The two men got out some food and made a luncheon. After a long and thoughtful silence, Injun Joe said:
"Look here, lad — you go back up the river where you belong. Wait there till you hear from me. I'll take the chances on dropping into this town just once more, for a look. We'll do that 'dangerous' job after I've spied around a little and think things look well for it. Then for Texas! We'll leg it together!"
This was satisfactory. Both men presently fell to yawning, and Injun Joe said:
"I'm dead for sleep! It's your turn to watch."
He curled down in the weeds and soon began to snore. His comrade stirred him once or twice and he became quiet. Presently the watcher began to nod; his head drooped lower and lower, both men began to snore now.
The boys drew a long, grateful breath. Tom whispered:
"Now's our chance — come!"
"I can't — I'd die if they was to wake."
Tom urged — Huck held back. At last Tom rose slowly and softly, and started alone. But the first step he made wrung such a hideous creak from the crazy floor that he sank down almost dead with fright. He never made a second attempt. The boys lay there counting the dragging moments till it seemed to them that time must be done and eternity growing gray; and then they were grateful to note that at last the sun was setting.
Now one snore ceased. Injun Joe sat up, stared around — smiled grimly upon his comrade, whose head was drooping upon his knees — stirred him up with his foot and said:
"Here! YOU'RE a watchman, ain't you! All right, though — nothing's happened."
"My! have I been asleep?"
"Oh, partly, partly. Nearly time for us to be moving, pard. What'll we do with what little swag we've got left?"
"I don't know — leave it here as we've always done, I reckon. No use to take it away till we start south. Six hundred and fifty in silver's something to carry."
"Well — all right — it won't matter to come here once more."
"No — but I'd say come in the night as we used to do — it's better."
"Yes: but look here; it may be a good while before I get the right chance at that job; accidents might happen; 'tain't in such a very good place; we'll just regularly bury it — and bury it deep."
"Good idea," said the comrade, who walked across the room, knelt down, raised one of the rearward hearth-stones and took out a bag that jingled pleasantly. He subtracted from it twenty or thirty dollars for himself and as much for Injun Joe, and passed the bag to the latter, who was on his knees in the corner, now, digging with his bowie-knife.
The boys forgot all their fears, all their miseries in an instant. With gloating eyes they watched every movement. Luck! — the splendor of it was beyond all imagination! Six hundred dollars was money enough to make half a dozen boys rich! Here was treasure-hunting under the happiest auspices — there would not be any bothersome uncertainty as to where to dig. They nudged each other every moment — eloquent nudges and easily understood, for they simply meant — "Oh, but ain't you glad NOW we're here!"
Joe's knife struck upon something.
"Hello!" said he.
"What is it?" said his comrade.
"Half-rotten plank — no, it's a box, I believe. Here — bear a hand and we'll see what it's here for. Never mind, I've broke a hole."
He reached his hand in and drew it out —
"Man, it's money!"
The two men examined the handful of coins. They were gold. The boys above were as excited as themselves, and as delighted.
Joe's comrade said:
"We'll make quick work of this. There's an old rusty pick over amongst the weeds in the corner the other side of the fireplace — I saw it a minute ago."
He ran and brought the boys' pick and shovel. Injun Joe took the pick, looked it over critically, shook his head, muttered something to himself, and then began to use it. The box was soon unearthed. It was not very large; it was iron bound and had been very strong before the slow years had injured it. The men contemplated the treasure awhile in blissful silence.
"Pard, there's thousands of dollars here," said Injun Joe.
"'Twas always said that Murrel's gang used to be around here one summer," the stranger observed.
"I know it," said Injun Joe; "and this looks like it, I should say."
"Now you won't need to do that job."
The half-breed frowned. Said he:
"You don't know me. Least you don't know all about that thing. 'Tain't robbery altogether — it's REVENGE!" and a wicked light flamed in his eyes. "I'll need your help in it. When it's finished — then Texas. Go home to your Nance and your kids, and stand by till you hear from me."
"Well — if you say so; what'll we do with this — bury it again?"
"Yes. [Ravishing delight overhead.] NO! by the great Sachem, no! [Profound distress overhead.] I'd nearly forgot. That pick had fresh earth on it! [The boys were sick with terror in a moment.] What business has a pick and a shovel here? What business with fresh earth on them? Who brought them here — and where are they gone? Have you heard anybody? — seen anybody? What! bury it again and leave them to come and see the ground disturbed? Not exactly — not exactly. We'll take it to my den."
"Why, of course! Might have thought of that before. You mean Number One?"
"No — Number Two — under the cross. The other place is bad — too common."
"All right. It's nearly dark enough to start."
Injun Joe got up and went about from window to window cautiously peeping out. Presently he said:
"Who could have brought those tools here? Do you reckon they can be up-stairs?"
The boys' breath forsook them. Injun Joe put his hand on his knife, halted a moment, undecided, and then turned toward the stairway. The boys thought of the closet, but their strength was gone. The steps came creaking up the stairs — the intolerable distress of the situation woke the stricken resolution of the lads — they were about to spring for the closet, when there was a crash of rotten timbers and Injun Joe landed on the ground amid the debris of the ruined stairway. He gathered himself up cursing, and his comrade said: