The Treasure in the Forest by H. G. Wells
Adapted by EFLshorts.com
The island in front of the two men was green with trees and mountains climbed high into the sky. The men in the boat paddled* closer. They could see a beach. It was empty. The sun was hot and the men were thirsty. They wanted to find a river. They needed fresh* water to drink.
One of the men, Evans, said: ‘it is somewhere in there, in the forest*.’
The other man at the front of the boat, Hooker, looked at the beach, the forest and the island closely. A yellow piece of paper sat on his legs.
‘Come and look at this,’ Hooker said.
Evans came along the boat until he could see the paper. The paper looked like a map*. It was old and yellow. There was a drawing of an island on it, but the pencil lines were faint*.
Both men spoke quietly: their mouths were dry with thirst.
‘Look,’ said Evans, ‘here is the beach and the forest and here are the mountains.’ He ran his finger over the paper. It followed the river across the island. ‘I could do with a drink now,’ he said and ran the back of his hand over his mouth. ‘We can get a drink of cold water from the river.’
‘And look at this,’ said Hooker. ‘The blue star on the map is the place. We can follow the river. It goes into the forest; then it goes to the blue star. That is the place! We must be careful. We mustn’t get lost.’
‘Strange,’ said Evans, ‘but those marks* down at the bottom of the map are unusual. They look like glass or teeth. They point this way and that. What are they? And what is that writing? ‘
‘I don’t know about the marks – but the writing is Chinese,’ said Hooker.
‘Of course – he was Chinese,’ said Evans.
‘They all were,’ said Hooker.
Both men sat quietly and looked at the island. The boat moved slowly towards the beach. Evans looked at his paddle. ‘Your turn to paddle now Hooker,’ he said.
Hooker quietly put the map away in his pocket and took the paddle from Evans. He was tired but he kept going. He needed water badly.
*paddled – used an oar to move a boat forward
*fresh – not old, not seawater
*forest – many trees
*map – a diagram that shows where places are
*faint – not strong, difficult to see or hear
*marks – lines, figures or symbols
Evans sat in the boat with his eyes half closed. Slowly, the beach grew nearer and nearer. It was noon and the sun was at its hottest. They were near the treasure* but Evans was not excited: he was very tired. ‘I am so tired,’ he thought, `I did not sleep in this boat last night. I need to rest.’
He thought of the treasure and of all the gold. One night a Chinaman told them all about the island, the map and the treasure. He wanted to remember that terrible night but he couldn’t: all he could think about was his dry mouth, the river and a cold drink of water. The sea moved slowly up and down, forward and back. Evans moved in the boat with it. The sea and its noise sounded good. Soon, his eyes closed and he fell asleep.
Evans had a dream about the treasure and Chang-Li.
In the dream, it was night and he and Hooker were in the forest. They wanted to find someone or something. Just then, through the trees, they saw a little fire. Three Chinamen sat around it and talked in quiet voices. The light form the fire lit up the men’s faces. They spoke in English and Hooker heard their words first. He looked excited. He told Evans to go closer. Evans did. Some things Evans understood, some he did not. Chang-Li took the gold from the galleon and hid it carefully on the island. He worked alone and it was his secret, but now he wanted help to get the gold back and gave the Chinamen a map… a fine story for two poor Englishmen to hear. Now the dream changed and Evans saw Chang-Li’s face. At first, it was friendly but then it changed. He became afraid: very, very afraid. Evans saw his own hands around Chang-Li’s neck; Chang-Li cried ‘No!’ and ‘Please!’ over and over again. Then, there was silence. Now all Evans could see was the gold – great big mountains of it. Suddenly Chang Li’s eyes opened and he smiled. Evans’s hands were still around his neck. ‘Evans…’ said Chang-Li, ‘Evans, you fool*, you fool…’
‘Evans… Wake up you fool!’
It was Hooker.
Evans was asleep. He opened his eyes again. They were nearly at the beach.
*treasure – a collection of valuable items (often hidden)
*galleon – an old type of ship
*crew – people on a ship
*fool – idiot
‘There are three palm trees in the forest,’ said Hooker. ‘When we find the three trees, we can find the treasure.’
‘Is it far?’ Evans asked. He looked at the beach.
