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Title: Captain John Smith
Author: Forbes-Lindsay, C. H.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Captain John Smith" ***

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                              JOHN SMITH

                           FOURTH IMPRESSION

_The American Trail Blazers_


These books present in the form of vivid and fascinating fiction, the
early and adventurous phases of American history. Each volume deals
with the life and adventures of one of the great men who made that
history, or with some one great event in which, perhaps, several heroic
characters were involved. The stories, though based upon accurate
historical fact, are rich in color, full of dramatic action, and appeal
to the imagination of the red-blooded man or boy.

Each volume illustrated in color and black and white

12mo. Cloth.



                              JOHN SMITH

                         C. H. FORBES-LINDSAY


                           HARRY B. LACHMAN


                         PHILADELPHIA & LONDON
                       J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY

                            COPYRIGHT, 1907

                      BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY

         _Electrotyped and printed by J. B. Lippincott Company
         The Washington Square Press, Philadelphia, U. S. A._

                            MY AMERICAN SON
                          MY BRITISH NEPHEWS


 CHAPTER                                      PAGE
    III THE SOLDIER APPRENTICE                  48
     IV DUPED AND ROBBED                        60
      V A DUEL WITH A DASTARD                   72
     VI DARKNESS AND DAWN                       83
    VII SOME STRATAGEMS                         95
   VIII THE DIN OF BATTLE                      107
     IX GUERILLA TACTICS                       119
      X THE THREE TURKS                        130
     XI BRAVE HEARTS AND TRUE                  144
    XII SLAVERY AND A SEA-FIGHT                155
   XIII A BAD BEGINNING                        171
    XIV POWHATAN AND HIS PEOPLE                182
     XV TREASON AND TREACHERY                  193
    XVI CAPTIVE TO THE INDIANS                 204
   XVII POCAHONTAS TO THE RESCUE               215
  XVIII FIRE AND STARVATION                    226
    XIX A TURN IN THE TIDE                     238
     XX DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND                    250
    XXI SOME AMBUSCADES                        262
   XXII A CURIOUS COMBAT                       274
  XXIII A HUMBLED CHIEFTAIN                    285
   XXIV A DISMAL TALE                          296


     AND FELL UPON HIS KNEES               _Frontispiece_

     SHOUTED LUSTILY                                         85

     OF SPIES LYING HIDDEN                                  206

     SHAKE OFF THAT IRON GRIP                               282


The history of the world furnishes few lives so romantic and replete
with stirring incident as that of John Smith, the founder of the first
English colony in America--that settlement at Jamestown in Virginia, of
which the United States of today is the outgrowth.

John Smith began life in the year 1580, in the glorious reign of Good
Queen Bess. It was a world of turmoil into which our hero came, but a
most fitting field for so adventurous a spirit. In France, the gallant
Henry of Navarre was fighting for a kingdom and his faith against the
Catholic League. In the Low Countries, the sturdy Dutchmen, under
Maurice of Orange, were defending their homes from the invasion of
the arrogant and bigoted Spaniard, who deemed it his duty to punish
every Protestant people. In the east of Europe, the Ottomans--Asiatics
from Turkestan and other countries--maintained an incessant and savage
warfare against the subjects of the Emperor of Germany.

There was but one peaceful spot in all Christendom, and that the “right
little, tight little island” of our forefathers. There were, however,
thousands of Englishmen who, like John Smith, had no stomach for a
life of ease and they were to be found in every army on the continent,
fighting for gain or religion, and often for sheer love of the life of
action. Moreover Cabot, the first on the coast of America, had started
that movement which was to create the greatest colonial empire in the
history of the world, and Raleigh had already made his first futile
attempt to settle Virginia, where John Smith was destined to play a
master part.

On the seas, vessels of each nation preyed upon those of every other,
for a tacit condition of enmity prevailed among them regardless of the
status of their several countries. Navies were composed mainly of the
merchant marine, for every ocean-going ship carried cannon and small
arms. Commonly their captains were furnished with letters of marque,
commissions issued by their sovereigns authorizing the holders to
attack the sails of other countries hostile to their own and to take
prizes and prisoners. The possession of letters of marque saved a
captain and his crew from the disgrace and the penalty of piracy, but
it was often no more than a cloak for the practice. Two ships flying
different flags hardly ever met, but the stronger attacked the other
and, if victorious, plundered her, and that without any consideration
for the friendly relations that might at the time exist between their
respective countries. The age of the robber barons had passed away, to
be succeeded by a somewhat less immoral state of society in which the
powerful refrained from preying upon their countrymen but recognized
no law of justice in dealing with foreigners. Judged by our standards,
Dampier and Drake were pirates; Pizzaro and Cortes, bandits.

Smith, with a less acute sense of honor and a lower regard for right,
might have amassed a ready fortune in the days when such qualities as
his ensured wealth to the unscrupulous adventurers on land and sea,
whose predatory careers were countenanced and abetted by monarchs and
men in high places. In his latter years, when embittered by his failure
to secure money for legitimate exploration, he writes:[1] “Had I set
myself to persuade men that I knew of a mine of gold, as I know many to
have done in sheer deception; or had I advanced some wild scheme for
a passage to the South Sea; or some plot to loot a foreign monastery;
or the equipment of a fleet to make prizes of rich East Indiamen;
or letters of marque to rob some poor merchant or honest fisherman,
multitudes with their money would have contended to be first employed.”

[1] Here, and in a few instances in the following pages, I have made
slight changes in the wording, without affecting the meaning, of
Smith’s expressions. Although he is a very clear writer, the English of
Shakespeare’s time is not always readily understandable by us.--C. H.

Queen Elizabeth, the wisest and the most humane sovereign of her
time, had ample excuse for the license which she extended to her sea
captains in the matter of attacking the Spanish possessions and ships.
It was a measure of self-defence, designed for the protection of the
liberties and religion of her subjects against the aggressive power of
Spain, which, after the discovery of America, bid fair, unless checked,
to make her the mistress of the world. Smith was in his ninth year when
our dauntless ancestors, by shattering the great Armada, scotched the
pride of Philip and halted his ambition. This was of all naval battles,
perhaps, the most momentous to the Anglo-Saxon race and certainly of
vital consequence to America, for had Philip’s fleet gained a victory
on that occasion, we, as a nation, had never been. It is more than
probable that the old religion would have been re-established in
England, with a stop to the march of liberty and independence, and
certain that Spain would have found no obstacle to the acquisition
of the entire American continent. The immediate effect of England’s
victory was to set her on the highway to the naval supremacy of the
world, and the generation to which John Smith belonged maintained a
constant struggle for the command of the seas. Later generations of
Englishmen carried on the contest with Holland and afterwards with

We have seen that John Smith lived in a period of the world that
afforded the adventurer ample and varied scope for the exercise of
talents and energy, but in any other age than his own a man of Smith’s
extraordinary parts must have taken a prominent place among his
contemporaries. In the period following the decline of the Roman power,
when the nations of Europe were in the formative stage, such a man
would surely have been one of the great dukes (_duces_), or leaders who
founded dynasties of kings. At the present day he might be an explorer,
a captain of industry, or a statesman--for Smith had the qualities that
ensure success in any walk of life.

It is a wonderful and inspiring story, that of the stripling who,
without money or friends, boldly left his native land and, abandoning
himself to the chance currents of a strange world, at the age when the
modern schoolboy is seeking distinction on the football field, was
learning the art of arms in the practical school of war. Dame Fortune
surely smiled upon the errant boy and, whilst she led him into constant
adventure and danger, as frequently saw him safely out of them.

During his checkered career as a soldier of fortune his lot is often
cast in hard places and his life is constantly endangered. He is
shipwrecked and narrowly escapes drowning. Robbed and landed upon a
foreign shore with empty purse, he is forced to sell his cloak in
order to meet his needs. Like Jonah of old, he is thrown overboard by
a superstitious crew, but contrives to swim to an uninhabited island.
He is sorely wounded in battle and captured by the Turks, who sell him
into slavery.

The life was always arduous, for in those days mere travel was beset
by dangers and difficulty, but as we follow the lad in his adventures
we are cheered by many a bright spot and many a fine success. For John
Smith was never the kind to be depressed or defeated by adversity.
Indeed, he reminds one of those toys, called “bottle imps,” that may be
rolled over in any direction but cannot be made to lie down. Hardly has
he met with a reverse than he sets about repairing it and always with
success. To-day he is cold, hungry, and half clad, his purse as flat as
a flounder, but soon afterwards we see him going gayly on his way with
a pocket full of sequins, his share in a prize which he had helped to
capture. He wins his spurs in the Low Countries and in the war against
the Turks is granted a coat of arms for the exploit of defeating three
of the enemy’s champions in single combat. His military services earn
for him the title of captain and the command of a regiment of horse.

All these things, and many more equally remarkable, befall John Smith
before he has reached the age of twenty-four. He has now spent eight
years abroad, except for a brief return to England, and all this time
he is fighting on land and at sea, or roaming through foreign countries
in search of experience and adventure. Keenly observant always, he
extracts from each occasion--as the bee gathers honey from every
flower--some knowledge to be turned to useful account in later life.

Smith has no other purpose during this early period of his life than
to learn what he can of the world and the practice of arms--in short
to qualify himself for a life of action in an age when brawn is no
less essential to success than brain. It is a stern school in which
he acquires his training but an effective one, and he makes the most
of his opportunities. We see the expansion of his mind keeping pace
with the development of his muscle, until the Captain John Smith who
joins the colonists bound for Virginia appears as a man of perfect
physique and mature judgment. It is not improbable that the hardships
and exposure of his life may have sown the seeds of disease but, if
so, he has not contributed to such a condition by his habits. In that
day the soldiers of all nations were addicted to brawling, drinking,
pillaging, and gambling. But these practices had no attraction for
Smith. His sword never lagged in the scabbard on good occasion for its
use, but he was no swashbuckler seeking unnecessary trouble; he drank
wine sparingly but found no pleasure in gluttony; he paid for what he
took, even in an enemy’s country and counted it a disgrace to rob a
defenceless man; in the matter of money, as in everything else, he was
the most generous of mortals and had rather hand a man his purse than
to win that of the other by dicing. Withal he did not set himself up
to be better than his fellows and we have the testimony of two of his
countrymen, who followed him through the wars in Transylvania, that he
was respected and beloved by his comrades and the soldiers under his

Hitherto Smith has been associated with men whose experience was
greater than his own. They have been his masters, both in the sense of
teachers and commanders. As a subordinate he has performed his duties
so well as to call forth the praise and admiration of his superiors.
Now we find him going out to a land which is equally strange to him
and to his companions. No man of them enjoys the advantage of knowing
more than the others about those distant parts and their people. Rank
and money will count for little in the new life. Each man’s worth will
be measured by his character and his actions. Under such conditions, a
man of Smith’s extraordinary ability must sooner or later become the
leader, even among others much older than himself.

The foundation of Virginia and, as I have said, that of the United
States was laid by Captain John Smith in spite of tremendous
difficulties. Some of these were such as would naturally attend the
settlement of a strange land among hostile inhabitants, but it is
not too much to say that the greater part of them were due to the
incompetence of the colonists and their constant quarrels among
themselves. More than once they brought affairs to such a pass that
nothing but the prompt and energetic action of Smith saved the colony
from total destruction.

These differences broke out before they had reached the shores of
America, and we see Captain John Smith landed in chains, a prisoner
under absurd charges trumped up by pettifoggers who are envious of
his evident fitness for command and accuse him of a design to usurp
it. They scheme to send him back to England, but at the very outset
they learn that they cannot dispense with the services of this, the
ablest man among them. It is he who shows them how to fortify the
settlement. He repels the attacks of the Indians. He and he only, dares
lead exploring expeditions into unknown regions. Captured by the most
powerful chief of that part of the country, Smith converts him into
an ally. He makes treaties with the surrounding tribes and secures
their friendship for the settlers. Time and again, when improvidence
has brought famine upon the colonists, he saves them from starvation
by procuring supplies at the risk of his life. In short he continually
preserves this mixed company of malcontents and incompetents from the
worst consequences of their folly and controls them with the firmness
and tact of a master. In his dealings with the Indians, he carefully
avoids unnecessary bloodshed or harshness, frequently sacrificing
prudence at the dictate of humanity. Yet he gained the respect of
the savages by his courage, steadfastness, honesty and--when occasion
demanded--by the weight of his strong arm, for Captain John Smith was
no less stern than just.

In the days when news traveled slowly and was often delivered by word
of mouth, the truth of distant events was hard to ascertain, and great
men were frequently the victims of malice and envy. Smith, like many
another, failed to receive at the hands of his countrymen the honor
and recognition which he deserved. They had been misled by extravagant
fables of the wealth of America and were disappointed that Smith did
not send home cargoes of gold, spices, and other things which the
country did not produce. False tales of his tyranny over the colonists
and his cruelty to the savages had preceded his return to England, and
he found himself in disfavor. He made two voyages to New England, as
he called the region which still bears that name, but little came of
them. This was mainly on account of the determination of the promoters
to search for gold lodes where none existed. Smith with rare foresight
strove to persuade his contemporaries that they had better develop
commerce in the products of the sea and the field. Few would listen
to him, however, whilst the rich argosies of Spain, freighted with
ore from South America, inflamed their minds with visions of similar
treasures in the north. The spirit of speculation had taken possession
of the country. Smith could obtain money for none but wild or dishonest
ventures and in such he would not engage. His generous soul disdained
the pursuit of mere wealth, and we see him, after having “lived near
thirty-seven years in the midst of wars, pestilence, and famine, by
which many a hundred thousand died” about him, passing his last days
in the comparative poverty which had been his condition through life.
Captain John Smith had not yet reached the prime of life--indeed, he
was hardly more than forty years of age--when he was compelled to
retire from active life. Despairing of honorable employment, he settled
down to write the many books that issued from his pen. It would be
difficult to surmise what valuable services he might, with better
opportunity, have performed for his country, during this last decade
of his life. The time was well spent, however, that he occupied in the
composition of his life and historical works. He is a clear and terse
writer. We are seldom at a loss to fully understand him, and the only
complaint that we feel disposed to make against Captain John Smith as
a writer is that he too often fails to give an account of his own part
in the stirring events which he records. In fact he combined with the
modesty usually associated with true greatness, the self-confidence of
the man whose ultimate reliance is upon an all-powerful Providence.
“If you but truly consider,” he writes in the history of Virginia,
“how many strange accidents have befallen these plantations and myself,
you cannot but conceive God’s infinite mercy both to them and to
me.... Though I have but my labor for my pains, have I not much reason
publicly and privately to acknowledge it and to give good thanks?”

Few men have compassed in fifty years of life so much of noble action
and inspiring example as did John Smith. He died, as he had lived, a
God-fearing, honorable gentleman, rich in the consciousness of a life
well spent and in the respect of all who knew him. He was a connecting
link between the old world and the new, and we, no less than England,
should keep his memory green.


John Smith

Gentleman Adventurer



Jack Smith is introduced to the reader--He takes part in the rejoicing
at the defeat of the Spanish Armada--His relations to the sons of
Lord Willoughby--He runs away from school and sells his books and
satchel--He is starting for London when his father dies--He is
apprenticed to a merchant and shipowner--He tires of life at the desk
and deserts the counting-house--His guardian consents to his going into
the world and furnishes him with ten shillings--Jack takes the road to
London with a bundle on his back--He meets Peregrine Willoughby.

It was the day following that memorable Monday in August, 1588, when
the English fleet scattered the galleons and galleasses of Spain and
Portugal and chased them into the North Sea. The bells were pealing
from every steeple and church tower in Merry England, whilst beacon
fires flashed their happy tidings along the chain of hill-tops from
Land’s End to John O’Groats. The country was wild with joy at the
glorious victory over the Great Armada, and well it might be, for
never was a fight more gallant nor a cause more just. It was night and
long past the hour when the honest citizens of Good Queen Bess’s realm
were wont to seek their couches and well-earned repose, but this night
excitement ran too high to admit of the thought of sleep.

In the little village of Willoughby, Master Gardner, portly and
red-faced, was prepared to keep the D’Eresby Arms open until daylight
despite law and custom. The villagers who passed up and down the one
street of the hamlet exchanging greetings and congratulations had more
than a patriotic interest in the great event, for at least half of them
had sons or brothers amongst the sturdy souls who had flocked from
every shire and town to their country’s defence at the first call for

Beside the fountain in the market place, interested spectators of the
scene, stood a lusty lad and an elderly man, bowed by broken health.

