The Daughter of Virginia Dare by Wall, Mary Virginia
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THE DAUGHTER OF VIRGINIA DARE
MARY VIRGINIA WALL
New York and Washington The Neale Publishing Company 1908
Copyright, 1908, by Mary Virginia Wall
TO MY MOTHER, VIRGINIA AND MY GRANDMOTHER, ENGLAND
THE DAUGHTER OF VIRGINIA DARE
The sunbeams were playing hide and seek with the ripples around the prows of three small vessels lying at anchor in the harbor of Portsmouth. Their decks were crowded with the colonists going to seek a home on the soil of Virginia. On the wharf all was bustle and confusion. The songs of the sailors loading the vessels with the goods of the voyagers mingled with the whip and snap of the sails as they were given to the breeze.
At last the creaking of the capstan as the anchors were hoisted on board sounded the warning note of departure. Leading the diminutive fleet was the good ship _Admiral_, having as her master Simon Ferdinando. Closely in her wake followed a pinnace and a flyboat, and from the masthead of all three fluttered the English flag. They were not to leave England, however, until they had stopped at two of her ports on their way out.
For eight days they tarried at the Isle of Wight, and two more in the harbor of Plymouth. As they sailed out of this quaint old harbor the balmy air of May wafted the fragrant farewell of the hawthorn blossoms even to the water’s edge.
“How hard it is to bid farewell to home and friends and turn my face to this unknown land,” said Eleanor Dare to herself as she stood on the deck of the _Admiral_. “There is a strange fear welling up in my heart as if some unknown shadow were falling upon us.
“But I must not even breathe such a thought to my husband, it would dampen the hope of home and fortune which is buoying him up. I must rather cheer and encourage him; I must hide the heart sickness, and leave our future in the hands of God.”
Fainter and fainter grew the outlines of old England’s shores, until only the dim bluffs of Cornwall, like a mirage, lay on the horizon. As Eleanor Dare strained her eyes to catch the last glimpse before the curve of the earth hid them from view, her husband drew her to him.
“Dear heart, turn your eyes to the west, to home and happiness. See how the sun is making a pathway of light for our ship. Is it not a good omen?”
She smiled up into his face bravely and was rewarded by a look of love and reverence.
“You know, my husband, that my home is in your heart.”
Skirting southward for seven days the little fleet came into the Bay of Portugal, where they took on a supply of fresh water for the long journey to the West Indies. Ferdinando, the master of the _Admiral_, gave secret orders to the captains of his ship and the pinnace to set sail at the coming of night. No such commands reached the little flyboat. Basely deserting her, the Admiral turned his prows to the southwest.
For two long months the frail ships tossed on the troubled waters of the Atlantic. Only the sullen swish of the waves and the scream of the seagull broke in on Eleanor Dare’s reveries.
Fragrant June was waning, when she saw the waving palms and orange groves of Santa Cruz rising beyond the foam-capped billows. Just before the ships reached this island of gorgeous bloom from the lookout at the masthead rang the cry, “Sail ho!” and, ploughing her way through the choppy sea, there came the courageous little flyboat. For, undaunted by ignorance of the trackless waste and by the base desertion of the admiral in command, she had pluckily followed her consort.
No sooner had they landed than the merry laughter and joyous shouts of the little children filled the air as they chased the crimson and gold butterflies sipping honey from the orchids which hung from the tall fern trees. No cares or longing troubled their light hearts, but their parents were eager to reach their new home, so the sails were again spread.
* * * * *
July had numbered twenty-two days when the vessels came in sight of a long fringe of islands guarded by dangerous reefs. The white foam of the breakers tossed high in the air and the moan of the surf filled the children with fear.
Down rattled the anchor of the _Admiral_, and the sails were close-furled, as the pinnace came alongside to take the colony through the dangerous entry to Roanoke Island. Safely passing through the hungry mouth of Trinity harbor, they glided into the quiet waters of the Occam.
Would the fifteen men left by Sir Richard Greenville come to meet them? A loud halloo brought back no answering hail.
“We must search for them,” said Governor White. “Perhaps they are farther inland.”
As the pinnace grounded her nose the Anglican priest stepped on the land, bearing aloft the Sign of Redemption. Around his feet were grouped the children, their tiny hands clasped together, and guarded by a circle of kneeling men and women. Deep and fervent was the thanksgiving prayer, and clear and sweet came the chant of the amen.
Rising from their knees they eagerly explored the land around them. A living landscape, vivid and beautiful, lay spread before their eyes. Great yellow pines like the masts of ships towered above them. Cedars, the rivals of Lebanon, mingled their branches with the live oak, tulip, and walnut trees, while closer to mother earth clung the sassafras and witch hazel. Scuppernong grapes flung their vines, loaded with ripening fruit, from limb to limb of the copper beeches and bathed their trailing branches in the briny waters of the Occam.
Dotted all around were the log cabins left by the previous settlers. Melon vines with luscious fruits festooned the windows and carpeted the floors, and in their open doors stood the startled deer poised for flight. The gardens were overgrown in weeds and fences were broken down. The little children ran hither and thither chasing the “Lazy Lawrence” as it danced in the sun, and over all hung the languorous air of July, steeped in the fragrance of blossoming jasmine and magnolia.
Soon the bright blades of the axes made flashes in the sun, and down came the pine, filling the air with the perfume of its crushed needles. Many another cabin was added to the “City of Raleigh.”
Meanwhile, a party headed by Governor White had searched the island for the missing men. Far in the heart of the forest they came upon their bleaching skeletons, and they decently interred them.
Eleanor Dare chose the cedar cabin, which Lane had used, as a home for herself and her husband, and she occupied herself busily in transforming its interior into a restful abiding-place; in one corner was a mahogany chest with shining brass handles; over the wide fireplace hung a bit of landscape of her girlhood’s home; and the pewter plates upon the dresser reflected the dancing flames leaping up the chimney. In the center of the room stood a table of English oak.
One evening the table was spread for the evening meal, and now and then Eleanor Dare paused at the window to watch the swaying of the wonderful gray moss draping the mighty live-oaks.
As she bent over the fire stirring the contents of a copper kettle hanging on the crane, her husband entered and gently chided her for too much exertion.
“Come rest beside me on the settle, dear heart, and let us talk of the future. Soon your tender hands will have new duties to perform,” and sitting side by side they talked together as the twilight shadows fell.
* * * * *
In the hush of the August morn, just as the mocking-birds chanted “The Creation,” a tiny babe—a babe with Eleanor’s eyes—nestled in the hollow of Eleanor Dare’s arm. Her husband bending over her mingled his kisses with the Magnificat breathing on her lips, and soon came the women of the colony to inquire after mother and child and offer their congratulations to the happy father.
Little children, peeping in at the door of the cabin, shyly laid their offering of red clover and honeysuckle upon the sill. Many were the questions they asked of the smiling father of the new-born babe.
“Is it a boy or a girl,” asked Ambrose Viccars.
“I’m glad it is a girl,” said tiny Robert Ellis. “There will be somebody to play with me. Can she talk and eat? How soon will she be able to play Puss in Corner?”
Seven days had the little babe lain on her mother’s breast, and on the eighth day she was to be christened. The Sunday sun shed its gorgeous rays over the simple church, where the priest, clad in surplice and stole, awaited her coming. With the babe went Manteo of the Croatans, the faithful friend of the English, for he too was to receive baptism as Sir Walter Raleigh had commanded.
Hither had come the men of the colony clad in brightly hued doublet and hose, their wives and sisters wearing gowns with long pointed stomachers and high standing ruffs. Near the door was Winginia and his Catawbas, their long scalp-locks decorated with the feathers of the eagle. Grouped around the white-robed pastor stood Governor White, Roger Bailey and Joyce Archer, sponsors for Manteo. Behind them was Ananias Dare holding his little daughter.
Rising from his knees with the consecrated drops still glistening on his brow, Manteo turned to Dare and said:
“I too am a follower of the God of the English. The totem of His tribe is tattooed on my brow. Let me hold the little pale face to be received into the tribe.”
“Joyfully will I give her into your keeping,” replied her father. “She shall be as your daughter,” and he placed the babe in his arms.
Then came the sonorous voice of the priest:
“Virginia, I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. We receive this child into the congregation of Christ’s flock, and do sign her with the sign of the cross, in token that hereafter she shall not be ashamed to own Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under His banner against sin, the world, and the devil, and to continue Christ’s faithful soldier and servant unto her life’s end. Amen.”
Then reverently he gave her back into the Indian’s keeping.
Forth stalked Manteo into the sunlight with the little Virginia held close in his arms, and went straightway to the bedside of Eleanor Dare.
“I have brought you the little papoose. The Great Spirit has bound us together, and dear shall she be to Manteo as the ruddy drops of his heart.”
* * * * *
But all was not well with the “City of Raleigh.” Food and supplies which the country did not as yet produce were needed. Some one must go back to the mother country for them. When it came to selecting a proper person no one wished to go. One and all they urged Governor White to go as the one most fitting to represent their needs, to take the task upon himself. He too was unwilling to leave.
“Men will say that with fair words I have enticed you to this land, and now in your need desert you and leave you to face the enmity of the Indians.”
But the pleadings of the colony finally prevailed, and with a heavy heart he consented to go.
“Keep strict watch and ward while I am gone. I do not like the sullen look of Winginia and his Catawbas. It is but a few weeks since George Howe’s mangled body was found some two miles distant. Winginia took his life in revenge of the cruel treatment of Ralph Lane’s men. If you abandon this settlement, as we have purposed doing, carve the name of your destination upon a tree or post. If danger threatens, place a cross above the name.”
He kissed his daughter, and taking the little Virginia in his arms, gave the child his blessing.
Standing on the beach with her baby at her breast, Eleanor Dare waved a last farewell to the father whom she was never to see again.
* * * * *
After a voyage beset with one accident after another, Governor White arrived in England, only to find himself caught in the maelstrom of war.
Under Her Sovereign Majesty Elizabeth, England was rising to a position where she would soon be a formidable rival to the countries of Europe. Her ships had penetrated to the White Sea of Northern Russia; the dusky tribes of Guinea traveled many miles through the tropical forests of the Soudan to sell their ivory and gold to the trading vessels of England. Antwerp and Bruges merchants settled in London, thereby transferring much of the trade of India and the Far East from Flanders to England; and Sir Francis Drake had circumnavigated the globe.
Not only had commercial enterprise filled the coffers of Elizabeth, but the untilled recesses of men’s minds were beginning to flower again.
Sir Philip Sidney had enriched the world with his Arcadia, and immortal sonnets. Edmund Spenser was fighting out the battle between good and evil in his Faerie Queen, and Francis Bacon was delving into the secrets of nature.
Behind the fame of commercial enterprise and the glory of the Literary Renaissance loomed the struggle with Philip of Spain. He was burning with the desire to crush the power of Elizabeth and to revenge the death of Mary Queen of Scots. Already the Spanish Armada was hovering off the coasts of England.
Sir Walter Raleigh tried ineffectually to obtain ships for Governor White, and even succeeded in fitting out two which were later seized and impressed into service. Every bark and pinnace was needed to keep Philip and the Inquisition out of England. No one had time to remember the colonists shut away in Virginia, for all were watching Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh scuttle the Spanish galleons.
About a month after Governor White sailed away a wasting sickness broke out among the colonists in Virginia. The fields lay untilled and the corn and vegetables withered up under the hot breath of the sun. No drop of water fell to cool the parched earth; daily the store of food dwindled away.
Gaunt starvation stalked through the island, and in his footsteps crept Winginia and his Catawbas.
At length Eleanor Dare’s husband fell ill and lay dying.
“O dear heart, my soul is filled with anguish when I think of leaving you and the child,” he moaned. “Who will protect my defenceless ones? Look again from the window. Is there no sail in sight? Nothing? And my strength is ebbing fast. Put the little one beside me that I may kiss her.”
“My husband, let us put our trust in God, and help me say, ‘Though He slay me, yet I will trust him.’ It will be but a little while before Virginia and I will join you. There is no ending to our love. Can you hear me, dear one?” Then came a cry:
“O my Father, the light has gone out of his eyes and his lips are dumb!”
Sinking beside his body, she swooned away, while the wonder-filled eyes of baby Virginia gazed long and gravely on the pallid face of her dead father.
Regaining consciousness, Eleanor feebly raised herself and tried to perform the last duties for her dead. Through the long night that followed she watched by his side. Lovingly and gently she talked to him of the happy past, caressed his cold face, and smoothed back the hair lying upon his brow.
“No priest is left, dear, to bless you as you go on your long journey, but you shall not lack. Faithful in life, I shall be faithful in death. The pitying Father will give me strength for this last duty. Soon we shall be together again, even as we now are in spirit.”
On the following day the body of her husband was laid to rest and Eleanor, with unearthly calm, read the burial service.
* * * * *
Day after day passed and few were left to answer the roll call. Only one hope lay between the colonists and starvation. Perhaps the Croatans, their faithful friends, had some corn left and would share it with them. Manteo would go and ask for food.
As the sickly sun sank to rest on the fourth day after Manteo’s departure, the colonists crawled to the beach and turned their faces to the south to watch for his coming.
Presently his canoe rounded a bend in the stream. Fear gripped their hearts as they watched his bowed form. Every now and then his paddle churned the water into foam, and then relapsed into idleness. As his canoe touched the beach they saw that it was empty.
Stepping on the shore he paused before them. Then fell an awful silence as they looked upon his face. In that face Christianity and primeval passion were waging deadly warfare. The zigzag lightning shot from his eyes, and his voice was as the muttering thunder dying away in the distance. Finally he spoke:
“Listen, O brother of the Rising Sun, To the woeful tale of Manteo. Down the sparkling waters of the Occam Leaped the bounding canoe; All night the paddles made music On this side and on that; Joy sang in the breast of the ‘real man’ As he thought of the corn for the pale face. The smiling island of Croatan Beckoned him onward and onward; Nearer and nearer came Manteo To the home of his tribe and his father. Why curled not the serpent of smoke Up from the wigwam of bark? Why came not his brethren to greet him As he stepped on the sandy shore? The leaping fire of fear Burnt to ashes on his lips. There the moccasin of Winginia Had left its picture in the sand. In the heart of the sheltered island Lay the speechless lips of his people. No more will the shout of the Croatans Rock the somber leaves of the cedars. Only Manteo is left as an echo Of all their greatness and glory.”
No moan from the colonists answered the lament of Manteo. They had drunk to the dregs of the cup of sorrow. Eyes in which the light of hope had been frozen into stony despair gazed out upon the eastern horizon, but no sail broke the blank expanse of water.
* * * * *
Night had put on her robe of black velvet and the stars had embroidered it in arabesques of silver, when Eleanor Dare laid her head on her pillow and drew Virginia to her breast.
Soon the hamlet was hushed in sleep; only the booming waves and the step of the starving sentinel broke the stillness. Exhausted, he finally sank to the ground and sleep overpowered him.
Then long shadows flitted from tree to tree, and on the breath of the night rose the death-cry of the Catawbas. Bearded men fell like corn before the sickle and the agonized cry of the women was crushed in their throats. Flames from the burning cabins threw the ghastly scene into bold relief.
Eleanor’s cabin was untouched as yet by the flames. In its door stood Manteo, fighting for her life and that of the child, when swift as a swallow came the arrow of Winginia and sucked the lifeblood from his loyal heart.
“Spare the squaw and her papoose,” said Winginia. “They shall be slaves in memory of the wrong done us in the past. We will take them to Croatan, our conquered island. Bind the squaw to the live oak yonder and place the papoose upon her lap. We will sleep until the daylight comes.”
Through the rest of the night Eleanor Dare worked desperately, and succeeded finally in loosening the thongs enough to free one hand and slightly twist her body.
In the cold gray of the morning she took a knife from her pocket, and low down on the trunk of the oak carved the word “Croatoan” in Roman letters. Just as she raised her hand to add the cross, Winginia stood over her.
“Hold thy hand, thou pale-face squaw! Darest thou call down the anger of Okee upon us?” and he sank his tomahawk into her brain.
* * * * *
Then rose the wail of the only English being upon American soil, the cry of the little Virginia. The echoes took up the sound and sent it reverberating from the flowery banks of Roanoke to the ice-bound shores of Nova Scotia, and from the rounded tops of the Appalachians to the beetling crags of the Rockies.
“Thou too shall follow thy kindred,” said Winginia, and again the tomahawk was raised aloft.
A smile broke through the April tears upon the baby’s cheek as she held out her wasted arms to him. Slowly the tomahawk sank to the ground. The angel of God stayed the hand of the destroyer. Bending, he lifted the baby from the ground.
Soon the scooped paddles sent the canoes swiftly down to Croatan. Only the waves were left to chant a requiem over the “City of the Dead.”
* * * * *
Three years had passed when Governor White came again to Roanoke to seek his daughter and her child. As the boat neared the shore he saw a column of smoke rising above the trees on the north end of the island, some distance away from the settlement of the colonists. His heart beat joyfully as he pictured the meeting with his loved ones.
* * * * *
Quickly landing, he made for the place where he had seen the smoke, but no one was there. A few smoldering embers (left by some Indians who had fled on hearing the booming of the cannon on the _Admiral_) sputtered and fumed.
“Sound a signal blast upon the trumpet,” said White to his men.
Over the stillness rang out the clarion notes, but no answering shout came back.
“Eleanor!” called her father in pleading accents. “El-e-a-nor!” answered the hills in melancholy reiteration.
“As we tramp down to the settlement we will sing some of the old English songs. Perhaps they will reach their hearts.”
Weary and footsore they continued their search, raising their voices at intervals in some sweet old English song they had sung in childhood.
At length they arrived at the “City of Raleigh.” Nature, abhorring disfigurement, had brought down sand from the mainland and covered the charred remains of the colonists, and had painted the ground in great purple violets and crimson poppies, whose roots sucked sustenance from the noble and brave ones sleeping below.
Hunting for some clew, the despairing father came upon the name which his daughter had carved upon the oak. Standing in the violets above her, he deciphered the word “Croatoan” low down upon its trunk.
“God be praised, they are alive!” he said joyfully. “Doubtless they have gone with Manteo to his home in Croatan. On the morrow we will seek them there. My heart gives thanks, for no cross is carved above the name. Now we must hasten to embark, for the clouds are banking up and foul weather will soon be upon us.”
All night the storm raged, tearing the anchors from their hold and beating the ships out to sea. Having been unable to bring casks of fresh water aboard on account of the gale, and food supplies running low, the voyagers determined to make for the island of St. John, and when properly provisioned, come again to Croatan.
After a perilous voyage they arrived at the island of St. George, where the disheartened sailors, wearied out by the loss of some of their men, and lacking food, refused to brave the perilous reefs around Croatan again, and insisted on sailing for England. White’s pleadings were stubbornly resisted. He was forced to give in and they sailed for England.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, what had become of little Virginia whom Winginia had taken captive?
Carried to conquered Croatan, she was placed in the keeping of the women. What a strange little one had been brought to them to mother! Baby ringlets of sunny brown, skin like the petals of a lily formed a frame out of which looked eyes like pools of water on a cloudy day when the shadows drift over them. Her appealing eyes and tender baby ways wound themselves around the heartstrings of the squaws, and they vied with each other in making dainty moccasins for her little pink feet. Daily she was bathed in the cold waters of the sound and her body smeared in paints and ointment. Outwardly she became an Indian girl, the Water Lily of the Catawbas.
Every year, as winter came on, the Catawbas journeyed back to Dismonguepeuc, their home on the mainland west of the island of Roanoke.
Here and there flitted the Virginia Water Lily, now watching the men burn out the poplar logs for canoes and bend the witch hazel branches into bows, now searching for flint stones to be sharpened into arrow heads. She talks with the birds of the forests and with the cranes by the water side. She knew the secret of the plants with healing in their leaves.
