“Do you lads know how much
these jugs are worth? They come straight from a Mayan ruin. Why has nobody
ever found them before? It doesn’t make sense. I’m sure hundreds of
archeologists have explored every inch of those ruins.” Professor Wilson
“Maybe this was an undiscovered ruin that nobody knows
about yet. It was hidden in the jungle and now it’s covered with lava.
Nobody will find it now. We were lucky to get out alive,” Leith said.
“What do you think of the amber and turquoise?”
“All of this is incredible, lads. You should be proud
of yourselves. Imagine young lads like you finding all this wealth,
unexplored Mayan ruins; unbelievable!” The professor held a piece of amber
to his eye. “This has an insect inside it. Did you notice?”
“I didn’t. Can I see?” Sandy opened his hand. “Wow!
It’s not a mosquito. What is it? It’s some sort of bug I’ve never seen
before. Bugs have either six legs, or eight legs. This one has two pincers
in front and ten legs. I wonder if it is some bug from Atlantis that
stowed away on one of their escape boats.”
“Let me see.” Fraser took it from Sandy.
“Don’t drop that, lads. It’s worth a fortune. This
turquoise is high quality. Is there anything in these jugs?” The professor
tugged at the cork.
“Don’t do that!” Murray shouted, scaring the teacher.
“Why not? It’s only a cork.”
“Professor, it has blood in it; ancient Mayan blood.
We don’t want to expose it to the elements or have it dry up. It might be
important.” Murray lowered his voice.
“Right you are, Master Tait.” Professor Wilson pushed
the cork in tight. “I’ll keep this safe and secure. The amber is quite
large. I hope it will fit. Try to keep your bits and pieces to a smaller
size, lads. The box is getting quite full.”
“We’re half way through. It’s a good thing our lessons
haven’t been too strenuous this past week. We can’t keep this up forever
though. I need to spend some time studying. Rory and I have to go to
Detention every day after class until supper time. One day Mr. Arbuckle
made us scrub all the moss off the inside wall behind the library. We’d
better get to class. Lunch is over. Same time tomorrow?” Leith winked at
“Hurry on then. Don’t be late.”
They stood in the hall waiting for the bell to ring.
“I think we should do a little exploring around here tonight instead of
going out. I could do with a little rest. Let’s meet at the church at
midnight. There are some tunnels I’d like to follow,” Leith said.
“What tunnels? There are tunnels at the church?”
Duncan’s eyebrow raised on one side.
“The other day Rufus Stuart, the janitor, showed
Fraser, Sandy and me a secret staircase that led to a dungeon,” Leith
“There is a torture chamber and all sorts of creepy
stuff and tunnels,” Fraser interrupted.
“Sunday after church we hung around and found an
entrance to the tunnel and we want to follow it to the dungeon. We haven’t
mentioned this to anyone, especially Professor Wilson. I trust him, but
just incase, we need a safe place. I want you all to know where it is
incase you need to escape, or hide for some reason. So meet us in the
hallway at midnight. Time won’t stand still for us tonight, so we can’t
stay long.” Leith jumped when the bell rang. “Midnight. See you then.”
After supper Leith, Fraser, Sandy, Rory and Grant
played a few board games and then worked on their lessons. When he saw the
clock turn 8 P.M., Sandy yawned. “Time to get ready for bed.”
Leith and Fraser were both relieved to have a 9 P.M.
bedtime rule. At least they could get a few hours sleep in before they
went out. Leith had an alarm on his watch that he kept under his pillow so
not to awaken anyone around him. When it went off, he slipped on his
clothes and woke up Fraser and Sandy. What had become routine for them
went by once more without any problems. They met Duncan and Murray in the
hall. Murray was especially tired. Sandy said, “Do you want to go back to
bed? You and Duncan don’t have to come. We’re just going to the church.”
“We’ll come. It wasn’t easy to get up, but my watch
kept buzzing in my ear. We’re here now.” Murray yawned again and followed
“Should we go from the torture chamber to the church,
or from the church to the torture chamber?” Leith turned to Sandy.
“The church first. Let’s get the cold part over with.”
