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Posted by Zac Langstieh on 27th Oct 2018
Must we all dye with hunger? Is it not just, that some lose their lives, for the preservation of the rest? It is true, the Divine Law enjoyns us, to love our neighbour, and forbids murder: but is there anything more near to us than ourselves? We have the example of whatsoever has life; the great fish devour the small; and the least insect flies by a natural instinct at the approach of its enemy. Death treads upon our heels, of all enemies the most dreadful and cruel. Why do we not, then use against it, the only remedy left us? Kill we therefore, the weakest amongst us. Nature forces us to it, and I cannot see what you can oppose against my argument.
This emotional discourse made bya starving Dutchsailor intent on cannibalism, is from a very rare and all but forgotten work:'A relation of an unfortunate voyage to the Kingdome of Bengala: describing the deplorable condition and dismal accidents attending those therein concerned…' by a Dutchman named W. Glanius, published in 1682. It is not only one of the earliest European books we possess on Assam but is a most fascinating travelogue.
In 1661, Glanius found himself stranded with a group of compatriots on a desert island somewhere off the coastof Bengal. His accountwas published in the Netherlands and must have been a best seller in its day, for in 1682 its fame crossed the channel and it was translated into English. The book was printed at the Red Lyon in St Paul's Churchyard, London. Even after more than 300 years this virtually unknown book makes quite engaging reading. Regrettably, the name of the small island is not disclosed and it may not even exist any more - such is the nature of the Gangesriver delta. The isle was described as being small and merely nine leagues from the mainland. Glanius tells a desperate story of a shipwreck and the many despairing attempts of the dispirited mariners and merchants to extricate themselves from their dire circumstances. After getting off this baneful isle, Glanius was then conscripted into a Mogul campaign against Assam.
He fled up to the deck, sat himself down and took some time in recovering his composure. His shipmates gathered around to see what the problem was with young Hillebrant. At length, after pulling himself together, he told them of the terrible vision he had seen below decks. Most thought that he was having delusions but several amongst them saw the event as a bad omen. Glanius tells us that Hillebrant had previously been a happy individual, but from that moment on he became pensive and morose, exhorting the crew to turn to fervent prayer in order to avert the disaster he now saw as imminent. Most of the crew had no time for his dark pessimistic ranting and reacted to his pleas with mirth and mockery.
There wanted not some who derided his visions, and made a sport of them; wherefore he often besought God to give these libertins a sight of what he had seen, or something like it; as means to check their licentiousness and reduce them to sobriety.
On The 8th of October, they sighted the coast of Bengal,but nobody on the ship was too familiar with the region, an unfortunate circumstance considering these notoriously dangerous waters. The ship's Master, Jacob Franz-Stroom, sent out a longboat with seven or eight men along with the Steward who spoke a native language. Their task was to reconnoitre the coast and to obtain basic navigational information from the mainland. After their departure, nothing more was ever seen of them.
The ship loitered for three days, until they gave up on their crewmen altogether and blindly went in search of a port in which to obtain supplies and seek news of the landing party. After a long and fruitless search up the coast, three small boats came near to Ter Schelling. The Indian sailors on these boats, observing the ship's cannons and the rough looking Dutchmen, were most reluctant to come too close but after much friendly gesticulating, their commander, who called himself Orangkai, drew near with his vessel. The Indians were selling fruit and fish - provisions that were greatly welcomed, speedily purchased then stowed aboard. Orangkai was being treated 'with all remarkable kindness' when the vessel unexpectedly touched upon a sandy shelf and lurched suddenly. At this point Orangkai seems to have lost his cool: 'Whereat Orangkai was frighted, and believed 'twas a signal to betray him.' The Indian Commander was probably more scared of the inept steering of the boat than treachery, but whatever the cause, he jumped ship leaving his money and provisions behind.
As the Dutchmen were now well supplied (free of charge) they decided to wait for their lost companions a little longer. Eight days past but to no avail, finally they hoisted sail and moved further up the coast. In due course, they soon became hopelessly lost amongst the treacherous sandbanks and rocky shelves and accidentally lodged themselves upon a sandy protuberance. Many of the sailors sensed trouble and began partaking of a little 'DutchCourage'. The seamen: 'in their greatest danger ran to their bottles, and drank one anothers healths.' As if to confirm the darkest fears of the inebriated, a storm started brewing up and such was its force that the vessel soon had a hole smashed into its hull. A great panic followed, whereupon the crew cut loose and discarded their anchors to try and lose weight. Then the ship grounded itself in shallow waters, their cables snapped in the high winds and the ship's foretop was blown away. All the while the wind was whipping up some fearsomely tall waves and the ship was taking in water fast.
Great was our fear, but not general; for whilst the greatest part were confessing their sins, and imploring God's pardon, before whom they were now going to appear; the sea-men were making merry, and singing with their full cups in their hands; that though the sea were rough and terrible, yet would they hinder it from possessing that part, into which they pow’red down their liquor. Thus did these wretches defie all danger, and out-brave death it self, which they called the scarecrow of vulgar Souls…. Whilst they were drinking on one hand, and we praying on the other, a sudden blast of wind drove our ship from beneath the sholes, and set it on float again.
The astonished and grateful crew immediately fell upon the ship's pumps and started bailing. The tired mariners then attempted to steer towards land. By now the ship's provisions had also ran out and the exhausted Dutchmen fell victim to the pangs of hunger.
Since this unhappy accident, we thought of nothing, but yielding up ourselves to divine providence; and all means failing us, some gave way to sleep, others resisted it, being not able to resolve upon shutting their eyes against that light, which they were now upon the point of ever losing; and some again whom hunger more terrified than either sleep or death, so earnestly demanded meat; that the Master ordered, every man his share of strong waters [liquor] and smoakt beef.
By this time most of the crew were quite drunk, and others, now keenly aware that they faced a dramatic demise, began losing their reason:
In the mean time these watchings and fatigues had so exhausted our men's spirits, that several became frantick, and showed such extravagancies, as would have forced laughter at another time….Others could not comprehend the danger we were in, and forgetting what had passed, were continually talking of the profits and advantages they would make of this voyage.
Such merriment and unfounded optimism was rudely interrupted when the force of the waves caused a breach in the cook's cabin, sending yet more sea water gushing in. Provoked to a fit of activity they were forced to make holes in the deck to let the water run down into the hold. The hole was eventually plugged with plates of lead wrapped in cloth. Notwithstanding this momentary success, Glanius found that his strength was spent. He found a quiet space to lie down, closed his eyes and entered slumber's black oblivion.
After no more than an hour he was awoken by yells and found himself amidst a great deal of commotion as every sailor was seeking to save himself. Somewhat bewildered, he noticed that three sailors were missing - he subsequently learned they had been asleep down below and were drowned by a fresh torrent of water entering into the vessel.