“The Lord be praised that He hath let me live to see this glorious
day,” said the man, reverently and with a tremor in his voice. “Our
England hath trounced the proud Don, my son. I’ faith! ’tis scarce to
be believed that our little cockle-shells should overmatch their great
vessels of war. Thank the Lord, lad, that thou wast born in a land
that breeds men as staunch as the stuff from which their ships are
fashioned. If one who served--with some distinction if I say it--under
the great Sir Francis, might hazard a prediction, I would say that the
sun of England hath risen over the seas never to set.”

“Would I had been there, Sir!” cried the boy with eyes aglow.

“Thou, manikin!” replied his father smiling, as he patted the bare
head. “Thou! But it gladdens my heart that a Smith of Willoughby fought
with Drake on the _Revenge_ in yester battle and I’ll warrant that my
brother William demeaned himself as becomes one of our line.”

“And thus will I one day,” said the lad earnestly.

“Nay, nay child!” quickly rejoined the man. “Harbor not such wild
designs John, for thou art cast for a farmer. Thou must train thy hand
to the plow and so dismiss from thy mind all thought of the sea. Come,
let us return. Thy mother will be aweary waiting.”

Perhaps it is not strange that Master George Smith, who had followed
the sea in his younger days, should have sought to dissuade his son
from thought of a similar course. The career of adventure had not
resulted in any improvement of the father’s fortune. On the contrary,
he had finally returned home with empty pockets and wrecked health to
find the farm run down and the mother whom he had loved most dearly,
dead. Now, feeling that but few more years of life remained to him, it
was his aim to improve the property and his hope that John would grow
up to be a thrifty farmer and take care of his mother and the younger

Master George Smith came of a family of armigers, or gentlemen, and was
accounted a well-to-do farmer in those parts. His holding lay within
the estate of the Baron Willoughby, the Lord of the Manor, and he
held his lands in perpetuity on what was called a quit rent. This may
have consisted of the yearly payment of a few shillings, a firkin of
butter, or a flitch of bacon--any trifle in short which would suffice
to indicate the farmer’s acknowledgment of the Baron as his overlord.

In the earlier feudal period, lands were granted in consideration of
military service. The nobleman received his broad acres from the king
upon condition of bringing a certain number of armed retainers into
the field whenever summoned. The lord, in order to have the necessary
retainers always at command, divided up his domain into small holdings
amongst men who pledged themselves to join his banner when called
upon. As a reminder of his obligation, each retainer was required to
make some slight payment to his lord every year, and this was deemed
an acquittance of rent. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, feudal
tenure--that is the holding of lands in consideration of military
service--had ceased to exist, but the custom of paying quit rent
continued and it is observed in many parts of England to this day.

Master Smith sent his son to the grammar school in the neighboring
village of Alford. It was perhaps one of the many schools of the kind
founded by the wise young king, Edward the Sixth, for the benefit of
the great mass of his subjects who could not afford to have their sons
educated at the more expensive colleges. John was an apt scholar and
made good progress, but even in early boyhood his mind was, as he tells
us, “set upon brave adventure.” And so, although he applied himself
diligently to learning whilst at school, he was impatient to cut loose
from his books and go into the world of action.

This is not difficult to understand when we consider the lad’s
temperament and the circumstances in which he was placed. Willoughby
and Alford were on the coast. The people were for the most part
sea-faring men. Many of them made voyages to the continent of Europe
and some had visited more distant parts. Like most seamen, they were
doubtless always ready to tell of their experiences, and we may be sure
that little Jack Smith was an eager listener to their yarns.

He was nine years of age when England throbbed with excitement at the
approach of the great Armada of Spain. He saw all the able-bodied men
of his village hurrying south to join their country’s defenders, and
without doubt he wished that he were old enough to go with them. A few
weeks later, the gallant men of Willoughby came home to harvest their
fields, undisturbed by fear of an invasion of the Dons. Every one of
them had done his full share in the fight. Jack’s uncle had served on
Francis Drake’s ship. That fierce sea-hawk was in the thick of the
strife and it was a brave story that Master William Smith had to relate
to his delighted nephew.

As the lad grew older, he began to read of the glorious deeds of his
countrymen in former days, stories of battle and adventure on land and
sea, of knights and sea captains, of shipwreck and discovery. Books
were costly and hard to come by in those days and very few would be
found in the home of even a prosperous farmer. But Jack Smith was
fortunate in the fact that Robert and Peregrine, the sons of Lord
Willoughby, were his schoolfellows and playmates. Through them he had
access to the castle with its grand hall full of armor and weapons, its
gallery of old portraits, and above all its library, containing many of
the kind of books from which he derived the greatest pleasure.

More than that, Lord Willoughby was one of the most renowned warriors
of his day. On the Continent his name was linked with those of Sir
Philip Sidney and Sir Walter Raleigh. His feats of arms were recorded
by historians and sung in ballads. One of these, which you may find in
a curious old book named “Percy’s Reliques,” commences thus:

    “The fifteenth day of July,
       With glistening spear and shield,
     A famous fight in Flanders,
       Was foughten in the field.
     The most courageous officers
       Were English captains three,
     But the bravest man in battel
       Was the brave Lord Willoughbie.”

This song was composed at about the time that Jack was at school, and
you may depend upon it that he with every one else in Willoughby sang
it, for they were all right proud of their lord.

Lady Willoughby was, of course, fond of recounting her husband’s brave
exploits. He was at this time fighting in the Low Countries, and at
every opportunity he sent her word of the adventures that befell
him. Parts of these letters she would read to her sons, and Jack was
often present. At other times she would sit in a large oaken chair
before the great fireplace in the hall, the three lads and two huge
stag-hounds grouped about her feet in the ruddy light of the log fire.
Many a delightful evening was thus spent, the stately lady telling of
the stirring deeds performed by her lord and the boys listening with
breathless interest.

During one winter the little circle received a welcome addition in
the son of Count Ployer. The young Frenchman was in England for the
purpose of finishing his education. His father was a friend of Lord
Willoughby and in company with the latter was fighting in the Low
Countries. The young nobleman was thus in a position to contribute his
share to the stories of military adventure in which they were all so
deeply interested.

As he walked home in the dark after one of these recitals, Jack would
flourish his staff and shout words of command to imaginary followers,
or tilt at a bush, or wage a furious duel with a milestone. The baying
of “Sir Roger,” the old watchdog at the homestead, would recall him
to his senses, and he would steal up to his truckle bed in the attic
wishing that he were a man and his own master.

By the time Jack reached the age of thirteen, the desire to seek his
fortune in the world had become too strong to be longer resisted. His
mother was dead, his brother and sister were younger than himself and
his father’s mind was still set upon making him a farmer. There was no
one to whom he could turn for advice or assistance and so, with the
self-reliance which he displayed through after-life, Jack determined to
take matters into his own hands. The only things of any value which he
possessed were his school books and satchel. These he sold for a few
shillings. With this money in his pocket he was on the point of setting
out for London, when the sudden death of his father upset his plan.

Master Smith left the farm to his son John, but placed it and the boy
in the hands of a Master Metham, who was to act as guardian of both
until such time as Jack should attain the legal age to inherit. This
Master Metham was a trader, and he thought that he was doing very well
by Jack when he put him in the way of learning business. He apprenticed
the lad to Master Thomas Sendall, a shipowner and merchant of the
neighboring seaport of Lynn. At first this arrangement was decidedly to
Jack’s liking, for his guardian held out the prospect of voyages to the
many foreign countries visited by Master Sendall’s vessels. But in this
Jack was disappointed. Sailor-boys his master could easily get, but it
was not such a ready matter to find a bright youngster for work in the
counting-house. So Jack found himself pinned down to a desk in sight of
the busy wharves and shipping. Here for some months he sat chafing at
the inactivity and at length he determined to run away.

One night he slipped out of the warehouse in which he slept and, with
his bundle of clothes slung on a stick over his shoulder, started for
Willoughby, which he reached after a few days’ tramp. Jack went boldly
up to his guardian’s house and told him that he had run away from his
master, feeling assured that there was little chance of travel whilst
he remained in his employment.

“Nor will I return,” said Jack in conclusion, “for I am determined
to see the world and I beg of you to supply me with the means.” Now
this speech smacked somewhat of over-confidence, for in those days
truant apprentices were severely dealt with and Jack was liable to
have been sent back to his master, who might then have flogged him.
However, Master Metham knew that his friend Sendall would not wish to
be troubled with an unwilling apprentice, and a plan occurred to him
for curing Jack of his desire to roam. His idea was to give the lad
so little money that he could not go very far with it and would soon
experience a taste of hardship. This Master Metham thought would bring
his ward home, eager to return to his desk and settle down to the sober
life of a merchant’s clerk. The scheme might have worked very well with
many boys, but Jack was not of the kind that turn back.

“As you will,” said Master Metham, after some thought. “Here is the
money, and now go where you please.”

With that he handed our hero ten shillings.

“What is this?” cried Jack in amazement. “Ten shillings! Surely you
jest Master Metham.”

“Not so,” replied his guardian, assuming a stern air. “Take the money
and begone, or return it to me and go back to Master Sendall within the

Jack thrust the coins into his pocket and turned on his heel without
another word. The next minute he was striding resolutely along the
highroad to London.

As Master Metham watched the receding figure of his ward from the
window, he could not help feeling admiration for the boy’s pluck, but a
grim smile played about the merchant’s lips as he said to himself, “And
I mistake not, yon humorist will be coming back in a fortnight or less,
with pinched face and tightened waistbelt.”

But Master Metham proved to be a poor prophet. Several years passed
before he set eyes on Jack again.

The journey to the capital was not unpleasant. The time was early
summer, when the fields are clad in the greenest grass, with a thick
sprinkling of wild flowers and the hedgerows give off the sweet smell
of honeysuckle and violets. Shade trees lined the road, so that Jack
was able to push along, even in the noonday heat, without serious
discomfort. He was a strong, healthy lad, to whom a tramp of twenty
miles in a day was no great matter. Often a passing wagoner gave him
a lift and sometimes shared with him a meal of bread and bacon washed
down with a draught of home-brewed ale. Milkmaids, going home with
their pails brimful, would offer him a drink, and occasionally a farmer
would ask him to the house to join in the family meal. He never failed
to find a lodging for the night if it was only in a barn or a stable.
Thus Jack, with a thriftiness which would have chagrined Master
Metham, had he known of it, contrived to husband his little store of
money and, indeed, he had not broken into it when a happy incident
relieved him of all further anxiety on the score of ways and means.

He was plodding along one day when two horsemen overtook him. They
looked back in passing and one of them suddenly reined in his horse and
turned it round.

“Not Jack Smith!” he cried in evident delight. “Whither away comrade?”

“I am setting out on my travels, Peregrine,” replied Jack, trying to
put on the air of a man of the world.

“And I also,” said the son of Lord Willoughby, for it was he, “but
come, you must join us, and we can exchange the news as we ride along.”
He ordered one of the two grooms who followed them to give his horse
over to Jack and the other to take the wayfarer’s bundle. Having
presented his young friend to the tutor and temporary guardian who
accompanied him, Peregrine drew alongside of Jack whilst the latter
told his story. The young lord in turn explained that he was on his way
to Orleans in France, there to join his elder brother and complete his
studies abroad after the manner of young noblemen of that day--and of
this, for that matter. He insisted that Jack should accompany him as
his guest, saying that it would be time enough to think of other plans
after they should have reached their destination.

As we see Jack thus fairly launched upon his adventures, we cannot help
smiling to think how it would have surprised good Master Metham to
learn how far ten shillings could carry our hero.



Old London as it looked from Highgate Hill--The travelers put up
at “Ye Swanne” near New Gate--The start for White Hall to see Sir
Francis Walsingham and the Queen--Their wonderment at the strange
house signs--The saucy apprentices arouse their anger--Old Paule’s
Cathedral and some celebrated mansions--The Royal Palace and a state
procession--They go to the Globe, Will Shakespeare’s theatre--The boys
see their first play in company with Doctor Hollister--Old London
Bridge, its curious houses and its grizzly ornaments.

When our travelers reached the top of Highgate Hill, from which an
extensive view could be had in every direction, they halted to survey
the scene. London lay below, stretched along the banks of the Thames,
and still several miles distant. In Queen Elizabeth’s reign it was
a small place compared with what it is today. Its greatest distance
across was then less than two miles, whereas, now it is nearly thirty.
Nevertheless, London was by far the greatest city in England and
amongst the largest in the world.

Jack and his companions looked down upon a closely packed collection of
buildings within a wall whose moat, no longer needed for defence, had
become half choked with refuse and rank vegetation. The streets were so
narrow that, with the exception of Cheapside, which traversed the city
from end to end, they were not discernible at that distance. The mass
of red-tiled roofs was broken here and there by a market place or a
churchyard and agreeably relieved by the gardens which lay at the backs
of most of the houses. One hundred and more spires of parish churches
shot up in relief against the background of the silvery river, for in
those days the Thames was a clear and pure stream upon which swans
disported even below London Bridge.

Scattering suburbs extended from the walls of the city in several
directions. In Elizabeth’s time, the noblemen and wealthier citizens
had deserted their old-time palaces and mansions in the filthy and
crowded metropolis for healthier residences among the adjacent
fields. Perhaps, Baynard Castle, mentioned in the opening scene of
Shakespeare’s Richard the Third, was the only one of the old homes of
the nobility occupied by its owner at that time. Most of the others
had been given over to tenements in which the poorer people crowded.
A large part of the London that the boys gazed upon in wonder and
admiration was destroyed by the Great Fire in the year 1666.

It must be remembered that, despite the comparison we have made of
the London of Shakespeare’s time and the city of today, the former
was relatively of greater importance than the latter and exercised a
greater influence on the affairs of the nation. It was the residence of
the monarch and of all the important members of the government. Every
person of note in the kingdom had a town house. By far the greater part
of the business of the country was transacted at the capital. It set
the fashion and furnished the news for the whole island. London was, in
short, the heart and brains of England at this period.

It was late in the evening when the travelers, tired and hungry,
passed through New Gate which, like Lud Gate and some others of the
many entrances to the city, was used as a prison. A little later and
they must have remained at one of the inns outside the walls for the
night, or have left their horses and entered by the postern, for
the portcullis was closed at sundown. They put up at “Ye Swanne” on
Cheapside and hardly one hundred yards from the gate. It was a hostelry
much frequented by north-country gentlemen. Master Marner, the host,
gave them the best accommodations his house afforded for the sake of
Lord Willoughby, who had often been his guest and, in fact, always
lodged with him when in London. That nobleman, long accustomed to the
freedom and frank comradeship of the camp, found himself much more
at ease in one of Master Marner’s cosy rooms than in a chamber at

Neither of the lads had ever been in London, and after they had supped
in the common room--which corresponded to the _café_ of a modern
hotel--they were eager to go out and see the great sights of which they
had heard so much. But to this Doctor Hollister, the tutor, would not
consent, for in those days the capital was infested by footpads and
brawlers after nightfall and the patrols of the watch afforded scant
protection to wayfarers in the unlighted streets. The explanation
of all this only whetted the desire of the lads to go abroad on the
chance of witnessing some duel or fracas but Peregrine, at least,
was under the authority of the Doctor and Jack by accepting his
friend’s hospitality had placed himself in a similar position. So they
restrained their impatience and went early to bed as all honest folk
did at that period.

The following morning Doctor Hollister, accompanied by his young
charges, set out for Whitehall carrying a letter from Lady Willoughby
to Sir Francis Walsingham. The royal palace was at the extreme western
end of London, whilst the Swan Inn stood hard by New Gate, at the
eastern extremity, so that in order to reach their destination the
travelers had to traverse the full extent of the city. A citizen of
London at that time, having such a distance to cover, would most likely
have taken a wherry at one of the many water stairs, where numbers of
such boats were in waiting at all hours of the day and night. Jack
and Peregrine, eager as they were to see the sights of the metropolis,
would not hear of anything but walking and so the party set out at an
early hour, taking their way along Cheapside, or the Cheap as it was
then called.

Everything they saw was novel to the boys, neither of whom had ever
been in a town larger than Lynn. The gable roofs and projecting upper
stories of the houses were much like what they were accustomed to at
home, but they had seldom seen one of three stories and here were many
rising to four and five. In the narrow side streets which they passed,
the dwellings approached so closely that persons sitting at their upper
windows might easily converse with their neighbors across the way, or
even shake hands with them by leaning out.

