As Loa and Tipler cautiously walked out of the tunnel, they found it was dark outside. A large, almost-full moon shone in the sky.
While Loa wasn’t sure she knew where she was, Tipler seemed confident that he was in a familiar place. He barked several times in a show of confidence, and so Loa followed.
She took a moment to find the Big Dipper in the starry sky, tracing a line upwards from where the water would have dripped from the drinking cup. There was the North Star, nice and bright!
The loud noises she was hearing were coming from the west side of what looked like a farm.
They were speaking with Irish accents and appeared to be digging for something. Loa recognized their accent because so many families from Ireland had settled in the area, escaping the great potato famine.
Loa’s father had arrived earlier from Yorkshire, England in the 1820s. Her mother’s family ‒ United Empire Loyalists ‒ had settled in the area much before. Loa’s parents were married, in 1846, at a time when there were just farms, a few grist mills, a blacksmith, tannery, inn, and Methodist Church near her home. The Schoolhouse was built a few years later.
The men seemed nice, but Loa wasn’t taking any chances. She reached for Tipler, and hid in the bushes.
There was a loud thud as shovels hit something hard. Loa heard the men cheer. It seemed they’d found what they were looking for. Maybe it was a chest full of treasure!
As the men struggled to lift a large wood box from the ground, two brightly lit oxen and their ghostlike driver appeared out of nowhere. One of the men exclaimed: “By God, look at that!” and with that the treasure disappeared along with the bright light, the rider and his oxen.
When the two men had left, Loa walked several times around the large hole they had just dug, and vowed to come back with her brother, Alan.
She had understood that absolute silence was required to successfully raise the treasure. Otherwise, the spell would be broken. She wasn’t sure how or why she knew…it was as if the earth had told her.
Loa and Tipler found their way back to the shiny, silver cave. Tipler barked twice as he had when the cave had stopped revolving just hours ago. Once again, everything started to spin around them. Loa hoped they were going home, but it didn’t seem so. There were lots of lights flashing everywhere as the cave turned and turned for what seemed to be more than a couple of minutes.
Tipler barked with anticipation as they left the tunnel. It was the same farm they had just visited, but some of the buildings were different. There was a large tent in the middle of the field and there was the sound of digging. This time, it was softer and more methodical.
Next to a large rectangular hole in the ground, a thin man worked in a crouched position. He wore a pair of wide suspenders and a black bowler hat, and used what seemed like a bricklayer’s trowel and a small brush. He often reached for a large book which he kept on the ground to jot down his findings and every once in a while, stood up to check the contents of his carefully packed wood crates.
Tipler ran toward the man, who looked up slowly with kind, inquisitive eyes. Loa apologized for causing a disturbance. He laughed and announced he was about to take a short break. Did she want a cup of tea? “You look tired and hungry”, he said.
Notes: The treasure tale is one of several collected by Mr. W. (William J. Wintemberg) during his first visit to the Roebuck First Nations site in 1912. These tales were published in the Journal of American Folk-Lore in 1918.
Photo of William J. Wintemberg: http://canadianarchaeology.com/caa/about/awards/smith-wintemberg-award/william-j-wintemberg