Several ran to their chests putting on their best clothes, and demanded strong water, which was not refused them, and had immediately a pleasant effect upon 'em: others dealt out their melancholy thoughts, imagining themselves to be great personages, and talkt only of millions. These whimsies were tolerable, in comparison to the Sea-men's excesses, who continued in their outbravings of death, and its consequences. Some of them that had taken such pains to dress themselves, went along with the saylers into the great cabin; whence ever and anon coming out with their caps on one side of their heads, and their glasses in their hands, they invited the rest to imitate them in singing bawdy songs, and dancing. There were some that seemed more solid, yet were clearly for drinking, to make themselves (as they said) less sensible to the fears men feel in such extremities. These kept some measure, but others more brutish, glutted themselves like swine, till they lost wholly their reason.
As they had already lost their lifeboat (along with the original party that set out to the shore) the passengers and some of the crew, who for the most part seemed just as turbulent as the sea, decided to make themselves a raft. Some busily got to work by taking down the sail-yards and masts to provide the construction materials whereas others scoffed at the efforts of their companions and as Glanius puts it, 'the sea-men's gang continued on their riot.' Upon completion of the makeshift boat, Glanius was ready to depart in it with forty others, but a friend pulled him back onto the sinking ship.
He told me I must not leave him, for he lookt upon that machine [makeshift boat] to be extreme dangerous, especially considering the condition of those persons that took upon 'em to guide it, being most of 'em drunk, and ready to quarrel; the machine lying moreover, level with the water, and over laden. So I staid in the vessel with the Master, and some others, whose number was far inferior to those that left us.
When the 'machine' was scarcely a stone's throw away from the vessel, some of those that had left the ship deftly decided to swim back to it. Thirty-two people were now left on board the leaking and battered ship, Ter Schelling. The Master ordered a barrel of biscuits to be opened and some beef to be distributed. Some time after this scanty meal, the cold and disconsolate men caught a brief sight of the raft before it was obscured from their sight again by towering waves and curtains of drizzle. In due course, they came to believe that the crowded boat had been lost in some unexpected disaster: their initial hope of rescue sank with these shipmates, as they had promised to fetch help from the mainland.
Their only recourse was to make another raft. When finished it was found to be able to hold no more than twelve men, a fact which caused some trepidation amongst the more numerous
survivors. Whilst most were busy cutting down the foremast for more wood, six of their number tried to slip away with the almost completed boat. The mast however crashed down like a felled tree before them, stopping the double-crossers in their tracks and foiling their escape. The guilty men received rough admonishment from their colleagues, but seem to have been let off lightly under the circumstances: there being no violent retribution nor was the matter raised any further.
With the wood taken from the mast they managed to make the boat fit for 20 men, although eventually it was to carry 32. Provisions were hastily stored, including a poleaxe, and two cutlasses: 'just in case'.Anxiously, they clambered into their lifeboat and cast themselves away from the stricken ship.
Hour after hour, the dazed mariners drifted helplessly upon the turbulent ocean. In time, the accumulated stress of their previous exertions, the hunger, grief and shock, became too much to bear for many unfortunate Dutchmen. Hallucinations and hysteria took hold of the crowded boat and some, including Glanius, completely lost a grip on reality.
The greater part of the survivors fell into a sorry delirium, and in this condition they became exceedingly troublesome to the rest. Some of them frantically searched for their chests to take out the clothing and linen they wanted, when of course all the chests had been left behind. Others were searching for a kitchen, to warm themselves.
The worst offender was a friend of Glanius' called William Bastians, who supposing that he was still on board the ship, demanded to know where the others carried him; and rowing a quite contrary course to the rest, cried out, 'Pray let me alone, I'll carry you where we should be, I see Hellevoutslus Castle; courage, we are at it!'
'A coxcomb!', cried another. This muddled statement sparked off much excitement amongst his more delirious colleagues.
'He sees a Castle, ay, we are at it as much as I am at Rome!'
'‘Tis a church,' said the dazed Carpenter, focusing his blurred vision upon the distant boat, 'a stately fabrick indeed, how it glistens against the sun!'
'What ails these fools', cried another, 'to take the mast of a ship for a church, and a castle. These poor wretches have lost their senses!'
Glanius laughed for some time at their extravagancies, but after a while he too (so he was told) fell into the same condition: 'O grievous', cried Glanius, 'they are making merry at the beer, yonder, and I may not be with ‘em!'
The Master, who sat nearest to Glanius, held him down - but he fiercely flung him away, and ran quickly into the water towards the jovial party that he presumed was in full swing on Ter Schelling. He was quickly dragged back into the boat, but neither the cold nor any appreciation of the danger he had escaped could make him come to his senses. Thoroughly soaked, he felt an extreme chill and made the ship's Master pull off his own clothes to wrap around his shivering body. Glanius then found a means to warm himself - or so he thought:
I took a Barrel for the kitchin [stove] and sat my self down by it to dry and warm me. This imaginary fire did me, perhaps, as much good as if it had been real; for methoughts I felt it mighty comfortable, so that I fell asleep, and waking, returned to my right senses.
The following morning they thought their prayers had been answered when they imagined they saw land with fat cows grazing on it, but upon drawing near they saw that it was nothing more than a sandy bank cast up by the violence of the sea. To top it all their boat began to slowly sink. The alert carpenter commented that everybody aboard had a considerable weight in money, which might serve instead as an anchor or counter-poise; that would stand them all in good stead in a contrary tide. Upon which every man freely parted with his money. They sewed the coinage into three pairs of trousers to make heavy sacks, which they used as a 'plummet'.
Glanius informs us: 'Both one and the other of these were so useful to us, that in no short time we found ourselves near land.' Afterwards all the money was redistributed, evenly, regardless of how much each had contributed, yet so glad were they to have dry land so near at hand that none complained. They were also mindful of the fact that many of the inhabitants of Bengal were Muslims, or at least they were ruled by Muslims, and decided to cast a large quantity of porkover the side lest it should cause offence on land. This was a decision they would too soon come to regret. When they hit the beach, not realising that they were on a deserted island, they left their boat at the disposal of the sea – another rash decision.
There was much rejoicing upon landing and they set off in order to find some of the country's inhabitants, but found neither man nor beast, not even a path to guide them. Some were so dismayed with the anti-climax that they called out at the top of their lungs, not imagining that there was nobody to hear them.
This latest misfortune finally unhinged their chaplain. That night, as they huddled around various fires the chaplain ranted and raved. 'What means this change at Batavia?' he demanded. There was nothing they could do to pacify this enraged and confused man of God, at some he threw his hat, at others his slippers and threatened to 'expatriate these slaves from off the face of Earth, that thus served him.'
At the break of day they began to talk of moving to a more comfortable site when one of their number cried out that he had been robbed of some money and that he would have them before a Justice of Peace! The noise he made so disturbed the poor Chaplain, that he rose up and cried, 'Murder, help, these slaves have taken arms!'
'Well,' said the accuser, 'though he be a fool, yet I am not one; for ‘tis too true, that of six bags of money I had, I have been robbed of three this night!'
Nobody knew whether the allegation was true: in truth, few cared. The party set off to find a better camping ground, leaving the emotionally disturbed chaplain behind; for nobody volunteered to take care of him. Upon walking further up the beach they encountered a carcass of a rotting tortoise and another of a sea-mammal they called a 'Bussle'. Somewhat further on they encountered a river and upon the far shore they sighted some 'Bengaloises'. They enthusiastically forded the river, and the stranded ‘Bengaloises’ ran towards the Europeans – both parties looking upon the other as potential rescuers.
