Having satisfied ourselves upon this head, we indulged our curiosity in enquiring after other news; when the prisoners informed us, that they had received intelligence at Acapulco, of our having plundered and burnt the town of Paita; and that, on this occasion, the governor of Acapulco had augmented the fortifications of the place, and had taken several precautions to prevent us from forcing our way into the harbour; that in particular, he had placed a guard on the island which lies at the harbour’s mouth, and that this guard had been withdrawn but two nights before the arrival of our barge: So that had the barge succeeded in her first attempt, or had she arrived at the port the second time two days sooner, she could scarcely have avoided being seized on, or if she had escaped, it must have been with the loss of the greatest part of her crew, as she would have been under the fire of the guard, before she had known her danger.
The withdrawing of this guard was a circumstance that greatly encouraged us, as it seemed to demonstrate, not only that the enemy had not as yet discovered us, but likewise that they had now no farther apprehensions of our visiting their coast, indeed the prisoners assured us, that they had no knowledge of our being in those seas, and that they had therefore flattered themselves, that, in the long interval since our taking of Paita, we had steered another course. But we did not consider the opinion of these negro prisoners so authentic a proof of our being hitherto concealed, as the withdrawing of the guard from the harbour’s mouth, which being the action of the governor, was of all arguments the most convincing, as he might be supposed to have intelligence, with which the rest of the inhabitants were unacquainted.
Satisfied therefore that we were undiscovered, and that the time was fixed for the departure of the galleon from Acapulco, we made all necessary preparations, and waited with the utmost impatience for the important day. As this was the 3d of March, and it was the 19th of February when the barge returned and brought us our intelligence, the commodore resolved to continue the greatest part of the intermediate time on his present station, to the westward of Acapulco, conceiving that in this situation there would be less danger of his being seen from the shore, which was the only circumstance that could deprive us of the immense treasure, on which we had at present so eagerly fixed our thoughts. During this interval, we were employed in scrubbing and cleansing our ships, in bringing them into their most advantageous trim, and in regulating the orders, signals, and stations to be observed, when we should arrive off Acapulco, and the time of the departure of the galleon should draw nigh.
On the first of March, we made the high lands, usually called the paps over Acapulco, and got with all possible expedition into the situation prescribed by the commodore’s orders. The distribution of our squadron on this occasion, both for the intercepting the galleon, and for the avoiding a discovery from the shore, was so very judicious, that it well merits to be distinctly described.