Voyages and Travels: Ancient and Modern. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
Sir Francis Drake Revived
Sir Francis Drake
The other two Recuas were no sooner come up to us, but being stayed and seized on. One of the Chief Carriers, a very sensible fellow, told our Captain by what means we were discovered, and counselled us to shift for ourselves betimes, unless we were able to encounter the whole force of the city and country before day would be about us.
It pleased us but little, that we were defeated of our golden Recua, and that in these we could find not past some two horse-loads of silver: but it grieved our Captain much more, that he was discovered, and that by one of his own men. But knowing it bootless to grieve at things past, and having learned by experience, that all safety in extremity, consisteth in taking of time [i. e., by the forelock, making an instant decision]: after no long consultation with Pedro the chief of our Cimaroons, who declared that there were but two ways for him: the one to travel back again the same secret way they came, for four leagues space into the woods, or else to march forward, by the highway to Venta Cruz, being two leagues, and make a way with his sword through the enemies. He resolved, considering the long and weary marches that we had taken, and chiefly that last evening and day before: to take now the shortest and readiest way: as choosing rather to encounter his enemies while he had strength remaining, than to be encountered or chased when we should be worn out with weariness: principally now having the mules to ease them that would, some part of the way.
Therefore commanding all to refresh themselves moderately with such store of victuals as we had here in abundance: he signified his resolution and reason to them all: asking Pedro by name, Whether he would give his hand not to forsake him? because he knew that the rest of the Cimaroons would also then stand fast and firm, so faithful are they to their captain. He being very glad of his resolution, gave our Captain his hand, and vowed that He would rather die at his foot, than leave him to the enemies, if he held this course.
So having strengthened ourselves for the time, we took our journey towards Venta Cruz, with help of the mules till we came within a mile of the town, where we turned away the Recuas, charging the conductors of them, not to follow us upon pain of their lives.
There, the way is cut through the woods, above ten or twelve feet broad, so as two Recuas may pass one by another. The fruitfulness of the soil, causeth that with often shredding and ridding the way, those woods grow as thick as our thickest hedges in England that are oftenest cut.
To the midst of this wood, a company of soldiers, which continually lay in that town, to defend it against the Cimaroons, were come forth, to stop us if they might on the way; if not, to retreat to their strength, and there to expect us. A Convent [Monastery] of Friars, of whom one was become a Leader, joined with these soldiers, to take such part as they did.
Our Captain understanding by our two Cimaroons, which with great heedfulness and silence, marched now, but about half a flight-shot before us, that it was time for us to arm and take us to our weapons, for they knew the enemy was at hand, by smelling of their match and hearing of a noise: had given us charge, that no one of us should make any shot, until the Spaniards had first spent their volley: which he thought they would not do before they had spoken, as indeed fell out.
For as soon as we were within hearing, a Spanish Captain cried out, Hoo! Our Captain answered him likewise, and being demanded Que gente? replied Englishmen! But when the said Commander charged him, In the name of the King of Spain, his Master, that we should yield ourselves; promising in the word and faith of a Gentleman Soldier, that if we would so do, he would use us with all courtesy. Our Captain drawing somewhat near him said: That for the honour of the Queen of England, his Mistress, he must have passage that way, and therewithal discharged his pistol towards him.
Upon this, they presently shot off their whole volley; which, though it lightly wounded our Captain, and divers of our men, yet it caused death to one only of our company called JOHN HARRIS, who was so powdered with hail-shot (which they all used for the most part as it seemed, or else quartered, for that our men were hurt with that kind) that we could not recover his life, though he continued all that day afterwards with us.
Presently as our Captain perceived their shot to come slacking, as the latter drops of a great shower of rain, with his whistle he gave us his usual signal, to answer them with our shot and arrows, and so march onwards upon the enemy, with intent to come to handy-strokes, and to have joined with them; whom when we found retired as to a place of some better strength, he increased his pace to prevent them if he might. Which the Cimaroons perceiving, although by terror of the shot continuing, they were for the time stept aside; yet as soon as they discerned by hearing that we marched onward, they all rushed forward one after another, traversing the way, with their arrows ready in their bows, and their manner of country dance or leap, very singing Yó pehó! Yó pehó and so got before us, where they continued their leap and song, after the manner of their own country wars, till they and we overtook some of the enemy, who near the towns end, had conveyed themselves within the woods, to have taken their stand at us, as before.
But our Cimaroons now thoroughly encouraged, when they saw our resolution, brake in through the thickets, on both sides of them, forcing them to fly, Friars and all!: although divers of our men were wounded, and one Cimaroon especially was run through with one of their pikes, whose courage and mind served him so well notwithstanding, that he revenged his own death ere he died, by killing him that had given him that deadly wound.
We, with all speed, following this chase, entered the town of Venta Cruz, being of about forty or fifty houses, which had both a Governor and other officers and some fair houses, with many storehouses large and strong for the wares, which brought thither from Nombre de Dios, by the river of Chagres, so to be transported by mules to Panama: beside the Monastery, where we found above a thousand bulls and pardons, newly sent from Rome.
In those houses we found three gentlewomen, which had lately been delivered of children there, though their dwellings were in Nombre de Dios; because it hath been observed of long time, as they reported to us, that no Spaniard or white woman could ever be delivered in Nombre de Dios with safety of their children but that within two or three days they died; notwithstanding that being born and brought up in this Venta Cruz or Panama five or six years, and then brought to Nombre de Dios, if they escaped sickness the first or second month, they commonly lived in it as healthily as in any other place: although no stranger (as they say) can endure there any long time, without great danger of death or extreme sickness.
Though at our first coming into the town with arms so suddenly, these ladies were in great fear, yet because our Captain had given straight charge to all the Cimaroons (that while they were in his company, they should never hurt any woman nor man that had not a weapon in his hand to do them hurt; which they earnestly promised, and no less faithfully performed) they had no wrong offered them, nor any thing taken from them, to the worth of a garter; wherein, albeit they had indeed sufficient safety and security, by those of his company, which our Captain sent unto them, of purpose to comfort them: yet they never ceased most earnestly entreating, that our Captain would vouchsafe to come to them himself for their more safety; which when he did, in their presence reporting the charge he had first given, and the assurance of his men, they were comforted.
While the guards which we had, not without great need, set, as well on the bridge which we had to pass over, as at the towns end where we entered (they have no other entrance into the town by land: but from the waters side there is one other to carry up and down their merchandise from their frigates) gained us liberty and quiet to stay in this town some hour and half: we had not only refreshed ourselves, but our company and Cimaroons had gotten some good pillage, which our Captain allowed and gave them (being not the thing he looked for) so that it were not too cumbersome or heavy in respect of our travel, or defence of ourselves.
A little before we departed, some ten or twelve horsemen came from Panama; by all likelihood, supposing that we were gone out of this town, for that all was so still and quiet, came to enter the town confidently: but finding their entertainment such as it was; they that could, rode faster back again for fear then they had ridden forward for hope.
Thus we having ended our business in this town, and the day beginning to spryng, we marched over the bridge, observing the same order that we did before. There we were all safe in our opinion, as if we had been environed with wall and trench, for that no Spaniard without his extreme danger could follow us. The rather now, for that our Cimaroons were grown very valiant. But our Captain considering that he had a long way to pass, and that he had been now well near a fortnight from his ship, where he had left his company but weak by reason of their sickness, hastened his journeys as much as he might, refusing to visit the other Cimaroon towns (which they earnestly desired him) and encouraging his own company with such example and speech, that the way seemed much shorter. For he marched most cheerfully, and assured us that he doubted not but ere he left that coast, we should all be bountifully paid and recompensed for all those pains taken: but by reason of this our Captains haste, and leaving of their towns, we marched many days with hungry stomachs, much against the will of our Cimaroons: who if we would have stayed any day from this continual journeying, would have killed for us victuals sufficient.
In our absence, the rest of the Cimaroons had built a little town within three leagues off the port where our ship lay. There our Captain was contented, upon their great and earnest entreaties to make some stay; for that they alleged, it was only built for his sake. And indeed he consented the rather, that the want of shoes might be supplied by means of the Cimaroons, who were a great help unto us: all our men complaining of the tenderness of their feet, whom our Captain would himself accompany in their complaint, some times without cause, but some times with cause indeed; which made the rest to bear the burden the more easily.
These Cimaroons, during all the time that we were with burden, did us continually very good service, and in particular in this journey, being unto us instead of intelligencers, to advertise us; of guides in our way to direct us; of purveyors, to provide victuals for us; of house-wrights to build our lodgings; and had indeed able and strong bodies carrying all our necessaries: yea, many times when some of our company fainted with sickness of weariness, two Cimaroons would carry him with ease between them, two miles together, and at other times, when need was, they would shew themselves no less valiant than industrious, and of good judgment.
From this town, at our first entrance in the evening, on Saturday (22nd February), our Captain despatched a Cimaroon with a token and certain order to the Master: who had, these three weeks, kept good watch against the enemy, and shifted in the woods for fresh victual, for the relief and recovery of our men left aboard.
