Richard of Jamestown - James Otis

Exploring the Country

When the shallop had been taken out of the hold of the Susan Constant, and put together by the Carpenters, our people explored the shores of the bay and the broad streams running into it, meeting with savages here and there, and holding some little converse with them. A few were found to be friendly, while others appeared to think we were stealing their land by thus coming among them.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

One of the most friendly of the savages, so Nathaniel said, having shown by making marks on the ground with his foot that he wished to tell our people about the country, and having been given a pen and paper, drew a map of the river with great care, putting in the islands and waterfalls and mountains that our men would come to, and afterward he even brought food to our people such as wheat and little sweet nuts and berries.

I myself would have been pleased to go on shore and see these strange people, but not being able to do so save at the cost of leaving my master, I can only repeat some of the curious things which Nathaniel Peacock told me.

It must be known that there was more than one nation, or tribe, of savages in this new land of Virginia, and each had its king or chief, who was called the werowance. I might set down the names of these tribes, and yet it would be so much labor lost, because they are more like fanciful than real words. As, for example, there were the Paspaheghes, whose werowance was seemingly more friendly to our people than were the others.

Again, there were the Rapahannas, who wore the legs of birds through holes in their ears, and had all the hair on the right side of their heads shaven closely.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

It gives them much pleasure to dance, so Nathaniel said, he having seen them jumping around more like so many wolves, rather than human beings, for the space of half an hour, shouting and singing all the while.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

All the Indians smoked an herb called tobacco, which grows abundantly in this land, and I have Nathaniel's word for it that one savage had a tobacco pipe nearly a yard long, with the device of a deer carved at the great end of it big enough to dash out one's brains with.

There is very much more which might be said about these savages that would be of interest; but I am minded now to leave such stories for others to tell, and come to the day when Captain Newport was ready to sail with the Susan Constant and the Goodspeed back to England, for his share in the adventure was only to bring us over from England, after which he had agreed to return.

The pinnace was to be left behind for the use of us who remained in the strange land.

Before this time, meaning the thirteenth day of May, the members of the Council had decided upon the place where we were to build our village. It was to be in the country of the Paspahegh Indians, at a certain spot near the shore where the water runs so deep that our ships can lie moored to the trees in six fathoms.


Front Matter

Who I am
Left Alone in the World
An Idle Boy
Captain Smith Comes to London
Meeting Captain Smith
Captain Smith Speaks to Me
Plans of the London Company
The Vessels of the Fleet
How I Earned my Passage
When the Fleet Set Sail
The Voyage Delayed
Nathaniel's Story
We Make Sail Again
The First Island
Captain Smith Accused
Captain Smith a Prisoner
I Attend My Master
Several Islands Visited
A Variety of Wild Game
The Tempest
The New Country Sighted
The Leader Not Known
Arrival at Chesapeake Bay
An Attack by the Savages
Reading the Company's Orders
Captain Smith on the Council
Smith Remains Aboard
Exploring the Country
People Land from the Ships
Captain Smith Proven Innocent
We Who were Left Behind
Baking Bread without Ovens
Unequal Division of Labor
Building a Home of Logs
Keeping House
Lack of Cleanliness
Cave Homes
The Golden Fever
Ducks and Oysters
Roasting Oysters
Leaning to Cook
The Sweet Potato Root
A Touch of Homesickness
Master Hunt's Preaching
Neglecting the Future
Surprised by Savages
Strengthening the Fort
Sickness and Death
Smith Gains Authority
Disagreeable Discipline
Signs of Rebellion
Second Proclamation
Building a Fortified Village
Trapping Turkeys
A Crude Kind of Chimney
Cooking a Turkey
Candles or Rushlights
The Visit of Pocahontas
Captain Kendall's Plot
Death of Captain Kendall
Captain Smith's Expedition
An Exciting Adventure
Taken Before Powhatan
Pocahontas Begs for Smith
Captain Smith's Return
A New Church
Captain Newport's Return
A Worthless Cargo
Condition of the Colony
Captain Newport's Return
Gazing at the Women
Hunt Brings Great News
Captain Newport's Instructions
The Story of Roanoke
The Crowning of Powhatan
Preparing for the Future
Stealing Company Goods
What the Thieving Led To
Fear of Famine
The Unhealthful Location
Gathering Oysters
Sturgeon for Food
Turpentine and Tar
Making Clapboards
Providing for Children
Dreams of the Future
A Plague of Rats
Treachery During Smith's Absence
Captain Smith's Speech
The New Laws
The Accident
Captain Smith's Departure
The "Starving Time"
Our Courage Gives Out
Abandoning Jamestown
Lord De la Warr's Arrival
The Young Planters