Part 2 out of 11
ringleaders in revolt. They persuaded some of the older colonists
to join them. And one day they stole a little ship belonging to the
colony, and set off on a plundering expedition to the West Indies.
On the seas they led a wild and lawless life, taking and plundering
Spanish ships. But after a time they ran short of food, and found
themselves forced to put into a Spanish port. Here in order to make
peace with the Spaniards they told all they knew about the French
Thus it was that for the first time the Spaniards learned that the
heretic Frenchmen had settled in their land, and speedily the news
was sent home to Spain.
Meanwhile Laudonnière was greatly grieved for the loss of his
ship. And as days passed, and there was no sign of the mutineers'
return, he set his men to work to build two new ships.
For a time the work went well. But soon many of the men grew tired
of it and they began to grumble. Why should men of noble birth,
they asked, slave like carpenters? And day by day the discontent
At last one Sunday morning the men sent a message to Laudonnière
asking him to come out to the parade ground to meet them. Laudonnière
went, and he found all the colony waiting for him with gloomy
faces. At once one of them stepped forward, and asked leave to read
a paper in the name of all the others. Laudonnière gave permission.
The paper was read. It was full of complaints about the hard work,
the want of food, and other grievances. It ended with a request
that the men should be allowed to take the two ships which were
being built and sail to Spanish possessions in search of food. In
fact they wanted to become pirates like those mutineers who had
already sailed away.
Laudonnière refused to listen to this request. But he promised that
as soon as the two ships were finished they should be allowed to
set out in search of gold mines.
The mutineers separated with gloomy faces; they were by no means
satisfied with Laudonnière's answer, and the discontent was as deep
as ever. Laudonnière now again became very ill and the malcontents
had it all their own way. Soon nearly every one in the fort was on
their side, and they resolved to put an end to Laudonnière's tyranny.
Late one night about twenty men all armed to the teeth gathered
together and marched to Laudonnière's hut. Arrived there they beat
loudly on the door demanding entrance. But Laudonnière and his few
remaining friends knew well what this loud summons meant, and they
refused to open the door. The mutineers, however, were not to be
easily held back; they forced open the door, wounding one man who
tried to hinder them, and in a few minutes with drawn swords in
hand, and angry scowls on their faces, they crowded round the sick
man's bed. Then holding a gun at his throat they commanded him to
give them leave to set forth for Spanish waters. But the stern old
Huguenot knew no fear. Even with the muzzle of the gun against his
throat he refused to listen to the demands of the lawless crew.
His calmness drove them to fury. With terrible threats, and more
terrible oaths, they dragged him from his bed. Loading him with
fetters they carried him out of the fort, threw him into a boat
and rowed him out to the ship which lay anchored in the river. All
the loyal colonists had by this time been disarmed, and the fort
was completely in the hands of the mutineers. Their leader then drew
up a paper giving them leave to set forth to Spanish possessions.
And this he commanded Laudonnière to sign.
Laudonnière was completely in the power of the mutineers. He was
a prisoner and ill, but his spirit was unbroken, and he refused to
sign. Then the mutineers sent him a message saying that if he did
not sign they would come on board the ship and cut his throat. So,
seeing no help for it, Laudonnière signed.
The mutineers were now greatly delighted at the success of their
schemes. They made haste to finish the two little ships which they
had been building, and on the 8th of December they set sail. As
they went they flung taunts at those who stayed behind, calling
them fools and dolts and other scornful names, and threatening
them with all manner of punishments should they refuse them free
entrance to the fort on their return.
As soon as the mutineers were gone Laudonnière's friends rowed out
to him, set him free from his fetters, and brought him back to the
They were now but a very small company, but they were at peace with
each other, and there was plenty to do. So the weeks went quickly
by. They finished the fort, and began to build two new ships to
take the place of those which the mutineers had stolen. But they
never thought of tilling the ground and sowing seed to provide
bread for the future. Thus more than three months passed. Then one
day an Indian brought the news that a strange ship was in sight.
Laudonnière at once sent some men to find out what ship this might
be, and whether it was friend or foe.
It proved to be a Spanish vessel which the mutineers had captured
and which was now manned by them. But the mutineers who had sailed
away full of pride and insolence now returned in very humble mood.
Their buccaneering had not succeeded as they had hoped. They were
starving, and instead of boldly demanding entrance, and putting
in force their haughty threats, they were eager to make terms. But
Laudonnière was not sure whether they really came in peace or not.
So he sent out a little boat to the mutineers' ship. On the deck
of it there was an officer with one or two men only. But below,
thirty men, all armed to the teeth, were hidden. Seeing only these
one or two men in the boat the mutineers let her come alongside.
But what was their astonishment when armed men suddenly sprang from
the bottom of the boat and swarmed over the sides of their vessel.
Many of the mutineers were stupid with drink, all of them were
weak with hunger, and before they could seize their arms, or make
any resistance, they were overpowered and carried ashore.
There a court-martial was held, and four of the ringleaders were
condemned to death. But these bold bad men were loath to die.
"Comrades," said one, turning to the loyal soldiers near, "will
you stand by and see us die thus shamefully?"
"These," replied Laudonnière, sharply, "are no comrades of mutineers
All appeals for mercy were in vain. So the men were shot and their
bodies hanged on gibbets near the mouth of the river as a lesson
After this there was peace for a time in Fort Caroline. But it
soon became peace with misery, for the colony began to starve. The
long-expected ship from France did not come. Rich and fertile land
spread all round them, but the colonists had neither ploughed nor
sown it. They trusted to France for all their food. Now for months
no ships had come, and their supplies were utterly at an end.
So in ever increasing misery the days passed. Some crawled about the
meadows and forest, digging for roots and gathering herbs. Others
haunted the river bed in search of shell-fish. One man even gathered
up all the fish bones he could find and ground them to powder to
make bread. But all that they scraped together with so much pain
and care was hardly enough to keep body and soul together. They
grew so thin that their bones started through the skin. Gaunt,
hollow-eyed spectres they lay about the fort sunk in misery, or
dragged themselves a little way into the forest in search of food.
Unless help came from France they knew that they must all soon die
a miserable death. And amid all their misery they clung to that
last hope, that help would come from France. So, however feeble they
were, however faint with hunger, they would crawl in turns to the
top of the hill above the fort straining their dimming eyes seaward.
But no sail appeared.
At length they gave up all hope, and determined to leave the hated
spot. They had the Spanish ship which the mutineers had captured,
and another little vessel besides which they had built. But these
were not enough to carry them all to France, so gathering all their
last energy they began to build another boat. The hope of getting
back to France seemed for a time to put a little strength into their
famine stricken bodies. And while they worked Laudonnière sailed
up the river in search of food. But he returned empty-handed.
Famishing men cannot work, and soon the colonists began to weary
of their labours.
The neighbouring Indians, too, who might have given them food, were
now their enemies. They indeed now and again brought scant supplies
of fish to the starving men. But they demanded so much for it that
soon the colonists were bare of everything they had possessed. They
bartered the very shirts from their backs for food. And if they
complained of the heavy price the Indians laughed at them.
"If thou makest so great account of thy merchandise," they jeered,
"eat it and we will eat our fish."
But summer passed. The grain began to ripen, and although the Indians
sold it grudgingly the colony was relieved from utter misery for
the time being.
But now fresh troubles arose, for the Frenchmen quarreled with the
chief of the Thimagoes for whose sake they had already made enemies
of Satouriona and his Indians.
Thinking themselves treated in an unfriendly manner by the Thimagoes
the Frenchmen seized their chief, and kept him prisoner until the
Indians promised to pay a ransom of large quantities of grain.
The Indians agreed only because they saw no other means of freeing
their chief. They were furiously angry with the Frenchmen and,
seething with indignation against them, they refused to pay an
ounce of grain until their chief had been set free: and even then
they would not bring it to Fort Caroline, but forced the Frenchmen
to come for it. The Frenchmen went, but they very quickly saw
that they were in great danger. For the village swarmed with armed
warriors who greeted the colonists with scowls of deepest hatred.
After a few days, therefore, although only a small portion of the
ransom had been paid, the Frenchmen decided to make for home as
fast as possible.
It was a hot July morning on which they set off. Each man besides
his gun carried a sack of grain, so the progress was slow. They had
not gone far beyond the village when a wild war whoop was heard.
It was immediately followed by a shower of arrows. The Frenchmen
replied with a hot fire of bullets. Several of the Indians fell
dead, and the rest fled howling into the forest.
Then the Frenchmen marched on again. But they had scarcely gone
a quarter of a mile when another war whoop was heard in front.
It was answered from behind, and the Frenchmen knew themselves
surrounded. But they stood their ground bravely. Dropping their
bags of corn they seized their guns. A sharp encounter followed,
and soon the Indians fled again into the forest. But again and
again they returned to the attack, and the Frenchmen had to fight
every yard of the way. At nine o'clock the fight began, and the sun
was setting when at length the Indians gave up the pursuit. When
the Frenchmen reached their boats they counted their losses. Two
had been killed, and twenty-two injured, some of them so badly
that they had to be carried on board the boats. Of all the bags of
grain with which they had started out only two remained. It was a
miserable ending to the expedition.
The plight of the colony was now worse than ever. The two sacks
of grain were soon consumed; the feeble efforts at building a ship
had come to nothing. But rather than stay longer the colonists
resolved to crowd into the two small vessels they had, and sail
homeward if only they could gather food enough for the voyage. But
where to get that food none knew.
One day full of troubled, anxious thoughts Laudonnière climbed
the hill and looked seaward. Suddenly he saw something which made
his heart beat fast, and brought the colour to his wasted cheeks.
A great ship, its sails gleaming white in the sunlight was making
for the mouth of the river. As he gazed another and still another
ship hove in sight. Thrilling with excitement Laudonnière sent
a messenger down to the fort with all speed to tell the news, and
when they heard it the men who had seemed scarce able to crawl arose
and danced for joy. They laughed, and wept, and cried aloud, till
it seemed as if joy had bereft them of their wits.
But soon fear mingled with their joy. There was something not
altogether familiar about the cut and rig of the ships. Were they
really the long-looked-for ships from France, or did they belong
to their deadly and hated enemies, the Spaniards? They were neither
one nor the other. That little fleet was English, under command
of the famous admiral, John Hawkins, in search of fresh water of
which they stood much in need. The English Admiral at once showed
himself friendly. To prove that he came with no evil intent he
landed with many of his officers gaily clad, and wearing no arms.
The famine-stricken colonists hailed him with delight, for it seemed
to them that he came as a deliverer.
Gravely and kindly Hawkins listened to the tale of misery, yet he
was glad enough when he heard that the Frenchmen had decided to
leave Florida, for he wanted to claim it for Queen Elizabeth and
England. When, however, he saw the ships in which they meant to
sail homewards he shook his head. "It was not possible," he said,
"for so many souls to cross the broad Atlantic in those tiny
barques." So he offered to give all the Frenchmen a free passage
to France in his own ships. This Laudonnière refused. Then Hawkins
offered to lend him, or sell him, one of his ships. Even this
kindness Laudonnière hesitated to accept.
Thereupon there arose a great uproar among the colonists, they
crowded round him clamouring to be gone, threatening that if he
refused the Englishman's offer they would accept it and sail without
So Laudonnière yielded. He told Hawkins that he would buy the
ship he offered, but he had no money. The Englishman, however, was
generous. Instead of money he took the cannon and other things now
useless to the colonists. He provided them with food enough for
the voyage, and seeing many of the men ragged and barefoot, added
among other things fifty pairs of shoes.
Then with kindly good wishes Hawkins said farewell and sailed away,
leaving behind him many grateful hearts. As soon as he was gone
the Frenchmen began to prepare to depart also. In a few days all
was ready, and they only waited for a fair wind in order to set
sail. But as they waited, one day, the fort was again thrown into
a state of excitement by the appearance of another fleet of ships.
Again the question was asked, were they friends or foes, Spaniards
or Frenchmen? At length, after hours of sickening suspense, the
question was answered, they were Frenchmen under the command of
The long-looked-for help had come at last. It had come when it was
no longer looked for, when it was indeed unwelcome to many. For
the colonists had grown utterly weary of that sunlit cruel land,
and they only longed to go home. France with any amount of tyranny
was to be preferred before the freedom and the misery of Florida.
But to abandon the colony was now impossible, for besides supplies
of food the French ships had brought many new colonists. This
time, too, the men had not come alone but had brought their wives
and families with them. Soon the fort which had been so silent and
mournful was filled with sounds of talk and laughter. Again, the
noise of hatchet and hammer resounded through the woods, and the
little forsaken corner of the world awoke once more to life.
Chapter 9 - How the Spaniards Drove the French Out of Florida
Scarcely a week had passed before the new peace and happiness of
the French colony was brought to a cruel end.
Late one night the men on board the French ships saw a great black
hulk loom silently up out of the darkness. It was followed by
another and another. No word was spoken, and in eerie silence the
strange ships crept stealthily onwards, and cast anchor beside the
French. The stillness grew terrible. At length it was broken by a
trumpet call from the deck of one of the silent new-comers.
Then a voice came through the darkness. "Gentlemen," it asked,
"whence does this fleet come?"
"From France," was the reply.
"What are you doing here?" was the next question.
"We are bringing soldiers and supplies for a fort which the King of
France has in this country, and for many which he soon will have."
"Are you Catholics or Lutherans?"
The question came sharply across the dark water. It was answered
by many voices.
"We are Lutherans," cried the French, "we are of the new religion."
Then it was the Frenchmen's turn to ask questions.
"Who are you," I they cried, "and whence come ye?"
"I am Pedro Menendez," replied the voice out of the darkness. "I
am Admiral of the fleet of the King of Spain. And I am come into
this country to hang and behead all Lutherans whom I may find by
land or by sea. And my King has given me such strict commands that
I have power to pardon no man of them. And those commands I shall
obey to the letter, as you will see. At dawn I shall come aboard
your ship. And if there I find any Catholic he shall be well-treated,
but every heretic shall die."
In reply to this speech a shout of wrath went up from the Frenchmen.
"If You are a brave man," they cried, "why wait for dawn? Come on
now, and see what you will get."
Then in their anger they heaped insults upon the Spaniards, and
poured forth torrents of scoffing words. Thereupon Menendez was
so enraged that he swore to silence those Lutheran dogs once and
for ever. So the order was given, and his great ship slowly moved
towards the French.
The threats of the French had been but idle boasting; they could not
withstand the Spaniards, for their leader was ashore with most of
his soldiers. So cutting their cables they fled out to sea pursued
by the foe.
There was a mad chase through the darkness. But the heretic devils,
as the Spaniards called them, were skilful sailors. Menendez could
not catch them, and when day dawned he gave up the chase and moodily
turned back to Fort Caroline.
Here he found the French ready for him, and they seemed so strong
that he would not attack, but sailed away southwards until he
reached the river of Dolphins.
Here Menendez landed and took possession of the country in the
name of the King of Spain. While cannon boomed and trumpets blew
he stepped on shore followed by his officers and gentlemen. In
all the gay trappings of knighthood, with many-coloured banners
fluttering in the breeze, they marched. Then as they advanced another
procession came toward them. At the head of it was a priest in all
the pomp and splendour of his priestly robes. He carried a gilded
crucifix in his hand, and as he marched he sang a Te Deum.
When the two processions met Menendez and all his company knelt,
and baring their heads kissed the crucifix. So was the land claimed
for Spain and the Catholic faith, and St. Augustine, the oldest
town in the United States, was founded.
Meanwhile, the fleeing French ships had turned, followed the Spaniards,
and seen them land. Then they went back to Fort Caroline with the
While these things had been happening Laudonnière had been very
ill. He was still in bed when Ribaut, followed by several of his
chief officers, came to his room to tell him the news which the
returning ships had just brought. And beside his sickbed they held
a council of war. It was decided to attack the Spaniards and drive
them from the land. But how?
First one plan and then another was discussed, and to each some
one objected. But at length it was decided to go by sea and attack
the Spaniards suddenly in their newly-founded fort.
So almost every man who could hold a gun set forth with Ribaut,
and Laudonnière was left in the fort with the feeble and sick, and
scarcely a man besides who had ever drawn a sword or fired a shot.
Their leader was as sick and feeble as any of them. But he dragged
himself from his bed to review his forces. They were poor indeed,
but Laudonnière made the best of them. He appointed each man to a
certain duty, he set a, watch night and day, and he began to repair
the broken-down walls of the fort, so that they would be able to
make some show of resistance in ease of attack.
While Laudonnière was thus ordering his poor little garrison
the ships carrying the rest of the colonists sailed on their way.
The wind was fair, and in the night they crept close to where the
Spanish vessels lay.
But when day dawned and the Spaniards saw the French vessels close
to them they fled to the shelter of their harbour. And a sudden
storm arising the French were driven out to sea again.
As Menendez watched them from the shore he rejoiced. He knew by
the number of the ships that most of the French colonists must be
in them, and he hoped that they would all be lost in the storm.
Then as he watched a sudden thought came to him. While the Frenchmen
were battling with wind and waves he resolved to move quickly over
land and take Fort Caroline. For he knew that it must be almost,
if not quite, unprotected.
One of the French mutineers who had deserted Laudonnière was now
in the Spanish fort. He would show the way. Full of this splendid
idea, eager to carry it out at once, he ordered Mass to be said,
then he called a council and laid his plan before his officers.
They, however, met his eagerness with coldness. It was a mad and
hopeless plan, they thought, and they did their best to dissuade
Menendez from it. But Menendez was determined to go.
"Comrades," he said, "it is now that we must show our courage and
our zeal. This is God's war, and we must not turn our backs upon
it. It is war against heretics, and we must wage it with blood and
But the Spanish leader's eager words awoke no response in the
hearts of his hearers. They answered him only with mutterings.
Still Menendez insisted. The debate grew stormy, and angry words
were flung this way and that.
At length, however, Menendez had his way. The clamour was stilled,
the officers gave a grudging consent, and preparations for the
march were begun. In a few days all was ready, and the expedition
set out. It was a simple matter. There was no great train of
sumpter mules or baggage wagons. Each man carried his own food and
ammunition, and twenty axemen marched in front of the little army
to cleave a way through the forest.
The storm still raged. Rain fell in torrents, and the wind howled
ceaselessly as on and on the men trudged. They plunged through
seas of mud, and grass which grew waist high, and threaded their
way along the narrow paths cloven for them by the axemen.
So for three days they toiled onward. Their food was gone, their
ammunition soaked, they were drenched to the skin, footsore and
famishing, when upon the third night they lay down upon the muddy
ground, cursing their leader for having brought them forth to
died thus miserably. But while the men cursed Menendez prayed. All
night he prayed. And before day dawned he called his officers to a
council. They were now within a mile of Fort Caroline, and he was
eager to attack.
But his officers were sick of the whole business. The men were
utterly disheartened; one and all they clamoured to return.
Yet once again Menendez bent them to his will. In the darkness of
the forest he spoke to the wretched, shivering, rain-drenched men.
He taunted, he persuaded, and at length wrung from them a sullen
consent to follow him.
So once again the miserable march was begun, and when day
dawned they stood on the hill above the fort .
No sound came from it, no watchman stood upon the ramparts. For
towards morning, seeing that it rained harder than ever, the captain
of the guard had sent his men to bed, for they were soaked to the
skin and he was sorry for them. In such rain and wind what enemy
would venture forth? he asked himself. It was folly to stay abroad
on such a night he thought. So he dismissed the guard, and went
off to bed.
Thus none heard or saw the approach of the Spaniards. Then suddenly
the silence of the dawn was broken with fierce war cries.
"At them," shouted the Spaniards, "God is with us!"
The sleeping Frenchmen started from their beds in terror. Half
naked they sprang to arms. On every side the Spaniards poured in.
The dim light of dawn showed the dark cruel faces, and the gleam
of drawn swords. Then clash of steel, screams of frightened women
and children, curses, prayers, all mingled together in terrible
At the first alarm Laudonnière sprang from his bed, and seizing his
sword called his men to follow him. But the Spaniards surrounded
him, his men were slain and scattered, and he himself was forced
back into the yard of his house. Here there was a tent. This
stopped his pursuers, for they stumbled over the cordage and became
entangled with it. The confusion gave Laudonnière a few minutes'
respite in which he escaped through a breach in the ramparts, and
took refuge in the forest. A few others fleeing this way and that
escaped likewise. But some, the first moment of terror past, resolved
to return and throw themselves on the mercy of the Spaniards rather
than face starvation in the woods.
"They are men" said one; "it may be when their fury is spent they
will spare our lives. Even if they slay us what of that? It is but
a moment's pain. Better that than to starve here in the woods or
be torn to pieces by wild beasts."
Still some held back, but most agreed to throw themselves upon the
mercy of the Spaniards.
So unarmed and almost naked as they were, they turned back to give
themselves up. But little did these simple Frenchmen understand
the fury of the foe. When they neared the fort the Spaniards rushed
out upon them and, unheeding their cries for mercy, slew them to
a man. Those who had held back, when they saw the fate of their
companions, fled through the forest. Some sought refuge among the
Indians. But even from that refuge the Spaniards hunted them forth
and slew them without pity. Thus the land was filled with bloodshed
and ruin. Many were slain at once by the sword, others were hanged
on trees round the fort, and over them Menendez wrote, "I do this
not as to Frenchmen but as to Lutherans." Only a few miserable
stragglers, after untold sufferings, reached the little ship which
still lay at anchor in the river. Among these was Laudonnière.
Their one desire now was to flee homewards, and unfurling their
sails they set out for France.
The colony of Fort Caroline was wiped out, and rejoicing at the
success of his bold scheme, Menendez marched back to St. Augustine
where a Te Deum was sung in honour of this victory over heretics.
Meanwhile the Frenchmen who had set forth to attack St. Augustine
by sea had been driven hither and thither by the storm, and at length
were wrecked. But although the ships were lost all, or nearly all,
of the men succeeded in reaching the shore in safety. And not knowing
what had happened at Fort Caroline they set out in two companies
to try to reach the fort by land.
But they never reached the fort. For one morning scarcely ten days
after the destruction of Fort Caroline some Indians came to Menendez
with the news that they had seen a French ship wrecked a little to
The news delighted Menendez, and he at once set out to capture the
shipwrecked men. It was not long before he saw the lights of the
French camp in the distance. But on coming nearer it was seen that
they were on the other side of an arm of the sea, so that it was
impossible to reach them. Hiding, therefore, in the bushes by the
water's edge Menendez and his men watched the Frenchmen on the other
side. The Spaniards soon saw that their enemies were in distress.
They suspected that they were starving, for they could be seen
walking up and down the shore seeking shellfish. But Menendez
wanted to make sure of the state they were in, and he made up his
mind to get nearer to the Frenchmen. So he put off his fine clothes,
and dressing himself like a common sailor, got into a boat and
rowed across the water.
Seeing him come one of the Frenchmen swam out to meet him. As he
drew near Menendez called out to him: "Who are you, and whence come
"We are followers of Ribaut, Viceroy of the King of France," answered
"Are you Catholics or Lutherans?" asked Menendez.
"We are Lutherans," answered the man.
Then after a little more talk Menendez told who he was.
With this news the man swam back to his companions. But he soon
returned to the boat to say that five of the French leaders wished
to speak with the Spanish leader, and begged for safe conduct to
To this Menendez readily agreed, and returning to his own side he
sent the boat back to bring the Frenchmen over.
When they landed Menendez received them courteously. And after
returning his ceremonious greetings the Frenchmen begged the
Spaniards to lend them a boat so that they might cross the river
which lay between them and Fort Caroline.
At this request Menendez smiled evilly. "Gentlemen," he said, "it
were idle for you to go to your fort. It has been taken, and every
man is slain."
But the Frenchmen could not at first believe that he spoke the truth.
So in proof of his words the Spanish leader bade his men show the
heretics the plunder which had been taken from their fort. As they
looked upon it the hearts of the Frenchmen sank.
Then ordering breakfast to be sent to them Menendez left them, and
went to breakfast with his own officers.
Breakfast over he came back to the Frenchmen, and as he looked at
their gloomy faces his heart rejoiced. "Do you believe now," he
asked, "that what I told you is true?"
"Yes," replied the Frenchmen, "we believe. It would be useless now
to go to the fort. All we ask of you is to lend us ships so that
we may return home."
"I would gladly do so," replied Menendez, "if you were Catholics,
and if I had ships. But I have none."
Then seeing that he would give them no help to reach home, the
Frenchmen begged Menendez at least to let them stay with his people
until help came to them from France. It was little enough to ask,
they thought, as France and Spain were at peace. But there was no
pity or kindliness in the Spanish general's heart.
"All Catholics," he replied sternly, "I would defend and succour.
But as for you, you are Lutherans, and I must hold you as enemies.
I will wage war against you with blood and fire. I will wage it
fiercely, both by land and sea, for I am Viceroy for my King in
this country. I am here to plant the holy Gospel in this land ,
that the Indians may come to the light and knowledge of the Holy
Catholic, faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, as taught by the Roman
Church. Give up your banners and your arms, and throw yourselves
on my mercy, and I will do with you as God gives me grace. In no
other way can you have truce or friendship with me."
To this the Frenchmen knew not what to say. First they consulted
together, then some of them went back across the water to take
counsel with those who waited there. They talked long, and anxiously
those on the Spanish side awaited their return. At length one of
their messengers returned, and going to Menendez he offered him a
large sum of money if he would swear to spare their lives.
But Menendez would promise nothing. The Frenchmen were helpless.
They were starving and in his hands. And both he and they knew it.
They saw no hope anywhere, so they yielded to the Spanish general's
Once more the boat was sent across the water, and this time it came
back laden with banners, arms and armour. Then guarded by Spanish
soldiers the Frenchmen were brought across by tons. As each batch
landed they found themselves prisoners; their arms were taken from
them and their hands were tied behind their backs.
All day, hour after hour, the boat plied to and fro: and when all
the Frenchmen had been brought over they were ordered to march
forward. The Spanish general walked in front. But he did not go
far, for the sun was already setting, and it was time to camp for
the night. So but a little way from the shore he stopped, and drew
a line in the sand. And when the wretched Frenchmen reached that
line, weaponless and helpless as they were, they were one and all
put to death. Then, glorying in his deed, Menendez returned to St.
But he had not yet completely wiped out the French colony. For
besides those he had so ruthlessly slain there was another large
party under Ribaut, who, ignorant of all that had happened, were
still slowly making their way to Fort Caroline. But again news of
their whereabouts was brought to Menendez by Indians, and again he
set off to waylay them.
He found them on the same spot as he had found the first party. But
this time the Frenchmen had made a raft, and upon this they were
preparing to cross the water when the Spaniards came upon them. The
Frenchmen were in such misery that many of them greeted the appearance
of their enemies with joy. But others were filled with misgiving.
Still they resolved to try to make terms with the Spaniards. So
first one of his officers, and then Ribaut himself, rowed across
the strip of water to parley with the Spanish leader. They found
him as pitiless as their companions had found him. And seeing that
they could make no terms with him many of the Frenchmen refused to
give themselves up, and they marched away. But after much parleying,
and many comings and goings across the river, Ribaut, believing
that Menendez would spare their lives, yielded up himself and the
rest of his company to the Spaniards.
He was soon undeceived. For he was led away among the bushes, and
his hands were tied behind his back. As his followers came over
they, too, were bound and led away. Then as trumpets blew and drums
beat the Spaniards fell upon their helpless prisoners and slew them
to a man.
When Ribaut saw that his hour was come he did not flinch. "We are
but dust," he said, "and to dust we must return: twenty years more
or less can matter little." So with the words of a psalm upon his
lips he met the swordthrust.
Not till every man lay dead was the fury of the Spaniards sated.
Then, his horrible labour ended, Menendez returned once more in
triumph to his fort.
Those of the French who had refused to give themselves up to Menendez
now wandered back to the shore where their ship had been wrecked.
Out of the broken pieces they tried to build a ship in which they
might sail homeward. But again news of their doings was brought to
Menendez by the Indians. And again he set out to crush them. When
the Frenchmen saw the Spaniards come they fled in terror. But Menendez
sent a messenger after them promising that if they yielded to him
he would spare their lives. Most Of them yielded. And Menendez kept
his promise. He treated his prisoners well. But, when an opportunity
arrived, he sent them home to end their lives as galley slaves.
Chapter 10 - How a Frenchman Avenged the Death of His Countrymen
When the news of these terrible massacres reached France it was
greeted with a cry of horror. Even the boy King, Charles IX, Catholic
though he was, demanded redress. But the King of Spain declared
that the Frenchmen had been justly served. The land upon which they
had settled was his, he said, and they had no right to be there.
He was sorry that they were Frenchmen, but they were also pirates
and robbers, and had received only the just reward of their misdeeds.
Neither Charles nor his mother, who was the real ruler in France
at this time, wished to quarrel with the King of Spain. So finding
that no persuasions would move him, and that instead of being punished
Menendez was praised and rewarded, they let the matter drop.
But there was one man in France who would not thus tamely submit to
the tyranny of Spain. His name was Dominique de Gourges. He hated
the Spaniards with a deadly hatred. And when he heard of the Florida
massacre he vowed to avenge the death of his countrymen. He sold
all that he had, borrowed what money he could, and with three ships
and a goodly company of soldiers and sailors set sail.
At first, however, he kept, his real object secret. Instead of
steering straight for Florida he steered southward, making believe
that he was going to Africa for slaves. But after encountering storms
and contrary winds he turned westward, and when off the coast of
Cuba he gathered all his men together and told them what he had
set out to do.
In vivid, terrible words he recounted to them the horrible slaughter.
"Shall we let such cruelty go unpunished?" he asked. "What fame
for us if we avenge it! To this end I have given my fortune, and
I counted on you to help me. Was I wrong?"
"No," they all cried, "we will go with you to avenge our countrymen!"
