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The farther upriver we went, the friendlier the natives.  One day we enjoyed a northerly and  sailed 60 miles.  Over 100 miles up , I went ashore in a canoe and met an old man, a chief.  About 40 men and 17 woman gathered there.  They killed some doves and a fat dog and skinned it with shells out of the water.

The land is the finest for cultivation that I have ever set foot upon, and it abounds in trees of every description:  a great  many handsome oak, walnut, chestnut, yew.  In addition, there is much slate  and other good stone for houses.  The natives are a very good people.  When they supposed I was afraid, they took their arrows, broke them in pieces, and threw them into the fire.  But our intentions of peace . . . our self-restraint, our tolerance of misunderstood difference, these things were not to last.

And when we failed as ship-borne explorers and discoverers, we had to turn south.  Either that or dredge and then dig a trench through dry valleys to Cathay.  Failures as of that moment.  A botched, bungled bumping into the bankruptcy of our ideas.  Bankrupted myself, as well, given the ire I face from officers of the VOC.

And as ambassadors, we didn’t manage things so well either.  A few days south into our retreat from finding Cathay,  we witnessed a person of the mountains jump from his canoe into the stern cabin window.  As he left with clothing and bandoliers, a hot-headed member of my crew shot and killed him.  This precipitated an attack by men in two canoes, one on either side.  We returned fire with muskets and killed two or three of them.  They continued to assault us, so we killed more of them with the cannon.  And this was to be a voyage of exploration, one I imagined would result in communing with the people of Cathay.  Communing, not massacring.

Near Manna-hata we anchored in a safe place.  A cliff close by has a white-green color as though it were a copper or silver mine.  No people there came to trouble us and we rode quietly all night, although with much wind and rain.

I confess it troubles me that our relations with the native people have not been what I imagined we’d have with those of Cathay.  It troubles me even more deeply that I seem alone in my distress.  I’ve seen this river leads nowhere toward Cathay;  I am fearful for the path we have blazed between the Algonquins and our people.

A postscript:  our ship’s Cat . . . Cathay seems to have gone missing.  I loved that cat, but after searching from the bilges to the mastheads, I’m certain Cathay has not been spotted since  the attacks upriver.

(Painting: retouched image of Sanford R. Gifford’s Sunset on the Hudson, 1876)

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When I came on shore, the swarthy natives all stood around and sung in their fashion;  their clothing consisted of the skins of foxes and other animals, which they dress and make the skins into garments of various sorts.  Their food is Turkish wheat, which they cook by baking, and it is excellent eating.  They always carry with them green tobacco, which is strong and good for use.  They appear to be a friendly people.

It is as pleasant a land as one need tread upon; very abundant in all kinds of timber suitable for shipbuilding, and for making large casks or vats.

ship canoesYet as Mr Juet is right in saying . . . as we lay at anchor behind a sheltered sandy hook, five of our men took the ship’s boat and sailed the Narrowing of islands and into a large anchorage.  As they returned, about a dozen natives in two canoes attacked the boat and with an arrow through the throat killed the leader, John Colman.

A few days on, the people of the country came aboard.  They showed signs of love, gave us tobacco and wheat, and departed.  How far can we trust each other? How can we avoid all intent of treachery?

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Call me Henry. Let’s look one year ahead and 400 back, traveling to mid-October 1608, and I’ve just returned from my second voyage, with Ming Cathay again eluding me.

The sea past Nova Zembla just closed with ice. With it, my prospects in the employ of the Muscovy Company also shut. But my dreams remain vivid and I

see my vessel entering a rich harbor.  I don’t care which vessel or which flag, but the vessel arrives.  I see it in my dreams, and no matter what the port

Cathay or not, it’s still worth getting there, and

its future is bright although in my dreams I see it only dimly for now.

But I also see future denizens of the port celebrate another, someone who never sailed in their boro.  No Hudson Day existed, and so this port that values trade and mariner values celebrates this other day, Columbus Day in the sixth boro, a holiday with a history that started here in 1792!

I protest!  The boro should have an annual Hudson Day or Half Moon week.  Here’s the Half Moon site.

In my next post, I will recap our tempestuous second voyage in summer 1608  and update you on my endeavors to find a new employer.

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