Raven found the break in the cave wall just as Melvin had said. He was not sure he could fit in the opening as he was taller and heavier than Melvin but he knew also that his grandfather would not have directed him to crawl in if he had any doubts about his ability to do so. It was impossible for him to carry the lighted torch and crawl at the same time so he tossed it ahead of him as he made his way through the passage. He was happy to find the going getting easier as the crawl space widened as he went.
Raven crawled along on hands and knees and realized the limestone on which he was crawling was not like the sides and top of the passage which were jagged and sharp. The floor of the passage was worn smooth and appeared to have had a lot of use. He tossed the lighted torch ahead but it didn’t land on the floor ahead of him. At first he thought it might have gone out but then realized he must be at the end of the passage and it had fallen into the chamber beyond.
As he neared the end of the tunnel he could see the far side ceiling of another cave and it reflected a soft bronze color of light. Raven thought to himself, “Good, at least the torch is still burning.”
After positioning himself for the drop to the floor below, Raven pushed himself away from the edge and bent his knees in preparation for a landing. “Hmm, not far at all,” he said when his feet found solid ground. He turned to pick up the torch and held it high above his head while letting his eyes readjust to the flickering light. Melvin had not told him where the bottle of bourbon would be but he imagined it should not be too hard to locate. He looked around his feet in an ever-widening arc to make sure there was nothing he would trip over and while doing so noticed that his surrounding seemed to have a different color than other caves in the area that he was familiar with. He and Melvin had explored many of the caves and this was far from being a new experience for him. Still, something was different – the hues were a more consistent bronze or gold; not the reds and browns he had seen many times before.
Raven was no longer looking for the bottle of bourbon. He was intrigued with this cave. He had never seen one like it before and could not subdue his curiosity. He started walking along the walls, holding his torch against the glistening sides and thought it strange that it was not sharp and porous as limestone should be. Even if water had smoothed the stone over time, the sides just were not right. They were smooth, slick and shiny.
“My Lord,” whispered Raven, as if he did not want to be heard. “It’s gold. Solid gold.” Some of the gold looked like a frozen lava flow but gold in color. Now, thinking to himself, “It looks like mother earth is pushing hot molten gold in here — like it’s been dripping down the walls.”
Raven walked slowly along the walls keeping the fingertips of his free hand against the shiny, slick metal. Then, suddenly, he tripped and was falling face down to the floor. He tossed the torch so to have both hands free to reach out and break his fall but he was too late. He felt the blood pouring from his nose and his front teeth did not feel so great all of a sudden.
Laying face down, his first thought was, “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” He realized he had allowed himself to fall under the spell of man’s lust for gold. He was ashamed of himself. He knew better. He had let himself become mesmerized and had not been paying attention. Again, he said, “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” followed with, “I know better. Under some circumstances I could have really hurt myself or wound up dead. Stupid, stupid, stupid.”
Raven started to roll over and instantly felt pain along the front of both of his legs. Reaching behind his head he felt for the torch and when he had it in hand, he started to slowly turn over thinking, “I’m going to be in a heck of a fix if something’s broken.” As he turned over the pain along his shin bones subsided but he knew they were at least pretty skinned up. He placed the torch above his legs to see what the damage was and the obstacle he had tripped over.
The flickering flame revealed a pile of crudely made gold ingots. They were neatly stacked in a pile against the side of the cave wall but Raven had not noticed them while in his gold induced trance. He estimated there were several hundred of them and all had strange markings he could not decipher.
Getting to his feet, Raven turned his attention to the cave floor along the wall of the cave and found neatly stacked gold bars along the wall for the next twenty feet or so where the cave came to an end. Turning right to follow the wall, he found stacks of gold coins – U.S. $20 gold pieces, $10 gold pieces and $5 gold pieces. He looked at a few and saw they had various dates; most of them 1847 and 1894. There were thousands upon thousands of them.
Raven then noticed something strange. There were a couple dozen oval shaped objects that reminded him of a beehive hanging from a tree limb but these were translucent. There was something inside each one of them and a green cord jutted from the top of each one. Curiosity seized Raven and he picked up one of the objects and could see what looked like a glass jar inside the object. He could not make out what was in the jar but felt sure the coating was something like wax; maybe candle wax and lots of it — maybe an inch thick or more. The green cord turned out to be copper wire. Talking under his breath, he murmured, “Hmmm, that’s strange. Almost looks like somebody was trying to make huge candles but this wire sure ain’t no wick.”
Turning again to his right to follow the cave wall, he saw stacks of what he had been sent for—bourbon. Hundreds of bottles of the stuff was piled up near the drop-off he had jumped from. Neatly stacked bottles of Old Tub Bourbon and Early Times Whiskey. He took a bottle of the Old Tub
Raven took one step up and laid the bottle of bourbon on the pathway above. Stalling briefly, he returned to the oval shaped objects and grabbed one and started his ascent to the passage.