When the canoes came within range our brass cannon accounted for one of them, on board of which I hoped was the traitor Vale Vulu, but the others came on, and there is little doubt that by force of numbers we must have been overpowered had not the breeze, which we could now see approaching, come in time to save us. The canoes were all round us, and the savages had already begun to swarm on to our decks, when the sails filled and the “Golden Seahorse” began to gather way. We were now incensed against the cannibals for their treacherous conduct, and many fell to the discharge of our muskets. With our cutlasses we soon drove those who had ventured upon the ship into the sea, and a second discharge from our brass cannon disabled one of the largest remaining canoes, when the others made off. As our ship bowed to the waves of the ocean we were able once more to breathe freely, and, taking a last look at the island, I fancied I saw a dark form hurl itself from one of the highest cliffs upon the rocks below. Was it the brave girl, I wondered, who had saved us, and who had thus escaped torture by destroying herself?
AGAIN AT THE MOLUCCAS
Hartog was anxious, before returning home, that we should call again at the Molucca Islands, and demand an explanation, together with a ransom of pearls, from King Thedori, for having treated us so scurvily on our former visit. We knew that this treacherous chief depended for the success of his piratical schemes on taking by surprise those for whom he pretended friendship, and for that reason we had arranged to meet the “Speedwell” so that we might, by strategy, pay Thedori back in his own coin, capture him, and hold him to ransom.
Now we knew that if Thedori, or any of the people, caught but a glimpse of the “Golden Seahorse”, they would make ready to attack her with all the force at their command, but the “Speedwell” was unknown to them, and there were many harbours among the Moluccas where our ship might remain unnoticed while our plans were matured. The plan we had formed was a simple one, and was therefore the more likely to succeed. It was, shortly, as follows. On reaching the Moluccas we would choose a convenient harbour as the base of our enterprise, when the “Speedwell” would set out alone for the island ruled over by Thedori, where we had no doubt the captain and crew would be well received, as is the habit of this crafty king when dealing with strangers, in order that he may eventually pillage them. Thedori was to be invited by Captain Smuts to go aboard his vessel to inspect the cargo of furs and other goods in which he proposed to trade. Once on board the “Speedwell”, the King of the Moluccas would be kidnapped, and brought away to where the “Golden Seahorse” was at anchor, when Hartog undertook to deal with him.
Captain Smuts, whom we found waiting us at the Moluccas, was very ready to fall in with this plan when we told him of the large pearls that were to be found at the island, some of which we intended to demand as the King’s ransom for being allowed to return to his people.