Toward morning I awoke to a full conviction of my sorry plight. The camp was in darkness, save for the glow of the fires and the light of the stars, which shine with a wonderful brilliancy in these southern skies. The cry of some night bird came from the bush beyond the camp. All else was still, but a crouching form at the entrance to the gunyah warned me I was a prisoner. There was no need, however, to set a guard upon me, for without a guide I knew I could never reach the coast, so that even if I succeeded in making my escape from the savages, I must perish miserably in the bush.
My thoughts now turned to home and friends whom it seemed unlikely I would ever meet again. Dirk Hartog and the crew of the “Endraght”, though rough as became the hardy lives they led, had always shown a kindly disposition toward me. They would miss me, and speak of me perhaps, until, in the changing events of their adventurous career, I would be forgotten. My parents also would mourn me as dead. But there was one at Urk who would miss me more than friends or parents; Anna Holstein, to whom I had plighted my troth, and to whom I looked to be wed on my return. Anna was above me in station as the world goes. Her father was the Governor of Urk, who would not willingly give his daughter in marriage to a poor lad such its I. But who in love is wise? Who reckons worldly wealth when love, the spirit and spring of the universe, awakens in the soul? Like birds who call their mates with love-learned songs, Anna and I loved each other, so that nothing bid, death could part us. I had promised Anna I would return rich from my voyage as others had done, when her father might be the more inclined to look with favour upon my suit. Well—here was the and of my promises, and my hopes—death, or, still worse, life among a savage and barbarous people.
THE BLACK CANNIBALS OF NEW HOLLAND
On the morning after my capture by the black cannibals of New Holland, at daybreak, I was driven, out of the gunyah in which I had passed the night, to be looked at by the tribe, who had now collected in great numbers, and who encircled me with a ring of hazel eyes. Their complexion was black, their hair woolly, and many of them were quite naked, as though they lived in a state of brute nature. There did not appear to be anyone in recognized authority among them, for they all talked their outlandish jargon at the same time, and, presently, they began to search me for such small articles of personal property as I possessed. My engraving tools and a sailor’s sewing kit, given me by Anna, were taken from me, but to my great good fortune they did not rob me of my dagger-knife, or my flint and steel which lay concealed in the inner pocket of my leathern belt, nor of a lock of Anna’s hair which I carried in a silken bag round my neck; and in the possession of which I found much comfort in my present predicament. My clothes did not interest my captors, and I was thankful not to be deprived of them.