The captain was very grave—graver, Miss Markham thought, than the discovery of gold ought to make a man.
“We won’t worry ourselves with calculations,” said he. “As soon as I can get rid of those black fellows, we will go to see what is really in that tomb, or storehouse, or whatever it is. We will make a thorough investigation this time.”
When the men had finished eating, the captain sent them all down to look for driftwood. The stock of wood on the plateau was almost exhausted, and he was glad to think of some reasonable work which would take them away from the cavern.
As soon as they had gone, the captain rose to get the lantern, and called Ralph to accompany him to the mound.
When they were left alone, Edna said to Mrs. Cliff, “Let us go over there to that shady rock, where we can look out for a ship with Mr. Rynders in it, and let us talk about our neighbors in America. Let us try to forget, for a time, all about what the captain is going to investigate. If we keep on thinking and talking of it, our minds will not be in a fit condition to hear what he will have to tell us. It may all come to nothing, you know, and no matter what it comes to, let us keep quiet, and give our nerves a little rest.”
“That is excellent advice,” said Mrs. Cliff. But when they were comfortably seated in the shade, she said: “I have been thinking, Edna, that the possession of vast treasures did not weaken the minds of those Incas, I supposed, until yesterday, that the caverns here were intended for some sort of temple for religious ceremonies, and that the great face on the rock out here was an idol. But now I do not believe that. All openings into the cave must once have been closed up, but it would not do to hide the place so that no one could ever find it again, so they carved that great head on the rocks. Nobody, except those who had hid the treasure, would know what the face meant.”
Edna gave a little smile and sighed. “I see it is of no use to try to get that mound out of our minds,” she said.
“Out of our minds!” exclaimed Mrs. Cliff. “If one of the Rothschilds were to hand you a check for the whole of his fortune, would you expect to get that out of your mind?”
“Such a check,” said Edna, “would be a certain fortune. We have not heard yet what this is.”
“I think we are the two meekest and humblest people in the whole world!” exclaimed Mrs. Cliff, walking up and down the sand. “I don’t believe any other two persons would be content to wait here until somebody should come and tell them whether they were millionaires or not. But, of course, somebody must stay outside to keep those colored people from swarming into the cave when they come back.”
It was not long after this that Mrs. Cliff and Edna heard the sound of quickly advancing feet, and in a few moments they were joined by Ralph and the captain.
“Your faces shine like gold,” cried Edna. “What have you found?”