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Hixom to keep the ship, and attend the sick, and guard
the prisoners.

At his departure our Captain gave this Master straight
charge, in any case not to trust any messenger, that should


come in his name with any tokens, unless he brought his
handwriting: which he knew could not be counterfeited by
the Cimaroons or Spaniards.

We were in all forty-eight, of which eighteen only were
English; the rest were Cimaroons, which beside their arms,
bare every one of them, a great quantity of victuals
and provision, supplying our want of carriage in so long a
march, so that we were not troubled with anything but
our furniture. And because they could not carry enough
to suffice us altogether; therefore (as they promised before)
so by the way with their arrows, they provided for us com-
petent store from time to time.

They have every one of them two sorts of arrows : the
one to defend himself and offend the enemy, the other to
kill his victuals. These for fight are somewhat like the
Scottish arrow; only somewhat longer, and headed with
iron, wood, or fish bones. But the arrows for provision are
of three sorts, the first serveth to kill any great beast near
[at] hand, as ox, stag, or wild boar: this hath a head of iron
of a pound and a half weight, shaped in form like the head
of a javelin or boar-spear, as sharp as any knife, making
so large and deep a wound as can hardly be believed of
him that hath not seen it. The second serveth for lesser
beasts, and hath a head of three-quarters of a pound: this
he most usually shooteth. The third serveth for all manner
of birds : it hath a head of an ounce weight. And these
heads though they be of iron only, yet are they so cun-
ningly tempered, that they will continue a very good edge
a long time : and though they be turned sometimes, yet they
will never or seldom break. The necessity in which they
stand hereof continually causeth them to have iron in far
greater account than gold : and no man among them is of
greater estimation, than he that can most perfectly give
this temper unto it.

Every day we were marching by sun-rising. We con-
tinued till ten in the forenoon: then resting (ever near some
river) till past twelve, we marched till four, and then by
some river's side, we reposed ourselves in such houses, as
either we found prepared heretofore by them, when they


travelled through these woods, or they daily built very
readily for us in this manner.

As soon as we came to the place where we intended to
lodge, the Cimaroons, presently laying down their burdens,
fell to cutting of forks or posts, and poles or rafters, and
palmito boughs, or plantain leaves ; and with great speed set
up to the number of six houses. For every of which, they
first fastened deep into the ground, three or four great posts
with forks: upon them, they laid one transom, which was
commonly about twenty feet, and made the sides, in the
manner of the roofs of our country houses, thatching it
close with those aforesaid leaves, which keep out water a
long time: observing always that in the lower ground, where
greater heat was, they left some three or four feet open
unthatched below, and made the houses, or rather roofs,
so many feet the higher. But in the hills, where the air
was more piercing and the nights cold, they made our rooms
always lower, and thatched them close to the ground, leav-
ing only one door to enter in, and a lover [louvre"] hole for
a vent, in the midst of the roof. In every [one] of these,
they made four several lodgings, and three fires, one in the
midst, and one at each end of every house: so that the room
was most temperately warm, and nothing annoyed with
smoke, partly by reason of the nature of the wood which they
use to burn, yielding very little smoke, partly by reason of
their artificial making of it: as firing the wood cut in length
like our billets at the ends, and joining them together so
close, that though no flame or fire did appear, yet the heat
continued without intermission.

Near many of the rivers where we stayed or lodged, we
found sundry sorts of fruits, which we might use with great
pleasure and safety temperately : Mammeas, Guayvas, Pal-
mitos, Pinos, Oranges, Lemons, and divers other; from eating
of which, they dissuaded us in any case, unless we eat very
few of them, and those first dry roasted, as Plantains,
Potato[e]s, and such like.

In journeying, as oft as by chance they found any wild
swine, of which those hills and valleys have store, they would
ordinarily, six at a time, deliver their burdens to the rest of
their fellows, pursue, kill and bring away after us, as much


as they could carry, and time permitted. One day as we
travelled, the Cimaroons found an otter, and prepared it to be
drest: our Captain marvelling at it, Pedro, our chief Cima-
roon, asked him, " Are you a man of war, and in want; and
yet doubt whether this be meat, that hath blood? "

Herewithal our Captain rebuked himself secretly, that he
had so slightly considered of it before.

