THE SPICERIES AT LAST
 IT would be a pleasure to tarry, with the amusing and loquacious Chevalier Pigafetta as guide
and companion, on the coast of wonderful Borneo; but we must not lose sight of the real
object we have in mind—the route to the Spice Islands. The explorers we are
following allowed themselves to be diverted too easily from their course; first by rumors
of pearls as big as hen's eggs, and "so round that they would not stand still on a table,"
a pair of which pearls were somewhere on the very sea they were sailing, in a junk bound
for Borneo, as a present to its sultan.
They pursued and overhauled junk after junk, but all to no purpose, and in their devious
wanderings found themselves back again on the coast of Mindanao, which they reached by way
of the Sulu Archipelago.
 The Sultan of Sulu was the original possessor of the pearls, and he owned the richest
fisheries in those seas; but, he told the seekers for the Spice Islands, those particular
pearls had been taken from him by pirates from Borneo, and he knew not where they were. As
for the Spice Islands, however, they were southeast of his capital; ten degrees they must
sail, first through the Celebes Sea, then into that of the Moluccas, where they would find
the islands Ternate and Tidor, with others, that produced nutmegs, cloves and cinnamon.
This information was confirmed by the captain of a piratical proa, which they attacked and
captured, between Sulu and Mindanao. They slew seven of his crew, and they put him in
irons, so that he was in despair; but when he learned that they were in search of the
Spiceries, he offered to pilot them there, provided they gave him his liberty and his proa
to command again. Most gladly they promised, for their provisions were failing once more,
and after sailing hither and thither so many months, on a quest which it seemed might be
endless, they desired rest and refreshment.
Then said the captain of the piratical
 proa: "Lo, I can take ye there, for I have friends in those islands whom I have visited
oft. Among them one of your countrymen, Francisco Serrao, who was my friend, but now is no
more, for the King of Tidor caused him to be poisoned." Then indeed they
rejoiced—though their joy was tinctured with sadness, to learn of the passing away
of that gallant Portuguese, Serrao. Upon close questioning of the pirate captain, it was
found that he had been murdered the very week that Magellan, his most intimate friend, and
Joao Serrao, his brother, met death by violence at Mactan and Cebu.
Francisco Serrao, it will be recalled, was wrecked on one of the Moluccas, in the year
1511, while in the King of Portugal's service. He gained the confidence of a native ruler,
the King of Ternate, whom he enriched at the expense of the King of Tidor; whose beautiful
daughter, also, Serrao captured and presented to his liege lord. Though ten years had
passed since that event, the King of Tidor held it in remembrance, and having lured him to
his island, on a pretence of trading in spices, poisoned him, out of revenge.
Thus had perished the reckless soldier,
 Francisco Serrao, who, during at least seven or eight years of his residence in the
Moluccas, had maintained an occasional correspondence with his dearest friend Fernan
Magellan. To him, more than to any other mortal, Magellan was indebted for the idea of
reaching the Spice Islands by sailing westward from Africa, and for information concerning
their resources. Francisco Serrao, in fact, not only lighted the beacon-flame that guided
Magellan and beckoned him on, but fed that flame for years, in the hope of bringing his
friend to him at last. He probably knew of the expedition commanded by Magellan, as the
King of Portugal had despatched an armada to the Spice Islands for the purpose of
intercepting and destroying it. Only a few months more of life to each, and these old
comrades would have met; but the hand of grim Death stretched forth and dragged them both
into the grave.
With the captive pirate at the helm of the flag-ship, the two ships in company sailed
across the Celebes Sea—or, rather, they skirted it, dodging in and out among
volcanic islands—until finally, in the morning of November 6, 1521, four lofty
islands rose on the horizon. These, the pilot told them, were the
 Moluccas, of which they had been in search no less than twenty-six months, that being the
time that had elapsed since they sailed out of Seville. Two pointed peaks, they said, the
conical tips of insular volcanoes covered with a vegetation ravishingly beautiful to
behold, were the cloud-wreathed crowns of Ternate and Tidor. As they approached them,
fragrant gales were wafted to the fleet, and the weary sailors needed not to be told that
here before them, at last, were the long-sought, long-looked-for Islands of Spices!
