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First pages

FOREWORD

In the summer of 2013, my family and I traveled to the Grand Canyon for a week of whitewater rafting down the Colorado River. When a monsoon rolled in, forcing us to higher ground, we sheltered in a cave unseen for nearly 150 years. What we found inside – several journals from the time of the California Gold Rush – contradicted the accepted version of history taught in classrooms today. To say that mankind has been bamboozled for generations would be an understatement, but that is exactly what the journals prove. My chief aim in publishing this first book of journal entries, therefore, is to set in motion the wheels of change that will carry humanity along the road of discovery to a forgotten past. In years to come, it is easy to imagine The Lost and Found Journal of a Miner 49er serving as a history primer, of sorts, for school children the world over.

 

Historical Criticism

 

Having established how I came in possession of the journals, the following pages will serve to demonstrate that the author was none other than the Miner 49er from the American folk song Oh, My Darling, Clementine; and furthermore, that the Miner 49er, whose Christian name was Cody Kirschenbaum, once walked dusty, forsaken stretches of this world, sailed upon seas sailed by mariners of old, faced down giants like King David, and served as an integral cog in the cultivation of the American Southwest from a wasteland into the palm tree and golf course dotted megaloasis (to coin a term) we find today.

If you doubt the veracity of my statement, allow me to return to that cave in the Grand Canyon as supporting evidence. The cave contained the skeletal remains of a donkey believed to be those of the longtime companion of Kirschenbaum, who answered to the name of Clip-clop; a saddlebag of journal manuscripts, or tomes, written by a single hand; a few gold and silver pieces dating to the Gold Rush era; and a curious stone about the size of a biscuit, with a purple crystal at its center – weighing an unfathomable 44.4 pounds – that has been sent to a laboratory in the United Kingdom for further analysis. Such relics did not spring into existence from the ether, but belonged to an historical figure who fits the profile of the Miner 49er.

 

 

Archaeological Criticism

 

Archaeologists have not recovered the bones of the Miner 49er in the four years since the original discovery of the cave. Further efforts have met with stiff resistance from the local Havasupai tribe due to an unfortunate, somewhat tawdry event involving members of a local university’s archeology department. I will not discuss the details in full here, other than the incident included flamboyant headdresses, dime-store beauty supplies and a Chinese water dragon. It is hoped that, in time, all wounds will be healed – indeed, that we shall have a good laugh about the matter – and the Havasupai people will allow further investigation into this most astonishing and important historical discovery.

So, what of it, you say? What is the average joe on the street to make of these discoveries? Is it possible that the Miner 49er was an historical figure? My purpose in publishing this first installment of Kirschenbaum’s journals is not to indoctrinate you into one belief or another; rather, I ask you to make up your own mind by keeping an open mind.

I will appeal to your sense of logic, with such facts as the handwritten note included in the pages of the journal from Jacob “Bubby” Waltz, Jr to “Mr. Kirschenbaum” that expresses his condolences and deep sadness at the drowning of a girl named Clementine, and a heartfelt plea that her death not be held to his – that is, Bubby’s – account, given the fact that he was “not gifted in the water arts as you yourself [Mr. Kirschenbaum] are, but a landlubber through and through, to my own eternal shame.” Could it be coincidence that Kirschenbaum had a daughter named Clementine who drowned, and yet she was not the same girl we sing about while roasting marshmallows around the campfire? I suppose so, but that explanation is entirely unsatisfying, given the astronomical odds calculated against it.

 

 

Literary Criticism

 

Critics argue I should have included the journal entry Lost and Gone Forever, which details the events that led to the drowning of Clementine, in this book. Indeed, I have received many letters from school children around the world – too many to count! – urging me to do just that. However, the time was not right. Too many readers would race past other important entries to get to that one, but doing so would leave them bewildered. About this matter, I will say nothing further, other than to ask the reader to trust my judgment, seeing how the journal entries in this book were carefully selected to reveal the backstory of Lost and Gone Forever. When it finally is published, everyone will understand my reasons for waiting.

