The wreck of the San Vincenzo languished for three centuries at the bottom of the Caribbean before famed Quebecois treasure hunter Robert Duvallier exhumed her from her watery grave, spurred on by the promise of the gold and silver coins the ship was carrying at the time of her demise.
Salvaging the wreck had consumed most of Duvallier’s life. He’d obsessed about the San Vincenzo ever since as a child, he’d seen an engraving that depicted a horrific hurricane swallowing the ship whole. In ensuing years, every treasure hunt he undertook was just a midway point to his ultimate goal: claiming the treasure trove that had made such a childhood impression.
Tears thus flowed freely on his cheeks as the wreck emerged from beneath the waves, aided by the cranes on floating platforms constructed especially for the occasion. The mouldy masts were covered in barnacles while weeds and starfish populated much of deck, bow and stern. Even in its bygone glory the San Vincenzo was an awe-inspiring ship.
After the cranes had tugged the vessel ashore, Duvallier and his TV crew entered the hull. They searched every nook and cranny but did not find a single ducat. All the treasure hunter’s hopes and dreams, decades of desire, shattered.
Until his assistant, a bright and beautiful girl sixty years his junior, discovered a hidden message beneath three centuries of coral in the captain’s cabin. On the wall behind his writing desk was marked, quite clearly, a treasure map that depicted how and where – in case of a shipwreck – the survivors were to hide the San Vincenzo’s cargo.
Duvallier was ninety years old but his eyes hadn’t sparkled this way since he was a kid watching an old engraving.
“Allons-y,” he said. “Allons-y.”
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