Hartog, also, was in no mood to leave the gold until every effort had been made to obtain it, so we continued to beat about in the vicinity of the island awaiting a calm.
After three weeks tossing on the ocean, during which time of stress we suffered much hardship by reason of our decks being continually drenched by the seas which swept us fore and aft, a calm suddenly fell, as it does in the tropics, without the least warning. Fortunately we were not far from the island when the calm fell, so that we lay within easy reach of it.
Without loss of time we manned the two pinnaces, I taking command of one and Janstins of the other, and made for the shore. Donna Isabel insisted upon coming in my boat. She had discarded her feminine apparel, and now appeared in the sailor’s clothes we had given her when she first came aboard. Hartog, as captain, remained in charge of the ship.
When we came to the island we found no difficulty in landing, and were soon engaged with the picks and crow-bars we had brought with us, in the work of gold-getting. We found the report given by the Spanish sailors, who had been the first to land, to be somewhat exaggerated. Still, there was an abundance of gold between the crevices of the rock, and, what was more remarkable, we came upon what had evidently been vessels of beaten gold, thus proving beyond doubt that the island had formerly been inhabited.
During the course of the morning we obtained as much gold mixed with quartz as the boats could conveniently carry, when we returned to the ship, intending, after our midday meal, to come back for a fresh supply of the precious metal, but on getting aboard we found Hartog much perturbed by the extraordinary behaviour of the compass, and the strange appearance of the sky.
“I don’t like the look of it, Peter,” said Hartog, when we descended together to the cabin to discuss the situation. “I never knew this to happen before but once, and I am not anxious to repeat the experience. Unless I am greatly mistaken, there’s something big coming.”
When we returned to the deck, a low moaning sound came to us across the sea, but, otherwise, there seemed to be nothing to cause anxiety. Donna Isabel wished to return to the island for more gold, but Hartog would not permit of any further expedition being made that day. He ordered the boats to be hoisted, and the treasure carried below. Every stitch of canvas had already been taken off the ship by the captain’s orders, and we now rode upon a glassy sea under bare poles. Then the moaning increased, and presently there appeared upon the horizon a black line over which lightning played, although no clouds were visible. The atmosphere was at this time so oppressive that it was difficult to breathe.
Hartog then ordered the helm to be lashed, the hatches to be put on, and all hands below, he and I being the last to quit the deck just as the storm broke upon us with hurricane force.