On the morning of the next day after sighting the land along which we now coasted the look-out reported a sheltered bay, which promised us the haven we desired, and an hour later we cast anchor under the lee of a bold headland, near to a beach, which bordered what appeared to be a fertile and well-wooded country.
We had barely found our moorings when five natives came in a canoe, the middle one vigorously baling the water out of the craft. As they drew nearer we observed that they were all women, one standing up at the prow, whose red hair came down to her waist. She was white as regards colour, beautifully shaped, the face aquiline and handsome, rather freckled and rosy, the eyes black and gracious, the forehead and eyebrows good, the nose, mouth, and lips well-proportioned, with the teeth well-ordered and white. Being rich in so many parts and graces she would be judged to be a very beautiful woman, and at first sight she stole away my heart. On arriving alongside she climbed aboard with amazing agility, and without the least sign of fear, from which I conjectured that Europeans were not unknown to her. As her eyes swept us her glance halted when it rested upon me, and, without embarrassment, she made signs for me to approach her.
“Whence come ye?” she said, speaking in Spanish, though with an accent that sounded unfamiliar.
“From the white man’s country,” I answered, “to seek adventure in this land.”
“Ye come far to seek little,” she replied. “This land is desolate. None may live upon it. It is waterless.”
“Then we must look farther,” I answered. “We are in search of water.”
“I can show you where water is,” she continued, “if you will come with me.”
I hesitated, and Hartog, when he caught the drift of her invitation, bade me on no account trust myself alone with these savages.
“Our boats will be lowered directly,” I answered. “Then you may show us where to find fresh water, and we shall be grateful.”
“I cannot wait for your boats,” she replied. “Come with me now if you are not afraid. Your boats can follow.”
It would have shamed me to confess fear to go with these women, and, not dreaming of treachery, I descended to the canoe, while Hartog and the others made ready to follow in the ship’s boats. But I had no sooner set foot in the canoe than the four girls, who possessed the strength of young men, began to paddle vigorously toward a point which jutted out on the western side of the bay in which the “Golden Seahorse” lay at anchor. We soon rounded the point, when we lost sight of the ship. Thinking that all this was intended for a jest, I remonstrated with my beautiful captor, and called upon her to bid the girls cease rowing until my companions should come up with us; but at this she only laughed, and at a word from her the girls redoubled their exertions until the canoe seemed to fly over the surface of the water. We now approached a precipice, which rose sheer out of the sea, and, as we drew nearer, I observed a tunnel into which the water rushed with the force of a mill-race. It then came to my mind that this was the current I had read of which ran into the earth, and along which shipmen had been carried, never to be heard of again.