Copyright 2010 by Harry David Legg
Late one night, a native Indian knocked on a rotten wooden door. There was silence. Then at last The Indian heard a shuffling figure come to the door.
“Who is it?” asked an old hoarse voice.
“Ouuudini!” answered the Indian. The door creaked open.
“Did you-do it? The diamond, I mean.” An old lady wearing an old, ragged Red Indian dress stood in the doorway, her pearl necklace sparkling under the moonlight.
“Of course!” replied the Indian. “I must go soon, so hide the diamond! And remember, if you talk, YOU DIE!” The woman cowered behind the door, as if frightened by the Indian's words.
“Yes, !” she stuttered. Ouuudini disappeared stealthily into the night sky!
Jamie and Lord Taarken sat in a musty, old room as their friend strode in to the room with a worried expression on his face.
“My Dad, Ouuudini should have arrived earlier today. But he hasn't. I'm going down town to look for him. Houdini ran off!
Ten minutes later, Houdini ran in to the room and slumped down on a wooden chair. His face was pale!
“He's caught malaria and is going to die! Quick, come with me to the hospital!” Houdini ran back out of the room towards a horse drawn wagon. Taarken looked at Jamie's chair. But no Jamie was there. Then a voice called to Taarken.
“Come on, we're going to the hospital.”
When in the wagon cart, trundling along, Houdini explained himself.
“ He was travelling here. But somehow he fell in a swamp and got bitten by a bloodthirsty mosquito. Suddenly, my Dad became weak. But a passer-by rescued him, luckily, without being bitten and took him to the hospital.” The wagon stopped outside a wooden building and they all got out. Once inside the hospital they asked the lady at the desk in the entrance hall,
“Can you tell us where Raion Ouuudini is?”
“He is here, but you can't see him, He's expected to die, VERY, soon!” Houdini stood still for a second and then thrust his hand into his pocket. Out came a dagger!
“Now,” he said calmly. “Where is Raion Ouuudini?”
“Through the door on left!”she quavered pointing. Houdini rushed through the door with Jamie and Taarken following.
When Ouuudini saw his son, he gasped,
“All is not lost!” Houdini walked to his father's bed.
Ouuudini reached for his son's hand and stuttered his last sentence.
“ The diamond,...in Chlowlow, ol...d-la-deeeeee. As his criminal father passed away, Houdini looked at Taarken and Jamie.
“Chlowlow, it is!” he whispered.
Over the next few days the three men prepared for an expedition to Chlowlow.
A month later, they were on the road to Chlowlow. But there were many problems.
They were running short of food. They had rapidly spread Ouuudini's last words and had acquired numerous numbers of eager people on the quest to get the lost diamond. Houdini, Taarken and Jamie gravely discussed the situation.
“We are in the middle of nowhere, we're running out of food, and furthermore, we have no idea where the village Hisini is.” said Taarken. “ So I'm afraid we're lost FOREVER!”
Chapter 1: An Argument
The carts trundled along the dusty dirt track, which at some time would lead the weary travellers towards the Red Indian village, Hisini.
Jamie was immensely worried about the food situation. It was true what Taarken had said,
“We are in the middle of nowhere, we're running out of food, and furthermore, we have no idea where the village Hisini is.”
Suddenly a girl ran up to Lord Taarken and declared in a high pitched voice,
“We are approaching Hisini!”
As the girl jubilantly spread the good news, the village loomed up in front of them.
The men were loading their guns, in case of a sudden hostility from the Indians, which is a common occurrence in the deepest of the wild west.
The carts stopped out side the heavily fortified village of Hisini. Hisini had a wooden spiked fence with a thick forest south-west of it. The Indians lived in dry mud houses with thatched roofs.
Lord Taarken strode off to get items ready to trade for food with the Indians.
In Lord Taarken's cart, a violent argument was in full flare.
“We should avoid this cursed village!”urged Hutchinson who was a stocky blonde twenty-five year old. “It will endanger our quest!”
“Going any other way to Chlowlow would endanger the Quest. There is NO other way to Chlowlow except if you want to go through Crevice Canyon or Basilisk Swamp!”
Suddenly Lord Taarken entered majestically into the cart and said,
“The Red Indians have agreed to trade with us and let us go through the village!” Hutchinson and Houdini stared daggers at each other and then walked away.
Chapter 2 : The Betrayal
The Sun rose over the village of Hisini and the Americans readied their trading items, guns, gunpowder, animal furs and so-on, to trade with the Indians for food.