Do you see the river?’ Hooker said and pointed* a finger. Evans said yes. ‘Somewhere near the river, deep in the forest, there are three palm trees,’ said Hooker. ‘They are next to some bushes* and the treasure is not far from there.’
Evans’s mouth was dry. He looked at the river. ‘Hurry,’ he said. ‘I am very thirsty.’
Hooker paddled* their boat quickly and soon they were at the river. They went under the trees and up the river. After a few minutes, Evans put his hand into the river and took a drink of cold, clean water. ‘Ahhh,’ he said and closed his eyes. ‘This is good water.’
Hooker smiled and drank too.
When they finished drinking, they lay inside their boat and rested.
‘I don’t want to go in the sun again,’ Hooker said. ‘I could lie here all day.’
‘We must go look for the treasure,’ said Evans.
Hooker filled a bottle with water and they started paddling down the river. Soon they arrived at the sea again. Both men got out the small boat and pulled it onto the beach.
Evans pointed at the thick trees and bushes. ‘We must go in there.’
Hooker put his hand inside the boat and lifted up a big knife. ‘We can use this knife to cut a path.’
The two men started cutting at the thick bushes. It was dark under the thousands of trees. ‘It feels cold in here after the hot sun,’ said Evans.
‘We must push through these bushes and find the river again,’ said Hooker. ‘The palm trees are near the river.’
So the men cut a path through the forest. They cut down bushes and they cut down big, white flowers in front of them. The men did not know their names. `Perhaps, we are the first people to find these flowers,’ said Hooker.
‘Perhaps,’ said Evans. ‘Let’s move on – the river can’t be far.’ He was not interested in the flowers. He only wanted the treasure.
It was hot thirsty work, but after a while they heard the noise of water.
‘The river!’ Hooker said.
‘At last,’ said Evans.
The men hurried towards the river, but Hooker stopped suddenly.
‘What is that?’ he said.
There was someone or something behind the bushes.
*pointed – directed someone’s attention to a particular area, make sure someone looks at something
*bushes – a plant, a little like a small tree perhaps
Evans and Hooker walked slowly forwards*. It was a body. It lay behind the bushes, face down in the grass. Evans bent down and looked closely at the dead man’s face. He turned him over.
‘Who is he?’ Hooker asked.
‘I don’t know….He was a Chinaman,’ Evans said.
‘How long ago did he die?’ Hooker asked.
Evans looked at the Chinaman. His face was black and purple. ‘Perhaps a month,’ said Evans. Beside the body, there was a shovel*. Evans looked to his left and saw lots of dirt* and a big hole in the ground. ‘Is the treasure near here?’ he asked himself. He looked up. ‘There are the three palm trees,’ he said quietly.
‘What?’ Hooker asked. He didn’t hear his friend. He came forward and looked at the Chinaman’s body. `Did he find the treasure?’ he wondered*. `Is it still here?’ Then he saw the hole and he ran to it. `Evans,’ he called, `come here! Come and see!’
Evans walked towards Hooker.
‘The treasure is all still here,’ said Hooker. ‘Look!’
Evans looked. Hooker was right; here was all the treasure. He jumped down into the bottom of the hole. In the dirt under his feet, he saw yellow gold bars*. He touched the pieces of gold with his fingers.
‘Ouch!’ Evans looked at his hand. A little thorn* was in his finger. He pulled out the thorn and cleaned the dirt off the gold bar. ‘Only gold is so heavy,’ he thought.
‘What’s the matter?’ Evans asked.
‘I don’t know,’ said Hooker. ‘I don’t like it.’
‘What do you not like?’
‘That dead Chinaman,’ said Hooker. ‘Why is the treasure still in the hole?’
‘He was alone,’ said Evans angrily.
‘Then, why is he dead?’
‘A snake bit him or he was ill or…’ Evans stopped. ‘Oh, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. We are rich!’ He was sick of Hooker’s anxiety. He took off his shirt and put three gold bars on top of it. ‘Oh!’ he suddenly cried.
Another thorn was in his finger.
*forwards – to move ahead, to move in the direction that you are facing
*shovel – a spade, a tool for digging holes
*dirt – earth, soil
*wondered – considered, thought about, pondered
*bars – blocks (of chocolate, gold, silver…)
*frowned – make a face that shows you are angry or puzzled
*anxiety – nervousness, worry, fear
‘What are you afraid of?’ Evans asked. Suddenly, he was very angry with Hooker.
