Adventures in Southern Seas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 245 pages of information about Adventures in Southern Seas.

At length, five, bolder than the rest, ventured aboard.  They did not appear to be afraid, and what astonished us most was that they seemed ready to take charge of us.  They made signs that we should go ashore, and one of them, who appeared to be a chief, attempted to drive Janstins into the sea by hitting him with a kind of hammer with a wooden handle, and at one end a black conch shell.  Janstins laughingly disarmed his small antagonist, which seemed to surprise him as well as the others, and brought them together in consultation.

Ten of the pygmies now came aboard, to whom we gave nutmegs and cloves, thinking to please them.  They took what we gave them, although they appeared surprised that we should offer them anything.  The little chief, not more than three feet high, who had so amusingly attempted to drive Janstins into the sea, again made signs to us to go ashore.  So Hartog ordered the pinnace to be manned, and armed against treachery.  But we had not come within musket shot of the beach when the water became so shallow that we could not take the boat any farther, whereupon a number of us stepped out into the shallows, up to our waists in mud and kelp, and with some difficulty made our way to the beach, where the pygmies mustered in great force.

On the beach we noticed fresh human footprints that must have been made by men of great stature.  They were twice as long as the footprints we made, and none of us were noted for small feet.  On going a short distance into the woods we saw a vast number of huts made of dried grass, so cramped that a man of ordinary size could not creep into them on all fours, yet many of them contained families of pygmies.  We afterwards tried to penetrate somewhat farther into the wood, in order to ascertain the nature and situation of the country, when, on coming to an open place, a number of tall savages, none of them less than eight feet high; came out from the brushwood as though to attack us.  On the neck of each giant sat one of the pygmies, who directed him in the same way that a man would guide a charger.  The pygmies then began to let fly their arrows at us with great fury, by which Janstins was wounded, and one of the men hit in the leg.  We were all hard pressed, so I ordered a volley to be fired, which killed one of the giants, so that the others dragged the dead man into the wood, from which all quickly disappeared.  Being so far from the beach, and having a very difficult path to travel, we determined to return to the ship and report to Hartog what had occurred.

Hartog, upon learning what had befallen us, resolved to make no further overtures of peace to these treacherous natives, who appeared to be more like wild beasts than men, and who, by their conduct, had placed themselves beyond all claim to consideration.  It seemed that the pygmies possessed a greater intelligence than the giants, whom they used as ordinary men would use horses or beasts of burden.  It was for this reason that the little chief had attempted to drive Janstins into the sea with his conch-shell hammer, regarding him as some smaller species of giant whom he could easily frighten into obeying him.

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Adventures in Southern Seas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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