"Three hours before sunset of Friday, November 8th," says Pigafetta, "we entered the
harbor of an island called Tidor, and anchoring near the shore, in twenty fathoms of
water, fired off all our artillery as a salute to its king. Next day the said king came to
the ships in a proa, and circled about them once. He was seated under a silk awning; in
front of him was one of his sons, with the royal sceptre, and a person on each side with a
gilded casket and a gold jar, containing betel-nuts and water. The king said to us we were
welcome, and that he had dreamt some time before that we were coming; for he was an
astrologer, and his name was Almanzor."
 In short, the new-comers received the King of Tidor as Magellan had received the Prince of
Cebu. The red-velvet chair of state was brought out and sat on deck, he was clothed in a
robe of yellow silk, and presented with such articles as beads, knives, mirrors,
drinking-cups, webs of linen, bales of silk, the robe in which he was draped, and the
chair of state he sat in.
So rejoiced were the commanders and crew at having arrived in these islands much desired,
that they would have given the king whatever he wanted; but he himself begged them to
desist, as he had nothing worthy, he said, to present them in exchange, for the acceptance
of their king, unless, indeed, he sent himself! But he had cloves and cinnamon, and for
these the ships had been laden with goods to barter many, many months before. The spices,
King Almanzor informed his guests, were on the way to the coast, being products of the
interior country, and especially of the mountain districts, where the fragrant groves
covered hills and vales alike.
So anxious were the Spaniards to please this king of the Spiceries that they presented him
with the three beautiful females taken
 from the Prince of Luzon, for his harem, and as he was a "Moro," or Mohammedan, they
killed all the pigs on board the two ships, in order not to offend his religious
sensibilities. For the Spaniards knew quite well that they were trespassing upon a
Portuguese dependency, and that this same sovereign was bound by treaty to trade
exclusively with their rivals.
Only by suffrance, they realized, could they procure the precious spices they had come so
far to find, and the sultan was treated as though he were, "in very truth, a king." This
policy had its effect, as was soon shown by the stream of runners from the country, each
one bearing on his back a bale of cloves. The trading then "waxed fast and furious," for
not only the factors of the ships began purchasing, but all the common sailors as well,
each man being entitled to a quintalada, or percentage of the lading-space aboard
ship, ranging from eighty quintals allowed the captain-general, to a quintal and a half
for a sailor.
Trading began on the night of November 24th, at which time the van-guard of the spice-army
arrived. The sultan launched his proa, with its gorgeous banners and
 silken awnings, and,, with drums beating furiously, circled around the ships, which
saluted him repeatedly by discharges of cannon, "for the joy that was felt over the
arrival of the cloves." The first loads were scarcely aboard the ships, when the sultan
invited officers and crews to join him at a banquet in his palace among the palm-trees on
shore; but, with the horrors of Cebu's massacre in mind, the invitation was declined.
The king was not offended thereby, but continued friendly, for there was great rivalry
between him and several other sovereigns for the trade and good-will of the Spaniards. In
this merry war joined the kings of Ternate, of Batchian, and Gilolo, who vied with each
other in their efforts to win the regard of the strangers. The first sent vast quantities
of cloves, the second a slave for the Emperor of Spain, and the third skins of the
bird-of-paradise, which had never been seen by Spaniards before. These skins were without
feet, and this fact, together with their wonderfully beautiful plumage, led the Spaniards
to believe what the natives told them: that the birds descended from paradise, where they
lived with the souls of the saints; that
 they never touched the earth, but pursued a strictly aerial existence, ever floating about
in the air, not even alighting in trees.
Judging from the regal state of these island sovereigns, they were kings, indeed, and more
than semi-savage chiefs. The King of Tidor, for example, had a palace in town and another
in the country, with a hundred wives in each. When he ate he sat alone, or with the wife
he loved best, in a high gallery, with the other ninety-and-nine looking on in admiration.
