|The Story of Sir Walter Raleigh|
|by Margaret Duncan Kelly|
|Relates the story of Raleigh from his boyhood days on the coast of Devonshire, to his exploits in Ireland and his unexpected entry into the court of Queen Elizabeth. We travel with him as he pursues the ships of the Spanish Armada and makes voyages to the New World in search of gold and lands to settle. We see his efforts come to naught and hear how he is relegated to the Tower of London where he spends the last years of his life. Includes the fabled story of the velvet cloak and the role Raleigh played in introducing potatoes and tobacco to the Old World. One of the volumes in the highly acclaimed Children's Heroes series, first published at the beginning of the last century. Ages 8-12 |
RALEIGH'S LAST VOYAGE
 FOR twelve years Sir Walter Raleigh was shut up in the Tower. During that time his glorious dream of a new England
beyond the seas had come partly true. Englishmen had at last settled in Virginia, the fair land which Raleigh
had named after Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen.
But Guiana was still an unknown country to the English, and Raleigh was always begging the King to gain some
part of it for England. At first King James would not listen. He knew the Spaniards would be very angry, and
he was very much afraid of the Spaniards. He wanted so much to be friends with the King of Spain, that his
great wish was for his son to marry a Spanish princess.
 But James and his courtiers were both greedy for gold, and when Raleigh told them of a rich gold mine in
Guiana, they began to cast longing eyes across the sea. As Raleigh was the only man who knew the way to this
gold mine, King James resolved at last to set him free and send him to Guiana for the gold.
When the King of Spain heard that Sir Walter Raleigh, his hated enemy, was free, he was filled with fear for
the sake of his lands in the New World. He was so angry, indeed, that James nearly changed his mind after all.
But his greed for gold was stronger than his fear of the Spaniards. He did not forbid Raleigh to go, but he
promised the King of Spain that if any of his subjects were attacked in this search for gold Raleigh should be
given up when he returned, to be hanged in Spain.
So at last Sir Walter Raleigh was free to leave the dark, dreary Tower and walk along the London streets in
the sunshine of a bright winter day. He had been a strong man when the Tower gates had
 closed behind him twelve years before; now as he walked through London, looking curiously at the many changes
in the well-known streets and buildings, he looked old and worn. He had suffered so much in his damp prison
from the want of fresh air and exercise that he would never be strong again. His hair was snow-white, but his
dark eyes still flashed with life and spirit.
Walter, Raleigh's eldest son, was now a brave young man, and his father made him captain of his own ship, the
Destiny, which had just been built.
Every penny of the money which Lady Raleigh still had left was spent in fitting out the ships. Many other
people gave money too to help in this exciting search for gold.
In the spring-time twelve ships set sail from Plymouth Bay. The weather was wild and stormy, and for many
weeks the ships had to shelter in a bay on the Irish coast. A great sickness came amongst the crews and many
of the best men died.
 When at last they sighted the shores of Guiana, Sir Walter himself was too ill to leave his cabin for several
days. In all the years that had passed by, the faithful Indians had never forgotten the great English chief
who had treated them so kindly. Year by year they had looked for his coming, for he had promised to come
They flocked to the shore to welcome him, bringing many gifts. One of the chiefs, whom Raleigh called Harry,
had spent two years in England, and had stayed in the Tower with his beloved master. He had gone back to
Guiana, thinking he would never see Sir Walter again, and now his joy knew no bounds.
Raleigh was carried ashore, and his old Indian friends came in crowds to see him as he lay in his tent.
Suddenly a tall, fine-looking Indian pushed eagerly through the others, and knelt at Sir Walter's feet with an
offering of Indian bread. His skin, though burnt brown with the sun, seemed fairer than that of the other
Indians. He poured forth a
 stream of Indian talk mixed with broken words of English. What was Raleigh's joy to find that this was Hugh
Goodwin, the English boy he had left with the Indians twenty-two years before! He was now a great man in his
tribe, and had almost forgotten how to speak English.
This time Raleigh was too ill to make the dangerous river voyage himself. He had to stay at the mouth of the
river with the large ships. He gave the command to a brave and faithful captain who had been with him in all
the perils of his first voyage to Guiana, and who knew where the mine was. Young Walter Raleigh, his gallant
son, was to share the command.
Raleigh gave them a month's provisions, and told them they were not to fight with any Spaniards except in
For many days they toiled up the Orinoco River. As they drew near to the place where they expected to find the
mine, they saw to their horror a new Spanish village. It was New Year's morning, and they decided to land and
rest for that
 day, while they made up their minds what to do.
But the Spaniards, who had been warned of their coming, had laid an ambush. At dead of night, as the English
lay sleeping on the river-bank, the Spaniards rushed down upon them from a hill and fiercely attacked them.
The Englishmen were so taken by surprise that they would all have been broken and cut to pieces had not their
valiant captains roused them and led them on. As it was, they fought with such fury that the Spaniards were
driven back. The Englishmen followed; but a new force of Spaniards came from the village to help their
For a moment it seemed as if the English would be beaten. But young Raleigh, calling to his men to follow,
dashed on, and fearlessly charged the enemy. In the short but deadly hand-to-hand fight he killed the Spanish
leader. He was wounded himself, but still fought on, bleeding as he was. At last he was struck down, wounded
 to death. With his last breath he cried to his men, "Go on!"
But even though their brave young leader had fallen, the English gained the victory and captured the village.
The next day they carried his body to the little village church. All his men followed, and with the music of
muffled drums they buried him there in that lonely foreign land.
The captain soon found that it was impossible to get to the mine. The men were very different from the brave
Devon sailors whom Raleigh had commanded in the old days. And the Spaniards, who were hiding in the woods,
sprang upon them at every turn.
At last the captain gave the word to return. So with heavy hearts they rowed back down the great river to tell
Sir Walter the terrible news of their failure.
When Raleigh heard the miserable story he was almost mad with grief. His gallant son was dead! His men had
come back without the gold. They had fought with the Spaniards, which meant certain death
 when he returned to England. No wonder, then, that he turned on the faithful captain with bitter words of
anger. The poor man tried to tell him that he had done his best, but Raleigh would listen to no excuse.
The wretched captain was so heart-broken by the anger of his beloved leader that he could not bear to live; he
went to his cabin and stabbed himself to the heart. So, at the saddest time of his life, Raleigh lost one of
his most faithful followers in this miserable way.
The voyage back was very wretched. The seas were stormy; the sailors were wild and disobedient. Raleigh
himself, sick and weary, was almost broken down with sorrow.
He wrote a sad letter to his wife, and sent it on by a swift ship to tell her the news of their son's death
and his own ruin.
"Comfort your heart, dearest Bess," he wrote; "I shall sorrow for us both. I shall sorrow the less because I
have not long to sorrow, because not long to live . . . . The Lord bless and comfort you that you may bear
patiently the death of your valiant son."
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