He enjoyed showing her things and explaining how the "nuts" were gathered, and dried in racks over slow fires, turned at regular intervals until the outer shells could be broken and stripped away; how every nutmeg must be plunged into a lime bath to be made sterile: the whole wealth and importance of the islands depended upon the monopoly, so no fertile nut must ever be shipped out. Julia watched and listened and tried to remember, hoping in time to know enough to be an acceptable companion to him.
Everywhere they went the slaves were working and there was never any flurry when Mynheer appeared. Rua was a wellrun plantation, with just a hint of running by clockwork, she thought. The slaves all looked well-fed and were far better clothed than many she was to see later in the streets of Banda; Mynheer's passion for uniformity extended to his slaves' wearing apparel; even the lowest grade, those who gathered the nuts, even the children, wore neat, taut loin-clothes of the Vosmar yellow, in a coarse cotton material. Overseers wore drawers, like the boatmen.
The slaves were of all colours, from dark blackish brown, to pale coffee colour. There were, Mynheer explained, no Bandanese amongst them. The natives of this island group, having put up a fiere and bloody resistance to the white men had then taken flight; what remained of them now lived on two small islands, keeping to their old tongue, plying their old crafts.
- They were very fine people, the aristocrats of the islands, said Mynheer, they would not have made good slaves.
Norah Lofts: Scent of cloves (engelska originalet 1958)