“The Last Will and Testimony of Hatch Face”
By Louis R Sauer
Editor Carver Louis Means
Copy right May 25, 2017
“Perhaps it is time,” replied the elder American Indian to the younger Princess Marie with her sister Princess Hannah who had both come to visit him on the occasion of his 95th birthday, “that I should make out my Will. I’m not getting any younger you know!”
“Oh ‘stuff and nonsense’,” replied Marie with a laugh, “we came to hear your stories, not to think about when you won’t be with us!”
Hatchet Face, whose sagging facial cheeks pointed downward into a permanent frown with age, attempted a smile. “You are very kind. And I notice you have not brought Hiram the Awesome or Brave Zeke, are they attending White Man’s College?”
“Boys go to college to get more knowledge…,” began both girls, then stopped abruptly.
“That little rhyme always makes me smile,” interrupted Hatchet Face, “and not a very accurate ending, considering you both graduated from Snaem University with advance degrees yourselves! Still, I think it is time for me to clarify my legacy. That’s why I want both of you to do Literature Majors. Take some Notes. Will you do that for Old Hatchet Face?”
“Certainly, but we have one condition, don’t we Hannah?”
“Yep! Umm… what?”
“Why, our condition is that for each item or artifact, you tell the story that goes with it!” Marie beamed at her own brilliance.
“Yeah!” Hannah chimed in, ” and we will write down the story (and get to hear the story) and that will make your Last Will and Testament, … umm, help me out here Marie.”
“It will make it complete!”
Chapter One: “Seven Gold Coins”
“My first bequest is the only item that has cash value in the White Man’s World,” Hatchet Face began as he withdrew a very weather-beaten saddle bag from behind the stack of blankets in his HTTO Teepee.* “All I have to leave are these few items.” And he began to dump the first of it’s the contents on the brightly colored horse blanket in front of them.
A tarnished silver horse’s bridle came out first followed by seven gold coins. Clearly from the rattling sound, there were more items not yet dispelled. Both girls knew that each item had a special value. But these first eight held their attention and they awaited the story that would follow…..
“Several years after the Adventure of the Golden Egg,” the wrinkled but very virile Indian began after a puff of his long stemmed corn cob pipe, “we received an urgent call for help. Chief Carver was away dealing with Sitting Bull and had left me in charge.”
“What was the call?” asked Hannah eagerly, “who was it from?”
“That was exactly the problem, young One. We did not know who it was from or what the trouble was.”
*HTTO, . Higher Than The Others
“Than how did you know it was a cry for help?” begged Marie, now totally into the story.
“Because of how it came to us.” The Old Indian’s eyes glistened at the memory and he paused for effect, good story teller that he was.
“You were both quite young at the time,” he began again, “Do you remember the year that the buffalo were hidden? Of course you do, I’m sure. It was a very difficult winter and we Snaems have always depended on the big summer hunt to see us through the winter. That summer and all that Fall we journeyed further and further without success. It was late in the year when we came across the killing fields.”
“Killing fields?” repeated Hannah with a shiver.
“Yes, as far as the eye could see and as high as my horse, thousands had been slaughtered. Killed for their hides and the rest left to nature.” The old man’s eyes now grew moist and he had to turn his head for a moment to regain his composure.
“We needed only a dozen for their hides and for food, yet the white hunters had killed them all and left us nothing.”
“I confess, it was in my heart to track them down and do to them as they did to the Buffalo. But for Tatunka. His name means buffalo and he knew much more of them than any of the others in our hunting party.”
“Tatunka instructed us to look for the carcasses on which birds were still feeding. That meant that the meat, while spoiled and sickening, was not as spoiled, and below, the bones were still harvestable. They can be boiled for soup broth, you see girls.”
Both girls had been living comfortable lives and cringed at the word picture he was painting.
“We managed to harvest more cooking bones than our horses could carry, and while fighting off sadness of the waste and anger at the buffalo hunters, we were also thanking The Great Spirit. We would hunger, but survive the winter now.
“I was just tying down the last of my heavy load when something shiny caught my attention. There at my feet, exposed by our scavenging, a flash of silver !”
As I reached in my hand, I withdrew this silver horse’s bridle.” He held it up for them to see.
“Now there is not an Indian on earth that would think a buffalo ate a horse, so I asked myself how that could be? By now our group was mounted and leaving for home. There were several days and weary nights to ride. It would be slow under such a heavy load.
But something held me back. ‘Go on’, I called. ‘I’ll catch up.’