As soon as this messenger was come to the shore, calling to our ship, as bringing some news, he was quickly fet[ched] aboard by those which longed to hear of our Captains speeding: but when he showed the toothpike of gold, which he said our Captain had sent for a token to ELLIS HIXOM, with charge to meet him at such a river though the Master knew well the Captains toothpike: yet by reason of his admonition and caveat [warning] given him at parting, he (though he bewrayed no sign of distrusting the Cimaroon) yet stood as amazed, least something had befallen our Captain otherwise than well. The Cimaroon perceiving this, told him, that it was night when he was sent away, so that our Captain could not send any letter, but yet with the point of his knife, he wrote something upon the toothpick, which, he said, should be sufficient to gain credit to the messenger.
Thereupon, the Master looked upon it, and saw written, By me, FRANCIS DRAKE: wherefore he believed, and according to the message, prepared what provision he could, and repaired to the mouth of the river of Tortugos, as the Cimaroons that went with him then named it.
That afternoon towards three a clock, we were come down to that river, not past half-an-hour before we saw our pinnace ready come to receive us: which was unto us all a double rejoicing: first that we saw them, and next, so soon. Our Captain with all our company praised GOD most heartily, for that we saw our pinnace and fellows again.
We all seemed to these, who had lived at rest and plenty all this while aboard, as men strangely changed (our Captain yet not much changed) in countenance and plight: and indeed our long fasting and sore travail might somewhat forepine and waste us; but the grief we drew inwardly, for that we returned without that gold and treasure we hoped for did no doubt show her print and footsteps in our faces.
The rest of our men which were then missed, could not travel so well as our Captain, and therefore were left at the Indian new town: and the next day (23rd February) we rowed to another river in the bottom of the bay and took them all aboard. Thus being returned from Panama, to the great rejoicing of our company, who were thoroughly revived with the report we brought from thence: especially understanding our Captains purpose, that he meant not to leave off thus, but would once again attempt the same journey, whereof they also might be partakers.
Our Captain would not, in the meantime, suffer this edge and forwardness of his men to be dulled or rebated, by lying still idly unemployed, as knowing right well by continual experience, that no sickness was more noisome to impeach any enterprise than delay and idleness.
Therefore considering deeply the intelligences of other places of importance thereabouts, which he had gotten the former years; and particularly of Veragua, a rich town lying to the Westward; between Nombre de Dios and Nicaragua, where is the richest mine of fine gold that is on this North side: he consulted with his company touching their opinions, what was to be done in this meantime, and how they stood affected?
Some thought, that It was most necessary to seek supply of victuals, that we might the better be able to keep our men close and in health till our time came: and this way easy to be compassed, because the frigates with victuals went without great defence, whereas the frigate and barks with treasure, for the most part were wafted with great ships and store of soldiers.
Others yet judged, We might better bestow our time in intercepting the frigates of treasure; first, for that our magazines and storehouses of victuals were reasonably furnished, and the country itself was so plentiful, that every man might provide for himself if the worst befell: and victuals might hereafter be provided abundantly as well as now: whereas the treasure never floateth upon the sea, so ordinarily as at this time of the Fleets being there, which time in no wise may be neglected.
The Cimaroons being demanded also their opinion (for that they were experienced in the particularities of all the towns thereabouts, as in which some or other of them had served), declared that by Veragua, Signior PEZORO (some time their master from whom they fled) dwelt; not in the town for fear of some surprise, but yet not far off from the town, for his better relief; in a very strong house of stone, where he had dwelt nineteen years at least, never travelling from home; unless happily once a year to Cartagena, or Nombre de Dios when the Fleets were there. He keepeth a hundred slaves at least n the mines, each slave being bound to bring in daily, clear gain (all charges deducted) three Pesos of Gold for himself and two for his women (8s. 3d. the Peso), amounting in the whole, to above £200 sterling [= £1,600 now] each day: so that he hath heaped a mighty mass of treasure together, which he keepeth in certain great chests, of two feet deep, three broad, and four long: being (notwithstanding all his wealth) bad and cruel not only to his slaves, but unto all men, and therefore never going abroad but with a guard of five or six men to defend his person from danger, which he feareth extraodinarily from all creatures.
And as touching means of compassing this purpose, they would conduct him safely through the woods, by the same ways by which they fled, that he should not need to enter their havens with danger, but might come upon their backs altogether unlooked for. And though his house were of stone, so that it could not be burnt; yet if our Captain would undertake the attempt, they would undermine and overthrow, or otherwise break it open, in such sort, as we might have easy access to his greatest treasure.
