RICHARD OF JAMESTOWN
by James Otis
The purpose of this series of stories is to show the children, and even those who have already taken up the study of history, the home life of the colonists with whom they meet in their books. To this end every effort has been made to avoid anything savoring of romance, and to deal only with facts, so far as that is possible, while describing the daily life of those people who conquered the wilderness whether for conscience sake or for gain.
That the stories may appeal more directly to the children, they are told from the viewpoint of a child, and purport to have been related by a child. Should any criticism be made regarding the seeming neglect to mention important historical facts, the answer would be that these books are not sent out as histories—although it is believed that they will awaken a desire to learn more of the building of the nation—and only such incidents as would be particularly noted by a child are used.
Surely it is entertaining as well as instructive for young people to read of the toil and privations in the homes of those who came into a new world to build up a country for themselves, and such homely facts are not to be found in the real histories of our land.
WHO I AM
Yes, my name is Richard Mutton. Sounds rather queer, doesn't it? The lads in London town used to vex me sorely by calling, "Baa, baa, black sheep," whenever I passed them, and yet he who will may find the name Richard Mutton written in the list of those who were sent to Virginia, in the new world, by the London Company, on the nineteenth day of December, in the year of Our Lord, 1606.
Whosoever may chance to read what I am here setting down, will, perhaps, ask how it happened that a lad only ten years of age was allowed to sail for that new world in company with such a band of adventurous men as headed the enterprise.
Therefore it is that I must tell a certain portion of the story of my life, for the better understanding of how I came to be in this fair, wild, savage beset land of Virginia.
Yet I was not the only boy who sailed in the Susan Constant, as you may see by turning to the list of names, which is under the care, even to this day, of the London Company, for there you will find written in clerkly hand the names Samuel Collier, Nathaniel Peacock, James Brumfield, and Richard Mutton. Nathaniel Peacock has declared more than once that my name comes last in the company at the very end of all, because I was not a full grown mutton; but only large enough to be called a sheep's tail, and therefore should be hung on behind, as is shown by the list.
The reason of my being in this country of Virginia at so young an age, is directly concerned with that brave soldier and wondrous adventurer, Captain John Smith, of whom I make no doubt the people in this new world, when the land has been covered with towns and villages, will come to know right well, for of a truth he is a wonderful man. In the sixth month of Grace, 1606, I Was living as best I might in that great city of London, which is as much a wilderness of houses, as this country is a wilderness of trees. My father was a soldier of fortune, which means that he stood ready to do battle in behalf of whatsoever nation he believed was in the right, or, perhaps, on the side of those people who would pay him the most money for risking his life.
He had fought with the Dutch soldiers under command of one Captain Miles Standish, an Englishman of renown among men of arms, and had been killed. My mother died less than a week before the news was brought that my father had been shot to death. Not then fully understanding how great a disaster it is to a young lad when he loses father or mother, and how yet more sad is his lot when he has lost both parents, I made shift to live as best I might with a sore heart; but yet not so sore as if I had known the full extent of the misfortune which had overtaken me.
At first it was an easy matter for me to get food at the home of this lad, or of that, among my acquaintances, sleeping wherever night overtook me; but, finally, when mayhap three months had gone by, my welcome was worn threadbare, and I was told by more than one, that a hulking lad of ten years should have more pride than to beg his way from door to door.
It is with shame I here set down the fact, that many weeks passed before I came to understand, in ever so slight a degree, what a milksop I must be, thus eating the bread of idleness when I should have won the right, by labor, to a livelihood in this world.
This last thought had just begun to take root in my heart when Nathaniel Peacock, whose mother had been a good friend of mine during a certain time after I was made an orphan, and I, heard that a remarkably brave soldier was in the city of London, making ready to go into the new world, with the intent to build there a town for the king.
CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH COMES TO LONDON
This man was no other than Captain John Smith, who, although at this time not above six and twenty years of age, had already served in the French, in the Dutch, and in the Transylvanian armies, where he had met and overcome many dangers.
He had been robbed and beaten and thrown into the sea because of not believing in the religion of the men who attacked him; he had been a slave among the Turks; he had fought, one after another, three of the bravest in the Turkish army, and had cut off the head of each in turn.
Can it be wondered at that Nathaniel Peacock and I were filled to overflowing with admiration for this wonderful soldier, or that we desired above all things to see him?
We loitered about the streets of London town from daylight until night had come again, hoping to feast our eyes upon this same John Smith, who was to us one of the wonders of the world, because in so short a time he had made his name as a soldier famous in all countries, and yet we saw him not.
We had searched London town over and over for mayhap a full month, doing nothing else save hunt for the man whose life had been so filled with adventure, and each time we returned home, Mistress Peacock reproached me with being an idle good for nothing, and Nathaniel but little better.
I believe it was her harsh words which caused to spring up in my heart a desire to venture into the new world, where it was said gold could be found in abundance, and even the smallest lad might pick up whatsoever of wealth he desired, if so be his heart was strong enough to brave the journey across the great ocean.
The more I thought of what could be found in that land, which was called Virginia, the stronger grew my desire, until the time came when it was a fixed purpose in my mind, and not until then did I breathe to Nathaniel a word of that which had been growing within me.
He took fire straightway I spoke of what it might be possible for us lads to do, and declared that whether his mother were willing or no, he would brave all the dangers of that terrible journey overseas, if so be we found an opportunity. To him it seemed a simple matter that, having once found a ship which was to sail for the far off land, we might hide ourselves within her, having gathered sufficient of food to keep us alive during the journey. But how this last might be done, his plans had not been made.
Lest I should set down too many words, and therefore bring upon myself the charge of being one who can work with his tongue better than with his hands, I will pass over all that which Nathaniel and I did during the long time we roamed the streets, in the hope of coming face to face with Captain Smith.
It is enough if I set it down at once that we finally succeeded in our purpose, having come upon him one certain morning on Cheapside, when there was a fight on among some apprentices, and the way so blocked that neither he nor any other could pass through the street, until the quarrelsome fellows were done playing upon each other's heads with sticks and stones.
It seemed much as if fortune had at last consented to smile upon us, for we were standing directly in front of the great man.
I know not how it chanced that I, a lad whose apparel was far from being either cleanly or whole, should have dared to raise my voice in speech with one who was said to have talked even with a king. Yet so I did, coming without many words to that matter which had been growing these many days in my mind, and mayhap it was the very suddenness of the words that caught his fancy.
"Nathaniel Peacock and I are minded to go with you into that new world, Captain John Smith, if so be you permit us," I said, "and there we will serve you with honesty and industry."
There was a smile come upon his face as I spoke, and he looked down upon Nathaniel and me, who were wedged among that throng which watched the apprentices quarrel, until we were like to be squeezed flat, and said in what I took to be a friendly tone:
"So, my master, you would journey into Virginia with the hope of making yourself rich, and you not out from under your mother's apron as yet?"
"I have no mother to wear an apron, Captain Smith, nor father to say I may go there or shall come here; but yet would serve you as keenly as might any man, save mayhap my strength, which will increase, be not so great as would be found in those older."
Whether this valiant soldier was pleased with my words, or if in good truth boys were needed in the enterprise, I cannot say; but certain it is he spoke me fairly, writing down upon a piece of paper, which he tore from his tablets, the name of the street in which he had lodgings, and asking, as he handed it to me, if I could read.
Now it was that I gave silent thanks, because of what had seemed to me a hardship when my mother forced me to spend so many hours each day in learning to use a quill, until I was able to write a clerkly hand.
It seemed to please this great soldier that I could do what few of the lads in that day had been taught to master, and, without further ado, he said to me boldly:
"You shall journey into Virginia with me, an' it please you, lad. What is more, I will take upon myself the charge of outfitting you, and time shall tell whether you have enough of manliness in you to repay me the cost."
