"Indeed, yes; but of that hereafter: the night is closing in, we must again put our little bark in safety for the night, and there is a cove which I think appears suited for the purpose."
Before morning, a strong breeze right on shore had sprung up, and the surf became so high as to endanger the raft; to continue their course was impossible; they could only haul up their raft to prevent its being dashed to pieces by the force of the waves, as the seas broke on the shore. Philip's thoughts were, as usual, upon Amine, and as he watched the tossing waters, as the sunbeams lightened up their crests, he exclaimed, "Ocean! hast thou my Amine? If so, give up thy dead! What is that?" continued he, pointing to a speck on the horizon.
"The sail of a small craft of some description or another," replied Krantz; "and apparently coming down before the wind to shelter herself in the very nook we have selected."
"You are right; it is the sail of a vessel, of one of those peroquas which skim over these seas—how she rises on the swell!—she is full of men, apparently."
The peroqua rapidly approached, and was soon close to the beach; the sail was lowered, and she was backed in through the surf.
"Resistance is useless should they prove enemies," observed Philip. "We shall soon know our fate."
The people in the peroqua took no notice of them, until the craft had been hauled up and secured; three of them then advanced towards Philip and Krantz, with spears in their hands, but evidently with no hostile intentions. One addressed them in Portuguese, asking them who they were?
"We are Hollanders," replied Philip.
"A part of the crew of the vessel which was wrecked?" inquired he.
"You have nothing to fear—you are enemies to the Portuguese, and so are we. We belong to the island of Ternate—our king is at war with the Portuguese, who are villains. Where are your companions? on which island?"
"They are all dead," replied Philip; "may I ask you whether you have fallen in with a woman, who was adrift on a part of the raft by herself? or have you heard of her?"
"We have heard that a woman was picked up on the beach to the southward, and carried away by the Tidore people to the Portuguese settlement, on the supposition that she was a Portuguese."
"Then God be thanked, she is saved," cried Philip. "Merciful Heaven! accept my thanks.—To Tidore you said?"
"Yes; we are at war with the Portuguese, we cannot take you there."
"No! but we shall meet again."
The person who accosted them was evidently of some consequence. His dress was, to a certain degree, Mahometan, but mixed up with Malay—he carried arms in his girdle and a spear in his hand; his turban was of printed chintz; and his deportment, like most persons of rank in that country, was courteous and dignified.
"We are now returning to Ternate, and will take you with us. Our king will be pleased to receive any Hollanders, especially as you are enemies to the Portuguese dogs. I forgot to tell you that we have one of your companions with us in the boat; we picked him up at sea, much exhausted, but he is now doing well."
"Who can it be?" observed Krantz, "it must be some one belonging to some other vessel."
"No," replied Philip, shuddering, "it must be Schriften."
"Then my eyes must behold him before I believe it," replied Krantz.
"Then believe your eyes," replied Philip, pointing to the form of Schriften, who was now walking towards them.
"Mynheer Vanderdecken, glad to see you. Mynheer Krantz, I hope you are well. How lucky that we should all be saved. He! he!"
"The ocean has then, indeed, given up its dead, as I requested," thought Philip.
In the meantime, Schriften, without making any reference to the way in which they had so unceremoniously parted company, addressed Krantz with apparent good-humour, and some slight tinge of sarcasm. It was some time before Krantz could rid himself of him.
"What think you of him, Krantz?"
"That he is a part of the whole, and has his destiny to fulfil as well as you. He has his part to play in this wondrous mystery, and will remain until it is finished. Think not of him. Recollect, your Amine is safe."
"True," replied Philip, "the wretch is not worth a thought; we have now nothing to do but to embark with these people; hereafter we may rid ourselves of him, and strive then to rejoin my dearest Amine."
When Amine again came to her senses, she found herself lying on the leaves of the palmetto, in a small hut. A hideous black child sat by her, brushing off the flies. Where was she?
The raft had been tossed about for two days, during which Amine remained in a state of alternate delirium and stupor. Driven by the current and the gale, it had been thrown on shore on the eastern end of the coast of New Guinea. She had been discovered by some of the natives, who happened to be on the beach trafficking with some of the Tidore people. At first, they hastened to rid her of her garments, although they perceived that she was not dead; but before they had left her as naked as themselves, a diamond of great value, which had been given to her by Philip, attracted the attention of one of the savages; failing in his attempt to pull it off, he pulled out a rusty, blunt knife, and was busily sawing at the finger, when an old woman of authority interfered and bade him desist. The Tidore people, also, who were friends with the Portuguese, pointed out, that to save one of that nation would ensure a reward; they stated moreover, that they would, on their return, inform the people of the factory establishment that one of their country-women had been thrown on shore on a raft.—To this Amine owed the care and attention that was paid to her; that part of New Guinea being somewhat civilised by occasional intercourse with the Tidore people, who came there to exchange European finery and trash for the more useful productions of the island.
The Papoos woman carried Amine into her hut, and there she lay for many days, wavering between life and death, carefully attended, but requiring little, except the moistening of her parched lips with water, and the brushing off of the mosquitoes and flies.
When Amine opened her eyes, the little Papoos ran out to acquaint the woman who followed her into the hut. She was of large size, very corpulent and unwieldy, with little covering on her body; her hair, which was woolly in its texture, was partly parted, partly frizzled; a cloth round her waist, and a piece of faded yellow silk on her shoulders, was all her dress. A few silver rings on her fat fingers, and a necklace of mother-of-pearl, were her ornaments. Her teeth were jet black, from the use of the betel-nut, and her whole appearance was such as to excite disgust in the breast of Amine.
She addressed Amine, but her words were unintelligible: and the sufferer, exhausted with the slight effort she had made, fell back into her former position, and closed her eyes. But if the woman was disgusting, she was kind; and by her attention and care Amine was able, in the course of three weeks, to crawl out of the hut and enjoy the evening breeze. The natives of the island would at times surround her, but they treated her with respect, from fear of the old woman. Their woolly hair was frizzled or plaited, sometimes powdered white with chunam. A few palmetto leaves round the waist and descending to the knee, was their only attire; rings through the nose and ears, and feathers of birds, particularly the bird of paradise, were their ornaments: but their language was wholly unintelligble. Amine felt grateful for life; she sat under the shade of the trees, and watched the swift peroquas as they skimmed the blue sea which was expanded before her; but her thoughts were elsewhere—they were on Philip.
One morning Amine came out of the hut, with joy on her countenance, and took her usual seat under the trees. "Yes, mother, dearest mother, I thank thee; thou hast appeared to me; thou hast recalled to me thy arts, which I had forgotten, and had I but the means of conversing with these people, even now would I know where my Philip might be."
For two months did Amine remain under the care of the Papoos woman. When the Tidore people returned, they had an order to bring the white woman, who had been cast on shore, to the Factory, and repay those who had taken charge of her. They made signs to Amine, who had now quite recovered her beauty, that she was to go with them. Any change was preferable to staying where she was, and Amine followed them down to a peroqua, on which she was securely fixed, and was soon darting through the water with her new companions; and, as they flew along the smooth seas, Amine thought of Philip's dream and the mermaid's shell.
By the evening they had arrived at the southern point of Galolo, where they landed for the night; the next day they gained the place of their destination, and Amine was led up to the Portuguese factory.
That the curiosity of those who were stationed there was roused is not to be wondered at, the history given by the natives of Amine's escape appeared so miraculous. From the Commandant to the lowest servant, every one was waiting to receive her. The beauty of Amine, her perfect form, astonished them. The Commandant addressed a long compliment to her in Portuguese, and was astonished that she did not make a suitable reply; but as Amine did not understand a word that he said, it would have been more surprising if she had.
As Amine made signs that she could not understand the language, it was presumed that she was either English or Dutch, and an interpreter was sent for. She then explained that she was the wife of a Dutch captain, whose vessel had been wrecked, and that she did not know whether the crew had been saved or not. The Portuguese were very glad to hear that a Dutch vessel had been wrecked, and very glad that so lovely a creature as Amine had been saved. She was informed by the Commandant that she was welcome, and that during her stay there everything should be done to make her comfortable; that in three months they expected a vessel from the Chinese seas, proceeding to Goa, and that, if inclined, she should have a passage to Goa in that vessel, and from that city she would easily find other vessels to take her wherever she might please to go; she was then conducted to an apartment, and left with a little negress to attend upon her.
The Portuguese Commandant was a small, meagre, little man, dried up to a chip, from long sojourning under a tropical sun. He had very large whiskers, and a very long sword; these were the two most remarkable features in his person and dress.
