On his way he passed the tin cup, which he had forgotten to pick up, but now he merely kicked it out of the way. “If the man comes back,” he thought, “he knows the way. There is no need of concealing anything.”
When the captain had reached the top of the mound, he moved the stone lid so that the aperture was entirely uncovered. Then he looked down upon the mass of dull yellow bars. He could not perceive any apparent diminution of their numbers.
“He must have filled his pockets,” the captain thought, “and so full that some of them dropped out. Well, let him go, and if he ventures back here, we shall have it out between us. In the meantime, I will do what I can.”
The captain now took from the pocket of his jacket two small canvas bags, which he had had made for this purpose, and proceeded to fill one of them with the gold bars, lifting the bag, every now and then, to try its weight. When he thought it heavy enough, he tied up the end very firmly, and then packed the other, as nearly as possible, to the same extent. Then he got down, and laying one of the bags over each shoulder, he walked about to see if he could easily bear their weight.
“That is about right,” he said to himself. “I will count them when I take them out.” Then, putting them down, he went up for his lantern. He was about to close the lid of the mound, but he reflected that this would be of no use. It had been open nobody knew how long, and might as well remain so. He was coming back as often as he could, and it would be a tax upon his strength to lift that heavy lid every time. So he left the treasures of the Incas open to the air under the black roof of the cavern, and, with his lantern in his hand and a bag of gold on each shoulder, he left the cave of the lake, and then, concealing his lantern, he walked down to the sea.
Before he reached it he had thoroughly scanned the ocean, but not a sign of a ship could be seen. Walking along the sands, and keeping, as before, close to the curving line of water thrown up by the surf, he said to himself:
“I must have my eyes and ears open, but I am not going to be nervous or fidgety. I came here to be a pack-mule, and I intend to be a pack-mule until something stops me, and if that something is one man, he can look out for himself.”
The bags were heavy and their contents were rough and galling to the shoulders, but the captain was strong and his muscles were tough, and as he walked he planned a pair of cushions which he would wear under his golden epaulets in his future marches.
When the captain had covered the two miles of beach and climbed the two rocky ridges, and reached his tent, it was long after noon, and throwing his two bags on the ground and covering them with a blanket, he proceeded to prepare his dinner. He laid out a complete working-plan, and one of the rules he had made was that, if possible, nothing should interfere with his regular meals and hours of sleep. The work he had set for himself was arduous in the extreme, and calculated to tax his energies to the utmost, and he must take very good care of his health and strength. In thinking over the matter, he had feared that the greed of gold might possess him, and that, in his anxiety to carry away as much as he could, he might break down, and everything be lost.