Day by day her influence over the tribe grew stronger. Did she possess some invisible power? Her voice alone could soothe the savage outbursts of Winginia’s wrath and cause him to spare the culprit.
It was written in the book of destiny that she should repay the debt of life she owed Winginia.
He had fallen upon the Tuscaroras, hoping to exterminate them as he had done the Croatans, but this time the fortunes of war were against him. His warriors came back bringing their chief grievously wounded by a poisoned arrow. They laid him in his house of poles and bark, and the medicine men in all their hideous paint and feathers came to chant their incantations.
The tender heart of the Virginia Water Lily ached to see the stoical Winginia suffer. Kneeling by his side, she bared the wound, and placing her soft lips upon it, sucked the poison out. Soon health and strength returned to him.
Day by day she roved the forest; but she loved best the springtime when the Catawbas went to Croatan for the herring fishing. Her nimble fingers sharpened the poles that were to spear the gleaming herring, or fashioned the weirs of rushes to catch the fish.
For hours she would sit on the beach and gaze across the vast waste of waters. Then a longing for something she could not understand caused her breast to heave and sink, but no distinct recollection of mother or father remained to her. Sometimes a voice crooning a few notes of melody would float across her memory but it was gone in an instant.
Twelve times she had seen the Indian maidens hunt for the red ear among the corn. A blush mantled her cheek when she thought that at the next harvest she too would join in the search.
Already the eyes of the bravest youth among the warriors had marked her for his own. Many a time he had given her the seat next the fire when the icicles rattled on the branches of the trees, and she felt that she would gladly go to the wigwam of Ensinore the Swift One.
* * * * *
Spring had come! The sap was rising in the veins of the trees and the blood of the Indian answered the call. It was time to be on the warpath.
Far away on the Powhatan River the king of the Powhatans and his warriors were stringing their bows, sharpening their arrows, and making their canoes ready for a raid upon Winginia at his summer home on Croatan.
“Twenty warriors to each canoe,” was the command of Powhatan.
At length all was ready. Swiftly the canoes glided down the Powhatan, out into the waters of the Chesapeake, and then, skirting down the coast, fell upon the Catawbas.
Fiercely and long the warfare raged. Finally the tribe of Powhatan gained the day, and carried off the Virginia Water Lily as a captive, over the dead body of Ensinore.
Many of Powhatan’s warriors were worsted in their encounter with the Catawbas, so they proceeded only as far as Roanoke Island, where they halted for rest.
The breezes were soft from the ocean, there were many deer in the forest, and Powhatan lingered there twelve months.
As he looked upon the Virginia Water Lily she was fairer than all the maidens of his tribe and a fit mate for the grave and stately Powhatan, then just in his manhood’s prime. But no entreaties or commands could win a smile from her, for the heart of the Water Lily lay in the grave of Ensinore.
As the twelfth moon rounded out its last quarter the Water Lily folded up her petals and sank to sleep, leaving to Powhatan a little daughter.
A grave was dug under an old and gnarled tree bearing the word “Croatoan” carved upon its trunk, and Virginia Dare’s body rested beside the bones of her mother Eleanor.
All the tenderness of Powhatan’s nature had been lavished upon the unresponsive Water Lily, so the little daughter she had left him became dearer to him than all of his children.
“Call her Pocahontas,” he said. “She shall be as a bright stream between two hills. Nations yet unborn and strangers to our tribe shall hail her as ‘The Blessed Pocahontas.’”
As night descends on the tragedy of Roanoke the sun is rising on the land of England.
The victory over the Spanish Armada has given the English a sense of security which they have never felt before. They have become a composite nation, not only able to defend their country in time of invasion, but able to seek out Philip in his Spanish home, plunder his towns and ships, and also carry on the subjugation of Ireland which Henry II. had begun.
The golden flower of literature has burst into full bloom. Grammar schools for the education of the masses are rising all over the land. Universities are diligently studying the classics of Italy and Greece. Education is no more confined to the nobility, and the genius of the “poor scholar” is giving England her greatest son, Shakespeare. His wonderful mind is raising to the height of splendor the English drama begun by Sackville and Marlowe. Bacon is proclaiming the Philosophy of Science and Gilbert is investigating the mysteries of electricity.
Action, action is the watchword of the nation.
Elizabeth’s wars abroad have depleted her exchequer. She must now economize and wait for a more auspicious moment for planting a new colony in her dominion of Virginia. But the Angel of Death waits at the threshold, to carry her where she is to give an account of the deeds done in the body. Elizabeth—Essex—Mary, Queen of Scots—what did they have to say to each other when they met in the dim world of spirits? Ambition, power, and the worshiping love of her people could not fill the hungry heart of Elizabeth, embittered by the perfidy of Leicester. Lonely she lived; lonely she died.
“The Queen is dead, long live the King!”
James I, son of Mary, Queen of Scots, sits on the throne, while Sir Walter Raleigh, the “shepherd of the ocean,” lies a prisoner in the Tower of London, spending his last days in an effort for the good of mankind—he is writing his History of the World.
Shadows, which the glory of Elizabeth’s reign had hitherto hid, are overcasting the sky of England. Thousands of disbanded soldiers are returning home from the wars. The farmers have abandoned agriculture and taken to sheep raising. Everywhere there is distress. Is there nothing for the unemployed to do?
Yes, God has opened the land of Virginia.
New hope and energy spring into life and culminate in the formation of the London Company for the permanent colonization of Virginia, the territory between Cape Fear and Maryland.
New Year’s Day, 1607. The god of winter, holding high carnival in the vaulted heavens, snatched the icy stalactites from his frozen caverns, and crushing them in his iron grasp, hurled them down upon the shivering voyagers vainly trying to make headway against the storm. His bellowing laugh swayed the writhing trees until they clashed their branches together in unbridled fury. Countless millions of snowy flowers whirled and rioted in the icy blast.
Huddled in the cabins of the _Susan Constant_, the _God-speed_, and the _Discovery_ were one hundred and eight cavaliers of fortune. Not yet out of sight of the spires of home, discontent was already lifting its hydra-head in search of food.
“What fools we were ever to have listened to that conniving Smith,” murmured Kendall, addressing Martin standing near. “He is already hatching plots for making himself King of Virginia. Watch him seated yonder studying the map of Amadas and Barlow. See how he is knitting his brows and gazing far in the distance as he sees in imagination his kingdom in his power. I tell you, he is dangerous. Yesterday I saw him talking with that sanctimonious parson Hunt. Doubtless his reverence does not stand very well with the Higher Powers, or there would be an abatement of this cursed storm.”
George Maria Wingfield, strolling from one port-hole to another, dreaming of the vast wealth which he intended to store up in this new land, overheard the speech of Kendall and stored it up for future use. He determined, as soon as they were well out to sea, that he would stir up the men against Smith and see what would come of it. His malignant nature could not bear to hear of the success of another.
Up on the deck Bartholomew Gosnold paced back and forth, unheeding the hail driving against his weather-beaten countenance. As he swept the vast rolling billows with his glass, he muttered to himself, “Why couldn’t they heed my advice, and pursue the track which I have discovered, instead of following the old route of Columbus?”
In the cabin of the _Susan Constant_ sat John Laydon, a young carpenter, with his head buried in his hands. In mind he was back again in a rustic cottage in Devonshire. Roses clambered over it in summer and the hawthorn blossoms whitened the hedges enclosing it—a casket holding the jewel of his heart’s desire, pretty Anne Burras.
The dainty maiden has kept his honest heart in a state of constant turmoil with her coquettish wiles. He was never sure of her, and even now knew not whether she had returned his love.
Suddenly he clinched his brawny hands, and a deep scowl ploughed his forehead as he thought of that caitiff Wingfield, whose pretentious home lay only a short distance from Anne’s. Many a time John had caught sight of him riding down the lane and stopping at the gate of the cottage to whisper flattering words into the shell-like ears of Anne, and his honeyed words had dazzled her and perhaps touched her heart.
When the day’s work was done, John had gone to see her, and as they sat upon the porch with the moonlight filtering through the meshes of the vines he had remonstrated with her.
“Anne, you know that he is a gentleman, and will mate with one his equal in station. He is only trifling with you to pass the time. Better listen to an honest man’s love, who has your dearest interest at heart.”
Anne tossed her head, and with the wisdom inherited from Eve avoided giving a decided answer.
Perhaps if John returned with wealth from that distant land, she might listen to his suit—mind you, perhaps.
“You cannot be a fine lady, Anne. It was an unfortunate day when you took service with Mistress Forrest, for although she has been a kind mistress, your head has been turned by the compliments of the gentlemen who resort to her house. You dream of fine clothes, a coach to ride in, and a maid to wait upon you; but I tell you, only grief will come of it.”
But no pleadings of her suitor had had any effect on the pretty maiden, and, sore at heart, he had left her to seek his fortune in the New World. What was his surprise to see Wingfield among the passengers when he went on board the ship.
“Ha, it is you, Laydon. Pity you could not bring the pretty Anne along,” said Wingfield with a sneer.
With a fierce scowl, Laydon flung a hot reply.
“Leave her alone. Honest men do not trifle with simple maidens, and if you ever do her a wrong, I will throttle you even if I hang for it!”
Wingfield retorted with a contemptuous laugh.
Finally the storm lulled, and the voyagers, pursuing the old track over which Eleanor Dare had sailed, came to the West Indies. There they landed in the bright and fickle month of April, to rest their sea-worn bodies and soothe their distraught tempers.
Down in the hold of the _God-speed_ lay a young prisoner manacled in irons. Curly brown hair waved over his forehead, long mustachios adorned his upper lip and eyes full of intelligence, together with firmly closed lips, in the corners of which lurked a smile, marked him as a man of strong character.
He had been miraculously preserved by Providence to be the connecting link between the lost “City of Raleigh” and the future settlement at Jamestown.
A coat of mail covered his body, fitting down snugly over his Turk-like trousers which were met by huge French boots, with wide overturning tops, settling in deep wrinkles around his ankles. No premonition of the part he was to play in the coming drama of Virginia came to him as he lay and listened to the men going backward and forward to the tropical island.
Presently John Laydon came, bringing the prisoner a luscious orange and soft yellow banana gathered on shore. Sitting down beside Captain Smith, he peeled the tempting fruit and offered it to him.
“Thank you, Laydon; it was very kind of you to remember me. Now that we are alone, I would like to ask you a question. What is the trouble between you and Wingfield?”
His sympathetic tones unlocked the lips of the young carpenter. He poured out the recital of his wrongs at the hand of Wingfield.
“Cheer up, Laydon; things may turn out better than you dream; but keep a watchful eye upon Wingfield. If I read him truly, he is not above doing you a mischief out of pure malice. It is owing to his efforts that I am a prisoner. He and Kendall have filled the men’s minds with suspicion and unkindness toward me.”
About the end of April the colonists started northward along the coast of Florida, where the Spaniard was disputing the territory with the Indian, and steered for the entry to Roanoke Island. But they had not reckoned on the fidelity with which April pays her debts to May, particularly on the sea. A fierce storm, accompanied by its satellites of wind and rain, came rushing out of the Gulf of Mexico, and sent the ships speeding past the “City of Raleigh” like helpless birds scudding before the blast, into the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
There two capes stretched out long protecting arms to break the fury of the sea, and give the frightened voyagers time to collect their scattered senses.
“Let us call the capes Charles and Henry, after our sovereign’s sons,” said Percy. “May they prove as protecting to their subjects when they come to the throne. Yonder is a point of land, too, smiling friendly welcome. Let us spend the night there.”
This proposition met with ready assent, and very soon their camp-fires were burning brightly, the evening meal prepared and speedily devoured by the hungry colonists, who had eaten little since the storm arose.
“What a comfort it is to tread on dry land once more,” said Gosnold, between mouthfuls of food.
“Aye, so it is,” replied Martin. “What says this worthy company to calling this spot Point Comfort? Let’s put it to vote. All in favor say ‘aye,’ those opposed ‘no.’ The ‘ayes’ have it.”
“Master Newport, read the sealed instructions for the government of the colony which were entrusted to you. Let’s hear the conditions under which we are now to live,” said George Percy.
Newport opened the sealed packet and proceeded to read the laws of the London Company for the new settlement. He was constantly interrupted by exclamations of astonishment.
“Captain Smith appointed a member of the council? Good! now he will have to be released from imprisonment,” said Percy.
“He ought not to be allowed to have a hand in the affairs of the colony; he is too scheming,” interjected Kendall.
“No house and land for each man, and all to work for the common good!” exclaimed Laydon in a disappointed tone. The hope of winning Anne seemed farther away than ever.
The newly appointed council conferred among themselves, rejected Smith as a member, and appointed Wingfield president.
Twenty years had the violets bloomed over the grave of Eleanor Dare on the island of Roanoke. In all that time the Indian had planted his corn and tobacco and celebrated the harvest with feasting and dancing unmolested by the white man.
Gentle May, with tender hands, was removing the furry coats of the purple and white hepaticas. The pink anemones, swaying in the breeze, nodded to her as she passed. Down by the pools of quiet waters the beavers were building dams with their racquet-shaped tails, while among the rushes on the river’s bank, slate-blue cranes, standing on one leg, watched for the unwary fish that were to make their dinner.
The rising sun sent its long slanting beams to awaken the colonists to their first day on Virginia’s soil. Rubbing their eyes and stretching their limbs, they set about preparing the morning meal and getting ready for the renewing of the voyage.
Leaving Point Comfort, they entered a broad and pleasant stream, whose waters traveled many miles before they emptied their amber flood into the Chesapeake. As they sailed up the stream their muskets repeatedly awoke the echoes, frightening the birds from their nest-building to whirl in eddying circles above the tree-tops. Curious Indians, frightened by the sound, watched them from behind the trunks of massive trees.
Forty miles up the river they came upon a peninsula jutting into deep water. Tall and stately trees covered its breast, and the air was filled with the fragrance of blossoming honeysuckle and wild roses. It seemed an ideal spot for a settlement.
Sailing their ships close up to the shore they landed upon the ground which in time to come would be the most historic spot upon the whole continent of America.
“We will call this city Jamestown and the river James, in honor of James, first king of the United Kingdoms of England and Scotland,” pompously declared Wingfield. “As the weather is so pleasant, we shall not need to build houses just at present. Cut down some of the trees and make room for your tents.”
“Shall we not set about building a fort as a protection against the savages?” inquired Smith.
“No, do as you are told. The council and myself are able to direct affairs without your assistance. Bid the men lay aside their arms and go to work. There is no need for such precaution.”
Before long a city of tents spread its white cones among the giant trees. A large sail stretched between two drooping elms, situated on a green knoll, became the church where the colonists gathered daily to say morning and evening prayers, led by their faithful pastor, the Reverend Robert Hunt.
Each day the men were divided into companies, some to cut down clapboards to load the returning ships, others were busy clearing the ground for gardens, while the rest made nets to catch the fish of many kinds which abounded in the stream.
Many Indians came to visit them, chief of whom was the wily Opechancanough, and numerous presents of bells and beads gained his apparent good will. In return he brought presents of corn and dried venison, and gave much news of the country.
“The river you call James, is the Powhatan,” he told them. “It was named for our king, who is a great and mighty chief. When this river is filled with sturgeon he comes to his home far up its banks. When the swans and wild geese come northward he goes to Weriwocomoco on the Chickahominy.”
Scarcely three weeks had passed when President Wingfield ordered Captain Smith and Newport to take twenty men and sail up the James to discover its source. Captain Smith was loath to leave, for discontent was brewing among the colonists.
When delicate hands were blistered and unused muscles ached with unaccustomed toil, the idle among them left off work and sat down to rest, until resting became a habit. The whole of the burden fell upon the persevering ones, who thus had to work not only for themselves, but for the lazy ones also.
“It is not fair,” said John Laydon, “that some should have to fish for food in the hot sun, and work to load the vessels with clapboards, while others lie idle.”
“We don’t have to work, the common storehouse will feed us,” responded a man lying among a group of idlers stretched under a tree.
To all of their complaints Wingfield paid no attention but spent his time in eating, devising plans for gain, and plotting against Captain Smith.
Where the beating heart of Virginia lies, there nature has built a temple, and reared seven hills as high altars to the One True God. As the James, rushing swiftly down its course, reaches this hallowed spot it instinctively pauses and shatters its one clear melody into a thousand exquisite harmonies on its rocky banks of keys.
On a gently sloping hill, overshadowed by huge forest trees, stood some ten or twelve houses where the warriors of Powhatan had their summer home. Somewhat apart from the others was the house of Powhatan, King of Virginia. Built of the trunks of the cedar, and thatched with the boughs of the pine, it formed a royal dwelling place for that august chief. Nightly four tall warriors stood guard around it to prevent a sudden surprise from their enemies who lay to the westward.
“The pearl of Powhatan’s daughters lies sleeping within her shell,” was the watchword passed at regular intervals from one to the other. Dire was the vengeance of Powhatan if one failed to answer the salute of the other.
On this bright June morning all of the inhabitants of the village were abroad. The little embryo warriors, clad only in their copper-colored skins, waged mimic warfare with one another. From the low branches of the trees swung the papooses, like cocoons from which the gay-colored butterflies were already emerging. Over the fires hung many kettles in which the patient squaws, young in years but old in hardships, were cooking the morning meal for their lords, while near the beach, stretched at full length, lay the warriors, smoking their long-stemmed pipes, and discussing the news which Opechancanough had brought—news of the pale faces who had pitched their wigwams far down on the banks of the river.
Calling him to them, he was again asked to recite the wonderful tale. True, they had heard that many years ago there had been a tribe of pale faces far down on Roanoke Island, and the Hatteras Indians even now told strange tales of a pale face people who had once been there, but not one of Powhatan’s warriors had ever seen them.
Sitting down, Opechancanough again recited the tale of the wonderful tribe who had come among them.
“They wear curious mantles of many colors,” said he, “and one among them has his body covered with a hard shining shell, which doubtless the Great Spirit has given him. Their canoes have great white wings, and hidden in each one is an evil spirit which sends forth fire and thunder.”
In the midst of his story one of the warriors suddenly lifted his hand for silence, and with head to one side and chin outstretched, turned his gaze upon the river. The rest of the warriors followed his example. Their keen ears quickly caught the sound of oars beating the water with measured strokes, and presently there came into view a boat with twenty-two pale faces in it, their gleaming muskets resting on their knees.
“These are the pale faces Opechancanough has told you of. Receive them in a friendly manner, for they are mighty and powerful,” said that wily chief.
As the prow of the boat touched the beach all of the warriors went down to meet it. Many gestures on the part of the Indians gave Captain Smith and his party to understand that they were welcome.
“We would speak with your great chief,” said Captain Smith, who instinctively acted as spokesman for the rest of the party.
“My brother Powhatan is not here,” said Opechancanough. “He has gone to his winter home at Weriwocomoco. His chiefs and myself welcome you in his stead. Opechancanough has told them of your coming and the presents you bring.”
Still keeping their muskets by their side, the voyagers seated themselves on the beach near to their boat. Then the squaws, who had been curiously watching them, came forward at the command of Opechancanough with food for their refreshment.
Willow baskets filled with flat cakes made of crushed acorns, buttered with deer suet, were flanked by hot corn pone and hoe cake. Broiled venison and sturgeon, together with wine made from last year’s vintage, completed the repast.
With right good will the hungry voyagers fell to and did full justice to the food set before them.
“Where is the source of this river you call Powhatan?” said Captain Newport, addressing Opechancanough.
“Far away toward the setting sun, among the great mountains, it begins, and gathering other streams into its embrace, swells into the river gliding by,” he answered.
After the meal was over pipes and tobacco were brought, and Indian and White man smoked the pipe of peace together.
“Who is your king, and where is your country?” asked Nantaquas, son of Powhatan.
“Many days’ journey across the great waters lives a mighty chief called James,” replied Captain Smith. “Thousands of warriors obey his commands and speed on his errands. He has sent us to seek out the friendship of his brother king, Powhatan, and bring him presents as tokens of his love.”
“It is well,” said Opechancanough. “Dearly will Powhatan love his brother and his presents.”
Just then came the sound of voices lifted in song, broken now and then by shouts of laughter. Not knowing what this might portend, the white men grasped their muskets and turned toward the direction from whence came the sound.
A gently sloping hill crowned with a dense growth of sycamores, gradually thinning out near the bottom, lay directly behind them.
Forth from the trees on the brow came a group of twelve maidens whirling and bending in a sinuous circle around a young goddess in their midst. Raising their arms aloft they showered her with great white daisies inset with hearts of gold, then bending their knees in homage, uplifted their voices in plaintive chant, while she in turn bent her body in graceful salute. On went the whirling dance and battle of flowers, in and out among the sycamores, until they reached the foot of the hill.
Then, catching sight of the stranger guests, the maidens paused with uplifted arms as if stiffened into stone. Opechancanough went toward them and informed them of the coming of the pale faces in their absence.
Quickly the links of the chain fell apart and ranged themselves behind the maiden who had been in the center. Like a young aspen against a background of autumn-tinted foliage stood Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan and Virginia Dare. All of the girlish abandon with which she had whirled down the hill had vanished. In its place was the royal bearing of the queen.
Clouds of blue-black hair swept down her back, bound about the temples with a rope of pearl, which reached to her waist. A short skirt of soft doeskin fringed with the quills of the fretful porcupine met long leggins embroidered in beads of many colors, and on her bared arms gleamed burnished copper bracelets. Her rounded bosom still rose and fell with the exertion of the dance.
Walking slowly forward with Opechancanough by her side, and her maidens following, she now came to greet the colonists. Pausing before them she closely scanned their faces, and as she held out her hands to Captain Smith the tender smile of Virginia Dare rippled like sunshine over her features.
“Welcome to the home of Powhatan, O pale face brother. Have my people treated you well, and served you with food?”
“Well and kindly have we fared,” said Captain Smith, “and have also smoked the pipe of peace. Let there be friendship between your people and mine, and in token of our love, receive this string of beads, whose color is that of the sky.”
Instantly Pocahontas was the child again as she eagerly accepted the blue beads and turned to show them to her maidens.
“We will also plant a sign of the love there is between us.” Turning to one of his men, Captain Smith bade him bring axe and spade from the boat. A young aspen no higher than a man soon measured its length upon the ground and was quickly stripped of its branches, one of which, with the silvery grey leaves still quivering upon it, he nailed across the trunk. Then a hole was dug and the “Sign” placed within it. Turning to Pocahontas, he told her that she must hold it upright while the men banked the earth.
With a joyous laugh she threw her arms over the beams of the cross and leaned her weight against the trunk. A sob rose in the throat of the young soldier as he looked upon the picture of savagery clinging to the Hope of all the world. Surely the Holy Ghost was brooding over her on that Pentecost Day.
Perceiving that they could not ascend the James farther on account of the cataracts, the party prepared to return home. Captain Smith turned to bid good-by to Pocahontas. Taking her hands in his, he smiled down into her uplifted eyes.
“Will Pocahontas be my friend and come to Jamestown to see me? There I will show her many strange things and tell her of the land of the pale faces.”
“Pocahontas will come, and she will also be your friend. Already her heart turns to your people, and much she loves them.”
As they sailed down the river, Captain Smith said to Newport, “Did you notice the bearing of Pocahontas? No maiden of our court is more queenly. She has not the cunning and wily look of her people; frankness and kindness sit enthroned upon her brow. If it were not for the color of her skin and her Indian features I could almost believe she was a daughter of our people.”
Arriving at Jamestown, the exploring party came upon a scene of utter confusion, misery, and fright. As they hastily landed they were met by Chaplain Hunt, whose sad face foreboded evil tidings.
“Your prophecy has come true, Smith. Want of proper vigilance and the lack of a fort have been our undoing. Last night while all were asleep we were surprised by the Indians and many of our men are dead. Fear has taken hold of the others to such an extent they seem paralyzed, and will not stir to provide protection. All are determined to leave with Captain Newport for home. I hope that your coming will restore their courage.”
“Why does not Wingfield compel the men to go to work?” inquired Smith.
Mr. Hunt shrugged his shoulders, and with a gesture of helplessness replied:
“Wingfield, I am sorry to say, thinks only of himself. He has no feeling of responsibility or pity for his men. I know you for a man of courage and a Christian. My only hope lies in you.
“I can do so little. Every move or suggestion I make is looked upon with suspicion and jealousy. God knows I have no selfish end in view, and I can only trust Him and wait.”
The coming of Captain Smith, with his courage and perseverance, insensibly restored the spirits of the colonists. After he had talked to them and urged them not to abandon the settlement they consented to try a while longer, but no sooner was order restored than Wingfield and his satellites set to work to breed envy and suspicion of the brave soldier.
One morning after daily prayer had been said, the Rev. Mr. Hunt spoke to the assembled men about their jealousy and suspicion of Captain Smith.
“My friends,” said he, “we have come across to this land together, here to found a home for ourselves and be a help to the benighted savage. Let us put aside envy and backbiting, and trust one another. Each one of us has a duty to perform in planting the English nation upon this soil, and let us not forget the great end we have in view, of bringing these poor savages to love and serve their Maker. Let us treat them with forbearance and patience, making no retaliation for the wrong done us. We must bear in mind that Ralph Lane’s men, in killing a poor savage for the loss of a paltry silver cup, first taught the Indian hatred for the white man. Before that time all was peace and love between them. They listened gladly to the story of the Heavenly Father’s love, and even stroked their bodies with the Word of God, thinking in their simple way that mere contact would bring a blessing. But I must speak to you of one other thing.
“There is one among you, courageous and God-fearing, who has your interest alone at heart. In return for all his kindness you have given him pain and heartache. Is this the spirit of a Christian? Can we teach brotherly love to the savage when we lack it among ourselves? Is it honest and manly treatment? I speak to you as man to man. Look into your hearts and see if you have done as you would be done by, and then repenting of your lack of charity, extend the hand of comradeship to him.”
As they quietly listened to the words of the priest, over many faces stole a look of shame and repentance; but some still sat with unmoved countenances, among them Wingfield and his particular friends.
Captain Newport now made ready to return to England with his shipload of clapboards hewn from the virgin forests surrounding the settlement. The pinnace was to be left behind for exploring expeditions as had been commanded by the London Company.
On the voyage to Virginia much of the food supply had been spoilt and what was left was recklessly squandered. As long as the returning ships stayed the sailors exchanged the food, which they had for the voyage back to England, for tobacco and other possessions of the settlers.
After they left it became necessary to place each man on an allowance of food. A half pint of wheat and barley boiled in water served as a day’s allowance. President Wingfield, however, had taken care to provide beef, oatmeal, and sack for his private use.
He now saw fit to issue orders for the building of the long-needed fort, and the men were put to work cutting down palisades and bearing them to the appointed place. Few of them could be prevailed upon to work in their weakened condition, and of those who did many died from exhaustion.
The provisions of Wingfield were now nearly spent, and as he had no intention of sharing the lot of the colonists, he and his friends plotted to seize the pinnace and sail for the mother country.
One day John Laydon, returning from work on the fort, overheard the conspirators talking together behind a clump of bushes, and he immediately reported the matter to the Chaplain.
Hastily seeking out Captain Smith, Mr. Hunt repeated the story told him by Laydon.
“What shall we do, Smith? At all costs such an outrage must be prevented.”
“After evening prayer, when all of the men are together, I will disclose the plot,” replied the Captain.
When the clock struck four the idle and the industrious alike assembled under the stretched sail. There were the unsuspecting and the plotters sitting side by side, and as the priest looked upon them he could not keep the tremor out of his voice as he thought of the helplessness of some and the treachery of the others. When the last words of the blessing had been said, Captain Smith arose and told them of the plot. As he pictured the selfishness of Wingfield, his cruel treatment, and worst of all his intention of seizing the pinnace, the anger of the men rose to white heat.
“He shall not be President any longer!” cried one. Immediately the cry was taken up by the others, and Wingfield cringed in fear of his life. A vote was then taken to elect a new President. Surely Captain Smith would be chosen; but no, the seed of suspicion sown by Wingfield had taken root. The colonists were not yet ready to trust Captain Smith. Ratcliffe, the accomplice of Wingfield, was elected in his stead.
Under the new President matters went from bad to worse. Fall was now approaching and the decaying vegetation was sending up deadly miasmas to poison the air.
“Food, food!” was the daily cry of the colonists. The deadly fear of Opechancanough and his men filled their dreams at night with terrible crimes. Many a man awoke with the cold perspiration bathing his brow, only to find his dream come true. A cry—a prayer—a silence!
Sitting idly around, they bemoaned their fate and talked of the comforts they had left behind. Would they had never left the shores of England! There at least they might have found food.
But even as they sat and talked, a ministering angel, sent by God, was on her way to them. Sculling down the James came Pocahontas for her first visit to Jamestown. The bottom of her canoe was filled with corn and wild turkeys which she was bringing as a present to Captain Smith. Fearlessly stepping on shore, she came directly toward a group of men sitting under a tree.
“Where is your chief?” she asked.
Thinking that she meant Ratcliffe, one of the men hastened to call him. But when he appeared the little guest shook her head and said, “Not the one of the lowering brow, but the one with the shining body.” Then they knew she meant Captain Smith and just then he appeared. Pleased recognition lighted up her countenance as she saw him.
“Pocahontas has come as she promised, and to show her love has brought food for the great chief.”
“Many times welcome, O Pocahontas,” he replied. “The Great Spirit of the pale faces has moved your heart to come to our aid.”
Then he showed her the church where the pale faces worshiped, and gave her presents of bells and beads, and she lingered a long time with them and seemed loath to depart.
Fall, clad in gorgeous robes of crimson and yellow, fled before the moaning chant of winter as she wrapped her winding-sheet of glistening snow around her skeleton form. Her biting breath had forced the colonists to build log cabins for shelter. Roaring fires in the great chimney places gave warmth to their bodies, but could not satisfy the cravings of hunger. Most of their ammunition had been squandered along with their provisions, and only the daily visits of Pocahontas now saved them from starvation.
Few among the colonists had any love for Captain Smith. True, his popularity had been great for a while after he had forced Wingfield to abandon the pinnace a second time; but it soon waned, and his days were made miserable with suspicion and taunts.
“I will leave them to their fate and go in search of the South Sea, which men say is only two hundred miles to the westward,” he said to himself.
Acting upon this determination, he took six men and two Indian guides, and started up the James. Soon he came to the Chickahominy, upon whose chocolate-colored breast the wild geese and swans were floating.
At the same time he left Jamestown an Indian was traveling with all speed to carry a message from Wingfield to Opechancanough.
“Father Smith comes your way. Kill him, and twenty guns will be your reward,” was the message.
Seeing a column of smoke rising from among the trees, Captain Smith commanded his men to row him ashore. Perhaps there might be an Indian village there, where he could learn something about the route to the South Sea. Taking with him the two Indian guides, he ordered the others to row to the center of the stream and await his coming.
Hardly had he disappeared when his orders were disobeyed. Robinson and Emry refused to row back. They would do some exploring on their own account.
Opechancanough had received the message sent by Wingfield. As soon as Captain Smith was out of sight, his men pounced down upon Robinson and Emry and added their scalps to their belts. Then they started in pursuit of Smith.
Not suspecting the danger dogging his footsteps, Captain Smith was horrified to see one of the Indians drop to the ground. Catching hold of the other, he bound him in front of himself, and turned to face the enemy. Arrows flew like hail, wounding him in the thigh. Throwing off the Indian, he plunged into the stream, hoping to escape his pursuers. In his disabled condition he was soon captured, and taken by the gloating savages to Opechancanough.
Although expecting every minute to be killed, he did not lose his presence of mind, but began devising plans for delaying death, if only for a short while.
Taking from his pocket a little ivory compass, he handed it to the cunning chief.
“Look at this, Opechancanough. Turn it about and try to touch the little moving point.”
Opechancanough did so, and tried to put his finger upon the quivering needle, but found a hard substance came between. Still he could see through it, and turn it whichever way he would, the needle always swung to the same spot.
A grunt expressive of admiring awe burst from the chief and was echoed by his men as they gazed in amazement upon the wonderful thing.
Opechancanough and his warriors then drew aside to hold a consultation as to the disposal of their prisoner. At the end of a few minutes four warriors came forward, and seizing the prisoner bound him to a tree. The rest then took their positions in front of him, with arrows strung ready to end his life.
Resigning hope, and commending his soul to God, the unhappy soldier awaited the fatal signal from Opechancanough. Just as the warriors raised their bows, the chief held up the compass and they unstrung their arrows.
“We will take the pale face to Powhatan; unbind him,” said Opechancanough.
Smith, with his hands tied behind him, was placed between two guards and the journey to Weriwocomoco was begun. This place was the chief home of Powhatan. Here he had his treasure-house filled with skins, copper beads, and long ropes of pearls, and bows, arrows, and the deadly tomahawk lay heaped together. On the one side lay greed; on the other, death. The whole history of his dealings with the colony lay in those two piles.
When Smith arrived there he was carried into a large room with mats of woven rushes upon the floor. In the center a roaring blaze sent its puffing breath in wreathing clouds to form a canopy over the bedstead throne placed beside it. Two hundred warriors entered and ranged themselves in double rows around the walls. From behind them peeped the squaws dressed in fantastic garb. Their faces and shoulders were crimsoned with the juice of the pokeberry. Tufts of downy heron feathers swayed above their jetty locks, and strings of white beads encircled their necks.
As Powhatan entered, an unearthly shout split the air and sent cold shivers over the prisoner.
Tall and gaunt as a blasted pine was the King of Virginia. Sixty years had etched their passing in numerous fine lines upon his features. Crafty eyes, partially obscured by half-closed lids, gave a sinister look to his countenance. A magnificent robe of raccoon skins covered his majestic form, and the great bushy tails ringed in black waved as he walked. Four youthful maidens acted as his bodyguard, for the decrepit chief greatly loved the young and gay.
As John Smith looked upon this living piece of granite, hope died within him.
Calling around him the priests of Okee, Powhatan inquired of them the will of the Terrible One concerning the prisoner.
“Let it be as Okee wills,” said the King. “Bring a stone and lay his head upon it.”
A huge stone was placed in front of the old war-horse. Dragging Smith forward, his head was laid upon its cold bosom. The savage warriors, with uplifted clubs, crowded around to have a share in beating out his brains.
From among the women in the background sprang Pocahontas, and threw herself at her father’s feet.
“O Powhatan, spare the life of the stranger. Beware lest you anger the Great Spirit of the pale face. He is mightier than the Okee of the ‘real man.’ Will Powhatan not listen to Pocahontas, daughter of the Water Lily?”
At the sound of that loved name, Powhatan’s eyelids flickered for an instant, but no sign of relenting showed upon his face.
“The pale face shall die; Powhatan has spoken.”
Bending her body, she clasped the head of Captain Smith to her beating bosom and faced her father. Then the soul of Virginia Dare battled with Powhatan for the life of the captive.
“Powhatan takes the life of the stranger; he shall also slay his best-loved daughter. Pocahontas has spoken.”
With a passionate movement she laid her face against that of the prisoner, and her cloud of hair covered them both with its dusky mantle.
For three long minutes a deathlike silence hung over the crowded room. Only the falling of a crackling branch sawn asunder by the fiery tooth of the flame disturbed the pulsating air. Powhatan moved on his throne and the spell was broken.
“Pocahontas has saved the pale face from death. He shall be kept a prisoner to make hatchets for Powhatan and beads for Pocahontas.”
Captain Smith was then removed to a lonely house in the woods, under a guard of four warriors.
Each day Pocahontas came with food for the young soldier, and as he ate he told her many stories of the lands across the sea.
“To the eastward lies the land of the pale faces. There they live in great houses, tall as trees. Many openings for the sunlight to come in are filled with a substance clear as water, but hard and brittle. The walls are hung in great pieces of cloth to keep out the winter’s cold. When the warriors go a-journey they ride upon a four-legged animal called a horse. Also the squaws and maidens cover their whole bodies.”
“Here and here?” said Pocahontas, touching her bared breast and arms.
“Yes,” replied the courageous Captain. “Not even an arm can be seen.”
“Tell Pocahontas what lies beyond the setting sun.”
“To the westward live a people whose skin is much like that of Pocahontas. Perhaps in the beginning of things your people wandered from that land to this. There they walk with their feet pressed against ours.”
Pocahontas marveled much at his wonderful narratives, and the child’s love for the pale face grew in strength every day.
“O Pocahontas,” came in accents tremulous with emotion, “you have saved my life and given back hope to my heart. You are as dear to me as a daughter to her father; hereafter I will be your father and I shall call you child.”
Seizing his hands, she pressed her lips upon them and her happy heart made answer.
“Pocahontas is content, for then she will be a child of the pale faces.”
After two days’ imprisonment a horrible figure dressed as Satan appeared before Smith. Unearthly yells, such as lost souls doubtless utter, came from the throats of two hundred black figures who accompanied this apparition. Powhatan and his warriors had come to see if they could make the Captain tremble before the terrors of the devil.
Not a muscle of Captain Smith’s face moved, although an icy hand gripped at his heart. His composure astonished Powhatan. Truly this was a wonderful warrior whom not even Okee could force to cringe. It were better to have his friendship than his enmity. No doubt he was an oracle of the Great Spirit.
So Powhatan left off his incantations and sat down before the prisoner. He was now, he said, the friend of Father Smith, whom he would henceforth love as a son, and would give him land over which to rule. He should go back to Jamestown and send him two great guns and a grindstone.
This the Captain gladly promised to do.
In the cold light of a wintry morning Smith appeared in Jamestown, escorted by twelve warriors headed by Rawhunt. The joyful shout of those who had stood his friends warmed his heart. How sweetly sound the voices of friends when one is delivered from deadly peril! All came to shake his hand and rejoice over him, except the malicious Wingfield and the band of plotters. What evil combination of circumstances had brought back the mainspring to set the watch to work again, and destroy their well-laid plans for sailing for home in the pinnace? Wingfield immediately set to work again to hatch another plot for getting rid of the hated Captain.
“Ratcliffe, I have thought of a plan whereby we may soon put an end to this doughty soldier. We will say that according to the Levitical Law his life should pay the forfeit for the death of Robinson and Emry.”
“An excellent idea,” returned Ratcliffe. “I tell you, man, your brains are worth their weight in gold. We have enough men on our side to condemn him. I, as governor, will call the council together and speedily settle matters, then we can return home from this God-forsaken country.”
So Captain Smith was again brought before his judges to plead for his life. No protestations of innocence were of any avail, for the Jeffreys of the court had already decided on his doom. Wingfield, as presiding judge, rose to deliver sentence, his evil heart gloating over each word he uttered.
“To-morrow at noon you shall be hanged by the neck until dead.”
Lying in the wooden fort, guarded by grim and vengeful men, John Smith’s thoughts went traveling over the years of his life. Again he was a slave in the land of the Turks. God had rescued him through His agent, the beautiful princess. Perhaps He would again send a deliverer if his faith remained strong.
Before the curtains of night parted to let the sun-god roll his chariot through, the ship of Captain Newport came sailing up the stream. It was an answer to John Smith’s prayers.
A joyful clamor of voices mingled with the barking of dogs greeted the tough old sea captain as he made his way down the ship’s ladder.
“What is the news from home? Whom have you brought over? Have you food and apparel on board, and where are the letters?” The questions were eager and numberless.
“One thing at a time,” answered the worthy old sea-dog. “Do you expect us to stand here in the freezing cold to give you news? Lead the way to a fire where we may thaw the marrow in our bones. Gad, but you have the coldest ice-house over here it has ever been my lot to enter!”
The whole procession then made its way to the fort, as it was the largest house of accommodation. Great sticks of pitch pine lighted up the interior and revealed the prisoner lying in a corner.
“What is the meaning of this outrage?” thundered Newport. “Why is Captain Smith a prisoner?”
His questions were soon answered, and, turning fiercely upon Ratcliffe, he hurled maledictions upon him.
“Release him instantly or else some other gibbering head will adorn the gallows to-morrow! I will be answerable to the London Company.”
Captain Smith’s guards sullenly undid his bonds, and he came forward to hear the news from home. First he cast his eyes upon the new adventurers, and he saw that no hope for the settlement lay in them. Soft, cushiony hands were not going to wield the axe and sight the gun.
Seating himself upon a rough stool before the fire, the messenger from home began to dole out his packet of mail.
“Two for you, Martin, three for Ratcliffe, and one for you, Wingfield. Looks like a woman’s hand and an uneducated one at that. Nothing for you, Laydon, I am sorry to say.”
The fortunate ones eagerly seized their letters and were soon deep in their contents. Those who had received no mail clamored for news.
“Fair and softly. Give me time to get my breath, and one of you men fetch me a cup of sack from yonder package near the door. Ah,” came his voice between his gulps, “how liquor warms the cockles of a man’s heart. Now I will begin.
“First of all, the reading of the Word of God”—here he lifted his hat reverently—“is rapidly spreading among the poor as well as the rich. Men’s minds are more set on serious things than in the reign of our good ‘Queen Bess,’ God rest her soul! The Puritan sect is making great headway, but I do not like their sour looks and lank hair.”
“How are King James and Parliament getting on?” said George Percy. “And what of my kinsman, Lord Percy?”
“Ill, man, ill. King James is driving Parliament to distraction by his forced levying of taxes and reckless expenditure of money without their consent. I do not know how long they will hold out. To all their remonstrances he replies, ‘I am King by divine right, and am under no duty to consult any will but mine own.’ As for your kinsman, Lord Percy, he still keeps Sir Walter Raleigh company in the Tower of London. All the brilliant wits of the day visit them. Chief among them is Will Shakespeare. That canting Scotchman Carr, now Earl of Somerset, if you please, has the upper hand at Court. Strange rumors are afloat concerning the murder of Overby. It is whispered that Carr and his wife, once Lady Essex, had a hand in that; and hark, a word in your ear, the London Company is mightily disgruntled because no gold has been sent back from the colony. You gallants get to work and hunt for the precious metal.”
“Put not such thoughts into their heads,” interposed Captain Smith in a whisper. “I tell you there is no gold in these parts. Better exhort them to set to work and put this settlement on a firm basis. Just now it is like a city built on shifting sand. Discontent and jealousy rock the government like a ship in a storm.”
“Fire, fire!” The cry rang out over the settlement.
Scurrying figures hastened from all directions to the storehouse from whence volumes of flame leaped in frenzy. The wild wind swept the licking tongues over to the fort, and explosions of gunpowder shook the ground, scattering the sparks in every direction. In two hours’ time every cabin lay a smouldering mass of spluttering flames and charred embers. Poor, unfortunate colony! Was the relentless hand of fate crushing them out with resistless power? Those who make no effort to take their part in the world’s work she ever pushes to the wall. Perhaps they were but reaping as they had sown.
“Lose not your courage, my men!” pleaded Chaplain Hunt. “God has not deserted us. It is but a testing sent to purify our hearts. Go to work and rebuild your cabins immediately and He will yet smile upon your efforts.”
What a noble heart lay enshrined in the body of this Ambassador of God. With nothing left but the clothes he wore, and his dearly loved books but blackened ashes, he could yet trust his Maker, and await with loving faith the fulfilment of His promises.
His words of encouragement found no responsive echo in their hearts. They gave themselves up to despair, and their utmost efforts resulted only in the digging of holes in the ground and covering them with pine boughs as a sleeping-place.
A year has passed by, and here they are in the bleak month of January without food or shelter. Nothing gained and all lost since they set sail from England.
The food brought over by Newport’s ships, together with two hundred bushels of corn which he and Captain Smith had gotten from Powhatan, have all gone to feed the flames. A little meal doled out from the ship’s store is all they have.
A white, silent world, shimmering under the brilliance of a full moon riding high in the lighted heavens. The gnarled boughs of twisted trees cast their inky shadows in fantastic tracery over its glistening surface.
Seated around a roaring fire were some ten or twelve men, wrapped in their long cloaks and vainly endeavoring to warm their aching limbs. Among them was a newcomer, Adam Clotworthy, a rollicking blade whom no misfortune seemed to chill. His great round body, covered with a quilted doublet of scarlet cloth, rocked from side to side on legs so short there seemed no room for joints at the knees. Stubby black hair shot out around a face in which sly humor and common sense were blended together by an expression of human kindness. A brown eye and a blue eye, never looking in the same direction, stood sentinel on either side of a huge nose that had a trick of working at the end when he talked.
Coming now to the side of Kendall, he poked him in the ribs with his elbow.
“Draw up your long shanks a bit and give a man room to sit down.”
With a muttered growl Kendall made room as Adam desired. Gathering his cloak closely around him, Adam squashed down upon the ground like a ripe tomato, from under which two huge boots stuck out straight in front. His legs had disappeared under his mountain of flesh.
Captain Smith could not forbear joining in the shout of laughter that burst involuntarily from the rest of the company.
Not in the least disconcerted by their laughter, Adam squirmed around until he had made himself comfortable, and proceeded to open conversation with the grim and scowling men around him.
“By my faith, Martin, you look like a mourner at a funeral! Take heart, man; perhaps the ‘Injun’ lady you told me about will step over to-morrow with a bushel or two of corn and a brace of wild turkeys. Gad, I can smell ’em roasting now.”
“Quit your talk about food, or I will break every bone in your body; that is, all that haven’t turned to grease,” said Kendall with a scowl.
Misery again settled upon the faces of the men as they unconsciously licked their cracked lips at the mention of the savory turkeys.
“Jealousy, man; pure jealousy is your disease,” returned Adam with a sly wink of his brown eye. “If you had more flesh on that skeleton of yours you would not be looking through blue spectacles, and we would not be compelled to study anatomy all the time.
“I’ll tell you a tale about a real fat man I saw once. It happened down at the ‘Three Swans’ just at Christmas time. I stopped there for dinner, and I tell you it was worth eating. First there was a roast pig—”
“Didn’t I tell you to quit talking about food!” bellowed Kendall.
“Marry, man, but you are hard to please. Whoever heard of a tavern without food of some kind, even if it were only a posset of ale, with a roasted apple bobbing around in it as it simmers beside the fireplace. As I was saying—”
Crack, snap! silence. Crack, snap! again.
Hastily jumping to their feet, with their muskets ready for action, the frightened men peered into the shadows. A low, gasping sob floated out to them.
“’Tis Pocahontas,” said Captain Smith, and hastened into the shadows. He soon came into the light, half supporting her almost frozen body as she stumbled into the firelight. Her short deer skirt, soaked with water, clanked its frozen folds together as she walked, and her long black hair was matted with ice. Forgotten were cold and hunger as the men quickly threw their cloaks upon the ground to make her a seat, while George Percy wrapped his around her. Captain Smith seated himself beside her, and as he gently chafed her hands, spoke soothing words in an endeavor to check her hysterical sobs.
“My little child, my doe, your father is with you. All is well. See, your friends are all around you. There now, my little one, do not speak until you are warm.”
Gradually the puckering lips smoothed themselves into a trembling smile as he wiped the tears away. For a moment Pocahontas forgot her errand in the delight of being with him; but with remembrance fear came rushing back, and springing to her feet she gasped out:
“Before another moon Powhatan will be upon you! Already men are on their way bearing gifts. Do not be deceived. Two hundred warriors are behind them armed with the scalping-knife. Pocahontas has traveled many miles through the snow and waded streams to bring her father warning.”
“O my little child, you have risked your life again!” cried Captain Smith as he folded her in his embrace.
“Pocahontas loves the pale face better than life,” she answered, cuddling down into his arms. “Joy sings in her heart when she dreams she is a maiden of your people and the daughter of her pale face father.”
The faces of the sternest men worked as they leaned on their muskets and listened to the recital of her brave deed.
“Faith,” said Adam, “I haven’t had so much salt water in my eye since old Father Neptune ploughed up his farm, coming over.”
Running their hands into their capacious pockets, the men brought forth bells and beads and offered them to her in token of gratitude. She shook her head, and great tears welled up, splashing down upon the presents lying in her lap.
“Pocahontas dare not take them, although she likes them much. Powhatan will kill her if he learns she has given warning.”
“I have something she will take,” said Adam, drawing forth a small mirror. “I have yet to see the maiden who would not look at herself every chance she got.” So saying, he rocked himself forward and started to lay it in her lap.
Catching sight of him for the first time, she gave a shriek and buried her face in Smith’s breast.
“Okee, Okee!” she wailed.
“Now whatever do you make of that?” exclaimed the astonished Adam. “Who in the devil is Okee?”
“That’s just what he is, the devil,” said Kendall, laughing grimly. “Truly a fine compliment from a primitive Eve to an ardent Adam.”
“No, no, my child. No Okee,” said Captain Smith, smoothing her hair. “He is a good kind friend and likes Pocahontas.”
“Likes,” sniffed the discomfited Adam, “I never got as far as liking. She didn’t give me time.”
Reluctantly putting aside Captain Smith’s enfolding arms, she rose to her feet.
“Pocahontas must go. Already the moon is seeking her bed.”
“You must not go by yourself, my child,” remonstrated Smith. “If Powhatan’s men meet you, they will take you to him and he will kill you.”
“Pocahontas is content. Has she not saved her father and the pale faces? Also she must go alone.”
One moment she smiled upon them, and the next she had gone.
Relentless fate came yet again and blindfolded the colonists with a veil of golden gauze.
On a frosty morning, as one of the men walked by a little stream, he saw a shining substance glistening in the sand. Snatching up a handful, he ran as fast as possible to where George Martin was standing.
“Look, Master Martin; see if this be not gold?”
Taking the earth into his hand, the refiner of precious metals examined the glistening mass carefully, turning it over and over in his hand.
“Yes, it is gold,” said he.
“Gold, gold!” yelled the man at the top of his voice.
At the magic word every man started into life, stumbling over one another in their efforts to secure spade and pickaxe and join the maddened crowd hastening to the stream. Puffing and blowing like a seal, Adam Clotworthy waddled along, bringing up the rear, his spade dragging behind him.
Did unused muscles ache? Let them. Cracked and bleeding hands smarted under blisters. Who cared? Was not the precious metal lying in tons before their eyes?
“Try and put a stop to this digging of fool’s gold,” begged Captain Smith of Robert Hunt.
“I can do nothing while this fever rages in their veins. If you look at their frenzied faces and bloodshot eyes you will see that my efforts would be useless. Even Newport has joined in the mad rush. His boat will soon be loaded, and after his departure we may be able to do something.”
The warm breath of spring was upon them before Captain Newport sailed down the stream with his valuable cargo. All of the gold diggers gathered on the beach to witness his departure. Here and there the superstitious ones threw a few beads into the water for luck, as they had seen the Indians do when starting on a voyage.
After the ships had drifted out of sight, Captain Smith began to urge the colonists to rebuild the fort and cabins.
“Even if the cargo turns out to be gold, you cannot leave this country unless you receive a special passport from King James, and that no doubt will be long in coming. Perhaps if you prove industrious, the Company will in time give each of you a house, and land to till for your own gain. But until they see some fruit from you, nothing will be forthcoming for your benefit.”
This advice seemed reasonable, and as summer was now approaching and fish abounded in the stream, the colonists started to rebuild the fort and cabins.
John Laydon, master carpenter and wood-carver, superintended the work, reserving for his especial care the erection of a commodious church to take the place of the old affair of rough logs and reed-thatched roof, the successor of the sail stretched between the elms.
Choosing two fair and goodly cedars, he shaped them into an altar and carved upon the front a cross with a grape vine clinging to it, and the fragrant incense of the cedar swept upward with the prayers of the colonists when once a month they knelt to receive the Holy Communion.
The tilled fields began to show tender green shoots of corn and clinging bean against the rich dark loam. Gradually order was emerging out of chaos under the energetic supervision of Captain John Smith, who set the example of industry by his own hard work.
On a bright sunny morning in May the dewdrops were still sleeping in the cups of the flowers when Pocahontas arrived at Jamestown. A subdued excitement sparkled in her eyes and her parted lips could scarce keep back the eager speech. Hastily seeking out Captain Smith, she said, “Last night a vision came to Pocahontas out of the spirit-land. She comes to her father to know its meaning.”
Leading her to a grassy knoll beside the lapping waters, and drawing her down beside him, he replied, “Speak on, my child.”
“Listen and Pocahontas will tell you.
“From the north came the maiden of darkness Floating on shadowy pinions, To brood over the sleeping hamlet. Now and then the bird of ill omen Sent its melancholy notes through the forests, Like the plaintive wail of the dying. On her embroidered pillow of leather, Made soft with the breast of the heron, Lay Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan. Softly the spirit of slumber Lowered the curtains of vision, And carried her forth to the forest. Down where the water willow Washes her silver laces A brawling brook was resting In a hollow lined with lilies. The blue-gemmed dragon-fly Rippled its placid surface With touches light as a zephyr. Kneeling over its brink to gather The rounded pink and white pebbles, Lining its soft sandy bottom, She saw her laughing reflection Bending its head in sweet greeting. A chill of fear swept over her Like an icy blast from the north. Gradually her picture was changing Into some one she knew and she knew not. The blue-black veil of her hair Faded away like a vision in dreams. In its place long waves of sunshine Swept its billows o’er her shoulders. The copper-tinted skin of her tribe Gave place to the hue of the lily, And eyes, gray like the coat of the pigeon, Pleaded tenderly for love and compassion. ‘Mother,’ sprung to the lips of Pocahontas Like an arrow shot from the bow; And ‘Daughter,’ answered the vision, In accents as soft as music. As the picture slowly faded And Pocahontas raised her head, A wide plain stretched before her Where the forest once had stood. And the pale-faces of your people Were as many as the sands of the sea. Far away where the wintry sun Sinks into its bed to rest, There the diminished tribes of my people Wandered alone and forsaken.”
“Truly a strange dream, my child,” Smith slowly replied. “The Great Spirit sends me no answer. We must look to the coming years for its meaning. Of one thing I am certain, the God of the white man has you in His keeping. No harm shall come to Pocahontas, His ministering angel.”
In the meantime, another ship, the _Phoenix_, arrived at Jamestown with a large amount of provisions and more settlers. Peace and prosperity sent their flickering smiles to warm the hearts of all.
The honest captain of the _Phoenix_ brought with him a letter ordering Smith to go again in search of the South Sea. This command exactly suited the adventurous spirit of the gallant soldier, and taking with him fourteen men, among them Adam Clotworthy, he started up the Chesapeake.
Sailing along its low shores fringed with fragrant verdure, and interlaced with silver ribbons, where the York and Potomac pour in their waters, they met with many adventures. Far up its waters they journeyed until the mouth of the Susquehanna was reached. Then turning southward again, they entered a wide basin where in time to come ships from many foreign lands would disgorge their load of human freight, gathered at every port beyond the seas. Golden-haired, ruddy-cheeked giants of the Norseland would tower above the dark-eyed, small-statured sons of Italy. Fair Baltimore—set as a glowing ruby between the diamonds of the North and the opals of the South.
Journeying up the Potomac, they came upon Japazaws, a werowance of Powhatan. Just as the sun was lighting up the horizon, Captain Smith moored his barge and stepped ashore. Before even greeting the chief, he and his men knelt for morning prayer, then rising to their feet joined in the second canticle. Instantly the crowd of dusky savages turned as one man to greet the rising sun, and a “fearful song” to Aurora blended its wail with the Te Deum chanted to the Trinity. After this “fearsome chant” had ended, Japazaws made a ring of dried tobacco upon the ground into which the braves cast pieces of copper, at the same time prostrating themselves upon the ground.
Bidding good-by to Japazaws, our party sailed down to the York River, and leisurely ascending its broad waters, came into the Pamunkey.
Black billows of rolling clouds, their ragged edges gold-rimmed by the full-orbed moon, raced with mighty speed across the heavens. Hidden in a mass of dense trees whose matted branches were interwoven with tangled vines stood the temple of Okee. The rank vegetation exhaled poisonous vapors which were absorbed by the stagnant waters of the slimy marsh, and wild yells of demons came in weird and faint echoes to the ears of the English voyagers on the banks of the Pamunkey.
“Now what on earth can that be?” cried Adam. “Surely all the angels of Satan must be in that swamp.”
“We will reconnoiter,” said Smith.
“Have you gone daft, man? Do you want them to seize you by the hair and bear you off to toast on a pitchfork?”
“You should not be afraid of your familiar friends,” returned the Captain, his brown eyes twinkling. “Pocahontas said you were the chief of the terrible tribe. Who will go with me to reconnoiter?” he added.
“I will go,” spoke up Adam, “I might just as well be scalped there as here.”
“I thought you were afraid!” taunted a fellow voyager.
“I am safer with Smith than with you. He is worth all the rest of the colony put together.”
“Now listen to my instructions, men,” said the Captain. “If any danger threatens us, I will cry ‘Saint George,’ and do four of you fellows come to our aid, while the rest stand ready to push off the boat.”
Armed with their muskets and powder-horns, Captain Smith and Adam Clotworthy started on their perilous adventure through the dark swamp. Knowledge of danger was to Captain Smith like the scent of battle to the pawing war-horse. His spirits rose at every step. Not so the worthy Adam; his courage drained down to his toes as he stumbled along over deceitful hillocks showing dimly under the fitful light of the moon. Choosing an eminence covered with lush grass, he stepped upon it. Immediately it gave away and he slid down into a pool filled with black, slimy ooze.
“They have got me!” he wailed under his breath. “I can feel their icy claws upon my feet. Lord have mercy upon my sinful soul! Don’t let the devil have me! You know I am not fit to die. Only let me get out and I swear I will never utter another oath, and I will go to church regularly every day. Indeed I will!”
Captain Smith caught him by the shoulders just under the arms, and bracing himself against a tree, gave a mighty jerk. Forth came the bedraggled Adam, smeared in slime up to his breast. The ludicrous sight filled the Captain with silent mirth as he plodded along beside him and listened to the slimy water slushing in his boots at every step.
After an hour of arduous toil they came out upon firm ground. There before them rose the temple. Trees planted thickly together formed the walls; their branches twisted and matted together, the roof. Countless passion-flowers crept in and out among the trunks, and spread their purple flowers in a thick coverlet over the entire structure. A yellow glare from pitch pine torches within gleamed through the many crevices, like millions of fireflies.
Adam would not stir a step until with much labor he had gotten off his boots and emptied out the mud and slime.
Not an Indian was to be seen as they stole toward the house, and, avoiding the door, made for an opening in the wall through which a broad beam of light streamed out. This opening was so large that both Smith and Adam could gain a clear view of the interior without being seen themselves.
As Adam opened his mouth to utter a groan of horror, Smith clapped his hand upon it and whispered, “Do you want to be scalped? Keep still if you value your life.”
Such an awful picture they had never looked upon before. Here in the midst of the American wilderness was Dante’s Inferno. At the end of the temple opposite the door, high up on a framework of reeds, lay the shriveled remains of past kings and priests. The bodies were painted and decorated in a fearful manner, their claw-like fingers still grasping the bow and arrow. At their feet crouched the stuffed bodies of favorite hounds. Occupying the center of the room was the image of Okee, his frightful face painted in red and black stripes. Ropes of pearls as large as peas hung around his neck, and from the crown of his head stood up a tuft of eagle feathers dyed green and red. His staring eyes, enclosed in broad white circles, gazed unwinkingly upon the priests surrounding him.