His attentions could not be misinterpreted, and Amine would have laughed at him, had she not been fearful that she might be detained. In a few weeks, by due attention, she gained the Portuguese language so far as to ask for what she required, and before she quitted the island of Tidore she could converse fluently. But her anxiety to leave, and to ascertain what had become of Philip, became greater every day; and at the expiration of the three months, her eyes were continually bent to seaward, to catch the first glimpse of the vessel which was expected. At last it appeared, and as Amine watched the approach of the canvas from the west, the Commandant fell on his knees, and declaring his passion, requested her not to think of departure, but to unite her fate with his.
Amine was cautious in her reply, for she knew that she was in his power. "She must first receive intelligence of her husband's death, which was not yet certain; she would proceed to Goa, and if she discovered that she was single, she would write to him."
This answer, as it will be discovered, was the cause of great suffering to Philip: the Commandant, fully assured that he could compass Philip's death, was satisfied—declared that, as soon as he had any positive intelligence, he would bring it to Goa himself, and made a thousand protestations of truth and fidelity.
"Fool!" thought Amine, as she watched the ship, which was now close to the anchorage.
In half-an-hour the vessel had anchored, and the people had landed. Amine observed a priest with them, as they walked up to the fort. She shuddered—she knew not why; when they arrived, she found herself in the presence of Father Mathias.
Both Amine and Father Mathias started, and drew back with surprise at this unexpected meeting. Amine was the first to extend her hand; she had almost forgotten at the moment how they had parted, in the pleasure she experienced in meeting with a well-known face.
Father Mathias coldly took her hand, and laying his own upon her head, said: "May God bless thee, and forgive thee, my daughter, as I have long done." Then the recollection of what had passed, rushed into Amine's mind, and she coloured deeply.
Had Father Mathias forgiven her? The event would show; but this is certain, he now treated her as an old friend: listened with interest to her history of the wreck, and agreed with her upon the propriety of her accompanying him to Goa.
In a few days the vessel sailed, and Amine quitted the Factory and its enamoured Commandant. They ran through the Archipelago in safety, and were crossing the mouth of the Bay of Bengal, without having had any interruption to fine weather. Father Mathias had returned to Lisbon, when he quitted Ternicore, and, tired of idleness, had again volunteered to proceed as a missionary to India. He had arrived at Formosa, and shortly after his arrival, had received directions from his superior to return on important business to Goa, and thus it was that he fell in with Amine at Tidore.
It would be difficult to analyse the feelings of Father Mathias towards Amine—they varied so often. At one moment, he would call to mind the kindness shown to him by her and Philip—the regard he had for the husband, and the many good qualities which he acknowledged that she possessed—and now he would recollect the disgrace, the unmerited disgrace, he had suffered through her means; and he would then canvass, whether she really did believe him an intruder in her chamber for other motives than those which actuated him, or whether she had taken advantage of his indiscretion. These accounts were nearly balanced in his mind; he could have forgiven all, if he had thought that Amine was a sincere convert to the church; but his strong conviction that she was not only an unbeliever, but that she practised forbidden arts, turned the scale against her. He watched her narrowly, and when, in her conversation, she shewed any religious feeling, his heart warmed towards her; but when, on the contrary, any words escaped her lips which seemed to show that she thought lightly of his creed, then the full tide of indignation and vengeance poured into his bosom.
It was in crossing the Bay of Bengal, to pass round the southern cape of Ceylon, that they first met with bad weather; and when the storm increased, the superstitious seamen lighted candles before the small image of the saint which was shrined on deck. Amine observed it, and smiled with scorn; and as she did so, almost unwittingly, she perceived that the eye of Father Mathias was earnestly fixed upon her.
"The Papooses I have just left do no worse than worship their idols, and are termed idolaters," muttered Amine. "What then are these Christians?"
"Would you not be better below?" said Father Mathias, coming over to Amine; "this is no time for women to be on deck—they would be better employed in offering up prayers for safety."
"Nay, Father, I can pray better here; I like this conflict of the elements; and as I view, I bow down in admiration of the Deity who rules the storm; who sends the winds forth in their wrath, or soothes them into peace."
"It is well said, my child," replied Father Mathias; "but the Almighty is not only to be worshipped in His works, but, in the closet, with meditation, self-examination, and faith. Hast thou followed up the precepts which thou hast been taught? hast thou reverenced the sublime mysteries which have been unfolded to thee?"
"I have done my best, Father," replied Amine, turning away her head, and watching the rolling wave.
"Hast thou called upon the Holy Virgin, and upon the saints—those intercessors for mortals erring like thyself?"
Amine made no answer; she did not wish to irritate the priest, neither would she tell an untruth.
"Answer me, child," continued the priest with severity.
"Father," replied Amine, "I have appealed to God alone—the God of the Christians—the God of the whole universe!"
"Who believes not everything, believes nothing, young woman. I thought as much! I saw thee smile with scorn just now; why didst thou smile?"
"At my own thoughts, good Father."
"Say rather, at the true faith shown by others."
Amine made no answer.
"Thou art still an unbeliever, and a heretic. Beware, young woman! beware!"
"Beware of what, good Father? why should I beware? Are there not millions in these climes more unbelieving, and more heretic, perhaps, than I? How many have you converted to your faith? What trouble, what toil, what dangers have you not undergone to propagate that creed—and why do you succeed so ill? Shall I tell you, Father? It is because the people have already had a creed of their own: a creed taught to them from their infancy, and acknowledged by all who live about them. Am I not in the same position? I was brought up in another creed: and can you expect that that can be dismissed, and the prejudices of early years at once eradicated? I have thought much of what you have told me—have felt that much is true—that the tenets of your creed are god-like—is not that much? and yet you are not content. You would have blind acknowledgment, blind obedience—I were then an unworthy convert. We shall soon be in port, then teach me, and convince me, if you will; I am ready to examine and confess, but on conviction only. Have patience, good Father, and the time may come when I may feel, what now I do not;—that yon bit of painted wood is a thing to bow down to and adore."
Notwithstanding this taunt at the close of this speech, there was so much truth in the observations of Amine, that Father Mathias felt their power. As the wife of a Catholic, he had been accustomed to view Amine as one who had backslided from the church of Rome—not as one who had been brought up in another creed. He now recalled to mind, that she had never yet been received into the church, for Father Seysen had not considered her as in a proper state to be admitted, and had deferred her baptism until he was satisfied of her full belief.
"You speak boldly; but you speak as you feel, my child," replied Father Mathias after a pause. "We will, when we arrive at Goa, talk over these things, and with the blessing of God, the new faith shall be made manifest to you."
"So be it," replied Amine.
Little did the priest imagine that Amine's thoughts were at that moment upon a dream she had had at New Guinea, in which her mother appeared, and revealed to her her magic arts—and that Amine was longing to arrive at Goa that she might practise them.
Every hour the gale increased, and the vessel laboured and leaked; the Portuguese sailors were frightened, and invoked their saints. Father Mathias, and the other passengers, gave themselves up for lost, for the pumps could not keep the vessel free; and their cheeks blanched as the waves washed furiously over the vessel: they prayed and trembled. Father Mathias gave them absolution; some cried like children, some tore their hair, some cursed, and cursed the saints they had but the day before invoked. But Amine stood unmoved; and as she heard them curse, she smiled in scorn.
"My child," said Father Mathias, checking his tremulous voice that he might not appear agitated before one whom he saw so calm and unmoved amidst the roaring of the elements—"My child, let not this hour of peril pass away. Before thou art summoned, let me receive thee into the bosom of our church—give thee pardon for thy sins, and certainty of bliss hereafter."
"Good Father, Amine is not to be frightened into belief, even if she feared the storm," replied she; "nor will she credit your power to forgive her sins, merely because she says, in fear, that which in her calm reason she might reject. If ever fear could have subjected me, it was when I was alone upon the raft—that was indeed a trial of my strength of mind, the bare recollection of which is, at this moment, more dreadful than the storm now raging, and the death which may await us. There is a God on high in whose mercy I trust—in whose love I confide—to whose will I bow. Let Him do His will."
"Die not, my child, in unbelief!"
"Father," replied Amine, pointing to the passengers and seamen who were on the deck crying and wailing: "these are Christians—these men have been promised by you, but now, the inheritance of perfect bliss. What is their faith, that it does not give them strength to die like men? Why is it that a woman quails not, while they lie grovelling on the deck?"
"Life is sweet, my child—they leave their wives, their children, and they dread hereafter. Who is prepared to die?"
"I am," replied Amine. "I have no husband—at least I fear I have no husband. For me life has no sweets; yet, one little hope remains—a straw to the sinking wretch. I fear not death, for I have nought to live for. Were Philip here, why, then indeed—but he is gone before me, and now to follow him is all I ask."
"He died in the faith, my child—if you would meet him, do the same."