So with hearts filled with thoughts of vengeance they sailed onward
to Fort Caroline.
The Spaniards had repaired the fort and now called it Fort Mateo.
They had also built two small forts nearer the mouth of the river
to guard the entrance to it. Now one afternoon the men in these
forts saw three ships go sailing by. These were the French ships
bringing Gourges and his companions. But the men in the forts
thought that they were Spanish ships and therefore fired a salute.
Gourges did not undeceive them. He fired a salute in reply and,
sailing on as if he were going elsewhere, was soon lost to sight.
At length, having found a. convenient place out of sight of
the forts, he drew to the shore. But when he would have landed he
saw that the whole beach was crowded with savages armed with bows
and arrows and ready for war. For the Indians, too, had taken the
strange ships to be Spanish. And as they had grown to hate the
Spaniards with a deadly hatred they were prepared to withstand
Fortunately, however, Gourges had on board a trumpeter who had been
in Florida with Laudonnière. So now he sent him on shore to talk
with the Indians. And as soon as they recognised him they greeted
him with shouts of joy. Then they led him at once to their chief
who was no other than Satouriona, Laudonnière's one-time friend.
So amid great rejoicings the Frenchmen landed. Then Satouriona.
poured into their ears the tale of his wrongs. He told them how the
Spaniards stole their corn, drove them from their huts and their
hunting grounds, and generally ill-treated them. "Not one peaceful
day," he said, "have the Indians known since the Frenchmen went
When Gourges heard this he was well pleased. "If you have been
ill-treated by the Spaniards," he said, "the French will avenge
At this Satouriona, leaped for joy.
"What!" he cried, "will you fight the Spaniards?"
"Yes," replied Gourges, "but you must do your part also."
"We will die with you," cried Satouriona, "if need be."
"That is well," said Gourges. "How soon can you be ready? For if
we fight we should fight at once."
"In three days we can be ready," said the Indian.
"See to it then," said Gourges, "that you are secret in the matter
so that the Spaniards suspect nothing."
"Have no fear," replied Satouriona; "we wish them more ill than
The third day came and, true to his word, Satouriona appeared
surrounded by hundreds of warriors, fearful in paint and feathers.
Then some by water, some by land, the French and Indians set
forth, and after many hardships and much toil they reached one of
the forts which the Spaniards had built near the river Is mouth.
From the shelter of the surrounding trees they gazed upon it.
"There!" cried Gourges, "there at last are the thieves who have
stolen this land from our King. There are the murderers who slew
At his words the men were hardly to be restrained. In eager whispers
they begged to be led on. So the word was given, and the Frenchmen
rushed upon the fort.
The Spaniards had just finished their mid-day meal when a cry was
heard from the ramparts. "To arms! to arms! the French are coming!"
They were taken quite unawares, and with but short resistance they
fled. The French and Indians pursued them and hemmed them in so
that not one man escaped. In like manner the second fort was also
taken, and every man slain or made prisoner.
The next day was Sunday, and Gourges spent it resting, and making
preparations to attack Fort Mateo.
When the Spaniards in Fort Mateo saw the French and their great
host of yelling, dancing Indians they were filled with fear. And
in order to find out how strong the force really was one of them
dressed himself as an Indian and crept within the French lines. But
almost at once he was seen by a young Indian chief. And his disguise
being thus discovered he was seized and questioned. He owned that
there were scarce three hundred men in the fort and that, believing
the French to number at least two-thousand, they were completely
terror-stricken. This news delighted Gourges, and next morning he
prepared to attack.
The fort was easily taken. When the Spaniards saw the French
attack, panic seized them and they fled into the forest. But there
the Indians, mad with the desire of blood and vengeance, met them.
Many fell before the tomahawks; others turned back choosing rather
to die at the hands of the French than of the Indians. But which
way they turned there was no escape. Nearly all were slain, a few
only were taken prisoner.
When the fight was over Gourges brought all the prisoners from the
three forts together. He led them to the trees where Menendez had
hanged the Frenchmen a few months before. There he spoke to them.
"Did you think that such foul treachery, such, abominable cruelty
would go unpunished?" he said. "Nay, I, one of the most lowly of
my King's subjects, have taken upon myself to avenge it. There is
no name shameful enough with which to brand your deeds, no punishment
severe enough to repay them. But though you cannot be made to suffer
as you deserve you shall suffer all that an enemy may honourably
inflict. Thus your fate shall be an example to teach others to keep
the peace and friendly alliance, which you have broken so wickedly."
And having spoken thus sternly to the trembling wretches Gourges
ordered his men to hang them on the very same trees upon which
Menendez had hanged the Frenchmen. And over their heads he nailed
tablets of wood upon which were burned the words "Not as Spaniards
or as Mariners, but as Traitors, Robbers and Murderers."
Then at length the vengeance of Gourges was satisfied. But indeed
it was scarce complete, for Menendez the chief over and leader
of the Spaniards was safe in Europe, and beyond the reach of any
private man's vengeance. The Spaniards, too, were strongly entrenched
at St. Augustine, so strongly indeed that Gourges knew he had not
force enough to oust them. He had not even men enough to keep the
three forts he had won. So he resolved to destroy them.
This delighted the Indians, and they worked with such vigour that
in one day all three forts were made level with the ground. Then,
having accomplished all that he had come to do, Gourges made ready
to depart. Whereupon the Indians set up a wail of grief. With
tears they begged the Frenchmen to stay, and when they refused they
followed them all the way to the shore, praising them and giving
them gifts, and praying them to return.
So leaving the savages weeping upon the shore the Frenchmen sailed
away, and little more than a month later they reached home.
When they heard of what Gourges had done the Huguenots rejoiced,
and they greeted him with honour and praise. But Philip of Spain
was furiously angry. He demanded that Gourges should be punished,
and offered a large sum of money for his head. King Charles, too,
being in fear of the King of Spain, looked upon him coldly, so that
for a time he was obliged to flee away and hide himself.
Gourges had used all his money to set forth on his expedition, so
for a few years he lived in poverty. But Queen Elizabeth at length
heard of him and his deeds. And as she, too, hated the Spaniards
she was pleased at what he had done, and she asked him to enter
her service. Thus at length he was restored to honour and favour.
And in honour and favour he continued all the rest of his life.
Chapter 11 - The Adventures of Sir Humphrey Gilbert
The terrible disasters in Florida did not altogether stop French
adventurers from going to the New World. But to avoid conflict with
Spain they sailed henceforth more to the northern shores of erica,
and endeavoured to found colonies there. This made. Englishmen
angry. For by right of Cabot's voyages they claimed all America.
from Florida to Newfoundland, which, says a writer in the time of
Queen Elizabeth, "they bought and annexed unto the crowne of England."
The English, therefore, looked upon the French as interlopers and
usurpers. The French, however, paid little attention to the English
claims. They explored the country, named mountains, rivers, capes,
and bays, and planted colonies where they liked. Thus began the
long two hundred years' struggle between the French and English
for possession of North America.
The French had already planted a colony on the St. Lawrence when
an Englishman, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, determined also to plant one
in North America.
He was the first Englishman ever to attempt to found a colony in
America. Many Englishmen had indeed sailed there before him. But
they had only gone in quest of gold and of adventures, and without
any thought of founding a New England across the seas. This now,
with Queen Elizabeth's permission, was what Sir Humphrey hoped to
He set out with a little fleet of five ships. One of these was
called the Raleigh, and had been fitted out by the famous Sir Walter
Raleigh who was Gilbert's step-brother. Walter Raleigh, no doubt,
would gladly have gone with the company himself. But he was at the
time in high favour with Good Queen Bess, and she forbade him to
go on any such dangerous expedition. So he had to content himself
with helping to fit out expeditions for other people.
The Raleigh was the largest ship of the little fleet, and Sir
Walter spared no cost in fitting it Out. But before they had been
two days at sea the Captain of the Raleigh and many of his men
fell ill. This so greatly discouraged them that they turned back
Sir Humphrey was sad indeed at the loss of the largest and best-fitted
ship of his expedition, but he held on his way undaunted. They
had a troublous passage. Contrary winds, fogs and icebergs delayed
them. In a fog two of the ships named the Swallow and the Squirrel
separated from the others. But still Sir Humphrey sailed on.
At length land came in sight. But it was a barren, unfriendly coast,
"nothing but hideous rocks and mountains, bare of trees, and void
of any green herbs," says one who went with the expedition. And
seeing it so uninviting they sailed southward along the coast,
looking for a fairer land.
And now to their great joy they fell in again with the Swallow. The
men in the Swallow were glad, too, to see the Golden Hind and the
Delight once more. They threw their caps into the air and shouted
aloud for joy.
Soon after the re-appearance of the Swallow the Squirrel also turned
up, so the four ships were together again. Together they sailed
into the harbour of St. John's in Newfoundland. Here they found
fishermen from all countries. For Newfoundland had by this time
become famous as a fishing-ground, and every summer ships from all
countries went there to fish.
Sir Humphrey, armed as he was with a commission from Queen Elizabeth,
was received with all honour and courtesy by these people. And on
Monday, August 5th, 1583, he landed and solemnly took possession
of the country for two hundred leagues north, south, east and west,
in the name of England's Queen.
First his commission was read aloud and interpreted to those of
foreign lands who were there. Then one of Sir Humphrey's followers
brought him a twig of a hazel tree and a sod of earth, and put them
into his hands, as a sign that he took possession of the land and
all that was in it. Then proclamation was made that these lands
belonged to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England by the Grace of
God. "And if any person shall utter words sounding to the dishonour
of her Majesty, he shall lose his ears, and have his ship and goods
confiscated." The arms of England, engraved on lead and fixed to a
pillar of wood, were then set up, and after prayer to God the ceremony
came to an end. Thus Newfoundland became an English possession, and
by right of Sir Humphrey Gilbert's claims it is the oldest colony
of the British Empire.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert had taken possession of the land. But it soon
became plain that it would be impossible to found a colony with the
wild riff-raff of the sea of which his company was formed. Troubles
began at once. A few indeed went about their business quietly, but
others spent their time in plotting mischief. They had no desire
to stay in that far country; so some hid in the woods waiting a
chance to steal away in one or other of the ships which were daily
sailing homeward laden with fish. Others more bold plotted to steal
one of Sir Humphrey's ships and sail home without him. But their
plot was discovered. They, however, succeeded in stealing a ship
belonging to some other adventurers. It was laden with fish and
ready to depart homeward. In this they sailed away leaving its
The rest of Sir Humphrey's men now clamoured more than ever to be
taken home. And at length he yielded to them. But the company was
now much smaller than when he set out. For besides those who had
stolen away, many had died and many more were sick. There were not
enough men to man all four ships. So the Swallow was left with the
sick and a few colonists who wished to remain, and in the other
three Sir Humphrey put to sea with the rest of his company.
