The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies. — Robert Conquest

Richard of Jamestown - James Otis




The Golden Fever

But for this golden fever, which attacked the gentlemen more fiercely than it did the common people, the story of Jamestown would not have been one of disaster brought about by willful heedlessness and stupidity.

Again and again did Captain Smith urge that crops be planted, while it was yet time, in order that there might be food at hand when the winter came; but he had not yet been allowed to take his place in the Council, and those who had the thirst for gold strong upon them, taunted him with the fact that he had no right to raise his voice above the meanest of the company. They refused to listen when he would have spoken with them as a friend, and laughed him to scorn when he begged that they take heed to their own lives.

I cannot understand why our people were so crazy. Even though Nathaniel and I were but lads, with no experience of adventure such as was before us, we could realize that unless a man plants he may not reap, and because we had been hungry many a time in London town, we knew full well that when the season had passed there was like to be a famine among us.

I can well understand, now that I am a man grown, why our people were so careless regarding the future, for everywhere around us was food in plenty. Huge flocks of wild swans circled above our heads, trumpeting the warning that winter would come before gold could be found. Wild geese, cleaving the air in wedge shaped line, honked harshly that the season for gathering stores of food was passing, while at times, on a dull morning, it was as if the waters of the bay were covered completely with ducks of many kinds.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

Contents

Front Matter
Review

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
Gold-Seekers
A Worthless Cargo
Condition of the Colony
Tobacco
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