Rumpus Jim’s Treasure

The Rock 1

It was a hot May in Gibraltar. The Rock seemed to be bathed in sunlight from dawn to dusk this time of year. Main Street, usually a Mecca for shoppers looking for a Duty Free bargain, appeared subdued with people seeking refuge in a local bar for a refreshing drink or two.   North Front looked rather quiet too, with only just the one cruise liner visiting the port.  Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas, had crept in early that morning through the Bay of Algeciras, after leaving Southampton some three days earlier on route to cruise in the Western Mediterranean Sea. The guests on board were enjoying a hearty breakfast while looking out over the harbour to the town beyond.

“Can you see any of those Apes, Herb” asked Connie.  Connie and Herb from Dallas, Texas had joined the ship in England after flying in from the United States.  Herb was the owner of a camera with a lens that probably had the world record for its size. “No Con” came the reply in a broad Texan accent.  “I guess they are taking time out to grab a bite to eat.  Hopefully, we will catch a glimpse of them in the Apes Den, when we take our tour”.  With that he closed down his camera and retired into the cabin from the balcony.

Down on Deck 2, Tracy looked out of her cabin window.  She and husband Steve had booked the cruise to celebrate being together as partners for ten years. “Hey Steve, look at this view”, Tracy sounded excited. “It’s good to be back”. Tracy had lived on the Rock some years earlier, so knew it well.  It was however, the first time she had returned and was expecting a lot of things to have changed. Before leaving their home in Yelverton Devon, they had booked a tour of Gibraltar and were looking forward to taking in the sights of the beautiful location.

Up on the Pool deck, Sandi, a Travel Agent from Ontario Canada, had been checking out the facilities aboard the Independence. It would seem her striking blue eyes missed nothing.  She was indeed impressed by what she saw. The running track, climbing wall, surfing pool and mini golf course all added to the enjoyment of those who cruised on board.  Her trip was mainly for research to advise potential customers thinking about visiting this part of the world and this ship. She too, had booked a tour of the Rock and was anxious to explore the history of what seemed to her, quite a small place.

“Good morning Bear”.  Mario walked towards his friend, who was sitting in the drivers’ seat of a mini bus that was parked on the jetty, alongside the ship.  “Looks like you will be busy today”.   Bear smiled, “Yes, I think so; we have every available taxi on the Rock to do the tours today”. Because the roads on the Rock are narrow, small vehicles had to be used, rather than the larger coaches. “It is all good for business”, he continued.  Mario smiled back and made his way towards Casemates Gate, at the bottom of Main Street.

Back on board, the ship’s tours team were organizing dis-embarkation. Trikki Rikki who is the on board cruise director, had the difficult task of trying to form passengers into groups of 5, in order to allocate taxis on the pier. Each passenger was given a sticky badge with a number on it to avoid confusion. After some time, a kind of order was sorted and the line of guests made their way ashore.

Bear drove his mini bus up to the front of the line. “Next 5 please” he announced as he slid open his door. Sandi, being the smallest made her way to the back seat. She was followed by Connie who sat alongside her. In the middle of the bus sat Tracy and Steve, with the front seat being occupied by Herb, who gingerly got in trying to avoid knocking his camera lens. “Welcome everyone, my name is Bear. I am your driver for today. I hope you enjoy your tour”. Everyone acknowledged Bear’s greeting and went on to introduce themselves to each other.  Herb turned to Tracy and Steve. “From your accent, you sound like you are Limey’s”. Tracy and Steve looked at each other.  “We come from England, if that is what you mean”. Connie, rushed to the rescue, “I’m sorry, Herb was in the military, and he refers to all English people as Limey’s”. “That’s ok, we kind of guessed that’s what he meant”, Steve replied smiling. Sandi joined in the conversation, “Being a Canadian, I’m used to being called a Colonial”. This initial exchange tended to break the ice, much to the amusement of Bear.

Bear’s mini bus made its way around the Rock taking in all the sights.  They drove by Rosia Bay, where H.M.S Victory had weighed anchor after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, then onward out to Europa Point, where the lighthouse peers out over the straits to North Africa, returning back to climb the steep road to the upper Rock.