"He never died like these," replied Amine, looking with scorn at the passengers.
"Perhaps he lived not as they have lived," replied Father Mathias. "A good man dies in peace, and hath no fear."
"So die the good men of all creeds, Father," replied Amine; "and in all creeds death is equally terrible to the wicked."
"I will pray for thee, my child," said Father Mathias, sinking on his knees.
"Many thanks—thy prayers will be heard, even though offered for one like me," replied Amine, who, clinging to the man-ropes, made her way up to the ladder, and gained the deck.
"Lost! signora, lost!" exclaimed the captain, wringing his hands as he crouched under the bulwark.
"No!" replied Amine, who had gained the weather side, and held on by a rope; "not lost this time."
"How say you, signora?" replied the captain, looking with admiration at Amine's calm and composed countenance. "How say you, signora?"
"Something tells me, good captain, that you will not be lost, if you exert yourselves—something tells it to me here," and Amine laid her hand to her heart. Amine had a conviction that the vessel would not be lost, for it had not escaped her observation that the storm was less violent, although, in their terror, this had been unnoticed by the sailors.
The coolness of Amine, her beauty, perhaps, the unusual sight of a woman so young, calm and confiding, when all others were in despair, had its due effect upon the captain and seamen. Supposing her to be a Catholic they imagined that she had had some warrant for her assertion, for credulity and superstition are close friends. They looked upon Amine with admiration and respect, recovered their energies, and applied to their duties. The pumps were again worked; the storm abated during the night, and the vessel was, as Amine had predicted, saved.
The crew and passengers looked upon her almost as a saint, and talked of her to Father Mathias, who was sadly perplexed. The courage which she had displayed was extraordinary; even when he trembled, she showed no sign of fear. He made no reply, but communed with his own mind, and the result was unfavourable to Amine. What had given her such coolness? what had given her the spirit of prophecy? Not the God of the Christians, for she was no believer. Who then? and Father Mathias thought of her chamber at Terneuse, and shook his head.
We must now again return to Philip and Krantz, who had a long conversation upon the strange reappearance of Schriften. All that they could agree upon was, that he should be carefully watched, and that they should dispense with his company as soon as possible. Krantz had interrogated him as to his escape, and Schriften had informed him, in his usual sneering manner, that one of the sweeps of the raft had been allowed to get adrift during the scuffle, and that he had floated on it, until he had gained a small island; that on seeing the peroqua, he had once more launched it and supported himself by it, until he was perceived and picked up. As there was nothing impossible although much of the improbable in this account, Krantz asked no more questions. The next morning, the wind having abated, they launched the peroqua, and made sail for the island of Ternate.
It was four days before they arrived: as every night they landed and hauled up their craft on the sandy beach. Philip's heart was relieved at the knowledge of Amine's safety, and he could have been happy at the prospect of again meeting her, had he not been so constantly fretted by the company of Schriften.
There was something so strange, so contrary to human nature that the little man, though diabolical as he appeared to be in his disposition, should never hint at, or complain of, Philip's attempts upon his life. Had he complained—had he accused Philip of murder—had he vowed vengeance and demanded justice on his return to the authorities, it had been different; but no—there he was, making his uncalled-for and impertinent observations, with his eternal chuckle and sarcasm, as if he had not the least cause of anger or ill-will.
As soon as they arrived at the principal port and town of Ternate, they were conducted to a large cabin, built of palmetto leaves and bamboo, and requested not to leave it until their arrival had been announced to the king. The peculiar courtesy and good breeding of these islanders was the constant theme of remark of Philip and Krantz; their religion, as well as their dress, appeared to be a compound of the Mahometan and Malayan.
After a few hours, they were summoned to attend the audience of the king, held in the open air. The king was seated under a portico, attended by a numerous concourse of priests and soldiers. There was much company, but little splendour. All who were about the king were robed in white, with white turbans, but he himself was without ornament. The first thing that struck Philip and Krantz, when they were ushered into the presence of the king, was the beautiful cleanliness which everywhere prevailed; every dress was spotless and white, as the sun could bleach it.
Having followed the example of those who introduced them, and saluted the king after the Mahommedan custom, they were requested to be seated; and through the Portuguese interpreters—for the former communication of the islanders with the Portuguese, who had been driven from the place, made the Portuguese language well known by many—a few questions were put by the king, who bade them welcome, and then requested to know how they had been wrecked.
Philip entered into a short detail, in which he stated that his wife had been separated from him, and was, he understood, in the hands of the Portuguese factory at Tidore. He requested to know if his majesty could assist him in obtaining her release, or in going to join her.
"It is well said," replied the king. "Let refreshments be brought in for the strangers, and the audience be broken up."
In a few minutes there remained of all the Court but two or three of the king's confidential friends and advisers; and a collation of curries, fish, and a variety of other dishes was served up. After it was over, the king then said, "The Portuguese are dogs, they are our enemies—will you assist us to fight them? We have large guns, but do not understand the use of them as well as you do. I will send a fleet against the Portuguese at Tidore, if you will assist me. Say, Hollanders, will you fight? You," addressing Philip, "will then recover your wife."
"I will give an answer to you to-morrow," replied Philip; "I must consult with my friend. As I told you before, I was the captain of the ship, and this was my second in command—we will consult together." Schriften, whom Philip had represented as a common seaman, had not been brought up into the presence of the king.
"It is good," replied the king; "to-morrow we will expect your reply."
Philip and Krantz took their leave, and, on their return to the cabin, found that the king had sent them, as a present, two complete Mahommedan dresses, with turbans. These were welcome, for their own garments were sadly tattered, and very unfit for exposure to the burning sun of those climes. Their peaked hats too, collected the rays of heat, which were intolerable; and they gladly exchanged them for the white turban. Secreting their money in the Malayan sash, which formed a part of the attire, they soon robed themselves in the native garments, the comfort of which was immediately acknowledged. After a long consultation, it was decided that they should accept the terms offered by the king, as this was the only feasible way by which Philip could hope to re-obtain possession of Amine. Their consent was communicated to the king on the following day, and every preparation was made for the expedition.
And now was to be beheld a scene of bustle and activity. Hundreds and hundreds of peroquas, of every dimension, floating close to the beach, side by side, formed a raft extending nearly half a mile on the smooth water of the bay, teeming with men, who were equipping them for the service: some were fitting the sails; others were carpentering where required; the major portion were sharpening their swords, and preparing the deadly poison of the pineapple for their creezes. The beach was a scene of confusion: water in jars, bags of rice, vegetables, salt-fish, fowls in coops, were everywhere strewed about among the armed natives, who were obeying the orders of the chiefs, who themselves walked up and down, dressed in their gayest apparel, and glittering in their arms and ornaments. The king had six long brass four-pounders, a present from an Indian captain; these, with a proportionate quantity of shot and cartridges, were (under the direction of Philip and Krantz) fitted on some of the largest peroquas, and some of the natives were instructed how to use them. At first the king, who fully expected the reduction of the Portuguese fort, stated his determination to go in person; but in this he was overruled by his confidential advisers and by the request of Philip, who could not allow him to expose his valuable life. In ten days all was ready, and the fleet, manned by seven thousand men, made sail for the island of Tidore.
It was a beautiful sight, to behold the blue rippling sea, covered with nearly six hundred of these picturesque craft, all under sail, and darting through the water like dolphins in pursuit of prey; all crowded with natives, whose white dresses formed a lively contrast with the deep blue of the water. The large peroquas, in which were Philip and Krantz with the native commanders, were gaily decorated with streamers and pennons of all colours, that flowed out and snapped with the fresh breeze. It appeared rather to be an expedition of mirth and merriment, than one which was proceeding to bloodshed and slaughter.
On the evening of the second day they had made the island of Tidore, and run down to within a few miles of the Portuguese factory and fort. The natives of the country, who disliked, though they feared to disobey the Portuguese, had quitted their huts near the beach and retired into the woods. The fleet, therefore, anchored and lay near the beach, without molestation, during the night. The next morning Philip and Krantz proceeded to reconnoitre.
The fort and factory of Tidore were built upon the same principle as almost all the Portuguese defences in those seas. An outer fortification, consisting of a ditch, with strong palisades embedded in masonry, surrounded the factory and all the houses of the establishment. The gates of the outer wall were open all day for ingress and egress, and closed only at night. On the seaward side of this enclosure was what may be termed the citadel or real fortification; it was built of solid masonry with parapets, was surrounded by a deep ditch, and was only accessible by a drawbridge, mounted with cannon on every side. Its real strength however, could not well be perceived, as it was hidden by the high palisading which surrounded the whole establishment. After a careful survey, Philip recommended that the large peroquas with the cannon should attack by sea, while the men of the small vessels should land and surround the fort—taking advantage of every shelter which was afforded them, to cover themselves while they harassed the enemy with their matchlocks, arrows, and spears. This plan having been approved of, one hundred and fifty peroquas made sail; the others were hauled on the beach, and the men belonging to them proceeded by land.