Then it was that Nathaniel raised his voice; but the captain gave him no satisfaction, declaring it was the duty of a true lad to stand by his mother, and that he would lend his aid to none who had a home, and in it those who cared for him.
I could have talked with this brave soldier until the night had come, and would never have wearied of asking concerning what might be found in that new world of Virginia; but it so chanced that when the business was thus far advanced, the apprentices were done with striving to break each other's heads, and Captain Smith, bidding me come to his house next morning, went his way.
THE PLANS OF THE LONDON COMPANY
Then it was that Nathaniel declared he also would go on the voyage to Virginia, whether it pleased Captain Smith or no, and I, who should have set my face against his running away from home, spoke no word to oppose him, because it would please me to have him as comrade.
After this I went more than once to the house where Captain Smith lodged, and learned very much concerning what it was proposed to do toward building a town in the new world.
Both Nathaniel and I had believed it was the king who counted to send all these people overseas; but I learned from my new master that a company of London merchants was in charge of the enterprise, these merchants believing much profit might come to them in the way of getting gold.
The whole business was to be under the control of Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, who, it was said, had already made one voyage to the new world, and had brought back word that it was a goodly place in which to settle and to build up towns. The one chosen to act as admiral of the fleet, for there were to be three ships instead of one, as I had fancied, was Captain Christopher Newport, a man who had no little fame as a seaman.
In due time, as the preparations for the voyage were being forwarded, I was sent by my master into lodgings at Blackwall, just below London town, for the fleet lay nearby, and because it was understood by those in charge of the adventure that I was in Captain Smith's service, no hindrance was made to my going on board the vessels.
THE VESSELS OF THE FLEET
These were three in number, as I have already said: the Constant, a ship of near to one hundred tons in size; the Goodspeed, of forty tons, and the Discovery, which was a pinnace of only twenty tons.
And now, lest some who read what I have set down may not be acquainted with the words used by seamen, let me explain that the measurement of a vessel by tons, means that she will fill so much space in the water. Now, in measuring a vessel, a ton is reckoned as forty cubic feet of space, therefore when I say the Susan Constant was one hundred tons in size, it is the same as if I had set down that she would carry four thousand cubic feet of cargo.
That he who reads may know what I mean by a pinnace, as differing from a ship, I can best make it plain by saying that such a craft is an open boat, wherein may be used sails or oars, and, as in the case of the Discovery, may have a deck over a certain portion of her length. That our pinnace was a vessel able to withstand such waves as would be met with in the ocean, can be believed when you remember that she was one half the size of the Goodspeed, which we counted a ship.
HOW I EARNED MY PASSAGE
Captain Smith, my master, found plenty of work for me during the weeks before the fleet sailed. He had many matters to be set down in writing, and because of my mother's care in teaching me to use the quill, I was able, or so it seemed to me, to be of no little aid to him in those busy days, when it was as if he must do two or three things at the same time in order to bring his business to an end. I learned during that time to care very dearly for this valiant soldier, who could, when the fit was on him, be as tender and kind as a girl, and again, when he was crossed, as stern a man as one might find in all London town.
Because of my labors, and it pleased me greatly that I could do somewhat toward forwarding the adventure, I had no time in which to search for my friend, Nathaniel Peacock, although I did not cease to hope that he would try to find me.
I had parted with him in the city, and he knew right well where I was going; yet, so far as I could learn, he had never come to Blackwall.
I had no doubt but that I could find him in the city, and it was in my mind, at the first opportunity, to seek him out, if for no other reason than that we might part as comrades should, for he had been a true friend to me when my heart was sore; but from the moment the sailors began to put the cargo on board the Susan Constant and the Goodspeed, I had no chance to wander around Blackwall, let alone journeying to London.
Then came the twentieth of December, when we were to set sail, and great was the rejoicing among the people, who believed that we would soon build up a city in the new world, which would be of great wealth and advantage to those in England.
I heard it said, although I myself was not on shore to see what was done, that in all the churches prayers were made for our safe journeying, and there was much marching to and fro of soldiers, as if some great merrymaking were afoot.
The shore was lined with people; booths were set up where showmen displayed for pay many curious things, and food and sweetmeats were on sale here and there, for so large a throng stood in need of refreshment as well as amusement.
It was a wondrous spectacle to see all these people nearby on the shore, knowing they had come for no other purpose than to look at us, and I took no little pride to myself because of being numbered among the adventurers, even vainly fancying that many wondered what part a boy could have in such an undertaking.
Then we set sail, I watching in vain for a glimpse of Nathaniel Peacock as the ships got under way. Finally, sadly disappointed, and with the sickness of home already in my heart, I went into the forward part of the ship, where was my sleeping place, thinking that very shortly we should be tossing and tumbling on the mighty waves of the ocean.
In this I was mistaken, for the wind was contrary to our purpose, and we lay in the Downs near six weeks, while Master Hunt, the preacher, who had joined the company that he might labor for the good of our souls; lay so nigh unto death in the cabin of the Susan Constant, that I listened during all the waking hours of the night, fearing to hear the tolling of the ship's bell, which would tell that he had gone from among the living.
It was on the second night, after we were come to anchor in the Downs awaiting a favorable wind, that I, having fallen asleep while wishing Nathaniel Peacock might have been with us, was awakened by the pressure of a cold hand upon my cheek. I was near to crying aloud with fear, for the first thought that came was that Master Hunt had gone from this world, and was summoning me; but before the cry could escape my lips, I heard the whispered words: "It is me, Nate Peacock!"
It can well be guessed that I was sitting bolt upright in the narrow bed, which sailors call a bunk, by the time this had been said, and in the gloom of the seamen's living place I saw a head close to mine.
Not until I had passed my hands over the face could I believe it was indeed my comrade, and it goes without saying that straightway I insisted on knowing how he came there, when he should have been in London town.
I cannot set the story down as Nathaniel Peacock told it to me on that night, because his words were many; but the tale ran much like this:
When Captain John Smith had promised on Cheapside that I should be one of the company of adventurers, because of such labor as it might be possible for me to perform, and had refused to listen to my comrade, Nathaniel, without acquainting me with the fact, had made up his mind that he also would go into the new world of Virginia.
Fearing lest I would believe it my duty to tell Captain Smith of his purpose, he kept far from me, doing whatsoever he might in London town to earn as much as would provide him with food during a certain time.
In this he succeeded so far as then seemed necessary, and when it was known that the fleet was nearly ready to make sail, he came to Blackwall with all his belongings tied in his doublet.
To get on board the Susan Constant without attracting much attention while she was being visited by so many curious people, was not a hard task for Nathaniel Peacock, and three days before the fleet was got under way, my comrade had hidden himself in the very foremost part of the ship, where were stored the ropes and chains.
There he had remained until thirst, or hunger, drove him out, on this night of which I am telling you, and he begged that I go on deck, where were the scuttle butts, to get him a pannikin of water.
For those of you who may not know what a scuttle butt is, I will explain that it is a large cask in which fresh water is kept on shipboard. When Nathaniel's burning thirst had been soothed, he began to fear that I might give information to Captain John Smith concerning him; but after all that had been done in the way of hiding himself, and remembering his suffering, I had not the heart so to do.
During four days more he spent all the hours of sunshine, and the greater portion of the night, in my bed, closely covered so that the sailors might not see him, and then came the discovery, when he was dragged out with many a blow and harsh word to give an account of himself. I fear it would have gone harder still with Nathaniel, if I had not happened to be there at that very moment.
As it was, I went directly to Captain John Smith, my master, telling him all Nathaniel's story, and asking if the lad had not shown himself made of the proper stuff to be counted on as one of the adventurers.
Although hoping to succeed in my pleading, I was surprised when the captain gave a quick consent to number the lad among those who were to go into the new land of Virginia, and was even astonished when his name was written down among others as if he had been pledged to the voyage in due form.
