Page images

soon appeared, some painted black, some red, some white, and some party-colored, in a square column, singing and dancing, with their Okee borne before them. This was an idol made of skins, stuffed with moss, painted, and ornamented with copper chains. They were armed with clubs, shields, bows, and arrows, and boldly advanced upon the English, who received them with a volley of musketry, which brought many of them to the ground, and with them their idol. The rest fled in dismay to the woods. They sent a priest with a proposition to make peace and restore their idol. Smith told them, that, if six of them would come unarmed and load his boat with corn, he would not only return them their idol, but give them beads, copper, and hatchets besides, and be their friend. These terms were accepted and the stipulations performed. They brought ample supplies, not only of corn, but of turkeys, venison, and wild fowl, and continued, until the English departed, singing and dancing in token of friendship.

The success of this expedition induced Captain Smith to repeat his excursions, both by land and water, in the course of one of which he discovered the people of Chickahominy, who lived upon the banks of the river of that name. The provisions, however, which he so carefully and toilsomely provided, the colonists improvidently wasted,

Whenever Smith was out of sight, owing to the President's imbecility and Martin's ill health, every thing was in tumultuous confusion, like a school in the absence of its teacher. Wingfield and Kendall, who were smarting under their recent disgrace, took advantage of one of these seasons of insubordination to conspire with some disorderly malcontents, to escape to England in the bark, which by Smith's direction had been fitted up for a trading voyage to be undertaken the next year. Smith's unexpected return nipped their project in the bud, which was not done, however, without recourse to arms, and in the action Captain Kendall was slain. Soon afterwards the President and Captain Archer intended to abandon the country, which purpose was also frustrated by Smith, a circumstance which puts in the strongest light his power and influence. We are told, “that the Spaniard never more greedily desired gold than he victual, nor his soldiers more to abandon the country than he to keep it." Having found plenty of corn in the neighborhood of Chickahominy River, he made an excursion there, where he found hundreds of Indians awaiting his approach with loaded baskets in their hands. At the approach of winter too, the rivers were covered with swans, geese, and ducks, which, with corn, beans, and pumpkins supplied by the Indians, furnished their tables amply and

luxuriously. This abundance of good cheer had its natural effect in producing good-humor and curing home-sickness, "none of our Tuftaffety humorists" (to borrow a curious expression of the historian) desiring to return to England. A craving stomach has in all ages been the fruitful source of discontent and mutiny; and Captain Smith showed his knowledge of human nature, in taking so much pains to address it with the only arguments whose force it is capable of acknowledging.


Captain Smith's Captivity among the Indians.— His Life is saved by Pocahontas. - His Return to Jamestown.

CAPTAIN SMITH's gleams of prosperity and repose were, like the "uncertain glories of an April day," broken by constant interruptions of clouds and misfortune. He was murmured against by some cross-grained spirits, and even rebuked by the council, for his dilatoriness in not penetrating to the source of Chickahominy river, a charge, one would think, the most unreasonable that could be brought against such a man. Stung by these

unmerited complaints, he immediately set out upon a new expedition. He proceeded as far as his barge could float, reaching that point with great labor, and having been obliged to cut a way through the trees which had fallen into the river. Having left the barge securely moored, with strict orders to his men not to leave it till his return, and taking with him two Englishmen and two Indians as guides, he went higher up in a canoe. This he left in charge of the Englishmen and went up twenty miles further to the meadows at the head of the river, where he occupied himself in shooting game. The disorderly and illdisciplined crew, whom he had left in charge of the barge, had disobeyed his injunctions and gone straggling into the woods. They were suddenly attacked by a party of three hundred bowmen commanded by Opechancanough, King of Pamunkey and brother to Powhatan, and one of their number, George Cassen by name, was taken prisoner. The rest, with great difficulty, regained their barge. The Indians extorted from their prisoner information of the place where Captain Smith was, and then put him to death in the most barbarous manner. In their pursuit of Captain Smith, they came upon the two men, by name Robinson and Emry, who had been left with the canoe and who were sleeping by a fire, and discharged their arrows at them with fatal effect.

Having discovered Smith, they wounded him in the thigh with an arrow. Finding himself beset with numbers, he bound one of his Indian guides to his left arm with his garters as a buckler, and defended himself so skilfully with his gun, that he killed three and wounded many others. His enemies retreating out of gun-shot, he attempted to reach his canoe, but paying more heed to his foes than to his own footsteps, he sunk, with his guide, up to the middle in a treacherous morass. Helpless as he was, his bravery had inspired such terror, that they dared not approach him, until, being almost dead with cold, he threw away his

rms and surrendered himself. They drew him out, and led him to the fire, by which his slain companions had been sleeping, and diligently chafed his benumbed limbs.

Though in expectation of an immediate and cruel death, his presence of mind did not forsake him, and his inexhaustible resources were not found wanting in that trying hour, when he was an unarmed captive in the hands of merciless savages. Without asking for his life, which would only have lowered the respect with which his bravery had inspired them, he demanded to speak with their chief. When he was presented to him, he showed to him a pocket compass which he happened to have with him. The tremulous vibrations of the needle, which they could see, but

« PreviousContinue »