Wednesday, the 27th November, the king issued a proclamation that whoever had cloves might freely sell them to us. For which reason all that and the following day, we bought cloves like mad.
Tuesday the 26th November the King came to tell us that for us he had done what a King never does here, that was to leave his own island; but he had gone to show the affection he had for the King of Castile, and because when we had got our cargo, we could sooner return to Spain, and afterwards return with greater forces to avenge the death of his father, who had been killed in an island called Buru, and his body had been thrown into the sea.
He afterwards added that it was the custom in Tadore, when the first cloves were embarked in a vessel, or in junks, that the king gave a feast to their crews and merchants, and they made prayers to God to bring them in safety to their port. He wished to do the same for us, and at the same time the feast would serve for the King of Bachian, who was coming with a brother of his to pay him a visit, and on that account he had the streets cleaned. Hearing this, some of us began to suspect some treachery; all the more because we learned that, not long before, three Portuguese of the companions of Francisco Serrano had been assassinated at the place where we got water, by some of the islanders concealed in the thickets; also we often saw them whispering with the Indians whom we had made prisoners. Therefore, although some of us were inclined to accept the invitation, we concluded not to betake ourselves thither, recollecting the unfortunate feast given to our men in the island of Zubu, and we decided on a speedy departure.
Meantime a message was sent to the king to thank him, and to ask him to come soon to the ships, where we would deliver to him the four men we had promised him, with the goods which we had destined for him. The King came soon, and on entering the ship, as though he had observed that we had doubts, said that he entered with as much confidence and security as into his own house. He made us feel how much he was displeased by our unexpected haste to depart, since ships used to employ thirty days in taking in their cargo; and that if he had made a journey out of the island, he certainly had not done it to injure us but to assist us, so that we might more speedily obtain the cloves which we required, and a part of which we were still expecting. He added that it was not then a fit season for navigating in those seas, on account of the many shoals near Bandan, and besides it would be a likely thing that we should fall in with some Portuguese ships. When, in spite of what he had said, he saw we were still determined on going away, he said that we must take back all that we had given him, since the Kings, his neighbours, would consider him as a man without reputation for receiving so many presents in the name of so great a king as the King of Spain, and he had given nothing in return, and perhaps they would suspect that the Spaniards had gone away in such haste for fear of some treachery, so that they would fix upon him the name of traitor. Then, in order that no suspicion might remain in our minds of his honesty and good faith, he ordered his Koran to be brought, and kissing it devoutly he placed it four or five times on his head whilst whispering certain words to himself, with a rite which they call Zambehan, and he said in the presence of us all, that he swore by Allah and by the Koran, which he held in his hand, that he would ever be faithful and a friend to the King of Spain. He said all this almost weeping and with so great an appearance of sincerity and cordiality, that we promised to prolong our sojourn at Tadore for another fortnight. We then gave him the Royal signature and standard. We learned later, by a sure and certain channel, that some of the chiefs of those islands had indeed counselled him to kill all of us, by which thing he would have acquired for himself great merit with the Portuguese, who would have given him good assistance to avenge himself on the King of Bachian, but he, loyal and constant to the King of Spain, with whom he had sworn a peace, had answered that he would never do such an act on any account whatever.
In effect, on Monday he sent seven hundred and ninety one catils, without taking tare. To take tare means to take spice for less than what it weighs, and the reason of this is because when they are fresh, every day they diminish in weight. As these were the first cloves which we took on board, and the principal object of our voyage, we fired our bombards for joy. Cloves are called Gomode in this place; in Sarangani where we took the two pilots they are called Bonglavan, and in Malacca Chianche.
On Sunday night, the 24th of November, the king arrived, and on entering the port had his drums sounded, and passed between our ships. We fired many bombards to do him honour. He told us that for four days we should be continually supplied with cloves.
Sunday morning this same king came on board the ships and wished to see how we fought, and how we discharged the bombards, at which he was greatly pleased, for in his youth he had been a great warrior.
The same day I went on shore to see how the cloves grow, and this is what I observed. The tree from which they are gathered is high, and its trunk is as thick as a man’s body, more or less, according to the age of the plant. Its branches spread out somewhat in the middle of the tree, but near the top they form a pyramid. The bark is of an olive colour, and the leaves very like those of the laurel. The cloves grow at the end of little branches in bunches of ten or twenty. These trees always bear more fruit on one side than on the other, according to the seasons. The cloves are white when they first sprout, they get red as they ripen, and blacken when dry. They are gathered twice in the year, once about Christmas and the other time about St. John’s day, when the air in these countries is milder, and it is still more so in December. When the year is rather hot, and there is little rain, they gather in each of these islands from three to four hundred bahars of cloves. The clove tree does not live except in the mountains, and if it is transferred to the plain it dies there. The leaf, the bark, and the wood, as long as they are green, have the strength and fragrance of the fruit itself. If these are not gathered when just ripe they get so large and hard that nothing of them remains good except the rind. It is said that the mist renders them perfect, and indeed we saw almost every day a mist descend and surround one or other of the above-mentioned mountains. Among these people everyone possesses some of these trees, and each man watches over his own trees and gathers their fruit, but does not do any work round them to cultivate them. This tree does not grow except in the five mountains of the five Maluco islands. There are, however, a few trees in Giailolo and in a small island between Tadore and Mutir named Mare, but they are not good.
There are in this island of Giailolo some trees of nutmegs. These are like our walnuts, and the leaves also are similar. The nutmeg, when gathered, is like the quince in form and colour, and the down which covers it, but it is smaller. The outside rind is as thick as the green rind of our walnuts, beneath which is a thin web, or rather cartilage, under which is the mace, of a very bright red, which covers and surrounds the rind of the nuts, inside which is the nutmeg properly so called.
There also grows in Tadore the ginger, which we need to eat green, instead of bread. Ginger is not a tree, but a shrub, which sends out of the earth shoots a span long like the shoots of canes, which they also resemble in the shape of the leaves, only those of the ginger are narrower. The shoots are good for nothing; that which makes ginger is the root. When green, it is not so strong as when it is dry, and to dry it they use lime, or else it would not keep.
The houses of these people are built like those already described, but are not so high above the ground, and are surrounded with canes after the fashion of a hedge. The women here are ugly, and go naked like the others, having only their middles covered with cloth made of bark. The men also are naked, and notwithstanding that their women are ugly, they are exceedingly jealous; and amongst other things which displeased them, was that we came ashore without cloaks, because they imagined that might cause temptation to their wives. Both men and women always go barefoot.
Since I have spoken of cloth, I will relate how they make it. They take a piece of bark and leave it in water until it has grown soft; they then beat it with wooden clubs to extend it in length and breadth, as much as they please; thus it becomes like a veil of raw silk with filaments enlaced within it, so that it appears as if it was woven.
Their bread is made with the wood of a tree like a palm tree, and they make it in this way. They take a piece of this wood, and extract from it certain long black thorns which are situated there; then they pound it, and make bread of it which they call sagu. They make provisions of this bread for their sea voyages.
Every day there came from Tarenate many boats laden with cloves, but we, because we were waiting for the king, would not traffic for those goods, but only for victuals: and the men of Tarenate complained much of this.
On Saturday the Moorish King of Giailolo came to the ships with many prahus, and we made him a present of a green damask robe, two ells of red cloth, some looking-glasses, scissors, knives, combs, and two gilt goblets, which things pleased him very much, and he said to us that, as we were friends of the King of Tadore, we were also his friends, since he loved that king like one of his own sons. He invited us to come to his country, promising to do us great honour. This king is powerful, and held in sufficient respect throughout all these islands. He is very old, and his name is Raja Jussu.
Friday, the 15th of November, the king told us that he thought of going himself to Bachian to get the cloves which the Portuguese had left there, and asked us for presents to give to the two governors of Mutir in the name of the King of Spain. Meanwhile, having come close to our ships, he wished to see how we shot with the cross-bow, with guns, and with a swivel gun, which is a weapon larger than an arquebuse. He himself fired three times with a cross-bow, but he did not care to fire with a gun.
Opposite Tadore there is another very large island, called Giailolo, and it is so large that a prahu can with difficulty go round it in four months. It is inhabited by Moors and Gentiles. The Moors have two kings, one of whom, according to what the King of Tadore related to us, has had six hundred children, and the other has had five hundred and twenty-five. The Gentiles have not got so many women as the Moors, and are less superstitious. The first thing they meet in the morning when they go out of their houses is the object which they worship throughout that day. The king of these Gentiles is named Rajah Papua. He is very rich in gold, and inhabits the interior of the island. There grow here among the rocks bamboos as thick as a man’s leg, full of water, which is very good to drink. We purchased many of them.
The next day the king sent his son named Mossahap to the island of the Mutir for cloves with which to freight our ships. We had spoken to the king that day of some Indians whom we had captured, and he entreated us to make a present of them to him, as he had the intention of sending them back to their native country, accompanied by five men of Tadore, who, on restoring them to their country, would praise and commend the King of Spain and make a good name for the Spaniards. We gave him the three ladies whom we had destined for the queen, as has been said above, and all the men except those of Burné: he very much appreciated this gift.