But for the sickness of Master Hunt, and the fear we had lest he should die, Nathaniel and I might have made exceeding merry while we lay at anchor in the Downs, for food was plentiful; there was little of work to be done, and we lads could have passed the time skylarking with such of the sailors as were disposed to sport, except orders had been given that no undue noise be made on deck.
WE MAKE SAIL AGAIN
It seemed to me almost as if we spent an entire lifetime within sight of the country we were minded to leave behind us, and indeed six weeks, with no change of scene, and while one is held to the narrow limits of a ship, is an exceeding long time.
However, as I have heard Captain Smith say again and again, everything comes to him who waits, and so also came that day when the winds were favoring; when Captain Newport, the admiral of our fleet, gave the word to make sail, and we sped softly away from England's shores, little dreaming of that time of suffering, of sickness, and of sadness which was before us.
To Nathaniel and me, who had never strayed far from London town, and knew no more of the sea than might have been gained in a boatman's wherry, the ocean was exceeding unkind, and for eight and forty hours did we lie in that narrow bed, believing death was very near at hand.
There is no reason why I should make any attempt at describing the sickness which was upon us, for I have since heard that it comes to all who go out on the sea for the first time. When we recovered, it was suddenly, like as a flower lifts up its head after a refreshing shower that has pelted it to the ground.
I would I might set down here all which came to us during the voyage, for it was filled with wondrous happenings; but because I would tell of what we did in the land of Virginia, I must be sparing of words now.
THE FIRST ISLAND
It is to be remembered that our fleet left London on the twentieth day of December, and, as I have since heard Captain Smith read from the pages which he wrote concerning the voyage, it was on the twenty-third of March that we were come to the island of Martinique, where for the first time Nathaniel Peacock and I saw living savages.
When we were come to anchor, they paddled out to our ships in frail boats called canoes, bringing many kinds of most delicious fruits, which we bought for such trumpery things as glass beads and ornaments of copper.
It was while we lay off this island that we saw a whale attacked and killed by a thresher and a swordfish, which was a wondrous sight.
And now was a most wicked deed done by those who claimed to be in command of our company, for they declared that my master had laid a plot with some of the men in each vessel of the fleet, whereby the principal members of the company were to be murdered, to the end that Captain Smith might set himself up as king after we were come to the new world.
All this was untrue, as I knew full well, having aided him in such work as a real clerk would have done, and had there been a plot, I must have found some inkling of it in one of the many papers I read aloud to him, or copied down on other sheets that the work of the quill might be more pleasing to the eye.
Besides that, I had been with the captain a goodly portion of the time while the ships were being made ready for the voyage, and if he had harbored so much of wickedness, surely must some word of it have come to me, who sat or stood near at hand, listening attentively whenever he had speech with others of the company of adventurers.
CAPTAIN SMITH A PRISONER
When the voyage was begun, and the captain no longer had need of me, I was sent into the forward part of the ship to live, as has already been set down, and therefore it was I knew nothing of what was being done in the great cabin, where the leaders of the company were quartered, until after my master was made a prisoner. Then it was told me by the seaman who had been called by Captain Kendall, as if it was feared my master, being such a great soldier, might strive to harm those who miscalled him a traitor to that which he had sworn.
It seems, so the seaman said, that Captain John Martin was the one who made the charges against my master, on the night after we set sail from Martinique, when all the chief men of the company were met in the great cabin, and he declared that, when it was possible to do so, meaning after we had come to the land of Virginia, witnesses should be brought from the other ships to prove the wicked intent. Then it was that Captain George Kendall declared my master must be kept a close prisoner until the matter could be disposed of, and all the others, save Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, agreeing, heavy irons were put upon him. He was shut up in his sleeping place, having made no outcry nor attempt to do any harm, save that he declared himself innocent of wrong doing.
But for Captain Gosnold and Master Hunt, the preacher, I should not have been permitted to go in and learn if I might do anything for his comfort. The other leaders declared that my master was a dangerous man, who should not be allowed to have speech with any person save themselves, lest he send some message to those who were said to be concerned with him in the plot.
I ATTEND MY MASTER
Master Hunt spoke up right manfully in behalf of Captain Smith, with the result that I was given free entrance to that small room which had been made his prison, save that I must at all times leave the door open, so those who were in the great cabin could hear if I was charged with any message to the seamen.
My eyes were filled with tears when my master told me that he had no thought save that of benefiting those who were with him in the adventure, and that he would not lend his countenance to any wicked plot.
I begged him to understand that I knew right well he would do no manner of wrong to any man, and asked the privilege of being with him all the time, to serve him when he could not serve himself because of the irons that fettered his legs.
And so it was that I had opportunity to do that which made my master as true a friend as ever lad had, for in the later days when we were come to Virginia and beset by savages more cruel than wild beasts, he ventured his own life again and again to save mine, which was so worthless as compared with his.
Only that I might tell how the voyage progressed, did I go on deck, or have speech with Nathaniel Peacock, and only through me did my master know when we were come to this island or that, together with what was to be seen in such places.
SEVERAL ISLANDS VISITED
Therefore it was that when, on the next day after he was made a prisoner, we were come to anchor off that island which the savages called Gaudaloupe, and Nathaniel had been permitted to go on shore in one of the boats, I could tell my master of the wondrous waters which were found there.
Nathaniel told me that water spouted up out of the earth so hot, that when Captain Newport threw into it a piece of pork tied to a rope, the meat was cooked in half an hour, even as if it had been over a roaring hot fire.
After that we passed many islands, the names of which I could not discover, until we came to anchor within half a musket shot from the shore of that land which is known as Nevis. Here we lay six days, and the chief men of the company went on shore for sport and to hunt, save always either Captain Martin or Captain Kendall, who remained on board to watch the poor prisoner, while he, my master, lay in his narrow bed sweltering under the great heat.
During all this while, the seamen and our gentlemen got much profit and sport from hunting and fishing, adding in no small degree to our store of food. Had Captain Smith not been kept from going on shore by the wickedness of those who were jealous because of his great fame as a soldier, I dare venture to say our stay at this island of Nevis would have been far more to our advantage.
From this place we went to what Master Hunt told me were the Virgin islands, and here the men went ashore again to hunt; but my master, speaking no harsh words against those who were wronging him, lay in the small, stinging hot room, unable to get for himself even a cup of water, though I took good care he should not suffer from lack of kindly care.
Then on a certain day we sailed past that land which Captain Gosnold told me was Porto Rico, and next morning came to anchor off the island of Mona, where the seamen were sent ashore to get fresh water, for our supply was running low.
Captain Newport, and many of the other gentlemen, went on shore to hunt, and so great was the heat that Master Edward Brookes fell down dead, one of the sailors telling Nathaniel that the poor man's fat was melted until he could no longer live; but Captain Smith, who knows more concerning such matters than all this company rolled into one, save I might except Master Hunt, declared that the fat of a live person does not melt, however great the heat. It is the sun shining too fiercely on one's head that brings about death, and thus it was that Master Brookes died.
A VARIETY OF WILD GAME
Our gentlemen who had the heart to make prisoner of so honest, upright a man as my master, did not cease their sport because of what had befallen Master Brookes, but continued at the hunting until they had brought down two wild boars and also an animal fashioned like unto nothing I had ever seen before. It was something after the manner of a serpent, but speckled on the stomach as is a toad, and Captain Smith believed the true name of it to be Iguana, the like of which he says that he has often seen in other countries and that its flesh makes very good eating.
If any one save Captain Smith had said this, I should have found it hard to believe him, and as it was I was glad my belief was not put to the test. Two days afterward we were come to an island which Master Hunt says is known to seamen as Monica, and there it was that Nathaniel went on shore in one of the boats, coming back at night to tell me a most wondrous story.
He declared that the birds and their eggs were so plentiful that the whole island was covered with them; that one could not set down his foot, save upon eggs, or birds sitting on their nests, some of which could hardly be driven away even with blows, and when they rose in the air, the noise made by their wings was so great as to deafen a person.
Our seamen loaded two boats full of the eggs in three hours, and all in the fleet feasted for several days on such as had not yet been spoiled by the warmth of the birds' bodies.
It was on the next day that we left behind us those islands which Captain Smith told me were the West Indies, and the seaman who stood at the helm when I came on deck to get water for my master, said we were steering a northerly course, which would soon bring us to the land of Virginia.
On that very night, however, such a tempest of wind and of rain came upon us that I was not the only one who believed the Susan Constant must be crushed like an eggshell under the great mountains of water which at times rolled completely over her, so flooding the decks that but few could venture out to do whatsoever of work was needed to keep the ship afloat. After this fierce tempest, when the Lord permitted that even our pinnace should ride in safety, it was believed that we were come near to the new world, and by day and by night the seamen stood at the rail, throwing the lead every few minutes in order to discover if we were venturing into shoal water.
Nathaniel and I used to stand by watching them, and wishing that we might be allowed to throw the line, but never quite getting up our courage to say so, knowing full well we should probably make a tangle of it.
THE NEW COUNTRY SIGHTED
As Master George Percy has set down in the writings which I have copied for him since we came to Virginia, it was on the twenty-sixth day of April, in the year of our Lord 1607, at about four o'clock in the morning, when we were come within sight of that land where were to be built homes, not only for our company of one hundred and five, counting the boys, but for all who should come after us.
It was while the ship lay off the land, her decks crowded with our company who fain would get the first clear view of that country in which they were to live, if the savages permitted, that I asked my master who among the gentlemen of the cabin was the leader in this adventure.
To my surprise, he told me that it was not yet known. The London Company had made an election of those among the gentlemen who should form the new government, and had written down the names, together with instructions as to what should be done; but this writing was enclosed in a box which was not to be opened until we had come to the end of our voyage.
THE LEADER NOT KNOWN
There could be no doubt but that Captain Kendall and Captain Martin both believed that when the will of the London Company was made known, it would be found they stood in high command; but there was in my heart a great hope that my master might have been named. Yet when I put the matter to him in so many words, he treated the matter lightly, saying it could hardly be, else they had not dared to treat him thus shamefully.
However, it was soon to be known, if the commands of the London Company were obeyed, for now we had come to this new land of Virginia, and the time was near at hand when would be opened the box containing the names of those who were to be officers in the town we hoped soon to build.
As for myself, I was so excited it seemed impossible to remain quiet many seconds in one place, and I fear that my duties, which consisted only in waiting upon the prisoner, my master, were sadly neglected because of the anxiety in my mind to know who the merchants in London had named as rulers of the settlement about to be made in the new world.
One would have believed from Captain Smith's manner that he had no concern whatsoever as to the result of all this wickedness and scheming, for it was neither more nor less than such, as I looked at the matter, on the part of Captain Kendall and Captain Martin.
Here we were in sight of the new world, at a place where we were to live all the remainder of our lives, and he a prisoner in chains; but yet never a word of complaint came from his lips.
ARRIVAL AT CHESAPEAKE BAY
When the day had fully dawned, and the fleet stood in toward the noble bay, between two capes, which were afterward named Cape Henry and Cape Comfort, Captain Smith directed me to go on deck, in order to keep him informed of what might be happening.
He told me there was no question in his mind but that we were come to the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, where it had been agreed with the London merchants we were to go on shore.
Standing at the head of the companionway, but not venturing out on deck lest I should be sent to some other part of the ship, and thus be unable to give my master the information which he desired, I looked out upon what seemed to me the most goodly land that could be found in all the wide world.
Trees there were of size fit for masts to the king's ships; flowers bordered the shore until there were seemingly great waves of this color, or of that, as far as eye could reach, and set within this dazzling array of green and gold, and of red and yellow, was a great sea, which Captain Smith said was called the Chesapeake Bay.
We entered for some distance, mayhap three or four miles, before coming to anchor, and then Master Wingfield, Captain Gosnold, and Captain Newport went on shore with a party of thirty, made up of seamen and gentlemen, and my master, who had not so much as stretched his legs since we sailed from Martinique, was left in his narrow cabin with none but me to care for him!
I had thought they would open the box containing the instructions from London, before doing anything else; but Captain Smith was of the mind that such business could wait until they had explored sufficiently to find a place where the new town might be built.
It was a long, weary, anxious day for me. The party had left the ship in the morning, remaining absent until nightfall, and at least four or five times every hour did I run up from the cabin to gaze shoreward in the hope of seeing them return, for I was most eager to have the business pushed forward, and to know whether my master's enemies were given, by the London Company, permission to do whatsoever they pleased.
AN ATTACK BY THE SAVAGES
Just after sunset, and before the darkness of night closed in, those who had been on shore came back very hurriedly and in disorder, bringing with them in the foremost boat, two wounded men.
"They have had a battle with some one, Master," I reported, before yet the boats were come alongside, and for the first time that day did Captain Smith appear to be deeply concerned. I heard him say as if to himself, not intending that the words should reach me:
"Lack of caution in dealing with the savages is like to cost us dearly."
Half an hour later I heard all the story from Nathaniel Peacock, who had believed himself fortunate when he was allowed to accompany the party on shore.
According to his account, the company from the fleet roamed over much of the land during the day, finding fair meadows and goodly trees, with streams of fresh water here and there bespeaking fish in abundance.
Nothing was seen or heard to disturb our people until the signal had been given for all to go on board the boats, that they might return to the ships, and then it was that a number of naked, brown men, creeping upon their hands and knees like animals, with bows and arrows held between their teeth, came out suddenly from amid the foliage to the number, as Nathaniel declared, of not less than an hundred.
While the white men stood dismayed, awaiting some order from those who chose to call themselves leaders, the savages shot a multitude of arrows into the midst of the company, wounding Captain Gabriel Archer in both his hands, and dangerously hurting one of the seamen.
Captain Gosnold gave command for the firearms to be discharged, whereupon the savages disappeared suddenly, and without delay our people returned to the fleet.
READING THE LONDON COMPANY'S ORDERS
An hour later, when those who had just come from the shore had been refreshed with food, I noted with much of anxiety that all the gentlemen of the company, not only such as belonged on board the Susan Constant, but those from the Speedwell, gathered in the great cabin of our ship, and, looking out ever so cautiously, while the door of Captain Smith's room was ajar, I saw them gather around the big table on which, as if it were something of greatest value, was placed a box made of some dark colored wood.
It was Master Hunt who opened this, and, taking out a paper, he read in a voice so loud that even my master, as he lay in his narrow bed, could hear the names of those who were chosen by the London Company to form the Council for the government of the new land of Virginia.
These are the names as he read them: Bartholomew Gosnold, Edward Wingfield, Christopher Newport, John Smith, John Ratcliffe, John Martin and George Kendall.
My heart seemingly leaped into my throat with triumph when I thus heard the name of my master among those who were to stand as leaders of the company, and so excited had I become that that which Master Hunt read from the remainder of the paper failed to attract my attention.
I learned afterward, however, that among the rules governing the actions of this Council, was one that a President should be chosen each year, and that matters of moment were to be determined by vote of the Council, in which the President might cast two ballots.
It was when Master Hunt ceased reading that I believed my master would be set free without delay, for of a verity he had the same right to take part in the deliberations as any other, since it was the will of the London Company that he should be one of the leaders; but much to my surprise nothing of the kind was done. Captain Kendall, seeing the door of my master's room slightly open, arose from the table and closed it, as if he were about to say something which should not be heard by Captain Smith.