The third day of our journey (6th February), they brought
us to a town of their own, seated near a fair river, on the side
of a hill, environed with a dyke of eight feet broad, and a
thick mud wall of ten feet high, sufficient to stop a sudden
surpriser. It had one long and broad street, lying east and
west, and two other cross streets of less breadth and length:
there were in it some five or six and fifty households; which
were kept so clean and sweet, that not only the houses, but
the very streets were very pleasant to behold. In this town
we saw they lived very civilly and cleanly. For as soon as
we came thither, they washed themselves in the river; and
changed their apparel, as also their women do wear, which
was very fine and fitly made somewhat after the Spanish
fashion, though nothing so costly. This town is distant thirty-
five leagues from Nombre de Dios and forty-five from Pan-
ama. It is plentifully stored with many sorts of beasts and
fowl, with plenty of maize and sundry fruits.

Touching their affection in religion, they have no kind
of priests, only they held the Cross in great reputation. But
at our Captain's persuasion, they were contented to leave
their crosses, and to learn the Lord's Prayer, and to be in-
structed in some measure concerning GOD's true worship.
They kept a continual watch in four parts, three miles off
their town, to prevent the mischiefs, which the Spaniards
intend against them, by the conducting of some of their own
coats [i.e., Cimaroons], which having been taken by the
Spaniards have been enforced thereunto : wherein, as we
learned, sometimes the Spaniards have prevailed over them,
( especially when they lived less careful; but since, they
[watch] against the Spaniards, whom they killed like beasts,
as often as they take them in the woods; having aforehand
understood of their coming.

We stayed with them that night, and the next day (7th


February) till noon; during which time, they related unto
us divers very strange accidents, that had fallen out between
them and the Spaniards, namely [especially] one. A gallant
gentleman entertained by the Governors of the country, un-
dertook, the year last past [1572], with 150 soldiers, to put
this town to the sword, men, women, and children. Being
conducted to it by one of them, that had been taken prisoner,
and won by great gifts ; he surprised it half an hour before
day, by which occasion most of the men escaped, but many
of their women and children were slaughtered, or taken : but
the same morning by sun rising (after that their guide was
slain, in following another man's wife, and that the Cima-
roons had assembled themselves in their strength) they be-
haved themselves in such sort, and drove the Spaniards to
such extremity, that what with the disadvantage of the woods
(having lost their guide and thereby their way), what with
famine and want, there escaped not past thirty of them, to
return answer to those which sent them.

Their king [chief] dwelt in a city within- sixteen leagues
south-east of Panama; which is able to make 1,700 fighting

They all intreated our Captain very earnestly, to make his
abode with them some two or three days ; promising that by
that time, they would double his strength if he thought good.
But he thanking them for their offer, told them, that "He
could stay no longer ! It was more than time to prosecute
his purposed voyage. As for strength, he would wish no
more than he had, although he might have presently twenty
times as much ! " Which they took as proceeding not only
from kindness, but also from magnanimity ; and therefore,
they marched forth, that afternoon, with great good will.

This was the order of our march. Four of those Cima-
roons that best knew the ways, went about a mile distance
before us, breaking boughs as they went, to be a direction
to those that followed; but with great silence, which they
also required us to keep.

Then twelve of them were as it were our Vanguard, other
twelve, our Rearward. We with their two Captains in the

All the way was through woods very cool and pleasant, by


reason of those goodly and high trees, that grow there so
thick, that it is cooler travelling there under them in that
hot region, than it is in the most parts of England in the
summer time. This [also] gave a special encouragement
unto us all, that we understood there was a great Tree about
the midway, from which, we might at once discern the North
Sea from whence we came, and the South Sea whither we
were going.

The fourth day following (nth February) we came to the
height of the desired hill, a very high hill, lying East and
West, like a ridge between the two seas, about ten of the
clock: where [Pedro] the chiefest of these Cimaroons took
our Captain by the hand, and prayed him to follow him, if
he was desirous to see at once the two seas, which he had
so long longed for.

Here was that goodly and great high Tree, in which they
had cut and made divers steps, to ascend up near unto the
top, where they had also made a convenient bower, wherein
ten or twelve men might easily sit: and from thence we
might, without any difficulty, plainly see the Atlantic Ocean
whence now we came, and the South Atlantic [i.e., Pacific
Ocean'] so much desired. South and north of this Tree,
they had felled certain trees, that the prospect might be the
clearer; and near about the Tree there were divers strong
houses, that had been built long before, as well by other
Cimaroons as by these, which usually pass that way, as being
inhabited in divers places in those waste countries.