‘I am going to bury* the body,’ said Hooker.
‘Leave it!’ Evans said and he put more gold onto the shirt. ‘Help me carry this; forget about the body.’
Hooker still looked at the body. ‘He is so similar to*…’
‘Don’t be stupid,’ said Evans. ‘It is not him. Now, do you want the gold or not?’
Hooker didn’t hear Evans. The face of the dead Chinaman reminded* him of Chang-Li’s. ‘But his face and his mouth… is he smiling?’ Hooker looked around the forest and up at the trees. He looked at the big white flowers. He looked back at the body. He felt cold in the warm forest, and he felt very far away from home.
‘What’s the matter with you?’ Evans asked.
Suddenly, Hooker jumped into the hole. ‘Nothing! Let’s get the treasure out of this hole and then we can go home.’
‘Good!’ said Evans. He smiled. But then he put his hand on his forehead*. ‘I don’t feel well. My arms and neck hurt.’
‘Perhaps it’s the heat,’ said Hooker.
‘Perhaps,’ said Evans. After a minute, Hooker took his hand away from his forehead. Then together the two men pulled the shirt with the gold on it out of the hole.
When the gold was out of the hole, Hooker looked at Evans. ‘Do you want to go to the boat or bury the gold on the island?’ he asked.
‘To the boat,’ said Evans.
They picked up the gold and began to walk. But the gold was very heavy.
‘Stop!’ said Evans after a few minutes. ‘I must rest*.’
They put down the gold, and Evans sat down. His face was white and sweat* ran down it. ‘It is too warm in this forest,’ he said; and then suddenly with much anger: ‘Come on, Hooker, let’s go!’ He stood up quickly. ‘Come on!’ he said again, and they began carrying the shirt with the gold in it. They carried it for another minute. But then Evans stopped and dropped the shirt again. This time, some gold fell onto the ground.
‘What is the matter?’ Hooker asked.
Evans looked but said nothing. Rivers of sweat ran silently down his face.
‘Are you okay?’ Hooker asked and went towards his friend.
‘Don’t come near me!’ Evans cried and went and stood against a tree.
Again Hooker went to help his friend.
‘Don’t touch me,’ Evans said in a quiet voice. ‘Put the gold back on the shirt.’
‘What’s the matter?’ Hooker asked, afraid.
‘Put the gold back on the shirt and let’s go,’ said Evans.
*bury – put under the ground
*similar to – alike, not different
*reminded – made you think about again, helped remember
*forehead – front part of the head above the eyes
*rest – not work, not move, relax
*sweat – liquid that helps cool our bodies
Hooker put the gold back onto the shirt. He was very afraid now. He did not want to be alone in the forest with his sick friend. He was far from help and nobody knew about his trip with Evans to the island. Hooker looked at his friend. He could not carry both the gold and Evans. He began to put gold on the shirt. The gold was heavy, so he did it slowly. He lifted the last piece of gold and something hurt his finger. He looked at his hand. There was a thorn in it and there was blood on his fingers. The thorn was two centimeters in length*. It was long and thin – like a tooth or a piece of glass.
Suddenly, Evans cried loudly and fell onto the grass.
Hooker’s mouth dropped open. He looked at the thorn in his finger. He looked at Evans. Evans’s body shook and he cried out in pain. Hooker looked at all the trees, bushes and the big white flowers. He thought about the Chinaman’s body and looked again at Evans. He remembered the map, the marks at the bottom of it and the Chinese writing. At that time, he couldn’t understand the marks. But now he understood.
The marks were the shape* of the thorns.
‘Oh, help me!’ Hooker said quietly. He looked at Evans, but Evans was quiet. His eyes were open, but they did not move.
Hooker put his finger into his mouth and sucked* his finger hard. But it was too late. He felt pain in his hands, arms and neck and he couldn’t move his fingers. He sat down. The forest was silent*. He thought about Chang Li’s smiling face. He looked at Evans’s body and then looked up. A little wind moved through the trees. From one of them, a big white flower fell down and landed* on the ground in front of him.
Pain shook his body and his death was quick.
*length – how long something is from end to end
*shape – how something looks, its appearance
*sucked – pulled something into the mouth
*silent – without any sound, soundless, completely quiet
*landed – fell, dropped, reached the ground
ADAPTED BY EFLSHORTS.COM