If you had not turned up in the nick of time I should have been obliged to send another man; for this is a matter that cannot wait. Since you are here, however, I shall be glad if you will start for Coroico at once.
"Having therefore been foiled in that direction, a force of Bolivians has been collected by a noted guerilla leader named Bajos; and this force, amounting to about a couple of thousand men, has entrenched itself in a strong position near Coroico, whence frequent destructive raids are being made into our newly won territory.
"Coroico?" mused Jim; "let me see yes, sir; I seem to remember hearing the place spoken of by a warder with whom I contrived to become friendly the man whose uniform I took the small liberty of appropriating, you will remember. He said that a Bolivian force was collecting near there, for the purpose, I believe, of making raids into the newly acquired Chilian territory." "Exactly!
The treasure was buried, said Jose, in a cave in the side of a ravine, at a spot about twenty miles north-eastward of Coroico, and the road thither was a difficult and dangerous one to travel, consisting as it did, for the most part, of a narrow path just wide enough for one man or a mule to pass, and skirting the edge of tremendous abysses whose bottoms could not be seen because of the mists which veiled them.
They had been among the mountains a week, and were approaching fairly close to Coroico; Jim therefore took the precaution to throw out scouts in all directions round his little force, in order to prevent surprise; and one evening, just before darkness began to settle down, one of the men came riding in to say that he had caught sight of a small body of Bolivians hovering among the hills about a mile to the right of the main body.
But for the moment he had as much money as he actually needed; so, returning from Coroico, he bought an estate in a lovely spot near Quinteros Bay, and settled down comfortably there, with Jose as his faithful henchman. Jim has never married, although he is now getting somewhat on in years.
When the young Englishman had finished his report, which he did in the course of about an hour, Riveros suddenly said: "Then I may take it, Senor el Teniente, that you are pretty well acquainted with the country about Sorata? Did you, by any chance, see or hear anything of a village called Coroico during your captivity, or while you were escaping?"
"And over to the south," Ned went on, "is Lake Titicaca, and over the mountains from that body of water is Coroico, where the Beni river starts on its long run to the Amazon, by way of the Madeira river." "Well," snapped Collins, drawing hard at the strap which held his wrists, "you can't sit here and figure yourself out of this hole. Why don't you do something?"
For ten long years Jim lived in that house near Quinteros, which he named "Casa Coroico"; and then the Chilian revolutionary war broke out, and he again took up his commission as major, and fought in the ranks of the Congressionalists.