It’s interesting, how quickly friendships can be formed when people are thrown together on a tour. The group in Bear’s mini bus were no exception. Views were exchanged about the places of interest visited and Herb insisted on taking a photo of everyone at every vantage point.  Everyone on board seemed to enjoy the tour especially of St. Michael’s cave with its illuminations of magical limestone caverns.

Next stop was the famous “Apes Den”. At last Herb could get a photograph of the Apes. The door of the taxi flew open, and Herb followed his camera lens out to take a shot. Bear did warn him that the Apes could be a little aggressive if he went to close. Within a second he had climbed over a wall into some bushes to get a bit closer. With a thump he hit the ground as his foot had become lodged between two rocks. “Help” came the cry as the others rushed to his aid. Luckily Herb was shaken but not injured, and as he regained his footing he noticed a stone had rolled down the bank. Where the stone had been, there seemed to be a small metal tube. Herb picked it up and to his surprise there was what appeared to be a roll of paper inside. Herb re-joined his companions. “What have you got there Herb” asked Steve. “Don’t know” came the reply, “But it looks like some kind of note”.

They all crowded around as Herb took the paper out of the tube and unrolled it.  It looked very old, but it clearly had something written on it.  Herb began to read.

“I be Jim, and whoever hath found this note, has the first key to finding me treasure. The next clue can be found behind the tombstone of the drunken soldier, I bid ‘ee well”.

……. Signed Rumpus Jim

The group looked at each other. “Must be a wind-up” said Steve.  ”Does not make much sense” replied Tracy. “I agree” commented Sandi, “That could be anywhere, or maybe it is just someone having a bit of fun”.

Herb rolled up the paper again, placed it back in the metal tube, and walked over to show Bear. Bear once again unrolled it and read its contents. “No idea” came the reply. “But why not take it with us and see what we can find out about it”?

Bear thought a while. “I tell you what, I will call my friend Mario, he may know something”. Bear picked up his mobile and called Mario. “Hey Mario, we have found a note at the Apes Den”, he went on to describe it in Spanish, “Any ideas”? “No” came the reply, but leave it with me, I will see if I can find anything out”.

The group continued with their tour, but the note became a major topic of conversation. “What if it is genuine” suggested Connie, “There may be something in it”.

As they stopped at the old Moorish Castle, Bear’s mobile rang.  “Hi Mario” said Bear, “found anything?” “A little” came the reply. “It would seem there was a guy called Rumpus Jim way back in the 19th century. He was an Irish matelot who served on a British naval frigate. He was a really nice bloke from all accounts. Problem was, when he came ashore he went on a pub crawl in Irish Town, causing a rumpus where ever he went, drinking lots of beer but great parties from all accounts. That is all I can find really, oh by the way there is a tombstone up in Buena Vista about a drunken soldier.” “Thanks Mario” replied Bear.

Bear looked at his watch. Time was moving on. “Hey you guys” he said peering over his dark rimmed spectacles. “If you like, I can take you to see this tombstone. It’s in the wall near an old Army Barracks, just past Townsend Corner, in Buena Vista.  We have time”. They all looked at each other. “COME ON, LET’S GO” replied Sandi, “we have come this far, it would be interesting to know if there is anything in this”.  All agreed and Bear started off down the hill.

The taxi made its way past the Governor’s Residence at the southern end of Main Street. The pavements by this time were packed with shoppers, mainly from the Independence of the Seas, grabbing duty free bargains. As in most cases, when a ship was in port, Siesta had been abandoned by the shop keepers, taking advantage of opportunity to attract more sales. Gibraltar in the sun indeed was a good place to be, with not a cloud in the vibrant blue sky.

The cab made its way past the Cable Car station, which was the start of the assent up the Rock, passing on the left hand side the famous Rock Hotel with its beautiful setting overlooking the Bay and picturesque gardens. Heading uphill, the taxi finally turned right into Buena Vista, and made its way to the old barracks at the far end.  Arriving at Townsend Corner, the occupants got out and made their way along a narrow road, with a wall on the right hand side.