JOHN OXNAM appointed in the Bear, to be sent Eastward towards Tolou, to see what store of victuals would come athwart his half; and himself would to the Westward in the Minion, lie off and on the Cabezas, where was the greatest trade and most ordinary passage of those which transported treasure from Veragua and Nicaragua to the Fleet; so that no time might be lost, nor opportunity let slip either for victuals or treasure. As for the attempt of Veragua, or Signior PEZOROS house by land, by marching through the woods; he liked not of, lest it might overweary his men by continual labour; whom he studied to refresh and strengthen for his next service forenamed.
Therefore using our Cimaroons most courteously, dismissing those that were desirous to their wives, with such gifts and favours as were most pleasing, and entertaining those still aboard his ship, which were contended to abide with the company remaining; the pinnaces departed as we determined: the Minion to the West, the Bear to the East.
The Minion about the Cabeças, met with a frigate of Nicaragua, in which was some gold, and a Genoese Pilot (of which Nation there are many in those coasts), which had been at Veragua not past eight days before. He being very well entreated, certified our Captain of the state of the town, and of the harbour, and of a frigate that was there ready to come forth within few days, aboard which there was above a million of gold, offering to conduct him to it, if we would do him his right: for that he knew the channel very perfectly, so that he could enter by night safely without danger of the sands and shallows, though there be but little water, and utterly undescried; for that the town is five leagues within the harbour, and the way by land is so far about and difficult through the woods, that though we should by any casualty be discovered, about the point of the harbour, yet we might despatch our business and depart, before the town could have notice of our coming.
At his being there, he perceived they had heard of DRAKES being on the coast, which had put them in great fear, as in all other places (PEZORO purposing to remove himself to the South Sea!): but there was nothing done to prevent him, their fear being so great, that, as it is accustomed in such cases, it excluded counsel and bred despair.
Our Captain, conferring with his own knowledge and former intelligences, was purposed to have returned to his ship, to have taken some of those Cimaroons which had dwelt with Signior PEZORO, to be the more confirmed in this point.
But when the Genoese Pilot was very earnest, to have the time gained, and warranted our Captain of good speed, if we delayed not; he dismissed the frigate, somewhat lighter to hasten her journey! and with this Pilots advice, laboured with sail and oars to get this harbour and to enter it by night accordingly: considering that this frigate might now be gained, and PEZOROS house attempted hereafter notwithstanding.
But when we were come to the mouth of the harbour, we heard the report of two Chambers, and farther off about a league within the bay, two other as it were answering them: whereby Genoese Pilot conjectured that we were discovered: for he assured us, that this order had been taken since his last being there, by reason of the advertisement and charge, which the Governor of Panama had sent to all the Coasts; which even in their beds lay in great and continual fear of our Captain, and therefore by all likelihood, maintained this kind of watch, at the charge of the rich Gnuffe PEZORO for their security.
Thus being defeated of this expectation, we found it was not GODS will that we should enter at that time: the rather for that the wind, which had all this time been Easterly, came up to the Westward, and invited us to return again to our ship; where, on Sheere Thursday (19th March), we met, according to appointment, with our Bear, and found that she had bestowed her time to more profit than we had done.
For she had taken a frigate in which there were ten men (whom they set ashore) great store of maize, twenty-eight fat hogs, and two hundred hens. Our Captain discharged (20th March) this frigate of her lading; and because she was new, strong, and of a good mould, the next day (21st March) he tallowed her to make her a Man-of-war: disposing all our ordnance and provisions that were fit for such use, in her. For we had heard by the Spaniards last taken, that there were two little galleys built in Nombre de Dios, to waft the Chagres Fleet to and fro, but were not yet both launched: wherefore he purposed now to adventure for that Fleet.
The next day (23rd March) with the new tallowed frigate of Tolou [not of 20 tons, p. 196; one of the two frigates in which the Expedition returned to England], and his Bear, we set sail towards the Cativaas, where about two days after we landed, and stayed till noon; at what time seeing a sail to the westward, as we deemed making to the island: we set sail and plied towards him, who descrying us, bare with us, till he perceived by our confidence, that we were no Spaniards, and conjectured we were those Englishmen, of whom he had heard long before. And being in great want, and desirous to be relieved by us: he bare up under our lee, and in token of amity, show off his lee ordnance, which was not unanswered.
We underdstood that he was TETÛ, a French Captain of Newhaven [Havre] a Man-of-war as we were, desirous to be relieved by us. For at our first meeting, the French Captain cast abroad his hands, and prayed our Captain to help him to some water, for that he had nothing but wine and cider aboard him, which had brought his men into great sickness. He had sought us ever since he first heard of our being upon the coast, about this five weeks. Our Captain sent one aboard him with some relief for the present, willing him to follow us to the next port, where he should have both water and victuals.
