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Richard of Jamestown by  James Otis

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CAPTAIN SMITH SPEAKS TO ME

THERE was a smile come upon his face as I spoke, and he looked down upon Nathaniel and me, who were wedged among that throng which watched the apprentices quarrel, until we were like to be squeezed flat, and said in what I took to be a friendly tone:

"So, my master, you would journey into Virginia with the hope of making yourself rich, and you not out from under your mother's apron as yet?"

"I have no mother to wear an apron, Captain Smith, nor father to say I may go there or shall come here; but yet would serve you as keenly as might any man, save mayhap my strength, which will increase, be not so great as would be found in those older."

Whether this valiant soldier was pleased with my words, or if in good truth boys were needed in the enterprise, I cannot say; but certain it is he spoke me fairly, writing down upon a piece of paper, which he tore from his tablets, the name of the street in which he had lodgings, and asking, as he handed it to me, if I could read.

[17] Now it was that I gave silent thanks, because of what had seemed to me a hardship when my mother forced me to spend so many hours each day in learning to use a quill, until I was able to write a clerkly hand.

It seemed to please this great soldier that I could do what few of the lads in that day had been taught to master, and, without further ado, he said to me boldly:

"You shall journey into Virginia with me, an' it please you, lad. What is more, I will take upon myself the charge of outfitting you, and time shall tell whether you have enough of manliness in you to repay me the cost."

Then it was that Nathaniel raised his voice; but the captain gave him no satisfaction, declaring it was the duty of a true lad to stand by his mother, and that he would lend his aid to none who had a home, and in it those who cared for him.

I could have talked with this brave soldier until the night had come, and would never have wearied of asking concerning what might be found in that new world of Virginia; but it so chanced that when the business was thus far advanced, the apprentices were done with striving to break each other's heads, and Captain Smith, bidding me come to his house next morning, went his way.


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