I would have opened the door again, but that my master bade me leave it closed, and when an hour or more had passed, Master Hunt came in to us, stating that it had not yet been decided by the other members of the Council whether Captain Smith should be allowed to take part in the affairs, as the London Company had decided, or whether he should be sent home for judgment when the fleet returned. But meanwhile he was to have his liberty.
Then it was that Master Hunt, talking like the true man he ever showed himself to be, advised Captain Smith to do in all things, so far as the other members of the Council permitted, as if nothing had gone awry, claiming that before we had been many days in this land, those who had brought charges against him would fail of making them good.
Had I been the one thus so grievously injured, the whole company might have shipwrecked themselves before I would have raised a hand, all of which goes to show that I had not learned to rule my temper.
Captain Smith, however, agreed with all Master Hunt said, and then it was that I was sent forward once more. My master went on deck for the first time since we had left Martinique, walking to and fro swiftly, as if it pleased him to have command of his legs once more.
If Master Hunt and Master Wingfield had been able to bring the others around to their way of thinking, Captain Smith would have taken his rightful place in the Council without delay. Instead of which, however, he remained on board the ship idle, when there was much that he could have done better than any other, from the day on which we came in sight of Virginia, which was the fifteenth day of April, until the twenty-sixth day of June.
During all this time, those of the Council who were his enemies claimed that they could prove he had laid plans to murder all the chief men, and take his place as king; but yet they did not do so, and my master refused to hold any parley with them, except that he claimed he was innocent of all wrong in thought or in act.
When the others of the fleet set off to spy out the land, my master remained aboard the ship, still being a prisoner, except so far that he wore no fetters, and I would not have left him save he had commanded me sharply, for at that time, so sore was his heart, that even a lad like me could now and then say some word which might have in it somewhat of cheer.
During this time that Captain Smith was with the company and yet not numbered as one of them, the other gentlemen explored the country, and more than once was Nathaniel Peacock allowed to accompany them, therefore did I hear much which otherwise would not have been told me.
And what happened during these two months when the gentlemen were much the same as quarreling among themselves, I shall set down in as few words as possible, to the end that I may the sooner come to that story of our life in the new village, which some called James Fort, and others James Town, after King James of England.
EXPLORING THE COUNTRY
When the shallop had been taken out of the hold of the Susan Constant, and put together by the Carpenters, our people explored the shores of the bay and the broad streams running into it, meeting with savages here and there, and holding some little converse with them. A few were found to be friendly, while others appeared to think we were stealing their land by thus coming among them.
One of the most friendly of the savages, so Nathaniel said, having shown by making marks on the ground with his foot that he wished to tell our people about the country, and having been given a pen and paper, drew a map of the river with great care, putting in the islands and waterfalls and mountains that our men would come to, and afterward he even brought food to our people such as wheat and little sweet nuts and berries.
I myself would have been pleased to go on shore and see these strange people, but not being able to do so save at the cost of leaving my master, I can only repeat some of the curious things which Nathaniel Peacock told me. It must be known that there was more than one nation, or tribe, of savages in this new land of Virginia, and each had its king or chief, who was called the werowance. I might set down the names of these tribes, and yet it would be so much labor lost, because they are more like fanciful than real words. As, for example, there were the Paspaheghes, whose werowance was seemingly more friendly to our people than were the others.
Again, there were the Rapahannas, who wore the legs of birds through holes in their ears, and had all the hair on the right side of their heads shaven closely.
It gives them much pleasure to dance, so Nathaniel said, he having seen them jumping around more like so many wolves, rather than human beings, for the space of half an hour, shouting and singing all the while.
All the Indians smoked an herb called tobacco, which grows abundantly in this land, and I have Nathaniel's word for it that one savage had a tobacco pipe nearly a yard long, with the device of a deer carved at the great end of it big enough to dash out one's brains with.
There is very much more which might be said about these savages that would be of interest; but I am minded now to leave such stories for others to tell, and come to the day when Captain Newport was ready to sail with the Susan Constant and the Goodspeed back to England, for his share in the adventure was only to bring us over from England, after which he had agreed to return.
The pinnace was to be left behind for the use of us who remained in the strange land. Before this time, meaning the thirteenth day of May, the members of the Council had decided upon the place where we were to build our village. It was to be in the country of the Paspahegh Indians, at a certain spot near the shore where the water runs so deep that our ships can lie moored to the trees in six fathoms.
THE PEOPLE LAND FROM THE SHIPS
Then it was that all the people went on shore, some to set up the tents of cloth which we had brought with us to serve as shelters before houses could be built; others to lay out a fort, which it was needed should be made as early as possible because of the savages, and yet a certain other number being told off to stand guard against the brown men, who had already shown that they could be most dangerous enemies.
My master went ashore, as a matter of course, with the others, I sticking close to his side; but neither of us taking any part in the work which had been begun, because the charges of wickedness were still hanging over his head.
Had Captain Smith been allowed a voice in the Council, certain it is he never would have chosen this place in which to make the town, for he pointed out to me that the land lay so low that when the river was at its height the dampness must be great, and, therefore, exceeding unhealthful, while there was back of it such an extent of forest, as made it most difficult to defend, in case the savages came against us.
Captain Smith aided me in building for ourselves a hut in front of an overhanging rock, with the branches of trees. It was a poor shelter at the best; but he declared it would serve us until such time as he was given his rightful place among the people, or had been sent back a prisoner to England.
CAPTAIN SMITH PROVEN INNOCENT
This served us as a living place for many days, or until my master was come into his own, as he did before the fort was finished, when, on one certain morning, he demanded of the other members of the Council that they put him on trial to learn whether the charges could be proven or not, and this was done on the day before Captain Newport was to take the ships back to England.
There is little need for me to say that Captain Kendall's stories of the plot, in which he said my master was concerned, came to naught. There were none to prove that he had ever spoken of such a matter, and the result of the trial was that they gave him his rightful place at the head of the company. Before many months were passed, all came to know that but for him the white people in Jamestown would have come to their deaths.
WE WHO WERE LEFT BEHIND
It was on the fifteenth day of June when the ships sailed out of the Chesapeake Bay, leaving on the banks of the river we called the James, a hundred men and boys, all told, to hold their lives and their liberty against thousands upon thousands of naked savages, who had already shown that they desired to be enemies rather than friends. Even in the eyes of a boy, it was an odd company to battle with the savages and the wilderness, for the greater number were those who called themselves gentlemen, and who believed it beneath their station to do any labor whatsoever, therefore did it seem to me that this new town would be burdened sorely with so many drones.
Master Hunt, the preacher, could in good truth call himself a gentleman, and yet I myself saw him, within two hours after we were landed, nailing a piece of timber between two trees that he might stretch a square of sailcloth over it, thus making what served as the first church in the country of Virginia. Yet Captain Smith has said again and again, that the discourses of Master Hunt under that poor shelter of cloth, were, to his mind, more like the real praising of God, than any he had ever heard in the costly buildings of the old world.
For the better understanding of certain things which happened to us after we had begun to build the village of Jamestown, it should be remembered that of all the savages in the country roundabout, the most friendly were those who lived in the same settlement with Powhatan, who was, so Captain Smith said, the true head and king of all the Indians in Virginia.
BAKING BREAD WITHOUT OVENS
It was in this town of Powhatan's that I discovered how to bake bread without an oven or other fire than what might be built on the open ground, and it was well I had my eyes open at that time, otherwise Captain Smith and I had gone supperless to bed again and again, for there were many days when our stomachs cried painfully because of emptiness.
While my master was talking with the king, Powhatan, on matters concerning affairs at Jamestown, I saw an Indian girl, whose name I afterward came to know was Pocahontas, making bread, and observed her carefully. She had white meal, but whether of barley, or the wheat called Indian corn, or Guinny wheat I could not say, and this she mixed into a paste with hot water; making it of such thickness that it could easily be rolled into little balls or cakes.
