Chapter 49

 

I was still anxious the savages might return with a bigger army, but nothing of the kind happened, so after a while I began considering the voyage by sea again. I asked the Spaniard about his arrival on these islands and he said that he had been on a Spanish ship going to Havana. There were sixteen more Europeans, Spaniards and Portuguese, on Friday’s home island.

He told me that five Portuguese sailors were saved from another shipwreck and taken aboard. The storm broke the ship near my island and some of the men drowned. The rest saved themselves in a boat and were now living with the savages.

I asked the Spaniard whether they had not tried to undertake another sea voyage, but he said that they had no tools with which to build another boat. They did not even have gunpowder because it all spoiled in the water.

I asked his opinion on the current situation. Even if I and the Spanish and Portuguese sailors somehow managed to reach the continent, I would be in danger of being carried into the Inquisition. He assured me that they lived so miserably among the savages that they would never consider betraying me to their officials. The Spanish and Portuguese sailors had no clothes left, no food or weapons, so that returning to their fellowmen was completely out of question. He was convinced that they would do anything to go home and would treat me very well for my help.

Hearing all this and observing the Spaniard for some time, I decided that it would be better if he and Friday’s father return to their island and inform the other Europeans of our plan. After that, they would bring them all here, where with my tools and knowledge and with their help we could build a vessel to carry us to the continent.

It was then that the Spaniard suggested something else. He persuaded me that it would be better to delay the execution of this plan for at least half a year, because there was not enough food for fifteen more men on my island. We would not have enough food to eat while building the ship, and much less to take with us for the long voyage.