Pirate Jack Warrender and the Standing Stones
There is a remote group of islands in the Pacific Ocean called the Cocos Islands. Outside a cave on one of the islands are two large, standing stones. A local legend claims that the stones were once two villainous buccaneers who were petrified by Inca magic!
The story begins with Jack Warrender, a notorious pirate captain. Warrender was a nasty piece of work. Not so threatening as Blackbeard, but dangerous just the same. He was sly, deceitful, and suspicious of everyone. Thrown off a buccaneer ship for stealing rum, he gathered together a few cut throat friends and set himself up as captain of his own ship.
Before being expelled from his previous ship, he took part in a raid on Lima Cathedral. Lima is the capital city of Peru and its cathedral was famous for the priceless Inca treasure that it housed. Most valuable, was the fabulous ‘Sword of Pachacuti’. Said to have belonged to the famous Inca warrior king. The sword had a solid gold handle and was reputed to possess magic powers! The stolen treasure was taken to the Cocos Islands, some seventy miles Northwest of Lima, and hidden inside a cave.
Not long after he had taken possession of his own vessel, Warrender heard that his earlier ship had been lost at sea, capsizing with all hands. Realising that perhaps now he was the only one who knew the whereabouts of the Lima treasure, he decided to set sail and recover it for himself. He had no intention of sharing his knowledge with his crew, so when they anchored off the coast of the island that held the treasure, he told the men that they was just stopping to take on fresh drinking water.
Late that night, when he thought that everyone was asleep, he lowered a boat and rowed ashore. He did not realise that two of his crew, two who had sailed with him before and knew him well, were quietly following. Warrender silently pulled his small boat up the beach and secured it to a large stone. He then set off to find the cave where the treasure was hidden. He had already decided against removing all of the treasure on this visit. He would just select a few pieces that he could easily hide on the ship and then sell on to some rich merchant or politician. He could always come back later for other items.
The night was cool as he made his way through the trees and into a clearing, on the other side of which was a steep cliff face. He paused for a moment, and then feeling a surge of excited anticipation, his eyes found the gap in the cliff that he recognised as the entrance to the treasure cave! Totally unaware of the two pairs of eyes that were watching his every move, Warrender made his way towards the cave entrance. Once inside, he stopped again to get his bearings and to allow his eyes to become accustomed to the gloom. Then he moved forward towards the rear of the cave where he knew that the treasure was hidden.
He peered behind a large boulder. There it was! Gleaming and sparkling in the glimmering shafts of moonlight that shone in through cracks in the cliff face. His eyes fell on the sword. He picked it up. Then he noticed six giant silver coins. They were commemorative ‘pieces of eight’. He decided to take them as well. Clutching his prize closely to his chest, he made his way out of the cave. The two crewmen, who had followed him, confronted him outside!
“Hello Jack”, said one. “We wondered where you were going, so we followed you”. “Seems as though we’ve got some treasure to share!” Chuckled the other. He uncoiled a length of rope that was wrapped around his waist. They took the sword and coins from their captain. Then, after tying the ropes around the sword, they handed it back to him while they continued wrapping the rope around Warrender’s waist.
They however, had not heard of the sword’s reputed magic power. Warrender had. He took the sword by the handle, drew it clear of the rope and raising it high in the air cried out, “Pachacuti! Pachacuti! Pachacuti!” In that moment, the two mutinous crewmen dropped the coins and froze. Then before his eyes, they both turned to stone!
Terrified by what he had witnessed, Warrender picked up the coins and took them and the sword back to the cave. He then returned to his ship and sailed away the following day. He of course, never mentioned the incident and the rest of his crew merely assumed that the two missing buccaneers had jumped ship. The treasure was eventually recovered and returned to Lima Cathedral.
Now whether you believe my story or not, the natives of the Cocos Island swear that it is true and will happily take you to the cave and show you the two standing stones which guard its entrance!
Copyright - Leslie Melville 1994.