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Richard of Jamestown by  James Otis


 

 

GATHERING OYSTERS

THAT Nathaniel and I may gather oysters without too great labor of walking and carrying heavy burdens, Captain Smith has bought from the savages a small boat made of the bark of birch trees, stretched over a framework of splints, and sewn together with the entrails of deer. On the seams, and wherever the water might find entrance, it is well gummed with pitch taken from the pine tree, and withal the lightest craft that can well be made.

Either Nathaniel or I can take this vessel, which the savages call a canoe, on our shoulders, carrying it [142] without difficulty, and when the two of us are inside, resting upon our knees, for we may not sit in it as in a ship's boat, we can send it along with paddles at a rate so rapid as to cause one to think it moved by magic.


[Illustration]

With this canoe Nathaniel and I may go to the oyster-beds, and in half an hour put on board as large a cargo of shellfish as she will carry, in addition to our own weight, coming back in a short time with as much food as would serve a dozen men for two days.

If these oysters could be kept fresh for any length of time, then would we have a most valuable store near at hand; but, like other fish, a few hours in the sun serves to spoil them.


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