Sandy unlocked the kitchen door. “I wonder if Headmaster will ever figure
out the key is missing.”
They ran down the path to the church and stopped at
the door. “Wait; where does the Minister live? Here?” Fraser grabbed
“He has a home on the other side of Loch Ardith. I’m
sure he only comes on the weekend for choir practice and for Sunday
services. I see his car parked out by the gate every Sunday. We’re safe,”
Leith turned the knob. “It’s locked. I didn’t think of
“Out of the way mates. I just so happen to have
Headmaster’s key to the church too.” Sandy held it up.
“Sandy, how did you get that one?” Duncan shook his
head. “You are a proper thief.”
“I was called into his office last week because my
gran was sick and he wanted me to know. While he was out talking to
another student, I got into his keys. It’s great that he has them all
marked. I found it and was back in my chair before he came in the room.
I’m brilliant.” Sandy grinned.
“Unlock the door then and let us in. I’m freezing, ‘o
brilliant one’.” Fraser shivered.
“I hope someone brought a flashlight. It’s awful dark
in here and we can’t turn on any lights. Fraser?” Leith stepped to the
side to let his friend in.
“Of course I brought it. What would you do without
“Keep it aimed at the floor. Mungo might be wandering
around in this area,” Leith said. “By the way, don’t lock the door in case
we get lost and have to get in or out of here.”
Fraser led them to the back of the chapel. They passed
the pews, the pulpit and choir seats. “Here’s the door. Who is going in
Duncan pushed his way forward. “Me. I always have to
be the last one.”
“Careful, Duncan. We have no idea if there are steps.
I don’t think this tunnel has been used in decades,” Leith said.
They followed Duncan, staying together. The path was
smooth and slippery with many puddles. Drops of water fell from the
ceiling. “Where is this water coming from? It’s not raining outside, is
it?” Murray told Fraser to aim the light above them. “Looks like
groundwater seeping through. There’s a loch nearby. I hope it doesn’t
“Murray! How stupid! The tunnel goes down. Can’t you
tell we’re on some sort of hill? If water did come, it would head to the
deepest point,” Sandy said.
After ten minutes they stood in the torture chamber.
“Would you look at this!” Duncan ran over to one of the wooden machines.
“Is there a light in here?”
“I’ll turn it on,” Fraser said. “Nobody will see the
light way down here. It’s sort of creepy knowing we’re down so deep and
above us is the school.”
A noise came from the tunnel. “Did anyone hear that
besides me?” Murray stepped away from the tunnel entrance.
“I did,” Leith said. “Someone’s there. Hide. Fraser,
don’t turn the lights on just yet.”
Just then Grant Hume came rushing from the tunnel,
arms flailing around his head and screams bursting from his mouth.
Everyone else screamed and ran. “Ha ha. Gotcha.” Grant burst out laughing.
Fraser turned on the lights so they could see.
“Grant? What are you
doing here?” Leith walked over to the boy.
“I saw you leave and decided to follow and see what
you were up to. You have been acting suspicious lately. I was curious.”
Grant grinned. “Whoa! Where are we?”
“You didn’t lock the door to the church, did you?”
Sandy pulled at a rotting piece of rope.
“No. Armor! Is this stuff original? Who knows about
this place? How did you find out?” Grant plied them with questions.
“Rufus showed us. Only a few teachers know about it
and Rufus made us promise to keep it secret, so you have to promise too,”
“I won’t say a word. This is too cool to share with
others,” Grant said. “What other secrets do you five have?”
Rory’s head popped out of the tunnel. “Hey!”
The other boys jumped. “Rory? You too?” Leith scoffed.
“What are you doing here?” Duncan looked around Rory’s
feet for collectible stones.
“I followed Grant. I saw him leave and wondered what
he was up to. I had no idea you were all here. Where are we?” Rory walked
over to the armor. “Is this real?”
“Of course, it’s real. Feel it. It’s metal,” Sandy
said. “Rory, you have to keep this a secret. Rufus will be furious with us
if anyone else finds out. It’s his private place.”
“No problem. Who’s Rufus?” Rory went exploring.
Sandy said, “The janitor.”