“Still holding the silver bridle, I got back off my horse and began to pry the massive carcasses one from another. And that’s when I found these,” he said holding the seven gold coins in his open palm.
They were in a torn burlap wrapping and there was what looked like picture writing, as if by a child. The moment I looked at it, somehow I knew it was an urgent cry for assistance.”
“But what could you do?” Marie was as concerned as if it was happening as they were talking.
“I know where the coins had come from. Not specifically, but more or less the general direction. Look at the coins closely.”
When Marie and Hannah looked closely they were surprised. There was no writing, such as on a US Gold coin or even a Spanish Gold Coin, Instead there was a symbol. A triangle with a eye above it giving off rays as if it was the sun.
“Is this Egyptian?” Marie asked. “It looks like something from pictures of a Pharaoh’s Tomb I’ve seen in school.”
“No, but perhaps just as old. A few coins like this were said to be scattered among the hoards of gold found and stolen by the Conquisidors who robbed and betrayed the Incas and Aztecs.”
“What does the symbol mean then? And aren’t all the Aztecs gone?”
“The symbol, I can tell you now, is from the LOST WORLD. Some call the place Atlantis. And yes, these coins came from there.”
“WoW!” said Hannah, “but how would they get inside a Buffalo?”
“Chief Carver’s grandfather told us once about an isolated plateau, surrounded by desert. The sides are unscalable. So no one goes there and it is thought to be uninhabited. But it is not.”
“Do you mean…?”
“Yes my young Princesses. They may be there. Survivors of the Great Flood.”
“From when their country sank? That would be more than a Thousand years ago!” Hannah was counting on her fingers.
“Perhaps many times a thousand. Imagine, escaping in a canoe and being washed all the way inland to the American SouthWest? Then stranded on a high plateau for centuries!” Marie exclaimed in amazement.
“Indeed. And somehow now they needed help urgently.
“What did you do?”
“I left a message in the bones that I would be gone for some time and for Vice Chief Hiram to take over until either I or Chief Carver returned. Then I rode for the high Arizona Territory.”
“Did you get there in time?”
“Unfortunately not. After more than a week riding I found the plateau at last. And all the sides were sheer rock. No hope of scaling it. No ropes hanging down. No ladders and no hand holds to climb. No signs of life.”
“You were too late then?” asked Princess Hannah.
“Perhaps. Perhaps not.”
“What do you mean?’
Hatchet Face smiled brightly and rubbed his very prominent nose as if a cockroach were climbing up a nostril.
“I rode around the base. It took three days to complete the circle.”
“And?” Marie was now on her knuckles and about to pounce with tension.
“And as I completed my circle, at almost the exact point at which I started I found a message, freshly painted on the sheer wall. I’m certain it wasn’t there three days earlier,
“Don’t keep us in suspense! What did it say?”
“It was a mixture of Spanish, English, Snaemian and Atlantisian picture-symbols. I can’t translate exactly but the pictures showed a great battle. I couldn’t tell if was an old battle or recent. Or some legendary battle, perhaps a reoccurring war.”
“Were the pictures of the enemies white men?
“No, odd thing. In the pictures they were of fighting giant birds.”
“Giant birds? Like Eagles or Condors?” asked Marie.
“They seemed to be as tall as men, able to stand and fight like men as well as fly and attack. More like Demons.”
“What about the words? “
“As I said, they were all mixed up. But I could tell that it was a Thank You and a Warning.
“You mean, Thank you for coming in answer to our call for help?”
“Yes, I took it that way, though how they knew and who or where they were I still wonder about.”
“And the warning?
“It was about gold. The demon birds wanted it bad enough to attack and fight to the death.”
“I never heard of such a thing,” exclaimed Hannah.
“What was the warning?” asked Marie.
“It was about protecting yourself from their attack and keeping your gold covered over, I think. I advised Chief Carver to avoid too much gold after that. We only take a few gold nuggets here and here as needed for trade ever since then.”
“Hmmm, I wondered about that. What do you think the demon birds were, Hatchet Face?”
“The Snaem word they used was Ging.”
Marie sighed deeply and concluded the story, “So, these seven gold coins may be the only proof of Atlantis and of the Hidden Plateau City.”
“Indeed. Now its up to you as the oldest Princess to keep them safe and you, the younger princess to keep and preserve the story.”
“We will. We promise!” both said solemnly.
Or is it? Will we see more of these mysterious Gings? Will HatchetFace really die? Find out in The Rescue of Neptune’s Barnacle, coming soon.