The island we had chosen as the base for our operations happened to be the one of which we had been told on our former visit that the men possessed such large ears that with one ear they could, when they liked, cover the whole of their heads; for when we landed, and met the natives, we observed in them this remarkable peculiarity. Their heads were the smallest and their ears the largest that I have ever seen in human beings. The intelligence of these savages was as small as their heads. They showed no interest in us, and seemed to be indifferent to our appearance among them. This stupidity on their part, however, so far from giving us any anxiety, rather commended itself to us, since it appeared unlikely they would attempt to interfere with our plans.
When we had rested and refreshed ourselves for three days at this island, the “Speedwell” set out upon her voyage to the main island, leaving the “Golden Seahorse” to await her return. In order that I might advise and consult with Captain Smuts with regard to our project, I became his passenger on the “Speedwell”, it being understood that I was to keep out of sight until Thedori was safely aboard. So, every precaution being taken in order to ensure success, we arrived at the main island during the afternoon of the day we had set out, and cast anchor in the bay from which, nearly six years before, in the “Golden Seahorse”, I had escaped with Hartog and our crew from the captivity which Thedori had intended for us after capturing our vessel.
I had no pity for the man whom we had come to call to account, for, to my mind, treachery is the worst of crimes. An open enemy may be fairly encountered, but a snake in the grass can only be met by the same serpent tricks as he plays upon others, and when I thought of the welcome Thedori had given us at our first interview with him, when he had exhorted us to land in safety so that we might enjoy the comforts of life and recruit our strength, in order, as it subsequently transpired, that he might betray us, I felt that no reprisals could be too severe against one guilty of such roguish deception.
The city of Porne appeared unchanged from when I had last seen it. There were a few new houses close to the beach, but otherwise the city itself, with its low-built cabins and regular streets, was the same.
I was greatly surprised, however, upon entering the harbour to see the Spanish frigate, upon which Donna Isabel Barreto had decamped with the gold taken front the island of Armenio, at anchor close to the shore. What could have brought the frigate here, and kept her here for so long a time since I had last seen her at Sumatra, I was at a loss to understand. The unexpected appearance of this vessel seemed likely to complicate our plans, and I determined to elucidate the mystery before proceeding with the matter in hand.
It was late in the afternoon when we cast anchor in Porne Harbour, and that night the same wonderful display of glow-worms showed itself among the woods on shore. It was then also that I knew that the black bats would be abroad, so as to make it unlikely our movements would be observed, since the inhabitants of Porne would be shut up in their houses.