Before almost every house hung a painted board suspended from an iron
bracket, similar to the sign of the “D’Eresby Arms” displayed by the
village tavern at Willoughby. For a moment the boys thought that they
must be in a town full of inns and Doctor Hollister was mightily amused
by the puzzled expression with which they looked from one to another
of the crude and curious pictures. The explanation was simple enough
when the tutor made it. In the reign of Elizabeth the simple device of
numbers to distinguish the different houses of a street had not yet
been thought of and so one saw all manner of things pictured and hung
over the entrances. There were angels, dragons, castles, mountains,
Turks, bears, foxes, birds, books, suns, mitres, ships, and in fact
every conceivable kind of object. So, a man wishing to indicate his
place of abode might say: “I lodge with the widow Toy, at the sign of
the _Bell_ in Paule’s Churchyard” and, since there was at the time
a veritable widow Toy, living in a house on the east side of the
churchyard and distinguished by the sign of a Bell, who doubtless took
in lodgers when favorable opportunity offered, it is not impossible
that one or another of the acquaintances made by our party during their
stay in London uttered precisely such a remark to them.

As our friends passed along the street, apprentices standing in front
of their master’s shops invited their patronage or made saucy comments
upon their appearance for, although they were dressed in their best
clothes, it was easy to see that a country tailor had fashioned their

“Ho Richard! Dick Hopple!” cried one of these prentices to an
acquaintance across the street. “Cast thy gaze upon his worship and the
little worshipfuls going to Paule’s to buy a sixtieth.” This was an
allusion to the lottery under royal patronage which was conducted in
a booth set up in the churchyard of the cathedral. It attracted many
countrymen to the capital, who could generally afford to purchase no
more than a fractional share, perhaps one-tenth, of a ticket.

“Peace boy!” said Doctor Hollister, sternly.

“Honorificabilitudinitatibus!” glibly replied the lad with a mock
obeisance. This extraordinary word, which Shakespeare had put into the
mouth of one of his characters, caught the fancy of the London populace
as a similar verbal monstrosity--Cryptoconcodycyphernostamata--did
about twenty-five years ago.

Doctor Hollister had the greatest difficulty in restraining the boys
from replying to these gibes with their fists and Jack, in particular,
begged earnestly to be permitted to “lay just one of them by the
heels.” But the Doctor had been a chorister of Paule’s in his boyhood
and he knew the formidable character of the London apprentices and how,
at the cry of “Clubs! Clubs!” they would swarm with their staves to the
aid of one of their number.

Presently they came to the great cathedral, and were surprised to
find that the holy edifice was used as a public thoroughfare, even
animals being driven across its nave, whilst hawkers displayed their
wares around the columns and gallants and gossips lounged about on the
seats--all this, too, during the celebration of divine service. The
lads who had been brought up in reverence of their country church were
shocked at the sights around them and little disposed to linger in the

Leaving the churchyard of the cathedral, Doctor Hollister led the way
down Dowgate Hill to the water front, wishing to afford the boys
sight of two unusually interesting buildings. One of these was Baynard
Castle, of which mention has already been made, but the other had the
greater attraction for Jack on account of being the residence of his
hero, Sir Francis Drake. It had formerly been known as Eber House, when
it was the palace of Warwick, the “Kingmaker,” whom you will remember
as the titular character of “The Last of the Barons.” Later the place
was occupied by that “false, fleeting, perjured Clarence” whose dream
is one of the most impressive passages in Shakespeare’s tragedy,
Richard the Third.

Passing Westminster and the little village of Charing Cross, our
travelers came upon the Palace of Whitehall fronting upon the Thames
and with Saint James’s Park at its back. In Elizabeth’s time this royal
residence was the scene of such splendid entertainments as marked its
occupancy by her father, Henry the Eighth. At this period it stood
outside of London on the outskirts of what was the distinct city of

Sir Francis Walsingham received Doctor Hollister kindly and promised to
facilitate the journey of the party to France. The Queen was about to
go to the royal chapel in state and the minister secured a favorable
position from which the country visitors had a good view of Elizabeth
and her attendants. In the meanwhile a secretary was instructed to
write the passports and letters to be delivered to the Doctor before
his departure.

The royal procession appeared to the sound of trumpets blown by six
heralds who walked in advance. First, after them, came gentlemen of the
court and noblemen, richly dressed and bareheaded; next the Chancellor,
bearing the state seal in a red silk purse, on one side of him an
official carrying the royal scepter, on the other one bearing the
sword of state in a red velvet scabbard, studded with golden _fleur de
lis_. Then followed the Queen with majestic mien, her oval face fair
but wrinkled; her black eyes small but pleasing. Her nose was somewhat
aquiline and her lips thin and straight. She wore false hair of bright
red topped by a small crown.

As she moved slowly along between lines of courtiers and representatives
of foreign nations, she spoke graciously to one and another and, when
occasion needed, with fluency in French or Italian. When one spoke to
her, he did so kneeling, and whenever she turned toward a group, all
fell upon their knees. It was these ceremonies that made the Court such
an irksome place to bluff soldiers such as Lord Willoughby.

The Queen was guarded on each side by the gentlemen pensioners, fifty
in number, with gilt battle axes. Following her came the ladies of the
Court, for the most part dressed in handsome gowns of white taffeta or
some other rich stuff.

In the antechamber a number of petitions were presented to Her Majesty,
who received them graciously amid acclamations of “Long live our
Queen!” to which she replied, smiling, “I thank you, my good people!”

Upon the return of the royal party from the chapel, Sir Francis
Walsingham ordered a meal, of which the principal features were roast
beef and ale, to be set before Doctor Hollister and his charges. They
were hungry and did ample justice to the minister’s hospitality. Sir
Francis then handed the Doctor his papers and wished the travelers
godspeed and a safe return.

It was high noon and the sight-seers still had a good half of the
day before them. The boys had never been to a theatre--indeed, there
were none outside of London--and the Doctor determined to take them
to the Globe which, under the management of William Shakespeare, was
fast becoming famous. The playhouse stood on the Surrey side of the
river a short distance above the bridge. The party took boat at the
palace stairs and were quickly rowed down and across the stream. They
landed near a circular tower-like building, topped by a flag-staff
and ensign, which the Doctor informed them was their destination. At
that period plays were performed only in the daytime and the party was
just in time for a performance. The enclosure--for it could hardly be
called a building--was open to the sky. Around the sides were tiers
of seats which accommodated the better class of spectators whilst the
“groundlings” stood in the central space before the booth-like erection
which contained the stage. There was no scenery, though the costumes
were rich and various, and the back and sides of the stage were
occupied by young gallants seated upon stools, for which privilege they
paid sixpence extra. The audience commented freely and loudly upon the
play and the acting and not infrequently the actors replied. Boys took
the female parts and bouquets had not come into use to express favor,
but an unpopular actor was sometimes subjected to a shower of ancient
eggs and rotten vegetables from the pit.

No doubt the play, crude as we should consider it, was a source of
wonder and delight to Jack and Peregrine who had never seen acting more
pretentious than the antics of the village mummers at the New Year

On the return home the party walked over London Bridge. At the entrance
tower they were startled to see the heads of some eight or ten
criminals stuck on the ends of spears. Two of these were quite fresh
and had a peculiarly ghastly appearance with their eyes staring open
and hair blowing in the breeze. But their attention was soon distracted
from this gruesome sight to the bridge itself which was one of the most
extraordinary structures in the country. It was entirely built over
by houses two and three stories in height. Through the centre ran an
arcade like a tunnel lined with shops. This strange viaduct, therefore,
was at once a bridge and a street as well as a roadway for heavy
wagons. In the stories above the shops, lived the owners of the latter.
They were also occupied by offices and in a few instances as private

Tired as the boys were when they reached their beds that night, they
lay talking for hours of the wonderful sights they had seen. At length
their remarks came in snatches and with mumbled speech as sleep
overtook them against their will.

“Jack,” said Peregrine, drowsily, “if you were Lord Mayor of London,
what would you do?”

“Give myself leave to fight a prentice,” muttered our hero, with closed



Jack goes to France with Peregrine--Is persuaded to turn homeward--He
starts for Paris and meets David Home--Sees the capital and spends
his money--Takes boat on the Seine for the coast and arrives without
a penny in his pocket--Enters the service of Captain Duxbury and
begins to learn the practice of arms--Sees service in the army of
Henry of Navarre--Goes to the Low Countries and fights against the
Spaniards--Sails for Scotland and is shipwrecked--Returns to Willoughby
and continues his training with Signor Polaloga.

Our friends arrived at Orleans without adventure or mishap. Sir Robert
Bertie, the elder son of Lord Willoughby d’Eresby, was unaffectedly
pleased to see his old playmate, Jack Smith. On reflection, however,
and after consultation with Doctor Hollister, he decided that the young
truant could not do better than return to his guardian. When a few days
had been spent in seeing the sights and the tutor had intimated that
it was time the young noblemen settled down to their studies, Robert
frankly expressed his opinion with regard to Jack.

Peregrine was moved to tears at the thought of losing his companion
and thoughtlessly charged his brother with a selfish desire to be rid
of their guest. “Nay,” said Robert, kindly laying his hand upon our
hero’s shoulder, “Jack knows me too well to believe that. In truth
nothing would better please me than that he should stay with us, but he
has work to do at home. No, Willoughby is the place for thee lad--and
would I were going with thee. Tomorrow we see Jack started on his way
Peregrine, and when we come back in a year or two it shall be to find
him a full-blown farmer, with a buxom wife perchance.”

Jack was anything but pleased at the prospect, but he had too much
sense to raise an objection to the suggestion, and besides he was duly
grateful for the generous hospitality he had enjoyed at the expense of
his friends for some weeks.

The following morning the sons of Lord Willoughby accompanied Jack for
some distance beyond the town on the first stage of his journey to
Paris which lay about seventy miles to the north of Orleans. When at
length they bid him good-bye with genuine regret at parting, Robert
put a well-filled purse into his hand and Peregrine gave him one of
the heavy, cumbersome pistols that were then in use. It was the first
weapon that Jack ever owned and he stuck it in his belt with a great
deal of satisfaction.

A few years later, in the course of his wanderings, Jack accidentally
came across Robert and Peregrine Bertie at Siena in Italy. There they
lay recovering from severe wounds received in an affair that reflected
greatly to their honor. After that meeting it is doubtful if the paths
of these early friends again crossed in life, but the young sons of
the famous Lord Willoughby played such important parts in our hero’s
career that the reader will surely be interested in knowing something
of their fate. In 1601 Robert succeeded to the title and estates of
his father on the death of the latter. As the twelfth Baron Willoughby
he upheld the military prestige of the family and added fresh laurels
to those gathered by a long line of soldier ancestors. He was created
Earl Lindsay in the reign of James the First and during the civil war
that terminated in the execution of Charles the First, he held the post
of commander-in-chief of the royal forces and was mortally wounded at
the battle of Edgehill. Peregrine became a barrister--a truly strange
occupation for a Bertie in those days--and practised law with some
distinction until his death in 1640.

We left our young hero on the road to Paris. His condition was very
different from that in which he left Willoughby for London, but he had
set out upon that journey with a light heart and abundant hope. Now
he was plodding towards the capital of France in a gloomy state of
mind. The idea of abandoning his venture and returning to the plow or,
worse yet, the dingy counting house of Master Sendall, was utterly
distasteful to him and his pride was touched by the thought of so lame
a conclusion to the boastful display of independence he had made to
his guardian. Having taken Robert Bertie’s money on the understanding
that he would use it to return to England he felt bound to do so, but
he began to wish that he had declined the gift and had gone on his way
as poor in purse but as free in action as when he turned his back on
his native village. Indeed, before he had finished his supper at the
inn where he stopped at nightfall, Jack had almost decided to retrace
his steps on the morrow, hand Robert his purse untouched and regain
his freedom. But one of those chance circumstances that lead to the
most important results in the lives of all of us, decided the matter in
another way.

Only persons of distinction, who were willing to pay for the privilege,
occupied private rooms in the hostelries of those days. Jack was
pleased to find a fellow countryman sharing his bedchamber. David Home,
for such was the young man’s name, proved to be an adventurer following
just such a life as our hero was desirous of entering upon. He was a
gentleman of good family, but at this time his fortunes were at a very
low ebb; in fact, he was not only penniless but weak from the effects
of a recent fever. Home was an entertaining talker and delighted Jack
with the recital of his exploits and experiences. Before they fell
asleep it had been agreed that they should continue the journey to
Paris in company. This they did, arriving in the course of a few days.
Home knew the city well, and under his guidance time passed quickly in
sight-seeing and amusement. Since their meeting Jack’s purse had been
generously placed at the disposal of his new friend, and when at length
our hero awoke to his obligation to continue the journey to England his
money had run very low.

Home was naturally sorry to see Jack, for whom he had acquired a strong
regard, leave, but he agreed with him that it was his duty to do so.
Home was far from ungrateful for the kindness he had experienced at
Jack’s hands and made all the return that was within his power when
he gave our hero letters to friends in Scotland who stood high at the
court of James the Sixth and might use their influence to further the
fortunes of the bearer. Jack sewed the letters in the lining of his
doublet and, taking boat on the Seine for the sea coast, arrived at
Havre de Grace without a penny in his pocket.

Whilst Jack was looking about for an opportunity to work his way across
the channel, not having the means to pay his passage, he fell in with
a Captain Joseph Duxbury, in the service of Henry of Navarre. When the
captain had heard the story of his young countryman he declared that
it would be a pity to return to the farm without any further taste of
adventure than had so far fallen to our hero’s lot, and he proposed
that he should enter his employment as an apprentice in the art of
war. It is needless to say that Jack could not resist this offer. The
camp was in sight and the captain assured him that he might at least
defer his return to England without breaking faith with his friend, Sir
Robert Bertie.

Jack thus found himself installed as page to Captain Duxbury who,
besides having taken a fancy to the lad, was really in need of such a
servant at the moment. The duties consisted chiefly in looking after
the captain’s arms, accoutrements and horse. They afforded Jack his
first introduction to the implements of war and gave him an opportunity
to learn to ride. In spare time his master taught him the use of the
various weapons and instructed him in sitting and managing the charger.
All this was interesting enough to Jack, who soon had his mind set
upon becoming a soldier, but, aside from a few skirmishes, he saw no
fighting before the end of the war threw his master out of employment.

Captain Duxbury was one of the many free lances of various nationalities
who at this period made a business of fighting and, if the truth must be
told, were generally ready to sell their services to the highest bidder
without regard to the cause of the conflict. Whilst this was true in
some degree of all, the English adventurers were usually found fighting
against the Spanish for whom they cherished the most intense hatred.
Following the peace in France, Captain Duxbury decided to go to the Low
Countries and Jack gladly accompanied him. But in the ensuing campaign,
although our hero remained in the troop commanded by his old master,
it was in the capacity of a fighting man in the ranks. In the army
commanded by Maurice of Nassau, Captain Duxbury’s troop of horse had an
ample share of work and Jack took a creditable part in several battles
of more or less importance.

Thrown out of service by another treaty of peace, our hero resolved to
try the effect of the presentation of the letters he had received from
David Home. Accordingly he made his way to Enkhuisen on the Zuyder Zee
and thence set sail for Leith. The vessel in which Jack--now usually
addressed as “John Smith”--had embarked was a small one, and when it
encountered a terrific storm in the North Sea it was at the mercy of
wind and water. The master and crew despaired of weathering the gale,
and after lowering the sails allowed the ship to drift whither it
would. It ran ashore and was totally wrecked, John being among the
fortunate few who escaped drowning. The land upon which they were
thrown was Lindisfarn, called the “Holy Isle,” near Berwick. Here John,
who had received injuries in the wreck from which a fever followed,
lay ill for some weeks. Upon recovering sufficiently he proceeded
to Scotland and called on the friends of David Home to whom he bore
introductions. They received him kindly and did all in their power
to make his visit pleasant, but they told him frankly that they had
neither the money nor the means to secure his advancement at court.
Under these circumstances John, whose health was still poor, determined
to return to his native place.