At our coming to anchor, he sent our Captain a case of pistols, and a fair gilt scimitar (which had been the late Kings of France [Henry II.], whom Monsieur MONTGOMERY hurt in the eye, and was given him by Monsieur STROZZE). Our Captain requited him with a chain of gold, and a tablet which he wore.
This Captain reported unto us the first news of the Massacre of Paris, at the King of NAVARRES marriage on Saint Bartholomews Day last, [24 August, 1572]; of the Admiral of France slain in his chamber, and divers other murders: so that he thought those Frenchmen the happiest which were farthest from France, now no longer France but Frensy, even as if all Gaul were turned into wormwood and gall: Italian practices having over-mastered the French simplicity. He showed what famous and often reports he had heard of our great riches. He desired to know of our Captain which way he might compass his voyage also.
Though we had seen him in some jealousy and distrust, for all his pretence; because we considered more the strength he had than the good-will he might bear us: yet upon consultation among ourselves, Whether it were fit to receive him or not? we resolved to take him and twenty of his men, to serve with our Captain for halves. In such sort as we needed not doubt of their forces, being but twenty; nor be hurt by their portions, being no greater than ours: and yet gratify them in their earnest suit, and serve our own purpose, which without more help we could very hardly have achieved. Indeed, he had 70 men, and we now but 31; his ship was above 80 tons, and our frigate not 20, or pinnace nothing near 10 tons. Yet our Captain thought this proportionable, in consideration that not numbers of men, but quality of their judgements and knowledge, were to be the principal actors herein: and the French ship could do no service, nor stand in any stead to this enterprise which we intended, and had agreed upon before, both touching the time when it should take beginning, and the place where we should meet, namely, at Rio Francisco.
And as soon as we could furnish ourselves and refresh the French company, which was within five or six days (by bringing them to the magazines which were the nearest, where they were supplied by us in such sort, as they protested they were beholding to us for all their lives) taking twenty of the French and fifteen of ours with our Cimaroons, leaving both our ships in safe road, we manned our frigate and two pinnaces (we had formerly sunk our Lion, shortly after our return from Panama, because we had not men sufficient to man her), and went towards Rio Francisco: which because it had not water enough for our frigate, caused us to leave her at the Cabeças, manned with English and French, in the charge of ROBERT DOBLE, to stay there without attempting any chase, until the return of our pinnaces.
And then bore to Rio Francisco, where both Captains landed (31st March) with such force as aforesaid [i. e., 20 French, 15 English, and the Cimaroons], and charged them that had the charge of the pinnaces to be there the fourth day next following without any fail. And thus knowing that the carriages [mule loads] went now daily from Panama to Nombre de Dios; we proceeded in covert through the woods, towards the highway that leadeth between them.
It is five leagues accounted by sea, between Rio Francisco and Nombre de Dios; but that way which we march by land, we found it above seven leagues. We marched as in our former journey to Panama, both for order and silence; to the great wonder of the French Captain and company, who protested they knew not by any means how to recover the pinnaces, if the Cimaroons (to whom what our Captain commanded was a law; though they little regarded the French, as having no trust in them) should leave us: our Captain assured him, There was no cause of doubt of them, of whom he had had such former trial.
When we were come within an English mile of the way, we stayed all night, refreshing ourselves, in great stillness, in a most convenient place: where we heard the carpenters, being many in number, working upon their ships, as they usually do by reason of the great heat of the day in Nombre de Dios; and might hear the mules coming from Panama, by reason of the advantage of the ground.
The next morning (1st April), upon hearing of that number of bells, the Cimaroons, rejoiced exceedingly, as though there could not have befallen them a more joyful accident chiefly having been disappointed before. Now they all assured us, We should have more gold and silver than all of us could bear away: as in truth it fell out.
For there came three Recuas, one of 50 mules, the other two, of 70 each, every [one] of which carried 300 lbs. weight of silver; which in all amounted to near thirty tons [i. e., 190 mules, with 300 lbs. each=about 57,000 lbs. of silver].
We putting ourselves in readiness, went down near the way to hear the bells; where we stayed not long, but we saw of what metal they were made; and took such hold on the heads of the foremost and hindmost mules, that all the rest stayed and lay down, as their manner is.
These three Recuas were guarded with forty-five soldiers or thereabouts, fifteen to each Recua, which caused some exchange of bullets and arrows for a time; in which conflict the French Captain was sore wounded with hail-shot in the belly, and one Cimaroon was slain: but in the end, these soldiers thought it the best way to leave their mules with us, and to seek for more help abroad.
