| Thirty More Famous Stories Retold|
|by James Baldwin|
|This volume was written by the author in answer to the requests of hundreds of children for more stories like the ones they had enjoyed in Fifty Famous Stories Retold. This volume includes stories of historical events, scientific discoveries, and legendary heroes. The richer vocabulary and more complicated plot elements in these stories gradually accustom children to following a longer narrative. Ages 7-10 |
"UPON A PEAK IN DAIREN"
 After Balboa's discovery of the Pacific Ocean, seventy
years went by. Then, one day, another bold adventurer
stood upon a peak in Darien.
The name of this man was Francis Drake. He was known
far and wide as the most daring sailor on the seas. He
was an Englishman, and he hated Spain and the Spaniards
with a bitter hatred. Like
 Balboa, he visited Darien in search of gold; but he
meant to get it from those whom he called his enemies—to
take it away from them by force.
He stood near the top of a high cliff, not far from the
line where the famous Panama Canal is now being built.
Below him there was a deep ravine, and along the ravine
there was a mule path. This mule path was the road
along which the Spaniards carried their treasures over
the mountains to the seaport of Darien, to be loaded on
ships and sent to Spain. Close to this pathway,
crouching behind rocks and trees, were Captain Drake's
followers—a few rough sailors armed to the teeth and
a band of light-footed Indians with spears and clubs.
They seemed to be expecting some one to pass that way;
for they moved very cautiously and kept their weapons
in their hands ready for use, while they watched their
leader on the steep mountain wall above them.
As Drake stood near the edge of the cliff he saw before
him a tall tree with spreading branches reaching like
gaunt, bare arms toward the sky. "Ah!" said he, "what
better outlook could one want than this?"
Sailor as he was, it was easy enough for him to clamber
up the gnarled trunk. Soon he was standing on the very
topmost branch. As he looked
 around him, what a glorious view did he behold! On
every side were wooded mountain tops, green with
tropical verdure. Between them were deep ravines and
broad valleys, with thick forests of giant trees and
sprawling vines and tangled underwoods, through which
the feet of man had never passed. Far to the north he
caught faint glimpses of the sea on which he had lately
sailed, and he knew that in a snug harbor somewhere on
the coast of that sea his ship, safe hidden from
Spanish eyes, was waiting for his return.
But it was not for the northern view that he cared. He
turned and looked in the other direction. Never had he
seen a grander sight. There, in plain view before him,
was the great western ocean, the mighty Pacific, which
the Spaniard Balboa had discovered, and which Spain had
ever since claimed as her own.
The waters danced and sparkled in the sunlight, just as
they had done in Balboa's time, and they stretched
south and west a marvelous distance, until at last sea
and sky seemed mingled in one. The heart of the bold
sailor was strangely moved as he lazed upon this scene;
for he was the first of Englishmen to behold that
greatest of all waters.
As he looked he could see the ships of Spain, like
specks upon the water, sailing into the port of Panama,
and bringing the treasures of Peru and of the
 golden East to swell the wealth and increase the power
of the Spanish king. Tears came to his eyes. He
clenched his hands with strong determination. His
breath came quickly as he thought of the hated
Spaniards and of their claim to the ownership of half
Then, forgetting where he was, he knelt down among the
branches. "O God," he prayed, "help me to humble the
pride of Spain, and help me to promote England's glory
on the seas. And I vow to give my time and strength to
this cause, and never to rest till I shall sail an
English ship on the waters of this great ocean."
A call from his men in the ravine below aroused him;
and as he hastened to descend from the tree he heard
the tinkle of bells far down the mountain pass. A train
of mules laden with gold and silver from the mines of
Peru was slowly approaching. It was to waylay and
capture such a train that he and his followers had come
to this peak in Darien; and here, now, was his
An hour later Captain Drake was dividing the treasure
among his followers. There was so great a weight of
precious metals that they could not carry it all, but
were obliged to bury a part in a secret place in the
The story of the bold capture was carried to
 Panama and the other Spanish towns on the isthmus, but
Drake was soon safe back on board of his ship. The fear
of the bold sea rover spread to every port on the
coast, and from that day the pride of Spain began to be
" 'I myself will make him a knight.' "
Two years later Captain Drake fulfilled his vow by
sailing an English vessel on the mighty Pacific. Along
the coasts of Chile and Peru he sailed. He captured
Spanish towns, he waylaid Spanish treasure ships, he
carried terror into all the Spanish provinces. Then,
when his vessel was loaded with so much treasure that
she could carry no more, he
 turned his course to the west, and was the first
Englishman to sail across the Pacific. Westward and
still westward he sailed. He passed on the south of
the Philippines, he touched at the Spice Islands, he
traversed the Indian Ocean, he sailed around Africa,
and finally returned in safety to England. It was a
wonderful voyage—the first English voyage round the
Queen Elizabeth was so delighted when she heard of
Drake's exploits that she cried out, "He shall be
SIR Francis Drake. I myself will make him a knight."
And Sir Francis Drake it was; and from his time the
power of England on the sea began to be felt.
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