Somewhat to his surprise John found the good people of Willoughby
disposed to treat him as a hero, although he protested that he had
accomplished no more than to gain some little insight to the ways of
warfare. His estate under the able management of Master Metham--who was
now disposed to accord him the deference due to a man--had flourished
during his absence abroad. He had the means to dress and live as a
gentleman, which in those days was of even more consequence than it is
now. John was now in his twentieth year and had developed into a strong
muscular young man. Although not tall he was well knit and had acquired
from his military service an upright and graceful carriage and an air
of self-possession. When tricked out in new velvet doublet and trunks,
with ruff and feathered cap, and rapier dangling by his side, he made a
gallant figure and set the hearts of the maids of Willoughby aflutter
as he paced, not without pardonable pride, along the streets of the

But there was too much sound sense in John’s composition to permit
him to enjoy this frivolous holiday life for long. Besides he had
now fully made up his mind to follow the calling of arms, and with
that decision came the determination to make of himself as thoroughly
capable a soldier as possible. Circumstances forced him for awhile to
pursue a life of peace, but he resolved to improve the interim by the
study of military tactics and the practice of arms. With this design
he betook him to a forest some miles from Willoughby and there went
into seclusion. It was summer time and a hut of boughs sufficed for
habitation. His servant supplied him with food and for occupation he
had brought a horse and some books and an assortment of arms. The horse
he first broke to the step and manœuvres of a military charger and then
used him in tilting with a lance at a ring suspended from the branch
of a tree. Among the books were “Polybius” and Machiavelli’s “Art of
War.” From these he learned a great deal of the theory--the science and
strategy--of his chosen profession.

Some of Captain John Smith’s biographers have affected to find cause
for amusement in the contemplation of this period of his career, but
we shall take another view of it when we find the lance practice and
the riding exercise showing their fruit in one of the most accomplished
soldiers on the Continent who is as a result enabled to defeat in three
successive encounters the champions of the Turkish army. Again we shall
appreciate the wisdom and foresight exhibited by our hero at this time
when we see the information gained in his studies turned to such
good account in the service of his superiors as to affect the issues
of battles and lead to his promotion from the ranks to an important

The retreat to which John had betaken himself, although in the depths
of the forest, was not beyond the ken of human eye. Woodcutters and
charcoal burners carried to the surrounding towns strange stories of
a fierce horseman mounted on a gigantic steed who charged through the
sylvan avenues at a pace so terrific as to shake the earth for miles
round. At length the rumor of this weird cavalier reached the ears
of Signor Theodore Polaloga, an Italian who occupied the position of
master of horse to the Earl of Lincoln at his neighboring castle.
Whilst this gentleman discredited the supernatural features of the
story, he was forced to believe that a horseman for reasons of his
own was practising riding in the privacy of the forest. Being himself
the most expert equestrian in that part of the country and one of the
best in the kingdom, his curiosity to know more of the stranger was
naturally great.

Signor Polaloga had no difficulty in finding the military hermit and
John, who was beginning to weary of his retirement, received the
Italian cordially, and all the more so since he was well acquainted
with that gentleman’s reputation as a superb horseman. Such simple
hospitality as lay at his command John extended cheerfully to his
visitor, who accepted it with an air of frank comradeship and partook
heartily of a venison pasty, the contents of which he strongly
suspected to have been poached from the Earl’s preserves. When, after a
conversation that each found sufficiently interesting to prolong, the
equerry proposed a friendly joust, Jack was delighted to comply. Whilst
our hero soon learned that he was no match for the Italian, he had no
cause to be ashamed of himself, for the master of horse pronounced him
surprisingly proficient and declared that few young men of his age
could excel him in horsemanship or in handling the lance.

The following morning Signor Polaloga returned with an invitation
from the Earl to John to come and stay at Tattershall, as the castle
was named. John, who had heard of the Earl of Lincoln as an eccentric
nobleman and hard to please, might have respectfully declined this
flattering invitation had not the equerry clinched the matter by
mentioning the extensive stable of fine horses, the assortment of
various arms and the tilt-yard that would be at the disposal of the
guest. So John went to Tattershall, and to his surprise found the
Earl a very pleasant gentleman who bade him make himself as much at
home in the castle as though he owned it. John spent several weeks at
Tattershall. Signor Polaloga entered zealously into the instruction of
the young man, declaring that he had never before had so apt a pupil.
But with the progress of his skill the desire to exercise it in actual
conflict grew and, hearing rumors of renewed hostilities in Holland,
John bade adieu to his patron, the Earl, and his friend the master of
horse and returned to Willoughby with the intention of fitting himself
out for a campaign on the continent.



John returns to the Netherlands--Determines to go east and fight the
Turks--Meets a bogus French nobleman and his attendants--Goes to France
with them--They steal all his belongings and with the assistance of the
ship-master decamp--John sells his cloak and pursues the thieves--A
friend in need--Finds the robbers but can get no redress--Alone in a
strange land without cloak or purse--Secures some clothes and money and
turns back to the coast--Still determined to get to the Turkish war by
some means.

John entered upon his second campaign in the Netherlands under more
promising circumstances than at first. He was furnished with good arms
and accoutrements, an ample supply of fine clothing and a considerable
sum of money. Moreover, he was no longer a greenhorn. It is true that
he could not boast of much actual experience of warfare, but he had
learned to handle his weapons with unusual dexterity and was prepared
to give a good account of himself. He had, however, few opportunities
for display of his skill before the winter put an end to hostilities
for the time.

When the camps began to break up, John followed the stream of travel
towards the coast without any definite plan for his future movements.
He was beginning to tire of service in Holland, which had disappointed
his expectations, and was anxious to find a fresh field for adventure.
Rudolph the Second, Emperor of Germany, was waging war against the
Turks in Hungary and Transylvania. Here was an avenue to new scenes
and experiences, but the seat of war was on the other side of Europe
and the journey thence a long and expensive one. For that reason he
could find none among his late companions in arms who was going to the
Turkish war. Still he continued his journey to Rotterdam, hoping that
he might there fall in with some nobleman bound for the East, to whose
train he might attach himself. He allowed his desire to become known
as widely as possible, thinking that it might come to the ears of some
leader willing to engage his services.

The port was full of soldiers, real and pretended, waiting to take
ship in various directions. There were veterans seeking their homes
for a spell of rest after hard fighting or returning to recover from
severe wounds. There were others to whom the sole attraction presented
by the scene of war was the prospect of loot. There were traders and
camp followers innumerable, desperadoes and outlaws, gamblers who used
loaded dice and sharpers of all sorts. John was fated to fall into
the hands of some of those smooth but dishonest characters who, like
vultures, hung in the rear of every army and preyed on the soldiers
returning from a campaign rich with pay and plunder. Our hero was an
easy victim, for, whilst his common sense rendered him sufficiently
cautious where an open enemy was concerned, his frank and generous
disposition prevented his suspecting the good faith of a pretended

John had his heavy iron-bound chest taken to one of the best inns
in the town and there he settled himself comfortably to interested
contemplation of the bustle and movement about him. Although he makes
no mention of being conscious of the trait, John Smith evidently had
the habit of awaiting events when circumstances failed to supply him
with a basis for a reasonable plan of action. When we can not see
our way clearly ahead, generally the wisest thing we can do is to do
nothing, as Handy Andy might have said. We seldom force a situation
without making a mess of it. It did not often happen to John, in the
course of his eventful life, that he had long to wait for something to
turn up, and the present occasion was no exception to the rule.

He was seated in the common room of the inn one day when he was forced
to overhear a conversation in French, with which language he had become
tolerably familiar. The speakers were four men who had the appearance
of being soldiers in good circumstances. One of them, in particular,
was richly dressed and seemed to be of superior station to the others,
who were receiving his directions for the voyage to France, which was
to be the first stage in a journey to Hungary, where they proposed
taking part in the campaign against the Turks. John heard this with
delight, for it seemed to afford the very opportunity for which he had
been longing.

Presently the three subordinates went out, and no sooner were they
alone than John eagerly approached the remaining Frenchman. After
apologizing for overhearing the conversation, which, in truth, was
intended for his ears, the young soldier stated his circumstances and
ventured to express a hope that the gentleman, whom he surmised to be a
nobleman, might find a place for him in his train. The Frenchman, who
stated his name and style to be Lord de Preau, at first affected to be
annoyed at the discussion of his private affairs, but as John proceeded
with his story the supposed nobleman relaxed, and at its conclusion
with amiable condescension invited our hero to be seated and join him
in a bottle of wine.

“I may be able to further your design,” said “Lord de Preau” with
thoughtful deliberation, whilst John hung eagerly upon his every
word. “It is in my mind to help you, for a more likely young gallant
I have never met. But I have not the means, as you seem to think, of
supporting a large train.”

Here his “lordship” broke off to raise his goblet to his lips, and
John’s heart sank as he imagined that he saw an objection in prospect.
The “nobleman” noted the look of disappointment on the young man’s
mobile countenance and smiled encouragingly as he continued:

“It may be contrived I ween and thus. The Duc de Mercœur--as is
doubtless beknown to you--is now at the seat of war with a company
raised in France. I have letters to the Duc’s good lady who will, I
doubt not, furnish me with the means to continue my journey and also
commend me to the favor of her lord.”

“And the Duchesse? Where may she be?” asked John.

“The Duchesse de Mercœur sojourns with her father, Monsieur Bellecourt,
whose lands adjoin my own poor estate in Picardy,” replied the
pretended nobleman, “so that first we repair to my _chateau_ and there
lay our plans for the future. It is agreed?”

Agreed! Why John was fairly ready to fall on “Lord de Preau’s” neck
and embrace him in the ecstasy of his delight. That accommodating
individual undertook that one of his attendants should make all the
preparations for departure and notify our hero when everything should
be in readiness.

At noon the following day the three retainers of the French “nobleman”
appeared and announced the approaching departure of the vessel upon
which they were to embark. They gave their names as Courcelles, Nelie
and Montferrat, and each expressed his satisfaction at the prospect
of having the young Englishman as a companion in arms in the coming
campaign. Preceded by four colporteurs, carrying John’s baggage, they
went on board and, De Preau shortly after joining them, the master
weighed anchor and sailed out of port.

The vessel on which John shipped with such great expectations was one
of the small coasting luggers, common at the time, which bore doubtful
reputations because they were as often engaged in smuggling, or other
illegal venture, as in honest trade. Upon this particular occasion the
craft was full to the point of overcrowding with passengers bound for
various points upon the coast of France.

Night had set in when the ship cast anchor in a rough sea off the
coast of Picardy. The landing was to be made at St. Valèry, where the
inlet is too shallow to permit the entry of any vessels larger than
fishing smacks. There was but one small boat available for taking the
passengers ashore, and this the master placed first at the disposal of
“Lord de Preau.” The baggage of the entire party was lowered into it
and then they began to descend, the supposed nobleman in the lead. When
the three retainers had followed their master, the captain, who with
the aid of a seaman was going to row the boat to land, declared that
it was already laden to its utmost capacity and, promising to return
immediately for John, he pushed off into the darkness.

Hour followed hour without bringing any sight of the ship’s boat to
our hero impatiently pacing the deck, nor did the return of day afford
any sign of the captain and his craft. By this time John’s anxiety had
reached a painful pitch. With the exception of his small sword and
the clothes upon his back everything he possessed had left the ship
in the boat, which he began to fear had foundered in the storm that
was not yet exhausted. If this were true his plight was a sorry one,
indeed. With straining eyes he spent the day gazing across the mile of
water that lay between the ship and the little village of St. Valèry.
The waves gradually subsided as the day wore on, and when evening
approached the sea was running in a long heavy swell. John felt that he
could not abide another night of uncertainty and was seriously debating
in his mind the chances of safely reaching the shore by swimming, when
he perceived a boat putting out from the port.

A very angry set of passengers greeted the master as he came over
the side of his vessel and they were not altogether appeased by his
explanation that the boat had been damaged on the outward trip, and
he dared not entrust himself to it for the return until after the
water and wind went down. He reassured John by the statement that his
friends had gone forward to Amiens to avoid the poor accommodation at
St. Valèry, and would there await him. Having made his excuses, the
master proceeded to get his passengers ashore as quickly as possible
and offered John a seat in the first boat which he was only too glad to
accept, for, though his mind was somewhat easier, he felt impatient to
rejoin his new patron--and his chest.

John’s first thought on landing was to procure a horse to carry him
to Amiens, but when he thrust his hand into his pocket he discovered
that he had not a single penny--even his purse was with his baggage. He
might walk, but Amiens was nearly forty miles distant and it would take
him two days to cover the ground on foot. Moreover, he would need food
on the way and was already hungry and faint, having in his anxiety of
the previous hours neglected to eat. Clearly he must get some money,
and the readiest way to do so seemed to lie in selling his cloak, which
was a very good one. He disposed of it to the innkeeper at a fair
price, ate a hurried supper, and was in the act of arranging for the
hire of a horse, when one of his fellow passengers entered the tavern
and expressed a desire to speak with him privately.

The man who thus claimed John’s attention was a soldier of middle age
with an honest and weather-beaten countenance. He had arrived on one
of the last boat trips but had sought our hero with as little delay
as possible. He now expressed his belief that John was the victim of
a plot to deprive him of his money and belongings. De Preau he said
was slightly known to him as the son of a notary of Mortagne, and he
believed the other rascals to be natives of that town. He had not
suspected any mischief until he heard the master on his return from
shore refer to De Preau as a nobleman. He doubted not the ship captain
had connived at the swindle, but nothing could have been proved against
him in the absence of the chief culprits.

John was at first disposed to be angry with Curzianvere, as the soldier
was named, for not having spoken sooner and denounced the master on the
spot. He readily excused the other, however, when he explained that
he was an outlaw from the country on account of a political offence
and now secretly visiting his home at great risk. It was natural
that he should have hesitated to get mixed up in a scrape that would
necessitate his appearing before a magistrate at the hazard of being
recognized. By divulging this much about himself he had confided in
the honor of a stranger, but so great was the confidence with which
John’s frank demeanor inspired him that he would go still farther and,
as his road lay past Mortagne, would guide him thither. He warned John,
however, that he could not venture to enter any large town in Picardy
or Brittany, much less appear as a witness against De Preau and his
companions, should they be found.

With this understanding the two soldiers set out together, and after
several weeks’ tramping, during which Curzianvere had shared his
slender purse with John, they arrived at Mortagne. Here the outlaw,
perhaps fearing complications that might arise from his companion’s
errand, decided to continue his journey. Before parting with the young
wayfarer, however, he gave him letters to some friends residing in the
neighborhood from whom he might expect hospitable treatment.

John entered the town, and so far as the first step in his quest was
concerned, met with immediate success. Almost at once he encountered De
Preau and Courcelles sauntering along the main street. John’s bile rose
as he perceived that both were tricked out in finery abstracted from
his chest. He strode up to them and in angry tones charged them with
deception and the theft of his goods. The sudden encounter confused the
rogues, but De Preau quickly regained his composure.

“Does Monsieur honor you with his acquaintance?” he asked of Courcelles
with a significant look.

“Had I ever seen that striking face before I must have remembered it,”
replied the other, taking the cue from his leader.

John was aghast at their effrontery, and turning to a knot of townsmen
who gathered around, he cried:

“These men have robbed me of my possessions. Even now they wear my
garments upon their backs. If there be justice----” but speech failed
him at sight of the unsympathetic faces of the bystanders.

“Mon Dieu! But the fellow is a superb actor,” drawled De Preau.

“Most like some knave who would draw us into a quarrel,” added

The onlookers, too, began to make menacing remarks, and poor John
realized the hopelessness of his position. He was a foreigner without a
friend, and he suddenly remembered that to be locked up and found with
Curzianvere’s letters upon him would not mend matters. He could not
support a single word of his story with proof. He was cloakless and his
clothing worn and travel-stained. Who could be expected to believe that
he ever owned a purse filled with gold and a chest of rich raiment? He
was quivering with just rage, but he had sense enough to see that his
wisest course lay in retreat. So without another word he turned his
back on the two villains and walked rapidly out of the town.

A few miles from Mortagne John found the friends to whose kind offices
the letters of Curzianvere recommended him. He met with a cordial
reception and sincere sympathy when he had told his tale, but these
good people were obliged to admit that he had no chance of recovering
his property or causing the punishment of the thieves. Being thus fully
convinced that the matter was beyond remedy, John determined to put it
behind him and seek relief for his feelings in action. He declined the
invitation of Curzianvere’s friends to prolong his visit but, accepting
a small sum of money and a cloak from them, set out to retrace his
steps to the coast, in the hope that he might secure employment upon a
ship of war.



John reaches Havre after a long dreary tramp in mid-winter--Fails to
find a ship going to the East and turns south along the coast--Falls
exhausted by the roadside and is picked up by a good farmer--Regains
his strength and resumes his journey--Encounters Courcelles, one of
the Frenchmen who had robbed him--They draw swords and fall to--John
completely overcomes his antagonist, punishes him and leaves him
repentant--An unlooked for meeting with an old friend--John is set upon
his feet again--Goes to Marseilles and takes ship for Italy--Is thrown
overboard in a storm by the fanatical passengers--Swims to a desert

It must not be supposed that John had abandoned his project of going to
fight the Turks. His was not the temperament to be easily discouraged
or diverted from a purpose. He was not now in a position to pursue
any very definite plan, but he walked coastward in the hope that
some favorable opportunity for going farther might present itself.
If he should find some ship of war or large merchantman bound for a
Mediterranean port he would be willing to work his way on her in any
capacity. Honfleur and Havre being the most likely places thereabouts
in which to find such a vessel as he sought, he made his way northward
and visited each of those ports in turn without success. It was winter,
and peace prevailed in western Europe for the time being. There
was little movement among the large ships but smaller vessels, in
considerable numbers, were plying between the Continent and England.
John might readily have secured passage to England, and no doubt his
wisest course would have been to return home and procure a fresh
supply of clothing and money. But John could not brook the thought of
appearing at home tattered and torn and confessing to his guardian that
he had been duped and robbed.

The shipping men of Havre advised the anxious inquirer to try St. Malo,
and so he turned back over the ground he had already twice traversed
and faced several more weeks of weary travel with a purse now nearly
empty and clothing almost reduced to rags. Coming up from Mortagne he
had selected the poorest inns for resting places; now even these were
beyond his means, and he had to depend upon the charity of the country
people for a night’s lodging or a meal. Occasionally his way led past a
monastery, when he was always sure of simple hospitality for, to their
credit be it said, the fact that John was an Englishman and a heretic
never caused the good monks to turn him from their doors.

When at length he arrived in the neighborhood of Pontorson in Brittany
it was in a condition bordering on collapse from the effects of the
exposure and hardship of the preceding weeks. St. Malo was but a short
two days’ journey away, but it did not seem possible that he could hold
out until that port should be reached. He staggered on for a few more
miles but at last his strength utterly gave out and he sank unconscious
to the ground by the roadside. Here John Smith’s career well nigh wound
up in an inglorious end, for had he lain neglected for a few hours he
must have frozen to death. Fate directed otherwise, however. A kind
farmer chancing by in his wagon picked up the exhausted lad and carried
him to his house. There he was nursed and fed and, some weeks later,
when he resumed his journey it was with a show of his natural vigor.

John left the farmhouse with a wallet sufficiently stocked to stay
his stomach until he should arrive at St. Malo--money he had refused
to accept from the good farmer. The air was mild. It was one of those
sunny days in late winter that give early promise of spring. Under
the influence of the cheery weather our hero’s spirits rose, and he
had a feeling that the tide in his affairs was about to turn. This
presentiment was strengthened by an adventure that immediately befell
him and which will not so greatly surprise us if we remember that he
was once again in the vicinity of Mortagne, having gone forth and back
in his long tramp.

John had been following a short cut through a wood and had just emerged
into the open when he came suddenly face to face with a traveler who
was pursuing the same path in opposite direction. Each recognized the
other immediately, and on the instant their swords flashed from the
scabbard. They flung aside their cloaks and engaged without a word.
Furious anger surged in John’s breast as he confronted Courcelles, one
of the four French robbers to whose perfidy he owed his present plight
and all the misery of the past months. For a moment he was tempted to
rush upon the rascal and run him through, but that caution and coolness
that ever characterized our hero in the presence of danger, soon took
possession of his reason and prompted him to assume the defensive.

Courcelles was no mean swordsman, and he saw before him a bareface boy
whom he could not suppose to be a master of fence. Moreover, he was
moved by the hatred which mean souls so often feel for those whom they
have wronged. He made a furious attack upon the stripling intending to
end the affair in short order.

John calmly maintained his guard under the onslaught with his weapon
presented constantly at the other’s breast. With a slight movement of
the wrist he turned aside Courcelles’ thrusts and stepped back nimbly
when the Frenchman lunged. The latter, meeting with no counter-attack,
became more confident and pressed his adversary hard. But the skill
with which his assault was met soon dawned upon Courcelles. He checked
the impetuosity that had already told upon his nerves and muscles
and resorted to the many tricks of fence of which, like most French
swordsmen, he was an adept. He changed the engagement; he feinted
and feigned to fumble his weapon; he shifted his guard suddenly; he
pretended to slip and lose his footing; he endeavored to disengage;
but John could not be tempted from his attitude of alert defence.
Courcelles beat the _appel_ with his foot but John’s eyes remained
steadfastly fixed upon his and the firm blade was ever there lightly
but surely feeling his. Courcelles tapped the other’s sword sharply but
John only smiled with grim satisfaction as he remembered how Signor
Polaloga had schooled him to meet such disconcerting manœuvres as these.

Courcelles was growing desperate and determined as a last hope of
overcoming his antagonist to try the _coup de Marsac_. This consisted
in beating up the adversary’s weapon by sheer force and lunging under
his upthrown arm. Gathering himself together for the effort, the
Frenchman struck John’s sword with all the strength he could command,
but the act was anticipated by our hero, whose rapier yielded but a
few inches to the blow. The next instant the point of it had rapidly
described a semi-circle around and under Courcelles’ blade, throwing it
out of the line of his opponent’s body.

It was a last effort. Chill fear seized the Frenchman’s heart as with
the waning of his strength he realized that he was at the mercy of
the youth he had so heartlessly robbed. With difficulty he maintained
a feeble guard whilst he felt a menacing pressure from the other’s
weapon. John advanced leisurely upon the older man, whose eyes plainly
betrayed his growing terror. He was as helpless as a child and might
have been spitted like a fowl without resistance, but although our hero
was made of stern stuff there was nothing cruel in his composition and
he began to pity the cringing wretch who retreated before him. He had
no thought, however, of letting the rascal off without a reminder that
might furnish a lesson to him.

With that thought he pricked Courcelles upon the breast accompanying
the thrust with the remark:

“That for your friend Nelie, if you please!”

Almost immediately he repeated the action, saying:

“And that for your friend Montferrat!”

“For your master, the Lord De Preau, I beg your acceptance of that,”
continued John, running his rapier through the fleshy part of the
other’s shoulder.

The terrified Frenchman dropped his sword and fell upon his knees with
upraised hands.

“Mercy for the love of heaven!” he cried. “Slay me not unshriven with
my sins upon my head.”

“Maybe we can find a priest to prepare thee for the journey to a better
land,” replied John, not unwilling that the robber should suffer a
little more. “Ho, there!” to a group of rustics who had been attracted
by the sounds of the conflict. “Know’st any holy father confessor
living in these parts?”

The peasants declared that a priest resided within a mile of the spot
and one of them departed in haste to fetch him to the scene.

As we know, John had no intention of killing Courcelles, nor did
he desire to await the return of the shriver, so finding that the
Frenchman had no means of making restitution for the theft of his
goods, he left him. But before doing so, he extorted from the
apparently repentant man a promise to live an honest life in future.

The encounter with Courcelles had a stimulating effect upon John and
he entered St. Malo the following morning, feeling better pleased
with himself than he had for many a day. He at once set about making
enquiries as to the vessels in port and was engaged in conversation
with a sailor on the quay when he became aware of the scrutiny of a
well-dressed young man standing nearby. The face of the inquisitive
stranger seemed to awake a dim memory in John’s mind but he could not
remember to have met him before. The other soon put an end to his
perplexity by coming forward with outstretched hands.

“Certes, it is my old playmate Jack Smith of Willoughby! Thou hast not
so soon forgot Philip, Jack?”

John instantly recollected the young son of Count Ployer who, as you
will recall, had passed several months at the castle as the guest of
Lady Willoughby. The young men repaired to a neighboring tavern where,
over a grateful draught of wine, John recounted his adventures. When
John spoke of his wanderings in Brittany Philip listened with a puzzled
expression, and when his friend had finished said:

“But why didst thou shun me and my father’s house? Surely not in doubt
of a welcome? It was known to you that the Count Ployer possesses the
castle and estates of Tonquedec.”

“Truly,” replied John, “but where is Tonquedec?”

Philip lay back in his chair and laughed long and heartily. When his
merriment had somewhat subsided he silently beckoned his new-found
friend to the window. St. Malo lies at the entrance to a long narrow
inlet. Extending a finger Philip pointed across this bay. Upon the
opposite shore John saw the gray walls of a large battlemented castle.

“Behold Tonquedec!” said Philip with a quizzical smile.

By the Count, John was received at the castle with the most hearty
welcome. That nobleman was, as his son had been, moved to immoderate
amusement at the thought of Jack--as Philip persisted in calling
him--having been in the neighborhood of the castle so long without
knowing it.

“Your friend is doubtless a gallant soldier,” he said to his son, “but
a sorry geographer I fear.”

John spent a pleasant week at Tonquedec Castle but declined to prolong
his stay, being anxious to pursue his journey to Hungary now that the
means of doing so expeditiously lay at his command. For the Count
generously supplied all his immediate needs and lent him a considerable
sum of money on the security of his estate. Thus equipped our hero set
out for Marseilles, whence he purposed taking ship for Italy. In after
years John proved his grateful remembrance of the kindness of the Count
and his son by naming one of the headlands of Chesapeake Bay, Point

John arrived at Marseilles just in time to take passage on a small
vessel filled with pilgrims bound for Rome. They encountered foul
weather from the moment of leaving port and day by day the storm
increased in fury until the danger of going down became hourly more
imminent. At this critical juncture both seamen and passengers
abandoned hope and sank upon their knees loudly calling upon the saints
for succor. John stood for awhile watching this proceeding which
revolted his common sense. At length his patience gave out and he
soundly berated the sailors for their cowardice and imbecility. Their
saints, he declared, would much more readily aid men than cravens, and
if they turned to and helped themselves, God would surely help them.

This ill-advised interference drew the attention of the mixed crowd
of passengers to the Englishman. Half mad with terror and despair
they turned upon him a shower of abuse couched in the foulest terms
and voiced in a dozen different dialects. They cursed his country
and his Queen. Then some one announced the discovery that he was the
only heretic on board, and the superstitious peasants at once became
convinced that the storm was attributable to his presence and that the
ship could only be saved on condition of getting rid of him.

Cries of “Overboard with the heretic! Throw the renegado into the sea!”
rose on every side, and many approached him menacingly flourishing
their staves. John set his back against the mast and drew his sword,
determined, if he must, to sell his life dearly. For awhile the
threatening weapon held the crowd at bay, but one crept up from behind
and knocked it from our hero’s hand. Immediately a rush was made upon
him. He was seized by many hands and dragged to the side of the vessel.
With their curses still ringing in his ears John sank beneath the waves.

All this occupied some time during which the master had, with the
assistance of two of the seamen, contrived to run his vessel under the
lee of a small island. When John, who was a strong swimmer, came to
the surface, he made for the islet which was scarce a mile distant. A
few strokes satisfied him that he must rid himself of his heavy cloak,
which was easily done since it fastened only at the neck. He next
kicked off his shoes and cast away his belt and scabbard. But it was
still doubtful if he could make the goal in the rough sea. Every ounce
of dead weight would count, and at last he reluctantly took his heavy
purse from his pocket and allowed it to sink. When at length his feet
touched bottom and he staggered out of the water our adventurer was
completely exhausted.

John threw himself behind a large rock which gave shelter from the
chill wind, and there he lay for an hour or more before he could gather
sufficient strength to walk. When he arose the night was falling and a
driving rain had set in. A brief survey of the little island satisfied
him that it was uninhabited. With that knowledge he faced the prospect
of a night in the open air under the beating rain. What might lie
beyond that he did not care to surmise.



A lonely night with cold, wet and hunger--John falls over a goat and
is heartened--A friendly ship and rescue--John sails with Captain La
Roche in the Britaine--Learns how to navigate a ship and handle big
guns--La Roche cruises in search of adventure--Falls in with a Venetian
argosy--The Venetian fires a shot and draws blood--A fierce fight in
which the Britaine is finally victorious--John is landed in Piedmont
with a fat purse--He journeys to Gratz and secures an introduction
to the leaders in the Archduke’s army--Gives an exhibition of superb
horsemanship and is appointed ensign in the regiment of Earl Meldritch.

Cold and hungry, wet and weary, John spent what seemed to him to be an
endless night, pacing about to keep his blood in circulation. He dared
not sleep, for that would be to court death, and so he could find no
relief from his gloomy thoughts in the pitchy darkness. Here he was on
an unoccupied island and here he might remain until starvation--but
no, he would not believe that Dame Fortune, who had so often displayed
a kindly disposition towards him, proposed to desert him in this

“My faith!” said John, speaking aloud to hearten himself, whilst
he drew his waistband tighter. “If the good dame knows aught of the
craving of my stomach she will surely hasten her ministrations. Would
I had saved my shoes or e’en my swordbelt! Leather, though not o’er
palatable I ween, will, so I have read, keep life in one’s body for
a spell but one can scarce eat fustian.” Here John’s soliloquy was
suddenly interrupted as he tripped over an object lying in his path.
As he lay upon the ground he heard some animal scampering away in the
darkness. “A goat!” said John, when he had recovered from his surprise.
“Where there is one goat, there are two. And where there are two goats,
there is a she-goat. And where there is a she-goat, there is milk. My
lady,” he continued, rising and making a low bow, “your humble servant
will do himself the honor of calling upon you as soon as decency and
light permit.”

This incident cheered our hero as it relieved his mind of the chief
anxiety that beset it. He had no wish to shirk the accidents and
hardships of life; in fact, he rather enjoyed them, but the thought of
death is naturally repugnant to a robust youth and especially to one
full of ambition and love of action. He was always of a philosophic
turn of mind, and as he reflected on the recent incident the
significance of it caused him to smile.

“In the direst straits,” he thought, “the remedy is at our hand if we
will but find it, though it be by falling over it. What babes we be!
We cry though the pitcher but rock and we cry when the milk is spilt.
Many a man dons mail when swaddling clothes would better befit him.”

With the first streak of dawn, John, now ravenously hungry, began to
look around for the she-goat which he felt confident of finding with
many companions on the islet. He had pursued this quest but a few
minutes when his heart was delighted by the sight of a ship lying
at anchor near this refuge. It had taken shelter behind the island
from the storm of the day before and was now making preparations for
departure, as John could see from where he stood. He hastened down
to the water’s edge and shouted lustily. The wind was fortunately
favorable and at length he attracted the attention of the people on
board. A boat was lowered and our hero, with scarce strength enough
to stand, soon found himself on the deck of a French merchantman. The
master, perceiving his condition, had him taken below, where he was
fed, dressed in dry clothes and left to sleep.


When John awoke, refreshed after a long rest, the vessel was scudding
along under a brisk breeze and the setting sun proclaimed the close
of another day. Our hero went on deck, blithe and eager for what new
adventures the strange whirligig of life might have in store for him.
The captain, after the fashion of seamen, extended a hearty greeting
and invited John to sup with him. Over the meal the young Englishman
told his story. At its conclusion, Captain La Roche, for such was his
name, rose and shook his guest warmly by the hand.

“Fortune has thrown you in my way,” said the captain, with a genial
smile. “I am from St. Malo and Count Ployer is my dear friend and
patron. For his sake I would do much for you, if your story and bearing
had not drawn me to yourself. You shall be put ashore this night if
that be your wish, but it would please me greatly should you decide
to continue on the voyage with me. I am bound for Alexandria and
thereafter may seek some profitable adventure. In the space of a few
months I shall land you somewhere in Italy--with a fat purse, and I
mistake not. What say you?”

John had always felt a strong desire for the life of the sea, and
in those days the complete soldier was more than half a sailor. The
experience would be profitable and, in any case, the proposition seemed
to hold out a better prospect of eventually reaching Hungary than by
starting penniless to walk across the Continent. Besides, if the truth
be told, John’s recent term of tramping had more than satisfied him
with that mode of travel for awhile. He accepted Captain La Roche’s
offer without hesitation.

