Part three of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
F.H. Longwell III was a gentleman explorer, a renowned naturalist and a scholar who traveled with his manservant Tipton on behalf of The World’s Most Curious Curiosities Museum in the early hours of the 19th century.
June 16, 1830
Another beautiful morning greeted Tipton and I. As expected he had scones and fresh juice ready when a large group of the local elders gathered around me. It was jolly good to greet them all. They brought a fine assortment of hand fashioned weapons to show me and point at me. Of course I would be happy to take a few of the exquisite weapons back to the World’s Most Curious Curiosities Museum in London but they wouldn’t give me any. However in bits-and-pieces they began to tell me a most fabulous tale. My burning yearning for adventure was being stoked with fresh cut timber!
They told a tale of intrigue and mystery, danger and sacrifice. True, it seemed to contain a great number of warnings and threats if we didn’t leave soon, but they also mentioned – The Legend of the Golden Britches.
The story describes how millennia ago a great king lived deep in the most remote jungle and ordered his people to construct for him 30 pair of golden pants. That’s on average a fresh pair of golden pants for each day of the common month. What was tailored to be worn under the golden pants is unknown, or at least the locals wouldn’t tell me.
But I am sure that if he constructed golden trousers he’d also want golden underpants. So I think it’s clear that if we find the 30 pairs of golden britches we stand a jolly good chance of finding at least two-dozen pair of golden underpants as well. Tipton disagrees vehemently. He thinks we will find only two pairs of golden underpants. I look at him with shock and awe. No wonder he travels with so little baggage.
After the locals left I sent Tipton to see what else he could learn about the legend of the golden britches. He returned claiming they just beat him around his head and neck and one child threw a snake at him. They continued to shout at him and push him away until he left them alone. I pointed out that he hadn’t bathed for a few weeks and that type of behavior isn’t completely unexpected with a fellow of Tipton’s strong musk. And of course he stinks of juicy berries and his rash is back. Just stop eating those berries I command. He spit some out.
It doesn’t take but a few minutes to be greeted by two of the elders again. This time they share with me a map (6) that’s long been handed down in their family and shows the general location of the golden trousers. Simply follow the shore south for some amount of time, find a bay with large trees, then a golden road, a river that will take us west and a mysterious cave. Shortly after that we should be able to see the Palace of the golden pants! Tipton interrupts asking why, if they have a map, haven’t they claimed the treasure for themselves?
I smack Tipton on the back of his fleshy head. Why indeed? I take him aside and remind him that his place is not to interrupt. Upon turning back to the locals I ask them why they never went after the treasure since they have a map.
The tall one coughed then started playing the most delightful flute song I had ever heard. The short one began to sing in a voice most melodious. When they finished they asked for payment for the song and the map. I gratefully provided two shillings and six pence.
But why didn’t they retrieve the treasure if they had this map all along? Blurted out Tipton. Indignation is a word I seldom use and hardly understand. But that’s what I felt. I smacked Tipton on his head again and made note of his impertinence.
Now we had a map, we had a treasure, we had an adventure! We would leave the next morning at sunrise. I prepared for bed following my usual pre-adventure rituals. 20 minutes of calisthenics, two full glasses of fresh-pressed prune juice, a pot of fresh breakfast tea and two thick slices of onion.
Before rejoining myself to slumber I ask Tipton to stock our boat and sweep the beach. Tipton protested. I made note of it and deducted 26 pence from his ‘fun’ money. No need for him to buy more clamshell vignettes with googly eyes. However, the next thing Tipton did made me reconsider the power in the berries he liked. A huge pile of our adventuring supplies sat upon the shore. 18 feet high and perhaps 2 tonnes. Tipton, still munching on berries, picked it up in a single load, let out a squeal that would make a weasel blush and proceeded to carry it to the boat. The locals scatter. I almost scatter. I take several of the berries as samples to have examined when we get back to the museum.
6 – It must be noted that on numerous occasions Longwell purchased maps of questionable authenticity. In Adventure #5, The Lost Diamond Mines of Denmark, he paid 17 solid gold coins for a map that was said to lead to the Kingdom Of Lost Diamonds. It turned out to be directions to the shipyard. The famous contemporary explorer I.M. Smellsworth often referred to Longwell as: “ A man who would buy a map to find the moon.” In fact, in Adventure #3 The Mysterious Caverns, Longwell paid eight pounds four shillings for a map to a secret passage that lead to the moon. Oddly enough, it once again turned out to be directions to a shipyard.