This new set of people were merely eight emaciated Indians described as Negroes and were presumed to be runaway slaves. They threw themselves at the Dutchmen's feet, kissing them and lifting up their eyes to heaven. This ragged and forlorn group were definitely not who the Europeans wanted to meet, and without forethought or delay they crossed back to the other side of the river. They returned to the rotting tortoise, dragged it into a fire and in their desperation, feasted upon its putrid remains.
A new day brought further exploration: hours of fruitless rambling through tropical undergrowth produced the unpleasant realisation that they were on an island. This doleful discovery was not however their most pressing problem, the misfortune being superseded by their immediate needs of sustenance. The minds of each and every castaway were now directed by the pangs of their empty stomachs, they thought of nothing else but the deliverance of food.
The Chirurgion bethought himself, as he walkt along to taste the leaves of the trees: which having done, and finding 'em good, all the rest followed his example. We chewed 'em at first, a great while, before we swallowed ‘em; but at length found 'em so delicate, that we never tasted bread in our lives, that relisht half so well.
They also set their minds on catching some of the island's wild boars and deer which they had spied on their travels, but the animals had, as Glanius put it, 'good leggs, and ran too fast for us.' After grazing upon yet more leaves they had the good fortune to catch two big snakes which they enjoyed as much as succulent beef. Some days later:
We were a little comforted at the sight of some beans, which certain of our company found. Never was anything eaten with better appetite, nor found to be of a better taste: whereupon our hearts returned again, and having smoakt a pipe or 2 of the Leaves of trees, instead of tobacco, we exhorted one another to repose our selves under the divine providence. The joy at having made so good a meal, endured not long, for an hour after we had eaten them, we felt such pangs, as made us believe they were mortal. Our greatest pain was to fetch breath, for we seemed every moment at the point of death. Having lain in this condition near 3 hours, we breathed more freely and began to get up, but were so weak we could scarcely stand.
Another side effect of the poisonous 'beans' was that our castaways could no longer stand the taste of what had previously passed for food. 'Leaves which we heretofore found so good, but now could eat no longer of 'em. So great was our aversation [aversion] to 'em… Instead of these leaves, I tried often to eat grass, but found that worse, it being impossible for me to swallow it.'
Thirteen days after their arrival the ragged and starved survivors now ultimately lost all hope of rescue and decided to construct another boat. They grouped together, laboured hard and despite their enfeebled state and lack of tools, managed to construct a serviceable vessel large enough for five men. Those selected for its crew were provided with a provision of leaves and made to give assurances that they would return with help, after which they were pushed out to sea.
They had each of 'em an oar, but neither anchor, nor anything else to stop their boat on a contrary tide; yet they parted bigg with hope of an happy success, which we wished 'em in beseeching 'em to make a speedy return.
Unbeknown to the rest, two others sneaked out of the camp and ran to the top of the island where they beckoned the boat to return and slyly departed with the other five. 'As soon as they left us,' records Glanius, 'we betook ourselves to the woods, where searching for food in vain, we were constrained to content ourselves with the leaves of trees.'
To vary their diet they decided to eat the chaplain, as they were convinced that the poor deranged cleric would have dropped down dead somewhere: it being simply a matter of locating the body.It was even debated whether they should kill and eat one of the cabin boys, but common decency prevailed and it was decided that if they started murdering each other, there would be no end to the killing. Nevertheless, from this time forward nobody slept easily, each terrified of there being a conspiracy against him, and of having his throat cut in the night to be roasted over a fire the next morning.
A long time were we without finding anything; being exceeding faint and weak, when the carpenter brought us his cap full of snails. These little insects had neither horns nor shells, and we took 'em for snails, for want of a more proper name to give 'em. But without troubling ourselves much about their name, or quality, we caused the carpenter to bring us to the place where he found ‘em, and took all that remained. At our return, laying 'em down upon the ground, they appeared to us to be of a blewish colour; which made us believe they were venomous creatures, and that 'twas dangerous eating them. This was the opinion of some; but the greatest part, argued on the contrary, alleging that several beasts past for venomous, that were so only in opinion: Witness, the serpents we had eaten, whose venom is said to be sharp and dangerous, and yet did them no harm.
This reasoning prevailed. The blue slugs(or whatever they were) were cast into the cinders of their fire and washed down with salt water. An hour or two afterwards the inevitable happened and the carpenter fell ill, and not having previously used one of their number as a guinea pig, the rest forlornly sat around and waited for a similar fate. It is not recorded whether any of the Dutchmen attempted to induce themselves to vomit. Half an hour later all became effected in the same manner, and for two hours hence, they rolled around with excruciating pains in their bowels accompanied by a frightening shortness of breath. They recovered, but all complained of a sensation of physical discomfort afterwards. When the toxic effects wore off, they spent their convalescence in classic castaway pastimes, such as making crude and improvised tools and building a permanent bonfire to attract a passing ship.
The next morning it came in the Carpenter's head to go in quest of the Chaplain's corpse; and sought so narrowly, that he found in a bush one of the defunct's shoes and showing us it, cried out, 'courage my lads, I am not much mistaken if he be far hence, by what I have already found.' At this news we all ran like so many bloodhounds, prying in every corner for half a mile round; but to as little purpose as heretofore; after near two or three hours search, we returned so full of melancholy, and sorrow, that we were ready to burst. The miseries and vexations we suffered, made us so waspish, and fretful, that we could scarcely desist a minute from quarrelling; the rest earnestly wishing our jarrs might proceed to blows. And death it self, that they might feed on him that was slain.
Such disputes, especially about the division of food, started to fragment the group into smaller gangs who in time went their separate ways, but only their company changed: their waking lives still revolved around the all important quest for food. One of their number found a particularly good tree with succulent leaves which they roasted over the fire and made into chewy balls. The others implored him to show them the tree, to which he replied: 'God forbid – should I show it you, there being no more of that kind as I know of – you would not leave one leaf on it.' They tried following him when he went to feast on his tasty tree, but he was too cunning for his pursuers to keep track of and the harvesting site remained a mystery.
'We betook ourselves to the common remedy, which was patience,' records Glanius mournfully. He and his good friend were exhorting themselves to such forbearance, when they came upon the corpse of the sea mammal, now in an advanced state of putrefaction.
'What think you of it,' said Glanius, smiling.
'The scent is very strong, but do you believe the taste to be so bad?'
'As for my part,' continued Glanius, 'I am apt to think that had it passed over the fire, 'twould do us no hurt.'
At first his friend thought that he was not serious, but seeing that he was, he implored him not to contemplate such a thing. Reluctantly Glanius left the rotting flesh and bones and both ventured up to the isle’s furthest point to survey the horizon, where they 'entertained one another with consolatory discourses.'
At night, the disconsolate mariners would gather on the clear beach. The master of the ship was particularly keen on keeping the beacon ablaze, Glanius observed that this strong man would carry more wood at a time than four others, in order to keep it alight. Throughout these nights, in the midst of this crackling and raging bonfire and with no other shelter than the star studded sky, the sunburned, bearded men, after first having said heartfelt prayers, would settle down for a supper of leaves. It was their habit to eat late at night, in the hope that they would sleep somewhat better after having eaten.