La Roche was the owner, as well as the master, of his vessel, which
he called the _Britaine_, in honor of his native province. It was a
heavily armed ship of two hundred tons burden, carrying a crew of
sixty men. Such a number were not of course needed to manage a ship of
that size. The excuse for their presence was found in the prevalence
of piracy but, as we shall see, their duties were not entirely of a
defensive character. The truth of the matter is that La Roche, like
many another reputable ship-captain of his time, was himself more
than half a pirate. His vessel was a combination of merchantman and
privateer with authority to attack the ships of nations at war with his
country. The condition was very laxly observed, however, and might,
more often than political considerations, governed in such matters.
When the relations of the powers to one another were constantly
changing and a voyage frequently occupied a year, a captain’s safest
course was to treat every foreign sail as an enemy and either to
attack it or to run from it. With a valuable cargo such as La Roche
had on this occasion, the master of a vessel would generally try to
make a peaceful voyage to the port of destination. If a similar cargo
could not be secured for the return voyage, he would try to compensate
himself for the failure by taking a prize.

The voyage to Alexandria was completed without incident of importance.
John improved the opportunity to learn all that he could about
seamanship and the handling of big guns. Before the vessel made port
Captain La Roche pronounced his pupil a very creditable mariner and
almost capable of sailing the ship himself. Having discharged his
cargo, the captain proceeded to the Ionian Sea for the purpose, as he
said, of learning “what ships were in the road,” or, in other words, to
see if there was anything about upon which he could prey.

A few days had been spent in this quest, when a large Venetian argosy
was sighted in the straits of Otranto. Now the Venetians, sinking all
other considerations than those of greed and self-interest, had entered
into a treaty with the Turks. In this fact Captain La Roche might have
found sufficient excuse for attacking the richly laden ship, but a
better was forthcoming. It was one of those great unwieldy craft in
which the merchants of Venice sent cargoes of fabulous worth to all
parts of the world. Its size was more than twice that of the _Britaine_
and its armament at least equal to hers. The latter, however, had all
the advantage in speed and ability to manœuvre--a highly important
quality, as the Spaniards had learnt a few years previously when their
great Armada was destroyed by the comparatively small English ships.

The Venetian, seeing the _Britaine_ lying in his path and realizing
that he would have little chance in flight, endeavored to frighten the
other off with a shot. As luck would have it, the ball took off the
head of a seaman on the deck of the French vessel. This furnished La
Roche with an ample pretext for attacking the argosy. Running across
her bow, he raked her fore and aft, in passing, with his starboard
guns. Putting about, he returned under her stern, but as the high poop
afforded an effective bulwark, less damage was done by his fire. The
Venetian’s mast and rigging were now too badly damaged to permit of
her sailing and the Frenchman, who had so far escaped hurt, determined
to board. He brought his vessel alongside the other and made fast with
the grappling irons. The Venetian had a larger crew than her enemy and
they repulsed the attack of the Frenchmen with determination. Twice the
boarders succeeded in gaining the deck of the larger vessel and each
time they were beaten back after a furious hand to hand combat. Captain
La Roche, with John by his side, led the second of these assaults.
They were the first on the deck, and shoulder to shoulder fought their
way towards the poop where the commander of the argosy stood. They had
almost reached the spot, when La Roche glancing back, saw that they
were cut off from his men, who were retreating to their own vessel. To
return was out of the question. The only hope lay in breaking through
the men who stood between them and the farther side of the ship.

“It is overboard with us lad, if we would not be taken prisoners,” he
cried. “_Gare de là! Gare de devant!_”

The seamen fell back before the fierce charge of the two men whose
swords whistled through the air in sweeping strokes. In less time
than it takes to tell, they had reached the side and had plunged into
the sea. Swimming round the stern of the Venetian, they came upon the
_Britaine_, which had cast off and was preparing to sail away with the
idea that the captain had been killed.

As soon as he regained the deck of his vessel, Captain La Roche
ordered the guns to be reshotted. When this had been done he poured
two broadsides into the argosy with such effect that she was on the
verge of sinking. Once more the Frenchman ranged alongside and sent his
boarders to the attack. This time they met with little resistance, for
half the crew of the injured vessel were engaged in stopping the holes
in her side. The fight had lasted for an hour and a half and when the
Venetian surrendered, twenty of her men lay dead upon the deck and as
many more were wounded. On his side Captain La Roche had lost fifteen
of his crew and eight were incapacitated by sword cuts.

La Roche could not spare a prize crew to man the argosy even had he
been willing to face the enquiry that must have followed taking her
into port. Therefore he first secured his prisoners and then proceeded
to transfer as much as possible of the cargo of the Venetian to his own
ship. This task occupied twenty-four hours, and when the _Britaine_
had been filled, there remained upon her prize at least as much as
had been taken out of her. With this handsome remainder the Frenchman
abandoned her and her crew to their fate, which was probably to be
rifled by the very next ship that chanced along. The spoils consisted
of silks, velvets, and other rich stuffs, jewels, works of art, and
a considerable quantity of money. John’s share of the prize amounted
to five hundred sequins and a box of jewels, in all worth about
twenty-five hundred dollars--a much larger sum in those days than in
these. Shortly after this affair Captain La Roche landed our hero in
Piedmont, with “a fat purse” as he had promised.

John had now accomplished one more step in his project of engaging in
the campaign against the Turks and was at last within easy distance of
his goal. Had he been of a mercenary disposition his experience with
Captain La Roche might have induced him to attach himself permanently
to the person of that gallant sailor, but during all his life John
Smith displayed a disregard for money, except in so far as it was
necessary to the attainment of some important end. Therefore it was
with no reluctance that he turned his back on the sea and set forward
for Gratz where the Archduke maintained his headquarters. On the way he
had the opportunity to see many Italian cities and passed through Rome,
but he did not linger unnecessarily on the road.

At Gratz John had the good fortune to fall in with a countryman who
enjoyed some acquaintance with the leaders in the Christian army.
This gentleman presented the young adventurer to Lord Ebersberg,
Baron Kissel, the Earl of Meldritch and other generals attached to
the Imperial forces. These officers were attracted by the young man’s
soldierly bearing and impressed by the persistent manner in which he
had pursued his project and the pains he had been at to reach the
seat of war. They were, however, very busy with preparations for the
campaign and would likely enough have forgotten so humble an individual
as John Smith but for a fortunate incident that, although trivial in
itself, had an important influence upon our hero’s future career.

One day as he was passing by a large mansion on the outskirts of the
city, John was attracted to a crowd which had gathered round two
footmen who were with difficulty holding a plunging horse. It was
a magnificent Barbary steed with coal black silky coat, but it was
apparent at a glance that the animal had not been broken in, if,
indeed, it had ever had a saddle upon its back. John had hardly reached
the spot when the Earl of Meldritch and a companion came out of the
house and approached. The Earl displayed annoyance when he saw the
wild creature plunging and lashing out with its hind feet. He had, it
appeared from his remarks, bought the beast without seeing it and was
thoroughly disgusted with his bargain.

“It is a fit charger for Beelzebub, if, indeed, it be not the fiend
incarnate,” he cried. “I would not trust myself upon the back of such a
beast for all the wealth of the Indies.”

Hearing this John stepped up to the nobleman and said with a respectful

“If it please your lordship, I should like well to try conclusions with
yon animal.”

“You would ride it!” cried the Earl in amazement.

“With your lordship’s consent I would essay to do as much,” replied

Permission having been granted, a saddle was sent for. In the meantime
our hero stroked the horse’s head as well as he could for its prancing,
whilst he spoke to it in a low caressing tone of voice. The animal
seemed to yield somewhat to the influence of this treatment, for it
grew quieter, but the saddle was not put on without great difficulty.
John sprang into the seat, at the same time ordering the grooms to let
go. Immediately the horse began to act as though possessed. It stood
upright upon its hind feet. It tried to stand upon its head. It leapt
here and there. It spun around like a cockchafer on a pin. It darted
forward and suddenly stopped. In short, it tried all the tricks with
which a horse endeavors to throw its rider. But John had not learnt
riding from one of the best horsemen in England for nothing. He sat
his saddle easily through all the animal’s antics and when its fury
began to abate he urged it forward at full speed and dashed over the
neighboring plain and out of sight.

It was an hour later when John rode up to Earl Meldritch’s residence.
The nobleman came out to meet him and was surprised to see that he
managed the now-subdued steed without difficulty. He rode it back and
forth, made it turn this way and that, start and stop at will, and, in
fact, had it under almost perfect control. The Earl did not attempt
to disguise his admiration. On the contrary, he then and there made
our hero a present of the black charger and gave him an appointment as
ensign in his own regiment of cavalry.

John was now attached to the Imperial army in an honorable capacity,
and in the course of his duties he made the better acquaintance of
some of the higher officers. This was the case in particular with
Lord Ebersberg, who found that the young Englishman had made a study
of those branches of tactics in which he himself was most interested.
These two had many discussions and on one occasion John imparted to the
general some ideas of signalling which he had gathered from the pages
of Polybius. This particular conversation had an important bearing on
the issue of a great battle at a later date.



John marches with the army against the Turks--Helps the
commander-in-chief out of a dilemma--The signal message with
torches--“At the alarum, sally you”--John’s dummy battalions of
matchlock men deceive the enemy--Baron Kissel attacks the Turkish army
and routs it with great slaughter--The campaign in Transylvania--Alba
Regalis is attacked--John devises a scheme for entering the city--His
“fiery dragons” work havoc within the walls--The place is taken by
assault after a fierce fight--Sixty thousand Moslems advance to retake
it--John is promoted.

John Smith’s brief experiences in Holland had merely served to whet
his appetite for soldiering. He was now in a fair way to see fighting
of the hardest kind. The year 1601 was drawing to a close. It had
been distinguished by constant conflict of the fiercest description
between the Christian and Turkish armies, with the advantage on the
whole on the side of the latter. The Turks had ravaged Hungary, had
recently taken the important stronghold of Caniza, and were threatening
Ober-Limbach. Lord Ebersberg was despatched to the defence of that
place with a small force, whilst Baron Kissel followed as soon as
possible with an additional body of ten thousand men, including the
Earl of Meldritch’s regiment.

The Baron arrived to find that, although Ebersberg had contrived to
enter the town, its investment was now completed by an army of twenty
thousand Turks, which effectually shut out the intended reinforcement.
The situation was extremely critical, for Ober-Limbach is but a few
miles to the north of Caniza, whence a force of the enemy might issue
at any time and attack the Baron in the rear. Prompt action was
absolutely necessary, but how to act was difficult to decide upon.
To retreat would be to abandon the town and its garrison to certain
capture. To openly attack a strongly posted army of twice his strength
appeared too hazardous for consideration by the commander. However,
something had to be done, and that right quickly, so it was determined
to make an assault under cover of night when the advantage of numbers
would be somewhat lessened. Indeed, if the co-operation of the garrison
could be secured under such circumstances, the chances of success would
be considerable. But how to communicate with Lord Ebersberg was beyond
Baron Kissel’s conception, for it was practically impossible to pass
through the Turkish lines.

These matters were discussed in a council of the principal officers,
and when he returned to his tent the Earl of Meldritch explained the
situation to the young ensign who was upon his staff and of whose good
sense and knowledge he began to entertain a high estimate. When John
understood the dilemma in which the Commander-in-Chief was placed, he
expressed a belief that he could convey a message to Lord Ebersberg,
provided it was short and simple. To the astonished Earl he related his
conversation with the German general on the subject of signalling which
had not yet found a place in the tactics of European armies. John had
no doubt that Lord Ebersberg would remember the simple code of signals
which he had suggested to him, since he had shown a keen interest in
the matter. The Earl immediately informed the Commander-in-Chief of his
young subordinate’s idea, and the Baron wrote a message which was, if
possible, to be transmitted to the garrison.

As soon as darkness had set in, John, accompanied by the principal
officers of the army, who were of course deeply interested in the
trial, made his way to the top of a hill which overlooked the town. He
was supplied with a number of torches by means of which he proposed
to send to Lord Ebersberg the following despatch: “Tomorrow at night
I will charge on the east; at the alarum sally you. Kissel.” As a
first step, which would answer to the “call up” signal of modern
heliographers, three lighted torches were fixed at equal distances
apart and left exposed, awaiting the answer from the other end to
indicate that the signal was understood and that the receivers were
on the alert to take the message. The minutes lengthened into a
quarter-hour, into a half, and at length a full hour had slowly dragged
by without any sign from the garrison. The torches burnt low and the
disappointed officers turned to leave the spot. A captain laughed
derisively, but was sternly checked by the Earl of Meldritch.

“The fault is not with the lad,” he said. “He hath done his part but I
fear the essay goes for nought.”

“Nay,” replied John promptly, “Lord Ebersberg hath not seen my lights,
else he would have understood. Yonder sentries be dullards. The next
relief may bring one of sharper wit and the general will surely make
the round of the ramparts before he seeks his couch. I keep my torches
burning though it be through the night.”

With that he set up three fresh lights and folded his arms with an air
of quiet determination.

The young soldier’s confidence infected his colonel and though the
others departed hopeless of the experiment, the Earl remained with
John. They had not long to wait for a reward of their patience. Hardly
had the party of doubters reached the bottom of the hill when three
torches set in a row appeared upon the ramparts of the besieged town.
They were surely in answer to his signal, but in order to be certain
John lowered his lights. The others were immediately lowered and again
set up in response to a similar action on his part. He now proceeded to
send the message in German which was the native language of the general
and the tongue in which he had conversed with John.

The letters of the alphabet were indicated in a very simple manner and
on the principle that is employed at this day in heliographing or in
signalling with lamps. Two of the standing lights were extinguished.
The letters were made by alternately showing and hiding a torch a
certain number of times to the left or right of the standing light.
Dividing the alphabet into two parts from A to L and from M to Z, a
torch shown once to the left would mean A; to the right M. A torch
alternately exhibited and hidden to the left of the standing light
three times would signify C. The same thing on the right would be read
as O and so on. The end of a word was marked by showing three lights
and the receivers indicated that they had read it successfully by
holding up one torch. At the conclusion three torches set up by the
receiving party as originally, signified that they had fully understood
the message.

The despatch went through without a hitch, and it was with proud
satisfaction that John saw the three final lights displayed telling
that his important task had been accomplished with perfect success.
The Earl of Meldritch expressed his delight in no measured terms as
they hurried to the tent of Baron Kissel to apprise him of the happy
conclusion of the experiment. The news soon spread through the camp,
and whilst it made John Smith’s name known to the army, it inspirited
the troops with the prospect of support from their beleaguered comrades
in the morrow’s attack.

Whilst the communication with Lord Ebersberg had greatly improved the
situation, it left Baron Kissel still seriously anxious with regard to
the issue. Even counting the garrison, the Christians would be inferior
in numbers to the enemy who were, moreover, strongly entrenched. Scouts
had ascertained that the Turkish army maintained a complete cordon of
outposts at night, so that there was little prospect of taking their
main body by surprise.

The morning after the affair of the torches, the Commander-in-Chief and
his staff stood upon an eminence commanding the scene of the conflict
and discussed plans for the attack. John was present in attendance upon
the Earl of Meldritch and overheard enough of the remarks to realize
that the generals were far from confident of success. In fact, Baron
Kissel was anything but an enterprising commander, and his timidity
naturally infected the officers under him. Young as he was, John had a
considerable knowledge of military tactics but, which was more to the
purpose, he possessed the eye and the instinct of a born soldier. As
he gazed across the ground occupied by the Turkish army, to the town
beyond, these qualities enabled him to estimate the position and the
possibilities of strategy with surer judgment than even the veterans
beside him. He noted that the river Raab divided the Ottoman force into
two equal bodies and he realized that the key to success in the coming
action lay in keeping these apart. Before the party returned to camp
he had formed a plan which he imparted to his colonel at the first

The flint-lock had not yet come into use. Foot soldiers went into
action carrying their cumbersome guns with a piece of resin-soaked
rope attached to the stock. This was called a “match,” being used to
ignite the powder in the pan. It burned slowly, and of course could be
replenished at will. John’s plan was to counterfeit several regiments
of men standing with matchlocks ready to fire. The Earl heartily
approved the suggestion, as did Baron Kissel, and placed the necessary
men and material at the disposal of the young ensign. John stretched
between posts a number of lengths of rope at about the height of a
man’s waist. Along these he tied, at intervals of two feet, “matches”
similar to those which have been described. As soon as darkness set
in these were lighted and each contrivance was carried out by two
men and set up in the plain of Eisenberg, which lay to the west of
Ober-Limbach. To the Turks the long lines of flickering lights must
have looked like companies and regiments of soldiers marching and
taking up position.

