A Glibertarians Exclusive:  Mystical Child Part VII

From the diary of Robert “Cairo Bob” Allen, 1841-1928

November 22, 1886 –Pyramid Peak

Got back to our camp way after dark to find Evans sitting there by the fire.  He didn’t look so good – face was all red, like.  He was smoking a cigarette, like always, and coughing, again like always.  Told him what I’d found, and he just perked right on up, saying that had to be it, was just like the Indian he talked to described it.  Now I’d been thinking he put an awful lot of stock in the word of some old Indian whose name he didn’t even seem to know, but sure as hell if that description didn’t fit, except for that God damned ice covering the whole thing.  Told him about that, and he just went to the packs laying on the ground near where the pack animals were picketed and pulled out an axe.  “We’ll build a fire under the ice,” he said to me, “and then knock it loose with this.”  I didn’t have any better ideas that didn’t involve coming back in the spring, so told him we may as well try it.


November 23, 1886

During the night, the weather worsened.

Bob awoke with just the hint of lightening in the sky.  He shivered in his bedroll.  The fire had died down, but once in a while the remaining coals would flare up as the wind ripped across the land.  The crude brush lean-to was shaking in the wind.  Bob sat up and felt a pellet of sleet hit his cheek.

“Oh, hell,” he heard Evans swearing.  The short man sat up.  “This sure as hell don’t look good.”

“Let’s see if we can get the fire built up.”  Bob stretched and reached for his old canteen to rinse out his mouth, but the water was frozen solid.  He shrugged and climbed out of his bedroll and, shivering, pulled on his old trooper boots and his overcoat.

Evans was guddling around in the remains of the fire.  He added some kindling that he had wisely kept dry under his bedroll, but the wind wouldn’t allow anything to catch.

“Hell with this,” Bob said.  “Let’s saddle up, load the pack horses, and move up to the tomb.  It’s in a box canyon, maybe sheltered enough to get a fire going there.”

“Fuck,” Evans spat.  “Sure do hope our luck ain’t turned bad.”

Bob scowled.  “Don’t talk like that.  Doesn’t help anything.”

“All right.”  Evans lapsed into another coughing fit, a bad one, one that bent him double.  He spat blood and stood up, face red, gasping.  “All right,” he managed to gasp out.  “I’ll see to the pack horses.”

They were an hour getting ready, during which time the wind picked up and the sleet turned to a hard, driving snow.  The temperature had dropped noticeably by the time they climbed into their saddles.

“Hope to hell we don’t freeze to death,” Bob said, teeth chattering.

“Let’s got on the way,” Evans snapped.  “Sooner we get there, sooner we can get a big old fire built.”

The day before Bob had spent four hours in the saddle returning to the camp from the tomb.  Today, riding into the face of a growing blizzard, it took eight to reverse the route.  Bob led them by mistake into two smaller side canyons he hadn’t noticed the day before, which made Evans angrier.

Finally, as the dull gray sky was beginning to grow dark, they arrived at the tomb.

Remembering an old trick from a winter campaign during the War of the Northern Aggression, Bob cut brush and built a small reflector to block the wind, another small lean-to barely big enough for the two bedrolls, and finally managed to get a fire going.  All the while, Evans was glumly examining the apparent entry to the tomb.

“Goddamned if there ain’t six, eight inches of ice on that son of a bitch,” he groused, returning to the fire.  “It’s like we weren’t meant to get in there.”

“I told you, don’t talk like that.  You’ll jinx us, damn it.”

“Fine, fine.”  Evans huddled close to the fire.  “I think we ought to take turns sleeping.  Fella who’s awake can keep the fire up, so we don’t freeze to death.”

“Sensible,” Bob said with a shiver.  He dug in his saddlebag.  “Here,” he said, handing Evans a venison steak cooked the night before.  “Put ‘er on a rock by the fire.  At least we can eat something halfway warm.  No water, so no coffee, I guess.”

“Fill the coffee pot with snow,” Evans suggested, “And put ‘er on the fire.”

Bob slapped his forehead in annoyance and reached for the pot.  A short while later, they had coffee perking.

“Ahh,” Evans said after his first long drink of hot coffee.  “That’s better.  That’s much better.”

“How much gold and so on you suppose is in there?”  Bob motioned towards the tomb.

“I got no idea,” Evans admitted.  “But bound to be a good amount.  And, you know, I been thinking.  A few years back I was in this place in San Francisco, fella there was talking about building a place to house and show off all sorts of antiquities and so forth – a ‘museum’, was the word he used.  I bet if we brought that Spaniard’s bones out, and whatever armor or gear might be in there, that would fetch a pretty fair price too.”

“Something to think about, anyway,” Bob agreed.  He was starting to feel slightly less miserable with a belly full of tepid venison and hot coffee.

Suddenly a thought occurred to him:  How come he never mentioned that museum or whatever before now?  Maybe he’s full of shit about the gold?  Maybe the old Indian or whoever never said anything about that, and that’s why nobody’s ever got in there before?

Across the fire, Evans was coughing again.

No point in worrying about this now, Bob reminded himself.  We’re here.  The tomb is here.  Tomorrow – tomorrow we’ll see what’s what.  Long as we don’t freeze to death first.  Damn, and I thought northern Virginia was cold in the winter!  This surely is a God-forsaken land.

“You want to sleep first?” Evans asked.

“Don’t mind if I do,” Bob replied.  “If I can sleep in this damn cold.”  It had gotten good and dark now, and in the guttering firelight Bob could see snow, driven sideways by the wind.  Evans tossed a few more sticks into the dull blaze and piled some more brush to dry off near the low flames.

A thought: “Evans, you got a watch?”

“Yeah.”  He pulled out a cheap pocket watch. “I make it six-thirty.  Two-hour watches?”

“Spoken like an old soldier,” Bob agreed.  “Very well, then, Colonel, wake me at eight-thirty.”

“Count on it, General,” Evans said with a faint chuckle.

Bob had thought he wouldn’t be able to sleep, but exhaustion claimed him before his heart had beaten a hundred times.


We came to the pyramids all embedded in ice.

He said “There’s a body I’m trying to find.

If I carry it out it’ll bring a good price.”

It was then that I knew what he had on his mind.