After the mixture had been thus shaped, she dropped the balls into a pot of boiling water, letting them stay there until well soaked, when she laid them on a smooth stone in front of the fire until they had hardened and browned like unto bread that has been cooked in the oven.
But I have set myself to the task of telling how we of Jamestown lived during that time when my master was much the same as the head of the government, and it is not well to begin the story with bread making.
AN UNEQUAL DIVISION OF LABOR
First I must explain upon what terms these people, the greater number of whom called themselves gentlemen, and therefore claimed to be ashamed to labor with their hands, had come together under control of those merchants in London, who were known as the London Company.
No person in the town of James was allowed to own any land except as he had his share of the whole. Every one was expected to work for the good of the village, and whatsoever of crops was raised, belonged to all the people. It was not permitted that the more industrious should plant the land and claim that which grew under their toil.
Ours was supposed to be one big family, with each laboring to help the others at the same time he helped himself, and the result was that those who worked only a single hour each day, had as much of the general stores as he who remained in the field from morning until night.
Although my master had agreed to this plan before the fleet sailed from England, he soon came to understand that it was not the best for a new land, where it was needed that each person should labor to the utmost of his powers.
The London Company had provided a certain number of tents made of cloth, which were supposed to be enough to give shelter to all the people, and yet, because those who had charge of the matter had made a mistake, through ignorance or for the sake of gain, there were no more than would provide for the members of the Council, who appeared to think they should be lodged in better fashion than those who were not in authority.
My master could well have laid claim to one of these cloth houses; but because of the charges which had been made against him by Captain Kendall and Captain Martin, the sting of which yet remained, he chose to live by himself. Thus it was that he and I threw up the roof of branches concerning which I have spoken; but it was only to shelter us until better could be built.
BUILDING A HOUSE OF LOGS
While the others were hunting here and there for the gold which it had been said could be picked up in Virginia as one gathers acorns in the old world, Captain Smith set about making a house of logs such as would protect him from the storms of winter as well as from the summer sun.
This he did by laying four logs on the ground in the form of a square, and so cutting notches in the ends of each that when it was placed on the top of another, and at right angles with it, the hewn portions would interlock, one with the other, holding all firmly in place. On top of these, other huge tree trunks were laid with the same notching of the ends. It was a vast amount of labor, thus to roll up the heavy logs in the form of a square until a pen or box had been made as high as a man's head, and then over that was built a roof of logs fastened together with wooden pins, or pegs, for iron nails were all too scarce and costly to be used for such purpose.
When the house had been built thus far, the roof was formed of no more than four or five logs on which a thatching of grass was to be laid later, and the ends, in what might be called the "peak of the roof," were open to the weather. Then it was that roughly hewn planks, or logs split into three or four strips, called puncheons, were pegged with wooden nails on the sides, or ends, where doors or windows were to be made.
Then the space inside this framework was sawed out, and behold you had a doorway, or the opening for a window, to be filled in afterward as time and material with which to work might permit.
After this had been done, the ends under the roof were covered with yet more logs, sawn to the proper length and pegged together, until, save for the crevices between the timbers, the whole gave protection against the weather.
Then came the work of thatching the roof, which was done by the branches of trees, dried grass, or bark. My master put on first a layer of branches from which the leaves had been stripped, and over that we laid coarse grass to the depth of six or eight inches, binding the same down with small saplings running from one side to the other, to the number of ten on each slope of the roof. To me was given the task of closing up the crevices between the logs with mud and grass mixed, and this I did the better because Nathaniel Peacock worked with me, doing his full share of the labor.
When we came ashore from the ships, no one claimed Nathaniel as servant, and he, burning to be in my company, asked Captain Smith's permission to enter his employ. My master replied that it had not been in his mind there should be servants and lords in this new world of Virginia, where one was supposed to be on the same footing as another; but if Nathaniel were minded to live under the same roof with us, and would cheerfully perform his full share of the labor, it might be as he desired.
Because our house was the first to be put up in the new village, and, being made of logs, was by far the best shelter, even in comparison with the tents of cloth, Nathaniel and I decided that it should be the most homelike, if indeed that could be compassed where were no women to keep things cleanly. I am in doubt as to whether Captain Smith, great traveler and brave adventurer though he was, had even realized that with only men to perform the household duties, there would be much lack of comfort.
The floor of the house was only the bare earth beaten down hard. We lads made brooms, by tying the twigs of trees to a stick, which was not what might be called a good makeshift, and yet with such we kept the inside of our home far more cleanly than were some of the tents.
LACK OF CLEANLINESS IN THE VILLAGE
There were many who believed, because there were no women in our midst, we should spare our labor in the way of keeping cleanly, and before we had been in the new village a week, the floors of many of the dwellings were littered with dirt of various kinds, until that which should have been a home, looked more like a place in which swine are kept.
From the very first day we came ashore, good Master Hunt went about urging that great effort be made to keep the houses, and the paths around them, cleanly, saying that unless we did so, there was like to be a sickness come among us. With some his preaching did good, but by far the greater number, and these chiefly to be found among the self called gentlemen, gave no heed.
It was as if these lazy ones delighted in filth. Again and again have I seen one or another throw the scrapings of the trencher bowls just outside the door of the tent or hut, where those who came or went must of a necessity tread upon them, and one need not struggle hard to realize what soon was the condition of the village.
After a heavy shower many of the paths were covered ankle deep with filth of all kinds, and when the sun shone warm and bright, the stench was too horrible to be described by ordinary words.
There were other kinds of homes, and quite a number of them, that were made neither of cloth nor of logs. These were holes dug in the side of small hillocks until a sleeping room had been made, when the front part was covered with brush or logs, built outward from the hill to form a kitchen.
During a storm these cave homes were damp, often times actually muddy, and those who slept therein were but inviting the mortal sickness that came all too soon among us, until it was as if the Angel of Death had taken possession of Jamestown.
Captain Smith said everything he could to persuade these people, who were content to live in a hole in the ground, that they were little better than beasts of the field.
But so long as the foolish ones continued to believe this new world was much the same as filled with gold and silver, so long they wasted their time searching.
THE GOLDEN FEVER
But for this golden fever, which attacked the gentlemen more fiercely than it did the common people, the story of Jamestown would not have been one of disaster brought about by willful heedlessness and stupidity.
Again and again did Captain Smith urge that crops be planted, while it was yet time, in order that there might be food at hand when the winter came; but he had not yet been allowed to take his place in the Council, and those who had the thirst for gold strong upon them, taunted him with the fact that he had no right to raise his voice above the meanest of the company. They refused to listen when he would have spoken with them as a friend, and laughed him to scorn when he begged that they take heed to their own lives.
I cannot understand why our people were so crazy. Even though Nathaniel and I were but lads, with no experience of adventure such as was before us, we could realize that unless a man plants he may not reap, and because we had been hungry many a time in London town, we knew full well that when the season had passed there was like to be a famine among us.
I can well understand, now that I am a man grown, why our people were so careless regarding the future, for everywhere around us was food in plenty. Huge flocks of wild swans circled above our heads, trumpeting the warning that winter would come before gold could be found. Wild geese, cleaving the air in wedge shaped line, honked harshly that the season for gathering stores of food was passing, while at times, on a dull morning, it was as if the waters of the bay were covered completely with ducks of many kinds.
DUCKS AND OYSTERS
I have heard Captain Smith say more than once, that he had seen flocks of ducks a full mile wide and five or six miles long, wherein canvasbacks, mallard, widgeon, redheads, dottrel, sheldrake, and teal swam wing to wing, actually crowding each other. When such flocks rose in the air, the noise made by their wings was like unto the roaring of a tempest at sea.
Then there was bed after bed of oysters, many of which were uncovered at ebb tide, when a hungry man might stand and eat his fill of shellfish, never one of them less than six inches long, and many twice that size. It is little wonder that the gold crazed men refused to listen while my master warned them that the day might come when they would be hungry to the verge of starvation.