Contrary to rumors on the Internet, the number of journals discovered in the Miner 49er’s saddlebag was not thirty-three, but seven. In addition to the seven journals, the trove included a collection of papers rolled up and knotted together by a loose leather strap. Some have called this the Eighth Journal, but I hesitate to call it that, since many second-hand treasure maps and astronomical charts were included among the papers.

That’s not to say these papers are insignificant – not in the least! In fact, I consider them to be the most important documents of all, since they include a much longer tale that took several years, or perhaps decades, for Kirschenbaum to pen – a tale, not merely of importance to understanding the ancient peoples of the Americas, but one which, if ever published, will serve to entirely overthrow the current views held by mainstream scientists of the history of the world. This longer tale, more importantly, strongly hints at why the bones of Kirschenbaum were never found – nor likely to be found, even if the Havasupai open their lands to further digs – though I resist the temptation to speak further on this matter until I have followed up on several clues left behind in the writings of Kirschenbaum.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Kirschenbaum, no doubt, intended his life to be shared with the world. In the journal entries you are about to read, note how frequently he addresses “children” and, occasionally, a child named “Avalon.” Who Avalon and these other children were remains a mystery, but from the context, it seems likely they were residents of the mining camps. One may imagine the Miner 49er seated upon his trusty bucket beside a campfire, journal in hand, enthralling a group of children by the reading of his adventures.

Without further ado on the origin and rediscovery of the journal of Cody Kirschenbaum, let us dive headlong into the pages of this man’s remarkable life history. I present to you the raw, unvarnished writings in all their glory and occasional disarray, just as I found them. I took small liberties in providing titles to the journal entries, for the sake of indexing and referencing in archaeological publications, but I think you will find they do not detract from the message of the Good Miner; on the contrary, they frame the message.

I suspect that as I have been stirred to action in my own life by meditating upon these journal entries, you too will be challenged to hold Kirschenbaum’s life up as a mirror to your own and, in comparison of your adventures, find deeper meaning in the past, greater hope in the future, and an unslakable thirst for the unknown, however far along that murky, unfamiliar path his wisdom carries you.

 

Jack Dublin

Summer of 2017

 

 

1 thE great GREAT PLAINS FIRE OF 1824

“These hungry flames soon threatened to devour White Stockings and Cody’s homesteads, sending all the folks into a tither, running this way and that, carrying on like they didn’t have the sense God gave a rabbit.

 

Way back in the year 1824, before I met my lovely bride Millicent, who bore us our darling daughter Clementine, a raging fire swept across the plains, forcing the Indians and the white man – who in times past had been at war with one another – to band together to fight the conflagration that threatened their homesteads – yea, their very lives! And the bravest among these Indians was a boy who stood only yay high, no older than six years old, who had been given the name White Stockings.

Now, you might not think that sounds like any Indian name you ever heard – and you’d be right! But it was the name given to him by his tribal elders for the pair of stockings he was fond of wearing, a pair of stockings handed down to him by his great, great grandpappy Squinting Eagle. Squinting Eagle, you see, came upon the stockings by way of a French fur trapper who passed that way way back in the year 1702, long before the United States of America – the land in which we live – was even a country!

And let me tell you, Miss Avalon, these white stockings were the finest pair of socks you ever did lay your dreamy little eyes upon. They were long enough for a man to pull up all the way to just under his knees, and they had these fancy little balls of yarn stitched into place at the top of the hem, round about here, so that they danced about like fairies when you walked in them.

Now the French fur trapper loved those white stockings, with their dancing balls of yarn, nearly to the point of death, seeing as they were a gift from his mammy back in his home country of France, who knitted them for young Frenchie just before he set sail for the New World in search of his fortune – all of which is to say, only the direst of circumstances could cause him to part ways with that most treasured gift. But Frenchie found himself in a quite a pickle that harsh winter of 1702, out on the desolate plains, and seeing that he had no food, but the Indians did, why, he arranged an exchange of three months’ worth of salted venison, which is deer meat, and a grab-bag of dried vegetables for his beloved, exquisite, sui generis stockings. So, while Frenchie was sad to part ways with the stockings, the exchange of food had saved him from certain death; thus, the socks had served their great purpose in his life. He comforted himself and his cold, naked shins with the knowledge that those white wool stockings, knit together by his mammy in the homeland, had gone out with blessings of life to another person on this great big rock we call the world, counted number three from the Sun.

