| 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 |
HOW POCAHONTAS TOOK A JOURNEY OVER THE SEAS
 AT peace with the Indians, the colonists could till their fields
without fear of attack. And now, besides corn, they began to grow
You remember that Columbus had noticed how the natives of his "India"
smoked rolled-up dried leaves. But, no one paid much attention to
it. Then the men of Raleigh's expedition again noticed it. They
tried it themselves, found it comforting, and brought both tobacco
and the habit home with them. And soon not only the seafaring
adventurers but many a man who was never likely to see the ocean,
or adventure beyond his native town, had taken to smoking. That,
too, despite his king's disgust at it. For James thought smoking
was "a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to
the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black smoking fumes
thereof nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit
that is bottomless." He indeed wrote a little book against it,
which he called "A Counterblaste to Tobacco." But no one paid much
attention to him. The demand for tobacco became greater and greater,
and soon the Virginian farmers found that there was a sale for as
much tobacco as they could grow, and that a crop of it paid better
than anything else.
Up till now the colony had. been a constant disappointment to the
"adventurers"—that is, to the people who had
 given the money to
fit out the expeditions—the shareholders we would now call them.
Most of them had adventured their money, not with any idea of
founding a New England beyond the seas where men should settle down
as farmers and tillers of the soil. They had adventured it rather
for the finding of gold and pearls, jewels and spices, so that it
might be repaid quickly, and a hundredfold. But year by year passed,
and all these glittering hopes were doomed to disappointment. No
gold was found. The adventurers saw their money being swallowed
up for nought. They grew discontented and grumbled, some of them
refused to pay any more, refused to throw more away on an empty
dream. They little knew that they were helping to found a new State
which in time was to become one of the world's greatest powers.
They little knew that in days to come their money should produce
a harvest a thousand, thousandfold, and that from the broad land,
of which they had helped to settle a tiny corner, was to come wealth
such as in their wildest imaginings, they had never dreamt.
Meanwhile, anything a Virginian wanted he could buy with tobacco.
Indeed, after a time the Virginians threw themselves with such
complete enthusiasm into the growing of tobacco that they were
reproached for neglecting everything else because of it.
The English were not the only people who had set forth to find
golden wealth and broad lands beyond the seas. Both the French and
the Dutch had carried their standard across the ocean, and planted
it upon the further shores. Already, too, the struggle for possession
Captain Argall, in one of his many expeditions, sailing northward
to the Bay of Fundy, found a French colony settled there. Argall
swooped down upon them, and claiming the whole continent by right
of Cabot's discovery, he
 utterly destroyed the colony, burning the
houses to the ground, and carrying off the cattle.
Argall next found a Dutch colony on the Hudson River. Here he
contented himself with ordering the Governor to pull down the Dutch
flag and run up the English one. To save his colony the Dutchman
did as he was commanded. But as soon as the arrogant Englishman
was out of sight he calmly ran up his own flag once more.
Meanwhile under Sir Thomas Dale Virginia continued to prosper. Then
after five years' rule Sir Thomas went home and the colony was left
to a new ruler. With him went John Rolfe and his wife Pocahontas,
together with their little baby son.
Now began a wonderful new life for the beautiful Indian. Only a
few years before she had been a merry, little, half-naked savage,
turning cart wheels all over the Jamestown fort, and larking with
the boys. Now she found herself treated as a great lady.
In those days the people in England had very little idea of the
life out in the wilds. The Powhatan, they had heard, was a king, a
sort of emperor, indeed, and they doubtless pictured him as living in
a stately palace, wearing a golden crown and velvet robes. That a
"king" should be a half-naked savage, living in a mud hut, wearing
a crown of feathers on his head, and a string of beads about
his neck, they could not imagine. As the Powhatan was a king then
his daughter was a princess, and as such must be treated with all
THE CROWING OF POWHATAN
It is even said that John Rolfe was roundly scolded by King James
for daring to marry a princess without first asking leave.
"For," he gravely pointed out, "if the Powhatan was a king and
Pocahontas his daughter, when the Powhatan died Rolfe or his baby
son might become King of Virginia. It was not meet or right that a
commoner should thus lightly
 take upon himself to marry the daughter
of a brother sovereign."
Every one, then, was ready to treat Pocahontas with deference. Besides
this John Smith wrote to the Queen relating all that she had done
for the Colony of Virginia and begging her to be kind to the Indian
girl who had done so much for England. For that or some other reason
the Queen took an interest in the little dusky Princess. Pocahontas
was presented to her, and was often seen at the theatre or other
entertainment with her. The ladies of the court were made to treat
Pocahontas with great ceremony. They addressed her as "Princess"
or "Lady," remained standing before her, and walked backwards when
they left her presence; famous artists painted her portrait; poets
wrote of her, and in one of his plays Ben Johnson calls her
Pokahontas, as the historian calls her
And great King's daughter of Virginia.
