Leaning over to whisper in Gloria’s ear, Mead whispered, “we’re taking bets on when wedding
bells will ring for those two, you want in?”
“I’ll take November of next year, if it’s not already taken,” Gloria told him, a blissful smile starting to form.
“That long, Gloria? I think they will set the date for May. Six months will be long enough for those two to wait,” Sheila whispered as the headed for the first hut.
Stacks and Candace walked into the small Indian hut and were surprised to see what they would call a fully furnished home. There were two piles of furs on the floor that appeared to be bedding. Stacks of doe skin clothing, and moccasins for what looked like one man, a woman, and a little boy, were neatly stacked behind the beds. Three large gourds and wooden spoons were stacked neatly next to the clothing. There was a large bowl made from rock sitting in the middle of a dug out fire pit in the center of the hut. Bows, quivers of arrows, and two long lances lay out on the floor on the opposite side of the small room, completed the meager collection of this little family. This was the only proof that these were once living, breathing, people of a long ago, all but forgotten, American past.
“I feel as if they should be returning soon. It is so sad to know that these people were never known or missed by our ancestors,” Candace said with a sigh.
“I think they were missed, maybe by one of your own ancestors. This has the look of a shrine of sorts, from what I can tell. See how clean the fire pit is? If I’m right, and I hope I am, the rest of the huts will be just as orderly and clean as this one”
“I hope your right Stacks. It would be just too sad and depressing if you’re wrong,” Candace
“I agree with Stacks,” Collins said as he ducked his head and walked into the hut. Blaster and I both noticed how orderly everything was when we were here last night.”
There were fifty-two huts arranged in a spiral pattern around what looked to be an open air long house. Rothman told them that the long house was probably where tribal meetings, as well as celebrations had once been held. The long house held large baskets filled with some kind of grain and ears of dried corn. On one of the wooden posts, that held up the building, wooden pegs had been fitted into holes. A beautiful long elaborately beaded headdress, a cape made from animal skins, an intricately carved long bow, and a beautiful hand tooled quiver filled with arrows were hung there, waiting for a ceremony that would never come.
“These had to have belonged to their chief,” Blaster whispered. His voice filled with wonder and respect as he spoke.
“I wish I knew the name of the tribe who lived here,” Candace said, looking as if she was going to cry.
“You know Candace, you may find their name, as well as their story, in some of those chests you have in the house,” Gloria said as she put her arm around Candace and gave her an affectionate hug.
Candace brightened at the thought and hugged her back as she said, “Thank you for reminding me.”
After what felt like hours, Mead headed off towards the small stream that meandered along
behind the huts to fill the glass Mason jar he had brought with him. Soon everyone else followed him to the stream. As they watched him greedily drink from the jar, Stacks asked, “Is it as good as you make it look?”
“Better, and it’s ice cold too,” he said when he stopped drinking to take a breath. “I only wish I had this water at home. Have you ever seen such crystal clear water before?”
“Artesian wells are found everywhere in the world, or so I am told, but I have never seen what they look like underground,” Blaster said thoughtfully.
“Sheila and Candace had walked around taking in the whole scene, when Sheila called out, “Hey, you guys need to see this.”
Shining their flashlights around, they found Candace and Sheila near the far wall, with their flashlights pointing at the wall itself.
Stacks was the first to reach them, followed by the rest of the group.
“What did you find?”
“A story, at least that’s what I think,” Candace said.
“Yep, and I believe it just may tell the whole story about the people who once lived in this cavern,” Sheila told them.
“If you follow these pictographs, starting from right to left, top to bottom, it seems to tell a story,” Candace told them.
“Ok, if you say so, but what is the story? All I see is childish looking drawings…, all over the place,” Mead said as he moved the beam of his flashlight farther down the wall.
“Well, if I am reading it right, and I am not an archaeologist, this is the story of their beginnings in this part of the country. See how it starts out with a large group of people all spread out in a line and some kind of animals, all heavy laden with bundles, which appear to be walking?” Candace said pointing at the pictures.
When everyone agreed, she continued, “here they seem to be walking still, but there are waves
on both sides of them. If you look close you can see that the artist even drew in some fish to show that it was water…, Here,” she said pointing at a specific drawing,” it shows all the people falling down, or on the ground, as if there was an earthquake…, Next you see that the people are all standing in a large group, looking in the direction they just came from. Mothers are holding their
children close to them, or helping someone up. Now if you look here, you see that the water cuts across the land, which they had just walked through. It also appears that some of their people were caught on the other side of the water and they were separated from each other. Look at how some of the people are reaching out towards those on the other shore,” Candace waited a few
minutes, making sure they had all seen what she was describing.
