We were growing desperate. A day since we were cast adrift, only the brief rain shower overnight just about kept thirst at bay.

Solomon heard it first, the ugly cawing of a gull. “There!” he croaked, pointing at a speck on the horizon. “Must be land nearby.”

Two more hourse of drifting before we spied a dim smudge above the line of blue ocea. Hope was enough tonic to give us strength to paddle with our hands. The energy to creep towards the distant isle, and possible redemption.

I awoke later, who knows how many hours. Andrea was shaking my shoulder violently. “We’re in the shallows,” she hissed. “Boat’s breaking up, gotta swim the last.” She pointed to the strong beach ahead, just a few hundred yards.

Any one of us alone would’ve drowned, I’m sure of it. But together, somehow, we paddled, and floated, and dragged each other forward. I was completely spent as I felt my feet touch rocks, and I could barely take the last few steps to cast myself upon the beach. My companions collapsed beside me.

The sun was low when I next opened my eyes. Ever inch of me ached, but I rose and nudged my companions to wakefulness. “We need water, and a fire, before the sun goes down.”

Inland a few hundred yards we came upon a small stream, and the fresh water tasted like nectar. Solomon searched the beach and found enough driftwood at least for a few hours’ fire. As Andrea knelt to set the kindling, I wandered in the hope of finding food of some kind.

Inland, in the dim light, I stepped in a hole and near broke my ankle. Cursing in pain, I looked down and was shocked to see a glint of metal. Examining more closely, I could make out the corner of a metal-banded chest poking out of the ground. Something buried carelessly, left exposed once the elements had eroded the earth around it.

The light was near totally gone now. I was lucky that Andrea had sparked a fire that lit the night, a beacon for me to return. I told my companions my discover, and we determined to investigate the next day. Curled up on gras and sane, we slept like the dead.

Solomon gestured to me to pull on the corner as he levered underneath the chest with a plank of wood, a remnant of our boat. Andrea shoveled sandy earth away with her hands until, with a groan, the chest finally released itself.

The lock was rusted and broke easily under my heel. And our eyes reflected the glow of glod and silver as we cast open the lid. “More’n the crew’s seen in years,” said Andrea.

“Aye. An’ nowhere to spend it. We can’t eat gold,” said Solomon.

“We find more wood. Stoke the fire. Forage,” I said. “Survive until someone finds us.”

“An’ then they just carry us off to a friendly port and give us our gold?” asked Andrea, the sarcasm dripping.

“Some if it. If they don’t know it’s there. Concealed in our belts, our boots, our clothes. Show any rescuer the still-full chest we found, and cry tears of gratitude for our rescue, and I’ll wager they don’t ask many questions.”

Solomon nodded. “Aye, ’t might work.” He looked to Andrea, who nodded, too.

That was a week ago now. The fire hasn’t gone out in that time. And we’ve survived on shellfish and a few roots. My stomach still growls, but there’s a tiny clink of metal when I go to tighten my belt.

And there’s a sail on the horizon.