While the messengers were away procuring the King’s ransom, we questioned Thedori as to how the Spanish frigate came to fall into his hands, when we learnt that some time since, during a calm, the frigate, caught by one of the strong currents which prevail among these islands, had drifted into the harbour of Porne, where an attack had been made upon her, and she, being short of ammunition, has been taken as a lawful prize. The Spaniards had been allowed to depart in their boats. So, for the second time, Donna Isabel and her people were probably castaways upon some unknown shore.
Thus does Providence reward treachery.
When, in the course of three days, the messengers returned with the King’s ransom, we sent his Majesty ashore, to find his way back to his own kingdom as best he could. A more splendid lot of pearls than those paid to us I had never seen, and these we divided equally between the “Golden Seahorse” and the “Speedwell”, to be allotted among the officers and crews of both vessels in such proportions as might be decided upon on our return to Amsterdam. The stone ballast, which, as we expected, turned out to be the gold-bearing quartz we had obtained from the island of Armenio, we transferred to our own ship.
And now, with a cargo which for richness had surely never been surpassed, we once more set sail for home.
As we neared Amsterdam I began to think, with some trepidation, of my inevitable meeting with Pauline. It was now three years since I had set out upon my second voyage in the “Golden Seahorse”, compelled to this course by reason of the incompatibility of temper which existed between my wife and me, making a happy union between us impossible. Yet when I took myself to task I could not but blame myself for much that had occurred. Pauline was vain, but so are most women, and most men too for that matter, for while a woman seeks admiration for her personal charms a man is equally proud of his achievements, and he is never so happy as when he is being praised for what he has done. So, on reviewing the matter of our matrimonial squabbles calmly and dispassionately, I came to the conclusion that there had been faults on both sides, and I made up my mind to be more conciliatory and less exacting in my conduct toward Pauline in the future, hoping by these means to effect a reconciliation so that I might live with some degree of comfort in my own house. To this end also I resolved to give Pauline my share of the pearls aid as ransom by King Thedori, in order that she might possess a necklace unequalled at Amsterdam. Besides which I had my rubies.
Hartog also had become graver and more reserved than was his habit before we had set out upon this voyage. He seemed to regret the well-deserved fate which had overtaken Donna Isabel Barreto, and he would have asked nothing better than to set off on a voyage of discovery in search of her.