| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
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.
THE CROWNING OF POWHATAN
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 Pale-faces 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
fol-  lowers 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
"You will find him use you well," he said. "But trust him not. And
be sure he hath no chance to seize your arms. For he hath sent for
you only to cut your throats."
However in spite of this warning Smith decided to go on. So he
thanked the friendly chief for his good counsel, and assuring him
that he would love him always for it, he went on his way.
It was winter time now, and the rivers were half frozen over, the
land was covered with snow, and icy winds blew over it. Indeed the
weather was so bad that for a week Smith and his men could not go
on, but had to take refuge with some friendly Indians. Here in the
warm wigwams they were cosy and jolly. The savages treated them
kindly, and fed them well on oysters, fish, game and wild-fowl.
Christmas came and went while they were with these kindly savages,
and at length, the weather becoming a little better, they decided
to push on. After many adventures they reached the Powhatan's
village. They were very weary from their long cold journey, and
taking possession of the first houses they came to they sent a
message to the Powhatan, telling him that they had come, and asking
him to send food.
This the old chief immediately did, and soon they were dining royally
on bread, venison and turkeys. The next day, too, the Powhatan
sent them supplies of food. Then he calmly asked how long they were
going to stay, and when they would be gone.
 At this Smith was greatly astonished, for had not the Powhatan sent
"I did not send for you," said the wily old savage, "and if you have
come for corn I have none to give you, still less have my people.
But," he added slyly, "if perchance you have forty swords I might
find forty baskets of corn in exchange for them."
"You did not send for me?" said Smith in astonishment. "How can
that be? For I have with me the messengers you sent to ask me to
come, and they can vouch for the truth of it. I marvel that you
can be so forgetful."
Then, seeing that he could not fool the Pale-faces the old chief
laughed merrily, pretending that he had only been joking. But
still he held to it that he would give no corn except in exchange
for guns and swords.
"Powhatan," answered Smith, "believing your promises to satisfy my
wants, and out of love to you I sent you my men for your building,
thereby neglecting mine own needs. Now by these strange demands you
think to undo us and bring us to want indeed. For you know well as
I have told you long ago of guns and swords I have none to spare.
Yet steal from you or wrong you I will not, nor yet break that
friendship which we have promised each other, unless by bad usage
you force me thereto."
When the Powhatan heard Smith speak thus firmly he pretended to give
way and promised that within two days the English should have all
the corn he and his people could spare. But he added, "My people fear
to bring you corn seeing you are all armed, for they say you come
not hither for trade, but to invade my country and take possession
of it. Therefore to free us of this fear lay aside your weapons,
for indeed here they are needless, we being all friends."
With such and many more cunning words the Powhatan sought to make
Captain Smith and his men lay aside their arms. But to all his
persuasions Smith turned a deaf ear.
 "Nay," he said, "we have no thought of revenge or cruelty against
you. When your people come to us at Jamestown we receive them with
their bows and arrows. With you it must be the same. We wear our
arms even as our clothes."
So seeing that he could not gain his end the old chief gave in.
Yet one more effort he made to soften the Englishman's heart.
"I have never honoured any chief as I have you," he said, with
a sigh, "yet you show me less kindness than any one. You call me
father, but you do just as you like."
Smith, however, would waste no more time parleying, and gave orders
for his men to fetch the corn. But while he was busy with this
the Powhatan slipped away and gathered his warriors. Then suddenly
in the midst of their business Smith and one or two others found
themselves cut off from their comrades, and surrounded by a yelling
crowd of painted savages. Instantly the Englishmen drew their
swords and, charging into the savages, put them to flight. Seeing
how easily their warriors had been routed and how strong the
Pale-faces were, the savage chiefs tried to make friends with them
again, pretending that the attack upon them was a mistake, and that
no evil against them had been intended.
The Englishmen, however, put no more trust in their words and
sternly, with loaded guns and drawn swords in hand, bade them to
talk no more, but make haste and load their boat with corn. And so
thoroughly cowed were the savages by the fierce words and looks of
the Pale-faces that they needed no second bidding. Hastily laying
down their bows and arrows they bent their backs to the work, their
one desire now being to get rid as soon as possible of these fierce
and powerful intruders.
When the work was done, however, it was too late to sail that night,
for the tide was low. So the Englishmen
re-  turned to the house in
which they lodged, to rest till morning and wait for high water.
Meanwhile the Powhatan had by no means given up his desire for
revenge, and while the Englishmen sat by their fire he plotted to
slay them all. But as he talked with his braves Pocahontas listened.
And when she heard that the great Pale-face Chief whom she loved
so dearly was to be killed, her heart was filled with grief, and
she resolved to save him. So silently she slipped out into the
dark night and, trembling lest she should be discovered, was soon
speeding through the wild lonesome forest towards the Englishmen's
hut. Reaching it in safety she burst in upon them as they sat in
the firelight waiting for the Powhatan to send their supper.
"You must not wait," she cried, "you must go at once. My father
is gathering all his force against you. He will indeed send you a
great feast, but those who bring it have orders to slay you, and
any who escape them he is ready with his braves to slay. Oh, if
you would live you must flee at once," and as she spoke the tears
ran down her cheeks.
The Englishmen were truly grateful to Pocahontas for her warning.
