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Drake, The Sea-King, And The Spanish Treasure-Ships
by [?]

At the end of October, 1578, Sir Francis Drake, the Sea-King of Devon, as he was called, and the most daring and persistent of the enemies of the Spanish settlements in America, sailed from Cape Horn, at the southern extremity of the continent, and steered northward into the great Pacific, with the golden realm of Peru for his goal. A year before he had left the harbor of Plymouth, England, with a fleet of five well-armed ships. But these had been lost or left behind until only the “Golden Hind,” a ship of one hundred tons burden, was left, the flag-ship of the little squadron. Of the one hundred and sixty men with whom he started only about sixty remained.

The bold Drake had previously made himself terrible to the Spaniards of Mexico and the West Indies, and had won treasure within sight of the walls of Panama. Now for the first time the foot of a white man trod the barren rocks of Cape Horn and the keel of an English ship cut the Pacific waves. Here were treasure-laden Spanish galleons to take and rich Spanish cities to raid, and the hearts of the adventurers were full of hope of a golden harvest as they sailed north into that unknown sea.

Onward they sailed, nearing the scene of the famous adventures of Pizarro, and about the 1st of December entered a harbor on the coast of Chili. Before them, at no great distance, lay sloping hills on which sheep and cattle were grazing and corn and potatoes growing. They landed to meet the natives, who came to the shore and seemed delighted with the presents which were given them. But soon afterwards Drake and a boatload of his men, who had gone on shore to procure fresh water, were fiercely attacked by ambushed Indians, and every man on board was wounded before they could pull away. Even some of their oars were snatched from them by the Indians, and Drake was wounded by an arrow in the cheek and struck by a stone on the side of his face.

Furious at this unprovoked assault, the crew wished to attack the hostile natives, but Drake refused to do so.

“No doubt the poor fellows take us for Spaniards,” he said; “and we cannot blame them for attacking any man from Spain.”

Some days later a native fisherman was captured and brought on board the ship. He was in a terrible fright, but was reassured when he learned that his captors were not Spaniards, but belonged to a nation whose people did not love Spain. He was highly pleased with a chopping-knife and a piece of linen cloth that were given him, and was sent ashore, promising to induce his people to sell some provisions to the ship’s crew. He kept his word, and a good supply of fowls and eggs and a fat hog were obtained.

With the boat came off an Indian chief, glad to see any white men who hated the Spaniards as deeply as he did himself. He was well received and served to the best the ship could afford. Then he said to his entertainer in Spanish, a language he spoke fairly well,–

“If you are at war with the Spaniards, I will be glad to go with you, and think I can be of much use to you. The city of Valparaiso lies not far south of here, and in its harbor is a large galleon, nearly ready to sail with a rich treasure. We should all like much to have you capture that vessel.”

This was good news to Drake. The next day the “Golden Hind” turned its prow down the coast under full sail, with the friendly native on board. When Valparaiso was reached, Drake saw to his delight that his dusky pilot had told the truth. There lay a great galleon, flying a Spanish flag. Not dreaming of an enemy in those waters, the Spaniards were unsuspicious until the “Golden Hind” had been laid alongside and its armed crew were clambering over the bulwarks. The rich prize was captured almost without a blow.