Sam kicked the porch with the well scuffed toe of his boot. “Aww, don’t look at me like that, Sary. I swear, this map is the real thing.”
“You have the one and only map to the buried treasure of Cordoba. And you found it where?” She folded the empty corn sack, mentally estimating whether this last sack would be enough to finish the dress she was sewing for their daughter. So she’d have something new to wear when school starts.
Taking her hand and spinning her around till her head was in a whirl, Sam laughed. “That’s the best part, the reason why I’m sure it’s genuine. I was prospecting in that old mine up by the high pasture and there was a cave-in recently. Maybe from that earthquake last week. And behind the collapsed wall, I found the skeletons of four of those old time Spanish conquistadores. One of them was clutching this map.”
Maybe our luck has turned, maybe he is onto something. Trying not to let her excitement get too far ahead of her common sense, Sara led him inside the ramshackle cabin, out of sight of any prying eyes. “Well, let me see it,” she said, hands on her hips.
Licking his lips, Sam made an excruciatingly protracted business of untying the flap on his saddle bag and withdrawing a folded, stained piece of tanned deerhide. He spread the crude map out on their wobbly table, and Sara moved closer. “See, here’s the river, and here’s the canyon, and that old mountain goat trail that winds through the pass.” His finger traced the route as he named the local landmarks. “And here’s the gold.” He stabbed the big red X painted near the top of the map, deep in the mountains.
“But what’s all this writing off to the side?” She touched the black scrawls with her fingertip. “And is this a bloodstain?”
“You know I can’t read. Not Spanish nor English.” Her husband frowned, seeming a bit annoyed at her cautious appraisal of the map.
“I think it’s Latin,” she said, trying to remember long ago lessons with her older brothers, back in Philadelphia. “Could be a prayer. Or a curse. Looks like it was written in a hurry.”
He licked his lips. “Now, Sary, no one believes in curses nowadays.”
She flinched as the wind blew the door open with a bang. “Well, what killed those Spaniards? You said they were buried behind a wall, right?”
Sam came up behind her as she closed the door. Catching her for a kiss, he said, “Will you for just once in your life stop being all practical and take a risk?”
I did that when I married you and move to this godforsaken wasteland.