Richard of Jamestown - James Otis

The Visit of Pocahontas

We had a visitor from the village of Powhatan very soon after Captain Smith took command of Jamestown to such an extent that the gentlemen were forced to work and to speak without oaths, through fear of getting too much cold water inside the sleeves of their doublets.

This visitor was the same Indian girl I had seen making bread, and quite by chance our house was the first she looked into, which caused me much pride, for I believed she was attracted to it because it was more cleanly than many of the others.

We were all at home when she came, being about to partake of the noonday meal, which was neither more nor less than a big turkey weighing more than two score pounds, and roasted to a brownness which would cause a hungry person's mouth to water.

Although she who had halted to look in at our door was only a girl, Captain Smith treated her as if she were the greatest lady in the world, himself leading her inside to his own place at the trencher board, while she, in noways shy, began to help herself to the fattest pieces of meat, thereby besmearing herself with grease until there was enough running down her chin to have made no less than two rushlights, so Nathaniel Peacock declared.

Of course, being a savage, she could not speak in our language, but the master, who had studied diligently since coming to this world of Virginia to learn the speech of the Indians, made shift to get from her some little information, she being the daughter of Powhatan, the king concerning whom I have already set down many things.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

At first Captain Smith was of the belief that she had come on some errand; but after much questioning, more by signs than words, it came out, as we understood the matter, that the girl was in Jamestown for no other purpose than to see what we white people were like.

Captain Smith was minded that she should be satisfied, so far as her curiosity was concerned, for when the dinner had come to an end, and I had given this king's daughter some dry, sweet grass on which to wipe her hands and mouth, he conducted her around the village, allowing that she look in upon the tents and houses at her pleasure.

She stayed with us until the sun was within an hour of setting, and then darted off into the forest as does a startled pheasant, stopping for a single minute when she had got among the trees, to wave her hand, as if bidding us goodbye, or in plain mischief.


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