WHH Short Fiction: “Mr. Jock Danplank”

Essay: “Mr. Jock Danplank”, William Hope Hodgson, 1911.

NSB Vol 2
Cover by Jason Van Hollander

This is a treasure hunt story.

Our hero, Jock Danplank, “a Britisher who had weathered the States”, and his American wife are the putative heirs of his Uncle Billy’s estate – at least the cash and personal effects. Cousin Billy got the land. The trouble is the cash and personal effects aren’t to be found, and they are thought to be worth $500,000. Their location is only listed as “Seventy-seven feet due east”.

The only “personal effect” Jock knows the location of is a “writing table”, and, no, it doesn’t have any secret compartments.

Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear the desk is the clue to the whole thing, especially since it’s fixed to the floor.

Grasping Cousin Billy is also trying to find the cash – and, of course, he has no plans to give it to Jock if he finds it.

There is some humor about the estate’s gardener horrified at the lawn being dug up to locate the treasure (several times, unsuccessfully).

Of course, our hero Jock succeeds at the end. As in Hodgson’s Captain Gault stories, the protagonist sends a gloating note, here to Cousin Billy, who doesn’t manage to steal the treasure.

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