| Our Empire Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Vivid and picturesque account of the principal events in the building of the British Empire. Traces the development of the British colonies from days of discovery and exploration through settlement and establishment of government. Includes stories of the five chief portions of the Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. Ages 10-16 |
SUCCESS AT LAST
 HAVING escaped many dangers, having suffered many
misfortunes, having lost two of his ships, Vasco da
Gama did at length, after a voyage of eleven months,
reach India. The joy was great when at last the
long-looked-for shore appeared, and the dream of years was
Vasco da Gama landed some little distance from the
town of Calicut, which was well known in Europe as
the place from which calico came. But until that day
no European had set foot there.
But even now that India was reached, the dangers
were not over. The Arab merchants, who had grown
rich through their Indian trade, were jealous of the
newcomers. So they tried to make mischief between
the Zamorin or King of Calicut and the Portuguese.
They told him that these white-faced people had come
not to trade, but to conquer his land.
By treachery the Arabs succeeded in taking Vasco
prisoner. The Indians who helped them, however, did
not dare to put him to death, and he was at length set
free. But he never forgave the Moors and Arabs for
their treachery, and swore to be avenged upon them.
Meanwhile, however, they had so set the people of
Calicut against the Portuguese, that it was only with
great difficulty that Vasco could gather a small cargo of
 spices and drugs. With this he was forced to be content,
and set sail for home.
But, as the wind was against them, the Portuguese,
instead of sailing straight across the Indian Ocean, sailed
northward along the Indian coast until they came to
Cannanore. Here the King received them with great
honour. For it had been foretold long ago by one of
his wise men that the whole of India should one day
be ruled by a distant King whose people should be
white, and who would do great harm to those who
were not their friends. So the King of Cannanore and
his counsellors, making sure that these were the white
men who were one day to rule India, made haste to be
To Vasco da Gama the King sent such great presents
of pepper and cinnamon, clove, mace. ginger, and all
kinds of spice, that the ships could not hold it, and Vasco
was obliged at last to refuse to take more.
Thus at length, well rewarded for their troubles
and toil, Vasco and his men sailed home. And after
more adventures and dangers they reached Lisbon in
Great were the rejoicings when the ships arrived.
For they had been gone two and a half years, and both
King and people had given up all hope of their
Now that at length the route to India was found,
Portugal was raised to great importance. Her kings
took the proud title of "Lords of the Conquest, Navigation
and Commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia, and
China," and for a hundred years the flag of Portugal
was honoured on every sea.
Vasco da Gama was richly rewarded. He was given
the title of Dom or lord. And when every one was paid,
 and the widows and children of those who had lost their
lives in the adventure had been cared for, it was found
that the Portuguese had still made sixty times as much
as they had spent on fitting out the expedition.
The way to India once found, the Portuguese were
not slow to make use of it. Again and again expeditions
set out, and soon not only traders went, but soldiers
also, to guard them from the hatred and spite of the
Moors and Arabs.
The Portuguese made friendly treaties with the Kings
of Cannanore and Cochin. They built factories and
left factors and clerks there, and thus the commerce of
Europe with India was begun. These factories were not
what we mean now by factories. They were not places
where goods were made, but simply trading stations,
houses where the natives brought their goods and
exchanged them for other goods. A factor means really
one who does trade for another.
With the King of Calicut and with the Moors there
was war. Whenever the Portuguese met a Calicut
vessel they attacked it, took what they wanted of the
cargo, sunk or burned the ship, and killed all the
Those were terrible times, and trade was not the
peaceful thing that it is now. It was almost as dangerous
and quite as exciting as war, and traders were often little
better than pirates.
When Vasco da Gama made his second voyage to
India he avenged himself terribly on the Moors, as he
had vowed to do. Coming upon a fleet of twenty-four of
their vessels he captured them all. After having taken
as much of the cargo as he wanted, he cut off the hands,
noses, and ears of the sailors. He then tied their feet
together, and so that they might not untie the knots
 with their teeth, he ordered his men to knock them
out. Lastly he set fire to the ships, and with sails set
to the shore, he let them drift homeward with their
That a wise brave man like Vasco da Gama should be
so brutal seems terrible now, but in those fierce times he
seemed only to be taking a just revenge.
In a very short time the little Portuguese trading
stations grew into forts, the forts grew into towns, where
Christian churches rose beside Moslem mosques and
Hindu temples; Portuguese vessels cruised along the
coasts attacking any ship, no matter of what country,
which might dare to enter Indian waters; Portuguese
viceroys held sway on Indian shores from the Gulf of
Cambay to what is now Madras; and the trade with
Burma and Bengal, with China and Japan and all the
East was in their hands. All this was not brought about
without much fighting and many wars. But Portugal in
those days was strong and powerful, and all over the
world her merchants were as much feared for their might
as envied for their wealth.
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