Lord Taarken blew a horn to tell the Indians they were ready to trade.
A minute later, Hutchinson cautiously went into the gateway of Hisini, wondering why the Indians hadn't come out. Lord Taarken and men behind tables, ready to trade, watched Hutchinson as he looked into the village.
Suddenly, drums started beating and war cries filled the air. Hutchinson fell to the ground. Lord Taarken looked up in surprise, as Hutchinson lay dead on the ground, with an arrow pieced through his head. Blood oozed out onto the ground, and Taarken looked on in horror as thousands of Indians swarmed through the gateway.
As arrows swamped the air, Lord Taarken looked into the crowd of oncoming Indians. What was the reason for this sudden hostility? There in the middle of the crowd was Houdini, covered in war paint, but most definitely Houdini. But he had no more time to think as a shot rang out and an Indian fell dead to the ground. Jamie, Lord Taarken's brother, had killed an Indian.
Taarken whipped out his pistol and followed the example of his brother. The men at the tables knocked over item into the path of the Indians! But nothing could stop them now! A horn blew as a sign to retreat to the woods, but no-one heard above the bloodthirsty cries of the men! But it did not take a horn to persuade people to avoid a massacre. Lord Taarken ordered men to take defensive positions on the edge of the wood, while the women and children prepared a camp.
The Indians soon retreated back to Hisini at the sight of their own blood. Houdini was thinking, now I've ditched those idiots, I can get round to finding where the diamond is, but I'll just check what Taarken's next move is.
Lord Taarken and Jamie gravely discussed the situation while armed men watched Hisini.
“Houdini was behind that!” said Lord Taarken.
“I know! He disappears and the next day the Indians attack us! And another thing, Houdini is a Red Indian, so he has a good influence on his fellow race,” replied Jamie.
“Houdini was in the thick of that battle,” added Taarken, “But I still can't understand why Houdini betrayed us,”.
“But. . .” started Jamie. But he was interrupted by a man who was guarding the camp.
“Houdini is spying on us! Shall we shoot him?”
“No, I will take care of him!” replied Taarken. He went off to get a gun.
Five minutes later, the eerie silence of the night was broken by a shot from a rifle and a moan as a man's life ended.
“Houdini had an evil intent!” said Jamie to Taarken.
“Indeed,” Taarken replied. Suddenly, a man rushed up to Taarken and cried,
“A lion! Surely it is a lion! It growls and is heading towards the Indian village.
Chapter 3 : An Urgent Meeting
Jamie sprang up in alarm! But Taarken gestured Jamie to sit down. He calmly told Jamie to gather the men into the cart.
Not a long while later, men appropriately dressed for a cold winter night assembled under a moonlit sky, in a natural clearing, looking tired and anxious.
Lord Taarken rode up to address the men.
“This meeting must be quick due to current circumstances,” There was a brief pause and then Taarken continued. “A lion is apparently heading to Hisini, and as you know, American lions are dangerous – especially the black-maned Mamba kind. We know that those Indians won't stand a second against a fully-grown lion.” Then he concluded, waiting for the effect to sink in, “Will three men, not including myself and Jamie, assemble outside the cart with rifles and knives!” He pointed at three men with good fighting experience.
Chapter 4 : The Black-Maned Mamba Lion
Five men stealthily crept into the entrance of Hisini. A deadly silence pierced the heart of fearless men.
Taarken wondered why there were no Indians milling around. Then suddenly, Jamie pointed at the wall of one of the numerous houses in Hisini. A huge shadow of a lion, like a hovering rain-cloud waiting to burst, prowled menacingly on the wall. The five men stood motionless in terror, as a huge lion emerged round the house and stared straight into their eyes. The lion had blood dripping from its mouth and was snarling, ready to pounce! Jamie wondered why the lion's mane was so big. Then part of the supposed mane dropped onto the ground. To his horror he saw a moonlit piece of flesh on the ground. He looked up into the lion's face and observed the moonlit mane. Not a golden mane, but a black mane. Then he realised what he was observing – it was a black maned Mamba lion!
The lion leapt high into the air and landed on a helpless man who was now a mere bundle of mangled skin and flesh. Four men whipped out their cocked pistols and fired deep into the body of the lion. It flopped down on top of the dead man. Jamie stepped up to finish the seemingly-helpless lion, when it swished its last swish and floored Jamie.
Lord Taarken ran over and shot the lion through its heart. The lion was dead. Jamie had a massive claw mark in his leg. The two remaining men, aside from Taarken, helping Jamie up and hobbled him into the camp. Taarken, however, entered a hut and saw, strewn all over the floor, evidence of a fight. He had seen enough. The way was clear to Chlowlow.