But the Portuguese had been warned of their approach, and were fully prepared to receive them; the guns mounted to the seaward were of heavy calibre and well served. The guns of the peroquas, though rendered as effectual as they could be, under the direction of Philip, were small, and did little damage to the thick stone front of the fort. After an engagement of four hours, during which the Ternate people lost a great number of men, the peroquas, by the advice of Philip and Krantz, hauled off, and returned to where the remainder of the fleet were stationed; and another council of war was held. The force, which had surrounded the fort on the land side, was, however, not withdrawn, as it cut off any supplies or assistance; and, at the same time, occasionally brought down any of the Portuguese who might expose themselves—a point of no small importance, as Philip well knew, with a garrison so small as that in the fort.
That they could not take the fort by means of their cannon was evident; on the sea-side it was for them impregnable; their efforts must now be directed to the land. Krantz, after the native chiefs had done speaking, advised that they should wait until dark, and then proceed to the attack in the following way. When the breeze set along shore, which it would do in the evening, he proposed that the men should prepare large bundles of dry palmetto and cocoa-nut leaves; that they should carry their bundles and stack them against the palisades to windward, and then set fire to them. They would thus burn down the palisades, and gain an entrance into the outer fortification: after which they could ascertain in what manner they should next proceed. This advice was too judicious not to be followed. All the men who had not matchlocks were set to collect fagots; a large quantity of dry wood was soon got together, and before night they were ready for the second attack.
The white dresses of the Ternates were laid aside: with nothing on them but their belts, and scimitars, and creezes, and blue under-drawers, they silently crept up to the palisades, there deposited their fagots, and then again returned, again to perform the same journey. As the breastwork of fagots increased, so did they more boldly walk up, until the pile was completed; they then, with a loud shout, fired it in several places. The flames mounted, the cannon of the fort roared, and many fell under the discharges of grape and hand-grenade. But, stifled by the smoke, which poured in volumes upon them, the people in the fort were soon compelled to quit the ramparts to avoid suffocation. The palisades were on fire, and the flames mounting in the air, swept over, and began to attack the factory and houses. No resistance was now offered, and the Ternates tore down the burning palisades, and forced their way into the entrenchment, and with their scimitars and creezes, put to death all who had been so unfortunate as not to take refuge in the citadel. These were chiefly native servants, whom the attack had surprised, and for whose lives the Portuguese seemed to care but little, for they paid no attention to their cries to lower the drawbridge, and admit them into the fort.
The factory, built of stone, and all the other houses, were on fire, and the island was lighted up for miles. The smoke had cleared away, and the defences of the fort were now plainly visible in the broad glare of the flames. "If we had scaling-ladders," cried Philip, "the fort would be ours; there is not a soul on the ramparts." "True, true," replied Krantz, "but even as it is, the factory walls will prove an advantageous post for us after the fire is extinguished; if we occupy it we can prevent them showing themselves while the ladders are constructing. To-morrow night we may have them ready, and having first smoked the fort with a few more fagots, we may afterwards mount the walls, and carry the place."
"That will do," replied Philip as he walked away. He then joined the native chiefs, who were collected together outside of the entrenchment, and communicated to them his plans. When he had made known his views, and the chiefs had assented to them, Schriften, who had come with the expedition unknown to Philip, made his appearance.
"That won't do; you'll never take that fort, Philip Vanderdecken. He! he!" cried Schriften.
Hardly had he said the words, when a tremendous explosion took place, and the air was filled with large stones, which flew and fell in every direction, killing and maiming hundreds. It was the factory which had blown up, for in its vaults there was a large quantity of gunpowder, to which the fire had communicated.
"So ends that scheme, Mynheer Vanderdecken. He! he!" screamed Schriften; "you'll never take that fort."
The loss of life and the confusion caused by this unexpected result, occasioned a panic, and all the Ternate people fled down to the beach where their peroquas were lying.
It was in vain that Philip and their chiefs attempted to rally them. Unaccustomed to the terrible effects of gunpowder in any large quantities, they believed that something supernatural had occurred, and many of them jumped into the peroquas and made sail, while the remainder were confused, trembling, and panting, all huddled together, on the beach.
"You'll never take that fort, Mynheer Vanderdecken," screamed the well-known voice.
Philip raised his sword to cleave the little man in two, but he let it fall again. "I fear he tells an unwelcome truth," thought Philip; "but why should I take his life for that?"
Some few of the Ternate chiefs still kept up their courage, but the major part were as much alarmed as their people. After some consultation, it was agreed that the army should remain where it was till the next morning, when they should finally decide what to do.
When the day dawned, now that the Portuguese fort was no longer surrounded by the other buildings, they perceived that it was more formidable than they had at first supposed. The ramparts were filled with men, and they were bringing cannon to bear on the Ternate forces. Philip had a consultation with Krantz, and both acknowledged, that with the present panic nothing more could be done. The chiefs were of the same opinion, and orders were given for the return of the expedition: indeed, the Ternate chiefs were fully satisfied with their success; they had destroyed the large fort, the factory, and all the Portuguese buildings; a small fortification only was uninjured: that was built of stone, and inaccessible, and they knew that the report of what had been done, would be taken and acknowledged by the king as a great victory. The order was therefore given for embarkation, and in two hours the whole fleet, after a loss of about seven hundred men, was again on its way to Ternate. Krantz and Philip this time embarked in the same peroqua, that they might have the pleasure of each other's conversation. They had not, however, sailed above three hours, when it fell calm, and, towards the evening, there was every prospect of bad weather. When the breeze again sprung up, it was from an adverse quarter, but these vessels steer so close to the wind, that this was disregarded: by midnight, however, the wind had increased to a gale, and before they were clear of the N.E. headland of Tidore, it blew a hurricane, and many were washed off into the sea from the different craft, and those who could not swim, sank, and were drowned. The sails were lowered, and the vessels lay at the mercy of the wind and waves, every sea washing over them. The fleet was drifting fast on the shore, and before morning dawned, the vessel in which were Philip and Krantz was among the rollers on the beach off the northern end of the island. In a short time she was dashed to pieces, and every one had to look out for himself. Philip and Krantz laid hold of one fragment, and were supported by it till they gained the shore; here they found about thirty more companions who had suffered the same fate as themselves. When the day dawned, they perceived that the major part of the fleet had weathered the point, and that those who had not, would in all probability escape, as the wind had moderated.
The Ternate people proposed, that as they were well armed, they should, as soon as the weather moderated, launch some of the craft belonging to the islanders, and join the fleet; but Philip, who had been consulting with Krantz, considered this a good opportunity for ascertaining the fate of Amine. As the Portuguese could prove nothing against them, they could either deny that they had been among the assailants, or might plead that they had been forced to join them. At all risks, Philip was determined to remain, and Krantz agreed to share his fate: and seeming to agree with them, they allowed the Ternate people to walk to the Tidore peroquas, and while they were launching them Philip and Krantz fell back into the jungle and disappeared. The Portuguese had perceived the wreck of their enemies, and, irritated by the loss they had sustained, they had ordered the people of the island to go out and capture all who were driven on shore. Now that they were no longer assailed, the Tidore people obeyed them, and very soon fell in with Philip and Krantz, who had quietly sat down under the shade of a large tree, waiting the issue. They were led away to the fort, where they arrived by nightfall. They were ushered into the presence of the Commandant, the same little man who had made love to Amine, and as they were dressed in Mussulman's attire, he was about to order them to be hung, when Philip told him that they were Dutchmen, who had been wrecked, and forced by the King of Ternate to join his expedition; that they had taken the earliest opportunity of escaping, as was very evident since those who had been thrown on shore with them had got off in the island boats, while they chose to remain. Whereupon the little Portuguese Commandant struck his sword firm down on the pavement of the ramparts, looked very big, and then ordered them to prison for further examination.
As every one descants upon the want of comfort in a prison, it is to be presumed that there are no very comfortable ones. Certainly that to which Philip and Krantz were ushered, had anything rather than the air of an agreeable residence. It was under the fort, with a very small aperture looking towards the sea, for light and air. It was very hot, and moreover destitute of all those little conveniences which add so much to one's happiness in modern houses and hotels. In fact, it consisted of four bare walls, and a stone floor, and that was all.
Philip, who wished to make some inquiries relative to Amine, addressed, in Portuguese, the soldier who brought them down.