After our Captain had ascended to this bower, with the
chief Cimaroon, and having, as it pleased GOD, at that time,
by reason of the brize [breeze'], a very fair day, had seen
that sea, of which he had heard such golden reports : he
" besought Almighty GOD of His goodness, to give him life
and leave to sail once in an English ship, in that sea ! " And
then calling up all the rest of our [iy English] men, he
acquainted John Oxnam especially with this his petition and
purpose, if it would please GOD to grant him that happiness.
Who understanding it, presently protested, that " unless our
Captain did beat him from his company, he would follow
him, by GOD's grace ! "

Thus all, thoroughly satisfied with the sight of the seas,


descended; and after our repast, continued our ordinary-
march through woods, yet two days more as before : without
any great variety. But then (13th February) we came to
march in a champion country, where the grass groweth, not
only in great lengths as the knot grass groweth in many
places, but to such height, that the inhabitants are fain to
burn it thrice in the year, that it may be able to feed the
cattle, of which they have thousands.

For it is a kind of grass with a stalk, as big as a great
wheaten reed, which hath a blade issuing from the top of
it, on which though the cattle feed, yet it groweth every day
higher, until the top be too high for an ox to reach. Then
the inhabitants are wont to put fire to it, for the space of
five or six miles together; which notwithstanding after it is
thus burnt, within three days, springeth up fresh like green
corn. Such is the great fruitfulness of the soil : by reason
of the evenness of the day and night, and the rich dews
which fall every morning.

In these three last days' march in the champion, as we
past over the hills, we might see Panama five or six times a
day; and the last day (14th February) we saw the ships
riding in the road.

But after that we were come within a day's journey of
Panama, our Captain (understanding by the Cimaroons that
the Dames of Panama are wont to send forth hunters and
fowlers for taking of sundry dainty fowl, which the land
yieldeth; by whom if we marched not very heedfully, we
might be descried) caused all his company to march out of
all ordinary way, and that with as great heed, silence, and
secrecy, as possibly they might, to the grove (which was
agreed on four days before) lying within a league of
Panama, where we might lie safely undiscovered near the
highway, that leadeth from thence to Nombre de Dios.

Thence we sent a chosen Cimaroon, one that had served a
master in Panama before time, in such apparel as the
Negroes of Panama do use to wear, to be our espial, to go
into the town, to learn the certain night, and time of the
night, when the carriers laded the Treasure from the King's
Treasure House to Xombre de Dios. For they are wont to
take their journey from Panama to Venta Cruz, which is six


leagues, ever by night; because the country is all champion,
and consequently by day very hot. But from Venta Cruz to
Nombre de Dios as oft as they travel by land with their
treasure, they travel always by day and not by night, be-
cause all that way is full of woods, and therefore very fresh
and cool ; unless the Cimaroons happily encounter them, and
made them sweat with fear, as sometimes they have done:
whereupon they are glad to guard their Recoes [i.e., Recuas,
the Spanish word for a drove of beasts of burden; meaning
here, a mule train,'] with soldiers as they pass that way.

This last day, our Captain did behold and view the most
of all that fair city, discerning the large street which lieth
directly from the sea into the land, South and North.

By three of the clock, we came to this grove ; passing for
the more secrecy alongst a certain river, which at that time
was almost dried up.

Having disposed of ourselves in the grove, we despatched
our spy an hour before night, so that by the closing in of
the evening, he might be in the city; as he was. Whence
presently he returned unto us, that which very happily he
understood by companions of his. That the Treasurer of
Lima intending to pass into Spain in the first Adviso (which
was a ship of 350 tons, a very good sailer), was ready that
night to take his journey towards Nombre de Dios, with his
daughter and family: having fourteen mules in company:
of which eight were laden with gold, and one with jewels.
And farther, that there were two other Recuas, of fifty
mules in each, laden with victuals for the most part, with
some little quantity of silver, to come forth that night after
the other.

There are twenty-eight of these Recuas; the greatest of
them is of seventy mules, the less of fifty; unless some
particular man hire for himself, ten, twenty, or thirty, as he
hath need.

Upon this notice, we forthwith marched four leagues, till
we came within two leagues of Venta Cruz, in which march
two of our Cimaroons which were sent before, by scent of
his match, found and brought a Spaniard, whom they had
found asleep by the way, by scent of the said match, and
drawing near thereby, heard him taking his breath as he


slept; and being but one, they fell upon him, stopped his
mouth from crying, put out his match, and bound him so,
that they well near strangled him by that time he was
brought unto us.

