Richard of Jamestown - James Otis

Gold Seekers

It was while all the people, gentlemen as well as laborers, were doing their, best to repair the loss, and to put Jamestown into such shape that we might be able to withstand an attack from the savages, if so be they made one, that even a worse misfortune than the fire came upon us.

Some of those whom Captain Newport had lately brought to Virginia, while roaming along the shores of the river in order to learn what this new land was like, came upon a spot where the waters had washed the earth away for a distance of five or six feet, leaving exposed to view a vast amount of sand, so yellow and so heavy that straightway the foolish ones believed they were come upon that gold which our people had been seeking almost from the very day we first landed.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

From this moment there was no talk of anything save the wealth which would come to us and the London Company.

Even Captain Newport was persuaded that this sand was gold, and straightway nearly every person in the village was hard at work digging and carrying it in baskets on board the John and Francis as carefully as if each grain counted for a guinea.

Of all the people of Jamestown, Captain Smith and Master Hunt were the only ones who refused to believe the golden dream. They held themselves aloof from this mad race to gather up the yellow sand, and strove earnestly to persuade the others that it would be a simple matter to prove by fire whether this supposed treasure were metal.

In the center of the village, where all might see him, Master Hunt set a pannikin, in which was a pint or more of the sand, over a roaring fire which he kept burning not less than two hours.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

When he was done, the sand remained the same as before, which, so he and my master claimed, was good proof that our people of Jamestown were, in truth, making fools of themselves, as they had many a time before since we came into this land of Virginia.


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