“Can I help it, Peter,” he said to me one evening when we sat together in his cabin examining the charts I had drawn under his directions, “that the natives of this country are poor? Gold, ivory, precious stones, spices even, seem not to exist in the South as they do in the East. Did I make this country, that I should be held responsible for what it contains?”
But, although he spoke thus, I could see he was bitterly disappointed at finding the land we had come so far to seek little better than a wilderness, and the people upon it so poor that they went entirely naked, and devoured each other in order to satisfy their hunger. I tried to cheer him by reminding him we might yet find chances to enrich ourselves before returning home, but I could see he was troubled by the thought that the voyage he had accomplished with so much skill and daring might prove resultless in the accumulation of wealth. In order to hearten the crew with fresh adventure, the course of the “Endraght” was now directed toward the islands of the Pacific. These islands were reported to abound in pearl shell, and whilst cruising among them we looked forward to obtaining a supply of pearls which might compensate the merchants at Amsterdam for the expense of our voyage, and send us all home rich men.
THE FIGHT ON THE SANDS
I must now tell of all incident I would willingly have left unrecorded, but as I have undertaken to set down here, in the order of its sequence, each event which took place upon my voyages with Dirk Hartog on southern seas, I must not, as a faithful chronicler, omit to record each happening in its order.
Now it so fell out that our first supercargo, Gilles Miebas Van Luck, bore me a grudge, although I could recall no act on my part upon which to attribute it, unless it be that I had gained the favour of the captain, of which I could see Van Luck was jealous. From the first Van Luck made no secret of his dislike of me, and more than once he complained to Hartog that by reason of my youth; I being at the time of sailing but nineteen years old, it would be more seemly if I took my meals with the men in the forecastle instead of in the cabin. But Hartog had overruled his objections. As his secretary he maintained I was entitled to berth with the officers, and after my rescue from the inhospitable shores of Terra Australis I continued to occupy my former place at the captain’s table, although I would as lief have messed with the men sooner than have been the cause of a quarrel.