One of the best amongst us at the search found the remains of two serpents, whom we eat upon soon after our arrival in the place. The entrails of those animals were become blew [blue], and clammy, and so corrupted, that a man could not look upon them without horror. The least of these circumstances disgusted at first the most hunger starved amongst us: But this disgust did not hold long; for beholding one of the company eating thereof without hurt, or using any other precaution, than the laying them a while on coals; we ran to see whether he that came from making so good a repast, had taken all; and found an infinite number of maggots that covered what we sought for. We dispersed these Squadrons and found their pasture was blew like azure. Some said this colour was the mark of deadly poison, and therefore would choose rather to die of hunger rather than eat it. Another replied that they argued like fools, that knew not, that poison has no particular colour. That that which they saw was an impression of the air, which wrought different effects, according to the nature of those subjects it dealt with. But to say no more, continued he, how can poison which is mortal in it self, give life to so many animals, who have no other nourishment than what you see. Be ruled by me, says he, eat of it, and I’le answer for what shall happen…. We broyled this filth, which we found excellent.
Their gastronomic fortunes varied from day to day. Glanius happened upon some snails in a swamp, and this time found them edible and all were able to feast upon them for some days afterwards. He triumphantly showed these snails to the ship's master, andaccording to Glanius:
He demanded what we intended to do with that trash? We were so surprised to hear him speak thus we imagined that he had lost his senses. But he, taking no notice of our astonishment; 'come, come,' said he, 'my lads, I have that which is better for you.' Whereupon he shew'd us certain fish, which he gave us, bidding us eat 'em without inquiring whence they came.
Glanius and his companion fell upon the fish: 'Tis needless to say how excellent they thus were; and that without any other sauce, than that of a good stomach.' The ship's master revealed that he had built a trench on the edge of the water, when the sea withdrew after high tide the trench was full of water, and fish! They naturally presumed that by seeking more fish by the same means, it would always be attended by the same success. This sadly was not the case and after digging another twenty holes they found not one fish.
This misfortune reduced us again to our first distress, for having placed our desires on a more substantial meat than leaves, we could not return unto 'em, but with a most extreme regret. The small sustenance these yielded, made us seek something else, and with such care and diligence, that we found (my friend and I) a great toad, the sight of which rejoiced us. Hunger is a strange thing, it makes pleasant and agreeable the most horrid objects: As soon as we saw it we seized on’t; without the least scruple… This was excellent meat with us, nor was the eating of it attended by any ill accident, but t'was so little in quantity, that it tarried but a small time in our stomachs. Within a quarter of an hour after, hunger again overtook us; and finding no other remedy, but that of getting out of this doleful place, we resolved to gather as many dry trees as we could, and with them make a boat.
The ship's master, however, was against the idea and went to great lengths to dissuade them. 'He shew'd us the danger to which we were exposing ourselves, seeing we could not get land without sails, nor resist the tides without an anchor. We answered there could not be anything more dangerous to us than this island, wherein 'twas too probable we must die of hunger'.After such pleading, he could only consent to their efforts. 'We had not wrought above three or four hours on this design , when we began to find the work exceeded the strength of four or five skeletons, (such as we were).'
The two youngest and strongest men of the company stood in for those who literally dropped out and with their assistance, they managed to lash together a raft. After their strenuous efforts the men sat in the shade of a small tree and smoked dry leaves. In the interim, Glanius called to mind the rotting carcass on the beach. Some of the men had seen wild animals sniffing around it and gnawing upon it, he thought that he could possibly hide behind a nearby bush and pounce upon one of these. He waited for some time and when none appeared he resolved to have a piece of it himself, thinking that if such putrid meat was good enough for the local fauna it would be sufficient for his own sustenance. Glanius cut himself a large piece that he thought the least corrupted and returned to his companions.
They were curious to see him return with a slab of meat which 'scented so ill [yet] did not offend the sight'. They were even more surprised when he told them where it came from, for notwithstanding their extremely malnourished condition, none had wanted to go near the decomposing beast. Following his example, others ran off to get their share. Glanius found thatonce the fatty rotting flesh was placed over the fire, it quickly sizzled away into a gluey matter of no substance. He ran back to his companions, who by then had gathered around the malodorous wreck of a body, and advised them to cut only the lean and not the fat, whereupon they placed about forty pounds of it under some trees to dry, in the mistaken belief that this would somehow make it lose much of its malodour. After cooking it and distributing it equally, they managed to force it down. The meat, according to Glanius, 'smelt so strong, that some were sick with the scent of it', yet eat it they did, and: ‘‘twas not so bad as it smelt.' Being quite conscientious, they went in search of another group that included the Ship's Master, so as to share their stinking bounty.
They carried a good part of the meat to a rendezvous point, kept the rest concealed, then presented the decomposing flesh to them. They were about to tell the Ship's Master what it was when he stopped them in their tracks.
'Spare your pains', he said. 'The scent shows what 'tis, prey carry your present elsewhere.'
Glanius approached the disdainful Mariner to tell him that the meat was not half as inedible as he imagined, but he was again reprimanded, being told not to even approach any nearer, lest he'infect the very air he breathed' as his breath was reeking of the foul stuff.After this outburst, he told his companions to leave, but most did not follow his stern example and begged instead for pieces. The taste sharpened their appetites and they demanded the rest of the meat they carried, which they were again given. They then demanded any other rotten meat that the group were withholding, which they were refused.
This denial raised such a quarrel, as set us all in an uproar. To appease'em, we gave them part of that we kept for our selves, but this served only to inflame their desires; so that although 'twas night, they would needs go to the place where the carcass lay, to eat their bellies full. We desired 'em to consider that the night was dark, and, moreover, 'twas about this time, the crocodilesand kaimans, lay skulking at the shore. They yielded to this reason, but could not sleep, and we felt the effects of their greedy desires. Being forced to purchase our quiet at the cost of what remained. Having eaten all that was left, some of 'em betook themselves to rest; whilst others affirmed, hunger tormented 'em more now than before; there was one especially who cried out that the night seemed to him a year; that 'twas impossible for him to rest, believing (as he said) there was no torment comparable to hunger: yet he had eaten three pounds of this carrion; and some hours before night, half of a great fish found (gnawed) on the shore.
The pain the sailor complained of was probably as much due to the searing effects of food poisoning as hunger, yet Glanius adds: 'How bad and corrupt so ever the food was, we ate the day before, yet did it yield us that strength we never received from the leaves.' With energy recuperated, their thoughts returned to improving their boat, and to boiling, drying and roasting the rotting meat, which they now relished as if it were 'some rare dainty'!
With their boat finished and after anegative and pessimistic discourse from the Ship's Master, Glanius and friends were wished bon voyage. They were given permission to take with them a young man who spoke Portuguese, which had become lingua franca in 17thCentury Bengal.
As they were about to push off into the surf, one of their number stopped them with an offer to make an anchor, saying that all he needed for his design was two crooked and sturdy pieces of wood. Glanius had to remind him that such an anchor would float as there was not a single stone on all the island to act as a weight. His inventive colleague then suggested they place sand in shirt sleeves which would be sewn up into bags and fastened to the anchor '..and you'll see 'twill be as the same service as one of iron!'So good was the idea that the men postponed the embarkation to make this odd contraption, the rope for which was woven from 'ivy and the rind from young trees.'