The king then asked another favour—that was, that we should kill all the pigs we had on board, for which he would give an ample compensation in fowls and goats. We gave him satisfaction in this, cutting their throats and hanging them up under the deck, so that the Moors should not have occasion to see them, since if by accident they see any pig they covered their faces not to see it or perceive its smell.
In the evening of the same day Pedro Alfonso, the Portuguese, came in a prahu, but before he came on board the ships the king sent to call him, and said to him, that although he belonged to Tarenate he should take good care not to answer falsely to the questions we were going to ask him. He indeed, after coming on board, told us that he had come to India sixteen years ago, and of these years he had passed ten in Maluco; and it was just ten years since those islands had been discovered by the Portuguese, who kept the discovery secret from us. He then related to us that a year, less fifteen days, had elapsed since a large ship had come hither proceeding from Malacca, and had gone away laden with cloves; but that on account of the bad weather, she had been obliged to remain some months at Bandam. He added that her captain was Tristan de Meneses, a Portuguese, from whom, on asking what news there was in Europe, he had heard that a squadron of live ships had sailed from Seville to discover Maluco in the name of the King of Spain, and that the captain of this squadron was Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese, for which reason the King of Portugal, being angry that a subject of his should attempt to do a thing so opposed to him, had sent some ships to the cape of Good Hope, and others to the Cape Sta. Maria, where the cannibals are, to impede their passage, but they had not fallen in with them. Having learned later that Magellan had passed by another sea, and was making for Maluco by way of the west, he had written to his Captain-Major of the Indies, named Diogo Lopez de Sequeira, to send six ships to Maluco against the Spanish squadron. But the captain-major, having at that time received information that the Grand Turk was planning an expedition against Malacca, was obliged to send against him sixty sail to the Straits of Mekkah, in the country of Jiddah, where, however, they only found a few galleys which had grounded near the beautiful and strong city of Aden, and they set fire to them.
This enterprise, added De Lorosa, had prevented the captain-major from immediately sending an expedition against Magellan; but a little later he had sent to Maluco a great galleon with two rows of cannon, commanded by Francisco Faria, a Portuguese: but neither did this one come, for on account of the shoals and currents which are near Malacca, and the contrary winds, it was unable to pass that promontory, and was compelled to turn back.
He also related that a few days before a caravel with two junks had come to these parts to get news of us. The junks had sailed to Bachian to load cloves, with seven Portuguese on board. These men, who did not respect the wives of the inhabitants, nor even those of the king, notwithstanding the warning they had received from the king himself, were all killed. The men of the caravel, on hearing of this, returned in haste to Malacca, abandoning the junks with four hundred bahars of cloves and as much merchandise as would have purchased another hundred bahars. He also related that every year many junks go from Malacca to Bandan to buy mace and nutmeg, and go thence to Maluco to purchase cloves. They make the voyage from Bandan to Maluco in three days, and employ fifteen in the voyage from Bandan to Malacca. He said, lastly, that since ten years back the King of Portugal had derived great profit from these islands, and he took especial care to keep these countries concealed from and unknown to the Spaniards. He related many other similar things, passing several hours in conversation with us: and we said and did so much, offering him a large salary, that we made him determine on coming with us to Spain.
On Tuesday the 12th of November, the king had a house built in the city for our merchandise, and it was built in one day. Thither we carried all that we had to barter, and placed it in the custody of three of our men, and the trade began at once. It was carried out in this manner. For ten ells of red cloth of pretty good quality they gave a bahar of cloves. A bahar is four quintals and six pounds. For fifteen ells of middling quality a bahar, for fifteen hatchets a bahar, for thirty-five glass cups a bahar; and the king in this manner had from us almost all our goblets: for seventeen cathils of cinnabar a bahar; the same for as much quicksilver. For twenty-six ells of common linen a bahar, and the same for twenty-five ells of finer linen; for a hundred and fifty knives a bahar; for fifty scissors a bahar; for forty caps a bahar; for ten Guzerat cloths a bahar; for three of their cymbals two bahars: for a quintal of bronze a bahar. Almost all our mirrors were broken, and the few that remained entire the king wished to have. Many of the above-mentioned goods had been obtained by us by the capture of the junks, which I have related; and the haste we were in to return to Spain caused us to sell our goods at a lower price than we should have done had we not been in a hurry.
Every day there came to the ships many boats laden with goats, fowls, plantains, cocoanuts, and other victuals, that it was a wonder to see. We supplied the ships with good water taken from a spring whence it issued hot, but if it remains only one hour in the open air it becomes very cold. They say that it comes out like that because it issues from the mountain of the cloves. It may be seen from this how those lied who said that fresh water had to be brought to Maluco from distant countries.