In which meantime we took some pain to ease some of the mules which were heaviest loaden of their carriage. And because we ourselves were somewhat weary, we were contended with a few bars and quoits of gold, as we could well carry: burying about fifteen tons of silver, partly in the burrows which the great land crabs had made in the earth, and partly under old trees which were fallen thereabout, and partly in the sand and gravel of a river, not very deep of water.
Thus when about this business, we had spent some two hours, and had disposed of all our matters, and were ready to march back the very self-same way that we came, we heard both horse and foot coming as it seemed to the mules: for they never followed us, after we were once entered the woods, where the French Captain by reason of his wound, not able to travel farther, stayed, in hope that some rest would recover him better strength.
But after we had marched some two leagues, upon the French soldiers complaint, that they missed one of their men also, examination being made whether he were slain or not: it was found that he had drunk much wine, and overlading himself with pillage, and hasting to go before us, had lost himself in the woods. And as we afterwards knew, he was taken by the Spaniards that evening; and upon torture, discovered unto them where we had hidden our treasure.
We continued our march all that and the next day (2nd and 3rd April) towards Rio Francisco, in hope to meet with our pinnaces; but when we came thither, looking out to sea, we saw seven Spanish pinnaces, which had been searching all the coast thereabouts: whereupon we mightily suspected that they had taken or spoiled our pinnaces, for that our Captain had given so straight charge, that they should repair to this place this afternoon; from the Cabeças where they rode; whence to our sight these Spaniards pinnaces did come.
But the night before, there had fallen very much rain, with much westerly wind, which as it enforced the Spaniards to return home the sooner, by reason of the storm: so it kept our pinnaces, that they could not keep the appointment; because the wind was contrary, and blew so strong, that with their oars they could all that day get but half the way. Notwithstanding, if they had followed our Captains direction in setting forth over night, while the wind served, they had arrived at the place appointed with far less labour, but with far more danger: because that very day at noon, the shallops manned out, of purpose, from Nombre de Dios, were come to this place to take our pinnaces: imagining where we were, after they had heard of our intercepting of the treasure.
Our Captain seeing the shallops, feared least having taken our pinnaces, they had compelled our men by torture to confess where his frigate and ships were. Therefore in this distress and perplexity, the company misdoubting that all means of return to their country were cut off, and that their treasure then served them to small purpose; our Captain comforted and encouraged us all, saying, We should venture no farther than he did. It was no time now to fear: but rather to haste[n] to prevent that which was feared! If the enemy have prevailed against our pinnaces, which GOD forbid! yet they must have time to search them, time to examine the mariners, time to execute their resolution after it is determined. Before all these times be taken, we may get to our ships, if ye will! though not possibly by land, because of the hills, thickets, and rivers, yet by water. Let us, therefore, make a raft with the trees that are here in readiness, as offering themselves, being brought down the river, happily this last storm, and put ourselves to sea! I will be one, who will be the other?
JOHN SMITH offered himself, and two Frenchmen that could swim very well, desired they might accompany our Captain, as did the Cimaroons likewise (who had been very earnest with our Captain to have marched by land, though it were sixteen days journey, and in case the ship had been surprised, to have abode always with them), especially PEDRO, who yet was fain to be left behind, because he could not row.
At his departure he comforted the company, by promising, that If it pleased GOD, he should put his foot in safety aboard his frigate, he would, GOD willing, by one means or other get them all aboard, in despite of all the Spaniards in the Indies!
In this manner pulling off to the sea, he sailed some three leagues, sitting up to the waist continually in water, and at every surge of the wave to the arm-pits, for the space of six hours, upon this raft. what with the parching of the sun and what with the beating of the salt water, they had all of them their skins much fretted away.
At length GOD gave them the sight of two pinnaces turning towards them with much wind; but with far greater joy to him than could easily conjecture, and did cheerfully declare to those three with him, that they were our pinnaces! and that all was safe, so that there was no cause of fear!
But see, the pinnaces not seeing this raft, nor suspecting any such matter, by reason of the wind and night growing on, were forced to run into a cove behind the point, to take succour, for that night: which our Captain seeing, and gathering (because they came not forth again), that they would anchor there, put his raft ashore, and ran by land about the point, where he found them; who, upon sight of him, made as much haste as they could to take him and his company aboard. For our Captain (of purpose to try what haste they could and would make in extremity), himself ran in great haste, and so willed the other three with him; as if they had been chased by the enemy: which they the rather suspected, because they saw so few with him.