When Taarken got back to the camp, the majority were asleep apart from Jamie and the two other men. Jamie's foot was bandaged and they were eating hot mush. He joined them and they discussed the current situation.
Chapter 5:The Earthquake
The next morning the camp awoke to a rumbling under them.
“What's that”? Asked a man who had stumbled over to Jamie who was feeling a lot better.
“Hmm, I don't know.” he replied. “Why not ask Taarken,.........” Suddenly the rumbling increased and the ground began to split. Taarken rushed out of his wagon,
“Earthquake! Quick get onto the horses and go, flee, meet back at the camp when the earthquake stops!”
Suddenly, people were rushing around trying to get a horse to getaway on. By now the earthquake was swallowing up wagons. People on horses were consumed up by the ground. Lord Taarken helped Jamie up a tree as all the other people disappeared below them and their carts were reduced to fragments of broken wood! Few people escaped! Finally the earthquake stopped and a few people emerged from safe hiding places. Jamie came down from the tree with the help of Taarken.
“This is a disaster!” cried the few people who had survived and not run away. Taarken said,
“Please everyone, help tidy up the the camp and then we will continue to our goal!” This little speech seemed to encourage them all as a frantic search for any people who had survived begun.
Taarken moved away from everyone and looked into the sky. A vulture soared round in the deep blue expanse looking for a meal to swoop on. He thought,
"How lucky it is to be able to fly!"
Chapter 6: Arrndard
After a while, the stars began to shine and the clearing looked more ship shape. Taarken was talking to Jamie who was now completely better from his ordeal. Taarken said,
“Most of the people have left us and now we only have three men left!”
“But, at least it will make the journey easier! But what I don't get is why Houdini deserted us, he was my life long friend!”Jamie replied.
“Let's face it, he wasn't really our friend if he tried to kill us! He wanted the diamond for himself!”continued Taarken. Jamie was walking away felling very sad. Why did Houdini desert us? He was my 'friend'!
Later that evening five men including Jamie and Taarken huddle found a cosy fire. They were all that was left of the 'diamond hunters'! One called Robertson looked glum because his wife had been crushed in the earthquake and Hans was another of Houdini's 'friends'. Last of all there was Daansk Sooksk with a Norwegian back ground. Taarken broke the silence.
“I think we should turn in for the night, then carry on next morning!” Without uttering word, the men walked slowly to their wrecked wagons and then settled down for the night.
Early the next morning, the Sun beat down on two canvass roofs! Five men gathered all they could from a pile of rubble. Food, water, all that they could manage. Then they bundled into two carts drawn by horses!
“Come on. . . come on!” urged Taarken to his' weary horses. At last the horses pulled the carts out of the clearing onto a crumbled track. All around them signs of an earthquake were evident and trees were strewn all over the ground. Slowly, but steadily, the wagons travelled all day until they saw a river.
“Ahhhhhhhhh, a river, at last.” sighed Jamie. Clear water flowed lazily along the river bed and the water looked fresh. Robertson got out of the cart and made his way to the river cautiously treading on the ground. He noticed the ground was flat and smooth, with no clods of earth lying around. He gathered some water in a pouch and brought it back to the carts. There was an eerie silence! All the birds seemed to have left after the earthquake. They had gone far, far away! Inside Jamie and Taarken's tent the latter was talking loudly.
“Why didn't I think of it before?”
“On the map we had. . . you know. . . the one which we lost, I seemed to remember there being a river near Chlowlow!”replied Taarken excitedly.
“Are you sure? If so can you remember where Chlowlow is?”
“I have quite a vivid memory of it. Chlowlow is just north of the river. Hmm, I think the river is called Arrndard.”
“Well, what are we waiting for let's go. . . to the village I mean.”cried Jamie. “Hey, Robertson, Hans, Daansk come here!” continued Jamie.
There came the sound of footsteps on the ground as three men came up to the cart!
“What's up?” asked Robertson taking a swig from the new fresh water.
“Right, listen!”instructed Taarken.” We've just found where Chlowlow is!”
An hour later, five men approached a spiked fence! They could hear a lot of noise coming from over the fence! They had left there carts behind a clump of trees and were now next to the entrance to what they hoped was Chlowlow! They had their guns with them slung over their shoulder. They entered the village. “Good!” thought Taarken.” It appears to be market day. We won't be noticed!” People bustled busily around browsing stalls. Men competed for the airwaves, yelling their wares. The company of men stopped by a house with a thatched roof and wooden supports.
