True Treasure: Real - Life History Mystery

BOOK: True Treasure: Real - Life History Mystery
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True Treasure

 

B
y

 

Lisa Grace

 

History Mystery

 

True Treasure, Book 2 in the Lisa Grace Real-Life History Mystery Series ©2014 All Rights reserved by the author, Lisa Grace

 

Book 1 is
The 15th Star by Lisa Grace
ebook
©2012, 2013, 2014 All Rights reserved by the author, Lisa Grace

and
The 15th Star by Lisa Grace paperback
© November 2013 All Rights reserved by the author, Lisa Grace

 

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***

*****

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CHAPTER 1

London, England 1817

Captain Bennett Graham surveyed the deck of his recent charge the HMS Devonshire. She was a true beauty. Built to withstand strong winds and high seas, yet sleek and nimble. The Royal Navy used the highest skilled labor and ship builders money could buy. They could afford to buy the best. King George had stepped up production on building his fleet in the midst of the trade embargos against France. The HMS Devonshire was a seventy-four gun, third rate ship, meaning she could hold a crew of between two hundred and three hundred men. She was fast enough to outrun any enemy and contained enough fire power to sink any warship determined for a fight. Set to sea in 1812 she had already proved her seaworthiness, and now he had been given command of this gem of the Royal Navy.

“Sir? Captain Graham?” A young messenger pulled out a letter from the leather pouch he wore cross bodied. The young man wore a powdered wig on his head. A white frilled shirt peeked out beneath the collar and sleeves of a red velvet jacket. Spotless white stockings and pointed patent leather shoes with gold buckles completed the look. He was obviously a messenger on business from the King. Captain Graham surmised his orders must have arrived.

Snickers from some of the sailors on the deck drifted to his ears.

“Yes?”

“For you sir, from His Majesty the King.” The young man held out a letter.

Captain Graham took the letter. A red wax seal bearing the King’s crest lay fat and thick across the seam. The linen paper was so fine it was as soft as cloth, yet stiff. The paper was made to last through the years to ensure carrying the King’s edicts into posterity or to at least hold up against the elements to reach the intended through whatever obstacles may befall the messenger.

He broke open the seal. Small chunks of the wax fell to the deck. Those would need to be swept off before they stuck to the freshly scrubbed wood, he thought out of habit.

He unfolded the paper and read:

 

His Majesty King George III

King of Great Britain and King of Ireland,

Here by decrees Captain Bennett Graham in the service of His Majesty's Royal Navy will command the HMS Devonshire on a survey of the Isles of the lands of Costa Rica, and provide accurate measurements of the colonies’ lands of His Majesty's territories and colonies of the new land of Costa Rica.

The ship is here by ordered to carry the necessary cartographers, botanists, artists, crew, and goods necessary to carry out such an expedition.

 

This is hereby decreed on March 2nd, 1817

 

Well, there it was, a full commission for a major survey of a foreign coastline. A responsible assignment. Who knew what he could discover in this foreign land? Rumors abounded the area with its thousands of little islands was a haven for criminals who preferred life on the high seas away from civilization.

The cocoa trade from Costa Rica was a thriving industry and a great source of income for the King. Recently, it had been discovered coffee berries thrived in the rain
forest climate of the Costa Rican mountains and his Majesty was looking forward to a booming new source of income from this relatively new export.

Knowing the area first hand could boost his value to the King as an economic advisor. He couldn't think of a better commission than the one he'd just received. His way was set into the inner circle of the King. If he could discover a new export, something to enrich the King's coffers even further, his future would be set. Life had never looked better.

“Lieutenant Cullen,” He called out for his first officer.

“Yes, Captain?” Lieutenant Randall Cullen answered from over the rail of the upper deck.

“We have received our commission. Meet me in my quarters. I want my ship ready for service by the end of the week.”

“Yes
sir.”

***

Keiko, Present Time

Keiko leaned over the microscope peering at the paper of the time weathered map. The striations caused by wood pulp and glue matched other papers known to be from the 1817 time period. The markings on the paper correlated to those of existing documents known to be issued from the court of King George III.

A voice startled her from behind, “My dear, you’ve called me away from consulting with the first lady on the drapery required for a redo of some of the guest bedrooms. We had narrowed it down to three of her favorite time periods,” Dr. Writer stated as he entered the forensics lab at the Smithsonian.

“I’m sorry, to call you away,” Keiko said as she adjusted the eye piece for a closer look. “I only have the lab for two more hours, and then Dan Middles and his guys get it for the rest of the week for those Egyptian papyrus scrolls they're authenticating. I'm lucky they let me squeeze this in.”

“Yes, I’m surprised you managed to wield out the time. They’re normally booked a month or two out.”

“Their lead hieroglyph translator’s daughter came down sick so they have delayed for a day. Dan owed me a favor so he let me have his spot.”

Keiko stood up and motioned for Doc to come over. He put his head down to the viewer, and adjusted the magnification. “Let's see what we shall see.”

Keiko walked over to the side
table, rubbed at her eyes, picked up her coffee mug, then leaned casually against the counter, sipped her coffee and waited while Doc took his time examining the map.

Doc finally straightened up. “How much do you know about the paper making process and the changes it went through from 1798 to 1854?” he asked Keiko.

“In 1798 J. N. L. Robert invented the first paper making machine. In 1843, Keller invented a wood grinding machine capable of making fine pulp for thinner, finer paper, and later, Dickinson’s cylinder machine helped bring in the era of mass production. I know both the scrapbook and this map are from the 1850s and earlier, because chemically processed paper wasn’t invented until the mid-1850s.”

Keiko patted the scrapbook, which was next to the microscope.

“The paper of the map appears to be early 1800s. We have other documents King George the Third has signed, or those the Prince Regent did on his behalf, like tax docs on ships and commissions.”