Their naked bodies, clothed only in an apron of skin, were painted red and black in imitation of the god. Writhing green snakes, hanging in holes bored in their ears, hit viciously with arrow-head tongues at their foaming lips as they whirled in the devil’s dance.
Rattling pebbles shut up in conch shells, together with the hollow boom of membrane stretched over gourds, added their deafening din to the confusion.
In the background knelt the squaws with buckhorns bound to their heads. Their sobs and lamentations rose to shrieks as the frenzied warriors, black as midnight, tore the suckling babes from their clinging arms to offer them in sacrifice to Okee.
“Let me get behind you, Smith, for mercy’s sake! I see a howling devil glaring right in this direction. Your armor will blunt his arrows before they get around to me,” whispered the irrepressible Adam.
Again the whirling dance and sacrifice went on until the exhausted madmen fell to the ground. In the lull that ensued, Powhatan, seated near his departed ancestors, raised his hand for silence.
“The priests of Okee crave another offering, else the Terrible One will send the warriors when they die to Popagosso under the fiery sun, burning low in the west. The pale face has come among us, taken our lands, and killed our warriors. Okee demands the blood of the white captive at our hands.”
Captain Smith’s hair stood on end with horror, for he realized that the little white boy, given by Newport to Powhatan, was to be the propitiatory victim. The Captain’s mind traveled like lightning over various plans for the release of the child.
While Powhatan was speaking, Pocahontas, sick with the sight of flowing blood, crept noiselessly out. Would not the Great Spirit of the pale face send succor to the unfortunate boy, soon to be slaughtered? she wondered. She would pray to Him. Perhaps He might heed the prayer of an Indian maiden. Her “father” had said the Great Spirit could do all things.
Kneeling down and clasping her hands as she had seen Captain Smith do, she lifted pleading accents to the God of the Indian and the white man.
“O Great Spirit of my ‘father,’ let not Powhatan take the life of the little pale face brother. Pocahontas will give in return the blue beads her ‘father’ gave her.”
“Pocahontas,” whispered Smith, “it is I, your father. Do as I bid you and the boy will be saved.” Then he rapidly whispered directions in her ear.
“Pocahontas understands and obeys. My father will not hurt Powhatan and her people?”
“No, Powhatan and your people shall live,” he answered; but to himself he muttered, “If it were not for the women and children, I could murder every fiend.”
Looking now through the crack, he saw the lad dragged forth toward the priests. His cries for mercy were met by the taunting “Ohe, Ohe,” of his tormentors. No time was to be lost. Turning to Adam he said, “Give me your powder-horn.”
“Take heed what you do, Smith,” implored Adam, his teeth clashing together like castanets, and the knob on his nose working like a pig’s snout with excitement.
“Keep still, and hand me your horn. Stir not from this spot, no matter what happens.” So saying, Captain Smith and Pocahontas disappeared, leaving Adam alone. Now and then curiosity overpowered fear, and he would look again through the crack, only to fall back and begin petitions for deliverance.
Running around to a spot in full view of the door, Captain Smith emptied the powder in Adam’s horn into a piece of clay pipe lying near. Then inserting a lighted fuse, he took to his heels. Fleeing around the corner he ran full tilt into the unconscious Adam, with his eye glued to the crack, and both rolled to the ground. Not knowing what had assaulted him, Adam let out a yell that would have wakened the dead kings lying in state, had it not been drowned in the explosion of the gunpowder.
A roar of thunder split the air, followed by blinding flashes of flame. For a moment a deathly silence hung over the Indians, then shrieks and yells burst from the painted demons. Pandemonium reigned as they fled from the temple. Leading the vanguard was Powhatan, clinging to a litter borne on the shoulders of four warriors who sped away in the darkness.
In the midst of the confusion, Pocahontas snatched the white boy up and made for the place where Captain Smith was vainly trying to pacify the terrified Adam, who was now wallowing on the ground.
“Stop your howls, or I will leave you to the mercy of the Indians! Get up, we have not a moment to lose. Pocahontas is here with the boy. We must hasten to the boat for our lives.”
Leading the way as guide, with the boy clasped in her strong young arms, Pocahontas plunged into the swamp. Over morass, through matted vines, she went with unerring instinct, followed by Smith, trundling the unwieldy form of Adam before him. Down into a hole went Adam for the second time, leaving a boot as a memento of the adventure. As he hobbled painfully along, sick with misery and fear, his strength gave out, and with a moan he pitched forward. Losing no time in an examination of the unfortunate man, Smith merely rolled him over, and catching him in the back of his collar, dragged him along in his flight.
He heaved a sigh of thankfulness as he saw the boat through an opening in the trees. “Saint George!” he shouted, and the men on the beach ran forward to meet him. Picking up the body of Adam as if he were a log of wood, they sped to the boat and dumped him in. Pocahontas placed the boy in Smith’s arms and vanished.
“Row for your lives, men! Death lies in the swamp,” urged Smith.
Bending to their oars, they sent the boat plunging down the stream in reckless haste, nor did they cease to row until the broad York was left behind, and the prow of their barge dipped its nose in the salty waters of the Chesapeake.
Drifting down the Chesapeake at night! What exquisite beauties of earth and sky wrapped the weary voyagers in their embrace, soothing their aching bodies and exhausted nerves! Drifting on the moon-kissed ripples, into the waves of liquid silver slowly changing into gold under the alchemy of the rising sun! In the open glades, stretching away into forests still draped in the morning mists, antlered monarchs of the wilderness led the herd of doe and bounding fawn to the pools of fresh water for their morning bath.
As the barge swung around into the James that morning, the voyagers descried the flag of Saint George, bidding defiance to the Indian as it fluttered in the summer’s breeze from the mast of a ship just ahead.
“Look, there is Newport come again,” said Captain Smith. “Rouse up, Adam; the danger is long past.”
Uttering a hollow groan, Adam raised himself from the bottom of the boat where he had lain since the mad race down the Pamunkey.
“Lord, but I am thankful to see civilization again! If I am forgiven for this exploit, I will never be caught among those devils again; and if I only had a cup of sack, I swear I would feel like a human being once more.”
“How about those vows you made never to swear again, when you fell into that hole?” inquired Smith.
“There were reservations, man; mental reservations. I took care to put them in,” said the now courageous Adam.
With swift strokes they came alongside the English ship and hailed her, and as she slowed down, Captain Newport came to the side and called out to Smith:
“I have something on board that will delight your eyes. A fair gentlewoman, Mistress Forrest, and her maid, Anne Burras.”
With courtesies and smiles, the lady and her maid came forward to acknowledge the greeting of the voyagers.
“Beside such a pleasant sight, madam, the whole of His Majesty’s dominions in this land pale into insignificance,” said Captain Smith, sweeping his soft hat almost to the bottom of the boat as he stood to greet her.
Then gaily proceeding up the stream, the barge leading, they came to anchor at Jamestown.
Where were all the settlers who should have been upon the beach to greet them? Hardly a dozen could be seen strolling around idly or lolling under the trees.
“Where are all the men?” was Smith’s first greeting.
“They are at work in the woods, building a palace fit for the habitation of the President of this magnificent settlement,” ironically answered Percy.
Meantime, Wingfield had caught sight of Mrs. Forrest and her maid. “Shade of Henry VIII., I do believe it is the wilful Anne!” Hastening forward, his plumed hat swept the ground as he bent to Mrs. Forrest. Not quite so low was its sweep to Anne, but there was enough gallantry in his action, and admiration in his eye, to set the foolish little maid’s heart to fluttering. Not only in our day do maidens dream of being elevated to rank above the station in which they are born.
“Anne,” said Mrs. Forrest sharply, noting the confusion of her maid, and having no mind to encourage this unequal flirtation, “look to the bales in which my gowns are packed, and have a care for the packet containing my ruffs.”
With a slight toss of her curly chestnut head, Anne obeyed the bidding of her mistress.
The most commodious cabin was set apart for Mrs. Forrest and her husband, and during the ensuing days that thrifty lady speedily had her lares and penates safely housed.
It was a touching sight to see the home-longing in the eyes of the men as they passed her open door. No matter in what direction they were bound, their path always lay directly past her door and windows, where they could see the dainty Anne standing before the spinning-wheel, or bending over the fire tasting the contents of some savory mass bubbling and singing upon the crane.
Captain Smith had lost no time in seeking out the men engaged in building Ratcliffe’s house in the woods, under the direction of Laydon. Adam Clotworthy had already arrived there.
Toiling under the weight of huge logs and straining to lift them into position had worked the men up into mutiny. Mutterings of strange torments in the way of revenge were whispered from one to another. Adam, who had no liking for Ratcliffe, egged them on.
“You fellows might just as well be slaves in Africa, toiling and moiling for some wooly-headed chief. Why not choose a President for yourselves? I have the very man in my eye.” Then he launched into a description of Smith’s exploits on the Pamunkey, embellishing the tale with such wonders as would have put Don Quixote to the blush. “I can tell you a few little tricks, I learned up there, of dealing with a traitor, that are uncommon good.”
This recital acted as a lighted fuse to the gunpowder of their feelings, and the explosion took place just as Smith arrived. Throwing down axes, hammers, chisels and spades, they gave themselves up to fierce anger against Ratcliffe.
When he judged the moment to be ready, Adam threw up his hat and yelled, “Smith! Smith for President!” The cry, was taken up on every side as they moved in a body back to the settlement, carrying Smith in their midst.
So dark were their scowling looks, and so fierce their gestures, that Ratcliffe made haste to scuttle aboard Newport’s ship and place himself behind the protection of the guns. A vote was then taken, and by an overwhelming majority Captain Smith was elected President of the colony.
As soon as the excitement quieted down a bit, Captain Smith drew John Laydon aside.
“Did you know a Mistress Forrest has arrived with Newport, bringing a maid called Anne Burras with her?” he said.
“Anne here?” John replied in bewilderment.
“Yes, I suspect it is that bewitching damsel. Have an eye upon Wingfield. Watch over her whenever possible.”
With his heart palpitating between love and fear of his reception, the young carpenter hastened to the cabin of Mrs. Forrest, where he found Anne looking through the window at the excited men and wondering what the trouble was.
“Anne, Anne!” he cried, his rugged face beautiful with the strength of his great love.
“Good-day to you, Master John Laydon,” responded Anne, eyeing with disfavor his coarse woolen jerkin and rough, toil-worn hands.
“Is that all you have to say to me, Anne, after our long separation?” he pleaded, a hurt look creeping into his eyes. “My girl, I have dreamed of you day and night out here under the stars and glare of the sun. At first I longed to have you with me; but when cold and starvation killed off our men, and many died at the hands of the savage, I thanked God you were safe in England.”
“You do me too much honor, Master Laydon,” replied the damsel, imitating in manner and gesture the carriage of her mistress.
“‘Master Laydon, Master Laydon,’” echoed the indignant John. “Your tone smacks too much of the fine lady, child.” Then changing his tone to one of persuasion, he drew nearer and attempted to take her hand. “It used to be ‘John’ and ‘Anne,’ when we strolled through the lanes at home.” Snatching away her hand, and drawing her little body up, Anne scornfully replied:
“A child does many things which it leaves off when it comes to know better. I must bid you good-by, as my time is of too much importance to idle it away.”
Turning away with a haughty inclination of her head, she went into another room and made straight for a window where she could see the disconsolate John moving away.
Her eyes sparkled with excitement. It was truly delightful to have a handsome gentleman like Wingfield paying her compliments, and at the same time the despairing John was not to be despised. He served as a somber background to her glowing dreams.
As the summer ripened, many stealthy meetings with Wingfield, filled with compliments and airy nothings, alluring as a mirage and as tangible as a will-o-the-wisp, kept the ambitious maiden’s heart in a turmoil of excitement. That accomplished flatterer was too skilful a navigator to run his ship upon the rocks of definite words, although keeping in full sight of the green fields of her untutored heart. His pleasurable enjoyment in balking John changed into pure malice as the weeks drifted by. Everywhere he turned, the stern watchful eyes of the carpenter were upon him, and he often found him dogging his footsteps. This unceasing shadowing irritated the cowardly Wingfield. “If he keeps up this espionage on my movements, I will rid the colony of him,” he would mutter to himself.
Adam Clotworthy had watched the growing drama with Laydon, Wingfield, and Anne in the title rôles, with keen interest.
“Sail in, sail in, John, and take the ship by storm. I tell you a maiden likes a man who overcomes obstacles, instead of pottering around, mooning like a calf. You leave her too much alone, and it is no telling what fancies she will get into her giddy pate.”
“I am not going to furnish food for her mirth with Wingfield,” answered John angrily, recollecting the previous attempts to see her which had been met by a drastic snubbing. “I shall guard her in every way I can, but I have made the last advances I intend to.”
“John, you are what I call a simon-pure fool.”
“Fool or no fool, I am a man.” And with that unanswerable argument Laydon walked away.
Turning over various plans in his head whereby he might help John, Adam was startled as the shadow of Wingfield fell in front of him.
“Take your hulking carcass out of the path of a gentleman,” said Wingfield to Adam.
“Gentleman?” inquired Adam. “Where is he? I do not see him.”
“Do you dare to insult your betters, you base-born cub?”
“Base-born!” yelled Adam. “My ancestors come from better stock than yours, seeing they were honest men.”
“Honest men? Why, you cannot look an honest man in the face.”
“I will tell you how that happened,” replied Adam, restored to good humor by the thrust he had given Wingfield. “Originally both eyes looked in the same direction, but whenever I was talking to an honest man I had to keep one eye upon the rogue. The strain was too much and they parted company. The blue eye, being the keener, I keep fixed on rogues, and if you observe closely, you will see that my brown eye is looking up the stream. I leave you to guess the direction of the blue one. I’ll tell you something else. If you do not keep your paw out of a certain little matter we both know of, John Laydon will send you to feed the fishes.”
Ripping out his sword, Wingfield made a thrust at Adam. Laydon, who had just come up behind, caught the sword as it descended, and wrenching it out of his hand, hurled it into the bushes. Without further parley, he fell upon Wingfield and pounded him unmercifully. The ex-President’s rage made him forget the social distance between the carpenter and the gentleman, and he gave blow for blow in return. Adam, watching every advantage, and with head lowered, charged upon Wingfield from behind like a battering-ram.
The noise and scuffle brought President Smith hurriedly to the spot.
“Stop! I command you,” he thundered.
The enraged combatants sullenly parted, and Wingfield began a tirade of abuse against low-born scullions who presumed to strike a gentleman.
“It is no use for you to talk to me, Wingfield. I know you and haven’t forgotten the message you sent Opechancanough. Better look to yourself or else you will find that a dungeon in England is much worse than a residence here.”
Pocahontas, having heard of the arrival of the white squaws at Jamestown, soon came to see them for herself. Seeking out Smith as usual, she plied him with questions concerning them.
“Pocahontas wants to see the white squaws.”
“So you shall, my child,” replied her “father.” Taking her by the hand he led her to the cabin of Mrs. Forrest. “This is my little Indian maid, madam, of whom you have heard me speak.”
Motherly Mrs. Forrest tried by signs to make her understand that she was glad to see her. Helped out by Pocahontas’s imperfect English and Smith’s interpretations, the conversation proceeded to the mutual satisfaction of both.
“Here is a maiden of the pale faces, my child,” said Captain Smith as Anne came tripping up with ruffs in her hands, fresh from the clear starching. “Well, Mistress Anne, how is your health this bright morning?” said Smith, at the same time tilting the winsome little face upward with his finger.
Instantly the fires of jealousy blazed in the eyes of Pocahontas, and she stamped her foot upon the ground.
“Why, my child, what means this unseemly behavior?” exclaimed Smith. “Come, show your kindly smile to the white maiden.”
“Pocahontas likes not—she hates—she will kill!” exclaimed the Indian maid, her voice rising in frenzy at every breath.
“Mind her not, Anne, it is but the jealousy of a child.
“My little one, your father is yours, he belongs to you,” he soothingly said, drawing the trembling Pocahontas into his encircling arms and feeling her beating heart fluttering like a caged bird.
With much coaxing she consented to smile upon Mrs. Forrest, but any advance upon the part of Anne was met by a fierce scowl. Poor Indian maid! Her loving heart could not bear the pain of seeing her hero give even a fleeting caress to another.
The sultry August sun was slowly dying in the west as Anne Burras, standing before her small mirror, gave the finishing touches to her toilet. When the stars came out she would slip down to the ill-fated gold stream to meet Wingfield.
Her mistress came in and noted the preparations, glancing at the chain of gold around her neck.
“Where got you that chain, Anne?”
“It was given me by Mistress Hardcastle when she stayed at your house last winter.”
“She never was noted for sense,” replied her mistress. “Servants have no business decked in jewelry. It does not become their station.”
Pursing up her pretty lips, Anne made a grimace at the back of her unconscious mistress.
“Go and attend to the setting of the table for supper, while I look out wool for the carding, to-morrow,” continued Mrs. Forrest.
After the supper dishes had been cleared away and the twilight crept over the settlement, Anne stole out to meet Wingfield. Gliding from tree to tree, she came upon him standing by the stream which emptied its rills into the James.
How handsome he was, she thought, in his rich doublet and sad-colored cloak. And how well the stiff ruff set off his pointed chin and Vandyke beard. Stealing softly up, she touched him upon the arm.
With a muttered oath he turned upon her. “Oh, it is you, Anne,” he said in a relieved voice. “How pretty you look to-night. If you only wore a velvet gown and lace ruff, with a high hat and plume, you could rival any lady at the Court of King James.”
Poor Anne looked down upon her short stuff petticoat and clumsy shoes, and tears of mortification rose to her eyes and brimmed over upon her cheeks.
“Cheer up, my pretty one! Who knows what the future may hold for you? I can see you in a fine house with a maid to wait upon you, and these little hands will be soft and white again,” he whispered, drawing her into his arms.
Adam had followed Anne, like a hunter stalking the deer. After seeing her meeting with Wingfield, he lumbered back for Laydon.
“John, they are at it again, down by the gold stream. That pretty fool will get herself into trouble.”
Hastening to the spot with Adam in tow, Laydon crept behind a tree, and without an atom of shame listened to the conversation.
“How would you like to see the wonderful city of Rome and sail upon the Mediterranean?” Wingfield was saying. Her reply was inaudible.
“You must not ask me when, my pretty one; leave that to me.”
Stepping from behind the tree, Laydon placed himself in front of the couple.
“Take your villainous arms from around her, you cowardly caitiff!”
“Out of my way, you sawyer of wood!” replied Wingfield.
“Do you intend to marry her?” demanded Laydon.
“Marry her?” retorted the irate Wingfield, his pride stung at the thought and his conceit blinding his caution. “Do you suppose a gentleman of my station would marry a servant-girl, no matter how pretty the little fool was?”
Laydon sprang at his throat, his hot heart thirsting for blood. Then ensued a fierce struggle as the powerful arms of the carpenter gripped the body of his adversary and gradually forced him backward toward the river. But Wingfield had learned a trick in wrestling when a boy in England that stood him in good stead now. With a sudden twist of his foot he sent Laydon sprawling upon the ground, his head striking a log in his fall. Then pouncing upon the unconscious form, he heaved it into the water.
“Murder, murder!” yelled Adam at the top of his voice. He had taken good care not to utter a sound so long as he thought Laydon had the better of it and was forcing Wingfield backward toward the river.
The colonists, hearing his yells, and thinking that one of the dreaded attacks of the Indians was in progress, poured from the cabins, loading their muskets on the run.
“Wingfield has murdered Laydon!” cried Adam to the foremost runners. “He pitched him just there in the stream.”
Throwing aside their muskets, they waded in, and lifting Laydon from the shallow beach water bore him to the shore. While they were trying every means to restore life, President Smith came up and demanded the cause of the commotion. Adam, who had witnessed the whole affair, quickly put him in possession of the facts.
