Contents 
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 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

Richard of Jamestown - James Otis




"The Starving Time"

We came to know what starvation meant during that winter, and were I to set down here all of the suffering, of the hunger weakness, and of the selfishness we saw during the six months after Captain Smith sailed for home, there would not be days enough left in my life to complete the tale.

As I look back on it now, it seems more like some wonderful dream than a reality, wherein men strove with women and children for food to keep life in their own worthless bodies.

It is enough if I say that of the four hundred and ninety persons whom Captain Smith left behind him, there were, in the month of May of the year 1610, but fifty-eight left alive. That God should have spared among those, Nathaniel Peacock and myself, is something which passeth understanding, for verily there were scores of better than we whose lives would have advantaged Jamestown more than ours ever can, who died and were buried as best they could be by the few who had sufficient strength remaining to dig the graves.

I set it down in all truth that, through God's mercy, our lives were saved by Master Hunt, for he counseled us wisely as to the care we should take of our bodies when our stomachs were crying out for food, and it was he who showed us how we might prepare this herb or the bark from that tree for the sustaining of life, when we had nothing else to put into our mouths.

We had forgotten that Lord De la Warr was the new governor; we had heard nothing of the ship in which it was said Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Somers had sailed. We were come to that pass where we cared neither for governor nor nobleman. We strove only to keep within our bodies the life which had become painful.

Then it was, when the few of us who yet lived, feared each moment lest the savages would put an end to us, that we saw sailing up into the bay two small ships, and I doubt if there was any among us who did not fall upon his knees and give thanks aloud to God for the help which had come at the very moment when it had seemed that we were past all aid.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis