbled as he frowned.
Vin ignoring Ezra after he heard the meaning, looked at the drawings in a new light. Smiling as he looked across the ridge from where they were, he heard the others come up. “Come on, we’re burning day light.”
“Vin, maybe you should start looking for a place for us to set up camp. Night will be falling in about two hours and it could take you a while to find a level or good place,” Chris expressed.
“Already know the place, cowboy. Same place them fellas stayed when they dug the gold out,” Vin winked and started off walking parallel to the ridge they were on.
“What! Hey, wait up, Vin, how do you know where? What do you see?” Buck gasped staring down the ridge, across and out at the valley below, the river that cut through it, then over to the facing ridge. Shaking his head he didn't see how Vin could have spotted anything through all the dense forest, the waterfall and even the rocky ridge above it. Seeing that the others were all ready a ways ahead, Buck hurried to catch up.
An hour later of walking, climbing around sharp corners and making their way through thick under brush, the seven men knew they were in an area that had probably only been traveled by animals in the past century, or since all the Indians were rounded up from this area.
Vin stopped abruptly. They had all noticed he had gotten to where he wasn't watching where he was going, but instead his face seem to stay out toward the opposite mountain and its ridge.
“Vin, something wrong?” Chris asked as he came up beside his friend.
Vin didn’t answer instead, turned his whole body and faced at what he had been watching. Walking slowing forward, he continued doing this to the confusion of his friends for fifteen minutes and until he stopped again. Keeping his face on the direction of the opposite side he headed off to the left again, stopping suddenly only after ten minutes.
“Mr. Tanner! What on earth do you think you’re doing? Have you been bitten by some vile creature we did not see and you have become delusional? Maybe Mr. Jackson should look you over.” Ezra stated, becoming concerned for his friend’s strange behavior.
“Come on, Vin, let’s find a place to camp and let me look you over, alright?” Nathan softly said coming up to his friend, like the others becoming concerned.
“All right, guess I could use a rest. We can make camp right there behind all those wild lilac bushes,” Vin tiredly agreed.
“Why there, brother? Would it be better to find a nice clear open spot?” Josiah frowned.
“Well I figured after all this, ya would like to camp in front of the spot they hide the gold.”
“How do you…” six voices all said at once.
Vin headed over to the lilac bushes, worked his way around and through them, with the guys behind him. Once on the other side, they saw a small opening in the side of a boulder with weeds growing around it, showing it hadn't been entered in a long, long time.
“But, Vin, how did you know?” JD excitedly wanted to know
“I couldn't figure out these two squiggly lines with an arrow pointing straight out of it hitting the round hump line. Well, not until Ezra told me them French word meanings. With that 'heighten water’, it just sort of made sense to me then. See the squiggly lines is the water fall, and the arrow shows where, directly across from them falls have way up the height of the falls. It was just finding the spot that was across from there. And when I saw the lilac bushes, well I remembered in the stories people told about them French, that they always carried lilac for their clothes and baths, figured what they dropped would grow,” Vin explained
The seven men turned, and pulled out flashlights from their backpacks. Easing up to the opening, Vin shined his in at angles and there Seven sets of eyes were set on the stacked pile of French minted gold shining with the light that laid upon them.
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