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embarrassed, represented to them that, though the Spaniards should have made themselves masters of their pinnaces, they might yet be hindered from discovering the ships. He put them in mind that the pinnaces could not be taken, the men examined, their examinations compared, the resolutions formed, their vessels sent out, and the ships taken, in an instant. Sometime must necessarily be spent before the last blow could be struck ; and, if that time were not negligently lost, it might be possible for some of them to reach the ships before the enemy, and direct them to change their station.
They were animated with this discourse, by which they discovered that their leader was not without hope ; but when they came to look more nearly into their situation, they were unable to conceive upon what it was founded. To pass by land was impossible, as the waylay over high mountains, through thick woods and deep rivers; and they had not a single boat in their power, so that a passage by water seemed equally impracticable. But Drake, whose penetration immediately discovered all the circumstances and inconveniencies of every scheme, soon determined upon the only means of success which their condition afforded them'; and ordering his men to make a raft out of the trees that were then floating on the river, offered himself to put off to sea upon it, and cheerfully asked who would accompany him. John Owen, John Smith, and two Frenchmen, who were willing to share his fortune, embarked with him on the raft, which was fitted out with a sail made of a biscuit sack, and an oar to direct its course instead of a rudder.
Then, having comforted the rest with assurances of his regard for them, and resolution to leave nothing unattempted for their deliverance, he put off, and after having, with much difficulty, sailed three leagues, descried two pinnces hasting towards him, which, upon a nearer approach, he discovered to be his own, and perceiving that they anchored behind a point that jutted out into the sea, he put to shore, and, crossing the land on foot, was received by his company with that satisfaction which is only known to those that have been acquainted with dangers and distresses.
The same night they rowed to Rio Francisco, where they took in the rest, with what treasure they had been able to carry with them through the woods; then sailing back with the utmost expedition, they returned to their frigate, and soon after to their ship, where Drake divided the gold and silver equally between the French and the English.
Here they spent about fourteen days in fitting out their frigate more completely, and then dismissing the Spaniards with their ship, lay a few days among the Cabezas; while twelve English and sixteen Symerons travelled once more into the country, as well to recover the French captain, whom they had left wounded, as to bring away the treasure which they had hid in the sands. Drake, whom his company would not suffer to hazard his person in another land expedition, went with them to Rio Francisco, where he found one of the Frenchmen who had stayed to attend their captain, and was informed by him, upon his inquiries after his fortune, that half an hour after their separation, the Spaniards came upon them, and easily seized upon the wounded captain; but that his companions might have escaped with him, had he not preferred money to life; for seeing him throw down a box of jewels that retarded him, he could not forbear taking it up, and with that, and the gold which he had already, was so loaded that he could not escape. With regard to the bars of gold and silver, which they had concealed in the ground, he informed them that two thousand men had been employed in digging for them.
The men, however, either mistrusting the informer's veracity, or confident that what they had hidden could not be found, pursued their journey; but upon their arrival at the place, found the ground turned up for two miles round, and were able to recover no more than thirteen bars of sil. ver, and a small quantity of gold. They discovered afterwards that the Frenchman who was left in the woods, falling afterwards into the hands of the Spaniards, was tortured by them till he confessed where Drake had concealed his plunder. So fatal to Drake's expedition was the drunkenness of his followers.
Then dismissing the French, they passed by Carthagena with their colours flying, and soon after took a frigate laden with provisions and honey, which they valued as a great restorative, and then sạiled away to the Cabezas.
Here they stayed about a week to clean their vessels, and fit them for a long voyage, determining to set sail for England; and that the faithful Sy. merons might not go away unrewarded, broke up their pinnaces, and gave them the iron, the most
valuable present in the world to a nation whose only employments were war and hunting, and amongst whom show and luxury had no place.
Pedro, their captain, being desired by Drake to go through the ship, and to choose what he most desired, fixed his eye upon a scymeter set with diamonds, which the French captain had presented to Drake; and being unwilling to ask for so valuable a present, offered for it four large quoits, or thick plates of gold, which he had hitherto concealed; but Drake, desirous to show him that fidelity is seldom without a recompense, gave it him with the highest professions of satisfaction and esteem. Pedro, receiving it with the utmost gratitude, informed him, that by bestowing it he had conferred greatness and honour upon him; for by presenting it to his king, he doubted not of obtaining the highest rank amongst the Symerons. He then persisted in his resolution of leaving the gold, which was generously thrown by Drake into the common stock; for he said, that those, at whose expenses he had been sent out, ought to share in all the gain of the expedition, whatever pretence cavil and chicanery might supply for the appropriation of any part of it. Thus was Drake's character consistent with itself; he was equally superior to avarice and fear, and through whatever danger he might go in quest of gold, he thought it not valuable enough to be obtained by artifice or dishonesty.
They now forsook the coast of America, which for many months they had kept in perpetual alarms, having taken more than two hundred ships of all sizes between Carthagena and Nombre de Dios,
of which they never destroyed any, unless they were fitted out against them, nor ever detained the prisoners longer than was necessary for their own security or concealment, providing for them in the same manner as for themselves, and protecting them from the malice of the Symerons; a behaviour, which humanity dictates, and which, perhaps, even policy cannot disapprove. He must certainly meet with obstinate opposition, who makes it equally dangerous to yield as to resist, and who leaves his enemies no hopes but from victory.
What riches they acquired is not particularly related ; but it is not to be doubted, that the plun. der of so many vessels, together with the silver which they seized at Nombre de Dios, must amount to a very large sum, though the part that was allotted to Drake was not sufficient to lull him in effeminacy, or to repress his natural inclination to adventures.
They arrived at Plymouth on the 9th of August, 1573, on Sunday in the afternoon; and so much were the people delighted with the news of their arrival, that they left the preacher, and ran in crowds to the key with shouts and congratulations.
Drake having, in his former expedition, had a view of the South Sea, and formed a resolution to sail upon it, did not suffer himself to be diverted from his design by the prospect of any difficulties that might obstruct the attempt, nor any dangers that might attend the execution ; obstacles which brave men often find it much more easy to overcome, than secret envy and domestick treachery.