Sir Edmund Roberts, gentlemen naturalist and Sea Maiden questor’s adventures in the Andes Mountains of Gran Columbia were rather successful. With the crew of the HMS Baci, the beautiful Captain Constance Daphne Fitzwillie, the wantonly mysterious Naughty Natalie (Nasty?) and with the gambling aid of a diminutive army of Indian laborers, Llama and mule drivers and guides, they had not only sighted 5 fresh water (hence, “lake”) Maidens and Masters, but also more gold artifacts than anyone could have imagined. The fabled treasures of El Dorado (the actual “golden man” eluded them) lay in a hut-sized mound at their fortified shore encampment. Nearly a month of successful descents in Halley’s patented diving apparatus had finally ceased yielding results. Again and again the sun set on days with neither Lake Maiden sightings nor new additions to their golden trove.
Those on shore and guarding the loot were developing nervous twitches as they bickered among themselves, while the Indians (Inca relatives, surely) grumbled and glowered. All the Europeans save Naughty Natalie and Sir Edmund Roberts wished to immediately load the gold onto the llamas and mules and transport it down from the volcanic lake, out of the mountains and into the comforting security of the hold of the good ship, the HMS Baci.
But Sir Edmund Roberts, compulsive as always, and Naughty (Nasty?) Natalie, acting as if the last piece of her own puzzle of intrigue and subterfuge was not yet in place, were insistent on their remaining a bit longer. “Just one more day,” they chanted. Until at last captain ordered the crew to begin loading the treasure onto the pack animals and break camp. Sir Edmund, Captain Constance Daphne and Gnarly Dan had the diving bell barged out past the middle of the lake for their final dive into the cold, dark waters of lake Guatavita.
A triple surprise was in the offering: First and almost immediately, a glorious Lake Maiden glided by the diving bell. Sir Edmund thought her the most beautiful ever. Captain Constance Daphne was uncomfortable moved by her languid demeanor, and Gnarly Dan, ever garrulous, noted she was, “Right happy just to be swimming’ about,” to which the captain commented, “the last time I was that happy I was twenty years younger and in the arms of an admiral.” Gnarly Dan only smiled and continued, “Ya see, yer Sea Maiden an’ Lake Maiden is a different what we be. They takes their pleasure where they finds it, if yer steerin’ me course; and her swimming’ quiet-like through cool water, it touchin’ her right gentle, can please yer maiden better’n any gob all clumsy an’ anxious to fire a broadside or board.” Captain Constance Daphne reflected briefly and toyed with the idea of learning to swim.
Gnarly Dan would surely have continued had he not caught sight of the second of the day’s surprises when an errant ray of sunshine penetrated the depths and shone on an object that stopped the hearts of all those in the bell.
“El Dorado!” the captain whispered. “Not quite,” Sir Edmund amended, for the full sized statue was of no man. “She’d be the most beautiful woman, ever,” Gnarly Dan breathed as he lowered a weighted, looped rope to her raised hand. “Reminds me of my second wife.”
Ever so gently they raised and secured her and ever so carefully they examined her, oblivious to the muffled retorts of the swivel guns at the shore even as they grew in frequency. Not until the barge crew above began a hasty and not so gentle raising of the bell did the three note the apparent battle. That was the bell mates’ third surprise, for awhile there were submerged, the Indians surrounding the encampment launched a fierce attack. The stout men of the H.M.S. Baci gave as good as they got, the swivel guns barking again and again, but Naughty (Nasty?) Natalie’s failure to participate in the defense slaked their ardor. Then the pirates appearing amongst the attacking Indians further cooled it, until at last an apparition in a half set of Conquistador armor took the remaining wind from every sail. It was Nasty (Naughty?) Natalie in the flesh (much revealed); she being their own Naughty (Nasty?) Natalie’s twin (evil) sister now before them with a raised ancient sword and the defiant and tempting command, “Surrender, Bacis, and we will share the treasure.”
Outnumbered and without either their brave captain or beloved naturalist to rally them, abandoned by the lustful Naughty (Nasty?) Natalie, and she now joined by her loathsome twin Nasty (Naughty?) Natalie, herself half naked and armed with unassailable logic (fight and die or surrender and be wealthy), the good Bacis surrendered to reason and immediately embraced the spirit of the event and lay down there arms.
By the time the bell was raised and Sir Edmund, Captain Constance Daphne, and Gnarly Dan were barged across the broad lake, all that remained was an empty camp, smoldering cooking fires and a handful of llamas and mules that had run off with the initial fusillade and later returned. A broad and trampled path indicated the fate of the defenders, attackers, and the loot.
Sir Edmund Roberts’ journal reads:
Most vexing day! We recovered a blindingly beautiful golden maiden, sighted an equally exciting Lake Maiden, and lost our crew, treasure, guides and equipment in one stroke. Golden statue: (We fear a sacrificial maiden may be entombed) life sized, buxom, without molded attire.
Lake Maiden: Maiden Goldus “Zena”
Sighted gliding past our bell. Bemused. Sated. Golden coloration. Golden hair.
September 26, 1833
Lake Guatavita, Gran Columbia