By chance, a fine inlaid box, of the type Luis Menezes of Macao was seeking, came into my possession. I will not tell much of how I received it. With the current attitudes toward foreigners here, it would mean trouble for us all if the box were discovered. My position as a captain grants me certain liberties; sailors trust me with some delicate things.
Menezes will be very pleased with this present for his wife, and it has not cost much.
It is roughly square, a little longer than two hand-lengths. Over the top and sides is an inlaid pattern of white pearl, made into birds, leaves, and some assorted flowers. Items such as this bring great prices in Macao and Portugal. Some days ago, I visited a small shop where they are made. The Japanese craftsmen make them slowly. It is very detailed work; men sit hunched over the pearl pieces for hours on end, shaping and working images together. Our interpreter told us the birds on the box are not all found on these islands; instead they have been recreated by looking at our European and Indian drawings.