Betrayal at Goa

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Chapter 2: Betrayal at Goa

We made our Way for the East-Indies, by the Coast of Brasil ; not that it is in the Course of Sailing the Way thither; but our Captain, either on his own Account, or by the Direction of the Merchants, went thither first, where at All Saints Bay, or as they call it in Portugal, the Rio de Todos los Santos, we delivered near an Hundred Ton of Goods, and took in a considerable Quantity of Gold, with some Chests of Sugar, and Seventy or Eighty great Rolls of Tobacco, every Roll weighing at least 100 Weight.

Here being lodged on Shore by my Master's Order, I had the Charge of the Captain's Business, he having seen me very diligent for my own Master; and in Requital for his mistaken Confidence, I found Means to secure, that is to say, to steal about twenty Moydores out of the Gold that was Shipt on Board by the Merchants, and this was my first Adventure. 

We had a tolerable Voyage from hence to the Cape de bona Speranza ; and I was reputed as a mighty diligent Servant to my Master, and very faithful (I was diligent indeed, but I was very far from honest; however, they thought me honest, which by the Way, was their very great Mistake) upon this very Mistake, the Captain took a particular Liking to me, and employ'd me frequently on his own Occasions; and on the other Hand, in Recompence for my Officious Diligence, I received several particular Favours from him; particularly, I was by the Captain's Command, made a kind of a Steward under the Ship's Steward, for such Provisions as the Captain demanded for his own Table. He had another Steward for his private Stores besides, but my Office concerned only what the Captain called for of the Ship's Stores, for his private Use. 

However, by this Means I had Opportunity particularly to take Care of my Master's Man, and to furnish my self with sufficient Provisions to make me live much better than the other People in the Ship; for the Captain seldom ordered any thing out of the Ship's Stores, as above, but I snipt some of it for my own Share. We arrived at Goa in the East-Indies, in about seven Months, from Lisbon, and remained there eight more; during which Time I had indeed nothing to do, my Master being generally on Shore, but to learn every thing that is wicked among the Portuguese, a Nation the most perfidious and the most debauch'd, the most insolent and cruel, of any that pretend to call themselves Christians, in the World.

Thieving, Lying, Swearing, Forswearing, joined to the most abominable Lewdness, was the stated Practice of the Ship's Crew; adding to it, that with the most unsufferable Boasts of their new Courage, they were generally speaking the most compleat Cowards that I ever met with; and the Consequence of their Cowardice was evident upon many Occasions. However, there was here and there one among them that was not so bad as the rest; and as my Lot fell among them, it made me have the most contemptible Thoughts of the rest, as indeed they deserved. 

I was exactly fitted for their Society indeed; for I had no Sense of Virtue or Religion upon me. I had never heard much of either, except what a good old Parson had said to me when I was a Child of about Eight or Nine Years old; nay, I was preparing, and growing up apace, to be as wicked as any Body could be, or perhaps ever was. Fate certainly thus directed my Beginning, knowing that I had Work which I had to do in the World, which nothing but one hardened against all Sense of Honesty or Religion, could go thro'; and yet even in this State of Original Wickedness, I entertained such a settled Abhorrence of the abandon'd Vileness of the Portuguese, that I could not but hate them most heartily from the Beginning, and all my Life afterwards. They were so brutishly wicked, so base and perfidious, not only to Strangers, but to one another; so meanly submissive when subjected; so insolent, or barbarous and tyrannical when superiour, that I thought there was something in them that shock'd my very Nature. Add to this, that 'tis natural to an Englishman to hate a Coward, it all joined together to make the Devil and a Portuguese equally my Aversion.

However, according to the English Proverb, He that is Shipp'd with the Devil must sail with the Devil ; I was among them, and I manag'd my self as well as I could. My Master had consented that I should assist the Captain in the Office as above; but as I understood afterwards, that the Captain allowed my Master Half a Moydore a Month for my Service, and that he had my Name upon the Ship's Books also, I expected that when the Ship came to be paid four Months Wages at the Indies, as they it seems always do, my Master would let me have something for my self.

But I was wrong in my Man, for he was none of that Kind: He had taken me up as in Distress, and his Business was to keep me so, and make his Market of me as well as he could; which I began to think of after a different Manner than I did at first; for at first I thought he had entertained me in meer Charity, upon seeing my distrest Circumstances, but did not doubt, but when he put me on Board the Ship, I should have some Wages for my Service. 

But he thought, it seems, quite otherwise; and when I procured one to speak to him about it when the Ship was paid at Goa, he flew into the greatest Rage imaginable, and called me English Dog, young Heretick, and threaten'd to put me into the Inquisition. Indeed of all the Names the Four and Twenty Letters could make up, he should not have called me Heretick; for as I knew nothing about Religion, neither Protestant from Papist, or either of them from a Mahometan, I could never be a Heretick. However, it pass'd but a little, but as young as I was, I had been carried into the Inquisition; and there, if they had ask'd me, if I was a Protestant or a Catholick, I should have said Yes to that which came first. If it had been the Protestant they had ask'd first, it had certainly made a Martyr of me for I did not know what.

But the very Priest they carried with them, or Chaplain of the Ship, as we call him, saved me; for seeing me a Boy entirely ignorant of Religion, and ready to do or say any thing they bid me, he ask'd me some Questions about it, which he found I answered so very simply, that he took it upon him to tell them, he would answer for my being a good Catholick; and he hoped he should be the Means of saving my Soul; and he pleased himself, that it was to be a Work of Merit to him; so he made me as good a Papist as any of them in about a Week's Time.

I then told him my Case about my Master how, it is true, he had taken me up in a miserable Case, on Board a Man of War at Lisbon ; and I was indebted to him for bringing me on Board this Ship; that if I had been left at Lisbon, I might have starv'd, and the like: And therefore I was willing to serve him; but that I hop'd he would give me some little Consideration for my Service, or let me know how long he expected I should serve him for nothing. 

It was all one; neither the Priest or any one else could prevail with him, but that I was not his Servant but his Slave; that he took me in the Algerine ; and that I was a Turk, only pretended to be an EnglishBoy, to get my Liberty, and he would carry me to the Inquisition as a Turk .

This frighted me out of my Wits; for I had no body to vouch for me what I was, or from whence I came; but the good Padre Antonio, for that was his Name, cleared me of that Part by a Way I did not understand: For he came to me one Morning with two Sailors, and told me they must search me, to bear Witness that I was not a Turk . I was amazed at them, and frighted; and did not understand them; nor could I imagine what they intended to do to me. However, stripping me, they were soon satisfy'd; and Father Anthony bad me be easy, for they could all Witness that I was no Turk . So I escaped that Part of my Master's Cruelty. 

And now I resolved from that time to run away from him if I could; but there was no doing of it there; for there were not Ships of any Nation in the World in that Port, except two or threePersian Vessels from Ormus ; so that if I had offer'd to go away from him, he would have had me seized on Shore, and brought on Board by Force. So that I had no Remedy but Patience, and this he brought to an End too as soon as he could; for after this he began to use me ill, and not only to straiten my Provisions, but to beat and torture me in a barbarous Manner for every Trifle; so that in a Word my Life began to be very miserable. 

The Violence of this Usage of me, and the Impossibility of my Escape from his Hands, set my Head a-working upon all Sorts of Mischief; and in particular, I resolved, after studying all other Ways to deliver my self, and finding all ineffectual; I say, I resolved to murther him. With this Hellish Resolution in my Head, I spent whole Nights and Days contriving how to put it in Execution, the Devil prompting me very warmly to the Fact. I was indeed entirely at a Loss for the Means; for I had neither Gun or Sword, nor any Weapon to assault him with. Poison I had my Thoughts much upon, but knew not where to get any; or if I might have got it, I did not know the Country Word for it, or by what Name to ask for it. 

In this Manner I quitted the Fact intentionally a Hundred and a Hundred Times; but Providence, either for his sake, or for mine, always frustrated my Designs, and I could never bring it to pass; so I was obliged to continue in his Chains till the Ship, having taken in her Loading, set Sail for Portugal .

I can say nothing here to the Manner of our Voyage; for as I said, I kept no Journal; but this I can give an Account of, that having been once as high as the Cape of Good Hope, as we call it; or Cabo de bona Speranza, as they call it, we were driven back again by a violent Storm from the W. S. W. which held us six Days and Nights, a great Way to the Eastward; and after that standing afore the Wind for several Days more, we at last came to an Anchor on the Coast of Madagascar .

The Storm had been so violent, that the Ship had received a great deal of Damage, and it required some time to repair her; so standing in nearer the Shore, the Pilot, My Master, brought the Ship into a very good Harbour, where we rid in Twenty six Fathom Water, about Half a Mile from the Shore.