By examining him, we found all that to be true, which our
spy had reported to us, and that he was a soldier entertained
with others by the Treasurer, for guard and conduct of this
treasure, from Venta Cruz to Nombre de Dios.

This soldier having learned who our Captain was, took
courage, and was bold to make two requests unto him. The
one that "He would command his Cimaroons which hated
the Spaniards, especially the soldiers extremely, to spare his
life; which he doubted not but they would do at his charge."
The other was, that "seeing he was a soldier, and assured
him, that they should have that night more gold, besides
jewels, and pearls of great price, then all they could carry
(if not, then he was to be dealt with how they would) ; but if
they all found it so, then it might please our. Captain to give
unto him, as much as might suffice for him and his mistress
to live upon, as he had heard our Captain had done to divers
others : for which he would make his name as famous as
any of them which had received like favour."

Being at the place appointed, our Captain with half his
men [8 English and 15 Cimaroons], lay on one side of the
way, about fifty paces off in the long grass; John Oxnam
with the Captain of the Cimaroons, and the other half, lay
on the other side of the way, at the like distance: but so far
behind, that as occasion served, the former company might
take the foremost mules by the heads, and the hindmost
because the mules tied together, are always driven one after
another; and especially that if we should have need to use
our weapons that night, we might be sure not to endamage
our fellows. We had not lain thus in ambush much above
an hour, but we heard the Rccuas coming both from the
city to Venta Cruz, and from Venta Cruz to the city, which
hath a very common and great trade, when the fleets are
there. We heard them by reason they delight much to have
deep-sounding bells, which, in a still night, are heard very
far off.

Now though there were as great charge given as might be,


that none of our men should shew or stir themselves, but
let all that came from Venta Cruz to pass quietly ; yea, their
Recuas also, because we knew that they brought nothing but
merchandise from thence : yet one of our men, called
Robert Pike, having drunken too much aqua vita without
water, forgot himself, and enticing a Cimaroon forth with
him was gone hard to the way, with intent to have shown
his forwardness on the foremost mules. And when a
cavalier from Venta Cruz, well mounted, with his page run-
ning at his stirrup, passed by, unadvisedly he rose up to see
what he was: but the Cimaroon of better discretion pulled
him down, and lay upon him, that he might not discover
them any more. Yet by this, the gentleman had taken notice
by seeing one half all in white: for that we had all put our
shirts over our other apparel, that we might be sure to know
our own men in the pell mell in the night. By means of this
sight, the cavalier putting spurs to his horse, rode a false
gallop; as desirous not only himself to be free of this doubt
which he imagined, but also to give advertisement to others
that they might avoid it.

Our Captain who had heard and observed by reason of the
hardness of the ground and stillness of the night, the change
of this gentleman's trot to a gallop, suspected that he was
discovered, but could not imagine by whose fault, neither
did the time give him leisure to search. And therefore con-
sidering that it might be, by reason of the danger of the
place, well known to ordinary travellers : we lay still in ex-
pectation of the Treasurer's coming; and he had come for-
ward to us, but that this horseman meeting him, and i(as we
afterwards learnt by the other Recuas) making report to
him, what he had seen presently that night, what he heard
of Captain Drake this long time, and what he conjectured
to be most likely: viz., that the said Captain Drake, or some
for him, disappointed of his expectation, of getting any
great treasure, both at Nombre de Dios and other places,
was by some means or other come by land, in covert through
the woods, unto this place, to speed of his purpose: and
thereupon persuaded him to turn his Recua out of the way,
and let the other Recuas which were coming after to pass
on. They were whole Recuas, and loaded but with victuals


for the most part, so that the loss of them were far less if
the worst befell, and yet they should serve to discover them
as well as the best.

Thus by the recklessness of one of our company, and by
the carefulness of this traveller; we were disappointed of a
most rich booty: which is to be thought GOD would not
should be taken, for that, by all likelihood, it was well
gotten by that Treasurer.

The other two Recnas 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 ex-
tremity, consisteth in taking of time [*. 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 en-
counter 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 moder-
ately with such store of victuals as we had here in abun-
dance: 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 reso-
lution, 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 an-
other. 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 Cima-
roons, 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

Online LibraryHerodotusVoyages and travels; ancient and modern → online text (page 16 of 35)