And after his coming aboard, when they demanding How all his company did? he answered coldly, Well! They all doubted [feared] that all went scarce well. But he willing to rid all doubts, and fill them with joy, took out of his bosom a quoit of gold, thanking GOD that our voyage was made!
That night (4th April) our Captain with great pain of his company, rowed to Rio Francisco: where he took the rest in, and the treasure which we had brought with us: making such expedition, that by dawning of the day, we set sail back again to our frigate, and from thence directly to our ships: where, as soon as we arrived, our Captain divided by weight, the gold and silver into two even portions, between the French and the English.
About a fortnight after, when we had set all things in order, and taking out of our ship [the Pascha] all such necessaries as we needed for our frigate, had left and given her to the Spaniards, whom we had all this time detained, we put out of that harbour [at Fort Diego, p. 155] together with the French ship, riding some few days among the Cabeças.
In the meantime, our Captain made a secret composition with the Cimaroons, that twelve of our men and sixteen of theirs, should make another voyage, to get intelligence in that case the country stood; and if it might be, recover Monsieur TETÛ, the French Captain; at leastwise to bring away that which was hidden in our former surprise, and could not then be conveniently carried.
JOHN OXNAM and THOMAS SHERWELL were put in trust for his service, to the great content of the whole company, who conceived greatest hope of them next our Captain whom by no means they would condescend to suffer to adventure again, this time: yet he himself rowed to set them ashore at Rio Francisco; finding his labour well employed both otherwise, and also in saving one of those two Frenchmen that had remained willingly to accompany their wounded captain.
For this gentleman, having escaped the rage of the Spaniards, was now coming towards our pinnace, where he fell down on his knees, blessing GOD for the time, that ever our Captain was born; who now, beyond all his hopes, was become his deliverer.
He being demanded, What was become of his Captain and other fellow? shewed that within half an hour after our departure, the Spaniards had overgotten them, and took his Captain and other fellow: he only escaped by flight, having cast away all his carriage, and among the rest one box of jewels, that he might fly the swifter from the pursuers: but his fellow took it up and burdened himself so sore, that he could make no speed; as easily as he might otherwise, if he would have cast down his pillage, and laid aside his covetous mind. As for the silver, which we had hidden thereabout in the earth and the sands, he thought that it was all gone: for that he thought there had been near two thousand Spaniards and Negroes there to dig and search for it.
This report notwithstanding, our purpose held, and our men were sent to the said place, where they found that the earth, every way a mile distant, had been digged and turned up in every place of any likelihood to have anything hidden in it.
And yet nevertheless, for all that narrow search, all our mens labour was not quite lost, but so considered, that the third day after their departure, they all returned safe and cheerful, with as much silver as they and all the Cimaroons could find (viz., thirteen bars of silver, and some new quoits of gold), with which they were presently embarked, without empeachment, repairing with no less speed than joy to our frigate.
Now was it high time to think of homewards, having sped ourselves as we desired: and therefore our Captain concluded to visit Rio Grande [Magdalena] once again, to see if he could meet with any sufficient ship or bark, to carry victuals enough to serve our turn homewards, in which we might in safety and security embark ourselves.
The Frenchmen having formerly gone from us, as soon as they had their shares, at our first return with the treasure; as being very desirous to return home into their country, and our Captain as desirous to dismiss them, as they were to be dismissed: for that he foresaw they could not in their ship avoid the danger of being taken by the Spaniards, if they should make out any Men-of-war for them, while they lingered on the coast; and having also been then again relieved with victuals by us.Now at our meeting of them again, were very loath to leave us, and therefore accompanied us very kindly as far up as St. Bernards; and farther would, but that they durst not adventure so great danger; for that we had intelligence, that the Fleet was ready to set sail for Spain, riding at the entry of Cartagena.
Thus we departed from them, passing hard by Cartagena, in the sight of all the Fleet, with a flag of St. GEORGE in the main top of our frigate, with silk streamers and ancients down to the water, sailing forward with a large wind, till we came within two leagues of the river [Magdalena], being all low land, and dark night: where to prevent the over shooting of the river in the night, we lay off and on bearing small sail, till that about midnight the wind veering to the eastward, by two of the clock in the morning, a frigate from Rio Grande [Magdalena] passed hard by us, bearing also but small sail. We saluted them with our shot and arrows, they answered us with bases; but we got aboard them, and took such order, that they were content against their wills to depart ashore and to leave us this frigate: which was of 25 tons, loaded with maize, hens, and hogs, and some honey, in very good time fit for our use; for the honey especially was notable reliever and preserver of our crazed [sick] people.