“Wingfield, you are a prisoner, and shall leave for England to-morrow on the returning ship. It is such as you who bring disgrace upon the colony,” said the President. “Let his example be a warning to you, men. As I deal with him, so will I deal with you.”
Kneeling beside Laydon, he put his ear against his breast.
“Take him up, men. He is alive. His heart is beating. Why, who is this?” he cried, gazing in astonishment upon the crouching form of Anne, speechless with horror at the scene she had witnessed. “Can it be possible that Anne Burras is mixed up in this disgrace? How will your honest mother and father feel when they hear of your conduct? Fetch Mrs. Forrest here, Martin.”
Panting with haste, the worthy lady answered the summons of Captain Smith. He told her briefly of the trouble.
“You good-for-nothing baggage! You hussy! Bread and water shall be your portion until I hear from your parents!” So saying, the irate lady caught hold of the girl, and dragged her off to the cabin. Arriving there, she locked the unhappy Anne in her room. “You will stay there, miss, for a week, and meditate on your folly.”
Throwing herself upon her bed, the miserable girl gave way to a passionate outburst of tears. Through the ensuing week her mistress came three times a day with food and drink. The harsh threat of bread and water was not carried out by Mrs. Forrest. After her anger wore off, pity for the misguided girl crept into her heart, and she began to make excuses to herself for Anne, and even defended her against the just indignation of Mr. Forrest.
“You know, Tom, ’tis all that villain’s fault,” argued Mrs. Forrest, with feminine consistency piling the entire blame upon Wingfield. “Anne is barely more than a child, no wonder her silly head was turned by the flattery of a fine gentleman. Her betters have fallen into that trap more than once before. And you know, Tom,” she continued, as she heaped his breakfast plate with broiled fish, fresh from the glowing coals, “we were young ourselves not so many years ago, so don’t be so hard upon the lassie,” and the girlish light of courtship’s days beamed again in her eyes as she drew back his head and touched his cheek with soft kisses.
“Ah, you are at your old tricks of wheedling again,” replied her husband, all the while delighting in her caresses.
“We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial.”
sang a poet, and so it was with Anne. Mortified pride and love of flattery were washed away in copious tears, and then the stings of remorseful conscience completed the good work. Her vanity crumbled into ashes, leaving only scars upon her heart, which was really pure and good at bottom.
At the end of that long week—made up as it seemed to Anne of hundreds of years—Mrs. Forrest came into the room, carefully shielding the lighted candle with her hand against the draft. Placing the candle upon the chest of drawers, she sat down beside the girl, huddled up in a chair with her face bowed upon her knees.
“I brought you away from your mother, Anne, and the responsibility of your welfare lies heavy upon my heart. Your conduct since coming here has grieved me sorely, but I still believe you are a good girl, and I hope this affair will be a lesson to you. If you live long enough, my child, you will learn that the love of a good man, no matter how humble his station, is of priceless value. It is no more to be compared to the idle words of a brainless fop than a diamond is to a bit of glass,” she continued, waxing eloquent as her emotions arose. “Come now, my child, is not your heart sore when you think of your mother?”
“Oh, more than I can tell you,” cried Anne, throwing herself on her knees and burying her face in her mistress’s lap. “Indeed I did not mean to do wrong, I was only thoughtless.”
“I believe you, Anne,” replied Mrs. Forrest, smoothing the girl’s disheveled curls, “and in the future I know you will be all that John Laydon could desire.”
“He will never forgive me, he is so proud,” sobbed Anne.
“Compel his admiration by your conduct, and love will have its way again. True love, my child, forgives many a deep wound inflicted by the hand of those that are dearest. Now you must go to bed, and let this coming Sunday be the beginning of your new life.” And then the repentant maiden, soothed and comforted, was tucked into bed by the kindly ministrations of a heart that understood and pitied.
In the days that followed, a changed Anne could be seen going about her household duties. Her sad face and down-cast eyes tugged strongly at the heartstrings of the now recovered John as he sat among the men in church.
He tried to steel his heart against her. “No,” he said to himself, “I am not going to be fooled by her again. She can go her way, and I will go mine.”
Nevertheless, his eyes constantly wandered over to where she sat with bent head over her prayer-book.
At the close of the morning prayer, good Chaplain Hunt stood forth, and in simple words told the touching story of the love and forgiveness of the Incarnate God, and then went on to speak of charity, the love that covers all things.
Two large tears rolled down Anne’s cheeks as she listened. The shining drops caught the wandering eye of John, and for some reason he found it hard to swallow the lump in his throat. “All sham, done for effect!” he angrily muttered.
Coming out of church, he was joined by Adam Clotworthy. “Look here, John, haven’t you punished that poor girl long enough? You haven’t spoken to her since August, and now ’tis the first of October. If you do not do something soon, I’ll marry her myself.”
“A pretty bridegroom you would make, with a body like a hogshead set on skewers!”
“That makes no difference when a girl comes to her senses as Anne has. She knows now how to value an honest man’s affections. His looks play but a small part. I saw her looking at you when we were coming out, and if you could have seen that look you would go straight to her, unless you have a block of stone for a heart.”
John had seen the look, but he did not enlighten Adam.
After the midday meal, John, too restless to stay indoors, strolled forth into the hazy sunshine, trying to still the hungry longing at his heart.
Back of Mrs. Forrest’s cabin a drooping elm threw its shadow over the brown grass and plumy golden-rod beneath. On a little cushion of rootlets sat Anne, resting her cheek on her hand and gazing away over the James. She was so deeply absorbed in thought, that the crackling of dried twigs under John’s feet did not disturb her.
“Anne, are you sorry?”
With a start she looked up at him. No answer came from her lips. Lower and lower bent her head over her hands as she twisted and untwisted her fingers in an effort at self-control. The sunshine, shimmering through the trees, sought out the gold in the chestnut curls escaping from beneath her cap.
“You have not answered me, Anne.”
Sob after sob shook her little body, but no words came. The sight was too much for John, who had all a man’s horror of tears. Sitting down beside her, he took one of her little hands in his; it no longer resisted his pressure.
“Will the words not come? Then, little one, if you really care, put your head here on my heart.”
With an impulsive movement Anne buried her head in his breast, and as she wept away the follies of childhood, her woman’s heart acknowledged its love.
“How long are you going to keep me waiting, Anne?”
“Whenever you want me, John, I will come.”
“I want you now, my little one. And, Anne, I will try to give you all the pretty things I can get by honest toil.”
“Don’t, John; don’t. I do not want them,” she cried, her heart stung by his loving words. “I only want you, John; I desire nothing else.”
“Tom,” cried Mrs. Forrest to her husband, “come here quickly. Look through the window. Is it not a pretty sight? The Lord has answered my prayer.”
Looking out, he saw John Laydon under the trees, holding Anne in his arms.
“Come away,” said his wife, taking him by the sleeve; “’tis too sacred a scene for us to look upon.”
It took but a few weeks for Anne to be ready for John, for an elaborate trousseau was not necessary. Mrs. Forrest, true to her feminine instincts, delighted in sorting out linen from her store as a wedding present for the happy couple.
On a lovely autumn day, when the haze of the Indian-summer cast its dreamy spell over the little church, John and Anne took each other for better or worse, as long as life should last.
Adam acted as master of ceremonies, marshaling in the Indians invited to the first marriage in Virginia. Standing by Captain Smith, and as close to the bridal couple as possible, was Pocahontas, her curious eyes watching every movement made by Mr. Hunt and the wedding party. When John placed the simple gold band upon the finger of Anne, the Indian maid held out her left hand to Captain Smith, and with a humoring smile he made an imaginary circlet around the marriage finger.
As soon as the ceremony was completed she stepped up to Anne and held out a bundle of soft doeskins.
“Pocahontas likes the white squaw now. White squaw has warrior of her own.”
So much time had been lost in the building of Ratcliffe’s house, during which work the men had been forced to leave off the tilling of the garden to hew and build, that little corn had been planted, and as usual the Indian was depended upon for supplies.
An unlooked-for obstacle presented itself. The cunning Powhatan refused to barter corn for beads and trinkets. He was rising rapidly to the highwater mark in the art of finance. The unwise gifts of Newport had opened his eyes to the possibilities of commerce. Guns, swords, and hatchets were now the only recognized moneys for which a bushel of corn could be bought.
Food must be had, but President Smith had no mind to give into the Indians’ hands the instruments of death. Instead, he seized the corn at the muzzle of the gun, and when that failed, Indian villages went up in flames. Of course these summary proceedings widened the gap between Indian and white man. Constantly some man’s scalp went to add luster to the name of a brave.
Smith not only procured food, but forced the colonists to work. A new fort was erected, new settlements established along the James, and the ground tilled as spring came on, and seed planted for the next year’s harvest.
Meanwhile, the London Company at home was listening to the lies of Wingfield and Ratcliffe. President Smith, they claimed, was entirely to blame for the condition of the settlement; he had upset all law and order, and seized the presidency; his wanton cruelty to the savage was without excuse, besides, he had not found the South Sea and Raleigh’s lost colony—and there was no one to tell that the unconscious Pocahontas held in her life the answer to their search.
The existing state of affairs must be altered, so the learned Company appointed a governor to take the place of Smith and rule with military law. A fleet of nine vessels, with men, women and children, should be sent as soon as possible with provisions, and all needful supplies. Captain Smith and his thirty true men were to be sent home. Truly a munificent reward for brave effort and patient endurance!
Meanwhile President Smith, unconscious of coming disgrace, was away on a foraging expedition. On the return journey, being tired and worn out with toil, he lay down in the bottom of the boat and went to sleep.
A little spark, as tiny as a pea, floated from a pipe and settled on the powder pouch suspended from his belt.
Dreamless slumber—a plunging and rising of the boat—liquid fire!
The unfortunate Captain, screaming with pain, threw himself into the water. His horrified men could scarcely master his struggles as they pulled him aboard and rapidly rowed for home. No doctor skilled in burns was there to tend him; only the clumsy fingers of men applied the soothing oil and lint to his burnt body.
The news of his accident was carried by lurking Indians to Powhatan and came to the ears of Pocahontas. Her “father” hurt—wounded! The words beat upon her dazed brain like the strokes of a lash.
She must go to him. Let Powhatan kill if he would. Speeding under cover of night, with soothing ointments known to her tribe, she came to Jamestown.
“My father, my father! Pocahontas wants her father.”
Tenderly and gently Mr. Hunt led her to the bedside of John Smith.
“Has my little child come to see her father?” said the sick President. “He has missed his little one. She has not come to see him lately.”
“Powhatan not let Pocahontas come. She has herbs to make her father well.”
Turning to Mr. Hunt she said, “You ask Great Spirit to make Pocahontas’s father well, Pocahontas give many gifts in return.”
“I have already done so, my child. The Great Spirit does not need to be bought with gifts. He loves your father more than even you do.”
But she shook her head in unbelief of this last assertion.
Finding that his wounds were of too serious a nature for simple remedies, Smith determined to return home on Captain Argall’s ship, now lying at her moorings in the harbor.
Pocahontas was kneeling by his side when he told her of his coming departure. Locking her hands together, she bowed her head upon them and abandoned herself to grief.
“Do not grieve so, my child; your father will still love you. If I get well, doubtless I shall come back to you, or perhaps you may come across the sea to me. Then I can show you all the wonderful things I have told you of. Dry your tears, little one, they hurt me.”
Passing her hands across her eyes, she brushed away the tears.
“Pocahontas will do nothing to hurt her father. See, the smile has chased the tears away.”
When the day came for his departure a stretcher was prepared by his sorrowing friends and he was placed upon it.
“Let Pocahontas hold his head once more,” she pleaded, and the men let her have her desire. His friends took up the stretcher and the little procession moved toward the ship, Pocahontas holding the head of the sick man in her arms. She followed them into the cabin and knelt in her accustomed place by his side. Drawing her head down, he pressed a fatherly kiss upon her brow and bade her leave him.
Standing on the beach she watched the receding ship as long as it could be seen, and again did Eleanor Dare’s soul bid good-by to a loved one. In her granddaughter’s heart love had taken the form of hero worship. The lovely jacqueminot bud was just beginning to unfold under the kisses of the sun, when fate snatched the burning rays away.
Turning to her canoe, rocking idly on the water, she sprang in and sailed away, not to revisit Jamestown again for three long years.
After the departure of Captain Smith the colony went back to its old habits of laziness and mutiny. In August four of the nine vessels sent out from England arrived with the dreaded plague on board. Then did death outstrip the Indian. Fever-stricken victims by the hundred lay dead and dying, and the bodies of the dead were dug up and eaten by the starving.
Captain George Percy, ill and feeble, tried vainly to stem the rising tide of disaster, but no mortal hand could prevent the Starving Time setting its fangs in the bodies of the remaining colonists. When the wrecked voyagers who had been on the ill-fated _Sea Venture_ arrived from the island of Bermuda there were only sixty gaunt, wild-eyed settlers to greet them. Among these living skeletons were George Percy, John Laydon, his wife Anne, and Adam Clotworthy.
Desolation and death, famine and plague! No heart was courageous enough to brave them.
“Home! Take us home from this place of pestilence,” begged the stricken ones. “Not one happy day have we ever enjoyed here.”
Brave Admiral Somers listened to their pleadings. Jamestown was to be abandoned to its savage owners again. Not a tear was shed as they sailed away from the ruinous settlement.
“Home to England, where I can see again the brimming cups of sack and haunch of roasted beef,” came in a low whisper from the emaciated Adam, lying upon the deck of the _Patience_. “John, do you think I will ever live to get there?”
They had proceeded but a few miles down the James when they were met by a boat rowed at full speed.
“Stop, turn back! Lord De La Warre, Governor of Jamestown, is lying at Point Comfort, and commands your return,” cried Captain Brewster. “He has full store of provisions and all things needful.”
Reader, have you ever passed through some ordeal that racked the body and unbalanced the mind until it was like a loosened rock clinging to the side of a toppling crag? Have you ever been delivered from this ghastly position, only to find yourself plunged into the blackness of some unfathomable abyss? Then you can understand the feelings of these miserable wretches on this June day in the year 1610. They were forced to return to Jamestown, for military law ruled and a life could be easily taken.
Back to the dismantled fort, to rotting cabins and filthy streets, they sorrowfully went. The cannon were dug up from near the gate of the palisade and some preparation hastily made for the reception of the Governor, who arrived on Sunday.
Under his strict though kindly rule they repaired the cabins, built more, and refurnished the church with cedar pews, ebony altar, and font. The streets were cleaned, the gardens cleared, and comfort reigned once more. Sunshine again shone out among the fast fleeting clouds, but a small cloud, no bigger than a man’s hand, still hung low down on the horizon.
The untiring efforts of the Governor received a sudden check. Sickness racked his frame—sickness that would not loose its hold. Back to England went Lord De La Warre, leaving George Percy again in charge.
Up rose the small cloud on the horizon with lightning speed, and swelled in volume as it came. Anarchy, mutiny, murder by the savages once more held full sway. Then came Captain Argall, a second Ratcliffe, and added to the trouble. After a year of mutiny under his governorship, Governor Dale arrived to take the helm of state.
The storm was over. Its last rugged edges were swept away under the rigid rule of this stern old Governor. Each day he presided over the court to mete out punishment for the infraction of his laws.
“This man, your excellency, was caught railing against your commands,” said a soldier who did police duty.
“Take him to the smithy and bore a hole in his tongue. That will silence him for a while,” ordered the Governor.
“Charles Anderson says he is not religiously inclined and refuses to go to church, your worship.”
“Bread and water and daily whipping until he is in a proper frame of mind,” ordered the Governor.
“Say, John,” said Adam Clotworthy, meeting Laydon on the street, “things begin to wear as fair a look as they do in old England. Yesterday I was over to Master John Rolfe’s plantation at Varina. He has started to grow tobacco on a large scale. I wouldn’t be surprised if it does not become our staple commodity, now that Governor Dale has abolished the common storehouse and given every man a house and land that he can call his own.”
“He has solved the problem of the settlement of Jamestown,” said Laydon. “Even those who were the ringleaders in mutiny have settled down into sober and industrious farmers. Give a man some object in life and the good will surely come uppermost. You know James Hutchinson, the wildest rake in the colony? I came by his bit of land just now and saw him weeding his cotton patch. Well, I must be moving. I have to hill up my corn. I hope to get at least fifty good bushels this year.”
Far away on the Potomac, where the steamers now toll their bells in passing, Pocahontas had lived for the last three years, in the wigwam of Japazaws.
Roaming by the river’s bank she lived over again the happy days when she had called Smith “father” and he had called her “child.” What had become of him—was he still living? she wondered. She would ask Powhatan to send some one to England to find out, for she could not bear to go to Jamestown and miss him at every turn.
Looking down the river she descried a ship approaching, filled with white men. Calling Japazaws, and pointing to the ship, she said, “Pocahontas will not see the pale-faces now. Her heart is sorrowful, for there is no friendship between us. Powhatan does not heed the pleadings of his best-loved daughter.”
Hastening down to the shore, Japazaws welcomed with loud shouts of joy Captain Argall and his crew.
“Japazaws is greatly honored by your coming. Opechancanough has told him of the presents you bestow. Everything in his poor village is at your command.” And he bade his squaw bring refreshments for his guests and tobacco for their pipes.
Pocahontas, who had disappeared, heard the echo of their voices and found herself unable to keep away. Perhaps they could tell her something of her “father.” She must find out. Coming forward, she added her welcome to that of the Indians.
“Pocahontas once loved your people and came to Jamestown to visit them.”
“I have heard many kind things of her whom the pale-faces call the ‘Blessed Pocahontas,’” Argall replied.
“Has the chief with the shining body returned!” she inquired.
“No, he is dead,” replied Argall, who was of the nature that does not mind telling a wanton lie.
She turned sorrowfully away. All links with the happy past were broken. There was no one at Jamestown now who would love her as her “father” had done. It would only bring pain to visit there again.
While Argall was talking with Pocahontas a happy inspiration seized him. He would take her, by force if necessary, to Jamestown as a hostage of peace between Powhatan and the settlers. Fame would come to him and no doubt he would be rewarded. Nothing could be better, he thought, and he immediately set to work on the well-known greed of Japazaws to gain his end.
“Come down to the ship, Japazaws; I have something to show you.”
When they arrived there he brought forth a kettle, and placing it before the longing eyes of the Indian, said, “Look at this copper kettle; see how it shines and glistens. Only great kings use them—not even Powhatan has one like it.”
“How many bushels of corn does the white chief want?”
“Not one bushel shall it cost you,” replied Argall. “Only a little thing, a very little thing, I ask in return.”
“What does the great chief desire?” inquired the crafty Japazaws.
“Bring Pocahontas as a captive to my ship to-morrow and the kettle is yours. Also I will bestow many presents of guns and hatchets when next you visit Jamestown.”
“Japazaws dare not. Powhatan would kill,” said Japazaws.
“He need never know. Tell him that I took her and then turned the great guns of my ship upon you.”
“It is enough. Japazaws will do it to show his love for the white man. Forget not the copper kettle.”
Back went Japazaws and told his wife of his bargain, but she was very unwilling to betray Pocahontas.
“Japazaws will beat hard if the squaw not obey.” At that threat she quailed and consented to aid him.
The next day she told Pocahontas that she and her husband were going on board the white man’s ship and wanted her to go, too. There would be no danger, she said. The pale faces were friends. All would be well.
Captain Argall received them with a great show of friendship and spread a feast in their honor. English food that they had never tasted was placed before them.
“Taste of this, Japazaws,” said Argall, handing a dish of veal sweetbread to him.
Japazaws took a huge mouthful, rolled it around once or twice, and then spit it out upon the floor. “Ugh! Bad mush!” exclaimed the disgusted chief.
