Adventures in Southern Seas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 245 pages of information about Adventures in Southern Seas.
to make them understand that no injury was intended, but his friendly advances met with no success.  A musket was then fired amongst them, which was replied to by a flight of spears, but no damage was done on either side.  One of the natives then threw a stone at our boat, which was answered by a discharge of small shot, which struck him in the legs, causing him to jump like one of the hopping animals I had seen on the island.  When we pointed our muskets again he and his companions made off into the bush.  We then landed, thinking the contest at an end, but we had scarcely quitted the boat when the blacks returned, carrying shields for their defence.  They approached us and threw spears, but with no result.  Another musket shot convinced them their shields were no protection against our firearms, when they again disappeared.

We then walked up to the blacks’ camp and examined with much curiosity the primitive nature of their dwellings.  Then, leaving some beads and pieces of cloth in exchange for some spears, which we took away with us, we returned to our boat, observing on our way several light canoes, each made of a single piece of bark, bent and laced up at both ends.  In the evening two boats’ crews were sent away fishing, and they caught in two hauls of the seine nearly three hundredweight of fish.  Hartog, after our first landing, made many friendly overtures to the natives, who would not, however, hold any communication with us, from which we came to the conclusion that other navigators had been here before us, not so well disposed.

With regard to the gold and precious stones we expected to find, our inspection of the blacks’ camp convinced us that nothing of the kind existed, at all events, in this part of the country.  Such ornaments or utensils as the natives seemed to possess were of the crudest description, made of wood or clay, or consisting of shells and pebbles from the seashore.  The stories of fabulous wealth, therefore, to be found in this new land appeared to be myths.  It was to seek for treasure that the “Endraght” had been equipped by a number of merchants at Amsterdam, of whom my master, De Decker, made one, and we realized how disappointed they would be if we returned empty-handed.  Our crew, also, began to show signs of discontent, and to murmur at having been brought so far on a fool’s errand.  It was only Dirk Hartog’s indomitable personality that prevented a mutiny.

It was this same sordid greed for gain which had caused Christopher Columbus to be sent home in chains from America because he had failed to find gold.  The acquisition of new countries did not interest those who equipped the navigators of this time.  For this reason, no attempt was made by Hartog to take possession of any of the countries we visited.  It was to find treasure he had been sent out, and should he return without it he might look for a surly welcome.

Yet Hartog himself, I am convinced, with the spirit of a great navigator, found satisfaction in having accomplished so long a voyage, to reach the goal for which he sailed.

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Adventures in Southern Seas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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