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not only brought him intelligence, and showed the way, but carried necessaries, provided victuals, and built lodgings, and, when any of the English fainted in the way, two of them would carry
him between them for two miles together ; nor was their valour less than their industry, after they had learned, from their English companions, to despise the fire-arms of the Spaniards.
When they were within five leagues of the ship they found a town built in their absence by the Symerons, at which Drake consented to halt, sending a Symeron to the ship with his gold tooth-pick as á token, which though the master knew it, was not sufficient to gain the messenger credit, till upon examination he found that the captain having ordered him to regard no messenger without his handwriting, had engraven his name upon it with the point of his knife. He then sent the pinnace up the river, which they met, and afterwards sent to the town for those whose weariness had made them unable to march farther. On February 23, the whole company was reunited ; and Drake, whose good or ill success never prevailed over his piety, celebrated their meeting with thanks to God.
Drake, not yet discouraged, now turned his thoughts to new prospects, and, without languishing in melancholy reflections upon his past miscarriages, employed himself in forming schemes for repairing them. Eager of action, and acquainted with man's nature, he never suffered idleness to infect his followers with cowardice, but kept them from sinking under any disappointment, by diverting their attention to some new enterprise.
Upon consultation with his own men and the Symerons, he found them divided in their opinions : some declaring, that, before they engaged in any new attempt, it was necessary to increase their stores of provisions; and others urging, that the ships in which the treasure was conveyed, should be immediately attacked. The Symerons proposed a third plan, and advised him to undertake another march over land to the house of one Pezoro near Veragua, whose slaves brought him every day more than two hundred pounds sterling from the mines, which he heaped together in a strong stone house, which might by the help of the English be easily forced.
Drake, being unwilling to fatigue his followers with another journey, determined to comply with both the other opinions; and manning his two pinnaces, the Bear and the Minion, he sent John Oxenham in the Bear towards Tolon, to seize upon provisions; and went himself in the Minion to the Cabezas, to intercept the treasure that was to be transported from Veragua and that coast to the fleet at Nombre de Dios, first dismissing with presents those Symerons that desired to return to their wives, and ordered those that chose to remain to be entertained in the ship.
Draketook at the Cabezas a frigate of Nicaragua, the pilot of which informed him that there was, in the harbour of Veragua, a ship freighted with more than a million of gold, to which he offered to conduct him (being well acquainted with the soundings) if he might be allowed his share of the prize; so much was his avarice superior to his honesty,
Drake, after some deliberation, complying with
the pilot's importunities, sailed towards the harbour, but had no sooner entered the mouth of it than he heard the report of artillery, which was answered by others at a greater distance ; upon which the pilot told him that they were discovered, this being the signal appointed by the governor to alarm the coast.
Drake now thought it convenient to return to the ship, that he might inquire the success of the other pinnace, which he found, with a frigate that she had taken, with twenty-eight fat hogs, two hundred hens, and great store of maize, or Indian
The vessel itself was so strong and well built, that he fitted it out for war, determining to attack the fleet at Nombre de Dios.
On March the 21st he set sail with the new fri. gate and the Bear towards the Cabezas, at which he arrived in about two days, and found there Tetu, a Frenchman, with a ship of war, who, after having received from him a supply of water and other necessaries, intreated that he might join with him in his attempt; which Drake consenting to, admitted him to accompany him with twenty of his men, stipulating to allow them an equal share of whatever booty they should gain. Yet were they not without some suspicions of danger from this new ally, he having eighty men, and they being now reduced to thirty-one.
Then manning the frigate and two pinnaces, they set sail for the Cabezas, where they left the frigate, which was too large for the shallows over which they were to pass, and proceeded to Rio Francisco. Here they landed, and having ordered the pinnaces to return to the same place on the fourth day following, travelled through the woods towards Nombre de Dios, with such silence and regularity, as surprised the French, who did not imagine the Symerons so discreet or obedient as they appeared, and were therefore in perpetual anxiety about the fidelity of their guides, and the probability of their return. Nor did the Symerons treat them with that submission and regard which they paid to the English, whose bravery and conduct they had already tried.
At length, after a laborious march of more than seven leagues, they began to hear the hammers of the carpenters in the bay, it being the custom in that hot season to work in the night; and in a short time they perceived the approach of the recoes, or droves of mules, from Panama. They now no longer doubted that their labours would be rewarded, and every man imagined himself secure from poverty and labour for the remaining part of his life. They, therefore, when the mules came up, rushed out and seized them, with an alacrity proportioned to their expectations. The three droves consisted of one hundred and nine mules, each of which carried three hundred, pounds weight of silver. It was to little purpose, that the soldiers ordered to guard the treasure, attempted resistance. After a short combat, in which the French captain, and one of the Symerons, were wounded, it appeared with how much greater ardour men are animated by interest than fidelity.
As it was possible for them to carry away but a small part of this treasure, after having wearied themselves with hiding it in holes and shallow waters, they determined to return by the same way, and, without being pursued, entered the woods, where the French captain, being disabled by his wound, was obliged to stay, two of his company continuing with him.
When they had gone forward about two leagues, the Frenchmen missed another of their company, who upon inquiry was known to be intoxicated with wine, and supposed to have lost himself in the woods, by neglecting to observe the guides.
But common prudence not allowing them to hazard the whole company by too much solicitude for a single life, they travelled on towards Rio Francisco, at which they arrived April the 3rd ; but, looking out for their pinnaces, were surprised with the sight of seven Spanish shallops, and immediately concluded that some intelligence of their motions had been carried to Nombre de Dios, and that these vessels had been fitted out to pursue them, which might undoubtedly have overpowered the pinnaces and their feeble crew. Nor did their suspicion stop here: but immediately it occurred to them, that their men had been compelled by torture to discover where their frigate and ship were stationed, which being weakly manned, and without the presence of the chief commander, would fall into their hands, almost without resistance, and all possibility of escaping be entirely cut of.
These reflections sunk the whole company into despair; and every one, instead of endeavouring to break through the difficulties that surrounded him, resigned up himself to his ill fortune ; when Drake, whose intrepidity was never to be shaken, and whose reason was never to be surprised or