Squinting Eagle, on the other hand, was a man who knew a thing of great value when he saw it, and those stockings were about the most valuable earthly possession he had ever laid his greedy hands upon. He was more than happy to help young Frenchie out of a jam that winter by taking possession of the socks himself, but it wasn’t charity that moved his heart to make that exchange with the fur trapper – no! He had an ulterior motive – which is to say, he was doing it for a different, secret reason. You see, Squinting Eagle imagined those were no ordinary socks, with the dangling balls of yarn stitched into them, dancing like fairies in the moonlight just before the harvest, but quite possibly those were magical socks, capable of making the wearer thereof fleet-footed, long of life and wealthy beyond all his wildest imaginations!

Which brings us back to White Stockings, who inherited those precious socks from his great, great grandpappy Squinting Eagle. In the springtime before the great fire, White Stockings befriended a boy of his same age, a settler by the name of Cody Kirschenbaum, whose family had emigrated from the Germanic lands several years earlier. The friendship caused no small disagreement between the clans of those two boys. You see, while the settlers and the Indians by that time had more or less learned to live peaceably side by side on the plains, there persisted a certain amount of distrust between the peoples, so that any direct interaction across the family lines was anathema – which means, Miss Avalon, that the friendship between the boys was hated, detested, loathed and despised by the families.

While the families discouraged the friendship between the boys, why, they could hardly forbid such a thing, seeing that both boys spent a good deal of time swimming, fishing and fetching drinking water from the same river that separated their homesteads. And as you might have already guessed, seeing that they lived just next door to each other, they soon set out exploring the lands around them together, fashioning fishing hooks and lures from wire and bird feathers, constructing slingshots from cattle bones and catguts, and even making kites from old worn-out deer skins. Those were bar none the best days of their young lives! It wouldn’t always be like that, though, as you soon shall hear.

You see, that summer was terribly dry, so dry, in fact, that the water level dropped in the stream, going lower and lower, like a draining bathtub, until White Stockings and Cody could no longer swim there. In fact, when they dropped their pails in the stream to fetch water each morning, they often came up with more mud than water. It was under these terribly desiccated conditions, in the month of September, that a dry thunderstorm arose – that is to say, there was plenty of dark, fat cumulonimbus clouds in the sky, but it was so dry that the rain that fell out of those clouds evaporated before it ever hit the ground. Oh, if only it had reached the ground! – everything might have turned out differently. But as it was, only lightning reached the ground, sparking a fierce and terrible blaze that young children remembered the rest of their lives and when they grew old, they told the history of it to their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren – just like I’m telling you here today!

The flames chewed up acre upon acre of grassland, racing along the plains, driven by a strong western wind that accompanied the thunderstorm. The smoke filled the air so thick that it darkened the noonday sun and you had to wear a wet handkerchief across your nose and mouth just to breath, and fire filled the horizon from east to west, north to south, so that no matter which direction you set your squinting, burning eyes, it looked like you were in the midst of a great bowl of fire.

These hungry flames soon threatened to devour White Stockings and Cody’s homesteads, sending all the folks into a tither, running this way and that, carrying on like they didn’t have the sense God gave a rabbit. So White Stockings’ father and Cody’s father each ran faster than they had ever run in their entire lives along the banks of the stream to the western border of their homesteads, trying to gauge how long they had before the conflagration overtook them.

To understand what happened next, it’s helpful to describe the layout of the homesteads belonging to these two families. White Stockings land and Cody’s land lay on opposite sides of the river from each other, as you know, but what you don’t know is that toward that western boundary, the river turned sharply to the north, meaning the direction of the fire would carry it directly onto White Stockings homestead before it ever reached Cody’s homestead.

So White Stockings’ father looked across the river to Cody’s father and said, “Neighbor, help me cut back the grass, douse the soil with whatever water we have and shepherd my livestock downwind.”

But Cody’s father said, “I cannot, lest while I help you cut back the grass, douse the soil and shepherd your livestock downwind, the wind should change direction and carry the flames onto my homestead, destroying all that I have. I must make the preparations you name for my own family. You, sir, prepare your own kinfolk.”

In response, White Stockings’ father said, “There isn’t time for us to prepare alone. Besides, as soon as you finish helping me defend my homestead, me and my kinfolk will surely help to defend your homestead.”

But Cody’s father said, “When have you ever helped me? No, I fear you are trying to trick me, and that after I help defend your homestead, you will abandon me and my kinfolk to the flames of perdition. Therefore, I will not help you.”

But White Stockings’ father said, “Look, man, should I return evil for good? All is lost for me without your help, and all is lost for you without my help, so we must help each other. Besides, the fire is bound to consume my homestead before yours, so if I perish in this blaze, so shall you!”

And back and forth the two men bickered like this for the span of a quarter hour, each refusing to budge, each convinced he was right in his own eyes. It was sin, plain and simple – the deceitful sin of pride – that the two men could not compromise in such a dreadfully trying time. But the fire would not wait for the men to settle their disagreement and, indeed, it drew dangerously close in the span of time they chose to argue rather than compromise and take action, so much so that at last the two men dropped to their knees, crying out to Almighty God for His blessing of deliverance.

Now White Stockings and Cody had run up the banks of the river to witness the petty arguing between their fathers, and they had had just about enough of it. They could smell the very hairs on their heads beginning to smolder, and knew something just had to be done that very minute and not one second later. It was then that Cody recalled, earlier in the summer, that he and White Stockings had ventured to the east, about a half days walk, following the river to see if they could discover its source. While they didn’t uncover that mystery, they did come upon quite a sight, a sight that might well explain – at least in part – why the river ran so dry into September. You see, off there to the east, it seems a very eager beaver had chewed down some trees and built himself a dam in that stream, so that on the one side of his dam a trickle of water spilled down to Cody and White Stocking’s homesteads, but on the other side swelled a deep, refreshing pool that the beaver frolicked in to his heart’s content.

So Cody called out to White Stockings, saying, “We must get to the beaver dam and tear it to pieces! Perhaps the resultant surge of water will quench this infernal blaze and save us all!”

White Stockings knew that Cody was right, but the beaver dam was a half days walk away. How could they get there fast enough to execute the plan and save their homesteads? It was at that moment that White Stockings remembered how his great, great grandpappy, Squinting Eagle, had once said that the stockings White Stockings wore on his feet were capable of making a man fleet-footed. But even if the legend of the stockings were true, White Stockings could not tear the dam to pieces by himself. He would need Cody’s strength working in concert with his own to succeed. So, White Stockings reached down and peeled off one of his stockings – the great inheritance received from his forefathers – and tossed it across the river to Cody. “Put on the white stocking,” he shouted. “It will make you fleet-footed… fleet-footed enough to reach the dam in time to carry out your plan.”

And so Cody slipped his toes into the soft and welcoming sheath of that ancient sock, and he felt a tingle run up his leg. It was the tingle of power – almost like an electric current – that made Cody’s feet eager to run. Knowing time was not on their side, the two boys set off on a dead sprint for the beaver dam, and it seemed they ran faster than the wind itself, and if it be believed, why, they swore their feet never touched the ground, almost as if they flew the entire way. They wasted not an instant at the dam, rending those great logs into splinters, unleashing a mighty torrent of water on the plains not seen since the Great Flood of old – no! – not even until this day. And the waters performed the task they had been released to do, dousing all the flames and saving the homesteads.

The boys raced back along the river the way they had come – floating on air, it seemed – until they reached their families, falling into the arms of their mothers and brothers and sisters. They were lifted on the shoulders of their relatives, heralded as heroes, and the two clans vowed to help each other from that day forward until the very last star fell from the sky.

And so that day, the stockings – knit together in a bygone age by a loving mother for her son – once again delivered blessings of life. As for Squinting Eagle’s assessment of the magical properties of the socks… did they make the wearers thereof fleet-footed? Indeed, fast enough to reach a far off, pesky beaver dam in the nick of time. Did they make the wearers thereof long of life? Well, what life is longer than the life that lives to see another day! And did they deliver wealth beyond one’s wildest imaginations? Oh, dear child, what greater wealth is there than neighbors dwelling together in harmony!

But for every happy ending, there is a sad ending, too. For you see, Miss Avalon, White Stockings and Cody’s fathers did not survive the conflagration that swept the plains in September of 1824. Those two bickering fools allowed pride to cloud their judgment, and it cost them dearly – yea, their very lives!

And so getting down to brass tacks, the moral of this story, the very crux of it, is that we must “encourage each other every chance we get, lest our hearts become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” And that bit of wisdom, as you may know, and I’m certain you do since you’re sharp as a bullwhip, comes straight from the Good Book itself, Hebrews 3:13 to be precise.

2 THE LOST CONTINENT OF HORATIO SWANFIRE (1831)

“Horatio Swanfire was an inventor. As far as his inventions went… well, some were works of genius, while others were just plain dangerous, as the scrolls were about to reveal.

 

For the better part of my life, dear children, my raison d’etre – which is the fancy French way of saying the very reason that I existed – was to find my fortune anyway I knew how, be it sailing the high seas in hurricanes, repelling down volcanoes that were fixing to blow their tops or mining the depths of the earth during a dynamite explosion.

Twasn’t until I reached the grandfatherly state in which you see me today that I had reason to reflect on the fact that for all that searching for fortune I’d done, I had nothing tangible – nothing I could hold in my hands – to show for it.

Why, the only thing I managed to bring along with me through the years were the memories I’d written down of the dangerous – and dumb! – things I had done in search of those riches. And so, it seems good to me to share another tale with you today from my journal… a tale I call ‘The Lost Continent of Horatio Swanfire.’

Now, back in the year of 1831, round about the time I graduated from the 8th grade – which, in those days, was about all the schooling you could hope to get if you were reared on a farm, like I was – I set out for the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico searching for a little bit of gold, and a bigger bit of adventure.

And so it was that I found my way to the ancient Mayan city of Chichen-Itza, where, if the rumors were to be believed, I could find work as a day laborer excavating that architectural wonder known as the Kukulkan pyramid.

Well, the rumors in this case bore much fruit, as a team of archeologists from one of those highfalutin Ivy League universities in the Northeast, led by a hard-driving, treasure-seeking professor by the name of Jasper Gypsum, hired me on as a shovel and pick boy – which is to say, I was fixing to earn me some blisters and sunburns under the fierce Mexican sun!

Now if all I found down there were blisters and sunburns, this wouldn’t be much of a story, now would it? No! It would be one of the sorriest stories you ever did hear. But I’m here to tell you we found much more than that. Yea, ‘twas toward the end of an uneventful, backbreaking day – a little before sunset – that we uncovered a large slab of stone inscribed with strange markings of an unknown language.

In that moment when the alpenglow settles upon the earth – that is, when the last rays of the sun peek around the corner of the globe and everything seems to turn to gold – we hitched a team of horses to that mighty slab and pulled it aside, and yea, we did discover a hidden chamber lay beneath it!

At the sight of this, why, Professor Gypsum did order the lighting of torches and the lowering of a ladder into the chamber, eager to discover at once what riches lay below. We descended into the chamber not knowing if it was a vault full of riches or the tomb of an ancient king!

But here’s where the story gets mighty interesting, children, so I want you to lean in close when I tell you this: lined up on the floor of that room were seven exquisitely painted jars – artwork to compare with the great Michelangelo of old! But if that doesn’t pique your interest, then let me tell you what we found inside those jars was enough to cause Professor Gypsum’s eyes, in that flickering torchlight, to burn with unrestrained gold fever!