Whilst this stratagem was being carried out Baron Kissel advanced his
entire force of ten thousand men against that portion of the Turkish
army that lay on the east bank of the river. Upon these they charged
vigorously, and at the same time Lord Ebersberg, with his garrison
of five thousand, attacked them in flank. The Turks thus assailed on
two sides and being unable in the darkness to ascertain the strength
of the enemy, fell into confusion and were slaughtered with ease. The
other portion of the Ottoman army, confronted as it imagined itself
to be by a strong force, had not dared to move from its position and
stood alarmed and irresolute until Baron Kissel fell upon its rear
after having completely routed the former body. The Moslems offered no
resistance but fled panic-stricken into the night, leaving their camp
and thousands of killed and wounded in the hands of the victors.

A large quantity of provisions and other necessities were found in the
Turkish camp and removed to the town. Thus furnished and reinforced
by two thousand picked soldiers from Kissel’s command, the place was
in good condition to withstand further attack, and so the Baron left
it, proceeding north to Kerment. John Smith’s share in this important
engagement was not overlooked. The Earl of Meldritch publicly declared
himself proud of his young protege and secured for him the command of
two hundred and fifty horse in his own regiment. Thus before he had
reached his twenty-second year John had earned a captaincy and the
respectful regard of his superior officers.

Winter brought about a temporary cessation of hostilities and on their
resumption, early the next year, a reorganization of the Imperial army
was made. Three great divisions were formed: One, under the Archduke
Matthias and the Duc de Mercœur, to operate in Lower Hungary; the
second, under Archduke Ferdinand and the Duke of Mantua, to retake
Caniza; and the third, under Generals Gonzago and Busca, for service
in Transylvania. The regiment of the Earl of Meldritch was assigned to
duty with the first division and attached to the corps commanded by
the Duc de Mercœur. Thus strangely enough our hero found himself after
all serving under the very leader to whom the trickster De Preau had
promised to conduct him.

With an army of thirty thousand, one-third of whom were Frenchmen,
the Duc addressed himself to the capture of the stronghold of
Stuhlweissenburg, which was then called Alba Regalis. The fortifications
and natural defences of the place rendered it well-nigh impregnable. It
was held by a strong and determined force that bravely repelled attacks
and frequently sallied forth to give battle to the besiegers. The
Christian army can not be said to have made any progress towards taking
the place when John gave another exhibition of the fertility of his mind
and devised a plan which led to the fall of the town.

The young cavalry captain made frequent circuits of the walls studying
the fortifications and the various points of attack. He found that a
direct assault could not be made at any point with hope of success,
save, perhaps, one. Here the defence was lax owing to the fact that
a morass, which extended for some distance from the wall, seemed to
preclude the possibility of approach. Testing this quagmire under cover
of darkness, John found that it was not so deep but that a few hundred
men laden with stones and logs of wood could in a short while fill in
sufficient to make a pathway across it. But they would necessarily have
to work by daylight, and the next thing was to devise a scheme by which
the attention of the garrison could be diverted from them long enough
to allow of the accomplishment of the object.

The bomb-shell had not yet been devised, but somewhere in his extensive
reading John had gathered the idea of such a missile. He set to work
to make what he called a “fiery dragon” and constructed a sling to
send it on its way. At the first attempt the thing worked to his
satisfaction. He then detailed to the Earl of Meldritch his plan for
taking the city by stratagem. The Duc de Mercœur having consented to
the scheme--the more readily since he had heard of John’s previous
exploits--preparations for putting it into effect were pushed with
haste, for just at this time news was received of a strong relieving
force which was on the march for Alba Regalis.

Fifty bombs were manufactured under John’s directions, and, together
with the slings, were conveyed to a side of the town remote from that
on which the attack was to be made. Meanwhile the Earl of Rosworme had
gathered a force of picked men to make the assault and five hundred
others with large baskets filled with material to be dumped into the
morass. This body assembled in eager expectation of the diversion which
the English captain promised to create.

John had selected one of the most crowded quarters of the city for the
destination of his “fiery dragons” and he let them loose in the market
hour when the crowd would be greatest. One after another, with flaming
tails, they pursued their hissing flight over the ramparts and, as
they struck the ground, burst, scattering death on every side. The air
was immediately filled with the cries of the affrighted Turks who fled
from the spot and the groans of those who lay wounded and dying. But by
the time the stock of bombs had become exhausted the townspeople and
garrison were hurrying to the spot from every direction to put out the
flames which had broken forth in several places and threatened to sweep
the city.

Whilst the defenders were thus engaged with the fire that spread
rapidly in the strong wind, the Earl of Rosworme’s party completed
their causeway without interruption and his fighting men gained within
the walls and opened one of the gates before they were discovered.
The besieging army poured into the doomed town and a fearful carnage
ensued. The Turks fought like demons and neither asked nor received
quarter. Hardly a man of the garrison escaped. A last remnant of five
hundred made a stand before the palace with the Turkish commander in
their midst. He counselled them not to surrender and himself determined
to die fighting. His men were cut down one after another and he,
sorely wounded, was about to be slain by the infuriated soldiers, when
the Earl of Meldritch rescued him and made him prisoner despite his

Alba Regalis, one of the most valued strongholds of the Turks, was
in the possession of the Christian army but sixty thousand Moslems,
determined to retake it, were approaching by rapid marches.



The battle of Girkhe--The Duc de Mercœur pits twenty thousand
Christians against sixty thousand Turks--The conflict rages from
morn till night--Meldritch’s men do valiant service--John’s horse is
killed under him--He is rescued by Culnitz and saves the latter’s
life in turn--Duplaine dies fighting one to ten--The Earl’s fearful
plight--Seven hundred against three thousand--“For faith and
Meldritch!”--The Earl is cut off--“Culnitz! Vahan! Follow me! To the
Chief, my men!”--Count Ulrich turns the scales--The Turks break and
flee from the field--Victory and night.

Alba Regalis had been in the hands of the Turks for thirty years,
and during that time had become virtually a Moslem city. Turkish
mosques, palaces and market place had been constructed in it and its
fortifications had been strengthened until the place was well-nigh
impregnable. The Turks had come to consider Alba Regalis a permanent
possession and its fall was a great blow to their pride as well as a
serious setback in their military operations. As soon as the Sultan
was informed of the Duc de Mercœur’s advance against the stronghold,
he hastily raised a force of sixty thousand men and sent it to the
relief, under Hassan Pasha, the commander-in-chief of the Turkish
army. Hassan had pushed forward with all possible expedition but,
as we know, Alba Regalis fell whilst he was still a considerable
distance away. This did not check the advance of the Turkish general.
On the contrary it induced him to hurry on in the hope of arriving
before the Christians should have time to repair the breaches in the
walls and other damages to the defences which their assault must, as
he naturally supposed, have made. Thanks, however, to Captain John
Smith’s stratagem, as we should now call him, the artillery had been
comparatively little used in the reduction of the city and a few days
sufficed to put it in its former condition, so far as the outworks were

Scouts kept a close watch on the Turkish army and reported to the Duc
that it was strung out to such an extent that the last regiments were
a full day’s march behind the vanguard. This fact suggested to Mercœur
the bold expedient of going out to meet the enemy instead of awaiting
him behind the walls of Alba Regalis. The plan was based on logical
reasoning and had the approval of Meldritch and other leaders. The
Turks would not expect such a move and would continue their advance
in single column of regiments. The Christians would thus have the
advantage of numbers on their side in the early part of the engagement
and the enemy could hardly bring more than two to one against them
before the close of the first day. If advisable the defenders of
the city might retire within the walls at nightfall. The force of
Hassan Pasha was largely composed of raw levies, undisciplined and
inexperienced, who would necessarily be worn in consequence of the
forced marches to which they had been subjected. Furthermore, the Duc
was too keen a soldier to allow thirty thousand men to be shut up in a
beleaguered town for months when their services were so urgently needed
elsewhere. These considerations then prompted him to a decision which
proved to have been an eminently wise one.

Mercœur had no idea of seriously hazarding the loss of Alba Regalis.
When he issued to battle there were left in the town ten thousand men,
a sufficient number to hold it for some months even if the worst befell
their comrades. With his main body, twenty thousand strong, the Duc
marched out to meet the oncoming Turks. The spot he selected for the
encounter was one where the enemy must debouche from a comparatively
narrow way upon the extensive plains of Girkhe. The latter expanse
afforded ideal conditions for the movement of cavalry, upon which arm
the general mainly depended for success. The Christian army arrived
at the battle-ground at the close of day and, after throwing out a
chain of videttes and posting strong guards, passed a restful night in

The Duc’s force had hardly finished its morning meal when the videttes
retired before the van of the advancing Turks and the outposts fell
back in orderly manner upon the main body. The hoarse bray of the
trumpets called the soldiers “to arms” and, as they had lain down
in ranks the night before, the regiments were formed in a very few
minutes. It was no part of the Duc’s plan to contest the advance of
the enemy or to attempt to drive him back. The Turkish regiments as
they arrived were freely permitted to march forward and deploy upon the
plain. The Christian army was massed, and as each corps of the Ottomans
lined up in its crescent formation the Duc sent one of his own against
it. They were about equal in numbers, that is to say, each one thousand
strong. It was the hope of the Christian commander that in this way
he should be able to rout a considerable portion of the Turkish army
before it could bring a very superior force upon the field. The best
of his troops Mercœur held back until the latter part of the day when
the hardest fighting might be expected to occur. Thus John Smith and
many another brave fellow was forced to stand impatiently watching
his comrades in action. Twice during the forenoon, however, Captain
Smith was permitted to take out his troop and make a brief charge for
the purpose of turning the tide where a Christian regiment appeared
to be overmatched. So, for hours this strange battle progressed in
a series of duels. Every thirty or forty minutes brought a fresh
Turkish regiment on the field where it was at once engaged by one of
the Christian corps in an isolated conflict. There was no attempt at
military tactics or combined movements on the part of the various
colonels. Each had his own little battle to fight with a Turkish
zanzack. He was instructed to attend strictly to that and pay no heed
to what might be going on around him. When he had beaten and routed the
body opposed to him, he was to retire and rest his men and horses.

It was a very ingenious arrangement when you think about it. Once
engaged the Turks were obliged to come on as at first. If they should
halt, even for an hour to mass a strong force, the Christian commander
would overwhelm and annihilate the Moslem regiments upon the field.
Despite the fact that several bodies of the Ottomans were utterly
broken and driven from the field, the constant arrival of fresh Turks
gradually increased their numbers until at noon they had fully twenty
thousand men in action, opposed to about thirteen thousand of the Duc
de Mercœur’s force. Up to this time five thousand of the Moslems and
two thousand Christians had been put out of action. The former were
constantly receiving fresh accessions to their numbers, whilst the
regiments of the latter which had been most actively engaged during the
morning could only be lightly employed thereafter.

But the flower of Mercœur’s force had been held in reserve until
this time. It consisted of five regiments of splendid cavalry--five
thousand horsemen eager for the fray. The time had come to launch them
against the enemy in support of the now hardly-pressed troops that had
borne the burden of battle thus far. The commanders and men knew what
was expected of them. They were prepared to meet odds of five to one
and more if necessary. They had fed and watered their chargers, they
had looked to their buckles and bits. Their pistols were loaded and
primed and each had drained the flagon of wine handed to him by his
horse-boy. They made a brave picture as they sat their champing steeds
in glistening armor and with drawn swords awaiting the word to advance.
Since each corps acted as an independent unit, we can only follow the
fortunes of that which bore the brunt of the fierce fighting in the
afternoon of that memorable autumn day.

The regiment of Meldritch consisted of four companies, commanded
respectively by the following captains: Duplaine, a Frenchman; Vahan
and Culnitz, Germans; and the Englishman, John Smith. Each of these
performed prodigies of valor before the fall of night and the dashing
Duplaine met a soldier’s death upon the field.

The Earl lost no time in taking his impatient men into action. Riding
in their front, conspicuous by his great height and the scarlet
plumes that surmounted his helmet, he led them towards a body of the
enemy that had just entered the plain. Meldritch’s corps, in line of
double rank, advanced at a trot, breaking into a hand-gallop as they
approached the foe. Then, as the uplifted sword of the Earl gave the
signal, they swept forward in a mighty charge and with a shout crashed
through the line of Turks, overthrowing horse and rider in their
impetuous course. In an instant the ground was strewn with dead and
dying, with kicking animals and with men striving to get clear of the
struggling mass. The victors rode among them slaying without mercy,
whilst the remnant of the broken regiment fled in every direction.

When his men had reformed and breathed their horses, the Earl sent them
at another regiment with like results, and so again and again. But such
work tells on man and horse, and as Meldritch’s men tired the odds by
which they were confronted increased. They no longer swept through the
ranks of the enemy with ease but had to cut and hew their passage.
Their charges broke the compactness of their own lines and ended in
mêlées from which they emerged in small bodies with loss and fatigue.

In one of these later encounters, the black Barbary--his colonel’s gift
to Captain Smith--suddenly pitched forward in the throes of death,
flinging his rider heavily to the ground. Our hero’s career must have
ended there had not Culnitz spurred to his rescue just as three Turks
rode at him.

“Up! Up behind me in the saddle!” cried Culnitz generously, as he
reached John’s side. But the young Englishman had no idea of hazarding
his comrade’s life by such a proceeding. His sword had flown from
his hand as he fell. He now snatched Culnitz’s battle-axe from the
saddle-bow and prepared to help his rescuer meet the trio of Turks
who were now upon them. One of these, whose handsome horse and fine
accoutrements proclaimed him to be a person of distinction, attacked
the German captain from the side on which John stood. Ignoring the man
on foot, the Turk swung his blade at the neck of the mounted officer.
Culnitz was completely engaged with the other two assailants and the
blow must have severed his head but, as the Turk’s arm swept forward,
it met the battle-axe wielded by our hero, which shattered the bone.
The next instant Smith had dragged the Turk from his horse and was in
the saddle. The gallant young captains now had little difficulty in
disposing of the two Moslems who confronted them and a few others who
attempted to bar their return to their comrades.

The Colonel was overjoyed to see his two young officers reappear and
their men greeted them with wild huzzas, for all had feared that they
were cut off and lost. Meldritch’s regiment was now reduced to a scant
three companies. Duplaine had met a glorious fate fighting single
handed against ten of the enemy. His company--that is what was left of
it--the Earl distributed amongst the other three and once more formed
his men up for a fresh attack. They were fortunate at this juncture in
finding themselves near a small stream at which men and horses assuaged
their consuming thirst.

The hours had dragged slowly by to the anxious Duc who, surrounded
by his staff, stood upon an eminence surveying the field. His breast
swelled with pride at the many sights of valor presented by the
constantly shifting scene. Never had commander witnessed more gallant
service, but men are mortal and Mercœur knew that flesh and blood could
not much longer endure the fearful strain. The Turks had put full
forty thousand men upon the plain since the day begun and their troops
were still arriving in a steady stream. Scarce ten thousand Christians
remained fit to fight, and these were already pitted against some
thirty thousand Moslems. Anxiously the commander’s gaze followed the
slowly setting sun, and as Wellington in after years longed for the
arrival of Blücher, so Mercœur now prayed for the fall of night.

Looking toward the road over which the Turkish troops, like a huge
snake had poured all day, a sight met the Duc’s eyes that caused his
heart to beat with apprehension. To his utter dismay he saw approaching
a stately body of men on white chargers. He quickly recognized them as
the Barukh Regiment, one of the finest in the army of the Sultan and
two thousand strong.

“Now may Our Lady of Mercy support Meldritch,” cried Mercœur with
emotion, “for surely no mortal help can save him in this pass!”

This deep concern on the part of the general was excited by the
fact that Meldritch’s regiment, which we left reforming for another
onslaught, was nearest to the Barukhs, who were evidently extending
their ranks with the design of attacking it. Quickly the white horsemen
advanced and Meldritch, when he was apprised of his danger, found his
corps enveloped in a rough triangle, the base of it formed by the body
of the enemy he had been on the point of charging. At a glance his
soldier’s eye recognized the superiority of the Barukh cavalry and he
wheeled two companies about to face the graver danger, whilst to Vahan,
with the third, was entrusted the task of preventing a rear attack by
the smaller body of the enemy.

They were seven hundred to three thousand. To charge upon their jaded
horses must have been to break themselves and become engulfed in that
mass of splendid horsemen. The Earl, therefore, decided to await the
attack. It was the climax of the fight--the most critical moment of the
day. On the result of the coming conflict depended the issue of the
battle. The Earl turned in his saddle and addressed his men.

