Presently the party from the cabin came on deck, when I perceived that Pedro de Castro was one of those who had been present at the conference. The young Spanish officer was now all smiles and affability, and Donna Isabel and her son, accompanying him to his boat, were rowed aboard the frigate.
Hartog then came to me, and I could see he was worried, and ashamed at having shut me out from what had taken place in the cabin.
“Forgive me, comrade,” he said, “but Donna Isabel would have none present at the interview with the Spaniard save only myself and her son Pedro.”
“Since when has Donna Isabel Barreto become captain of this ship?” I asked.
“Nay, Peter, I forgive thee that sneer,” answered Hartog, “though I would not take it from another. It has been decided to transfer the treasure to the Spanish frigate, the captain of the warship undertaking to protect us while we remain in this port and to pay for all necessary repairs to our ship. These were the best terms I could make, and they seem to me fair enough.”
I had no desire to haggle over terms, for I was already rich enough to make me careless of what became of the gold we had taken from the Island of Armenio, but I realized how great was the influence Donna Isabel had acquired over Hartog in order to induce him to lay aside his claim to a part of the treasure.
During the day a boat came from the frigate into which the gold was loaded and transferred to the warship, together with the Spaniards we had aboard of us, whom I was glad to be rid of on any terms, and that evening was the first upon which I had felt at home in our cabin since Donna Isabel and her people had joined us.
It was a beautiful evening, with a gentle breeze off the shore—the very night, as I remarked to Hartog, to put to sea.
“I wish we could up anchor and be off,” answered Hartog. “But we have work to do ashore in attending to the ship’s repairs before we may hope to leave this place where, I make no doubt, we shall be imposed upon and robbed by the sweepings of Europe who inhabit this island. It is fortunate we have the word of the Spanish captain that he himself will be responsible for all we need.”
I did not answer, for I did not share in Hartog’s sanguine expectations regarding the Spaniards. I had experienced too many acts of treachery to trust them, and there existed, as I knew, at this time, a natural antipathy between the Netherlands and Spain, which made any binding compact between the people of these rival nations impossible. I did not, however, voice my suspicions lest my opposition might be attributed to jealousy.
As sometimes happens, I was unable to sleep that night, my thoughts taking wing among the many scenes of adventure through which I had passed, and refusing to compose themselves to rest. With the dawn I was up and on deck. As I stepped upon the poop and looked around upon the quiet harbour where the ships rode at anchor, I became aware of a certain emptiness in the bay. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. The Spanish frigate was gone.