Front Matter A Name to be Proud of Ready for Sea The King's Gift Why I am an Adventurer The Signal for Departure A Lad's Portion The Allotment of Land An Unexpected Delay Our Arrival at Cowes We Put to Sea The Dove Disappears A Second Tempest An Unseemly Christmas The Port of Barbadoes The Arrival of the Dove Under Sail Again The Land of America The Land Given by the King Fear of the Brown Men Where to Build the City Taking the Island A Voyage of Discovery Visiting the Indians An Unexpected Meeting Captain Fleet's Story An Indian Werowance Indian vs. English Claims Seeking a Place for the City The Bargain The Village of Yaocomico What the Indians Look Like Indian Weapons and Tools Landing the Goods Counting Our Blessings The Susquehanoughs A Land of Abundance Buying Cattle Storehouse and Fort A Visitor from Virginia A Talk with the Indians Running up the Colors Settling Down Master William Claiborne Lord Baltimore's Claims Stirring up the Indians Winning Back the Indians Busy Times Indian Women as Servants Making a Canoe A Boat of Bark Indian Money A Generous Harvest Trouble at Plymouth Strange Religious Service The Dance Begins An Odd Ceremony William Claiborne's War Settlement on Kent Island We Prepare for War The Army leaves St. Mary's In Command of the Guard A Flag of Truce Captain Fleet Repents The First Prize of War A Battle is Fought The Return of the Fleet William Claiborne's Flight The City of Saint Mary's A Cruel Murder Mystery Remains Unsolved Master George Evelin A Fatal Accident Preparing for Action Ready for a Man's Duty I Wear the Uniform My New Name On Board the Pinnance Indians in War Paint The Arrival at Kent Island The Capture of the Fort Butler and Smith Captives Back to Claiborne's Fort I am Assigned New Duties A Narrow Escape Words of Praise

Calvert of Maryland - James Otis

Making a Canoe

These lads led me to where their people were making canoes in preparation for that time when, according to the bargain, they were to leave their village of Yaocomico to find a home elsewhere.

Never before had I believed it possible for people to build such seaworthy boats with much the same as no tools!

Imagine, if you can, two men setting about to form a canoe, meaning a light boat capable of carrying three, four, or ten men, out of a huge tree trunk fifteen or twenty feet long, having nothing with which to work save hatchets of stone, and fire.

To white people, who have every kind of an implement necessary for the hewing and fashioning of wood, such a task seems impossible, and yet I have known two of these brown-skinned men to build a canoe eighteen feet long, buoyant enough to carry ten people, and of pleasing shape, within two weeks' time.

Would you know how it was done? Well, in this way: First, as a matter of course, these boat builders seek out such a tree as will best suit their purpose, and, having found it, they wrap around the trunk a quantity of dried grass and wild flags that have been thoroughly wetted. Just above these wrappings they kindle little fires by binding on dried grass, and as the tiny flame eats into the wood they chip away the charred portion with their axes of stone, working industriously, and with as little effect as does a woodpecker, until, in course of time, say, perhaps half a day, a huge tree falls to the ground.

[Illustration] from Calvert of Maryland by James Otis

Then, if so be a boat is to be made twenty feet long, that length is marked off, and the tree cut again in precisely the same manner as at first. Now you have a log of wood, the ends of which are rough and charred.

The bark is pulled off, and on the top, extending the whole length, are built a number of tiny fires, the workmen chip-chip-chipping with their awkward stone tools as fast as the blaze has blackened the wood, until in a week's time they have cut off the upper portion of the log to fashion the top of the canoe, and hollowed it out till it is no more than an inch in thickness.

After that, all remaining to be done is to work the two ends, by means of fire and these same awkward axes, into such form as pleases the eye, and then is finished a boat as readily handled, by those who are skilled in sailing such craft, as the fanciful vessels to be seen on the river Thames.