"My good friend, I beg your pardon—"
"I beg yours," replied the soldier going out of the door, and locking them in.
Philip leant gloomily against the wall; Krantz, more mercurial, walked up and down three steps each way and turn.
"Do you know what I am thinking of?" observed Krantz, after a pause in his walk. "It is very fortunate that (lowering his voice) we have all our doubloons about us; if they don't search us, we may yet get away by bribing."
"And I was thinking," rejoined Philip, "that I would sooner be here than in company with that wretch Schriften, whose sight is poison to me."
"I did not much admire the appearance of the Commandant, but I suppose we shall know more to-morrow."
Here they were interrupted by the turning of the key, and the entrance of a soldier with a chatty of water, and a large dish of boiled rice. He was not the man who had brought them to the dungeon, and Philip accosted him.
"You have had hard work within these last two days?"
"Yes, indeed! signor."
"The natives forced us to join the expedition, and we escaped."
"So I heard you say, signor."
"They lost nearly a thousand men," said Krantz.
"Holy St Francis! I am glad of it."
"They will be careful how they attack Portuguese in a hurry, I expect," rejoined Krantz.
"I think so," replied the soldier.
"Did you lose many men?" ventured Philip, perceiving that the man was loquacious.
"Not ten of our own people. In the factory there were about a hundred of the natives, with some women and children; but that is of no consequence."
"You had a young European woman here, I understand," said Philip with anxiety; "one who was wrecked in a vessel—was she among those who were lost?"
"Young woman!—Holy St Francis. Yes, now I recollect. Why the fact is—"
"Pedro!" called a voice from above; the man stopped, put his fingers to his lips, went out, and locked the door.
"God of Heaven! give me patience," cried Philip; "but this is too trying."
"He will be down here again to-morrow morning," observed Krantz.
"Yes! to-morrow morning; but what an endless time will suspense make of the intervening hours."
"I feel for you," replied Krantz; "but what can be done? The hours must pass, though suspense draws them out into interminable years; but I hear footsteps."
Again the door was unlocked, and the first soldier made his appearance. "Follow me—the Commandant would speak with you."
This unexpected summons was cheerfully complied with by Philip and his companion. They walked up the narrow stone steps, and at last found themselves in a small room, in presence of the Commandant, with whom our readers have been already made acquainted. He was lolling on a small sofa, his long sword lay on the table before him, and two young native women were fanning him, one at his head, and the other at his feet.
"Where did you get those dresses?" was the first interrogatory.
"The natives, when they brought us prisoners from the island on which we had saved ourselves, took away our clothes, and gave us these as a present from their king."
"And engaged you to serve in their fleet, in the attack on this fort?"
"They forced us," replied Krantz; "for as there was no war between our nations, we objected to this service: notwithstanding which, they put us on board, to make the common people believe that they were assisted by Europeans."
"How am I to know the truth of this?"
"You have our word in the first place, and our escape from them in the second."
"You belonged to a Dutch East-Indiaman. Are you officers or common seamen?"
Krantz, who considered that they were less likely to be detained if they concealed their rank on board, gave Philip a slight touch with his finger as he replied, "We are inferior officers. I was third mate, and this man was pilot."
"And your captain, where is he?"
"I—I cannot say, whether he is alive or dead."
"Had you no woman on board?"
"Yes! the captain had his wife."
"What has become of her?"
"She is supposed to have perished on a portion of the raft which broke adrift."
"Ha!" replied the Commandant, who remained silent for some time.
Philip looked at Krantz, as much as to say, "Why all this subterfuge;" but Krantz gave him a sign to leave him to speak.
"You say you don't know whether your captain is alive or dead?"
"Now, suppose I was to give you your liberty, would you have any objection to sign a paper, stating his death, and swearing to the truth of it?"
Philip stared at the Commandant, and then at Krantz.
"I see no objection, exactly; except that if it were sent home to Holland we might get into trouble. May I ask, signor Commandant, why you wish for such a paper?"
"No!" roared the little man, in a voice like thunder. "I will give no reason, but that I wish it; that is enough; take your choice—the dungeon, or liberty and a passage by the first vessel which calls."
"I don't doubt—in fact—I'm sure, he must be dead by this time," replied Krantz, drawing out the words in a musing manner. "Commandant, will you give us till to-morrow morning to make our calculations?"
"Yes! you may go."
"But not to the dungeon, Commandant," replied Krantz; "we are not prisoners, certainly; and, if you wish us to do you a favour, surely you will not ill-treat us?"
"By your own acknowledgment you have taken up arms against the most Christian King; however, you may remain at liberty for the night—to-morrow morning will decide whether or no you are prisoners."
Philip and Krantz thanked the little Commandant for his kindness, and then hastened away to the ramparts. It was now dark, and the moon had not yet made her appearance. They sat there on the parapet, enjoying the breeze, and feeling the delight of liberty, even after their short incarceration; but, near to them, soldiers were either standing or lying, and they spoke but in whispers.
"What could he mean by requiring us to give a certificate of the captain's death; and why did you answer as you did?"
"Philip Vanderdecken, that I have often thought of the fate of your beautiful wife, you may imagine; and, when I heard that she was brought here, I then trembled for her. What must she appear, lovely as she is, when placed in comparison with the women of this country? And that little Commandant—is he not the very person who would be taken with her charms? I denied our condition, because I thought he would be more likely to allow us our liberty as humble individuals, than as captain and first mate; particularly as he suspects that we led on the Ternate people to the attack; and when he asked for a certificate of your death, I immediately imagined that he wanted it in order to induce Amine to marry him. But where is she? is the question. If we could only find out that soldier, we might gain some information."
"Depend upon it, she is here," replied Philip, clenching his hands.
"I am inclined to think so," said Krantz; "that she is alive, I feel assured."
The conversation was continued until the moon rose, and threw her beams over the tumbling waters. Philip and Krantz turned their faces towards the sea, and leant over the battlements in silence; after some time their reveries were disturbed by a person coming up to them with a "Buenos noctes, signor."
Krantz immediately recognised the Portuguese soldier, whose conversation with him had been interrupted.
"Good-night, my friend! We thank Heaven that you have no longer to turn the key upon us."
"Yes, I'm surprised!" replied the soldier, in a low tone. "Our Commandant is fond of exercising his power; he rules here without appeal, that I can tell you."
"He is not within hearing of us now," replied Krantz. "It is a lovely spot this to live in! How long have you been in this country?"
"Now, thirteen years, signor, and I'm tired of it. I have a wife and children in Oporto—that is, I had—but whether they are alive or not, who can tell?"
"Do you not expect to return and see them?"
"Return—signor! no Portuguese soldier like me ever returns. We are enlisted for five years, and we lay our bones here."
"That is hard indeed."
"Hard, signor," replied the soldier in a low whisper; "it is cruel and treacherous. I have often thought of putting the muzzle of my arquebuse to my head; but while there's life there's hope."
"I pity you, my good fellow," rejoined Krantz; "look you, I have two gold pieces left—take one; you may be able to send it home to your poor wife."
"And here is one of mine, too, my good fellow," added Philip, putting another in his hand.
"Now may all the saints preserve you, signors," replied the soldier, "for it is the first act of kindness shown to me for many years—not that my wife and children have much chance of ever receiving it."
"You were speaking about a young European woman when we were in the dungeon," observed Krantz, after a pause.
"Yes, signor, she was a very beautiful creature. Our Commandant was very much in love with her."
"Where is she now?"
"She went away to Goa, in company with a priest who knew, her, Father Mathias, a good old man; he gave me absolution when he was here."
"Father Mathias!" exclaimed Philip; but a touch from Krantz checked him.
"You say the Commandant loved her?"
"O yes; the little man was quite mad about her; and had it not been for the arrival of Father Mathias, he would never have let her go, that I'm sure of, although she was another man's wife."
"Sailed for Goa, you said?"
"Yes, in a ship which called here. She must have been very glad to have got away, for our little Commandant persecuted her all day long, and she evidently was grieving for her husband. Do you know, signors, if her husband is alive?"
"No, we do not; we have heard nothing of him."
"Well, if he is, I hope he will not come here; for should the Commandant have him in his power, it would go hard with him. He is a man who sticks at nothing. He is a brave little fellow, that cannot be denied; but to get possession of that lady, he would remove all obstacles at any risk—and a husband is a very serious one, signors. Well, signors," continued the soldier, after a pause, "I had better not be seen here too long; you may command me if you want anything; recollect, my name is Pedro—good-night to you, and a thousand thanks," and the soldier walked away.
"We have made one friend, at all events," said Krantz, "and we have gained information of no little importance."
"Most important," replied Philip. "Amine then has sailed for Goa with Father Mathias! I feel that she is safe, and in good hands. He is an excellent man, that Father Mathias—my mind is much relieved."