Doc nodded, “I concur.” He pointed toward the scrapbook. “The paper from the scrapbook was made using the finer pulp characteristic of those produced from Keller's invention in 1843, so the scrapbook dates from 1843 to 1855 or so. The paper on the map has the authentic King George seals and is on a thicker cartographic paper which would have been used on the ships for their official surveys. I’ve examined many naval maps from this time period and it is authentic.”

Keiko's heart raced. “It is the Pirate Bloody Graham’s map then?”

Doc smiled, took off then wiped at his glasses with a cloth he removed from his pocket. “It appears to be a map made circa 1812 - 1843, by a Royal Navy cartographer, of an island off the Costa Rican coast, on official Navy cartography paper. That is as far as I can authenticate it.” Doc broke into a big smile.

Keiko responded with one of her own. “Thank you!”

“No, thank you. I have a confession to make,” Doc said as he walked to the door, “I really don't care which bloody curtains the first lady picks, as the full size TV flat screens they will hide will ruin the whole ambience of the rooms, for me.”

Keiko laughed.

“I assume you will be planning a trip to Costa Rica?”

“Honey mooning. Julian and I are planning our honeymoon.”

“I see. So I’m assuming there will not be a press release regarding the map as of yet?”

Keiko shook her head, “No, we want to see if we can find the treasure first. If we make an announcement now, everyone from amateurs to professional treasure hunters will be on the lookout for the treasure.”

“Be careful, Keiko. There are pirates and drug cartels that use the coast for smuggling. It’s dangerous. If they get wind of what you have, and what it means, your lives are very much in danger.”

Keiko nodded. “I know. That’s why we’re keeping it under wraps for now. The less people who know the better.”

***

1818 Costa Rica

Mary sat on her horse and looked down at the bay. The port was bustling with sailors loading supplies and luggage onto a large ship. Soon the passengers would be boarding excited and happy to be on their way to England. The heat was broken by a wonderful sea breeze blowing in from the West. The weather was beautiful, which only added to the heat of Mary’s anger. If it was storming and the weather had been gloomy she might not have been so upset. She surveyed the crowd, looking for her best friend, Elizabeth. She would be one of the lucky happy ones, boarding the ship with her chaperone, her Aunt Sarah, to experience the balls and the parties a well-rounded girl should do. The whirl of social soirees was a not so secret way to introduce her to society and find her a proper suitor. Looking down on the carriages Mary tried to pick out which one was that of her friend’s. From this distance she was too far away to make out any details. Her intention had been to come up here and paint the scene of Elizabeth’s ship pulling out of the harbor, a memory of her trip, a gift for Elizabeth when she returned.

But it was too painful.
She
should be on Elizabeth’s ship too.

While Mary had no desire to find a suitor, she wanted more than anything to set her eyes on a world she could only imagine. England. Her parent
’s homeland. She’d been born in Costa Rica and her early life had been one of tutors, then a maid to keep an eye on her, but lately, she’d been left to her own devices. She spent her time riding her horse around the groves of cocoa plants and the upper regions of their land which had been tilled to grow their latest enterprise, coffee berries. Painting and riding were her only means of escape. Why could not she be the one to go to Europe?
She
was the one who could appreciate the sights. To have the chance to paint the cathedrals and the city sights would have been an answer to her prayers.

She had asked, no begged, her parents to let her and a chaperone accompany Elizabeth, whose Aunt had graciously extended an invitation for them to stay at her town home in London, but her parents had declined the invitation.

Her mother was pregnant, which was embarrassing enough, but her mother had decided she also wanted to make the long voyage back to England to see her parents, and so had postponed the trip for the following year. She then could bring the baby to England, and have Mary’s chaperone double as a nanny for the baby. Could anything be worse? How could she possibly survive her mother’s plans with any dignity intact?

She imagined Elizabeth aboard the ship, meeting handsome young gentlemen, seeing the fearsome whales at sea, docking in England, the streets alive with society from every class, perhaps even meeting royalty at the balls. She could imagine Elizabeth gaining a more sophisticated friend, one she could confide in, attend parties with...and what if Elizabeth fell in love...and what if the young gentleman felt the same? It was possible Elizabeth may never return to Costa Rica. And then she, Mary, would be stuck here, alone. Only the other landowners’ heirs to talk to. There were the Gamble twins, John and James, one with vision so poor and the other a flirt looking at every passing girl. Or Jane Manson, who was so shy and had a fear of horses ever since one had thrown her at a young age. The Shelby sisters were another group. Three were younger and two were older. Catherine, the closest to her age, was now engaged and talked about where she and Harold would set up household once they were married. She could not stand her self-absorbed-in-the-wedding-plans kind of talk. Catherine was forever trying to set Mary up with her cousins so they could be close, as friends and relations. Mary was not ready to explore marriage or set up a household. She wanted some excitement first.

The boys were too old to be friends with any longer, and Jane bored her past tears.

Tears began to run down Mary’s face. She knew it was wrong to feel like her life was over, but being stuck in this beautiful land, with no hope of prospects for a future any different than the one she already had, made her feel trapped.

Her mother would say,
Mary, your romantic vision of London is all wrong. The city streets are filled with smog, the buildings covered with soot, and the streets smell of horses' leavings. Why, the night pots are emptied into the streets by the less civilized. Beggars are on every corner, and it is only in the very best parts of town that you can escape the unwashed masses. Really, Costa Rica is a paradise compared to the city of London, and I blame myself for your romantic notions of that dirty city we escaped. We came here to build a life for you, one you could be proud of, and you should. Why half the city would give an arm to escape to as beautiful a country we live in!

BOOK: True Treasure: Real - Life History Mystery
8.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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