Once upon a time a Dutch ship set sail from the East Indies to return to Holland. Many a poor lad went from Holland and landed at Java. There he settled and grew very rich.
Such a one was a certain Diedrich. When he came to Java he was sent out to a rich planter. He worked so hard and was so faithful that it was not long before he was free became his own master. He saved his money, and as he was very careful it was not many years before he was very rich.
Now all these years Dierich had never forgotten what a hard time he had had when he was a boy. At last, when he was a man and had his large fortune, he decided to carry out a plan. He sold his lands and houses, which he owned in Java. He sold all his goods. He took the money he received in bags aboard a ship which was to return to Holland. He was the only passenger on board, but he was a friendly man. Soon he was on good terms with the Captain and all the crew.
“And what,” said Diedrich to the Captain one day, “do you mean to do when you make a few more voyages?”
“I know well,” said the Captain. “There’s a little house I know by a canal just outside of Amsterdam. I mean to buy that house. I will have a summerhouse in the garden. I will sit all day long smoking my pipe. My wife will sit by my side and knit and the children will play in the garden.”
“Then you have children?”
“That I have,” said the Captain. It was good to hear him tell about his family, for he was a simple man and cared for his wife and little ones.
“And what shall you do?” the Captain asked Diedrich.
“Ah, I have no wife or children.” Then he told of what a hard time he had when he was a youngster, and at last as he sat there alone with the Captain, he suddenly told him of his great plan.
“I have made a great deal of money,” said he, “which you know I am carrying home with me. I will tell you what I am going to do with it. There are a great many poor children in Amsterdam who have no home. I am going to build a great house and live in it, and I am going to have the biggest family of anyone in Amsterdam.”
Now, while they were talking, the man at the wheel listened. As he steered the ship he thought and thought how he could get that gold. He knew it would be impossible for him alone to seize it, and so he whispered about it to one and another of the sailors. When the sailor told them of the gold on board, they were ready for anything.
The ship drew near the Cape of Good Hope. Suddenly the Captain and Diedrich were seized from behind. At the same instant the officers of the ship were seized, and now the ship was in the hands of the crew.
These wicked men threw the Captain and Diedrich into the sea. “Dead men tell no tales,” said the man at the wheel. They then sailed for the nearest port. But as they sailed a horrible plague broke out on board. It was a plague which made the men crave water for their burning throats. As they fought to get at the water casks, they spilled all the water. They could not stand the thirst; so they steered for the nearest port.
But when they came into the port, they people saw that they had the plague. They refused to let them land. “We have a great sore of gold,’ the crew cried. “Only give us water.” But people drove them away.
Then a great storm arose. They were driven far out to sea. When the gale died down, they steered again for the land. When they drew near once more, another gale sprang up and once more they were swept far away from the shore.
That was years and years ago. When ships make the Cape of Good Hope and are rounding it, through the fog and mist and darkness of the night they see a ghostly ship sailing, sailing, never reaching land, and always beating up against the wind. Its sails are torn, the masts are bleached. Then the sailors whisper to each other: “Look! Look! There is the flying Dutchman.”