The next morning as soon as we set those Spaniards ashore on the Main, we set our course for the Cabeças without any stop, whither we came about five days after. And being at anchor, presently we hove out all the maize a land, saving three butts which we kept for our store: and carrying all our provisions ashore, we brought both our frigates on the careen, and new tallowed them.
About a day or two before our departure, our Captain willed PEDRO and three of the chiefest of the Cimaroons to go through both his frigates, to see what they liked; promising to give it them, whatsoever it were, so it were not so necessary as that he could not return into England without it. And for their wives he would himself seek out some silks or linen that might gratify them; which while he was choosing out of his trunks, the scimitar which CAPTAIN TETÛ had given to our Captain, chanced to be taken forth in PEDROS sight: which he seeing grew so much in liking thereof, that he accounted of nothing else in respect of it, and preferred it before all that could be given him. Yet imagining that it was no less esteemed of our Captain, durst not himself open his mouth to crave or commend it; but made one FRANCIS TUCKER to be his mean to break his mind, promising to give him a fine quoit of gold, which yet he had in store, if he would but move our Captain for it; and to our Captain himself, he would give four other great quoits which he had hidden, intending to have reserved them until another voyage.
Our Captain being accordingly moved by FRANCIS TUCKER, could have been content to have made no such exchange; but yet desirous to content him, that had deserved so well, he gave it him with many good words: who received it with no little joy, affirming that if he should give his wife and children which he loved dearly in lieu of it, he could not sufficient recompense it (for he would present his king with it, who he knew would make him a great man, even for this very gifts sake); yet in gratuity and stead of other requital of this jewel, he desired our Captain to accept these four pieces of gold, as a token of his thankfulness to him, and a pawn of his faithfulness during life.
Our Captain received it in most kind sort, but took it not to his own benefit, but caused it to be cast into the whole Adventure, saying, If he had not been set forth to that place, he had not attained such a commodity, and therefore it was just that they which bare part with him of his burden in setting him to sea, should enjoy the proportion of his benefit whatsoever at his return.
Thus with good love and liking we took our leave of that people, setting over to the islands of [ ? ], whence the next day after, we set sail towards Cape St. Antonio; by which we past with a large wind: but presently being to stand for the Havana, we were fain to ply to the windward some three or four days; in which plying we fortuned to take a small bark, in which were two or three hundred hides, and one most necessary thing, which stood us in great stead, viz., a pump! which we set in our frigate. Their bark because it was nothing fit for our service, our Captain gave them to carry them home.
And so returning to Cape St. Antonio, and landing there, we refreshed ourselves, and beside great store of turtle eggs, found by day in the [sand], we took 250 turtles by night. We powdered [salted] and dried some of them, which did us good service. The rest continued but a small time.
There were, at this time, belonging to Cartagena, Nombre de Dios, Rio Grande, Santa Marta, Rio de la Hacha, Venta Cruz, Veragua, Nicaragua, the Honduras, Jamaica &c., above 200 frigates; some of a 120 tons, others but of 10 or 12 tons, but the most of 30 or 40 tons, which all had intercourse between Cartagena and Nombre de Dios. The most of which, during our abode in those parts, we took; and some of them, twice or thrice each: yet never burnt nor sunk any, unless they were made out Men-of-war against us, or laid as stales to entrap us.
And of all the men taken in these several vessels, we never offered any kind of violence to any, after they were once come under our power; but either presently dismissed them in safety, or keeping them with us some longer time (as some of them we did), we always provided for their sustenance as for ourselves, and secured them from the rage of the Cimaroons against them: till at last, the danger of their discovering where our ships lay being over past, for which only cause we kept them prisoners, we set them also free.
Many strange birds, beasts, and fishes, besides fruits, trees, plants, and the like, were seen and observed of us in this journey, which willingly we pretermit as hastening to the end of our voyage: which from this Cape of St. Antonio, we intended to finish by sailing the directest and speediest way homeward; and accordingly, even beyond our own expectation, most happily performed.
For whereas our Captain had purposed to touch at Newfoundland, and there to have watered; which would have been some let unto us, though we stood in great want of water; yet GOD Almighty so provided for us, by giving us good store of rain water, that we were sufficiently furnished: and, within twenty-three days, we passed from the Cape of Florida, to the Isles of Scilly, and so arrived at Plymouth, on Sunday, about sermon time, August the 9th, 1573.
At what time, the news of our Captains return brought unto his, did so speedily pass over all the church, and surpass their minds with desire and delight to see him, that very few or none remained with the Preacher. All hastened to see the evidence of GODS love and blessing towards our Gracious Queen and country, by the fruit of our Captains labour and success.