After the repast was over Argall enticed Pocahontas into the gun-room to look at the wonderful cannon. While she was marveling at the great guns he said, “You are to go with me to Jamestown as a hostage for your people. There will be peace with Powhatan, and the murder of our people will cease.”
A long heart-broken wail floated over the water. In came running Japazaws and his squaw to learn the cause of her sorrow.
“Japazaws take Pocahontas back. The white chief would make her a captive,” cried the unhappy girl.
“I will turn the great guns on his wigwams and kill his people if he carries you away,” said Argall.
All the while Japazaws was making the welkin ring with howls. “How is Japazaws to answer to Powhatan?” he yelled, at the same time treading hard on the pet corn of Argall to remind him of the copper kettle.
As Argall’s ship moored at the landing at Jamestown many of the settlers came down to meet him and hear of his adventures.
“Whom think you I have brought back with me, as a captive?” cried Argall pompously.
“Not Powhatan?” exclaimed Laydon.
“Pshaw! might as well try to put salt on a snipe’s tail as catch that old rat. But I have the next best thing—Pocahontas, his daughter.” Then he narrated the manner of her capture.
“How could you have the heart to do it?” said a woman standing by.
“I can do anything that will redound to my own personal gain,” replied Argall.
“You men are ever hunting down some poor female,” remarked the wife of a settler, who had recently bought her for forty pounds of tobacco.
“I take notice that they are very careful to be caught,” returned Argall. “I will now fetch the captive from the gun-room.”
Disappearing within the ship, he presently came out leading a maiden, slow of gait and with bowed head.
“Welcome back to Jamestown, Pocahontas, friend of the English,” cried Adam Clotworthy, who still retained vivid remembrances of her bounty.
Throwing back her head she faced the group of colonists, and in accents of blended scorn and pain poured forth the recital of her wrongs:
“What is this you do to Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan? Where is the memory of her kindness? When starvation slayed your people and sickness Laid them low, many times she came with food. When Powhatan plotted destruction, through sleet And storm she came, braving her father’s anger, Because of the love she bore you. Now Pocahontas is taken from her people and Walks a stranger among you.”
Then from among the men stepped fair-haired, blue-eyed young Rolfe and in low accents tried to comfort her.
“Do not be so sorrowful, maiden. We will be as kindred to you. John Rolfe will be your brother and protect you with his life.”
“Let her come to me,” said the matron, Anne Laydon. “She needs a woman’s care. She shall live with me and I will befriend her.” And putting her arm around the waist of the Indian maiden she led her to her cabin.
John Laydon had steadily prospered, and as the first fruits of his gain he erected a pleasant house for Anne. Furniture from the mother country was brought over, a piece at a time, for his cherished wife. Now he welcomed the poor little captive in friendly words.
“John Laydon has not forgotten the kindness of Pocahontas in the years that are past. She is welcome to his house.”
“Pocahontas shall share the room with my baby girl. Will she not love the little papoose?” said Anne.
The Indian maid, who loved everything that was small and helpless, went down on her knees beside the cradle to caress the pink toes and kiss the dimpled hands of the little two-year-old baby. In a few days the little one could be seen holding on by the fringe on Pocahontas’s skirt as she toddled after her.
Under the capable supervision of the young matron Pocahontas commenced to learn the art of housekeeping. Following Anne, who flitted from one spot to another like a hummingbird, she learned to manage the spinning-wheel and loom. Various tiny garments for the baby daughter of her benefactress were made by Pocahontas, whose skilful fingers soon learned the use of the steel needle. Always some bright bit of Indian decoration could be found on them. She made dainty moccasins, embroidered in beads of many colors, for the tiny feet.
At first her Indian blood chafed against the narrow confines of Jamestown, shut up within the palisades; but after a while other forces began to work within her, and she became more reconciled as the year drifted by.
Rolfe’s pity and sympathy for her made him seek her society frequently. He conceived the idea of instructing her in the Christian religion, and teaching her how to read and speak the English language with fluency. She constantly reminded him of a slender lily, swaying in the breeze, and when alone with her he always called her Lily.
A mellow afternoon in October. The purple clusters of grapes peep invitingly out from among the dark green leaves, and the invitation is eagerly accepted by the honey- and bumble-bees. Their droning hum fills the drowsy air with booming music.
Down to a favorite nook by the side of the church strolled John Rolfe and Pocahontas for the daily lesson.
“Tell Pocahontas again of the Son of the Great Spirit.”
In fervent, glowing words he repeated the story of the sacrifice of the Incarnate Son of God. Springing to her feet and throwing up her arms she cried, “Pocahontas loves the Royal Christ,” then falling to her knees she faltered out, “Pocahontas would serve Him as the pale faces do.”
A deep joy filled the heart of the young teacher. One more soul for the angels to sing over.
There was great rejoicing among the colonists when they heard that Pocahontas was to be baptized, and Anne Laydon elected herself as one of her god-mothers. When it came to choosing a god-father, Pocahontas settled the matter by saying, “Adam be god-father—Pocahontas hurt Adam—called him Okee. Pocahontas sorry.”
Those who assembled to witness Pocahontas the Indian maid changed into Rebecca the Christian could not hear the echo of the priest’s voice which more than twenty years before had baptized her mother, Virginia Dare, on Roanoke Island. The echo was there, nevertheless.
* * * * *
Lingering fall paled slowly into the drab-hued tints of winter. Brown stalks of dead nettles stood stiffly up in soldierly array from the dry stubble around their feet. Somber cedars added a mournful note to the cheerless scene around the churchyard. Back and forth paced Rolfe muffled in his cloak, with a soft dark hat pulled low over his brow. The depressing note sounded by winter found a ready echo within his heart, a heart compounded of a curious mingling of Puritan and Cavalier.
In teaching Pocahontas to speak the English language he had unwittingly learned another language himself—the hitherto unknown language of love. His uncertain steps carried him past the grave where the wife who had forsaken all to follow him across to Virginia rested. Thoughts of her and his early life in England rose up like an accusing voice to confront the love he was nurturing in his heart.
Why had it been their misfortune that their lands stepped together in old England? Why were they betrothed in childhood, when neither knew what the future might bring forth? Why had he weakly yielded to the will of his father? Then he did not care, no love had been between him and the woman lying there; here an accusing voice made itself heard—alas, she had cared. Looks and loving attentions ranged themselves in a phantom picture to testify to her love.
He remembered his disapproval of the pretty colors she had worn to try to make herself comely in his eyes. Her face did not possess the alluring attraction of beautiful features, and was only redeemed from plainness by the changeful expression, indexing faithfully the varying emotions of the heart. How plain she had seemed when at his command she dressed in sober gray, and tight bands of straw-colored hair lay where the fluffy curls had strayed. In those days he had not thought it beseeming a godly matron to use the crisping pins or deck the sinful body in gay-colored robes.
A wave of pity for her, born of his love for another, swept over him at the remembrance of her words at the birth of their little daughter on the island of Bermuda.
“I would that it had been a boy, John. Then perhaps you might have learned to love the mother.”
No words of tender assurance and comfort had come to his lips; there was nothing in his heart to prompt them. His answer had been another blow to her hungry heart.
“We must make the best of it, wife,” he had replied, as he gravely kissed her brow, ignoring her loving lips.
Then the little Bermuda died on the voyage from the island to Virginia, and the mother followed soon after they reached Jamestown. The learned doctor spoke wisely of a frail constitution, worn out by the hardships of the voyage and wreck of the ship. The wise Hippocrates might have been mistaken—perhaps her heart had died for lack of nourishment. He paused beside the long grave, and resting his hand upon the marble cross, held communion with his unloved dead.
“Wife, you know what it is to love, to feel the heart beat to suffocation in the presence of the beloved. It was not my fault that I could not give you what you craved. Love will not go or come at the bidding of the will. In the clearer light in which you live let your pity and compassion cover my sins of neglect.”
A sense of comfort stole over him which he interpreted as forgiveness from the spirit dwelling where there is no marrying or giving in marriage. He felt free to think of his love for Pocahontas.
Hardly had he settled this matter with his conscience than Pride awoke and demanded a hearing. Many were the weary battles he fought with it. What would his equals think of a marriage between him and the Indian maiden? He felt a just pride in his honorable line of ancestry. Would he be stooping to a mesalliance? There were fair ladies in England whom he could wed, for he had much influence to back him. They would bring name and fortune to add to his.
“Pocahontas is a princess, daughter of the King of Virginia,” whispered Inclination.
“True,” retorted Pride, “but can an Indian princess match with the house of Rolfe?”
Through the rest of the winter Inclination and Pride wrestled for the mastery, using the mind and body of Rolfe as a battleground. When spring came Pride gathered its forces and took a determined stand for its last great effort. Both in front and on the flank it brought up overwhelming arguments and charged down upon Rolfe as he sat under a copper beech, alone with his thoughts.
“Listen to the contemptuous comments of the council and the grieved reproaches of your relations at home,” exhorted Pride. “Hear them saying, ‘Who would have thought that the stately and dignified Rolfe could have stooped to mingle his proud blood with that of a savage, when he could have wedded with some gifted lady of England?’ Think of the example set the men of the colony. They will think that with such an illustrious precedent any Indian woman will be a fit mate. No need to wait for the coming of damsels from the mother country. Families of Indian squaws and half-breeds will be the fashion in Virginia.”
But Inclination brought the thousand calls of birds, and flowers with love-tipped darts to withstand the shock of the armies of Pride. Far away in the distance sounded the sweet call of the partridge to its mate; flocks of pigeons sailing overhead settled down on the eaves of the cabins to prune their silver breasts and lean their heads confidingly together; up in the tree above, a mocking-bird sang a love song of surpassing beauty to the coy mate brooding on a branch below, and its liquid notes, filled with passionate sweetness drawn from the deep wells of the heart, swept the routed ranks of Pride from the hard-fought field, leaving Inclination victor.
Throwing back his head, Rolfe cried aloud to the silence surrounding him:
“Let the world say what it will, I do not care! I have my own life to lead, and will not bow to the dictates of any human being.” Over his countenance flashed a look of exultation. “I love her! _Love her!_ LOVE HER! She shall be mine that I may drink of her sweetness.”
The slowly dying sun, resting on a bank of lurid clouds, blazed up once more to welcome the new disciple of the god of love.
“Come, Lily,” said Rolfe on the ensuing morning, “let us take the canoe and go over to the pond where the lilies are in bloom.”
As long as they were in sight of the palisades surrounding the settlement he rowed with strong vigorous strokes, but when the winding of the shore hid them from view he ceased and let the boat drift idly that he might feast his eyes on the glowing beauty of Pocahontas, who with half averted face was trailing a slender hand through the amber water. How exquisite was the line of beauty sweeping from the nape of her neck along the graceful curve of the spine! What could rival the pomegranate flower upon her cheek?
“Fool, fool,” muttered Rolfe inwardly to himself, “to weigh for one single moment love for that flower with cold critical Pride.”
Picking up the paddles again, he sent the canoe into a shadowed pond filled with water-lilies, and canopied in green foliage picked out in golden sunbeams. Close by the bank the water-lilies grew thickest. There he rested again, while Pocahontas filled her lap with the blossoms. Gathering two or three, she held them off at arm’s length to admire their beauty, bestowing on them a loving glance that gave a jealous pang to Rolfe. A green and gold hummingbird darted down on gauzy wings to sip the honey glittering like dewdrops within their powdered stamens. Pocahontas held herself motionless, hardly breathing lest the tiny sprite should dart away. A faint tremor of her arm, and lo, it was gone.
Leaning forward and fixing his burning gaze upon her, Rolfe said:
“Lily does not look at John as she used to do. Her eyes hide away under the fringed lashes. Is she angry with him?”
“Pocahontas could not be angry with her friend,” she murmured, busying herself with the lilies lying in her lap.
“Will Lily care when John leaves Jamestown, and goes to England, never to return?”
“John leave Pocahontas alone?” gasped the fear-stricken girl, clutching at her breast and scattering the lilies in every direction.
His answer was written in her working features and heaving bosom.
“Nay, Lily, John did not mean it; he was only trying to see if you cared as he did,” he exclaimed, springing to her side and crushing the lily petals under foot in his haste to reach her.
Drawing her to his breast, he pressed his cheek against her hair. “John loves you better than life. Will you come to his cabin and be his dearly loved wife?”
For a few moments she lay on his breast as if stunned, without power to move or speak. In one brief instant he has stabbed her with pain and offered her his love.
“Lily has not answered John.”
Raising her head she said with a mournful smile, “Pocahontas was exceeding sorrowful when her ‘father’ went away, but no knife pierced her heart as it did just now.” She stroked his cheek with a caressing hand, and outlining his lips with a dainty forefinger continued, “Let these lips say again, ‘John will not leave Pocahontas alone.’ She will fade away as the flowers do when the frost spirit lays his black hand upon them.”
“John could not leave his treasure alone,” he replied, crushing her to his breast and covering her face and hands with passionate kisses. “My heart’s darling, John could not live unless he could see the light in these dear eyes. Thus and thus he loves them,” imprinting a kiss on each. Bending back her head, his lips sought in a long clinging pressure the cupid’s kiss nestling in the hollow of her throat. “Now let my darling say she loves John better than all else in the world.”
Leaning over the boat as far as his jealous arm would let her, she gathered a tightly closed bud, a half-open one and a full-blown lily. Laying them on her lap, she said in a low sweet voice:
“Pocahontas will give John his answer in the language of the lily. Many moons ago—ah, so many moons it seems to the lily—a tightly closed bud slumbered upon its bed of green leaves, not knowing or caring for the world beyond. One morning a sunbeam came from the east and showered its smile upon her. New throbs of life pulsated in her heart as she rocked upon the ripples. Under its sunny smile the green mantle parted and showed the white satin petals beneath. She called the sunbeam ‘father.’ A dark cloud arose and hid the sunbeam, leaving the half-awakened lily to breast the storm of sorrow and loneliness. Rude hands tore her from her resting-place to plant in strange waters. Longing for the father sunbeam beat the lily downward on its red brown stem. Then came another sunbeam and sent its cheering warmth straight to the heart of the lily. Stronger and stronger grew the sunbeam as the day grew older. Light, hope, and joy thrust apart the green mantle and trembling petals, laying bare the quivering golden heart wide open to the sun. Has Pocahontas answered John?”
Bowing his head upon his breast, he murmured, “O God, I am not worthy of the great love of two such woman hearts.”
Love had taught him how to measure the rich gift of his dead wife’s heart.
It was with great reluctance that he left this earthly Eden to row back to Jamestown. He must write to Governor Dale and obtain his consent to his marriage with Pocahontas, now the Christian maid Rebecca.
Much to his surprise, a speedy answer giving consent to the nuptials came from the bluff Governor. An early day was appointed for the wedding and an invitation sent to Powhatan.
That grim old veteran had been filled with rage when he learned of his daughter’s capture by Argall. Messengers sent to barter for her ransom had been chased from his doors. Nevertheless, during her two years of captivity the murder of the colonists ceased. Security and peace had been brought to the settlement by the “Blessed Pocahontas.”
Rallying his fast-failing powers, he now attempted a dignified oration in which he gave his consent to Pocahontas’s marriage, but ere he reached its end, love for the long-absent daughter and the loneliness of old age, shattered his feeble attempt at dignity. His voice trailed away in a plaintive lament.
“Powhatan is old, his days are few. Let there be peace between the real man and the pale-face. Opechancanough shall come with Nantaquas, bearing wedding garments for Pocahontas and presents for the new son, Rolfe.” Raising his palsied hands, only to let them fall helplessly into his lap again, he murmured in a far-away voice, “Powhatan is weary—the warriors are calling to him from the happy hunting-grounds. Let the pale faces depart.”
On the appointed day Anne Laydon, resplendent in matronly dignity, dressed the bride in the Indian costume which she was to wear for the last time.
A mantle of pigeon feathers, gleaming in iridescent colors against a shimmering gray background, covered a fawn-colored skirt embroidered in ruby-colored beads. Her flowing black hair was held in place by the rope of pearls she wore when first she met Captain Smith.
The interior of the church had been decorated with great branches of laurel and trailing honeysuckle. Fragrant water lilies were banked upon the altar.
Up the aisle stalked Opechancanough and Nantaquas, son of Pocahontas, both decorated in all the glory of the Indian brave. Faces and arms were tattooed in birds and reptiles to do honor to the marriage of the Pearl of the Powhatans.
As Rolfe placed the plain gold band upon her finger he felt her hand tremble and pressed it to give her courage. Did she feel the imaginary circlet which long ago Smith had traced upon her finger?
“I pronounce you man and wife. Whomsoever God has joined together, let no man put asunder,” said the priest. As he ceased a quivering shaft of sunlight poured through the altar window, wrapping the kneeling couple in a shimmering veil of gold.
For two years Pocahontas had kept sweet the ingle-nook at Varina for her husband. Then she was crowned with the diadem of motherhood. A baby boy came to weld into an indissoluble bond their loving hearts.
When night stole over the plantation and the tallow candles were lit in the sconces Rolfe would sit by the fire puffing clouds of smoke from a curiously carved pipe presented by Nantaquas, and plan for the education of the little son lying asleep in the cradle which Pocahontas kept in motion with her foot while she sewed on tiny baby garments.
“Lily, we will take him to England and place him at Cambridge. There he will grow into a famous man, and by and by take a wife as his father did before him.”
With a jealous movement she bent over the sleeping babe, as if to protect him from unknown dangers.
“Nay, John, Pocahontas will not give her son to any maiden. He is her own, and she will not let him go from her across the seas.”
“Ah, Lily, you are like all mothers, jealous of every maiden as soon as a son is born to her,” he laughingly replied. “I would not separate you from our boy, he needs his mother too much. Whenever he goes, you shall accompany him. Your kindness to the colonists, when they were in suffering, has long ago reached England. All London rings with your fame and they long to see you. Wealth has come to me through my tobacco plantation, and my darling shall have rich robes of gorgeous hues to enhance her loveliness and vie with the jewels glistening in her hair.”
Then a slender form, gowned in sober gray, with smooth bands of light hair under a plain cap, flitted before his vision. With a frown of impatience he quickly banished the unwelcome vision.
The words spoken half in jest, half in earnest by Rolfe, came true. One day he came running into the cabin waving a letter in his hand.
“Lily, I have just received this letter commanding me to bring the Lady Rebecca”—bowing low to her as he spoke—“to England, along with her attendants. She is to be presented at court under the chaperonage of Lady De La Warre, and will be the guest of the London Company. What has my lady to say to her humble husband concerning her preparations for departure?”
“The will of John is the will of Pocahontas,” answered the obedient wife.
“Then, sweet one, we must make all haste possible, as we travel with Governor Dale a week hence. The plantation must be left in charge of my man Hunter, and we will get Mistress Laydon to come over now and then to look after your goods and chattels so that your housewifely heart may be at rest. I shall be glad to see old England again, and proud to show my darling to my relations over there.”
Busy was the week that followed, both for Rolfe and Pocahontas; he making arrangements for a long absence and she putting in order the dearly loved home.
All Jamestown was agog with the news of Pocahontas’s presentation at court. A halo of new interest surrounded her.
Riding home from the fields late one evening, Rolfe saw Adam Clotworthy leaning against the gate.
“Ha, Adam; I am right glad to see you. Have you come to take a look at the boy?”
“Yes, Master Rolfe, and I find that it is harder to part with him than I thought. You know he has been dear to me ever since his birth. I feel as if I owned some part of him, seeing that madam, his mother, was so gracious as to choose me for her god-father. I came to ask if you would not take me to England as your serving-man, and a sort of under-nurse to the boy.”
“Well, Adam, I will take you. Your devotion to the boy weighs heavily in your favor.”
“Thank you, Master Rolfe, you will never have cause to repent of your kindness as long as the boy is above ground.”
