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

The Village of Yaocomico

You may be certain that we who had journeyed so far went on shore at once after Governor Calvert had purchased for us the right, and while the serving men were taking out from the vessels our goods and provisions, in order to establish homes in this village which the owners were so ready to desert, I found much with which to occupy my attention.

It was only reasonable that my curiosity should be greatest concerning the houses in which we were to live, at least, during a certain time, until others, more like those we knew of in England, could be built; and being told by Captain Fleet that there was no reason why I might not roam about at will, I wandered through the village, taking note of all that was to be seen.

[Illustration] from Calvert of Maryland by James Otis

The dwellings, whether large or small, were oval in shape, much as if you were to cut an egg in halves, lengthwise, and built of poles, the larger ends of which were stuck in the ground to considerable depth, while the tops were bent over until they could be tied together by vines. Across and upon this network were woven of reeds, dried grass, and twigs, veritable blankets, made with such care that they would shed the rain.

These huts, call them houses if you will, were from eight to ten feet high in the center, where was left a hole both for the smoke to pass out and the light to come in.

You must know that there were no such things as fireplaces, but whatsoever of heat, either for comfort or cooking purposes was needed, came from a fire built on the ground directly under the hole in the roof, and, as you may suppose, very much of the smoke lingered inside, instead of passing freely out through the top; therefore he who remained within any length of time was put to much discomfort with his eyes because of the noisome vapor.

In order to get into these odd dwellings, a hole had been cut at what might be called the smaller end of the egg. It was no more than three feet high, therefore he who entered must do so on all fours, and in front of this was hung a skin of some kind to serve as door, in case of a storm; but at all other times it was left open that the draft of air might serve the better to carry away the smoke from the fire.

Six or seven of these odd huts were much larger than the others, and, as I afterward learned, were owned by the chief men of the tribe. These were divided into three or four rooms by means of hanging skins, or of woven grass made in the form of curtains; but whether big or little, the dwellings were not inviting to English people accustomed to well-made houses.

Even before I had got on shore one of these large huts had been given by the savages to our priests, and when I came upon it the good men were busily engaged fitting it up as a church. Thus it was that almost our first labor in the Province of Maryland was directed toward preparing a place in which we might worship God after a simple fashion.

[Illustration] from Calvert of Maryland by James Otis

Another of the large huts was given over to my father, my uncle, and myself, together with our serving men, and in this one, which I was to call my home during the first summer in our town of St. Mary's, had beds been made by driving four stakes into the ground with poles laid across them and lashed firmly with the sinews of animals, forming a screen on which could be placed skins and leaves until one might lie upon them with some degree of comfort.

The brown-skinned men behaved as if it was much to their pleasure that we had come among them, readily giving up their houses to us; and I believe of a verity had our company been so large as to require every dwelling in the village, these friendly savages would have slept in the open, rather than deprive us of a shelter. From this time on I had no fear that our Indians of Maryland would prove to be like those who, it was said, had eaten white people, and I went here and there among them without feeling timorous.