Bear stopped. “Look, here it is”. There, in the middle of the wall was a memorial stone in remembrance of the drunken soldier who had fallen from this point. Excitement grew among the group. “Let’s have a look around, this must be it”. Tracy was quite shy, and was hiding behind a pair of pink sunglasses, her long dark hair just catching the gentle breeze.” Good idea Tracy” replied Steve, as they all set about trying to locate the next clue mentioned in Rumpus Jims’ note. They decided to split up and check various parts around the stone. Behind the wall was a steep drop, and it was decided against climbing over.

Time past and nothing could be found. “Looks like it was a hoax” claimed Herb, “But at least it has been interesting”. With that the group made their way back to the cab. “Hold on a minute, what is this here”? Steve drew their attention, to what looked like a loose brick. “Can’t be there” replied Herb. “looks too far away from the stone”.  Steve went over to investigate. He prodded around, and nothing moved. “Hold on a minute” said Bear, as he reached into his pocket and produced a pen knife. “Have a go with this”. Steve took the knife and tried again. The brick moved, and with a little effort it slid away. Excitement grew, as Steve reached in and with some further scraping with the knife, he retrieved a small metal tube.

“Well look at this”. He cleaned of the ends to reveal a roll of paper.  As he unrolled the paper, a further message could be seen. He began to read.

“I be Jim. You be not finding me treasure ‘ere. It be many leagues from ‘ere.  Maybe a week be sail or so. Think ‘ee, upon these words:

Smell the salt of the sea, as the waves break upon the shore.

Past the point of no return, if ‘ee sails south from St. Nicholas Island.

The be a stone, not old but new

Ashore, near the bell that tolls

A place a lady sits, looking out to sea fro me.”

…..Signed Rumpus Jim

Steve turned to the others. “Well, got any ideas now?  I’ve never heard of St. Nicholas Island”. The others looked at each other. It seemed that no one had heard of such a place. Maybe it was time to give up and return to the ship. After all, time was going on and the Independence would set sail within a couple of hours to make passage to Barcelona.

Bear drove his passengers back to the pier and expressed how much he had enjoyed taking them all on a tour on Gibraltar. It had been a tour with a difference; with the treasure hunt thrown in. As he climbed back in his mini bus, he shouted “If you find any treasure, let me know” with that he gave a smile. Sandi ran back to the cab and gave him her business card and e-mail address, just in case anything came of it.

The five treasure hunters shared a table for dinner that evening. The topic was of course, the treasure. Nothing had come of it, but at least they had made some good friends.

The cruise continued, visiting such lovely places such as Pisa, Florence and Rome. The weather was sunny, ideal for tanning on the pool deck and just relaxing when not touring the Islands.

When the ship left Vigo in Northern Spain to return to Southampton, the group agreed to spend the last dinner together and reflect on their adventures during the trip. All agreed that the treasure hunt in Gibraltar, although without success was interesting. After dinner they made their way to the theatre to watch the last revue show, followed by a drink in the piano bar.

Steve took the note out of his pocket.  “You know” he smiled, “There must be something in this, but we will never know”.  They all raised their glasses and toasted to “unsolved” treasure hunts.

“Did you enjoy the show” Trikki Rikki the cruise director asked as he passed by their table. “Very much so” replied Connie, “we have enjoyed all the entertainment on board”. Rikki drew up a chair and sat down. “Thank you, it is always good to get feedback on what our entertainers provide as they do work very hard.  Have you all enjoyed the cruise? “Very much so” replied Tracy, to which all agreed. “Especially our treasure hunt in Gibraltar”! “What was all that about” asked Rikki. Steve took the two notes out of his pocket and showed them to Rikki. “We had to give up, because we kind of lost the plot” commented Herb.

Rikki read the note. “Hey that is brilliant.  Why did you give up”?  Steve replied, “You know Rikki that is a good question.  We just ran out of time in Gibraltar and no one had ever heard of St. Nicholas Island”. Rikki pondered for a few moments. “I have” came a softly spoken reply. “Really” the group all gasped at the same time. “Yes, years ago, I went on a family holiday to Bovisand which is on the edge of Plymouth Sound.  “We know it well”, replied Tracy and Steve, “We are from those parts”. Rikki continues, “across from Bovisand is Drakes’ Island but I understand its original name was St Nicholas Island. And look, the point could be Wembury and the stone could not be from that Island, but I understand its original name was Mewstone – which lies on the point and there is a beach there too, with a church near the sand”. “You may have cracked it Rikki” exclaimed Steve. An air of excitement went around the table. “We have to check it out” said Herb. “Sure thing” replied Sandi excitedly, as she was always in for a great adventure.

