Chapter 8 Summary
Big Joe Portagee spent most of his time in the army in jail. He also had spent most of his civilian life in jail, but that was only for drunk and disorderly conduct.
When he is released from the army jail after the war, he returns to Monterey and encounters Pilon, who is headed for the woods. Pilon explains that it is St. Andrew’s night, when buried treasure glows in the dark.
Joe accompanies Pilon to the woods, where they walk along searching for a glowing spot. Other people also wander about, or perhaps they are ghosts. At last Pilon sees a spot above which is a faint blue column of light. He marks the spot with a cross to keep away spirits who might come to protect their treasure and then decides to wait until daylight since he cannot dig up the treasure with so many spirits around. Pilon preaches to Joe about his plan to spend the treasure on Danny, who has been so good to him, but Joe falls asleep.
In the morning, the two men go to town to borrow some tools from Mrs. Morales. Pilon is furious with Joe, who returns carrying a jug of wine. He explains that he traded one of Danny’s blankets for it, reasoning that Danny can buy a hundred blankets when they find the treasure. Pilon berates Joe as a blanket-thieving drunk.
They return to the spot in the woods and begin digging. All they find is an elevation marker. Joe suggests that they sell it for the metal, but Joe says that he knows someone who tried that and wound up in jail for a year with a 2000 dollar fine.
Depressed, the two men go to the beach and drink up the wine, falling asleep when the jug is drained. When Pilon awakens, he feels the need for more wine but has no money. He takes off Joe’s pants and goes to Torelli’s, where he trades them for a quart of wine. He immediately drinks it all and asks Mrs. Torelli for more, but she refuses.
Angry at her stinginess, Pilon steals back Joe’s pants as well as Danny’s blanket and returns to Joe on the beach. Joe assumes that some woman took his pants off of him while he was sleeping. He and Pilon curse the deception of women. As they walk up from the beach, Joe feels glad to be with Pilon, who seems to know how to take care of his friends.