He did not, however, sail straight homeward. For he wanted to explore
still further, and find, if he could, an island to the south which
he had heard was very fertile. But the weather was stormy, and
before they had gone far the Delight was wrecked, and nearly all
on board were lost.
"This was a heavy and grievous event, to lose at one blow our chief
ship freighted with great provision, gathered together with much
travail, care, long time, and difficulty. But more was the loss of
our men to the number almost of a hundred souls." So wrote Master
Edward Hay who commanded the Golden Hind, and who afterwards wrote
the story of the expedition.
After this "heavy chance" the two ships that remained beat up and
down tacking with the wind, Sir Humphrey hoping always that the
weather would clear up and allow him once more to get near land.
But day by day passed. The wind and waves continued as stormy as
ever, and no glimpse of land did the weary sailors catch.
It was bitterly cold, food was growing scarce, and day by day the
men lost courage. At length they prayed Sir Humphrey to leave his
search and return homeward. Sir Humphrey had no wish to go, but
seeing his men shivering and hungry he felt sorry for them, and
resolved to do as they wished.
"Be content," he said. "We have seen enough. If God send us safe
home we will set forth again next spring."
So the course was changed, and the ships turned eastward. "The
wind was large for England," says Hay, "but very high, and the sea,
rough." It was so rough that the Squirrel in which Sir Humphrey
sailed was almost swallowed up. For the Squirrel was only a tiny
frigate of ten tons. And seeing it battered to and fro, and in
danger of sinking every moment, the captain of the Golden Hind and
many others prayed Sir Humphrey to leave it and come aboard their
boat. But Sir Humphrey would not.
"I will not forsake my little company going homeward,' he said.
"For I have passed through many storms and perils with them."
No persuasions could move him, so the captain of the Golden Hind
was fain to let him have his way. One afternoon in September those
in the Golden Hind watched the little Squirrel anxiously as it
tossed up and down among the waves. But Sir Humphrey seemed not a
whit disturbed. He sat in the stern calmly reading. And seeing the
anxious faces of his friends he cheerfully waved his hand to them.
"We are as near to heaven by sea as by land," he called, through
the roar of waves.
Then the sun went down. Darkness fell over the wild sea, and
the ships could only know each other's whereabouts by the tossing
Suddenly to the men on the Golden Hind it seemed as if the lights
of the little frigate went out. Immediately the watch cried out
that the frigate was lost.
"It was too true. For in that moment the frigate was devoured and
swallowed up by the sea."
Yet the men on the Golden Hind would not give up hope. All that night
they kept watch, straining their eyes through the stormy darkness
in the hope of catching sight of the frigate or of some of its
crew. But morning came and there was no sign of it on all the wide
waste of waters. Still they hoped, and all the way to England they
hailed every small sail which came in sight, trusting still that
it might be the Squirrel. But it never appeared. Of the five ships
which set forth only the Golden Hind returned to tell the tale.
And thus ended the first attempt to found an English colony in the
Chapter 12 - About Sir Walter Raleigh's Adventures in the Golden
The first attempt to found an English colony in America had been
an utter failure. But the idea of founding a New England across
the seas had now taken hold of Sir Humphrey's young step-brother,
Walter Raleigh. And a few months after the return of the Golden
Hind he received from the Queen a charter very much the same as his
brother's. But although he got the Charter Raleigh himself could
not sail to America, for Queen Elizabeth would not let him go. So
again he had to content himself with sending other people.
It was on April 27th, 1584, that his expedition set out in two
small ships. Raleigh knew some of the great Frenchmen of the day,
and had heard of their attempt to found a colony in Florida. And
in spite of the terrible fate of the Frenchmen he thought Florida
would be an excellent place to found an English colony.
So Raleigh's ships made their way to Florida, and landed on Roanoke
Island off the coast of what is now North Carolina. In those days
of course there was no Carolina, and the Spaniards called the whole
coast Florida right up to the shores of Newfoundland.
The Englishmen were delighted with Roanoke. It seemed to them a
fertile, pleasant land, "the most plentiful, sweete, fruitfull and
wholesome of all the worlde." So they at once took possession of
it "in the right of the Queen's most excellent Majesty as rightful
Queen and Princess of the same."
The natives, too, seemed friendly "and in their behaviour as
mannerly and civil as any man of Europe." But the Pale-faces and
the Redskins found it difficult to understand each other.
"What do you call this country?" asked an Englishman.
"Win gan da coa," answered the Indian.
So the Englishmen went home to tell of the wonderful country of
Wingandacoe. But what the Indian had really said was "What fine
clothes you have!"
However, the mistake did not matter much. For the Englishmen now
changed the name of the land from whatever it had been to Virginia
in honour of their Queen.
This first expedition to Roanoke was only for exploring, and after
a little the adventurers sailed home again to tell of all that they
had seen. But Raleigh was so pleased with the report of Roanoke
Island which they brought home, to him that he at once began to
make plans for founding a colony there. And the following April
his ships, were ready and the expedition set out under his cousin,
Sir Richard Grenville.
But now almost as soon as they landed troubles began with the
Indians. One of them stole a silver cup, and as it was not returned
the Englishmen in anger set fire to the corn-fields and destroyed
them. This was a bad beginning. But the Englishmen had no knowledge
yet of how cruel and revengeful the Redman could be. So it was with
no misgivings that Sir Richard left a colony of over a hundred men
in the country. And promising to return with fresh supplies in the
following spring he sailed homeward.
The Governor of this colony was named Ralph Lane. He was wise
and able, but he was soon beset with difficulties. He found that
the place chosen for a colony was not a good one, For the harbour
was bad, the coast dangerous, and many of the Indians were now
unfriendly. So he set about exploring the country, and decided as
soon as fresh supplies came from England to move to a better spot.
Spring came and passed, and no ships from England appeared. The men
began to starve. And seeing this the Indians who had feared them
before, now began to be scornful and taunt them.
"Your God is not a true god," they said, "or he would not leave
you to starve."
They refused to sell the colonists food no matter what price was
offered. Their hatred of the English was so great indeed that they
resolved to sow no corn in order that there should be no harvest;
being ready to suffer hunger themselves if they might destroy the
As the days passed the Englishmen daily felt the pinch of hunger
more and more. Then Lane divided his company into three, and sent
each in a different direction so that they might gather roots and
herbs and catch fish for themselves, and also keep a lookout for
But things went from bad to worse; the savages grew daily bolder
and more insolent, and the colonists lived constantly in dread of
an attack from them.
At length, although he had tried hard to avoid it, Lane was forced
to fight them. They were easily overcome, and fled to the woods. But
Lane knew well that his advantage was only for the moment. Should
help not come the colony would be wiped out. Then one day, about a
week after the fight with the Indians, news was brought to Lane that
a great fleet of twenty-three ships had appeared in the distance.
Were they friends, or were they foes? That was the great question.
The English knew the terrible story of Fort Caroline. Were these
Spanish ships? Fearing that they might be Ralph Lane looked to
his defenses, and made ready to withstand the enemy, if enemy they
proved to be, as bravely as might be.
But soon it was seen that their fears were needless, the ships
were English, and two days later Sir Francis Drake anchored in the
wretched little harbour.
Drake had not come on purpose to relieve the colony. He had been
out on one of his marauding expeditions against the Spaniards. He
had taken and sacked St. Domingo, Cartagena, and Fort St. Augustine.
And now, sailing home in triumph, chance had brought him to Raleigh's
colony at Roanoke. And when he saw the miserable condition of the
colonists, and heard the tale of their hardships, he offered to take
them all home to England. Or, he said, if they chose to remain he
would leave them a ship and food and everything that was necessary
to keep them from want until help should come.
Both Lane and his chief officers who were men of spirit wanted to
stay. So they accepted Drake's offer of the loan of a ship, agreeing
that after they had found a good place for a colony and a better
harbour, they would go home to England and return again the next
Thus the matter was settled. Drake began to put provisions on board
one of his ships for the use of the colony. The colonists on their
side began writing letters to send home with Drake's ships. All
was business and excitement. But in the midst of it a great storm
arose. It lasted for four days and was so violent that most of
Drake's ships were forced to put out to sea lest they should be
dashed to pieces upon the shore.
Among the ships thus driven out to sea was that which Drake had
promised to give Ralph Lane. And when the storm was over it was
nowhere to be seen.
So Drake offered another ship to Lane. It was a large one, too large
to get into the little harbour, but the only one he could spare.
Lane was now doubtful what was best to do. Did it not seem as if
by driving away their ship God had stretched out His hand to take
them from thence? Was the storm not meant as a sign to them?
So not being able to decide by himself what was best to do, Lane
called his officers and gentlemen together, and asked advice of
They all begged him to go home. No help had come from Sir Richard
Grenville, nor was it likely to come, for Drake had brought the
news that war between Spain and England had been declared. They knew
that at such a time every Englishman would bend all his energies to
the defeat of Spain, and that Raleigh would have neither thoughts
nor Money to spare for that far-off colony.
At length it was settled that they should all go home. In haste
then the Englishmen got on board, for Drake, was anxious to be gone
from the dangerous anchorage "which caused him more peril of wreck,"
says Ralph Lane, "than all his former most honourable actions
against the Spaniards."
So on the 19th of June 1586, the colonists set sail and arrived
in England some six weeks later. They brought with them two things
which afterward proved to be of wit great importance. The first
was tobacco. The use of it had been known ever since the days of
Columbus, but it was now for the first time brought to England.