The following day after much mutual embracing, Glanius and a few of his companions cast their raft into the surf. They made modest progress until the following day when a storm blew up, the weak rope of their wooden anchor snapped, their pathetic rations of leaves were washed away and the half-drowned group were lucky to make it back to the island. The forlorn party made a solitary camp on the beach where they encountered a black woman from the small group they had met when they first arrived. As soon as she saw the ragged and emaciated Europeans she threw herself at their feet. She had been beaten and bruised and from the signs she made it became apparent that her own people had done this to her. They invited her to be seated and observed that the poor creature was little more than skin and bones, much like themselves. The men had now arrived near to their physical and emotional breaking points, they tried to eat but could barely bring themselves to swallow the bitter leaves.
'In the mean time,' writes Glanius, 'hunger so extremely prevailed on us, that we became all of us like men desperate, staring one upon another, like persons that intended to devour each other. Others ran to and fro like mad men, crying out, ever and anon, they felt the pains of the damned.'
Whilst they raved, one of the most distempered amongst the group had an inspiration: 'But before, I tell you the contents thereof, you must acknowledge it to be one,' he declared. 'You must admire the strange effects of providence, God, who pities our miseries, does apparently provide a remedy against them, that we can no longer doubt. Our sins have all this while blinded our eyes and hindered us from finding the remedy He has sent!'
His friends were not impressed with the incomprehensible sermon: 'This man's discourses, whom we respected as senseless, did so weary us, that we could not forbear interrupting him and calling him a fool, to take his whimsies for divine revelations.'
Undaunted by heckling, his discourse continued: 'Do you see yonder poor woman? Think you chance has brought her hither? Jonas his whale, young Toby’s fish?'
'Pray,' cried one more impatient than the rest, 'what have we got to do with Jonas and Toby? These are digressions that are not to our purpose; we are an hungry, can you tell us, how we shall be satisfied?'
'Have I not told you? Do you believe this woman to be here only to warm herself? This indeed is her intention, but God has used this as a means to deliver her into our hands.'
One of their number, named Charles Dobbel, finally saw what he was getting at, and voiced his agreement with this dreadful logic. 'I will be fate's executioner,' he said with a grim determination and rose to his feet to commit the grisly crime. 'Having eaten all manner of filthiness let's try whether human flesh be not good, and make no scruple, seeing 'tis the intention of heaven, whose decrees must be obeyed.'
'Sit down a while and think a while on the consequences of his enterprise,' said Glanius had no intention of standing by whilst the woman was butchered if he could in any way oppose it.
'These kind of fancies are rather the suggestion of the Devil, than divine inspirations! This woman is of the same make as we, and if it is from a revelation, we undertake to eat her, it is one of the most wretched and leanest revelations I ever heard of. Pray observe, this woman is a mere skeleton, covered only with skin, which as you may perceive, has not the mine of any delicacy; but supposing 'twere otherwise, think you to stop here? No, without doubt you will desire still the same meat; and God knows what little security every man may promise to himself after this rate.'
His speech struck a positive cord within them. Out of shame they decided that eating the poor black woman was perhaps a bad option, instead they committed themselves to go in search of the rotting carcass at dawn, even though they knew it to be some three miles away and felt almost too weak to walk the distance.
After having arrived back at the spot the next morning, despite being scarcely able to approach the carcass because of the stench, they managed to slice off a few slices and cook them over a fire, and resolved to butcher the remainder of the carcass after their meal. They had just settled down to eat when they saw the Master’s company emerge from the woods. These also set about carving up the malodorous meat. Glanius and his companions watched them do this for about an hour. When they did eventually draw near, they found that only the bones remained.
Whereupon our eyes ran down with tears, saying to one another, we deserved to dye with hunger, for having staid so long time without hindering them!
''Tis too late, to expect any flesh seeing they have left none,' cried Charles Dobbel, the group's hothead. 'Still there remains part of the hide, let's try to get that either by fair means of foul.'
His companions caught up with the departing gang and asked them to be contented with what they previously had, and leave them the rest.
'Hah!' cried one amongst them in a deriding tone, 'these gentlemen are very civil in their demands; we have taken the rotting flesh, and they would have the skin, that is sound, and consequently the best part. Do you imagine, said he to us, we have taken all these pains for you? 'Tis true I do not desire you should want, but we will serve ourselves first, and if we must perish here in this dolesome confinement, I'll use my utmost endeavours to die the last.'
This prating fellow's discourse engaged us, especially Charles Dobbel, who would needs come to blows, but I shew'd him, passion ought ever to be esteemed a bad counsellor, and that 'twere better to be angry as late as we could. I told them, then, that our request was neither unjust, nor ridiculous; that we were all companions in the same fortune; and that they ought to consider, we were going to hazard our lives, as well upon their account, as our own.
Charles Dobbel- in no mood for such niceties - yelled to his team, 'Comrades, let us fall to work as well as they! We need not their leave!'
This time it was Dobbel’s logic that prevailed. The group drew their knives upon the Master’s company, who were outnumbered and seemed surprised by this unexpected turn of events, notwithstanding their stupefaction, one of their number pulled out a knife and another raised a hatchet.
'I'll cleave the skull of anybody that comes near me!' cried their adversary waving his hatchet menacingly in the air in the manner of a desperate soul that meant business.
Glanius, ever the mediator (by his account) tried to restore calm. 'If you are wise you will hearken to reason and not be thus transported with passion!'
'What reason can a man expect from persons that have none? You would have us give away our right, can we do less than defend our own?'
Through further discussion, a fight was averted, and the two sides split the carrion fairly between them. The animosity between the two groups was interrupted, as soon afterwards they borrowed the Master’s hatchet to shape a new anchor, ready for their second attempt to get off the island.
But the peace was but a respite. Enmity between the parties started anew when the two men that had borrowed the axe from the other camp, reported to their friends that they had seen the Master’s fine clothing hanging out to dry, the putrid meat neatly laid out in the sun, and not to mention the axe from the angry sailor who 'vowed he'd cleave the skull of them that dared come near him' - which was also there for the taking.
Whilst their rivals soundly slept on the sand, Glanius and his friend tiptoed into the camp. With nothing more than the moon, the embers of a dyeing fire and the tenuous phosphorescence of the waves to cast light on the scene, they swiftly entered and stole whatever took their fancy. Then, leaving the sounds of snoring and the soft rhythmic undulation of the sea behind them, they disappeared back into the undergrowth.
True to character, Glanius repented and was set to skulk back to the Master and confess his crime. Dobbel, notwithstanding this newfound moral rectitude, warned him against returning, for if they had seen him in their midst at such a late hour, they would have probably killed him first and asked questions later.
Glanius took good note of Dobbel’s curt advice. Together they swam the little river with the looted booty on their backs and returned to their small camp, where a few other famished and weak men had waited their return. These gratefully ate the share of the meat, although one of them proved reluctant to divide the food up equally with his ravenous comrades. 'We could not without a just resentment, hear the complaint of these hunger-starved wretches; and sharply rebuked him they complained against, telling him he deserved the same measure, but we were more tender hearted.'
