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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vol. IVoyaging Accounts
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The Coast of Mindanao


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The Coast of Mindanao (continued)

As I was now farther convinced that it was necessary to dispose of our little force to the greatest advantage, we began the next day by getting the guns up from the hold, and making the necessary repairs to our rigging. At eleven o'clock, not having seen any thing of the people, who had endeavoured to terrify us by their yells in the night, I sent the longboat on shore for more water; but, as I thought it probable that they might have concealed, themselves in the woods, I kept the cutter manned and armed, with the Lieutenant on board, that immediate succour might be sent to the waterers, if any danger should threaten them. It soon appeared that my conjectures were well sounded; for our people had no sooner left their boat, than a number of armed men rushed out of the woods, one of whom held up somewhat white, which I took to be a signal of peace. Upon this occasion I was again sensible of the mortifying deficiency in the ships equipment, which I had so often experienced before. I had, no white flag on board, and therefore as the best expedient in my power, I ordered the Lieutenant, whom I sent on shore in the cutter, to display one of my tablecloths: as soon as the officer landed, the standard-bearer and another came down to him unarmed, and received him with great appearance of friendship. One of them addressed him in Dutch, which none of our people understood; he then spoke a few words in Spanish, in which one of the persons of the cutter was a considerable proficient: the Indian however spoke it so very imperfectly, that it was with great difficulty, and by the help of many signs, be made himself understood; possibly if any of our people had spoken Dutch, he might have been found equally deficient in that language. He asked for the Captain however by the name of the skipper, and enquired whether we were Hollanders; whether our ship was intended for merchandize or for war; how many guns and men she carried; and whether she had been, or was going to Batavia. When we had satisfied him in all these particulars, he said that we should go to the town, and that he would introduce us to the Governor, whom he distinguished by the title of Raja. The Lieutenant then told him, that we intended to go to the town, but that we were in immediate want of water, and therefore desired permission to fill some casks; he also requested that the people who were armed with bows and arrows might be ordered to a greater distance. With both there requisitions the Indian, who seemed to be invested with considerable authority, complied; and as he seemed to take particular notice of a silk handkerchief which the Lieutenant had tied round his neck, it was immediately presented to him; in return for which he desired him to accept a kind of cravat, made of coarse callico, which was tied round his own, his dress being somewhat after the Dutch fashion. After this interchange of cravats, he enquired of the officer whether the ship was furnished with any articles for trade; to which he answered that she was sufficiently furnished to trade for provisions, but nothing more: the Chief replied, that whatever we wanted we should have. After this conference, which I considered as an earnest of every advantage which this place could afford us, the boats returned on board laden with water, and we went cheerfully on with our business on board the ship. In about two hours, however, we saw, with equal surprise and concern, many hundreds of armed men, posting themselves in parties at different places among the trees, upon the beach abreast of the ship; their weapons were musquets, bows and arrows, long pikes or spears, broad swords, a kind of hanger called a cress, and targets: we observed also, that they hauled a canoe, which lay under a shed upon the beach, up into the woods. These were not friendly appearances, and they were succeeded by others that were still more hostile; for these people spent all the remainder of the day in entering and rushing out of the woods, as if they had been making sallies to attack an enemy; sometimes shooting their arrows, and throwing their lances into the water towards the ship; and sometimes lifting their targets, and brandishing their swords at us in a menacing manner. In the mean time we were not idle on board: we got up our guns, repaired our rigging, and put every thing in order before evening, and then, being ready to sail, I determined, if possible, to get another conference with the people on shore, and learn the reason of so sudden and unaccountable a change of behaviour. The Lieutenant therefore was again dispatched, and as a testimony that our disposition was still peaceable, the tablecloth was again displayed as a flag of truce. I had the precaution, however, to order the boat to a part of the beach which was clear of wood, that the people on board might not be liable to mischief from enemies whom they could not see; I also ordered that nobody should go on shore. When the Indians saw the boat come to the beach, and observed that nobody landed, one of them came out of the wood with a bow and arrows in his hand, and made signs for the boat to come to the place where he stood. This the officer very prudently declined, as he would then have been within bow-shot of an ambuscade, and after waiting some time, and finding that a conference could be procured upon no other terms, he returned back to the ship. It was certainly in my power to have destroyed many of these unfriendly people, by firing my great guns into the wood, but it would have answered no good purpose: we could not afterwards have procured wood and water here without risking the loss of our own people, and I still hoped that refreshment might be procured upon friendly terms at the town, which, now I was in a condition to defend myself against a sudden assault, I resolved to visit.

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© Derived from Volume I of the London 1773 Edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 613 - 616, 2004
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