chapter  XI
8 Pages

Their Departure from La Rochelle

THE Saturday, Whitsun-eve, 13th of May, we weighed our anchors, and sailed in open sea, so that by little and little we lost the sight of the great towers and town of La Rochelle, then of the Isles of Re and Oleron, bidding France farewell. It was a thing fearful for them that were not used to such a dance, to see them carried upon so movable an element, and to be at every moment (as it were) within two fingers' breadth to death. We had not long sailed but that many did their endeavour to yield up the tribute to Neptune. In the meanwhile we went still forward, for there was no more going back, the plank being once taken up. The 16th of May we met with 13 Hollanders going for Spain, which did inquire of our voyage, and so held their course. Since that time we were a whole month seeing nothing else out of our floating town but sky and water, one ship excepted, near about the Azores, well filled with English and Dutchmen. They bare up with us, and came very near us. And, according to the manner of the sea, we asked them whence their ship was. They told us they were Newfoundland men, that is to say going a-fishing for Newfoundland fish. And they asked us if we would accept of their company: we thanked them-thereupon they drank to us, and we to them, and they took another course. But, having considered their vessel all set with green moss on the belly and sides, we judged them to be pirates, and that they had of a long time beaten the sea in hope to make some prize. It was then that we began to see, more than before, Neptune's sheep to skip up (so do they

call the frothy waves), when the sea beginneth to Stir and to feel the hard blows of his trident. For commonly in that place before-named the sea is Stormy. If one ask me the cause why, I will answer that I think it to proceed of a certain conflict between the east and westerly winds, which do encounter in that part of the sea, and especially in summer, when the west winds do rise up and with a great force pierce and pass through a great distance of sea, until they find the winds of these parts, which do resist them; then it is dangerous for a ship to be at these windy encounters. This reason seemeth the more probable unto me in this, that until we came near the Azores, we had the wind fi t enough, and afterward, we had almost always either South-west or North-west, little North and South, which were not good for us, but to sail with the bowline: for Easterly winds we had none at all but once or twice, which continued nothing with us (to speak of). Sure it is that the Westerly winds do reign much along that sea, whether it be by a certain repercussion of the East wind which is Stiff and swift under the equinoctial line, whereof we have spoken elsewhere, or because that this Western land, being large and great, also the wind that issueth from thence doth abound the more. Which cometh especially in summer, when the sun hath force to draw up the vapours of the earth, for the winds come from thence, issuing from the dens and caves of the same. And therefore the poets do feign that .lEolus holdeth them in prisons, from whence he draweth them, and giveth them liberty when it pleaseth him. But the spirit of God doth confirm it unto us yet better, when he saith by the mouth of the prophet that Almighty God, among other his marvels, draweth the winds out of his treasures, which be the caves whereof I speak. For the word " treasure " signifieth in Hebrew secret and hidden place.