They guessed that their raid would stir up a hornet's nest and worried about some form of violent retribution from their more numerous colleagues. The group agreed to take turns watching the camp, both by day and by night, and made a solemn oath that if the Master’s company attacked, they would all stand and protect one another to the last.
We demanded afterwards, what became of the woman we left in their keeping, and were informed, that soon after our departure, she slipt away so cunningly, that we could never after set sight on her. We would willingly have found her, fully intending then to eat her, although so little toothsome.
When the Master’s crew awoke to find that their meagre provisions had been stolen, they became exceedingly troubled but did not go off in search of Glanius and his companions, perhaps in the mistaken belief that the crime had been perpetrated by the runaway Negroes.
In the midst of their affliction they instantly besought God to deliver them from their misery. Each one, afterwards, betaking himself to leaves but with extreme sorrow, to find themselves reduced to such insipid food.
As was their custom, towards the evening the Master's gang sat around mournfully reflecting upon their sad plight and their helplessness. It was during one such pessimistic debate that they sighted some fishermen out to sea. As soon as they were spotted, one of the sailors broke off a large branch from a tree and fastened it to it a piece of linen, which he waved frantically in the air like a flag.
The fishermen drew near, to within a stone's throw of the shore. After some initial hesitation they came nearer still and shouting in the Portugueselanguage they demanded to know what they were. They answered in the same tongue and being fully satisfied they came onto the beach. They were well armed with darts, javelins, bows and arrows. Although the Dutchwere obviously in a poor and wretched state, the suspicious fishermen demanded that they lay down their weapons before them. The Dutchmen only had knives, but did as they were told. The Bengalisasked them how many Europeans were present on the island, the Master, not wishing to scare them with an honest answer, claimed that there were seven, being the exact number then gathered at that spot.
The small group was overcome with a wave of pure joy, they screamed and hollered in exclamation of their delight. Their companions who were off hunting in the bush, perceived their gleeful cries to be an indication that their friends on the beach had speared or injured some wild beast and that their assistance was immediately required to help catch it and finish it off. They at once bounded onto the beach, screaming and waving their cudgels and knives.
The fishermen thought it was an ambush and immediately let fly a volley of arrows at these assailants - which missed. The confused Dutchmen who had just come crashing out of the bush, perceiving that they and their companions were under attack, charged the fishermen who discharged another inaccurate shower of arrows.
Before a murderous skirmish got under way between rescuers and castaways, order was restored by several of the Dutchmen who pleaded for calm and ordered their disorderly comrades to throw down their weapons.
After this misunderstanding it transpired that one of the fishermen also spoke a little Dutch, and told them that their needs were apparent and that they would be supplied but demanded they deliver up all their staves and knives, which was done without the least hesitation. The fisherman then demanded money for food and passage, which again was handed over without dispute.
For two days they made ready their departure and with vigorous rowing they quickly made the port, whereupon they were conducted to the governor. The fisherman fell to the ground before him and he angrily ordered them to return their payment. The Master and his company would not hear of such a thing and replied that they were most welcome to the money, but merely requested that a boat should be sent to pick up their comrades still on the island, to this effect the governor dispatched two.
Some time later they were brought word that the governor's women had a desire to see some of the young Dutchmen. A number of them where then escorted to the female quarters by a eunuch. These women flocked about them, squeezing their pink noses and pinching their rosy cheeks. Some went so far as to unbutton their shirts to stroke their hairy chests with 'languishing looks'. The young men were in no hurry to leave this agreeable place and would have remained there some hours were it not for the stern eunuch, who made it abundantly clear that it was time to leave.
The governor continued to show great kindness. He changed the DutchCrowns into local currency (described as small shells) and ordered that they be accompanied to the marketplace, to make sure that they were not cheated whilst purchasing provisions.
The rest of the day was spent 'making merry' and celebrating their rescue. Towards evening, one of the Dutch, described as the book-keeper, chanced to look out of a doorway and was struck with a stone and quite badly hurt. Once the governor got wind of the incident, the culprit was found and arrested, it being revealed to be one of his own servants.
The offender had an arrow thrust through his nostrils. A drum was tied behind his shoulders and he was led to the lodgings of the injured book-keeper, where he was subjected to a severe whipping and condemned to perpetual banishment.
All these events were completely unknown to Glanius and his friends, who in the meantime had taken to organising a night watch to principally guard against those who were no longer on the island. Whilst the other seven slept, one would stay alert, anxiously scanning the line of trees.
Scarce had we rested two hours, but our sentinel spied a Negro stealing softly towards him, with a thick cudgel. As soon as he came within the reach of his oar, he broke it on his head, and the wretch fell down as dead. The disturbance awakened us; and informed of the matter, we pursued the other Negroes, who seeing their companion fall, fled into the thickest of the wood. As soon as they perceived we follow’d’em, they set out such a cry in flying, as would have made a man judge it to be twenty persons, although they were but seven or eight. After fruitless pursuit of them, we return’d to the place where their companion fell, whom we supposed to lye dead on the place, but this wretch made shift to escape, and that with such haste, that he left his stick behind him.
After this skirmish they conferred together, and seemed to be in no doubt that the womanhad informed the others as to their whereabouts and subsequently returned without knowing that the other Dutchmen had rejoined the smaller group.
The following morning they decided it was high time to leave, they made another rope and anchor and agreed amongst themselves that the boat was too small to carry eight. After many debates they resolved that six of them, including Glanius, should set sail whereas the remaining two should await rescue and retain the putrid supplies as their sorry compensation. Glanius does not record this as being a petulant moment, although under the circumstances it must have been, as the vulnerable pair would have been exposed to the nocturnal assaults of the desperate Negroes,
who lurked somewhere in the interior, not to mention the prospect of starving to death if a rescue did not materialise.
The two disconsolate Dutchmen skulked off to seek forgiveness and protection from the Master’s company, perhaps having a mind to blame the Negroes from the bush for the late night thievery. They left Glanius, Dobbel and the other four sitting around a fire, contemplating their impending departure. After about an hour, Glanius tells us that they heard such 'reiterated screeks, and cries,' that it made their hearts ‘tremble’.
Notwithstanding our fear, yet would we answer, and immediately spied the two young men returning, we lately dismist. They were so dismayed, that they quaked still in telling us they found neither the Master nor any of his company: That they not only sought 'em, where they were wont to pass over the night, but, moreover, in several other places, and that questionless, some vessel, in passing by, had received them on board.
Glanius and the others thought that this was simply a ruse to buy their sympathy, so as to get a place upon their tiny overcrowded boat.
We questioned ’em, therefore, apart, and found their answer to be exactly the same. Which made us resolve to tarry till next morning, and go ourselves to the place and not leave the island till we were further satisfied.
The shock was so fierce that for a short while each was under the impression that all the others had been knocked senseless and drowned. Charles Dobbel’s head popped up from the waves; he spat out a mouthful of salt water andin forlorn desperation cried out to his lost friends. His fears were promptly allayed when he turned to see Glanius safely perched on the boat, which was (remarkably) still intact. Dobbel and others were hauled on deck. The remainder were presumably plucked from the offending tree.