The second was the potato. This Raleigh planted on his estates in
Ireland, and to this day Ireland is one of the great potato growing
countries of the world.
But meanwhile Raleigh had not forgotten his colonists, and scarce
a week after they had sailed away, a ship arrived laden "with all
manner of things in most plentiful manner for the supply and relief
of his colony."
For some time the ship beat up and down the coast searching vainly
for the colony. And at length finding no sign of it, it returned to
England. About a fortnight later Sir Richard Grenville also arrived
with three ships. To his astonishment when he reached Roanoke he
saw no sign of the ship which he knew had sailed shortly before
him. And to his still greater astonishment he found the colony
deserted. Yet he could not believe that it had been abandoned. So
he searched the country up and down in the hope of finding some of
the colonists. But finding no trace of them he at length gave up
the search and returned to the forsaken huts. And being unwilling
to lose possession of the country, he determined to leave some of
his men there. So fifteen men were left behind, well provided with
everything necessary to keep them for two years. Then Sir Richard
In spite of all these mischances Raleigh would not give up his great
idea. And the following year he fitted out another expedition. This
time there were a few women among the colonists, and John White,
who had already been out with Lane, was chosen as Governor.
It was now decided to give up Roanoke which had proved such an
unfortunate spot, and the new company of colonists was bound for
Chesapeake Bay. But before they settled there they were told to go
to Roanoke to pick up the fifteen men left by Sir Richard Grenville
and take them to Chesapeake also.
When, however, they reached Roanoke the Master of the vessels, who
was by birth a Spaniard, and who was perhaps in league with the
Spanish, said that it was too late in the year to go seeking another
spot. So whether they would or not he landed the colonists, and
sailed away, leaving only one small boat with them.
Thus perforce they had to take up their abode in the old spot. They
found it deserted. The fort was razed to the ground, and although
the huts were still standing they were choked with weeds and
overgrown with wild vines, while deer wandered in and out of the
open doors. It was plain that for many months no man had lived
there. And although careful search was made, saving the bones of
one, no sign was found of the fifteen men left there by Sir Richard.
At length the new colonists learned from a few friendly Indians
that they had been traitorously set upon by hostile Indians. Most
of them were slain; the others escaped in their boat and went no
man knew whither.
The Englishmen were very angry when they heard that, and wanted to
punish the Indians. So they set out against them. But the Indians
fled at their coming, and the Englishmen by mistake killed some
of the friendly Indians instead of their enemies. Thus things were
made worse instead of better.
And now amid all these troubles on the 18th of August, 1587, a
little girl was born. Her father was Ananias Dare, and her mother
was the daughter of John White, the Governor. The little baby was
thus the grand-daughter of the Governor, and because she was the
first English child to be born in Virginia she was called Virginia.
But matters were not going well in the colony. Day by day the men
were finding out things which were lacking and which they felt
they must have if they were not all to perish. So a few days after
Virginia was christened all the chief men came to the Governor and
begged him to go back to England to get fresh supplies, and other
things necessary to the life of the colony. John White, however,
refused to go. The next day not only the men but the women also came
to him and again begged him to go back to England. They begged so
hard that at last the Governor consented to go.
All were agreed that the place they were now in was by no means the
best which might be chosen for a colony, and it had been determined
that they should move some fifty miles further inland. Now it was
arranged that if they moved while the Governor was away they should
carve on the trees and posts of the door the name of the place to
which they had gone, so that on his return he might be able easily
to find them. And also it was arranged that if they were in any
trouble or distress they should carve a cross over the name.
All these matters being settled John White set forth. And it was
with great content that the colonists saw their Governor go. For
they knew that they could send home no better man to look after
their welfare, and they were sure he would bring back the food and
other things which were needed.
But when White arrived in England he found that no man, not even
Raleigh, had a thought to spare for Virginia. For Spain was making
ready all her mighty sea power to crush England. And the English
were straining every nerve to meet and break that power. So John
White had to wait with what patience he could. Often his heart was
sick when he thought of his daughter and his little granddaughter,
Virginia Dare, far away in that great unknown land across the sea.
Often he longed to be back beside them. But his longings were of no
avail. He could but wait. For every ship was seized by Government
and pressed into the service of the country. And while the Spaniards
were at the gate it was accounted treason for any Englishman to
sail to western lands.
So the summer of 1588 passed, the autumn came, and at length the
great Armada sailed from Spain. It sailed across the narrow seas
in pride and splendour, haughtily certain of crushing the insolent
sea dogs of England. But "God blew with His breath and they were
scattered." Before many days were over these proud ships were fleeing
before the storm, their sails torn, their masts splintered. They
were shattered upon the rocky shores of Scotland and Ireland. They
were swallowed by the deep.
The sea power of Spain was broken, and the history of America truly
began. For as has been said "the defeat of the Invincible Armada
was the opening event in the history of the United States."
Free now from the dread of Spain, ships could come and go without
hindrance. But another year and more passed before John White
succeeded in getting ships and provisions and setting out once more
It was for him an anxious voyage, but as he neared the place where
the colony had been, his heart rejoiced, for he saw smoke rising
from the land. It was dark, however, before they reached the spot,
and seeing no lights save that of a huge fire far in the woods
the Governor sounded a trumpet call. The notes of the trumpet rang
through the woods and died away to silence. There was no answer. So
the men called and called again, but still no answer came. Then
with sinking heart John White bade them sing some well-known English
songs. For that, he thought, would surely bring an answer from the
So through the still night air the musical sound of men's voices
rang out. But still no answer came from the silent fort. With a
heart heavy as lead the Governor waited for the dawn. As soon as it
was light he went ashore. The fort was deserted. Grass and weeds
grew in the ruined houses. But upon a post "in fair capital letters"
was carved the word "Croatoan." This was the name of a neighbouring
island inhabited by friendly Indians. There was no cross or sign
of distress carved over the letters. And when the Governor saw that
he was greatly comforted.
He spent some time searching about for other signs of the colonists.
In one place he found some iron and lead thrown aside as if too
heavy to carry away, and now overgrown with weeds. In another he
found five chests which had evidently been buried by the colonists,
and dug up again by the Indians.
They had been burst open and the contents lay scattered about the
grass. Three of these chests John White saw were his own, and it
grieved him greatly to see his things spoiled and broken. His books
were torn from their covers, his pictures and maps were rotten with
the rain, and his armour almost eaten through with rust.
At length, having searched in vain for any other signs of the colonists,
the English returned to the ships and set sail for Croatoan.
But now they encountered terrible storms. Their ships were battered
this way and that, their sails were torn, their anchors lost. And
at length in spite of all entreaties, the captain resolved to make
sail for England. So John White never saw Croatoan, never knew what
had become of his dear ones. And what happened to little Virginia
Dare, the first English girl to be born on the soil of the United
States, will never be known. But years afterwards settlers were
told by the Indians that the white people left at Roanoke had gone
to live among the Indians. For some years it was said they lived
in a friendly manner together. In time, however, the medicine men
began to hate the Pale-faces, and caused them all to be slain,
except four men, one young woman, and three boys. Was the young
woman perhaps Virginia Dare? No one can tell.
All Raleigh's attempts at founding a colony had thus come to nothing.
Still he did not despair. Once again he sent out an expedition. But
that too failed and the leader returned having done nothing. Even
this did not break Raleigh's faith in the future of Virginia. "I
shall yet live to see it an English nation," he said.
But although Raleigh's faith was as firm as before, his money was
gone. He had spent enormous sums on his fruitless efforts to found
a colony. Now he had no more to spend.
And now great changes came. Good Queen Bess died and James of Scotland
reigned in her stead. Raleigh fell into disgrace, was imprisoned
in the Tower, and after a short release was beheaded there. Thus
an end came to all his splendid schemes. Never before perhaps had
such noble devotion to King and country been so basely requited.
At the time it was said that "never before was English justice so
injured or so disgraced" as by the sentence of death passed upon
Raleigh. No man is perfect, nor was Raleigh perfect. But he was
a great man, and although all his plans failed we remember him as
the first great coloniser, the first Englishman to gain possession
of any part of North America.
PART II STORIES OF VIRGINIA
Chapter 13 - The Adventures of Captain John Smith
Raleigh was the true father of England beyond the seas. He was a
great statesman and patriot. But he was a dreamer too and all his
schemes failed. Other men followed him who likewise failed. But
it would take too long to tell of them all, of Bartholomew Gosnold
who discovered and named Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod; of Bartholomew
Gilbert, brave Sir Humphrey's son, who was slain by Indians, and
of many more besides.
Again and again men tried to plant a colony on the shores of
America. Again and again they failed. But with British doggedness
they went on trying, and at length succeeded.
Raleigh lay in the Tower of London, a prisoner accused of treason.
All his lands were taken from him. Virginia, which had been granted
to him by Queen Elizabeth was the King's once more to give to whom
he would. So now two companies were formed, one of London merchants
called the London Company, one of Plymouth merchants called the
Plymouth Company. And both these companies prayed King James to grant
them permission to found colonies in Virginia. Virginia therefore
was divided into two parts; the right to found colonies in the
southern half being given to the London Company, the right to found
colonies in the northern half being given to the Plymouth Company
upon condition that the colonies founded must be one hundred miles
distant from each other.
These companies were formed by merchants. They were formed for
trade, and in the hope of making money, in spite of the fact that
up to this time no man had made money by trying to found colonies.
in America, but on the contrary many had lost fortunes.
Of the two companies now formed it was only the London Company
which really did anything. The Plymouth Company indeed sent out an
expedition which reached Virginia. But the colony was a failure,
and after a year of hardships the colonists set sail for England
taking home with them such doleful accounts of their sufferings
that none who heard them ever wished to help to found a colony.
The expedition of the London Company had a better fate. It was in
December, 1606, that the little fleet of three ships, the Susan
Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery, put out from England,
and turned westward towards the New World.
