It now occurred to me that since my adversary had proved himself the stronger when I had tried to force his hand, my better plan would be to tire him if possible before taking the offensive again, and to this end I led him on, always nimbly avoiding the strokes he aimed at me instead of spending my strength by attempting to oppose them, and this method proved so successful that I presently had the satisfaction of observing in my opponent evident signs of exhaustion. Realizing his impotence, and now beside himself with anger, Van Luck suddenly rushed upon me, when, using a trick I had learnt, I tripped him so that he fell, dropping his knife, which, before he could recover it, I secured. By all the rules of the game he was now at my mercy, and I called upon him to surrender, but, with a scowl, he refused to give in. The advantage I had gained now entitled me to stab him to death where he stood, or to cut off his ears if I had the mind to do it, but I could not bring myself to kill, or maim, an unarmed man. I therefore threw down both knives at Hartog’s feet, and returned once more to the fight with bare hands. My superior agility now began to tell in my favour, and I found I was the better boxer and wrestler of the two, so that I rained blows upon my opponent, some of which drew blood. He then tried to clinch with me, but I had waited for this, and when he seized me in his powerful grip I held myself as I had been taught to do by my friend the smuggler, so that when he tried to throw me, he himself, by his own weight and a dexterous twist I gave him, was hurled over my head some distance along the sand, where he fell upon the broad of his back the breath being knocked clean out of his body. For some time he lay to all appearance dead, and it being evident he would not be able to continue the fight, Hartog awarded me the victory, and, later, when Van Luck regained consciousness, he ordered him to shake hands with me, which he did with an ill grace, though of a surety I bore him no malice.
“Peter,” said Hartog to me when we were alone together in his cabin after the fight, “henceforth I look upon you as my comrade as well as my secretary; but do not, on that account, believe I shall be less strict to enforce discipline upon you equally with all under my command. At the great distance we are from home it behoves some one to be in authority, if we are ever to see the Netherlands again. Promise me then to set a curb upon your temper, and when Van Luck is able to resume his duties after the drubbing you have given him, let there be no bad blood between you.”
I gave my promise willingly, and I can honestly say that, on, my part, I bore no grudge against Van Luck, nor against any man of the ship’s company, though I could see that Van Luck would never forgive me for having bested him, nor could I disguise from myself the fact that there were some among the crew who sided with him.