The Professor’s jaw hung slack way down to about here as he removed from the jars scrolls with unbroken seals, scrolls that had not been read since the time their words were set to papyrus with ink! Tentatively, he broke open the first seal, revealing what even a farm boy with an 8th grade education could plainly see – ‘twas a treasure map!

But, to simply call it a treasure map would be a great disservice to this tale, for the detailed rendering of the Gulf of Mexico contained a vast, circular island in the midst thereof – with canals and cities and pyramids – that any present-day fisherman can tell you doesn’t exist! More inscriptions of that unknown language filled up the scroll, which the Professor believed told an historical narrative of the inhabitants of that ancient island that had vanished into the sea!

Now, I’m certain many of you children here today will draw the same conclusion that Professor Gypsum drew there in the torch-lit recesses of that chamber – yea, that the map held in his hands pointed the way to the lost civilization of Atlantis!

The professor wasted no time in removing the jars and the scrolls from the chamber and shuttling them off to a safe location. Then, utilizing his university connections, and no small amount of gold and silver coins, he secured a meeting with an expert in ancient languages that very night.

The expert examined the maps and concluded the unknown language was an ancient variation on the Mayan language, and as such, he was able to translate for us the contents of the scrolls. Here is what we learned:

In days long ago, before the time of Noah’s flood, there existed two great kingdoms upon the world – one centered on an island in the Gulf of Mexico, called Atlantis, with its capital called Atlas, and the other in a long ago vanished land off the coast of Africa, called Lemuria – named for the tiny, wild monkeys that ran to and fro thereupon. Now these kingdoms rose to prominence, but found themselves competing for similar resources, and soon became mortal enemies, and war did follow.

Each kingdom had utterly abandoned their reliance on God Almighty and instead desired more and more for themselves – never satisfied! – resorting, in the final days, to sending out vast armadas of ships to pillage the lands of their enemies and bring back whatever resources they could stuff into the hulls of their ships.

Now the Lemurians were mostly shepherds and farmers, dealing in wool, cedar and grains, and enjoyed wiling away the nights by dreaming up constellations out of the stars in the sky and making up stories to explain those constellations, while the Atlanteans were talented miners and chemists and scientists who passed away the time trying to figure out why the planets moved this way and that, and why it seemed that the stars moved from season to season.

As soldiers, the Lemurians were fierce fighters who trained themselves by fighting the world around them! Yes, indeed – when I say they fought the world around them, I don’t mean they fought their neighbors, I mean they would attack hillsides, throw themselves into blackberry bushes, or they would kick and punch mountains as hard as they could until it hurt too much to kick and punch anymore, and at that point they would bite the bark off of trees, just to show the world it couldn’t get the better of them.

The Atlanteans, on the other hand, thought the Lemurians were crazy, and they fashioned weapons of war from all the metal they mined, and were skilled swordsmen – sort of like the samurai.

They were scientists, too, and the greatest scientist among them was their supreme leader, who reigned from the city of Atlas. His name was Horatio Swanfire.

Now in addition to being a leader, Horatio Swanfire was an inventor. As far as his inventions went… well, some were works of genius, such as the wheel; others were works of doubtful use, such as the rubber chicken; and some of his inventions were just plain dangerous, as the scrolls were about to reveal.

The language expert interpreting the scrolls for Professor Gypsum began to tell us of the final days of Atlantis. You see, dear children, it seems Horatio Swanfire began to suspect that the Lemurians were planning an invasion to end all invasions, one that would end with the Lemurians ruling the planet both far and wide.

Now, it stands to reason that if you had enemies across the sea, you wouldn’t want them being enemies in your own land, so you’d think up a strategy to keep them rapscallions at bay. And I’m here to tell you that Horatio Swanfire devised a plan to accomplish that very thing!

You see, Horatio had concocted a rather remarkable compound of materials, which, when exposed to a spark or an open flame, did burst forth with the explosive qualities of a volcano!Horatio’s compound is the same compound which, today, we call gunpowder.