With the expedition sailed Captain John Smith. He was bronzed and
bearded like a Turk, a swaggering, longheaded lovable sort of man,
ambitious, too, and not given to submit his will to others. Since
a boy of sixteen he had led a wandering adventurous life - a life
cramful of heroic deeds, of hairbreadth escapes of which we have
no space to tell here. But I hope some day you will read his own
story of these days. For he was a writer as well as a warrior, and
"what his sword did his pen wrote." Every American boy and girl
should read his story, for he has been called the first American
Now with this saucy, swaggering fellow on board, troubles were not
far to seek. The voyage was long and tedious. For six weeks adverse
winds kept the little fleet prisoner in the English Channel within
sight of English shores, a thing trying to the tempers of men used
to action, and burning with impatience to reach the land beyond
the seas. They lay idle with nothing to do but talk. So they fell
to discussing matters about the colony they were to found. And from
discussing they fell to disputing until it ended at length in a
bitter quarrel between Smith and another of the adventurers, Captain
Captain Wingfield was twice John Smith's age, and deemed that he knew
much better how a colony ought to be formed than this dictatorial
youth of twenty-seven. He himself was just as dictatorial and
narrow into the bargain. So between the two the voyage was by no
Good Master Hunt, the preacher who went with the expedition, in
spite of the fact that he was so weak and ill that few thought he
would live, did his best to still the angry passions.
To some extent he succeeded. And when a fair wind blew at length
the ships spread their sails to it and were soon out of sight of
England. Two months of storm and danger passed before the adventurers
sighted the West Indies. Here they went ashore on the island of
San Dominica. Delighted once more to see land and escape from the
confinement of the ship, they stayed three weeks among the sunny
islands. They hunted and fished, traded with the savages, boiled
pork in hot natural springs, feasted on fresh food and vegetables,
and generally enjoyed themselves.
But among all this merry-making Wingfield did not forget his anger
against John Smith. Their quarrels became so bad that Wingfield
decided to end both quarrels and John Smith. So he ordered a gallows
to be set up and, having accused Smith of mutiny, made ready to
hang him. But John Smith stoutly defended himself. Nothing could be
proved against him. He laughed at the gallows, and as he quaintly
puts it "could not be persuaded to use them."
Nevertheless, although nothing could be proved against him, there
were many who quite agreed that Captain John Smith was a turbulent
fellow. So to keep him quiet they clapped him in irons and kept him
so until their arrival in Virginia. After leaving the West Indies
the adventurers fell into more bad weather, and lost their course;
but finally they arrived safely in Chesapeake Bay.
They named the capes on either side Henry and Charles, in honour
of the two sons of their King. Upon Cape Henry they set up a brass
cross upon which was carved "Jacobus Rex" and thus claimed the
land for England. Then they sailed on up the river which they named
James River, in honour of the King himself. Their settlement they
named Jamestown, also in his honour. Jamestown has now disappeared,
but the two capes and the river are still called by the names given
them by these early settlers.
Before this expedition sailed the directors of the Company had
arranged who among the colonists were to be the rulers. But for
some quaint reason they were not told. Their names, together with
many instructions as to what they were to do, were put into a sealed
box, and orders were given that this box was not to be opened until
Virginia was reached.
The box was now opened, and it was found that John Smith was named
among the seven who were to form the council. The others were much
disgusted at this, and in spite of all he could say, they refused
to have him in the council. They did, however, set him free from
his fetters. Of the council Wingfield was chosen President. All
the others, except John Smith, took oath to do their best for the
colony. Then at once the business of building houses was begun.
While the council drew plans the men dug trenches and felled trees
in order to clear space on which to pitch their tents, or otherwise
busied themselves about the settlement.
The Indians appeared to be friendly, and often came to look
on curiously at these strange doings. And Wingfield thought them
so gentle and kindly that he would not allow the men to build any
fortifications except a sort of screen of interwoven boughs.
Besides building houses one of the colonists' first cares was
to provide themselves with a church. But indeed it was one of the
quaintest churches ever known. An old sail was stretched beneath
a group of trees to give shelter from the burning sun. And to make
a pulpit a plank of wood was nailed between two trees which grew
near together. And here good Master Hunt preached twice every
Sunday while the men sat on felled trunks reverently listening to
his long sermons.
While the houses were being built Smith, with some twenty others,
was sent to explore the country. They sailed up the river and found
the Indians to all appearance friendly. But they found no gold
or precious stones, and could hear nothing of a passage to the
Pacific Ocean which they had been told to seek. So they returned
to Jamestown. Arriving here they found that the day before the
Indians had attacked the settlement and that one Englishman lay
slain and seventeen injured.
This was a bitter disappointment to Wingfield who had trusted in
the friendliness of the Indians. But at length he was persuaded to
allow fortifications to be built. Even then, however, the colonists
were not secure, for as they went about their business felling
trees or digging the ground the savages would shoot at them from
the shelter of the surrounding forest. If a man strayed from the
fort he was sure to return wounded if he returned at all; and in
this sort of warfare the stolid English were no match for the wily
Indians. "Our men," says Smith, "by their disorderly straggling
were often hurt when the savages by the nimbleness of their heels
So six months passed, and the ships which had brought out the
colonists were ready to go back to England with a cargo of wood
instead of the gold which the Company had hoped for. But before
the ships sailed Smith, who was still considered in disgrace, and
therefore kept out of the council, insisted on having a fair trial.
For he would not have Captain Newport go home and spread evil
stories about him.
Smith's enemies were unwilling to allow the trial. But Smith would
take no denial. So at length his request was granted, the result
being that he was proved innocent of every charge against him, and
was at length admitted to the council.
Now at last something like peace was restored, and Captain Newport
set sail for home. He promised to make all speed he could and to
be back in five months' time. And indeed he had need to hasten. For
the journey outward had been so long, the supply of food so scant,
that already it was giving out. And when Captain Newport sailed it
was plain that the colonists had not food enough to last fifteen
Such food it was too! It consisted chiefly of worm-eaten grain. A
pint was served out daily for each man, and this boiled and made
into a sort of porridge formed their chief food. Their drink was
cold water. For tea and coffee were unknown in those days, and
beer they had none. To men used to the beer and beef of England
in plenty this indeed seemed meagre diet. "Had we been as free of
all sins as gluttony and drunkenness," says Smith, "we might have
been canonised as saints, our wheat having fried some twenty-six weeks
in the ship's hold, contained as many worms as grains, so that we
might truly call it rather so much bran than corn. Our drink was
water, our lodging castles in the air."
There was fish enough in the river, game enough in the woods. But
the birds and beasts were so wild, and the men so unskilful and
ignorant in ways of shooting and trapping, that they succeeded
in catching very little. Besides which there were few among the
colonists who had any idea of what work meant. More than half the
company were "gentlemen adventurers," dare devil, shiftless men who
had joined the expedition in search of excitement with no idea of
labouring with their hands.
Badly fed, unused to the heat of a Virginian summer the men soon
fell ill. Their tents were rotten, their houses yet unbuilt. Trees
remained unfelled, the land untilled, while the men lay on the bare
ground about the fort groaning and in misery. Many died, and soon
those who remained were so feeble that they had scarce strength
to bury the dead or even to crawl to the "common kettle" for their
daily measure of porridge.
In their misery the men became suspicious and jealous, and once
more quarrels were rife. Wingfield had never been loved. Now many
grew to hate him, for they believed that while they starved he
kept back for his own use secret stores of oil and wine and other
dainties. No explanations were of any avail, and he was deposed
from his office of President and another chosen in his place.
As autumn drew on the misery began to lessen. For the Indians, whose
corn was now ripe, began to bring it to the fort to barter it for
chisels, and beads, and other trifles. Wild fowl too, such as ducks
and geese, swarmed in the river.
So with good food and cooler weather the sick soon began to mend.
Energy returned to them, and once more they found strength to build
and thatch their houses. And led by Smith they made many expeditions
among the Indians, bringing back great stores of venison, wild
turkeys, bread, and grain in exchange for beads, hatchets, bells
and other knick-knacks.
But all the misery through which the colonists had passed had taught
them nothing. They took no thought for the time to come when food
might again be scarce. They took no care of it, but feasted daily
on good bread, fish and fowl and "wild beasts as fat as we could
eat them," says Smith.
Now one December day Smith set out on an exploring expedition up
the Chickahominy River. It was a hard journey, for the river was so
overgrown with trees that the men had to hew a path for the little
vessel. At length the barque could go no further, so Smith left it,
and went on in a canoe with only two Englishmen, and two Indians
For a time all went well. But one day he and his companions went
ashore to camp. While the others were preparing a meal, Smith, taking
one of the Indians with him, went on to explore a little further.
But he had not gone far when he heard the wild, blood-curdling war
whoop of the Indians. Guessing at once that they had come against
him he resolved to sell his life as dearly as might be. So seizing
the Indian guide he tied his arm fast to his own with his garters.
Then with pistol in his right hand, and holding the Indian in
front of him as a shield, he pushed as rapidly as he could in the
direction of the camp.
Arrows flew round him thick and fast, but Smith's good buff coat turned
them aside. The whole forest was alive with Indians, but although
from the shelter of the trees they showered arrows upon Smith
none dared approach him to take him. For they knew and dreaded the
terrible fire stick which he held in his hand. Smith fired again
and yet again as he retreated, and more than one Indian fell, never
more to rise. He kept his eyes upon the bushes and trees trying
to catch glimpses of the dusky figures as they skulked among them,
and paid little heed to the path he was taking. So suddenly he
found himself floundering in a quagmire.
Still he fought for dear life, and as long as he held his pistol
no Redman dared come near to take him. But at length, chilled and
wet, and half dead-with cold, unable to go further, he saw it was
useless to resist longer. So he tossed away his pistol. At once
the savages closed in upon and, dragging him out of the quagmire,
led him to their chief.
Smith had given in because he knew that one man stuck in a quagmire
could not hope to keep three hundred Indians long at bay. But he
had sharp wits as well as a steady hand, and with them he still
fought for his life. As soon as he was brought before the chief he
whipped out his compass, and showing it to the chief, explained to
him that it always pointed north, and thus the white men were able
to find their way through the pathless desert.
To the Indians this seemed like magic; they marvelled greatly at the
shining needle which they could see so plainly and yet not touch.