Mad merry Yule-tide was in full possession of London as the coach containing the Lady Rebecca and her party posted up from Plymouth.
Rolfe eagerly pointed out to Pocahontas the various places of interest as they came into South Wark.
“Here on our left, sweetheart, is Erber House, once the home of Sir Francis Drake. See that round tower lying to the west of it? That is Paris Garden, where the common folk resort to witness the bear-baiting. Yonder to the northeast rises the Tower of London. Long ago its walls resounded with mirth and feasting, now it is a gloomy prison house. Now turn your dear eyes to the northwest, here, in this direction. That pile of buildings is Whitehall, where King James holds court. Inigo Jones, the famous architect, is building a magnificent banqueting hall there for the sovereign, and—Why, what is the matter now? Our coach has come to a standstill,” he said abruptly.
Putting his head out of the window, Rolfe saw a crowd of revelers dressed in fantastic garb surging around the six white horses drawing the coach. The oaths of the postilion were met by the jeers of the mob swinging upon the bridle reins.
“Make way for the Lady Rebecca of Virginia, you scum of South Wark. She is the King’s guest!” shouted the angry jehu.
“Is that the commodity you carry? Up, my merry men, let’s have a look at her,” exclaimed the ringleader.
Up on the wheels scrambled three or four adventurous spirits, to peer through the coach windows at the famous Indian princess.
“She is fairly well-favored, saving her copper skin,” sang out the Lord of Misrule.
The sound of his voice attracted the attention of Adam, seated beside the postilion.
“By my soul, ’tis scatterbrain Jack Saunders. Halloa there! Jack, don’t you remember your old comrade?”
“Father Christmas! If ’tis not bottle-nose Adam Clotworthy. I would know your ill-favored visage in Africa. Say, man, how did you escape the scalping-knife, and what has become of the Falstaff paunch you carried about?”
“My own prowess kept off the savages,” replied Adam. “As to my paunch, I had to consume my own fat during the Starving Time, like the bears over yonder do in winter. Say, lad, I thought you had been buried long ago by your ranting spouse, Meg. Her temper must have improved vastly to allow you to go junketing around like this.”
Jack scratched his shock head, and whispered with a sly wink, “She thinks I am down at Deptford, looking after repairs on old Sir Francis Drake’s ship. Come down, Adam, and have a cup of ale for the sake of old times. We will go to the tavern hard by and make a roaring night of it.”
Adam shook his head and drew himself up proudly. “I cannot, Jack, I am body-servant to Master John Rolfe, husband of the Lady Rebecca. Besides, there is a little lad in there whom I love as if he were mine own. I have to keep straight for his sake.”
While this conversation was taking place, and the revelers were still tormenting the driver, a band of London apprentices, with clubs in their hands and flat caps on their heads, were coming at a swinging pace across London Bridge, from the north side of the Thames. On perceiving the revelers blocking the way, they raised the cry of “Clubs, clubs!” and bore down upon the mummers. Swinging their cudgels right and left upon the heads of the luckless maskers, they quickly cut a wide path for the coach.
Down upon the plunging horses came the long curling whip of the postilion. Smarting under the stinging lash, they plunged forward under the gateway of London Bridge, surmounted by a row of ghastly heads set on pikes; and sweeping forward across the bridge, swerved to the left, rattled down the street echoing with the postilion’s horn, and drew up with a flourish before the Mermaid Inn.
Out came the obsequious host with many bows to greet them. “Why, Master Rolfe, you are a sight to gladden the heart. And this is the Lady Rebecca, your wife? I need not tell you, honored madam, that all London welcomes you.”
“Yes,” said Rolfe, “we have just had a sample of their good will on South Wark side of the Thames.”
“The Lady De La Warre was here a week ago come Tuesday, to engage rooms for your party, Master Rolfe. They are in readiness and I will conduct you to them,” said the landlord.
Up a crooked stairway went Pocahontas, followed by her party, to a suite of rooms overlooking the Thames. Wreaths of holly and mistletoe hung from the ceiling and twined around portraits of King James and Queen Elizabeth. Through the diamond-paned window could be seen the shipping plying back and forth upon the river.
While our friends were seated at breakfast the next morning a servant appeared with the information that Lady De La Warre waited below to pay a visit to the Lady Rebecca.
Rolfe hastened down to conduct this lady to the presence of his wife. In came the stately dame, rustling in violet silk and Flanders lace.
“Welcome to London, Lady Rebecca,” she said. “My husband has often told me of your many kindnesses to our colony in Virginia. I feel that we are already acquaint.”
Both ladies curtsied low to each other, each taking note of the other’s appearance in the meanwhile.
When they were seated Lady De La Warre said to Pocahontas, “It will give me much pleasure to present you at court. I have many skilled needlewomen waiting to provide you with a suitable robe.”
“Pocahontas thanks Lady De La Warre for her kind interest. She is happy to be in the land of the pale-faces.”
“You must come and be my guest until after your appearance at court. My lord seconds the invitation and sends greetings. He is away now with the King, who is hunting at Theobalds.”
“Please convey our sincere respects to your noble lord, my lady. Your kind invitation we gladly accept,” replied Rolfe, answering for his wife.
“Now I must take my departure,” said Lady De La Warre, rising. “I will send my coach for you to-morrow.”
Under the kindly tuition of the noble lady Pocahontas learned the court manner of curtsying before the King, and how to manage the yards of train to her robe. She was never tired of fingering its glossy folds, but the stiff stays of the bodice were almost unbearable to the slender frame that knew no restraint but that of nature’s making. With Indian stoicism, she set herself to endure civilization’s instruments of torture, so great was her desire to be in all things an English woman.
All the trepidation of a first appearance at court was felt by Lady De La Warre alone. Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan, felt no fear in the presence of her equals.
On the day of presentation Pocahontas, accompanied by Lady De La Warre and her attendants, entered a gaily decorated barge that was to bear them to the palace of the king. From the mouth of the gilded swan at the prow, streamers of red and blue swept upwards to the swelling sail emblazoned with the coat-of-arms of Lord De La Warre. Under the dipping oars of the bargemen they sailed westward to Whitehall at Charing Cross.
Up its broad landing stairs, past the great entrance leading into the surrounding park, they came to a halt in a lofty antechamber reserved for the fair ladies who were to make their initial bow to royalty.
Arriving late, they found the Presence Chamber already thrown open and filled by those whose titles allowed a near approach to the throne. Regal duchesses, robed in velvets and satins as varied as the tints of the rainbow, glittering in jewels and coronets of golden strawberry leaves, together with ladies of lesser degree, ranged themselves in order of precedence on both sides of a red velvet pathway leading to the foot of the throne.
Mingling with them were the Knights of the Bath, arrayed in robes of crimson taffeta lined with white sarcenet, holding in their hands “soft white hats, whose long curling white plumes tapped against their white boots.”
Beside the massive throne, studded with diamonds, surrounded by sapphires, rubies and pearls, that glittered like the sun among the stars, stood Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England. Near him was Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, clad in his episcopal robes.
A sudden hush fell over the assemblage. The King was entering. Preceded by the attendants of his household, holding in their hands their wands of office, came James, leaning on the arm of the Duke of Buckingham, his latest favorite. The handsome face and magnificently attired person of the Duke was in startling contrast to the soiled brown velvet dress, buttoned awry, of the monarch.
What a spectre of a king! Rolling eyes, slobbering mouth, ricketty legs upholding a body padded until it resembled a swollen frog. Not one trace of the fascinating beauty of his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, had descended to him.
To his left walked grave and stately Prince Charles, clothed in white velvet. Then followed Queen Anne in blue velvet and ermine attended by her ladies-in-waiting.
When their majesties were seated and their attendants took up their positions behind them, Maxwell, Lord Chamberlain, began to announce the names of those who were to bear the gaze of royalty.
Titled beauties of England and Scotland were alternately announced by the tactful Maxwell, ever keeping in mind the ancient jealousy of the two nations. The King, out of the kindness of his heart, took especial notice of each one.
“The Princess Rebecca, daughter of Powhatan, King of Virginia!” cried Maxwell in a loud voice.
Up the velvet aisle came Pocahontas with the gliding step of her savage ancestry. But gone was the wild careless grace of the wilderness. Every inch a queen she moved. Words expressive of admiration and wonder were whispered on every side.
Her bosom and arms were covered in a flowing robe of yellow satin. Upon its brocaded surface the Fleur de Lis of France cast lights and shadows, and its long pointed bodice was thickly sown with turquoise and pearls. Above it rose a fluted ruff of Mechlin lace. Three crimson plumes were fastened by a diamond brooch among the raven locks of her hair.
She sank gracefully down at the foot of the throne.
“You are verra welcome to our court, Princess,” said James. “Mony a tale of your kindness to our colony have we heard. We expect you at the banquet to be given presently, where we shall have much to ask you about your kinsman.”
The levee being over, King James and his Queen led the way to the banqueting hall, followed by those invited to dine in the royal presence.
Their majesties seated themselves upon chairs of state, chairs upholstered in orange silk. From a crown above them hung a purple canopy embroidered in roses, shamrocks, and thistles.
Pocahontas was marshaled by the Earl of Pembroke to a low stool to the left of Queen Anne, and somewhat below the royal table raised upon a dais.
Her uneasy eyes traveled down the long table in the middle of the hall, in search of her husband. He caught her look and smiled reassuringly. She breathed easily again. John was there, now she could enjoy to the full all the magnificence surrounding her.
Behind a railing that ran around two sides of the room were a crowd of humble citizens, come to view their sovereign as he feasted. Among them was Adam, watching intently the honors paid to Pocahontas.
“Truly this is a queersome world. There sits a savage from the wilds feasting with the King, and poor Adam Clotworthy, a citizen of London, has to stand with the gaping crowd behind the railing. But she is a jewel, God bless her. Adam has not fallen so low as to envy her good fortune.” Something to this effect were the ruminations of Adam as he leaned against a balustrade to enjoy the scene.
The walls of the hall were hung in tapestries of gold and purple silk garnished with pearls and amethysts. In a gallery opposite the chairs of state musicians were playing Christmas ditties to aid the digestion of the courtly guests seated at the long table extending the entire length of the hall. Movable buffets, holding gold and silver plate, stood near the King’s dais. His table was set with rich gold plate once the property of the House of Burgundy. Agate cups held sparkling wine from the vineyards of Bordeaux. From the door leading to the buttery issued the Lord Chamberlain, followed by a host of servants bearing both delicate and substantial viands to tickle the palates of the diners.
“My Lord of Suffolk, fill the cup given us by the Constable of Castile and present it to the Princess Rebecca. We drink her health,” said James.
Filling a dragon-shaped goblet of crystal and gold with sparkling wine, the Lord of Suffolk presented it to Pocahontas, who drank in acknowledgment of the good-natured monarch’s toast.
Leaning across his Queen, James said to Pocahontas, “Your royal father hath used the scalping-knife somewhat freely upon our liege subjects, we have heard.”
“Powhatan worships Okee. He bends not the knee to the Royal Christ. When warriors offend, he kills. Therefore he is feared, not loved,” she answered, sadly, unconscious of the irony of her reply.
“She has you there, Cousin,” laughed the jester, Archie Armstrong, shaking his hooded head until the bells jangled. “According to our copper-colored relative, a Christian prince should not deprive his loving subjects of breath whereby they may abuse him. Therefore, your reign has been a failure, as many heads on London Bridge can testify. Shut up the Tower—banish the hangman—give yourself over to hawking, and place the reins of government in my hands.”
“Ay, and a likely time they wad have of it, I warrant, you auld rattlepated loon!” retorted the King.
The boar’s head has been consumed; the jeweled fan of the peacock trails low in the dust; huge pastries washed down by the flowing bowl; tables are cleared away, pages run hither and thither carrying silver basins in which the guests lave their hands and dry them upon linen towels from the looms of Belfast. The King is now ready to be amused.
Lords and ladies take their places for the ancient sword dance, and glide to the stirring measures of the minstrels. Back and forth tread the gay participants in the stately dance. Now the lovely maidens form in a flowery line and pass under the arch of clashing swords of the cavaliers.
“By my saul, a braw sight, if ’twere not for the glittering steel,” exclaimed James, turning away his shrinking gaze from the uplifted swords. “Now my bonnie lads and lassies, let us to the cards. Come, my Lord Chamberlain, and you my Lord Suffolk, your loving father will try his luck at primero with you.”
Catching hold of a page flitting by, he said, “Go yonder to Sir Walter Raleigh, and say that the King desires his company.” Then turning to the two lords continued, “We will celebrate his liberation from our not too hospitable Tower.”
Rattling dice, clinking glasses, merry music, laughter and jest closed the memorable day of Pocahontas’s presentation at court.
Pocahontas was sitting at the latticed window of her apartment at the Mermaid Inn, striving to pierce the thick yellow fog hanging over the river. Down upon the narrow street lighted torches flared wildly in the hands of linkboys conducting some lady’s sedan chair to its destination in the closing evening. Rolfe was playing hide and seek among the chairs and tables with his little son. The room was in shadow except for the ruddy firelight dancing on the walls.
A low knock sounded upon the paneled door. Putting down the boy, whom he had just caught, Rolfe went to see who it was.
“Is the Lady Rebecca at home?” inquired a deep manly voice. “If so, may an old friend present himself?”
“The Lady Rebecca will be glad to see any one who calls himself friend,” replied Rolfe. “May I inquire the name of the guest?”
“Captain John Smith, who knew her in Jamestown.”
Flinging wide the door, Rolfe bade him enter, and turning to Pocahontas said, “Wife, a friend of long ago comes to see you.”
Pocahontas turned from the window, her eyes filled with the outside gloom. At first she could not see the visitor.
“Have I had the misfortune to pass from your memory, madam?” said Captain Smith advancing into the firelight.
A tremulous cry rang through the room “My father! My father!” and covering her face with her hands, she tottered into a chair. A long silence—broken only by the boy prattling to a King Charles spaniel—held Smith and Rolfe spellbound. Finally she raised her head and gazed long on the face of Smith; then coming up to him she said in loving accents, “Pocahontas has her father again, and is his child once more.”
“Nay, Lady Rebecca, I am of too humble a station to presume to be on familiar terms with a princess. You must not call me father, and I am not permitted to call you child.”
“You did promise Powhatan what was yours should be his, and he the like to you; you called him father being in his land a stranger, and by the same reason, so must I do you,” she answered.
“You are well aware of the suspicious jealousy of the King and Queen,” said Smith to Rolfe. “Try to make her understand the situation.”
Rolfe endeavored to explain the rigid decorum of the King’s court to her; besides, for reasons of his own, he was not anxious to have the friendship renewed.
Unaccustomed to obey the whims of any monarch, except those of her father, her eyes blazed and her features contracted. Smith instinctively stepped back. Before him stood not the gentle Pocahontas, but the savage Powhatan.
Then she spoke in a deep voice of scornful anger. “Were you not afraid to come into my father’s country and cause fear in him and all his people but me; and fear you I shall call you father?” Then stamping her foot she cried, “I tell you I will, and you shall call me child, and so I will be forever and ever your country-woman.” Her voice broke as she added, “They did tell us always you were dead, and I knew no other till I came to Plymouth; yet Powhatan did commend Vetamatominakin to seek you and know the truth, because your countrymen will lie much.”
Smith gently put her off with veiled words and turned the conversation to a less painful theme.
“How is my father Powhatan, and what has become of Opechancanough?”
Picking up the little boy, he petted and fondled him, while Pocahontas gave news of her tribe. Seeing his tender attentions to her boy, she calmed down into the gentle frank maiden he had known so well.
After an hour’s conversation he took his departure, evading deftly a promise to come again, for he had marked the look in Rolfe’s eyes when Pocahontas had called him father.
As he walked away he said to himself, “I must not endanger their wedded bliss”; then bitterly, “Jealousy and suspicion dog my lonely footsteps and will follow me to the grave.”
A year of court life, filled with a continual round of hunting, masques, theater-going and dancing, failed to dim the brightness of the wild rose of the west. Enjoying what was noble and pure with the unspoiled freshness of a child, the Lady Rebecca’s eyes passed unseeingly over the coarse and degraded elements mingling with the good.
Letters from Virginia caused Rolfe to feel some uneasiness regarding the affairs of his plantation. He must return home without delay. No more following of the hounds in the vast glades of Saint James’s Park, or in the spring, floating down to Greenwich through a cloud of swans. Pocahontas must sail for home to take up again plantation life at Varina, with its round of duties and simple pleasures.
Sailing down the Thames to Gravesend, she looked back with fond regret upon the scenes which imagination already began to paint in rose-colored hues.
When they arrived at Gravesend at the mouth of the Thames Rolfe noticed that Pocahontas looked weary and jaded. A hectic flush mantled her cheek and her hands were cold as ice.
“What ails my darling?” he inquired anxiously.
“Pocahontas’s head is heavy and her body is cold,” she languidly replied.
A doctor was hastily summoned. He bled her profusely, but all to no avail. She grew weaker every hour. Delirium set in. She was back in Virginia again, roving the forests, visiting Jamestown, strolling with Smith beside the river or sitting in her cabin playing with her baby boy.
On the third day she fell into a deep slumber, which was but the forerunner of the long sleep on which she was entering.
“Surely she will be better when she awakens,” said Rolfe to the physician. All day he had sat by her side holding her hand or bathing her brow.
“I dare not deceive you, Master Rolfe. She is sinking rapidly. She will awaken to consciousness but it will be but the flaring of the candle, now burnt low in the socket.”
Late in the afternoon she opened her eyes, and feeling for her husband’s hand, whispered, “John, where are you? It is so dark—the cold water is lapping on my feet.”
“Tell her, Master Rolfe. She must know her condition,” said the rector of Saint George’s, who was standing at the foot of the bed.
“I cannot,” said Rolfe, his voice breaking into hoarse sobs as he flung himself down beside the bed.
Bending over her, the priest gently told her of her approaching end.
“John, John, must Pocahontas leave you and the boy? It is so hard to part, John.”
“O my darling, I cannot give you up!” cried Rolfe, kissing her brow, damp with the dews of death.
But womanlike, she put aside her pain to comfort her stricken husband.
“It is the will of the Royal Christ, John. Pocahontas is not afraid. He will comfort you and care for my babe. Does He not carry the little lambs in His bosom? Now let the kind priest give us the Body and Blood of the Lord.”
She lay silent for a while, exhausted by the effort to follow the priest through the Communion Service. Then she said, “Sing about the birthnight of the Son of God, John. Pocahontas can hear the angels’ wings.”
Rolfe attempted to sing the ancient hymn, but could not go on.
“Then Pocahontas will sing for John.”
Gathering her fast ebbing strength with a mighty effort, her voice rang clear and sweet through the twilight. Strong and exultant came the last verse:
“For lo! the days are hastening on, By prophets seen of old, When with the evercircling years Shall come the time foretold, When the new heaven and earth shall own The Prince of Peace their King, And the whole world send back the song Which now the angels sing.”
And the “Amen” at its close, begun on earth and ending in heaven, swept across the glassy sea and broke in melting sweetness at the feet of the Lamb of God.
Through the bitter winds of March passed the funeral procession, clad in trappings of woe, to Saint George’s Church. The burial psalms were chanted, the prayer of committal said. All that was mortal of Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan, King of Virginia, was laid to rest in the rector’s vault underneath the chancel.
The broad leaves of the church door swung to behind the departing mourners. The pulsating silence of the ages settled down upon the chancel.
Suddenly and noiselessly the nave filled with floating white-robed angels, the everpresent congregation of ministering spirits. Gabriel, Announcer of Tidings, stood before the altar and in a voice of heavenly music, heard only by immortal ears, proclaimed the glad tidings:
_“The Spirit of Virginia Dare has Returned to the Land of Her Fathers!”_
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- Blank pages have been removed.
- Silently corrected typographical errors.
- Spelling and hyphenation variations made consistent.