"Yes; but recollect you are in the power of your enemy. We must leave this place as quick as we can—to-morrow we must sign the paper. It is of little consequence, as we shall probably be at Goa before it arrives, and even if we are not, the news of your death would not occasion Amine to marry this little withered piece of mortality."
"That I feel assured of; but it may cause her great suffering."
"Not worse than her present suspense, believe me, Philip; but it is useless canvassing the past—it must be done. I shall sign as Cornelius Richter, our third mate; you, as Jacob Vantreat—recollect that."
"Agreed," replied Philip, who then turned away, as if willing to be left to his own thoughts. Krantz perceived it, and laid down under the embrasure, and was soon fast asleep.
Tired out with the fatigue of the day before, Philip had laid himself down by Krantz and fallen asleep; early the next morning he was awakened by the sound of the Commandant's voice, and his long sword rattling as usual upon the pavement. He rose, and found the little man rating the soldiers—threatening some with the dungeon, others with extra duty. Krantz was also on his feet before the Commandant had finished his morning's lecture. At last, perceiving them, in a stern voice he ordered them to follow him into his apartment. They did so, and the Commandant throwing himself upon his sofa, inquired whether they were ready to sign the required paper, or go back to the dungeon.—Krantz replied that they had been calculating chances, and that they were in consequence so perfectly convinced of the death of the captain, that they were willing to sign any paper to that effect; at which reply, the Commandant immediately became very gracious, and having called for materials, he wrote out the document, which was duly subscribed to by Krantz and Philip. As soon as they had signed it, and he had it in his possession, the little man was so pleased, that he requested them to partake of his breakfast.
During the repast, he promised that they should leave the island by the first opportunity. Although Philip was taciturn, yet as Krantz made himself very agreeable, the Commandant invited them to dinner. Krantz, as they became more familiar, informed him that they had each a few pieces of gold, and wished to be allowed a room where they could keep their table. Whether it was the want of society or the desire of obtaining the gold, probably both, the Commandant offered that they should join his table and pay their proportion of the expenses; a proposal which was gladly acceded to. The terms were arranged, and Krantz insisted upon putting down the first week's payment in advance. From that moment the Commandant was the best of friends with them, and did nothing but caress them whom he had so politely shoved into a dungeon below water. It was on the evening of the third day, as they were smoking their Manilla cheroots, that Krantz, perceiving the Commandant in a peculiarly good humour, ventured to ask him why he was so anxious for a certificate of the captain's death; and in reply was informed, much to the astonishment of Philip, that Amine had agreed to marry him upon his producing such a document.
"Impossible," cried Philip, starting from his seat.
"Impossible, signor, and why impossible?" replied the Commandant curling his mustachios with his fingers, with a surprised and angry air.
"I should have said impossible too," interrupted Krantz, who perceived the consequences of Philip's indiscretion, "for had you seen, Commandant, how that woman doted upon her husband, how she fondled him, you would with us have said, it was impossible that she could have transferred her affections so soon; but women are women, and soldiers have a great advantage over other people; perhaps she has some excuse, Commandant.—Here's your health, and success to you."
"It is exactly what I would have said," added Philip, acting upon Krantz's plan: "but she has a great excuse, Commandant, when I recollect her husband, and have you in my presence."
Soothed with the flattery, the Commandant replied, "Why, yes, they say military men are very successful with the fair sex.—I presume it is because they look up to us for protection, and where can they be better assured of it, than with a man who wears a sword at his thigh.—Come, signors, we will drink her health. Here's to the beautiful Amine Vanderdecken."
"To the beautiful Amine Vanderdecken," cried Krantz, tossing off his wine.
"To the beautiful Amine Vanderdecken," followed Philip. "But, Commandant, are you not afraid to trust her at Goa, where there are so many enticements for a woman, so many allurements held out for her sex?"
"No, not in the least—I am convinced that she loves me—nay, between ourselves, that she doats upon me."
"Liar!" exclaimed Philip.
"How, signor! is that addressed to me?" cried the Commandant, seizing his sword which lay on the table.
"No, no," replied Philip, recovering himself; "it was addressed to her; I have heard her swear to her husband, that she would exist for no other but him."
"Ha! ha! Is that all?" replied the Commandant, "my friend, you do not know women."
"No, nor is he very partial to them either," replied Krantz, who then leant over to the Commandant and whispered, "He is always so when you talk of women. He was cruelly jilted once, and hates the whole sex."
"Then we must be merciful to him," replied the little officer: "suppose we change the subject."
When they repaired to their own room, Krantz pointed out to Philip the necessity for his commanding his feelings, as otherwise they would again be immured in the dungeon. Philip acknowledged his rashness, but pointed out to Krantz, that the circumstance of Amine having promised to marry the Commandant, if he procured certain intelligence of his death, was the cause of his irritation. "Can it be so? Is it possible that she can have been so false," exclaimed Philip; "yet his anxiety to procure that document seems to warrant the truth of his assertion."
"I think, Philip, that in all probability it is true," replied Krantz, carelessly; "but of this you may be assured that she has been placed in a situation of great peril, and has only done so to save herself for your sake. When you meet, depend upon it she will fully prove to you that necessity had compelled her to deceive him in that way, and that if she had not done so, she would, by this time, have fallen a prey to his violence."
"It may be so," replied Philip, gravely.
"It is so, Philip, my life upon it. Do not for a moment harbour a thought so injurious to one who lives but in your love. Suspect that fond and devoted creature! I blush for you, Philip Vanderdecken."
"You are right, and I beg her pardon for allowing such feelings or thoughts to have for one moment overpowered me," responded Philip; "but it is a hard case for a husband, who loves as I do, to hear his wife's name bandied about, and her character assailed by a contemptible wretch like this Commandant."
"It is, I grant; but still I prefer even that to a dungeon," replied Krantz, "and so, good-night."
For three weeks they remained in the fort, every day becoming more intimate with the Commandant, who often communicated with Krantz, when Philip was not present, turning the conversation upon his love for Amine, and entering into a minute detail of all that had passed. Krantz perceived that he was right in his opinion, and that Amine had only been cajoling the Commandant, that she might escape. But the time passed heavily away with Philip and Krantz, for no vessel made its appearance.
"When shall I see her again?" soliloquised Philip one morning as he lolled over the parapet, in company with Krantz.
"See! who?" said the Commandant, who happened to be at his elbow.
Philip turned round, and stammered something unintelligible.
"We were talking of his sister, Commandant," said Krantz, taking his arm, and leading him away.—"Do not mention the subject to my friend, for it is a very painful one, and forms one reason why he is so inimical to the sex. She was married to his intimate friend, and ran away from her husband: it was his only sister; and the disgrace broke his mother's heart, and has made him miserable. Take no notice of it, I beg."
"No, no, certainly not; I don't wonder at it: the honour of one's family is a serious affair," replied the Commandant.—"Poor young man, what with his sister's conduct, and the falsehood of his own intended, I don't wonder at his being so grave and silent. Is he of good family, signor?"
"One of the noblest in all Holland," replied Krantz;—"he is heir to a large property, and independent by the fortune of his mother; but these two unfortunate events induced him to quit the States secretly, and he embarked for these countries that he might forget his grief."
"One of the noblest families?" replied the Commandant;—"then he is under an assumed name—Jacob Vantreat is not his true name, of course."
"Oh no," replied Krantz;—"that it is not, I assure you; but my lips are sealed on that point."
"Of course, except to a friend, who can keep a secret. I will not ask it now. So he is really noble?"
"One of the highest families in the country, possessing great wealth and influence—allied to the Spanish nobility by marriage."
"Indeed!" rejoined the Commandant, musing—"I dare say he knows many of the Portuguese as well."
"No doubt of it, they are all more or less connected."
"He must prove to you a most valuable friend, Signor Richter."
"I consider myself provided for for life as soon as we return home. He is of a very grateful, generous disposition, as he would prove to you, should you ever fall in with him again."
"I have no doubt of it; and I can assure you that I am heartily tired of staying in this country. Here I shall remain probably for two years more before I am relieved, and then shall have to join my regiment at Goa, and not be able to obtain leave to return home without resigning my commission. But he is coming this way."
After this conversation with Krantz, the alteration in the manner of the Portuguese Commandant, who had the highest respect for nobility, was most marked. He treated Philip with a respect, which was observable to all in the fort; and which was, until Krantz had explained the cause, a source of astonishment to Philip himself. The Commandant often introduced the subject to Krantz, and sounded him as to whether his conduct towards Philip had been such, as to have made a favourable impression; for the little man now hoped, that, through such an influential channel, he might reap some benefit.