When he had finished, they were permitted to partake, or remove from the table what they
liked best and eat it alone in their chambers. This king had eight sons and eighteen
daughters; but the Moro kings of Gilolo surpassed him, for one rejoiced in the possession
of six hundred children, and the other five hundred and twenty-five. At least, this is
what the veracious Pigafetta tells us; though he probably received his information at
While the Spaniards were so merrily lading their ships with the spices they had come so
far to procure, and enjoying to the utmost the material delights of these paradisiacal
isles, they were reminded occasionally, by
 rumors from Ternate, that they were yet in a position of peril. These islands were
considered appanages of Portugal, because a Portuguese navigator had, first of all
Europeans, visited and traded with them. One day there came over from Ternate a Portuguese
named Lorosa, who informed them that not long before a fleet of armed traders under Don
Tristan de Meneses had been there, looking for Magellan as well as for trade. The King of
Portugal had also sent an armada to the Cape of Good Hope, in order to intercept that
"renegade," as well as one to the coast of Patagonia; but all had failed to find and
capture him. It was almost time, however, he said, for the fleet to return, and in case of
its coming the Spaniards would certainly be in peril, for although Portugal and Spain were
at peace as to the Iberian Peninsula, they were likely to war over their colonial
possessions; and the coming armada was a strong one, far surpassing in tonnage, guns, and
men that of the Spaniards.
This information caused the commanders such anxiety that they hurried forward the lading
by night and by day. By mid-December both ships had so much cargo
 that no more could be taken without risk of over-lading, and the king was told that soon
they must take their departure. He was both astonished and grieved, says Pigafetta, and
immediately went to the flag-ship to express his displeasure.
"He said that we should not depart then, for that was not the season for sailing among
those islands. However, if it was our determination to depart then, we should take back
all our merchandise, else all the kings roundabout would say that the King of Tidor had
received so many presents from so great a king, and had given nothing in return; and that,
also, they would think we had departed only for fear of some treason, and would always
call him a traitor. Then he had his Koran brought, and, first kissing it and placing it
four or five times above his head, at the same time muttering certain words to himself, he
declared in the presence of all that he swore, by Allah and the Koran, that he would
always be faithful to the King of Spain. He spoke all those words nearly in tears, and in
sympathy for him we promised to wait yet a few days longer; but not many, as the time had
come to go."
While the sailors were awaiting orders to
 sail, they amused themselves by making ecursions into the country, where they found fruits
and flowers in profusion. On one of these trips they met a strange procession consisting
almost entirely of women, each woman nude to the waist, but with a silken skirt from the
waist to the knees. On their heads they bore large wooden trays filled with food, as also
jars of wine. Some of the men followed them and ascertained that they were taking the
material for a banquet to the King of Batchian, then a guest of the King of Tidor, who
received them sitting on a carpet, beneath a red-and-yellow canopy. Perceiving the
Spaniards on their return, some of the women captured several, and refused to allow them
their freedom until they had made presents to the company. When the king heard of this
adventure, he warned the Spaniards against going abroad at night, as there were certain
men in his island who, though headless, could see in the dark, and who rubbed a poisonous
ointment on the faces of all strangers they met, from which they fell sick and died.
The inhabitants of the islands in general were so peace-loving and gentle, and the islands
themselves so entrancingly sweet and
 attractive, with their various vegetation and delicious atmosphere, that the strangers
felt more disposed to remain than to depart. But the time arrived when, as the winter
monsoon had set in, they must take their leave of the hospitable king and his beautiful
island. They had found the famed Spice Islands even more attractive than had been
represented to Magellan; and many there were on board the ships who sighed at thought of
him in his grave at Mactan, while they were enjoying what he had given his life for them
New sails were bent to the ships; a banner adorned with the cross of St. James flew from
the mast-head of the flag-ship; eighty barrels of water and heaps of sandal-wood cumbered
the decks of each vessel; the holds were filled with fragrant spices, which, together with
vast quantities of native provisions, had taken the place of tons of goods brought for
barter. Everything was in readiness for departure on the morning of December 18th, with
the pilots and navigators gathered around the helms, the seamen at their stations, and the
kings of Tidor, Batchian, and Gilolo in their royal proas, with their musicians drumming
 trumpeting like mad. A gun was fired as a signal, and the Victoria, first aweigh,
stood out of the harbor and made for the outlet amid the coral reefs. Finding that she was
not followed, her commander, Del Cano, ordered the sails aback, then, with some anxiety,
the helm about, and returned to the harbor.
