“What else can I do, Peter?” replied Hartog, “than take ship for this place? I could never rest content, nor would you either, with the thought of these Ruby Mountains still unexplored.”
“You have settled the matter, then, so far as I am concerned,” I said, with a laugh.
“And why not, partner?” answered Hartog. “We own a fine ship that was surely never intended only to make a maiden voyage. We could visit this place, and be back in twelve months—two years at most. What is to keep us, then, from our pleasure trip?”
Before Hartog had done speaking, I knew my mind was made up to go with him. My life at home with Pauline had become intolerable, nor did I take any active part in De Decker’s business, finding the drudgery of the counting-house irksome after my more exciting experiences on sea and land, so, without further ado, I expressed to Hartog my willingness to join him in a fresh adventure to the South.
Hartog was overjoyed at my decision.
“I made no doubt you would come with me, Peter,” he said. “We have been shipmates too long to sail our separate ways alone. With Bantum and Janstins, who are willing to sign on, and a picked crew; we can explore the Ruby Mountains and be back within the year.”
THE RUBY MOUNTAINS
On our second voyage to the South in the “Golden Seahorse” we followed the route we had originally taken with the “Endraght”, avoiding as far as possible the calms and currents which had then impeded our progress, as also those islands where we had met with a hostile reception. It became necessary, however, to call at some of the groups we passed, and it surprised us to find how diversified are the manners and customs of the natives who inhabit the numerous islands of the South Seas. Not only are the people of each group governed by different laws, but frequently each island is distinct from the others in the language spoken and the manner of life followed upon it. Hence it would require a bulky volume to describe in detail the many and varied tribes we met with on our journey.
We made the coast of New Holland within five months after leaving Amsterdam (a record voyage), somewhere about the same place where I had affixed the metal plate at the time of our first visit. But we did not land here, as the weather was unfavourable, a strong breeze blowing and a high sea running at the time, making it necessary to keep a good offing from the shore. As we coasted toward the south, however, the weather moderated, so that we were able to bring our ship with safety nearer land.
From an observation we took when the weather was favourable, we ascertained that we were three hundred miles to the north, with an unbroken coastline extending before us; so we concluded we had rounded a promontory, and were now upon the west coast of New Holland. This encouraged us in the belief that we were following the right course to the Ruby Mountains, for Marco Polo’s parchment informed us that the giants whom he saw were by far the largest men to be seen “in this strait,” from which it seemed the intrepid Venetian navigator had sailed through this strait as early as the year 1272, when he made his famous voyage round the world.