They thanked her warmly, and would have laden her with gifts of
beads and coloured cloth, and such things as the Indians delighted
in, but she would not take them.
"I dare not take such things," she said. "For if my father saw
me with them he would know that I had come here to warn you, and
he would kill me." So with eyes blinded with tears, and her heart
filled with dread, she slipped out of the fire-lit hut, and vanished
into the darkness of the forest as suddenly and silently as she
Left alone, the Englishmen, cocking their guns and drawing their
swords, awaited the coming of the foe. Presently eight or ten lusty
fellows arrived, each bearing a great platter of food steaming hot
and excellent to smell. They
 were very anxious that the Englishmen
should at once lay aside their arms and sit down to supper. But
Captain Smith would take no chances. Loaded gun in hand he stood
over the messengers and made them taste each dish to be certain
that none of them were poisoned. Having done this he sent the men
away. "And bid your master make haste," he said, "for we are ready
Then the Englishmen sat down to supper; but they had no thought of
sleep and all night long they kept watch.
Powhatan too kept watch, and every now and again he would send
messengers to find out what the Englishmen were about. But each
time they came the savages found the Englishmen on guard, so they
dared not attack. At last day dawned, and with the rising tide the
Englishmen sailed away, still to all seeming on friendly terms with
the wily Indians.
Smith had now food enough to keep the colony from starvation for
a short time at least. But his troubles were by no means over. The
Indians were still often unfriendly, and the colonists themselves
lazy and unruly. Some indeed worked well and cheerfully, but many
wandered about idly, doing nothing.
At length it came about that thirty or forty men did all the work,
the others being simply idle loiterers. Seeing this, Smith called
all the colonists together one day and told them that he would
suffer the idleness no longer. "Every one must do his share," he
said, "and he who will not work shall not eat." And so powerful
had he grown that he was obeyed. The idle were forced to work, and
soon houses were built and land cleared and tilled.
At length there seemed good hope that the colony would prosper.
But now another misfortune befell it. For it was found that rats
had got into the granaries and eaten nearly all the store of corn.
So once again expeditions set forth to visit the Indians and gather
more from them. But their
 supply, too, was running short; harvest
was still a long way off, and all the colonists could collect
was not enough to keep them from starvation. So seeing this Smith
divided his men into companies, sending some down the river to
fish, and others into the woods to gather roots and wild berries.
But the lazy ones liked this little. They would have bartered
away their tools and firearms to the savages for a few handfuls of
meal rather than work so hard. They indeed became so mutinous that
Smith hardly knew what to do with them. But at length he discovered
the ringleader of these "gluttonous loiterers." Him he "worthily
punished," and calling the others together, he told them very
plainly that any man among them who did not do his share should
be banished from the fort as a drone, till he mended his ways or
To the idlers Smith seemed a cruel task-master; still they obeyed
him. So the colony was held together, although in misery and hunger
and without hope for the future.
At length one day to the men on the river there came a joyful sight.
They saw a ship slowly sailing towards them. They could hardly
believe their eyes, for no ship was expected; but they greeted it
with all the more joy. It was a ship under Captain Samuel Argall,
come, it is true, not to bring supplies, but to trade. Finding,
however, that there was no hope of trade Captain Argall shared what
food he had with the famished colonists, and so for a time rescued
them from starvation. He also brought the news that more ships were
setting out from home bringing both food and men.
In June, 1609, this fleet of nine ships really did set out. But
one ship was wrecked on the way, another, the Sea Venture, was cast
ashore on the Bermudas; only seven arrived at length at Jamestown,
bringing many new colonists. Unfortunately among these new arrivals
there were few likely to make good colonists. They were indeed for
 most part wild, bad men whose friends had packed them off to
that distant land in the hope of being rid of them forever. "They
were," said one of the old colonists who wrote of them, "ten times
more fit to spoil a Commonwealth than either to begin one or but
help to maintain one."
Now with all these "unruly gallants" poured into his little commonwealth
Smith found his position of President even more difficult than
before. Still, for a time, if he could not keep them altogether in
order he at least kept them in check.
Then one day by a terrible accident his rule was brought to a sudden
end. He was returning from an expedition up the James River when,
through some carelessness, a bag of gunpowder in his boat was
exploded. Smith was not killed by it, but he was sorely hurt. In
great pain, and no longer able to think and act for others, he was
carried back to Jamestown.
Here there was no doctor of any kind, and seeing himself then only
a useless hulk, and in danger of death, Smith gave up his post,
and leaving the colony, for which during two and a half years he
had worked and thought and fought so hard, he sailed homeward.
Many of the unruly sort were glad to see him go, but his old
companions with whom he had shared so many dangers and privations
were filled with grief. "He ever hated baseness, sloth, pride and
indignity," said one of them. "He never allowed more for himself
than for his soldiers with him. Upon no danger would he send them
where he would not lead them himself. He would never see us want
what he either had or could by any means get us. He loved action
more than words, and hated falsehood and covetousness worse than
So, loved and hated, but having all unknown to himself made a name
which would live forever in the history of his land, the first
great Virginian sailed from its shores. He
 returned no more. Some
twenty years later he died in London, and was buried in the church
of St. Sepulchre there. Upon his tomb was carved a long epitaph
telling of his valiant deeds. But in the great Fire of London the
tomb was destroyed, and now no tablet marks the resting-place of
the brave old pioneer.
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