In fact she became the rage. She was the talk of the town. Even
coffee-houses and taverns were named after her,—La Belle Sauvage
(the beautiful savage). And it is interesting to remember that a
great publishing house in London takes its name from one of these
old taverns. Books go out to all the world from the sign of La
Belle Sauvage, thus forming a link between the present and that
half-forgotten American "princess" of so long ago.
In spite of all the homage and flattery poured upon her, Pocahontas
yet remained modest and simple, enchanting all who met her. And
among all the new delights of England she had the joy of seeing once
again the great White Chief she had loved and called her father in
days gone by.
Her joy was all the greater because she had believed him to be
dead. When Smith first came to see her her feelings were so deep
that at first she could not speak. She
 greeted him in silence,
then suddenly turning away she hid her face and wept. But after a
little she recovered herself, and began to speak of the old days,
and of how she had thought he was dead. "I knew no other," she
said, "until I came to Plymouth."
In many ways Pocahontas showed her joy at again recovering her old
friend. But when she found that Smith was not going to treat her
as an old friend, but as if she were a great lady, and call her
Princess like all the others round her, she was hurt.
"You did promise the Powhatan that what was yours should be his,
and he did promise the like to you," she said. "A stranger in his
land you called him father, and I shall do the same by you."
"Lady," replied Smith, "I dare not allow that title, for you are
a King's daughter."
But from the man who had known her in those strange, wild days in
far-off Virginia, from the man she had looked upon as a great and
powerful chief, Pocahontas would have no such nonsense. She laughed
"You were not afraid," she said defiantly, "to come into my father's
country, and cause fear in him, and in all his people save me.
And fear you here that I should call you father? I tell you then
I will. And you shall call me child. And so I will be forever and
ever your countryman."
Pocahontas took all the strangeness of her new surroundings very
simply. But some of her attendants were utterly overwhelmed with
wonder and awe at the things they saw. One man in particular, who
was accounted a very clever man among his own people, had been sent
by the Powhatan to take particular note of everything in England.
Among other things he had been charged to count the people! So
on landing at Plymouth he provided himself with a long stick and
proceeded to make a notch in it for every man he met. But he met
so many people that he could not make
 notches fast enough; so in
a very short time he grew weary of that and threw his stick away.
Coming to London he was more amazed than ever. Never had he seen
so great a city nor so many folk all gathered together, and among
them not one familiar face. So he welcomed Captain John Smith like
an old friend, and eagerly questioned him as to the wonders of this
strange country. More especially he asked to see God, the King and
Queen, and the Prince.
Captain Smith tried as best he could to explain to the poor heathen
about God, telling him He could not be seen. As, to the King, he
added, "you have seen him."
"No," said the Indian, "I have not seen your great King."
Then when Captain Smith explained that the little man with a jewelled
feather in his cap and sword by his side, who had one day spoken
to him was the King, the Indian was much disappointed.
"You gave Powhatan a white dog," he said, "which Powhatan fed as
himself. But your King gave me nothing."
However if the old Indian was disappointed with the manner in which
the King had received him he was much made of by others. For every
one was eager to see this wild savage. And often to please these
new friends he would sing to them and make their blood creep by
his wild dances.
Pocahontas loved England where she was so kindly treated. She took
to the new life so well that it is said she soon "became very formal
and civil after our English manner." But she who had been used to
roam the wild woods could not live in the confinement of towns,
and soon she became very ill. So she made up her mind at length,
sorely against her will, to go back to Virginia with her husband.
Captain Argall was about to return there as Deputy Governor. So
Pocahontas and her husband took passages in his boat.
 But Pocahontas was never again to see her native shore. She went on
board Captain Argall's boat, the George, and indeed set sail from
London, but before she reached Gravesend she became so ill that
she had to be taken ashore, and there she died. She was buried in
the chancel of the Parish Church. Later the Church was burned down,
but it was rebuilt, and as a memorial to Pocahontas American ladies
have placed a stained glass window there, and also a pulpit made
of Virginian wood.
John Rolfe returned alone to Virginia, leaving his little son
Thomas behind him in the care of an uncle. He remained in England
until he was grown up, and then went to his native land. There he
married, and had a daughter, and became the ancestor of several
Virginian families who are to this day proud to trace their descent
from beautiful Pocahontas and her English husband.
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