“You think these drawings are describing Pangaea, the supercontinent that existed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras about 250 million years ago?” Stacks asked her.
“Right after the continents separated into their current configuration; it’s either that or an earth quake that they could be describing. Then of course it could be describing the great flood. I’m not sure about this, but the drawings are telling a story close to what I am saying. There is no other way to decipher this story as far as I am concerned.”
“I believe she’s right Stacks. Look at how the story continues all around the cavern walls. From where Candace left off it looks as though the people started walking again, but up a mountain. Now it looks as if they are hunting. Then here it shows them continuing on covered in skins to keep warm,” Mead said walking ahead of the group and pointing out the drawings.
“The story goes on to describe their long journey here; then it shows them lowering themselves into the ground, and setting up their camp in this cavern” Sheila finished the story.
“That is the short version, but if we could spend more time looking at these drawings, there is a lot more to learn about these people and their history. You can even tell where one artist stopped and another started,” Candace said in amazement.
“I hate to say it, but we need to be heading back to the house. We still have to drive to Ft. Worth, as we need to open ‘The Bar’ tonight,” Collins told them.
“I can’t wait to get back here next Sunday. I think I’ll bring some Colman lanterns and a few camping supplies when we come,” Blaster said thoughtfully.
“Now that’s a wonderful idea,” Candace said excitedly.
“I would think there are a lot of secrets this cavern has yet to reveal,” Gloria said smiling. “And I hope to see every one of them.”
After saying goodbye to Mead, Collins, Rothman, and blaster, they walked back into the warmth of Candace’s cozy kitchen. Stacks remained outside; saying that he wanted to fill the wood bin and have a look around the property before coming in. Candace decided to put together a snack of fruit, cheese, and nuts before they started going through her ancestors old trunks. Placing the fruit on the table, along with saucers and silverware and napkins, Candace poured each of the ladies a glass of wine.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I decided we needed a break before we delved into more of the past.”
“Oh yes,” Sheila cooed as she sat down and picked up her glass and inhaled the fruity aroma.
Gloria smiled and said, “Nectar of the gods,” while filling her plate.
“I think we should do this every day,” Sheila said between bites. “I simply love this sort of food; especially after a tiring day. Of course it could be that I am just too lazy to cook,” She said laughing.
“I for one don’t think it’s lazy to get out of cooking… Sometimes, I mean. However, I would not like to eat this for every meal, especially since I do love to cook,” Gloria said.
“I love to cook too Gloria, but I also enjoy being lazy,” Sheila said laughing at the look on Gloria’s face. She was on her third glass of wine and starting to feel giddy. “But I think I had better stop drinking now, or I won’t be of any help at all in going through those trunks.
“Speaking of trunks…, if both of you are through eating, then why don’t we get started. I’m anxious to see what’s inside of them, especially after seeing the village this morning; I just need to put this in the fridge so it will still be cold when Stacks gets back.” Candace said as she started to clear the table.
Taking the plates of fruit and cheese out of her hands, Gloria said, “You go ahead and get started going through the trunk. Sheila and I will tend to this.
Candace sat on the floor, opened the old trunk, and gasped in surprise. The trunk was filled with what looked to be medieval, hand worked leather journals with silver buckles which secure them closed, instead of lengths of leather ties. Soft and silky as butter to the touch, they were beautiful in their simplicity.
Reverently, afraid to touch them for fear they would dissolve from her touch; Candace donned a pair of disposable gloves, then reached out and picked up the first journal of many.
Opening the journal she saw a beautifully handwritten script, in which the first entry read,
In The Year of Our Lord, the Eighteenth of November, 1817
Jean and Pierre have accepted the position of spies for Spain. I am not pleased with
their decision to act as spies, however, it is not my place to speak ill of their decisions. I am a trusted friend, therefore I say nothing. We have departed for the Americas port of New Orléans, and are experiencing bad weather at sea. We are losing the battle I fear, for the waves have washed away most of the deck hands, and if the hurricane does not pass soon, we shall parish at the bottom of the sea. I will strive to continue writing for as long as I am able in the hopes that, if by the grace of God, one day my children or their children will know of the accounts of my life. The life of a pirate is harsh and more often than not a sentence of death. I must rest now, as the hour to return to my post approach quickly.