What was the consternation of the Victoria's crew, to find their consort
incapacitated from proceeding by a leak, through which the water rushed with great force.
It was discovered by a sailor, at the time the order was given to "up anchor and away." A
consultation was held, at which the commanders of the two ships and the King of Tidor were
present, and it was soon decided that, the Trinidad being unable to proceed
in her leaky condition, the Victoria should sail alone, in order to avail of
the eastern monsoon, then at its height, and most favorable for the intended voyage to the
Cape of Good Hope.
The most timorous of her crew, and the invalids, were put ashore, the cargo was lightened
of some six thousand pounds of cloves, and then, after the disappointed sailors on board
the flag-ship had written
let-  ters to their friends at home—few of whom were ever to see any of them
again—the solitary vessel again turned her prow towards the harbor-mouth. The
sailors wept and huzzaed, lombards woke the echoes of the mountains by repeated
discharges, and the King of Tidor, with the prince, and his suite, waved the voyagers
farewell from the Trinidad's deck. Fifty-three Portuguese and Spaniards were
left aboard the flag-ship, and forty-seven sailed in the departing
Victoria—all that remained—a total of one hundred—of the number
that had sailed from Seville.
While the fortunate Victoria is threading the labyrinths of the Moluccan
Archipelago, let us pause for a space beside the hapless Trinidad, and after
glancing at her condition, follow her to the end of her career—which was short and
sorrowful. The crew worked desperately at the pumps, during a day and a night, but were
unable to gain on the leak. Then the King of Tidor sent for his most expert divers, who,
with hair hanging loose, in order to locate the inrush of water, crawled along the keel
beneath the bottom for hours, but without avail. The leak could not be discovered, and it
 necessary to beach the vessel, discharge her cargo, and remove her artillery to shore,
that she might be careened and thoroughly overhauled.
The king loaned Captain Espinosa two hundred carpenters, who worked by shifts for months,
and finally, on April 6, 1522, the Trinidad departed from Tidor, with the
port of Panama as the destination her commander hoped to attain. Fifty-four men were left
to her, and she carried almost a ton of cloves to each member of her crew—or fifty
tons in all. But neither vessel, cargo, nor crew was to reach their destination, for,
pursued by one misfortune after another, the voyage was made but haltingly. Even before
the Ladrones were reached the provisions began to fail, and, as the alguacil-captain,
Espinosa, persisted in sailing a northeasterly course, directly in the teeth of head-winds
and howling gales, inevitable disaster was the result. The main-mast was lost in a gale of
five-days' duration, and the ship compelled to turn about and limp backward to the
Moluccas, where she arrived just in time to be captured by a Portuguese fleet under
Antonio de Brito.
With seven ships and three hundred men
 at his command, De Brito did not long hesitate as to the course to pursue. He took
possession of the crippled Trinidad, her log-books, nautical instruments, and
cargo; but most of the cloves were lost in a gale while she was unlading, and in which she
drifted ashore and went to pieces.
That was not quite the last of Magellan's unfortunate flag-ship, however, for her timbers
were used in the construction of a Portuguese fort in Ternate. Her captain and crew were
imprisoned, and treated with such barbarity that no less than fifty of them perished, only
four surviving to reach their native land. Espinosa was one of the four who, wasted and
wan, arrived in Spain early in 1525. They were graciously received by the emperor; but
though Espinosa was granted a pension and a patent of nobility, he was denied payment for
his services while a prisoner, on the ground that, being a prisoner, he could then render
no service. And the victim of this unparalleled meanness on the part of Spain had endured
sufferings untold in defence of her honor!