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Richard of Jamestown by  James Otis

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THE GOLDEN FEVER

BUT for this golden fever, which attacked the gentlemen more fiercely than it did the common people, the [67] story of Jamestown would not have been one of disaster brought about by wilful heedlessness and stupidity.

Again and again did Captain Smith urge that crops be planted, while it was yet time, in order that there might be food at hand when the winter came; but he had not yet been allowed to take his place in the Council, and those who had the thirst for gold strong upon them, taunted him with the fact that he had no right to raise his voice above the meanest of the company. They refused to listen when he would have spoken with them as a friend, and laughed him to scorn when he begged that they take heed to their own lives.

I cannot understand why our people were so crazy. Even though Nathaniel and I were but lads, with no experience of adventure such as was before us, we could realize that unless a man plants he may not reap, and because we had been hungry many a time in London town, we knew full well that when the season had passed there was like to be a famine among us.

I can well understand, now that I am a man grown, why our people were so careless regarding the future, for everywhere around us was food in plenty. Huge flocks of wild swans circled above [68] our heads, trumpeting the warning that winter would come before gold could be found. Wild geese, cleaving the air in wedge-shaped line, honked harshly that the season for gathering stores of food was passing, while at times, on a dull morning, it was as if the waters of the bay were covered completely with ducks of many kinds.


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