“OK, here's the plan!”addressed Taarken to the other men. “We need to find an old lady. She's probably Indian, just mingle with the crowd and find out where she is! The sooner we fnd the lady, the sooner we get the diamond!”
The men split up into the noisy crowd.
Daansk Sooksk was an unusual man! He smoked and had never been married. He thought to himself, “Ha ha, those fools are gone, now I can complete Houdini's wish!” Houdini had said to Daansk,
“If I die before I get my hands on that diamond you must kill Taarken and get the diamond, then dispose of the diamond.” At the time Daansk had found that strange coming from Houdini but since then he discovered that it's not nice to have twenty odd people trying to find a diamond that is rightly yours.
He pondered how to kill Taarken. He knew where the old woman lived. . . or maybe used to live. That was not a problem. But now Taarken was on his own for a while it should be easier to kill him! Daansk discreetly followed Taarken onto the crowd. Then he saw Taarken turn a corner. Hmm, strange! Suddenly Taarken swung round with his gun in his hand.
“Why are you following me?”raged Taarken. “Believe it or not I over heard your little chat with Houdini! I wondered when you would try to fulfil his wish!” Then Daansk replied,
“How do you think you'd like it if some bugling idiot like yourself tried to take a fortune that is rightly yours?” yelled Daansk angrily. Then he took his gun out!
“I'm not sure that what I'm doing is right, but you are a traitor to me and everyone!” shouted back Taarken. His finger moved onto the trigger at the same time as Daansk! Bang bang! Daansk slumped to the ground dead and Taarken screamed in pain! He looked at his finger and reeled back and fainted. Luckily, no one had heard the commotion but Hans and Robertson. They rushed round the corner and gasped in amazement at Taarken and then in horror at Daansk!
Hans rushed over to Daansk and felt his pulse. NOTHING! Daansk was dead. Robertson felt Taarken's pulse. Badom badom badom! He was alive! Robertson quickly bandaged Taarken's bloody finger in a piece of cloth. Hans went off in search of Jamie. “What on earth had happened to cause Daansk to die!”he thought as he ran over cobbled streets to find Jamie. At last, there he was. Jamie was talking to an old man and he looked surprised to see Robertson!
“Come quickly!” cried Robertson to an astounded Jamie. “Taarken, injured. . .Daansk . . . dead!” Then ran back to the spot where Taarken lay. He was now breathing and talking!
“That. . . insane idiot!”muttered Taarken. “Was working for Houdini. . . trying to kill me!”
“What?” spluttered Robertson, Hans and Jamie simultaneously.
Five minutes later four exhausted men booked a place in a cheap looking hotel for the night.
The next morning, Hans woke up first wondering where he was. Ah, yes, in Chlowlow! He roused the others and they dragged their clothes on slowly. They were tired and were surprised to hear that Daansk had been found already. People were all talking about the death and most people seemed to have no clue who had killed Daansk.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you! said Jamie. “I know where the old lady lives!” The others looked up in surprise.
“Where? They asked in unison.
“Follow me!”replied Jamie mysteriously.
He led them through narrow streets until he got to a drab looking house. The windows were boarded and there was a sign saying in bold letters, 'FOR SALE'!
“Now all we have to do is get in!”muttered Taarken. He looked cautiously at the boarded windows. Ah. . . easy to get in! Taarken looked around, no one around! Good! Then he took a little hatchet out of his pocket.
“They need to get some customs officers!”
Taarken hacked at the window for about a minute. Then the board gave way!
“Come on guys!” He looked around and then heaved himself through the window. He was soon followed by the others. They were in a bare room. There were cobwebs all over the place and there was a musty smell in the air. There was a rotten door to their left. They walked through the door way. There were lots of boxes in this room. Then Taarken said,
“OK then, search the room!” Jamie moved to the furthest corner of the room and opened a weird looking box! As the others searched he wondered how much the diamond would sell for! He looked into the box. Ughhh! It was rotten! He shoved a cloth which was coated in dust to one side. And there, glinting proudly, was the diamond!
“Hey guys, look I've found the diamond!” cried Jamie.
Taarken was the first to rush over.
“Well done, Jamie!” yelled Taarken. The others crowded round, eager to see the diamond!
“Wow, what a beauty!”
“There's a lot of money for us when we sell that!”cheered Robertson.
Soon they were out of the house and in their hotel.
“We'll stay here for the night and then we will
travel back to our home tomorrow! cried Taarken!
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