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Richard of Jamestown by  James Otis


 

 

A PLAGUE OF RATS

AND now am I come to the spring of 1609, when befell us that disaster which marked the beginning of the time of suffering, of trouble, and of danger which was so near to wiping out the settlement of Jamestown that the people had already started on their way to England.

The day had come when we should put into the ground our Indian corn that a harvest might follow. The supply, which was to be used as seed, had been stored in casks and piled up in the big house wherein were kept our goods.

When those who had been chosen to do the planting went for the seed, it was found to have been destroyed by rats, and not only the corn, but many other things [150] which were in the storehouse, had been eaten by the same animals.

Master Hunt maintained, and Captain Smith was of the same opinion, that when the Phoenix was unloaded, the rats came ashore from her, finding lodging in that building which represented the vital spot of our town.

Howsoever the pests came there, certain it was we should reap no harvest that year, unless the savages became more friendly than they had lately shown themselves, and as to this we speedily learned.


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