I mentioned before that the island of Atlantis was more or less a circle, and it was encircled by walls a hundred feet thick and a hundred feet high, designed to keep the Lemurians outside.

This is important because Horatio’s plan, you see, was to pile up his gunpowder all over the ground of the capital city of Atlas, then balance a huge ball of gold on the circular city walls in order to create a weapon akin to a cannon. But when I say that ball of gold was huge, I do mean to say, children, that it was quite nearly the size of the Moon!

Horatio performed some advanced mathematical calculations and determined that with just the right amount of gunpowder packed into the city walls, in direct proportion to the mass of the giant ball of gold resting on the city walls, why, an explosion of sufficient force would be generated to launch that ball of gold into low earth orbit, carrying it briefly around the planet before losing momentum and crashing back down on the continent of Lemuria.

Furthermore, Horatio reckoned that if the Lemurians saw that ball of gold in the sky, they wouldn’t even think of trying to escape, because they would mistake it for the noonday sun and just go about their business as if a giant cannon ball tweren’t fixing to pulverize their land.

But for all the brilliance of Mr. Swanfire, he didn’t take into consideration that the enemies of Atlantis would look up and behold not one shimmering orb in the sky, but two, and his carefully crafted legerdemain – that is to say, his trickery – would be plainly exposed for all who had eyes to see and they would flee!

But that proved not to be the fatal flaw in Horatio Swanfire’s ill-conceived plan. No! ‘twas the fact that none of the Atlanteans followed after God, but only did what was right in their own eyes.

As such, the businessman that Horatio Swanfire contracted to produce the vast amount of gunpowder necessary for the scheme, realized that he could improve his profits if he trebled the amount of charcoal in Swanfire’s compound.

While this certainly did increase the man’s profits, in direct proportion it did weaken the explosive qualities of the gunpowder compound – sort of like if you don’t add enough chocolate to milk, you get a weak tasting glass of chocolate milk!

Needless to say, children, the scheme of Horatio Swanfire did not execute as he had planned – no! When the men of Atlas ignited the charcoal-heavy gunpowder packed inside the city walls, the golden cannon ball shot a mile high in the sky, but no further, and came rushing down with the same force it had gone up, in an unwavering straight line.

All of this is to say, when you drop a metal ball the size of the moon onto a city from a mile high, why, tragic consequences will follow. And so it was with the firing of Horatio Swanfire’s cannon – yea, it did bring about the sinking of an entire continent and the destruction of a civilization that did not know how to be content with what it already had.

When the language expert finished his translation, Professor Gypsum tossed him an extra coin, then rallied our band of archeologists in search of a ship we might lease out for the purpose of finding the lost continent of Horatio Swanfire. For you see, Jasper Gypsum did surmise that if that ball of gold the size of the moon did sink an island in the midst of the Gulf, why a good portion of that gold ought to be lying right there at the bottom of the sea, waiting for him to scoop it up!

And so it was, in short order, that we enlisted the aid of the captain of a three-masted ship, a man by the name of Harry Humdinger, who, it would be learned, possessed an even greater zeal for the treasure hunt than did Professor Gypsum.

So we set out onto the Gulf of Mexico at sunrise, a steady wind pushing us on two masts toward the north, a hunger for gold burning in our bellies!


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Jack Dublin was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts; attended kindergarten in West Germany; graduated high school in Dale City, Virginia; and earned his baccalaureate degree from the University of Arizona. He had little interest in history – much less the 49er Gold Rush – until his love of travel and exploration intersected a swirling debate on the lost history of mankind. Mr. Dublin lives in the Pacific Northwest with his beloved wife and their four darling children.

Q. What books are you reading now?
A.
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith and Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliette for Kids by Brendan P. Kelso
Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
Pursue your passion, whatever it costs.
Q. Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.
A.
I originally had a much different cover in mind, until I discovered the artwork of Tithi Luadthong on Shutterstock. I reached out to him to modify the original artwork for the book, then hired him to illustrate a page for each journal entry. The cover art inspired The Astor Midas Machine.

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