Getting the gold back to the ship proved a tiring and time-consuming process. It took three men to each sled to drag the chests to the beach and only two chests could be loaded into the boat so it took two trips to complete the job. When the boat returned to the beach we started back into the woods with the sleds when we heard shots ring out.
We abandoned the sleds and broke into a run with Isaac leading the way. As we drew closer we heard terrible screams. A chill ran through me at the thought of what we would find. My worst fears became reality when we reached the scene. Our mates were under attack from a large group of savages, their faces painted white with grotesque black circles around their eyes and red geometric patterns on their cheeks.
We began firing as we ran toward them. A couple fired arrows at us while the rest fled further into the woods. Rage filled me and I doubled my speed and drew near to one of them. He turned and fled but having seen what they’d done to the ones we left to stand guard I was not about to let their atrocities go unanswered. As I gained on him I drew my pistol, stopped, and took aim.
I shot him in the back and he fell in a heap. When I reached him I turned him over to make sure he was dead. To my horror I saw he wore a necklace of human teeth. Without thinking I ripped it from his neck and stuffed it in my pocket. I looked around to see if anymore were around but they had all fled. I went back and joined the others.
Our shipmates that had been left to stand guard were all dead. The others were standing around the bodies, looks of horror on their faces. Two the dead had several arrows in them and the other had a spear sticking up out of his chest. The looks on their faces revealed they had died in agony.
Isaac was facing away from the bodies one hand on his hip the other on his forehead. I could not resist the urge to go to him.
“We’re in no danger? My imagination was running away with me?”
He whirled around and stood inches from my face. “I never denied this could get ugly. Things happen.”
“So this is why the gold has never been retrieved, eh? These savages have known for generations that the white man violated their land. You didn’t tell us!”
“Listen, we’ve found the gold. We’ll get it all on the ship and be away from here. We can’t undo what’s happened.”
I was livid. He had led us into a trap without warning. I saw the others watching us. The looks on their faces were murderous. I used it to my advantage.
“We’re not going anywhere until these men have had a proper burial”, I said in a loud enough voice for all to hear.
Isaac sized up the situation and knew it would be foolish to overrule me. Several of the men set to digging graves while three of the men went to fetch the sleds. The rest of us stood guard. When it was done we put the remainder of the gold on the sleds. I took Isaac aside again.
“Now tell me the truth for a change, what chance do we have of making it back to the ship alive?”
He rubbed his chin and thought. “They’ll be regrouping, that’s for sure. It depends on how many came over from the mainland. We should move as quick as we can.”
With that he started marching back the way we had come. I knew without a doubt we were in deep.
Part 9 Tomorrow