THE ISLANDS OF ARMENIO
It was now brought home to me that Donna Isabel Barreto was henceforth to play no unimportant part in the prosecution of our voyage. She had recovered her good looks, and although she was older than any of us on board the “Golden Seahorse”, and probably ten years older than Hartog, she nevertheless exerted an influence over the captain which I could see he found it impossible to resist. Donna Isabel had once more resumed her feminine attire, having stitched together for herself a wardrobe from the ship’s stores of cloth and calico, and Hartog begged from me three of the rubies which I had found in the Valley of Serpents, which he presented to her, and which she wore sewn on to a black velvet cap.
Donna Isabel openly expressed her desire to amass treasure in order to follow up Montbar and take her revenge upon him for having marooned her and her people upon a desert island. This desire for revenge obsessed her. Her Spanish blood burned to repay the insults and indignities which Montbar had heaped upon her, and she looked forward with pleasure to the tortures which she promised herself she would inflict upon Montbar when once she held him in her power.
In order to obtain means to make war upon her enemy, Donna Isabel persuaded Hartog to embark upon a fresh adventure, which promised to provide the necessary funds to equip a frigate equal to that owned by Montbar, so that she might engage him upon equal terms.
The story that Donna Isabel had to tell was one confided to her by her late husband, Captain Barreto, which she had kept locked in her memory ever since, waiting for some such opportunity as the present, when the information she possessed might be turned to account. The story was, briefly, as follows:
A long time ago a Spanish vessel sailed from Manila for Mexico, and east of Japan had by a violent storm been driven toward a small but high-rising island.
When the crew went ashore, the island proved to be a country, strange and unknown to anyone; the people being of handsome stature, white skinned, and of good proportions, very affable, and amiably disposed. On their arrival in Mexico, the sailors related many marvels about the wealth of this island, giving their hearers to understand that, so to say, gold and silver were almost to be picked up at discretion on the shore, while the kettles and other cooking utensils of the natives were made of these metals. These islands were named the Islands of Armenio, after an Armenian merchant who was on board the ship. Donna Isabel professed to have received from her late husband the true bearings of these islands, which she confided to Hartog, and a course was set accordingly.