Some days after this conversation, as they were all three seated at table, a corporal entered, and saluting the Commandant, informed him that a Dutch sailor had arrived at the fort, and wished to know whether he should be admitted. Both Philip and Krantz turned pale at this communication—they had a presentiment of evil, but they said nothing. The sailor was ordered in, and in a few minutes, who should make his appearance but their tormentor, the one-eyed Schriften. On perceiving Philip and Krantz seated at the table he immediately exclaimed, "Oh! Captain Philip Vanderdecken, and my good friend Mynheer Krantz, first mate of the good ship Utrecht, I am glad to meet you again."
"Captain Philip Vanderdecken!" roared the Commandant, as he sprung from his chair.
"Yes, that is my Captain, Mynheer Philip Vanderdecken; and that is my first mate, Mynheer Krantz; both of the good ship Utrecht: we were wrecked together, were we not, Mynheer? He! he!"
"Sangue de—Vanderdecken! the husband? Corpo del Diavolo—is it possible?" cried the Commandant, panting for breath, as he seized his long sword with both hands, and clenched it with fury—"What then, I have been deceived, cajoled, laughed at!" Then, after a pause—the veins of his forehead distending so as almost to burst—he continued, with a suppressed voice, "Most noble sir, I thank you; but now it is my turn.—What, ho! there! Corporal—men, here instantly—quick!"
Philip and Krantz felt convinced that all denial was useless. Philip folded his arms and made no reply. Krantz merely observed, "A little reflection will prove to you, sir, that this indignation is not warranted."
"Not warranted!" rejoined the Commandant with a sneer; "you have deceived me; but you are caught in your own trap. I have the paper signed, which I shall not fail to make use of. You are dead, you know, captain; I have your own hand to it, and your wife will be glad to believe it."
"She has deceived you, Commandant, to get out of your power, nothing more," said Vanderdecken. "She would spurn a contemptible withered wretch like yourself, were she as free as the wind."
"Go on, go on; it will be my turn soon. Corporal, throw these two men into the dungeon: a sentry at the door till further orders. Away with them. Most noble sir, perhaps your influential friends in Holland and Spain will enable you to get out again."
Philip and Krantz were led away by the soldiers, who were very much surprised at this change of treatment. Schriften followed them; and as they walked across the rampart to the stairs which led to their prison, Krantz, in his fury, burst from the soldiers, and bestowed a kick upon Schriften which sent him several feet forward on his face.
"That was a good one—he! he!" cried Schriften, smiling and looking at Krantz as he regained his legs.
There was an eye, however, which met theirs with an intelligent glance, as they descended the stairs to the dungeon. It was that of the soldier Pedro. It told them that there was one friend upon whom they could rely, and who would spare no endeavour to assist them in their new difficulty. It was a consolation to them both; a ray of hope which cheered them as they once more descended the narrow steps, and heard the heavy key turned which again secured them in their dungeon.
"Thus are all our hopes wrecked," said Philip, mournfully; "what chance have we now of escaping from this little tyrant?"
"Chances turn up," replied Krantz; "at present, the prospect is not very cheering. Let us hope for the best."
"I have an idea in my head which may probably be turned to some account," added Krantz; "as soon as the little man's fury is over."
"That, much as he likes your wife, there is something which he likes quite as well—money. Now, as we know where all the treasure is concealed, I think he may be tempted to offer us our liberty, if we were to promise to put it into his possession."
"That is not impossible. Confound that little malignant wretch Schriften; he certainly is not, as you say, of this world. He has been my persecutor through life, and appears to act from an impulse not his own."
"Then must he be part and portion of your destiny. I'm thinking whether our noble Commandant intends to leave us without anything to eat or drink."
"I should not be surprised: that he will attempt my life I am convinced of, but not that he can take it; he may, however, add to its sufferings."
As soon as the Commandant had recovered from his fury, he ordered Schriften in, to be examined more particularly; but after every search made for him, Schriften was no where to be found. The sentry at the gate declared that he had not passed; and a new search was ordered, but in vain. Even the dungeons and galleries below were examined, but without success.
"Can he be locked up with the other prisoners?" thought the Commandant: "impossible—but I will go and see."
He descended and opened the door of the dungeon, looked in, and was about to return without speaking, when Krantz said, "Well, signor, this is kind treatment, after having lived so long and so amicably together; to throw us into prison merely because a fellow declares that we are not what we represented ourselves to be; perhaps you will allow us a little water to drink?"
The Commandant, confused by the extraordinary disappearance of Schriften, hardly knew how to reply. He at last said in a milder tone than was to be anticipated, "I will order them to bring some, signor."
He then closed the door of the dungeon and disappeared.
"Strange," observed Philip, "he appears more pacified already."
In a few minutes the door was again opened, and Pedro came in with a chatty of water.
"He has disappeared like magic, signors, and is no where to be found. We have searched everywhere, but in vain."
"Who?—the little old seaman?"
"Yes, he whom you kicked as you were led to prison. The people all say, that it must have been a ghost. The sentry declares that he never left the fort, nor came near him; so, how he has got away is a riddle, which I perceive, has frightened our Commandant not a little."
Krantz gave a long whistle as he looked at Philip.
"Are you to have charge of us, Pedro?"
"I hope so."
"Well, tell the Commandant that when he is ready to listen to me, I have something of importance to communicate."
Pedro went out.
"Now, Philip, I can frighten this little man into allowing us to go free, if you will consent to say that you are not the husband of Amine."
"That I cannot do, Krantz. I will not utter such a falsehood."
"I was afraid so, and yet it appears to me that we may avail ourselves of duplicity to meet cruelty and injustice. Unless you do as I propose, I hardly know how I can manage it; however, I will try what I can do."
"I will assist you in every way, except disclaiming my wife: that I never will do."
"Well then, I will see if I can make up a story that will suit all parties: let me think."
Krantz continued musing as he walked up and down, and was still occupied with his own thoughts when the door opened, and the Commandant made his appearance.
"You have something to impart to me, I understand—what is it?"
"First, sir, bring that little wretch down here and confront him with us."
"I see no occasion for that," replied the Commandant; "what, sir, may you have to say?"
"Do you know who you have in your company when you speak to that one-eyed deformity?"
"A Dutch sailor, I presume."
"No—a spirit—a demon—who occasioned the loss of the vessel; and who brings misfortune wherever he appears."
"Holy Virgin! What do you tell me, signor?"
"The fact, signor Commandant. We are obliged to you for confining us here, while he is in the fort; but beware for yourself."
"You are laughing at me."
"I am not; bring him down here. This noble gentleman has power over him. I wonder, indeed, at his daring to stay while he is so near; he has on his heart that which will send him trembling away.—Bring him down here, and you shall at once see him vanish with curses and screams."
"Heaven defend us!" cried the Commandant, terrified.
"Send for him now, signor?"
"He is gone—vanished—not to be found!"
"I thought as much," replied Philip, significantly.
"He is gone—vanished—you say. Then, Commandant, you will probably apologise to this noble gentleman for your treatment of him, and permit us to return to our former apartments. I will there explain to you this most strange and interesting history."
The Commandant, more confused than ever, hardly knew how to act. At last he bowed to Philip, and begged that he would consider himself at liberty; and, continued he to Krantz, "I shall be most happy at an immediate explanation of this affair, for everything appears so contradictory."
"And must, until it is explained. I will follow you into your own room; a courtesy you must not expect from my noble friend, who is not a little indignant at your treatment of him."
The Commandant went out, leaving the door open. Philip and Krantz followed: the former retiring to his own apartment; the latter, bending his steps after the Commandant to his sitting-room. The confusion which whirled in the brain of the Commandant, made him appear most ridiculous. He hardly knew whether to be imperative or civil; whether he was really speaking to the first mate of the vessel, or to another party; or whether he had insulted a noble, or been cajoled by a captain of a vessel: he threw himself down on his sofa, and Krantz, taking his seat in a chair, stated as follows:
"You have been partly deceived and partly not, Commandant. When we first came here, not knowing what treatment we might receive, we concealed our rank; afterwards I made known to you the rank of my friend on shore; but did not think it worth while to say anything about his situation on board of the vessel. The fact is, as you may well suppose of a person of his dignity, he was owner of the fine ship which was lost through the intervention of that one-eyed wretch; but of that by-and-bye. Now for the story.
