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The Buccaneers prosecute their voyage, till they come within sight of Panama. They take several barks and prisoners by the way. Are described by the Spaniards before their arrival. They order the Indians to kill the prisoners.
FROM the place where we rejoined our English forces, we all made our way towards a high hummock of land, as it appeared at a distance, but was nothing else than an island seven leagues distant from the bay afore-mentioned. On the highest part of this island the Spaniards keep a watch or look-out (for so it is termed by the seamen) for fear of pirates or other enemies. That evening we arrived at the island, and being landed, went up a very steep place, till we came to a little hut where the watchman lodged. We took by surprisal the old man who watched in the place, but happened not to see us, till we were got into his plantain walk before the lodge. He told us in his examination, that we were not as yet descried by the Spaniards of Panama or any others that he knew, which relation of the old fellow much encouraged us to go forwards with our design of surprising that rich city. This place, if I took its name rightly, is called Farol de Plantanos, or in English, Plantain-watch.
Here, not long before it was dark that evening, a certain bark came to an anchor at the outward side of the island, which instantly was descried by us. Hereupon we speedily manned out two canoes, who went under the shore and surprised the said boat. Having examined the persons that were on board, we found she had been absent the space of eight days from Panama, and had landed soldiers at a point of land not far distant from this island, with intention to fight and curb certain Indians and negroes, who had done much hurt in the country thereabouts. The bark being taken, most of our men endeavoured to get into her, but more especially those who had the lesser canoes. Thus there embarked thereon to the number of one hundred and thirty-seven of our company, together with that sea-artist, and valiant commander, Captain Bartholomew Sharp. With him went also on board Captain Cook, whom we mentioned at the beginning of this history. The remaining part of that night we lay at the quay of the said island, expecting to prosecute our voyage the next day.
Morning being come, I changed my canoe and embarked myself on another, which, though it was something lesser than the former, yet was furnished with better company. Departing from the. island, we rowed all day long over shoal water, at the distance of about a league from land, having sometimes not above four foot water, and white ground. In the afternoon we descried a bark at sea, and instantly gave her chase. But the canoe wherein was Captain Harris happened to come up the first with her, who after a sharp dispute took her. Being taken, we put on board the said bark thirty men. But the wind would not suffer the other bark, in chasing, to come up with us. This pursuit of the vessel did so far hinder us in our voyage, and divide us asunder, that night soon coming on, we lost one another, and could no longer keep in a body together. Hereupon we laid our canoe ashore, to take up our rest for that night at the distance of two miles, more or less, from high-water mark, and about four leagues to leeward of the island of Chepillo, to which place our course was then directed.
The next morning, as soon as the water began to float us, we rowed away for the fore-mentioned island Chepillo, where by assignation our general rendezvous was to be. On our way as we went, we spied another bark under sail, as we had done the day before. Captain Coxon's canoe was now the first that came up with this vessel. But a young breeze freshening at that instant, she got away from him after the first onset, killing in the said canoe one Mr. Bull, and wounding two others. We presently conjectured that this bark would get before us to Panama, and give intelligence of our coming to those of the town; all which happened as we had foreseen. It was two o'clock in the afternoon before all our canoes could come together, and join one another as it was assigned at Chepillo. We took at that island fourteen prisoners, between Negros and Mulattos; also great store of plantains and good water, together with two fat hogs. But now believing that ere this we had been already descried at Panama by the bark afore-mentioned, we resolved among ourselves to waste no time, but to hasten away from the said island, to the intent we might at least be able to surprise and take their shipping, and by that means make ourselves masters of those seas, in case we could not get the town which now we judged almost impossible to be done. At Chepillo we took also a periagua, which we found at anchor before the island, and presently we put some men on board her. Our stay here was only of few hours, so that about four o'clock in the evening, which now was coming on, we rowed away, designing to reach Panama before the next morning, to which place we had now only seven leagues to go, it being no farther distant from Chepillo. But before we departed from the said island, it was judged convenient by our commanders, for certain reasons which I could not dive into, to rid their hands of the prisoners which we had taken. And hereupon orders were given unto our Indians, who they knew would perform them very willingly, to fight, or rather to murder and slay the said prisoners upon the shore, and that in view of the whole fleet. This they instantly went about to do, being glad of this opportunity to revenge their hatred against their enemies, though in cold blood. But the prisoners, although they had no arms wherewith to defend themselves, forced their way through those barbarous Indians, in spite of their lances, bows and arrows, and got into the woods of the island, only one man of them being killed. We rowed all night long, though many showers of rain ceased not to fall.