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Slung a’tween the round shot in Nombre Dios Bay,

An dreaming arl the time o’ Plymouth Hoe.

Drake's Drum

(Sir Henry Newbold)

South Caribbean Sea 1595

Immersed in his own thoughts, Sir Francis Drake, the man whose name was known and feared throughout the Spanish Empire, agitatedly paced the deck of his five hundred and fifty tonne flagship "Defiance". He had reached his mid-fifties and though a surprisingly diminutive man with a slight figure, he exuded that indefinable quality of leadership to which others naturally and comfortably defer. He had long ago achieved the status of a living legend on the Spanish Main. His arrival in his favourite hunting grounds, the Western Atlantic and the Caribbean caused consternation and panic amongst Spaniards on both land and sea. The light was slowly dimming as he stood on the port side of the ship, the setting sun highlighting his face and giving more colour to the fringe of his ginger beard now rapidly becoming streaked with grey, and framing a deeply tanned face who’s lines betrayed a recent illness. An aqueous ball constantly plagued him in his leg, and severe back pains often forced him to while away many lonely hours at sea, painting in his cabin.

For most of his eventful life he had dedicated himself to the pursuit of creating wealth, principally by attacking Spanish ships and relieving them of their gold and valuables. He had an uncompromising hatred of those from that country born of long standing memories, from the reign of Queen Mary, a ruler that had earned the nickname, Bloody Mary. His Protestant ancestors had been persecuted during the violent Roman Catholic purges carried out on her orders. More recently, and within his own direct experience, the Spanish had acted treacherously with his cousin and mentor John Hawkins. He had been cruelly duped and betrayed by them, after seeking their help, at the same time he, Drake, had barely escaped with his life. He did not forget such events and had fully earned his name of El Draco, ‘The Devil’ and his reputation throughout the entire Spanish military and naval establishments.

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