Farther on he found some canoes which were fishing, and the men in them were dark, but not very black; they were naked, having only their middles covered with leaves of trees and grass.
Continuing Vasco Da Gama Sails Around Africa and Opens the Sea Route To India,
our selection from The Three Voyages of Vasco da Gama: and His Viceroyalty by Gaspar Correa published in 1556. The selection is presented in ten easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Vasco Da Gama Sails Around Africa and Opens the Sea Route To India.
Place: Coast of Africa
The captains were occupied with their own work day and night, and gave much food and drink to the crews, so that they used such dispatch that in one day and one night, by morning they had finished one side of the ship, very well executed, though with great labor in drawing out the water from the ship, which leaked very much lying thus on one side. When she was upright they turned her over on the other side, and did the same work, much better performed because the ship did not leak so much; and when it was completed and the ship upright, it was so sound and water-tight that for two days there was no water in the pump.
Then they loaded it again with its stores, and transshipped to it the stores of the other ship, upon which they executed the before-mentioned calking and repairs, so that it became like new. They then fitted them inside with several knees and ribs and inner planking, and all that was requisite, with great perfection, and collected the yards, spars, and all that they had need of belonging to the ship São Miguel; and the captain-major took Nicolas Coelho on board of his ship, entertaining him well. They then took away from the ship much wood for their use and beached the ship, and took away its rudder and undid it, and stowed away its wood and iron-works, in case of its being wanted for the other ships, because they had all been built of the same pattern and size, as a precaution that all might be able to take advantage of any part of them. Then they burned the ship in order to recover the nails, which were in great quantity, and a great advantage for other necessities which they met with later.
After they had thus repaired the ships, the captain-major sent Nicolas Coelho with twenty men in a boat to go and discover the river; and he, after ascending it for two leagues, found woods and verdure, and farther on he found some canoes which were fishing, and the men in them were dark, but not very black; they were naked, having only their middles covered with leaves of trees and grass. These men, when they saw the boat, came to it and entered it in a brutish manner, and were in a state of amazement. No one knew how to speak to them, and they did not understand the signs which were made to them. So, Nicolas Coelho made them go back to their canoes, and returned to the ships, but of the canoes one followed after the boat, and the others returned to take the news to their villages. These men who came with the boat, at once, without any fear, entered the ship and sat down to rest, as if they were old acquaintance; no one knew how to speak to them. Then they gave them biscuit and cakes and slices of bread with marmalade; this they did not understand until they saw our people eat, then they ate it, and, as they liked the taste, they ate in a great hurry, and would not share with one another. While this was going on they saw many canoes coming, and larger ones, with many of those people also naked, with tangled hair like Kaffirs, without any other arms than some sticks like half lances, hardened in the fire, with sharp points greased over.
The captain-major, seeing the other canoes coming, ordered the first come to go to their canoe, which they did unwillingly, and went out and remained to speak with those that were arriving, and went their way. The others arrived, and all wanted to come on board; as they were more than a hundred, the captain-major would not allow them, only ten or twelve, who brought some birds which were something like hens, and some yellow fruit of the size of walnuts, a very well-tasted thing to eat, which our men would not touch, and they, seeing that, ate them for our people to see, who, on tasting them, were much pleased with them; they killed one of the birds, and found it very tender and savory to eat, and all its bones were like those of a fowl. The captain-major ordered biscuit and wine to be given them, which they would not touch till they saw our people drink. He also ordered a looking-glass to be given them; and when they saw it they were much amazed, and looked at one another, and again looked at the mirror, and laughed loudly and made jokes, and spoke to the others who were in the canoe.
They went away with the looking-glass, highly delighted, and left six birds and much of the fruit, and all went away; and in the afternoon they came again, but bringing a quantity of those birds, at which our men rejoiced very much, and filled hencoops with them, because they gave them and were satisfied with anything that was given them, especially white stuffs; so that the seamen cut their shirts in pieces, with which they bought so many of these birds that they killed and dried them in the sun, and they kept very well. Here it was observed that in this river there were no flies, for they never saw any all the time they were there, which was twenty days; and they went away because the crew began to fall ill. It seems that it was from that fruit, which was very delicious to eat; and the principal ailment was that their gums swelled and rotted, so that their teeth fell out, and there was such a foul smell from the mouth that no one could endure it. The captain-major provided a remedy for this, for he ordered that each one should wash his mouth with his own water each time he passed it, by doing which in a few days they obtained health.
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