''Twas extreme cold,' says Glanius, referring more to his soaked and shivering friends than to himself and they were still nowhere near the Master’s former camp. Upon setting out again, they struggled with some contrary currents, to which effect two of their number jumped into water, and taking what was left of the rope, swam and towed the boat to shore: an extremely tiring task for half starved men. When they hit land, Charles Dobbeland one other, went off to fetch dry firewood and some burning embers from their previous fire so they could warm themselves anew.
The foraging party quickly managed to lose their way. Beneath the prevailing gloom of the tree canopies they wandered blindly into briars and thorns. At length and with bleeding legs and feet, they happened upon the glowing remains of their previous fire. Holding their smoking prize aloft they headed back into the undergrowth, but this time attempted to skirt the thorny patches. Now they stumbled into marshland and ditches full of water, which extinguished the smouldering embers and forced them to fetch more. In a third attempt to find a better route, they took an even worse direction and staggered over more such obstacles.
Their feet ran down with blood, and their bodies were bruised and battered; which, together with their other sad circumstances, rendered them so disconsolate, as 'tis impossible to express. We comforted 'em the best we could. In tarrying for them, we entertained one another with the misfortunes that oppressed us, and the little likelihood of a deliverance from them, all things continually crossing, and forcing us to tarry in a desolate and barbarous island, where it seemed heaven had cast us, to make us undergo the punishments due to our offences. From these discourses we fell into a melancholy fit of silence, and verily believe we had pined away, had not our companions returned soon after. The fire they brought did us as much good in dispersing the darkness, whose horror also contributed to afflict us, as in driving away the cold that was extreme sharp upon us.
The next morning they arrived at the Master’s deserted camp, to find that hardly anything had been left behind, aside from a few scraps of food, deliberately left for their companions: 'By these tokens we knew they were gone, and began to hope they would remember us.'
The two previously abandoned Dutchmen then confessed that they had found a human body nearby 'which one of 'em, moved only by curiosity (as he said) had uncovered [from] a grave; but the sequel shew'd he had another design.'
They gathered at the spot where the body had been dug up 'out of curiosity'. The exposed corpse, in the early stages of decomposition, was already in the process of being consumed by maggots.
'The condition of these insects is better than mine!' cried one of them. 'I am perishing with hunger whilst they feast. I have a great mind to deprive these animals of their prey.' He then drew his blade and went to cut off a chunk of flesh. 'There is no other means to avoid death, no man can justly blame me!'
He would have greedily slobbered the raw human meat down his skinny throat had not one of his companions seized hold of him and reminded him of the enormity of such a crime:- 'He had much difficulty to dissuade him from it, but at length prevailed, and both of 'em let down together the corps[e] into the grave, and hastened from the place, lest hunger should get the better of 'em, close with the temptation.'
The next discussion was whether they should remain upon the island to await rescue or whether they should row towards the horizon at the first opportunity. There were those amongst them who professed that the Master’s crew would send help and that they were in danger of losing another
anchor. Opinion was so divided that it was agreed to refer the matter to the oldest amongst them, who told them that a longer stay in 'this fatal place' would destroy them and estimated that after three or four days they would be too weak to handle a boat.
This wise council settled the argument and when the tide was deemed right they pushed off from the shore. They found that it was plain sailing and soon lost sight of the island, passing by several others that were equally bereft of human habitation. They were elated when in the space of a few short hours they caught sight of land, which was no sooner discovered, than the tide turned against them, sweeping the boat away from the coastline. They dropped their new anchor upon which all their hopes lay, for if a stiff wind had blown, the rope would have surely snapped and they would have been lost again. The anchor, however, seemed to be holding steady and at last buoyed by some optimism, they gulped down most of the remaining insipid rations.
Having no compass; the sun and stars served us for guide, and by their means, distinguished whereabouts we lay. The next morning, the wind and tide being for us, from morning to night, we drew very near to the shore, but could not land. We were forced then to cast anchor, and pass over another night in great distress and fear; the currents running very swift.
In time, they did reach the shore. The landscape and vegetation appearing little different from that of the island and with no obvious route to follow, they left their boat at anchor and meandered for some miles until they hit a river, which they followed a little way inland. For three hours, they met no living soul, finding the party could barely walk a full minute without resting.
They were pleased to see some trees with branches freshly lopped off - a sure sign of human activity. At that point, they came across a boat on the riverbank attended by group of Bengaliswho were apparently its crew. The dumbfounded Bengalis, noticing the group of tormented and forlorn Europeans staring at them from the riverbank, stopped their work and came running towards them. Keenly sensing their disadvantage and vulnerability, the ragged Dutchmen were not overjoyed to see this over-excited mob bounding in their direction.
'This facility troubled us, for we could not imagine, beholding 'em coming without being called, but that they meant us harm.' Their fears were heightened when they saw the Bengaliswere six in number, each brandishing a long knife. As soon as they had drawn near enough to perceive that the Dutchmen were in neither condition nor mood to hurt them, Glanius stepped forward attempted to communicate their needs by showing them his thin bony arms, and by holding aloft the small remnant of rotting skin which Glanius notes, although small in quantity, would have been enough to poison the least delicate amongst them.
Therefore these people (howsoever gross and brutish) drew back six or seven paces, stopping their noses, and threatening us with their knives. Whereupon we comprehended, they suspected us to be treacherous and faithless persons.
They hastened to show them leaves gathered on the island, endeavouring to make them comprehend with an exuberance of improvised sign language that these had been their food. The truth slowly dawned on the Bengalis, whereupon they were moved with compassion, and smote their breasts'with eyes lift up to heaven'.
Being satisfied of our sincerity, we signified to 'em (as well as we could) the need we had of them, to bring us to the next village. They readily offered us their assistance, provided we paid them. I could not but ruminate in my mind upon this occasion; how unkind and selfish, most men are; and how little like their Creator, the Giver of all things. These barbarians saw that we were in a manner naked, being only tied about with some tatter’d raggs; mere anatomies, and shadows. And, moreover, pitied by 'em, as being strangers, in a forlorn condition, and destitute of all succour. Yet without money, we plainly perceived, this main land, would be no better to us than the wretched island, wherein we so long suffer'd.
They negotiated a price for the journey - upon which the Dutchmen climbed into the boat. No sooner had they departed than it was made clear that they were in need of food, for which they were again charged a Crown (a valuable coin) and were given but a handful of boiled rice. They struggled amongst themselves for this insubstantial meal - each wanting to consume the biggest part. The Bengalis, being none too amused with the commotion on their delicate craft, snatched back the rice, divided it equally and gave each of them his fair share. After further strife with the Negro Bengaloises during which they repeatedly stopped rowing in order to demand more money,another two boats pulled up alongside to inspect the strange human cargo.
Soon afterwards, the various crews fell into a fervent discussion and from their various glances towards the Dutchmen, it was deduced that they were the central topic of the debate.
The conversation became so heated that the boats were landed back on to the shore, to settle the dispute. The Bengalisthen alighted and chattered excitedly, openly counting the coins, which the castaways had given them.