Seeing their interest Smith went on to explain other marvels of
the sun, and moon, and stars, and the roundness of the earth, until
those who heard were quite sure he was a great "medicine man."
Thus Smith fought for his life. But at length utterly exhausted, he
could say no more. So while the chief still held the little ivory
compass, and watched the quivering needle, his followers led Smith
away to his own camp fire. Here lay the other white men dead, thrust
through with many arrows. And here the Indians warmed and chafed
his benumbed body, and treated him with all the kindness they knew.
But that brought Smith little comfort. For he knew it was the Indian
way. A famous warrior might be sure of kindness at their hands if
they meant in the end to slay him with awful torture.
And so, thoroughly warmed and restored, in less than an hour Smith
found himself fast bound to a tree, while grim warriors, terribly
painted, danced around him, bows and arrows in hand. They were about
to slay him when the chief, holding up the compass, bade them lay
down their weapons. Such a medicine man, he had decided, must not
thus be slain. So Smith was unbound.
For some weeks Smith was marched hither and thither from village to
village. He was kindly enough treated, but he never knew how long
the kindness would last, and he constantly expected death. Yet he
was quite calm. He kept a journal, and in this he set down accounts
of many strange sights he saw, not knowing if indeed they would
ever be read.
At length Smith was brought to the wigwam of the great Powhatan*,
the chief of chiefs, or Emperor, as these simple English folk
called him. To receive the white prisoner the Powhatan put on his
greatest bravery. Feathered and painted, and wearing a wide robe
of raccoon skins he sat upon a broad couch beside a fire. On either
side of him sat one of his wives and behind in grim array stood his
warriors, row upon row. Behind them again stood the squaws. Their
faces and shoulders were painted bright red, about their necks they
wore chains of white beads, and on their heads the down of white
It was a weird scene, and the flickering firelight added to its
strangeness. Silent and still as statues the warriors stood. Then
as John Smith was led before the chief they raised a wild shout.
As that died away to silence one of the Powhatan's squaws rose and
brought a basin of water to Smith. In this he washed his hands,
and then another squaw brought him a bunch of feathers instead of
a towel, with which to dry them.
After this the Indians feasted their prisoner with savage splendour.
Then a long consultation took place. What was said Smith knew not.
He only knew that his life hung in the balance. The end of the
consultation he felt sure meant life or death for him.
At length the long talk came to an end. Two great stones were placed
before the chief. Then as many as could lay hands on Smith seized
him, and dragging him to the stones, they threw him on the ground,
and laid his head upon them. Fiercely then they brandished their
clubs and Smith knew that his last hour had come, and that the
Indians were about to beat out his brains.
But the raised clubs never fell, for with a cry Pocahontas, the
chief's young daughter, sprang through the circle of warriors. She
stood beside the prisoner pleading for his life. But the Indians
were in no mood to listen to prayers for mercy. So seeing that all
her entreaties were in vain she threw herself upon her knees beside
Smith, put her arms about his neck, and laid her head upon his,
crying out that if they would beat out his brains they should beat
hers out too.
Of all his many children the Powhatan loved this little daughter
best. He could deny her nothing. So Smith's life was saved. He
should live, said the Powhatan, to make hatchets for him, and bells
and beads for his little daughter.
Having thus been saved, Smith was looked upon as one of the tribe.
Two days later he was admitted as such with fearsome ceremony.
Having painted and decorated himself as frightfully as he could,
the Powhatan caused Smith to be taken to a large wigwam in the
forest. The wigwam was divided in two by a curtain and in one half
a huge fire burned. Smith was placed upon a mat in front of the
fire and left alone. He did not understand in the least what was
going on, and marvelled greatly what this new ceremony might mean.
But he had not sat long before the fire when he heard doleful
sounds coming from the other side of the curtain. Then from behind
it appeared the Powhatan with a hundred others as hideously painted
as himself, and told Smith that now that they were brothers he
might go back to his fort.
So with twelve guides Smith set out. Yet in spite of all their
feasting and ceremonies Smith scarcely believed in the friendship
of the Indians, and no one was more surprised than himself when he
at length reached Jamestown in safety.
*This chief's name was Wahunsunakok, the name of the tribe Powhatan
and the English called the chief the Powhatan.
Chapter 14 - More Adventures of Captain John Smith
Smith had been away from the settlement nearly a month, and he
returned to find the colony in confusion and misery. Many had died,
and those who remained were quarrelling among themselves. Indeed
some were on the point of deserting and sneaking off to England in
the one little ship they had. They were not in the least pleased
to see Smith return, and they resolved once more to get rid of
him. So they accused him of causing the death of the two men who
had gone with him, and condemned him to death. Thus Smith had only
escaped from the hands of the Indians to be murdered by his own
The order went forth. He was to be hanged next day.
But suddenly all was changed, for a man looking out to sea saw a
white sail. "Ship ahoy!" he shouted, "ship ahoy!"
At the joyful sound the, men forgot their bickerings, and hurrying
to the shore welcomed the new arrival. It was Captain Newport with
his long promised help. He soon put a stop to the hanging business,
and also set poor Captain Wingfield free. For he had been kept
prisoner ever since he had been deposed.
Newport had brought food for the colony, but he had also brought
many new settlers. Unfortunately, too, one day the storehouse was
set on fire, and much of the grain was destroyed. So that in spite
of the new supplies the colony would soon again have been in the
old starving condition had it not been for Pocahontas. She was
resolved that her beloved white chief should want for nothing,
and now every four or five days she came to the fort laden with
provisions. Smith also took Captain Newport to visit the Powhatan,
and great barter was made of blue beads and tinsel ornaments for
grain and foodstuffs.
After a time Captain Newport sailed home again, taking the deposed
President Wingfield with him. He took home also great tales of the
savage Emperor's might and splendour. And King James was so impressed
with what he heard that he made up his mind that the Powhatan
should be crowned. So in autumn Captain Newport returned again to
Jamestown, bringing with him more settlers, among them two women.
He also brought a crown and other presents to the Powhatan from
King James, together with a command for his coronation. So Smith
made a journey to the Powhatan's village and begged him to come to
Jamestown to receive his presents. But the Powhatan refused to go
for he was suspicious and stood upon his dignity.
"If your King has sent me presents," he said, "I also am a king,
and this is my land. Eight days will I wait here to receive them.
Your Father Newport must come to me, not I to him."
So with this answer Smith went back, and seeing nothing else for
it Captain Newport set out for the Powhatan's village with the
presents. He did not in the least want to go, but the King had
commanded that the Powhatan was to be crowned. And the King had
to be obeyed. He arrived safely at Weronocomoco, and the next day
was appointed for the coronation.
First the presents were brought out and set in order. There was a
great four-poster bed with hangings and curtains of damask, a basin
and ewer and other costly novelties such as never before had been
seen in these lands.
After the gifts had been presented the Englishmen tried to place a
fine red cloak on the Powhatan's shoulders. But he would not have
it. He resisted all their attempts until at last one of the other
chiefs persuaded him that it would not hurt him, so at last he
Next the crown was produced. The Powhatan had never seen a crown,
and had no idea of its use, nor could he be made to understand that
he must kneel to have it put on.
"A foul trouble there was," says one of the settlers who writes
about it. No persuasions or explanations were of any avail. The
Englishmen knelt down in front of him to show him what he must do.
They explained, they persuaded, until they were worn out. It was
all in vain. The Powhatan remained as stolid as a mule. Kneel he
So at length, seeing nothing else for it, three of them took the
crown in their hands, and the others pressed with all their weight
upon the Powhatan's shoulders so that they forced him to stoop
a little, and thus, amid howls of laughter, the crown was hastily
thrust on his head. As soon as it was done the soldiers fired a
volley in honour of the occasion. At the sound the newly-crowned
monarch started up in terror, casting aside the men who held him.
But when he saw that no one was killed, and that those around him
were laughing, he soon recovered from his fright. And thanking
them gravely for their presents he pompously handed his old shoes
and his raccoon cloak to Captain Newport as a present for King
James. Thus this strangest of all coronations came to an end.
This senseless ceremony did no good, but rather harm. The Powhatan
had resisted being crowned with all his might, but afterwards he was
much puffed up about it, and began to think much more of himself,
and much less of the white people.
Among others, Smith thought it was nothing but a piece of tomfoolery
and likely to bring trouble ere long.
For some months now he had been President, and as President he
wrote to the London Company, "For the coronation of Powhatan," he
said, "by whose advice you sent him such presents I know not, but
this give me leave to tell you, I fear they will be the confusion
of us all, ere we hear from you again."
Smith told the Company other plain truths. They had been sending
out all sorts of idle fine gentlemen who had never done a day's
work in their lives. They could not fell a tree, and when they
tried the axe blistered their tender fingers. Some of them worked
indeed cheerfully enough, but it took ten of them to do as much work
as one good workman. Others were simply stirrers up of mischief. One
of these Smith now sent back to England "lest the company should
cut his throat." And Smith begged the Company to keep those sort of
people at home in the future, and send him carpenters and gardeners,
blacksmiths and masons, and people who could do something.
Captain Newport now sailed home, and Smith was left to govern the
colony and find food for the many hungry mouths. He went as usual
to trade with the Indians. But he found them no longer willing to
barter their corn for a little copper or a handful of beads. They
now wanted swords and guns. The Powhatan too grew weary of seeing
the Pale-faces squatting on the land of which he was crowned king.
He forgot his vows of friendship With Smith. All he wanted was to
see the Palefaces leave his country. And the best way to get rid
of them was to starve them.
But although the Powhatan had grown tired of seeing the Pale-faces
stride like lords through his land, he yet greatly admired them.
And now he wanted more than anything else to have a house, a palace
as it seemed to him, with windows and fireplaces like those they
built for themselves at Jamestown. For in the little native houses
which his followers could build there was no room for the splendid
furniture which had been sent to him for his coronation. So now he
sent to Smith asking him to send white men to build a house. Smith
at once sent some men to begin the work, and soon followed with
On their way to the Powhatan's town Smith and his companions stopped
a night with another friendly chief who warned them to beware of