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palisades

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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Henry’s happy to report that 2009 sympathizers of his have put together this game to help you appreciate cultural facts about his current employers. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, there’s some time warp here. Your job is to match each half with its mate. You choose which half to start with: top or bottom.

drinkJenever

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The “keeper of the north” has rebuffed but forgiven me once again:  icy billows washing over our ship, gusts, snow, hail.  Adding to this, this arctic demon seems again to have possessed my crew, stealing their souls perhaps but more threatening is this demon leads them to mutiny.  Blackened right eye and bulging left one have convinced me: we got as far as latitude 71 N, but to save our ship and this mission to Cathay—after all, not to the borealis—I order the helm made for the southwest, VOC and their contract notwithstanding.

at stern

Here’s my plan:  after stopping here in the Faeroes to replenish our fresh water, we make for the southwest and to Jamestown so that from thence . . . we cross the isthmus and make for Cathay.

Thanks to Towmasters, for the background photo.

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So now I have a ship, and I’ve started working with VOC to hire a crew.  Yope, as usual, has been an enormous help, sending letters across the Channel up to Van Meteren in London, and we’ve started getting English sailors applying to sail.  Robert Juet from last year’s trip has responded already, for example.  A good sailor/mate he,  but I’ve never gotten along famously with him.

Then there’ve been the Dutch who applied, and one of those named Bram brought with him his  Javanese assistant Pernomo.

serangskating21

But Pernomo seems wretched in the cold of Amsterdam putting on sarong after sarong and many turbans to seek warmth.  How would he get on if we sailed over the Nordkap looking past the icebergs for the Northeast Passage, I wondered.  And I’ve hit on hiring requirement:  I’ll list ice skating as an essential skill.   We are, after all,  sailing north to a place where ice and snow might bar our passage,  so if Pernomo can learn to iceskate, then surely I can hire him.  And now that I think further on this, Bram mentioned that from sailing the Eastern ports and transacting on those faraway docks, Pernomo can speak many languages of the East, including some words from Cathay!

Pernomo may be a valuable crewman even if he can’t skate well, for he can interpret once we arrive later this year in Cathay!

*Art modified above was by Bart van Hove (1856-1914).

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“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 . . .”

intrigue5

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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