One of the Dutchmen, being impatient and with a parched throat, left the boat to ask for some fresh water. He was at once grabbed roughly by the arm and manhandled back into the vessel. This impolite treatment convinced Glanius that they were all about to have their throats cut, but such was their beleaguered and shattered state, that they could do nothing but sit and wait for their violent end.
The Bengalis, apparently resolving matters amongst themselves, at last cast the boat out to sea again. For another coin the group were allowed to quench their growing thirst with a pot full of water. They gulped this down appreciatively as the water on the island had been brackish. The Bengalis then informed them that twenty of their companions were in the next village, for this excellent news they happily tossed them another Crown.
Upon arrival, they were at once conveyed to the governor. The boatmen threw themselves down at his feet and he once more bade them to return all the money. Glanius and his friends wereoverjoyed by their safe arrival and no longer considered the journey's high expense of any importance and gave him to understand that his men had fairly earned it and that they would not deprive them of their salary.
They were then escorted to their colleagues. Glanius recalls, they each 'endeavoured to out-vy one another in welcoming us.' They were treated to feasts of succulent meat and honey, which even Glanius conceded was dangerous for men who had fasted for so long. Notwithstanding this feast, there was to be no swift satisfaction of their hunger. He records: 'That which was most strange was that although we ate much, and often, yet were still as hungry as before.'
It was here that they learnt of the adventures of the Master’s company and of the seven men that had first departed the island. Out of all of them, the first to depart had suffered the most. For the want of an anchor, they had mostly been at the mercy of the changing tides which after five days cast them upon a colossal bank of sand, a strip of land which made the former island seem
bountiful in its provision. All that was to be found upon it was 'moss' and animal dung. After three days of suffering on this featureless abode, they felt their strength and energy drain away. Their bones ached and their veins felt as if they conveyed icy water rather than blood. The shadow of death hung over them. In some, the light of madness, born of desperation, shone in their jaded eyes - deeply set in gaunt and bearded skull faces. They could hardly stand, let alone row a boat.
One of the most deranged amongst them, suggested that they should eat one of their companions. An idea not commonly shared by the whole group and was especially detested by one named Adrian Raas, who upbraided them severely, crying, 'if you continue with this pernicious design, you thereby render yourself an enemy to man and God!'
'Necessity knows no law,' scoffed the offender who soon afterwards consulted with four of his colleagues and plotted to murder and eat two members of the group. Adrian Raas, well assured of their evil intent, went to inform the intended victims that their lives were in dire peril. After having delivered the shocking news, the pair suffered something like a nervous breakdown. Tears ran down their faces as they pulled at their hair, clawed at the sand and cried to God for forgiveness and deliverance. Quite moved by their plight, Adrian Raas promised to help them hide, by some means - not an easy task on a featureless hump of sand! Towards dusk, he assisted them in digging two holes in an unseen and quiet spot, to conceal themselves in.
The holes must have been well excavated, for the main group was unable to find the fugitives. In their frustration and disappointment, their attentions were drawn to another man: quite a plump individual (considering the circumstances) who looked like another good candidate for a banquet.
The corpulent man, suspecting their designs upon him, became extremely watchful and took to flattering his cannibalistic colleagues and courting their favour. He assured them that some boats would be along 'very soon' and furthermore claimed to be able to speak the language of the country, which he said he had learnt whilst serving as a soldier in India some years before.
This wheedle took effect; and they thought it behooved 'em to preserve him, for his ability in that kind. Adrian Raas helpt to carry on the story, although he knew 'twas false; affirming, a man of his arts, was better than a treasure in a strange country. One of the most hunger-starved, seeing nothing done, and all his contrivances rendered ineffectual: well said he, is this the fruit of all our projects? Will nobody dye? Adrian Raas seeing his remonstrances would do no good, proposed to 'em the drawing of lots; by which means, that person whom heaven judged worthy of death, should have it. But his proposal was rejected.
Two of their number, fearing that only death awaited them on this barren isle, offered to leave in search of rescue. Although they had no means of constructing any other boat, the idea was generally liked by all. They even gave their two companions most of their money, so that they might have more success if they ever reached the mainland.
They set off, and found to their utter amazement that in no time at all they reached a Bengali village. The curious villagers rushed out to meet the Dutchmen who found it impossible to communicate to them that they had other companions who were in need of rescue, nonetheless, their personal needs were apparent. They were clothed, well fed and shipped off hundreds of miles away to be presented before the local ruler. The extent of their distress (or lack of it) when faced with not being able to send a boat for their comrades, has not been recorded.
Whilst those who went in search of rescue were being pampered and comforted, their companions still languished and starved on the exposed sandbank. They somehow managed to cling onto life for another eight days when at length they saw a group of passing fishermen, who they frantically waved at, beckoning them to shore.
They urged the corpulent man, who professed a fluent knowledge of Bengali, to do his bit: to tell these fishermen about their awful predicament. Keeping up the ruse, he shouted 'pai, pai!' and other gibberish which he thought might sound like an Indian language. The fisherman gaped at the Dutchman, their faces revealing a profound incomprehension. They shook their heads, and shrugged their shoulders, not being able to make head nor tail of the strange language.
He looked at his colleagues, who were as dumbfounded as the fishermen. Andrew Raas guiltily averted his gaze, as he had assured the others that their would-be interpreter had quite a way with words with the old Indians.
He then conceded there was no longer any point in continuing with this charade and confessed that his fluent Bengali was merely an unintelligible babble: the product ofhis own fertile and desperate imagination.
…whereupon the rest repented they had not eaten him. After a thousand reproaches, and invectives against him, for his abusing them; at length they made a shift by signs to make 'emselves understood; and the fishermen, in approaching them, required ‘em to lay down their knives, before they come on board: where they had no sooner been, but they fell immediately to fighting, who should have a dead fish, which they saw lying in the boat, and in this bustle, dropt a bagg of money; which being taken notice of by the fishermen, they immediately seized upon their wretched passengers; and having spoiled them of all, turned them out again, in the same place where they took them in.
The final disappointment of being robbed and thrown out of their long awaited rescue boat was too much to bear. The emaciated castaways did not have the energy to even contemplate cannibalism nor any other devise to ensure their survival. They had suffered what they took to be fate's final hand. Exhausted and demoralised, they collapsed on the sand and lay like lifeless corpses, waiting for death to take them from that miserable place.
Having lain upon the sand for twenty-four hours, another vessel passed by. Its crew yelled to the horizontal Dutchmen and beckoned them aboard. The skeletal castaways raised themselves up and staggered like a gang of zombies into the waiting boat. As if in the grips of a marvellous dream - they were given a pot of honey which tasted like a piece of heaven. This time they knew better than to riot.
The fishermen were in no hurry to leave, and loitered in the area, fixing their nets and such like. The Dutchmen, fearing their fortunes would take another turn for the worst, discretely poured the remaining honey in their hats. Their fears, however, were unfounded, for in the morning they were taken to shore and within a short while were sent to the governor, who received them with the usual kindness and made sure they wanted for nothing. After five days convalescence, he advised them to make haste to the nearest Dutch commercial settlement, to notify them of the wreck. And thus they were rescued.