Steve asked “Hey, have you guys a need to get back home quickly”? He looked at Connie, Herb and Sandi. “No” came a collective reply. Steve continues “Look, I have a VW Touran and it can take 7 people. If you can postpone your flights home why not come back to Devon with us. We have got to check this out surely”. With that, the new found friends from both sides of the pond went down to the Purser’s desk to change their travel plans.

The Independence of the Seas docked early next morning in Southampton, The group of treasure hunters were able to disembark early, then waited while Steve went to find his car.  With all luggage aboard they set off for Devon.

It was a Saturday and the roads from Hampshire were quite busy but they made good time and arrived in Plymouth early afternoon. So keen were they all to find anything, they headed out immediately to Wembury and drove into the car park behind the beach.

“Well, we’re here” sighed Steve. “Let’s really hope we can find something”. In turn, they all climbed out of the car, stretched a little, and looked out to sea.

“Look, there is the Mewstone Rock” Steve looked excited. There’s Wembury Point and there is the church, possibly where Jim said the bell tolled.  Come on let’s have a look around.”

The group read Jim’s clues again. “Somewhere a lady may sit” murmured Sandi. They all looked around. Nothing much seemed to suggest such a place, but then Herb noticed a couple of people sitting on the wall. The couple, who turned out to be from nearby Ivybridge had been walking their dog Roxy along the beach. The group headed towards them.

“Hi there, do you know these parts well?” enquired Sandi. “Yes, we do” came the reply. “We are looking for a place where a lady may sit”. “Ain’t many ladies round ‘ere, the only place maybe is this wall; take a seat” With this the couple moved on, looking back with some curiosity.

“Let’s have a look around, you never know” said Steve. The group prodded around the wall seeing nothing until suddenly Sandi noticed a rubber ball wedged between two stones. She picked it up. It was immediately pulled out of her hand by the man with the dog, “Thank you” I wondered where that went, come on Roxy, go “fetch”.

Sandi looked down and where the ball had been was a small metal tube. “Hey guys – look”, she immediately had the attention of the group and they all came to take a look.

She pulled out the tube from between the stones, tipped it up and a roll of paper and 6 rather corroded coins fell out.  She unrolled the paper and began to read:

“I be Jim. I have sailed the seven seas to find gold and riches. I travelled to many a port a foreign and caused a rumpus where ever I went. Too much I tell ‘ee, too much rum and beer I tell ‘ee. All I have to show for it is six coins. I tell ‘ee, I have these coins, one for each of ‘ee, for thee to remember me, even one for the kind man in Gibraltar town”.

“One day I returned to these parts, I dropped me anchor to settle down. I walked upon these cliffs past the point and met a fair wench from this parish. ‘er name be Jane and ‘er showed me so much love I had not known before. For then I did know that love is a far greater treasure than any gold and riches. For love is my treasure and for those of ‘ee that find it will be given a wealth of all worlds”.

…..Signed Rumpus Jim

“He is right you know” sighed Tracy. “Nothing is greater than love”.

The treasure was found, a treasure more than any other treasure. The next day, Herb and Connie headed back to Dallas, and Sandi to Ontario. Friendships had been made across the pond that will remain for always. Steve decided to drop the notes into Plymouth Museum, along with the coins. He felt it may be an interesting tale of local history. The man at the desk looked at the items and declared that it was an interesting story. He looked at the coins, hesitated for a moment, looked at Steve and said “Well done, I have seen these coins before. They are quite rare in fact very rare, due to the fact they originated from Central America. I should think they would fetch £100,000 each – should you wish to sell them”.


The Rock 2

Edited by Sandi Mcconnell Canada

Photos courtsey of Gibraltar Tourist Board




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