“The directors shall equip . . . a small vessel . . . well provided with men, provisions, and other necessaries. Hudson shall sail . . . search for a passage by the north . . . north of Nova Zemla—-hmm, thinks I, I’m not going to die there “king of the ice” like Barents—-obtain knowledge . . . without any considerable loss of time . . . return immediately . . . make a faithful report . . . deliver over journals, log-books, and charts . . . without keeping anything back . . .”
I wonder how much VOC directors van Os and Poppe do me trust. Truth be told, intrigue is the norm here. Yope introduced me to Petrus Plancius . . . er “flatfoot” Yope calls him. Petrus says not to talk to LeMaire, the Dutch “Frenchman,” who was telling about Champlain’s explorations up the big river. Petrus also says my friend John Smith knows not what he suggests, that he has fantasies on the brain like his rescue from princesses like Tragabigzanda and Pocahontas. Smith, on the other hand, assures me in private letters, of credible stories he’s heard tell of large seas maybe leading to Cathay lying northwest of his Virginia colony.
Intrigue!! Social networking in 1609 Amsterdam. Dam! Yope just laughs and refills my glass with beer.
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Greetings from Holland, where I’ve been for almost a month already, thanks to Mr van Meteren. He’s introduced me to Josse de Hondt, or Jodocus Hondius. Van Meteren writes history and makes it happen; Jodocus makes maps and translates for me, except when we speak Latin. After copious sips of Dutch beer, I’ve even started slipping from Latin into Dutch. When no VOC officers linger, he asks I call him Yope, and he addresses me as Henk.
The most useful Dutch word I’ve learned so far is goeie dag, which means hello and good-bye and in the pronouncing sounds like a rude throating-clearing. Actually, it’s pronounced like goo ya DOG, but with both g‘s scraped.
Otherwise, I truly love Amsterdam, where people from beyond the seven seas walk the docks and sit down together to break bread and spill beer.
I’ve stayed in Yope’s house in Den Hague in between trips to Amsterdam to meet with officers of the VOC. He entertains a wide range of people, many of whom are exiled from Antwerp, a less tolerant place; I’ve met some French, including Isaac le Maire, which seemed to trouble my hosts as soon as Monsieur leMaire suggested I sail for le bon roi Henri.
Today they offered me a contract. Yope is translating the terms as I write this note. Good money for me, but it seems they want to keep my wife and children in Amsterdam as guarantee that I return here.
More later when Yope finishes his translations.
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