“Why did this have to happen?” cried Erma as she sat on the couch, her head in her hands. Karen sat next to her with her hand on Erma’s shoulders, trying to comfort her. The deputies were interviewing witnesses one at a time. Most family members waited on the porch for their turn to be questioned. Jackson, Peter and Karen sat with Frank and Erma in the den.
“It’s the treasure,” said Frank in disgust.
“How do you know it’s the treasure?” asked Jackson.
Peter sat on the edge of his chair and listened.
“He’s right. It seems that everything bad that happens to this family has something to do with that old treasure. I hate that treasure,” said Erma. “It has brought nothing but sadness and tragedy to us. It doesn’t even exist. It never existed.”
“Yes, it does. But I would give it up in a minute if I could undo all that’s happened,” said Frank.
“It doesn’t even have to exist to kill us. People believe in it, and we get killed. Nothing good has ever come from that old rumor. I hate that treasure,” repeated Erma.
“I don’t blame you, after what I saw today,” said Karen. “What else has happened?”
“The list is too long. So many things have happened over the years. There was the cave in at Hummingbird Well, where Frank found that coin.” Tears filled Erma’s eyes. She excused herself and retreated to the bedroom.
Frank shook his head.
“I found the coin in Hummingbird Well, over near Pinishook Creek. It was an old fashioned well. We lowered a bucket on a rope. One day, when I pulled the bucket up, I found the coin. The one I showed Mr. Brooks. I always believed the gold was in Hummingbird Well. To me, it confirmed the rumors about the treasure. We searched around the well and the creek, and then we started digging up the well. The sides fell in. Erma’s two boys were trapped. We could hear them calling for us because the water was rising. They drowned before we could get to them.”
“Oh, no!” said Karen as she rose and tapped on the bedroom door. Karen cracked open the door, looked back at Jackson, Peter and Frank, and stepped into the bedroom, closing the door behind her.
Peter, Jackson and Frank sat in silence for a few minutes.
“Did you find any gold in the well?” asked Peter.
“No. We never found the gold. I believe it’s still there.”
As Frank said that, Erma returned to the room, wiping her eyes, followed by Karen. “I’m sorry. I’m alright. I dealt with this a long time ago. It’s just that the murder of Uncle German brought up old wounds.” Karen put her arm around Erma, who gave Karen a hug and said, “Thank you. Frank still believes that gold is in that old well. He can have the gold, for what good it’ll do him.”
“Maybe Frank James lost one coin or dropped just one coin down the well,” guessed Jackson.
“No. We were told that Sankky’s last words were something like, ‘You will draw the gold from the hummingbird.’ They say it was hard to understand her exact words when she died, but she said something like that. We knew that she named the old well, Hummingbird Well, so I knew we would find the gold there,” said Frank.
“That’s why Frank was drawing water from the well,” said Erma. “He always thought he would get lucky one day and draw gold up from the well. One day he finally did. We thought that was a great day. But, then tragedy struck. That gold is cursed,” said Erma, almost spitting out the word cursed.
A thought struck Karen, and she sucked in a little air. Her eyes darted around the room and came to rest on the hummingbird painting. “She said ‘draw’ and ‘hummingbird.’ Erma, may I look behind Sankky’s painting?”
Erma starred at Karen for a moment, then she turned and looked at Frank, eyes wide open.
Frank said, “Well, I’ll be.”
“Yes, darlin’, you can look,” said Erma.
Everyone’s eyes were glued on Karen as she walked to the hummingbird painting. She lifted the frame from the wall and laid it face down on the checker table.
“Can someone help me get the back off of this frame?”
Frank used a pocketknife to pry off the back of the picture. Everyone leaned in to get a better look.