On reaching the entrance to the caves, where we arrived more dead than alive from our adventure, we were met by those of our crew whom we had brought with us, but were informed that our guides had returned to the settlement. For this conduct the guides had offered no explanation. They had said they were acting in accordance with directions given them by Queen Barreto, and that, having brought us to the mouth of the caves, their mission ended. We did not at the time attach much importance to this desertion of us, being now well acquainted with the path over the cliffs into the valley, opposite to which our ship lay at anchor, so we did not anticipate any difficulty in returning. As we advanced, however, our journey was continually impeded by attacks made upon us by hostile natives, so it was not until toward the evening of the second day after leaving the caves that we succeeded in climbing the cliffs above the settlement. Judge then of our dismay when, upon looking seaward, we perceived our ship standing out from the bay under full sail, while at her mizzen floated the flag of Spain.
As we stood upon the cliffs overlooking the Spanish settlement, watching, with blank faces, the “Golden Seahorse” sailing seaward under a foreign flag, it was borne in upon us that we owed our loss to the treachery of Queen Barreto, who, taking advantage of our absence, had pirated our vessel. On descending to the town our suspicions were confirmed. Here we found the settlement abandoned by the Spaniards, who, before leaving, had imprisoned our crew, bound and gagged, in the Queen’s house. Having released them, we heard from Bantum, our second officer, the particulars of what had occurred.
“No sooner had you left the town,” said he, “than Queen Barreto, with Pedro de Castro and a swarm of Spaniards, came aboard of us. De Castro knew where the arms were kept, and, before I could guess what they intended, they had hoisted their flag at the mizzen, and held possession of the ship. We put up a fight, but what could we do, outnumbered as we were—ten to one? We were quickly overpowered and brought ashore, where they trussed us up and left us as you found us. Had you not come in time we would certainly have died of thirst and starvation.”
When we had listened to Bantum’s account of what had taken place we could not blame him for the loss of the ship, but Hartog swore a great oath that, if ever he should meet de Castro again he would reckon with him in such manner as his base betrayal of us gave warrant. The ingratitude of this man will be apparent when it is remembered that we had rescued him from slavery, had admitted him to an equality with our officers, and had loaded him with favours, for which he repaid us by stealing our vessel.