and decided that while Ribaut was gone he would go by land and attack Fort
Caroline. He took five hundred soldiers and several Indian guides. A terrible
storm arose and he and his men had to fight their way in the blinding rain
through swamps, hammocks, and deep marshes. In about three days they
came within sight of Fort Caroline. They slipped into the fort the next
morning at daybreak and took the French by surprise. Only a few Frenchmen
escaped with their lives and some of these reached three small boats at the
mouth of the river. Among these who escaped were De Laudonniere and
Ribaut's son. Menendez left some of his men to defend the fort and returned
to St. Augustine."
Our happy travelers had stopped under the shade of a great oak
tree to rest awhile and to eat their lunch. Earl stretched himself upon the
grass and looked meditatively across the river. Then he remarked, "I
suppose Ribaut and his men were lost in that storm."
"No, but they might as well have been," replied his uncle. "Their
ships were blown down the coast and wrecked. The men waded ashore
and started walking up the coast because they knew that Fort Caroline
was somewhere north of them. What they did not know was that
Menendez and his soldiers lay between them."
Earl sat up and said quite eagerly, "Go on, Uncle Henry, and tell
me what happed to Ribaut and his men."
"When the survivors reached Matanzas Inlet they were met by some