They were about to leave when they heard another
noise. This time it came from another tunnel. “Who is it this time? Hide,”
Leith said. “Fraser, turn off the light.”
Fraser hurried up the
steps and turned the light off. He put his flashlight on and aimed it
against the wall.
“You can turn the light back on. I know you’re here,”
Rufus said. Fraser did as told. “I suppose you’ve got a good excuse for
coming here at midnight.” He glared at Leith. “You’ve brought more
“Just these ones and they promised not to tell. They
followed us here,” Leith said.
“Soon I will have no privacy at all,” Rufus mumbled.
“We won’t come here again, Mr. Stuart. We just wanted
to see it one time,” Murray said. “What have you got in your hands?”
“Gold coins, if you must know. Off with you all, or
I’ll tell Headmaster McDiarmad.” Rufus snarled and dropped some of the
coins into his pocket.
“Wait a minute. Where did you get those gold coins
from?” Rory ran over and took one from Rufus’s hand.
“That’s mine, lad. I found the gold.” The janitor
grabbed the coin back from Rory.
“We don’t want your gold, Rufus. All of us come from
wealthy families and have all the money we need. Whatever you find is
yours. We were just curious,” Leith said.
“Curiosity killed the cat. All right. I’ll show you,
but you have to do a blood oath that you will never tell anyone about this
torture chamber, any of the tunnels, or the treasure. Will you all do that
for me?” Rufus pulled out a knife. He slit his thumb. “Come on. All of you
over here.” One by one the boys had their thumbs cut. They put their
thumbs together, mingling their blood and swearing an oath of silence and
secrecy. “That will do. Follow me.”
Murray’s finger hurt, but he didn’t want to complain,
so he put pressure on it until it stopped. The others ignored the pain.
“This is the tunnel. It leads to an old castle on the
other side of the loch. There’s a lot of water because we have to go under
Loch Ardith. Just watch your step. It’s slippery.” Rufus walked off and
the others trailed behind him. As they moved through the tunnel, some of
the lads were uncomfortable at being under the pressure of the water, but
nobody said a word. The tunnel ended in an old cellar. “Get that
flashlight over here, lad.” Rufus called to Fraser. “Watch your step.”
“Where are we? I didn’t know there was a castle here?”
Grant looked around. “It’s old and moss-covered.”
“It’s Castle Blackstone. You can see how all the
bricks are made of black volcanic rock. The old McDiarmad clan owned it
and all the rest of the land around this loch. Up you go.”
“You mean this area was once volcanic? There aren’t
any active volcanoes are there?” Fraser grabbed Rufus by the arm.
“Don’t be daft, lad. Of course there aren’t any active
volcanoes these days.” Rufus tugged his shirt sleeve from Fraser’s grip.
They climbed a flight of broken steps and found
themselves in a windowless room. “This place is spooky and smells moldy,”
“It’s nothing of the sort. It’s a gold mine. These
coins are Roman. Nobody knows the Romans came this far north. Who knows;
maybe they didn’t. It could be a horde that the Scots captured from the
Romans.” Rufus walked across the room and opened a chest.
“Wow! It is a treasure.” Sandy picked up some of the
coins. “As Professor Wilson would say, this must be worth a fortune.”
“Have you looked through the whole castle? Is there
anything else hidden here, like goblets, or jewels?” Fraser ran his
fingers through the coins, letting them slide back into the wooden chest.
“This is it. I’ve gone through this place with a fine
tooth comb. I have to be careful. I can only sell these to collectors, so
it’s a slow process, but I want to retire soon. They’ll have to find a
replacement for me,” Rufus said.
“Good luck to you, Rufus. I think we’d better be
heading back. We have school in the morning,” Leith said.
They plunged through the tunnel at a fast pace. Rufus
stayed behind to lock up and the rest of them went to bed.
next day was a rough one. The weekly lecture in the auditorium by John
Dickerson, the school auditor and financial planner, was especially
boring. None of the boys cared, or wanted to hear about the school’s
finances. Leith took the time to tell Professor Wilson that they hadn’t
gone out the night before. All five lads avoided swim time. After classes
Leith and Rory spent several hours in Detention sleeping. None of them
made it to supper that night.