sent information to Riband ; and upon his coming up, rather late, they told him that these six large ships had cast anchor near ours, which had at once cut their cables, and gone to sea under all sail ; that the six had thereupon weighed anchor, and sailed in pursuit. Ribault, indeed, and many others with him, were in season to see this chase with their own eyes. Our ships, however, being faster than the others, were quickly out of sight, and within a quarter of an hour the pursuers had also disappeared. This made us uneasy enough all the following night, during which Ribault ordered all the small craft to be made ready, and stationed five or six hundred arquebusiers on the shore, in readiness to embark if needed. Thus the night passed away, and the next day until about noon, when the largest of our four ships, ” The Trinity,” came in sight, steering directly for us. Soon we saw the second, under Capt. Cossette, then the third, and a little afterwards the fourth ; and they signalled us to come on board. But Ribault fearing that the enemy might have taken the ships, and were trying to trap us, would not risk his men, eager though they were to go aboard. As the wind was adverse, and the ships could not come in close, Capt. Cossette wrote a letter to Ribault, which one of his sailors took, and, jumping into the sea at the imminent risk of his life, swam for shore.
After swimming a long distance, he was seen from the land, and a boat put out, picked him up, and brought him to Ribault. The letter was as follows : —
” M. DE Ribault, — Yesterday at four, p.m., a Spanish fleet of eight ships hove in sight, six of which cast anchor near us. Seeing that they were Spaniards, we cut cables, and made sail; and they immediately made sail in chase, and pursued us all night, firing many guns at us. Finding, however, that they could not come up with us, they have made a landing five or six miles below, putting on shore a great number of negroes, with spades and mattocks. On this state of facts, please to act as you shall see fit.”
On reading this letter, Ribault at once called a council of his chief subordinates, including nearly thirty military ‘ officers, besides gentlemen, commissaries, and other civilians. The more prudent part of this assembly would have preferred to complete the erection and arming of the fort as soon as possible, while Laudonniere’s men, who knew the country, should be sent against the Spaniards; a plan which, God willing, would, they thought, quickly settle matters, since the locality was not within the Spanish jurisdiction, whose limits, indeed, were three or four hundred miles distant. Ribault, however, after perceiving this plan to be generally acceptable, said, ” Gentlemen, I have heard your views, and desire now to state my own. First, however, you should be informed that, a little before our leaving France, I received a letter from the admiral, at the end of which he had written with his own hand as follows : * M. de Ribault, we have advices that the Spaniard means to attack you. Do not yield a particle to him, and you will do right.* I must therefore declare plainly to you that it may result from your plan that the Spaniards will not await an assault from our brave men, but will at once escape aboard ship, by which we should lose our opportunity of destroying those who are seeking to destroy us. The better plan seems to me to be, to put all our soldiers on board our four ships now at anchor, and to seize at once upon their ships, while anchored where they have landed. When those are taken they will have no refuge except the works which their slaves have been throwing up ; and we can then attack them by land to much better advantage.”
M. de Laudonniere, who was by this time familiar with the climate of the country, now suggested that the weather should be carefully taken into account before putting the men on board ship again ; as at that time of year a species of whirlwinds or typhoons, which sailors call ” houragans,” from