"About ten years ago there was a great miser in Amsterdam; he lived in the most miserable way that a man could live in; wore nothing but rags; and having been formerly a seaman, his attire was generally of the description common to his class. He had one son, to whom he denied the necessaries of life, and whom he treated most cruelly. After vain attempts to possess a portion of his father's wealth, the devil instigated the son to murder the old man, who was one day found dead in his bed; but as there were no marks of violence which could be sworn to, although suspicion fell upon the son, the affair was hushed up, and the young man took possession of his father's wealth. It was fully expected that there would now be rioting and squandering on the part of the heir, as is usually the case; but, on the contrary, he never spent anything, but appeared to be as poor—even poorer—than he ever was. Instead of being gay and merry, he was, in appearance, the most miserable, downcast person in the world; and he wandered about, seeking a crust of bread wherever he could find it. Some said that he had been inoculated by his father, and was as great a miser as his father had been; others shook their heads, and said that all was not right. At last, after pining away for six or seven years, the young man died at an early age, without confession or absolution; in fact, he was found dead in his bed. Beside the bed there was a paper, addressed to the authorities, in which he acknowledged that he had murdered his father for the sake of his wealth; and that when he went to take some of it for his expenses on the day afterwards, he found his father's spirit sitting on the bags of money, and menacing him with instant death, if he touched one piece. He returned again and again, and found his father a sentinel as before. At last, he gave up attempting to obtain it; his crime made him miserable, and he continued in possession, without daring to expend one sixpence of all the money. He requested that, as his end was approaching, the money should be given to the church of his patron saint, wherever that church might be found; if there was not one, then that a church might be built and endowed. Upon investigation, it appeared that there was no such church in either Holland or the Low Countries (for you know that there are not many Catholics there); and they applied to the Catholic countries, Lisbon and Spain, but there again they were at fault; and it was discovered, that the only church dedicated to that saint was one which had been erected by a Portuguese nobleman in the city of Goa, in the East Indies. The Catholic bishop determined that the money should be sent to Goa; and, in consequence, it was embarked on board of my patron's vessel, to be delivered up to the first Portuguese authorities he might fall in with.
"Well, signor, the money, for better security, was put down into the captain's cabin, which, of course, was occupied by my noble friend, and when he went to bed the first night he was surprised to perceive a little one eyed old man sitting on the boxes."
"Merciful Saviour!" exclaimed the Commandant, "what, the very same little man who appeared here this day?"
"The very same," replied Krantz.
The Commandant crossed himself, and Krantz proceeded:—"My noble patron was, as you may imagine, rather alarmed; but he is very courageous in disposition, and he inquired of the old man who he was, and how he had come on board?
"'I came on board with my own money,' replied the spectre. It is all my own, and I shall keep it. The church shall never have one stiva of it if I can help it.'
"Whereupon, my patron pulled out a famous relic, which he wears on his bosom, and held it towards him; at which the old man howled and screamed, and then most unwillingly disappeared. For two more nights the spectre was obstinate, but at the sight of the relic, he invariably went off howling as if in great pain; every time that he went away, invariably crying out 'Lost—lost!' and during the remainder of the voyage he did not trouble us any more.
"We thought, when our patron told us this, that he referred to the money being lost to him, but it appears he referred to the ship; indeed it was very inconsiderate to have taken the wealth of a parricide on board; we could not expect any good fortune with such a freight, and so it proved. When the ship was lost, our patron was very anxious to save the money; it was put on the raft, and when we landed, it was taken on shore and buried, that it might be restored and given to the church to which it had been bequeathed; but the men who buried it are all dead, and there is no one but my friend here, the patron, who knows the spot.—I forgot to say, that as soon as the money was landed on the island and buried, the spectre appeared as before, and seated himself over the spot where the money was interred. I think, if this had not been the case, the seamen would have taken possession of it. But, by his appearance here this day, I presume he is tired, and has deserted his charge, or else has come here that the money might be sent for, though I cannot understand why."
"Strange—very strange!—so there is a large treasure buried in the sand?"
"I should think, by the spectre's coming here, that it has abandoned it."
"Of course it has, or it would not be here."
"What can you imagine to have been the cause of its coming?"
"Probably to announce its intention, and request my friend to have the treasure sent for; but you know he was interrupted."
"Very true; but he called your friend Vanderdecken."
"It was the name which he took on board of the ship."
"And it was the name of the lady."
"Very true; he fell in with her at the Cape of Good Hope and brought her away with him."
"Then she is his wife?"
"I must not answer that question. It is quite sufficient that he treats her as his wife."
"Ah! indeed. But about this treasure. You say that no one knows where it is buried, but the patron as you call him?"
"Will you express my regret at what has passed, and tell him I will have the pleasure of seeing him to-morrow."
"Certainly, signor," replied Krantz, rising from his chair; and wishing the Commandant a good evening as he retired.
"I was after one thing and have found another. A spectre that must have been; but he must be a bold spectre that can frighten me from doubloons—besides, I can call in the priests. Now, let me see; if I let this man go on condition that he reveals the site of the treasure to the authorities, that is to me, why then I need not lose the fair young woman. If I forward this paper to her, why then I gain her—but I must first get rid of him. Of the two, I prefer—yes!—the gold! But I cannot obtain both. At all events, let me obtain the money first: I want it more than the church does: but, if I do get the money; these two men can expose me. I must get rid of them; silence them for ever—and then perhaps I may obtain the fair Amine also. Yes, their death will be necessary to secure either—that is, after I have the first in my possession.—Let me think."
For some minutes the Commandant walked up and down the room, reflecting upon the best method of proceeding. "He says it was a spectre, and he has told a plausible story," thought he; "but I don't know—I have my doubts—they may be tricking me. Well, be it so: if the money is there, I will have it; and if not, I will have my revenge. Yes! I have it: not only must they be removed, but by degrees all the others too who assist in bringing the treasure away;—then—but—who's there, Pedro?"
"How long have you been here?"
"But as you spoke, signor: I thought I heard you call."
"You may go—I want nothing."
Pedro departed; but he had been some time in the room, and had overheard the whole of the Commandant's soliloquy.
It was a bright morning when the Portuguese vessel on which Amine was on board entered into the bay and roadstead of Goa. Goa was then at its zenith—a proud, luxurious, superb, wealthy city, the capital of the East, a City of Palaces, whose Viceroy reigned supreme. As they approached the river the two mouths of which form the island upon which Goa is built, the passengers were all on deck; and the Portuguese captain, who had often been there, pointed out to Amine the most remarkable buildings. When they had passed the forts they entered the river, the whole line of whose banks were covered with the country seats of the nobility and hidalgos—splendid buildings embosomed in groves of orange trees, whose perfume scented the air.
"There, signora, is the country palace of the Viceroy," said the captain, pointing to a building which covered nearly three acres of ground.
The ship sailed on until they arrived nearly abreast of the town, when Amine's eyes were directed to the lofty spires of the churches and other public edifices—for Amine had seen but little of cities during her life, as may be perceived when her history is recollected.
"That is the Jesuits' church, with their establishment," said the captain, pointing to a magnificent pile. "In the church, now opening upon us, lay the canonised bones of the celebrated Saint Francisco, who sacrificed his life in his zeal for the propagation of the gospel in these countries."
"I have heard of him from Father Mathias," replied Amine; "but what building is that?"
"The Augustine convent; and the other, to the right, is the Dominican."
"Splendid, indeed!" observed Amine.
"The building you see now, on the water-side, is the Viceroy's palace; that to the right, again, is the convent of the barefooted Carmelites: yon lofty spire is the cathedral of St Catherine, and that beautiful and light piece of architecture is the church of our Lady of Pity. You observe there a building, with a dome, rising behind the Viceroy's palace?"
"I do," replied Amine.
"That is the Holy Inquisition."
Although Amine had heard Philip speak of the inquisition, she knew little about its properties; but a sudden tremor passed through her frame as the name was mentioned, which she could not herself account for.
"Now we open upon the Viceroy's palace, and you perceive what a beautiful building it is," continued the captain; "that large pile a little above it is the Custom-house, abreast of which we shall come to an anchor. I must leave you now, signora."
A few minutes afterwards the ship anchored opposite the Custom-house. The captain and passengers went on shore, with the exception of Amine, who remained in the vessel, while Father Mathias went in search of an eligible place of abode.
The next morning the priest returned on board the ship, with the intelligence that he had obtained a reception for Amine in the Ursuline convent, the abbess of which establishment he was acquainted with; and, before Amine went on shore, he cautioned her that the lady-abbess was a strict woman, and would be pleased if she conformed, as much as possible, to the rules of the convent; that this convent only received young persons of the highest and most wealthy families, and he trusted that she would be happy there. He also promised to call upon her, and talk upon those subjects so dear to his heart, and so necessary to her salvation. The earnestness and kindness with which the old man spoke melted Amine to tears, and the holy father quitted her side to go down and collect her baggage, with a warmth of feeling towards her which he had seldom felt before, and with greater hopes than ever that his endeavours to convert her would not ultimately be thrown away.