Now perhaps you will like to hear how we two lads, bred in London town, with never a care as to how our food had been cooked, so that we had enough with which to fill our stomachs, made shift to prepare meals that could be eaten by Captain Smith, for so we did after taking counsel with the girl Pocahontas from Powhatan's village.
In the first place, the shell fish called oysters are readily cooked, or may be eaten raw with great satisfaction. I know not what our people of Virginia would have done without them, and yet it was only by chance or accident that we came to learn how nourishing they are.
A company of our gentlemen had set off to explore the country very shortly after we came ashore from the fleet, and while going through that portion of the forest which borders upon the bay, happened upon four savages who were cooking something over the fire.
The Indians ran away in alarm, and, on coming up to discover what the brown men had which was good to eat, the explorers found a large number of oysters roasting on the coals. Through curiosity, one of our gentlemen tasted of the fish, and, much to his surprise, found it very agreeable to the stomach.
Before telling his companions the result of his experiment, he ate all the oysters that had been cooked, which were more than two dozen large ones, and then, instead of exploring the land any further on that day, our gentlemen spent their time gathering and roasting the very agreeable fish.
As a matter of course, the news of this discovery spread throughout the settlement, and straightway every person was eating oysters; but they soon tired of them, hankering after wheat of some kind.
Among those who served some of the gentlemen even as Nathaniel and I aimed to serve Captain Smith, was James Brumfield, a lazy, shiftless lad near to seventeen years old. Being hungry, and not inclined to build a fire, because it would be necessary to gather fuel, he ventured to taste of a raw oyster. Finding it pleasant to the mouth, he actually gorged himself until sickness put an end to the gluttonous meal.
It can thus be seen that even though Nathaniel and I had never been apprenticed to a cook, it was not difficult for us to serve our master with oysters roasted or raw, laid on that which answered in the stead of a table, in their own shells.
LEARNING TO COOK OTHER THINGS
Then again the Indian girl had shown us how to boil beans, peas, Indian corn, and pumpkins together, making a kind of porridge which is most pleasant, and affords a welcome change from oysters; but the great drawback is that we are not able to come at the various things needed for the making of it, except when our gentlemen have been fortunate in trading with the brown men, which is not often.
This Indian corn, pounded and boiled until soft, is a dish Captain Smith eats of with an appetite, provided it is well salted, and one does not need to be a king's cook in order to make it ready for the table. The pounding is the hardest and most difficult portion of the task, for the kernels are exceeding flinty, and fly off at a great distance when struck a glancing blow.
Nathaniel and I have brought inside our house a large, flat rock, on which we pound the corn, and one of us is kept busy picking up the grains that fly here and there as if possessed of an evil spirit. Newsamp is the name which the savages give to this cooking of wheat.
I have an idea that when we get a mill for grinding, it will be possible to break the kernels easily and quickly between the millstones, without crushing a goodly portion of them to meal.
When the Indian corn is young, that is to say, before it has grown hard, the ears as plucked from the stalks may be roasted before the coals with great profit, and when we would give our master something unusually pleasing, Nathaniel and I go abroad in search of the gardens made by the savages, where we may get, by bargaining, a supply of roasting ears.
With a trencher of porridge, and a dozen roasting ears, together with a half score of the bread balls such as I have already written about, Captain Smith can satisfy his hunger with great pleasure, and then it is that he declares he has the most comfortable home in all Virginia, thanks to his "houseboys," as he is pleased to call us.
THE SWEET POTATO ROOT
The Indians have roots, which some of our gentlemen call sweet potatoes, which are by no means unpleasant to the taste, the only difficulty being that we cannot get any great quantity of them. Our master declares that when we make a garden, this root shall be the first thing planted, and after it has ripened, we will have some cooked every day.
Nathaniel and I have no trouble in preparing the root, for it may be roasted in the ashes, boiled into a pudding which should be well salted, or mixed with the meal of Indian corn and made into a kind of sweet cake.
However, we lads have not had good success in baking this last dish, because of the ashes which fly out of the fire when the wind blows ever so slightly. Captain Smith declares that he would rather have the ashes without the meal and sweet potato, if indeed he must eat any, but of course when he speaks thus, it is only in the way of making sport.
Captain Kendall, who, because he has made two voyages to the Indies, believes himself a wondrously wise man, says that he who eats sweet potatoes at least once each day will not live above seven years, and he who eats them twice every day will become blind, after which all his teeth will drop out.
Because of this prediction, many of our gentlemen are not willing even so much as to taste of the root, but Captain Smith says that wise men may grow fat where fools starve, therefore he gathers up all the sweet potatoes which the others have thrown away, for they please him exceeding well.
A TOUCH OF HOMESICKNESS
There is no need for me to say that it makes both Nathaniel and me glad to be praised by our master, because we keep the house cleanly and strive to serve the food in such a manner as not to offend the eye; but we would willingly dispense with such welcome words if thereby it would be possible to see a woman messing around the place.
Strive as boys may, they cannot attend to household matters as do girls or women, who have been brought into the world knowing how to perform such tasks, and it is more homelike to see them around.
Nathaniel and I often picture to each other what this village of Jamestown would be if in each camp, cave, or log hut a woman was in command, and ever when we talk thus comes into my heart a sickness for the old homes of England, even though after my mother died there was none for me; but yet it would do me a world of good even to look upon a housewife. A most friendly gentleman is Master Hunt, and even though he is so far above me in station, I never fail of getting a kindly greeting when I am so fortunate as to meet him. He comes often to see Captain Smith, for the two talk long and earnestly over the matter of the Council, and at such times it is as if he went out of his way to give me a good word.
MASTER HUNT'S PREACHING
Therefore it is that I go to hear him preach whenever the people are summoned to a meeting beneath the square of canvas in the wood, and more than once I have heard from him that which has taken the sickness for home out of my heart. Our people are not inclined to listen to him in great numbers, however. I have never seen above twenty at one time, the others being busy in the search for gold, or trying to decide among themselves as to how it may best be found.
More than once have I heard Master Hunt say, while talking privately with my master, that there would be greater hope for this village of ours if we had more laborers and less gentlemen, for in a new land it is only work that can win in the battle against the savages and the wilderness.
Four carpenters, one blacksmith, two bricklayers, a mason, a sailor, a barber, a tailor, and a drummer make up the list of skilled workmen, if, indeed, one who can do nothing save drum may be called a laborer. To these may be added twelve serving men and four boys. All the others are gentlemen, or, as Master Hunt puts it, drones expecting to live through the mercy of God whom they turn their backs upon.
NEGLECTING TO PROVIDE FOR THE FUTURE
The one thing which seemed most surprising to us lads, after Captain Smith had called it to our notice, was that these people, who knew there could be no question but that the winter would find them in Jamestown, when there could be neither roasting ears, peas, beans, nor fowls of the air to be come at, made no provision for a harvest.
Captain Smith, not being allowed to raise his voice in the Council, could only speak as one whose words have little weight, since he was not in authority; but he lost no opportunity of telling these gold seekers that only those who sowed might reap, and unless seed was put into the ground, there would be no crops to serve as food during the winter.
Even Master Wingfield, the President of the Council, refused to listen when my master would have spoken to him as a friend. He gave more heed to exploring the land, than to what might be our fate in the future. He would not even allow the gentlemen to make such a fort as might withstand an assault by the savages, seeming to think it of more importance to know what was to be found on the banks of this river or of that, than to guard against those brown people who daily gave token of being unfriendly.
The serving men and laborers were employed in making clapboards that we might have a cargo with which to fill one of Captain Newport's ships when he returned from England, according to the plans of the London Company. The gentlemen roamed here or there, seeking the yellow metal which had much the same as caused a madness among them; and, save in the case of Master Hunt and Captain Smith, none planted even the smallest garden.
