| American History Stories, Volume I|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Stories of early exploration and founding of American colonies, conflicts over religion, and troubles with the Indians, culminating in the French and Indian War. Ages 8-12 |
SIR FRANCIS DRAKE
 But of all the gay, brave knights of Queen Elizabeth's
court, none was so gay and brave as Sir Francis Drake!
Like Sebastian Cabot, Drake had, as a boy, been as much at
home on the water as on land. Indeed, perhaps it would be
the whole truth to say this time that the boy was
entirely at home on the water, inasmuch as his father
had, when Francis was quite a little lad, moved his
whole family, twelve children in all—into an old hull of
a ship which lay wrecked off the coast of Kent. There they
lived year after year—a jolly crew you may be
sure—until, one by one, the boys grew up and pushed
 off for themselves to join some cruising party up
and down the coast.
EARLY HOME OF SIR FRANCIS DRAKE
In all the years since Columbus had discovered
America,—for it was now 1577—the Spaniards had
been pushing on across the new continent and up and down
the coast, until there seemed a fair prospect of their
gaining possession of the whole of the new
More than this, the Spanish navy, growing stronger and
stronger as the years rolled on, had for some time been
making things generally disagreeable to the vessels of
all other nations, even when out upon mid-ocean.
"Does Spain propose to lay claim to the very waters of
the ocean?" said Queen Elizabeth.
"We shall see," answered Sir Francis, gallantly. And
he did see. Sailing away from
 England amid the cheers of his countrymen, loaded
down with honors and buoyed up with promises of future
glory on his return, Sir Francis Drake set gaily forth to
teach the Spaniards a lesson—to explore new coasts
and conquer new countries should opportunity
present,—but above all to teach the Spaniards a lesson.
SIR FRANCIS DRAKE
In 1572, he started for the West Indies, plundering every
Spanish vessel he met on the way. He destroyed one whole
Spanish town on one of the islands, and even crossed
overland with his men the Isthmus of Panama, destroying
Spanish shipping on the other side. From the top of a tree,
which he climbed while on the Isthmus, he obtained his
first view of the Pacific, and resolved, he said, "to sail
an English vessel in those seas." And in a very few
years he made good his word. Five years
 later, in 1577, while sailing down the coast of South
America, driven blindly on by storm and wind, the
Golden Hind, Drake's ship, reached one morning
a point of high rocky land, the meeting place
of two great oceans—the extreme southern point
of South America—Cape Horn.
" 'Tis an ill wind that blows nobody any good," said Sir
Francis (or at least, he might have said it) as he looked
with surprise upon the strange view before him,
"let us sail up this western coast."
At one place where they landed for water, they found a
Spaniard asleep, thirteen bars of silver worth four
thousand ducats, lying by his side. "We took the silver,"
said Sir Francis dryly, when he told his story to the Queen,
"and left the man."
SIR FRANCIS' MEN TOOK THE SILVER
At another place they saw a Spaniard
driv-  ing eight sheep to Peru. Across the back of each sheep were
two bags of silver. Without so much as an "if you please,"
Sir Francis' men took the silver—for they had come,
you know, "to teach the Spaniards a lesson."
Again, entering the harbor at Callao, where seventeen
Spanish ships loaded with treasure lay at anchor, the
Englishmen took possession of all the treasure and sailed
away as gaily as mischievous school-boys.
So they went on up the coast, taking the Spaniards
everywhere by surprise.
"Very likely," said this daring young captain, "since the
two great oceans meet at the southern extremity of this
great new land, they will also meet at the northern
extremity. We will sail on northward around that point
out into the Atlantic to our English coast."
"A very pretty little trip," thought all the
 crew; especially as, for the best of reasons,
anything would probably be pleasanter than sailing back
again through Spanish waters and past Spanish forts.
So on they went up the coast, enjoying
everything and looking hopefully
for the northern point. But it grew so very cold and the
days grew so short and the ice was so threatening,
they were forced to turn back and take their chances among
the Spaniards, who by this time were pretty sure to have
recovered from their surprise and to be on the lookout
for the returning vessel.
"But what need of sailing around Cape Horn?" said Drake.
"We can sail far out into
these Western waters, and, the earth being round, we can sail
through the Indian sea, around the Cape of Good Hope,
up the European coast."
 And this he did, reaching England November 3rd,
1580,—the first Englishman to sail around the world!
How the church bells rang out as the ship entered the harbor!
how the guns thundered and how the people cheered!
And Queen Elizabeth herself, delighted indeed at his
success, conferred the honor of knighthood upon him, gave
him the title of Sir Francis, and presented him with a coat
of arms—a ship on a globe.
The Golden Hind she ordered to be lodged in the Deptford
dock as a monument to the courage and daring of the brave
sailor. For years it stood there; and when its timbers
began to decay, a chair was made from it and presented to
the University of Oxford. And in the college building it
still stands, as grand and as important as ever, ready to
tell always its wonderful history.
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