Good day to you sir. Might I sit here and rest a bit? I am so weary and I’ve travelled such a long distance. That beer you’re drinking looks so refreshing. I have no money, but if you would be so kind as to order me one I will tell you a story you will not soon forget. A true story sir, I swear it on my mother’s grave.
Thank you very much. You are so kind. I’ll just quench my parched throat and then begin…
Two years ago near to this very day I was on the docks in San Francisco looking for work as a deck hand. Ships were few and many there were who advised me to make my way to Oakland, as my chances there were sure to be better. For reasons I couldn’t begin to tell I chose to remain where I was going from ship to ship seeking passage to anywhere. By evening my chances had gone from slim to none and I sat weary and disheartened on a bollard, my ditty bag by my side.
I was watching some gulls wheeling around a lowering sky when an old salt in a ragged pea coat, a dirty white cap pulled low over his eyes, approached me. He stood a few feet away and looked me over. I dared not speak for fear he would turn away.
“Matey, lookin’ for adventure are ya?”
I had no intent to be shanghaied and wake up on some god-awful trawler bound for the China Sea so I peered sideways at him and asked him what it was to him what I might be looking for.
He smiled and drew a meerschaum pipe from his pocket and lit it before answering. He told me he was first mate on a vessel headed for a location he was not at liberty to tell until the ship was underway. The owner of the vessel had certain knowledge of shipwreck treasure that many had searched for and failed to find. This man, he avowed, had spent most of what he had obtaining the information from one who had not the wherewithal to undertake the reclamation of said treasure and was prepared to settle for cash instead.
His story brought me a smile. I had heard of such deals before. It usually transpired that the story was a hoax and the ship and crew would arrive at the destination only to find they had been suckered.
I suppose he read my face, he assured me that the information at hand was genuine and the fortune was there to be had by all who were lucky enough to be invited. Such as my circumstances were I felt compelled to ask what proof there was that the information was real. He told me I would be shown proof should I choose to complete the crew. They were short but one man. The deal was that we would work our way to the site and be provided for all the way.
To this day I can’t say what caused me to agree. Sure, I was destitute and my prospects were not good but I had been in such circumstance before. Just so I found myself shaking his hand and being led to the ship.
I was introduced to the captain and the rest of the crew and welcomed all around. On inquiring of the whereabouts of our benefactor I was told he would meet with us all the following day after we got underway. I was shown to my bunk and told we would set out with the morning tide.
So it was that my adventure began, and sir, I will say now it was to be an adventure such as no man has had before.