SURPRISED BY SAVAGES
The fort, as it was called, had been built only of the branches of trees, and might easily have been overrun by savages bent on doing us harm.
It was while Master Wingfield, with thirty of the gentlemen, was gone to visit Powhatan's village, and the others were hunting for gold, leaving only my master and the preacher to look after the serving men and the laborers, that upward of an hundred naked savages suddenly came down upon us, counting to make an end of all who were in the town.
It was a most fearsome sight to see the brown men, their bodies painted with many colors, carrying bows and arrows, dash out from among the trees bent on taking our lives, and for what seemed a very long while our people ran here and there like ants whose nest has been broken in upon.
Captain Smith gave no heed to his own safety; but shouted for all to take refuge in our house of logs, while Master Hunt did what he might to aid in the defence; yet, because there had been no exercise at arms, nor training, that each should know what was his part at such a time, seventeen of the people were wounded, some grievously, and one boy, James Brumfield of whom I have already spoken, was killed by an arrow piercing his eye.
STRENGTHENING THE FORT
Next day, when Master Wingfield and his following came in, none the better for having gone to Powhatan's village, all understood that it would have been wiser had they listened to my master when he counseled them to take exercise at arms, and straightway all the men were set about making a fort with a palisade, which last is the name for a fence built of logs set on end, side by side, in the ground, and rising so high that the enemy may not climb over it. This work took all the time of the laborers until the summer was gone, and in the meanwhile the gentlemen made use of the stores left us by the fleet, until there remained no more than one half pint of wheat to each man for a day's food.
The savages strove by day and by night to murder us, till it was no longer safe to go in search of oysters or wildfowl, and from wheat which had lain so long in the holds of the ships that nearly every grain in it had a worm, did we get our only nourishment.
The labor of building the palisade was most grievous, and it was not within the power of man to continue it while eating such food; therefore the sickness came upon us, when it was as if all had been condemned to die.
A TIME OF SICKNESS AND DEATH
The first who went out from among us, was John Asbie, on the sixth of August. Three days later George Flowers followed him. On the tenth of the same month William Bruster, one of the gentlemen, died of a wound given by the savages while he was searching for gold, and two others laid down their lives within the next eight and forty hours.
Then the deaths came rapidly, gentlemen as well as serving men or laborers, until near eighty of our company were either in the grave, or unable to move out of such shelters as served as houses.
A great fear came upon all, save that my master held his head as high as ever, and went here and there with Master Hunt to do what he might toward soothing the sick and comforting the dying.
It was on the twentieth day of August when Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, one of the Council, died, and then Master Wingfield forgot all else save his own safety. More than one in our village declared that he was making ready the pinnace that he might run away from us, as if the Angel of Death could be escaped from by flight.
It was starvation brought about by sheer neglect, together with lying upon the bare ground and drinking of the river water, which by this time was very muddy, that had brought us to such a pass.
Save for the king, Powhatan, and some few of the other savages in authority, we must all have died; but when there were only five in all our company able to stand without aid, God touched the hearts of these Indians. They, who had lately been trying to kill us, suddenly came to do what they might toward saving our lives after a full half of the company were in the grave.
They brought food such as was needed to nourish us, and within a short time the greater number of us who were left alive, could go about, but only with difficulty. It was a time of terror, of suffering, and of close acquaintance with death such as I cannot set down in words, for even at this late day the thought of what we then endured chills my heart.
When we had been restored to health and strength, and were no longer hungry, thanks to those who had been our bitter enemies, the chief men of the village began to realize that my master had not only given good advice on all occasions, but stood among them bravely when the President of the Council was making preparations to run away.
CAPTAIN SMITH GAINS AUTHORITY
There was but little idle talk made by the members of the Council in deciding that Master Wingfield should be deprived of his office, and Master Ratcliffe set in his place. Captain Smith was called upon to take his proper position in the government, and, what was more, to him they gave the direction of all matters outside the town, which was much the same as putting him in authority over even the President himself.
It was greatly to my pleasure that Captain Smith lost no time in exercising the power which had been given him. Nor was he at all gentle in dealing with those men who disdained to soil their hands by working, yet were willing to spend one day, and every day, searching for gold, without raising a finger toward adding to the general store, but at the same time claiming the right to have so much of food as would not only satisfy their hunger, but minister to their gluttony.
Nathaniel and I heard our master talking over the matter with the preacher, on the night the Council had given him full charge of everything save the dealings which might be had later with the London Company, therefore it was that we knew there would be different doings on the morrow.
Greatly did we rejoice thereat, for Jamestown had become as slovenly and ill kempt a village as ever the sun shone upon.
Now it must be set down that these gentlemen of ours, when not searching for gold, were wont to play at bowls in the lanes and paths, that they might have amusement while the others were working, and woe betide the serving man or laborer, who by accident interfered with their sports.
On this day, after the conversation with Master Hunt, all was changed. Captain Smith began his duties as guardian and director of the village by causing it to be proclaimed through the mouth of Nicholas Skot, our drummer, that there would be no more playing at bowls in the streets of Jamestown while it was necessary that very much work should be performed, and this spoken notice also stated, that whosoever dared to disobey the command should straightway be clapped into the stocks.
DISAGREEABLE MEASURES OF DISCIPLINE
Lest there should be any question as to whether my master intended to carry out this threat or no, William Laxon, one of the carpenters, was forthwith set to work building stocks in front of the tent where lived Master Ratcliffe, the new President of the Council. Nor was this the only change disagreeable to our gentlemen, which Captain Smith brought about. No sooner had Nicholas Skot proclaimed the order that whosoever played at bowls should be set in the stocks, than he was commanded to turn about and announce with all the strength of his lungs, so that every one in the village might hear and understand, that those who would not work should not have whatsoever to eat.
Verily this was a hard blow to the gentlemen of our company, who prided themselves upon never having done with their hands that which was useful. One would have thought my master had made this rule for his own particular pleasure, for straightway those of the gentlemen who could least hold their tempers in check, gathered in the tent which Master Wingfield had taken for his own, and there agreed among themselves that if Captain Smith persisted in such brutal rule, they would overturn all the authority in the town, and end by setting the Captain himself in the stocks which William Laxon was then making. It so chanced that Master Hunt overheard these threats at the time they were made, and, like a true friend and good citizen, reported the same to Captain Smith.
Whereupon my master chose a certain number from among those of the gentlemen who had become convinced that sharp measures were necessary if we of Jamestown would live throughout the winter, commanding that they make careful search of every tent, cave, hut or house in the village, taking therefrom all that was eatable, and storing it in the log house which had been put up for the common use.
Then he appointed Kellam Throgmorton, a gentleman who was well able to hold his own against any who might attempt to oppose him, to the office of guardian of the food, giving strict orders that nothing whatsoever which could be eaten, should be given to those who did not present good proof of having done a full day's labor.
Of course the people who lay sick were excused from such order, and Master Hunt was chosen to make up a list of those who must be fed, yet who were not able to work by reason of illness.
SIGNS OF REBELLION
Now it can well be understood that such measures as these caused no little in the way of rebellion, and during the two hours Nicholas Skot cried the proclamation through the streets and lanes of the village, the gentlemen who had determined to resist Captain Smith were in a fine state of ferment.
It was as if a company of crazy men had been suddenly let loose among us. Not content with plotting secretly against my master, they must needs swagger about, advising others to join them in their rebellion, and everywhere could be heard oaths and threats, in such language as was like to cause honest men's hair to stand on end.
For a short time Nathaniel Peacock and I actually trembled with fear, believing the house of logs would be pulled down over our heads, for no less than a dozen of the so called gentlemen were raging and storming outside; but disturbing Captain Smith not one whit. He sat there, furbishing his matchlock as if having nothing better with which to occupy the time; but, as can well be fancied, drinking in every word of mutiny which was uttered.