“Nay, Peter,” he said, “I take no treasure that I had no hand in getting. I am no pirate to rob a friend to whom chance and opportunity have proved kind, but if it would pleasure thee to give me a keepsake, I will wear one of thy jewels set as a brooch, as a reminder of thy goodwill. I am, moreover, in no need of money, for the gold we took at Cortes’ island proved of greater value than I expected, and of this your share, together with the wages due to you, I will see to it is honestly paid by the merchants at Amsterdam. Besides, who knows we may sail together again?” But at this I shook my head.
“No more voyages for me, Hartog,” I said, “I have had my share of the rough side of life, and will now be content with the smooth.”
“And you not thirty!” laughed Hartog. “Nay, Peter, I’ll never believe it of you, that having tasted of adventure, you will be satisfied with a humdrum life ashore.”
I was now rich by the sale of my jewels, and able to choose for myself my future mode of life. Count Holstein advised me in the disposal of my wealth, and a fine estate being for sale not far from his own, I purchased it.
I urged my parents, who still resided upon the Island of Urk, where my father followed the occupation of a fisherman, to give up this mode of earning a livelihood and retire into private life, when I promised to make them a handsome allowance. But they would not consent to abandon their independence.
“I am not an old man, Peter,” said my father, when I spoke to him on the subject, “and I have, I hope, still many useful years’ work in me. I have always been a fisherman. My father was a fisherman, and so was his father before him. Fishing is the only work I understand. It is honest work. Why then should I live in idleness upon thy bounty, when I can still play my part in the world?”
I could not but see the force of his argument, so I contented myself with making my parents comfortable in the old home by adding many improvements which my mother desired but could not afford, while I presented my father with a new fishing-boat fitted with all the latest improvements.
It is wonderful, the power of money. It brought a new happiness into the lives of my parents, and it made my mother look ten years younger. My father also, and my two brothers, who were all fishermen, had now come to regard me as the flower of the flock. Yet they had not scrupled to knock me about, with little ceremony, in the days of my boyhood; nor do I think they would have been behindhand in finding fault with me for my folly, had I returned from my second voyage as poor and needy as from the first. But such is life, and a man must take what comes, and make the best of it and not the worst; so I accepted my new role as the patron saint of my family with philosophy and content.
Anna approved my parents’ decision not to give up their independence. She came with me to see my mother, and I soon found that, as true women, there was no inequality between them. Anna had lost her own mother when she was too young to remember, and she clung to her new mother that was to be with an affection born of her loving nature.