Jan 9: A Treasure Hunt in Nombre de Dios

This is the first time I’m actually doing my reading at night, as I imagine the hard-pressed middle manager doing in the 1930s. (I seem to be replacing the romance that the HC people initially put in – that of a fancy education – with a more up-to-date version, which is to lose my fancy education and then reacquire it through strenuous self-improvement.

Anyway, today we have “A Treasure Hunt in Nombre de Dios,” which reminds me of an old Robert Benchley humor piece, which might have been written at the same time, called something like “Holiday Week In Sunny Los Las.” But in reality it’s about Sir Francis Drake attacking the Spanish at Nombre de Dios, where, I see, he died on this day in 1596.

But this is an earlier trip to Nombre de Dios, back in 1572, so your mental image of Sir Francis should have him dressed in 1570s style, not 1590s style. Got it?

Drake has entered the town: “But the soldiers and such as were joined with them, presented us with a jolly hot volley of shot, beating full upon the full egress of that street, in which we marched; and levelling very low, so as their bullets ofttimes grazed on the sand.”

The whole passage is better is you have the voice of cartoon character Commander McBragg in your head as you read.

It takes you a little while when reading it to realize that Drake keeps referring to himself as “our Captain,” which seems modest, undtil you get to something like this:

… the Negro formentioned, being examined more fully, confirmed this report of the gold and the silver; with many other intelligences of importance: especially how we might have gold and silver enough, if we would, by means of the Cimaroons, whom though he had betrayed divers times (being used thereto by his Masters) so that he knew they would kill him, if they got him: yet if our Captain would undertake his protection, he durst adventure his life, because he knew our Captain’s name was most precious and highly honoured by them.
Silly Cimaroons!

On the whole, a rollicking tale of adventure written in a manner more obscure than rollicking tales of adventure one could get off the shelf.

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