Another cause for anxiety now made me consider whether I had not better move my habitation to some cave along the coast. Within a week from the carrying off of Moira by the sea-spider, I began to miss supplies of fish and flesh which I kept in the storehouse cave. Strange sounds, also, as of some heavy body dragging itself over the rocks kept me awake at night, and filled me with alarm. Could it be that the monster was once more paying its visits to the cave? The sounds continued during the night, but with the break of dawn they ceased.
One morning, however, when I had resolved upon moving my camp, on mounting the cliff I sighted a vessel which I recognized as the “Endraght”, coming up the coast from the south. In a frenzy of excitement I lighted the beacon and taking a silk handkerchief from my neck I waved it to attract attention. A dread overpowered me that my signals might not be observed, and had the ship passed without seeing me I verily believe I would have cast myself from the cliff on which I stood to certain death upon the rocks below. But now I saw that the vessel was heading for the shore, and presently a boat put off for the beach. Carried away by the thought of my salvation, I waded knee deep to meet my comrades, and climbing into the boat I soon found myself on board the “Endraght”.
So wild-looking and unkempt had I become that at first my shipmates did not know me, but when they recognized me I was given a hearty welcome.
“Of a truth, Peter,” said Hartog, smiling at my sorry appearance, “I have small wonder the cannibals did not make a meal off one so skinny.” And, indeed, the hard life I had led on the island had reduced me to a bag of bones. But when I had washed and trimmed my hair and after I had clothed myself from my own sea-chest Hartog declared me fit to become, once more, his secretary.
I sat late that night with my comrades, to whom I recounted my adventures, and when I reflected upon the dangers I had passed I could scarcely contain my joy at my rescue from a fate worse than death.
THE VOYAGE CONTINUED
Dirk Hartog, convinced that he had discovered the continent known as Terra Australis, determined now to seek the gold and gems which this fabled land was said to contain. The “Endraght” was accordingly brought to anchor near to the mouth of a river on the coast, and preparations were made to explore the stream in one of the ship’s boats for some distance along its banks. In the course of the afternoon we attempted a landing, but as the boat neared the shore a number of natives ran down to the water’s edge with spears in their hands, and with loud cries forbade our progress. A present of some nails and beads thrown among them seemed, for the moment, to produce a good effect, but on our attempt to land being renewed the natives again showed signs of opposition. Hartog endeavoured