“These be worthy of our steel,” he cried, pointing with his outstretched
sword towards the oncoming Barukhs. “Our commander watches us. Let every
man strike for Christ, for honor and for life.” “For Faith and
Meldritch!” responded the men heartily.

The Turks charged with courageous fury. Seven hundred pistols were
discharged full in their faces, emptying hundreds of saddles. They
recoiled but came again almost immediately. Once more they received a
volley at close range and this time fell back in disorder, their ranks
thrown into confusion by the great number of riderless horses that
ran wildly amongst them. The Earl deemed the moment favorable for a

“Charge!” he cried in ringing tones, and plunged into the Moslem horde,
followed by his men.

Thrusting and hacking for dear life, Meldritch’s troopers slowly fought
their way through the Barukhs. As they emerged in little knots they
began to rally round the standards of their several leaders. The three
captains were thus engaged in collecting the remnants of their men,
when they perceived that the Earl was completely cut off. His plume,
now no ruddier than his armor, marked the spot where alone, like a lion
at bay, he held back a circle of the enemy. The red rays of the evening
sun flashed from his long blade which, like a streak of fire, swept in
wide strokes, now on this side and anon on that.

“To the Chief!” shouted John. “Culnitz! Vahan! Follow me! To the Chief,
my men!”

Smith’s voice rose above the clangor of weapons as he spurred into the
dense mass of Moslems, closely followed by his fellow-captains. With
slashing blows they opened a lane through which some fifty of their men
rode after them. In a few minutes they gained beside the wearied Earl
and surrounded him with a band of devoted followers.

The situation of this handful of heroes, beset by more than a thousand
furious enemies, was precarious in the extreme. To cut their way out
was impossible, and they prepared to sell their lives dearly and die
as becomes gallant soldiers. But Fortune favors the brave. At this
critical juncture, Count Ulrich, having routed the force to which he
had been opposed, was able to bring his regiment to the relief of
Meldritch. They bore down upon the Barukhs who, taken in the rear and
by surprise, broke and fled over the field.

The Turkish trumpets now sounded the “recall” and the shattered
regiments of the Sultan retired to where Hassan’s banner proclaimed the
presence of the dispirited commander. The Duc de Mercœur’s exhausted
men lay down in their cloaks upon the ground which they had soaked with
the blood of ten thousand Turks.



The Duc de Mercœur defeats Hassan Pasha and Alba Regalis is
secure--Meldritch carries the war into Transylvania--The advance
against Regall--The troops are constantly attacked on the march--Captain
Smith treats the Turks to a surprise--He proposes a scheme for
counteracting the night attacks--Five hundred Turks are entrapped and
cut up--Clearing the mountain road to Regall--The army gains the summit
and encamps--The Turks issue a challenge to single combat--The Christian
captains draw lots for the honor of representing the army--“John Smith,
the Englander, is our champion”--John gives Prince Moyses proof of his
skill with the lance.

Despite their superior numbers, the Turks forebore from renewing the
battle on the day following the desperate struggle that was described
in the last chapter. The Christians completely exhausted and many of
them, like Captain Smith, sorely wounded, were only too glad of the
respite. Thus the contending armies lay in sight of each other for
days without action on either side. At length the Duc de Mercœur saw a
favorable opportunity for attacking and did so with such effect that
Hassan Pasha, after losing six thousand men in this later battle,
retired from the field and retreated to Buda.

Relieved of present anxiety on the score of Alba Regalis, Mercœur
divided his army into three bodies and despatched them in different
directions. One corps, under the command of the Earl of Meldritch, was
assigned to service in Transylvania. Our hero recovered sufficiently
to accompany his regiment which as we know could have ill-spared so
good a man. The winter had set in before the command arrived at its
destination, and the Earl went into camp to recruit his depleted
regiments and prepare for the ensuing campaign. The regiment of
Meldritch, which had recently added so greatly to its renown, had no
difficulty in getting all the picked men it needed and in a few weeks
had regained its full strength.

With the opening of spring, Count Meldritch led his army into the
wildest portion of Transylvania and began a vigorous campaign. The
object was to clear the Turks off the plains and to take their chief
stronghold, Regall, in the mountains of Zarham. The entire country was
of the most rugged character and it had been for years the resort of
Turks, Tartars and bandits of all nations. From this wild retreat they
issued at favorable intervals and overran the neighboring valleys,
destroying villages and carrying off their inhabitants into slavery.

The fighting which Captain Smith and his companions in arms now
experienced was the most difficult known to warfare. It called
for courage and patience, strength and quick-wittedness in an
extraordinary degree. Though he could not have suspected it at the
time, the training our hero received in this campaign was the best
possible to fit him for success in his future career among the Indians
of North America, and many a lesson that he learned in Transylvania was
turned to good account in Virginia.

During their march through the province of Zarham, the army of
Meldritch never encountered troops in mass or in open combat, but were
surrounded day and night by a foe invisible for the most part and
appearing, when he did, in the most unexpected places. The road was
through a country that afforded ample cover and ambuscades were of
frequent occurrence. From the shelter of a wood or from behind a hill,
a band of horsemen would dart upon the column with the swoop of a hawk,
spear the nearest foot soldiers, and disappear in the twinkling of an
eye. These attacks were usually made in the uncertain light of the
evening, when the Christians could not effectively use their pistols.
Some half a dozen such onslaughts had been made with complete success
when it occurred to Captain Smith that the dusk which favored the
attack might be made an aid in repelling it. His plan was suggested to
the commander and with his approval was put into effect. It was ordered
that on the following day the column should march with two ranks of
men-at-arms on either flank, concealing a number of horsemen on foot
leading their chargers.

As the light began to fail the Christian army approached a point where
their progress would take them between a rocky eminence and a thick
coppice. It was just such a place as the guerillas would choose for
an ambush and every one was on the lookout for the expected attack.
They were not long in suspense. As they passed the two natural hiding
places, Turks dashed out on either side and charged upon the Christians
with a shout. But before they could reach their intended victims, the
concealed horsemen had leapt into the saddle and riding out between the
files of foot soldiers charged the oncoming enemy at full speed. The
crash as they came together was terrific and the lighter Arab horses
of the Turks were bowled over like skittles by the heavy chargers
of Meldritch’s men. The surprised Turks were readily slain as they
lay upon the ground or turned to flee. Very few escaped, whilst the
Christians returned to their ranks without the loss of a man. After
this decisive turning of the tables upon them, the Ottomans contented
themselves with picking off stragglers and casting spears from a
tolerably safe distance.

More trying, however, than the ambuscades were the night attacks, for
they not only occasioned serious loss of life, but, by robbing the
troops of much needed rest and keeping their nerves upon the rack,
threatened the demoralization of the entire army. Night after night
the Turks rushed the camp, cutting the tent ropes and stabbing the
struggling soldiers under the canvas. The Earl of Meldritch was deeply
concerned about these night attacks. He knew that unless they were
checked his army could never reach the passes of Regall, much less
effect the difficult task of taking the city. The general and his
leading officers had several consultations on the subject but without
arriving at a satisfactory conclusion. One-half of the force might have
been employed to guard the other whilst it slept, but the day’s march
was so arduous that by nightfall few of the men were fit to stand.

In this dilemma, the young Englishman, who had already done such good
service for the army, came to the relief of his general with one of
those practical schemes which he seemed to be ever ready to devise in
an emergency. Following Captain Smith’s suggestion, the Earl ordered
that on the following night the camp should be pitched in a spot that
would invite an attack by the enemy. The tents were to be erected as
usual but the three front rows were to be empty. Behind these were
firmly-stretched ropes at a height of about two feet from the ground
and extending right across the camp. Beyond the ropes was left a clear
space of twenty yards and along the farther side of this was drawn up,
after dark, a body of one thousand picked men.

The lights of the camp were out and the army was apparently sunk in
slumber, when a large force of Turks galloped in among the tents and
charged forward with their battle-cry of “Allah! Allah ud Din!” (God
and the Faith!) They expected an easy slaughter and escape with little
loss but this time things were to fall out differently. The leading
ranks of the Turks were in full career when they came upon the hidden
ropes, and as their horses struck them they pitched forward upon their
heads, throwing their riders at the very feet of the Christians waiting
with sword in hand to dispatch them. Rank after rank of the Turks rode
into the trap and fell atop of one another in a shrieking, struggling
mass. Meanwhile Meldritch’s men-at-arms stabbed and hewed with might
and main, slaughtering their enemies with a fury excited by the
recollection of their nameless cruelties. By the time the less advanced
of the Turkish horsemen, realizing that they were entrapped, had turned
about, they found themselves face to face with a cordon of Meldritch’s
cavalry which completely cut off their retreat. In the end the entire
body, numbering about five hundred, was slain. In those days prisoners
were seldom taken in wars with infidels, and it was not often that the
fanatical Turks would ask quarter of the unbeliever.

After this affair the march was resumed with very little interference
on the part of the enemy until the mountains of Zarham were reached.
Here began the most difficult part of the military operation. Regall
was situated in a small table-land which formed the crest of an
isolated mountain. It was approachable only on one side and there the
ascent must be made by a rough and narrow path. It is no wonder that
the Turks deemed Regall impregnable and entrusted their women and
their treasures to the security of its position. The city had never
been taken and it is doubtful whether it would have fallen to a less
determined and able body of men than the veterans under Meldritch.

A picked force was chosen to form the advance guard and John, in
consideration of his recent services, was permitted to take his place
in it. The work of this body was to clear and hold the road up the
mountain which was defended by the Turks with the utmost obstinacy.
Every foot of the way was contested and the advance guard lost a large
proportion of its number, but at last it gained the top. The main
body of the army and the big guns then made the ascent. When, after
the weary weeks of fighting and marching, Meldritch’s division camped
in sight of the gates of Regall it had dwindled to fewer than eight
thousand men.

The city was garrisoned by twenty thousand Turks and had an ample
supply of provisions. Under these conditions the Earl entertained no
thought of attacking it but wisely contented himself with entrenching
his position and repelling the frequent sorties of the besieged. In a
few days Prince Moyses arrived with a reinforcement of nine thousand
men and took over the chief command. The Christian army now proceeded
to construct approaches to the city and to mount their guns in
commanding positions.

This work of preparation, which was performed with careful deliberation,
consumed several weeks, and the delay tended to encourage the garrison.
They foolishly attributed it to timidity and began to display contempt
for the beleaguering army. They paraded upon the ramparts effigies of
Christians hanging from gallows and shouted derisive messages to the
besiegers. At length this over-confidence of the Turks took a form that
afforded the besiegers a chance to prove that they were still awake and
prepared for action.

One day a messenger from the city was admitted to the presence of
Prince Moyses under a flag of truce. He was the bearer of a lengthy
document couched in pompous language which, after reproaching the
Christians for the lack of exercise that was making them fat and timid,
expressed a fear that they would depart from the city without affording
any pastime to the ladies of it. That this might not be, Tur Pasha,
a Turkish general, challenged to single combat any champion whom the
Christian army might put forward. The combat was to be fought after
the fashion of knightly times, with which the Turks had become familiar
during the Crusades, and the head of the vanquished, together with
everything brought into the field by him, should become the property of
the victor.

The challenge was received with delight in the Christian army and as
soon as it became known scores of captains pressed forward for the
privilege of accepting it. In order to avoid jealousy and discontent
by singling one out of so many brave men, the commander determined to
decide the question by casting lots. Young John Smith was among the
most eager candidates for the honor of representing the army and his
name and those of the others were written upon scraps of paper and
shaken up in a helmet. It was a breathless moment when Prince Moyses
thrust his hand into the casque and drew forth the billet upon which
his fingers closed.

“John Smith, the Englander, is our champion,” he announced to the
throng, with a shade of disappointment in his voice. He had hoped that
the honor might fall to one of his own countrymen and, although Count
Meldritch had spoken with warmth of John’s courage and prowess, the
Prince felt doubtful of the ability of a mere stripling to defeat an
experienced warrior.

As John was about to go to his tent, his heart full of joy at the
wonderful good fortune that had befallen him, Prince Moyses beckoned
him to his side. It was in the mind of the general to ask Smith to
waive his right in favor of some older and better tried captain, but
the first glance at the young man’s eager face convinced his commander
that it would be useless to pursue the purpose. Instead he inquired
whether Smith’s horse and equipment were all that he could desire and
what weapons he would choose, having as the challenged the right of
selection. John replied that his horse had proved itself a trusty beast
in many a sharp skirmish since the battle of Girkhe and for the weapon,
he would name the lance in the handling of which he feared not to pit
himself against any mortal man.

As he made this truthful but, nevertheless, somewhat boastful
statement, John fancied that he detected a faint smile flickering about
the corners of the Prince’s mouth. He flushed at the thought that his
general might be inwardly laughing at his pretensions, and said, with
some show of heat:

“May it please your Highness to give me leave to prove my quality with
the lance?”

The Prince gravely assented to the proposal and a soldier was
dispatched to fetch the young captain’s horse and tilting lance. In
the few minutes that elapsed before his return, our hero’s thoughts
strayed to the period of his hermitage in the Lincolnshire forest and
he congratulated himself on the time then spent in the practice of a
weapon that was fast falling into disuse.

Hard by the commander’s tent stood a convenient tree. From one of its
branches a soldier was instructed to suspend an iron ring, no bigger
than a dollar piece, at the height of a mounted man’s head. When this
had been done, John, who was already mounted, took his lance from the
attendant soldier and placing it in rest, bore down upon the mark at
full tilt. When he wheeled round and saluted Prince Moyses, the ring
was upon the point of his lance.

“Bravissimo!” cried the Prince with a smile of satisfaction. “I had not
thought to see that feat performed in this day,” he added as he turned
on his heel and entered the tent.



Captain Smith meets the Turkish champion in a duel with lances--The
gorgeous pasha makes a brave appearance but loses his life at the first
encounter--Smith presents Prince Moyses with a grizzly trophy--The
slain Turk’s bosom friend challenges Smith--The combatants’ lances are
shattered to splinters--They continue the fight with pistols and the
Englishman is hit--The gallant war-horse saves the issue--Grualgo bites
the dust--Smith sends a challenge into Regall--Meets Boni Mulgro and
for the third time is victor--He is honored with a pageant--Receives
rich presents, promotion and a patent of Nobility.

A truce having been declared for the day of the combat, the opposing
armies approached each other without restraint but their soldiery
did not mingle. The Christians were drawn up, a short distance from
the city, in battle array with a grand display of banners, trophies
and the various insignia of heraldry. The Moslems assembled in an
irregular mass beneath the gray walls of the beleaguered town, whilst
their women, attended by slaves, occupied points of vantage along the

Between the bodies of eager spectators lay a stretch of sward, which
had been enclosed in a barricade after the fashion of the lists in
the old-time tournaments. Long before the hour set for the contest
the troops had assembled on either side. In both armies the keenest
interest in the affair prevailed and both realized that it was
something more than a duel to the death, for the result would surely
encourage the fighting men of one party as much as it would depress
those of the other. In those days of superstition, men were ever ready
to find an augury in every important event, and the army to whom the
victory should fall would accept it as a promise of success in the
final issue.

It must be confessed that the greater degree of confidence was enjoyed
by the Turks. Their champion was a man in the prime of life and a
soldier of approved valor and skill in arms. He had never been defeated
in single combat, although twice pitted against Germans of renown.
The Christians, on the other hand, could not shake off the doubt and
apprehension which they shared with their leader when the lot fell
to the young Briton. The army had long since learned to respect his
courage and fighting qualities in battle, and of his quick-wittedness
they had received ample proof on the march to Regall. But none of
them had any evidence of his ability to yield the lance, a weapon
that demanded years of practice before a man might become expert with
it. Thus it happened that the Germans, of whom the army was mostly
composed, stood grim, silent and anxious, whilst the swarthy Ottomans
gave vent to their elation in song and jest.

The combatants were to meet when the sun should be precisely in
mid-heaven so that neither might be at the disadvantage of having its
rays in his eyes. The rules required the challenger to be the first
in the field and in due time Tur Pasha, heralded by the sounds of
hautboys, passed through the gates of the city and slowly made his way
into the lists. His appearance elicited enthusiastic shouts from his
countrymen and even forced ejaculations of admiration from the ranks of
their enemies.

The Turkish champion presented a brave figure. His proud bearing and
graceful carriage in the saddle were enhanced by the stately action of
the beautiful white Arab steed which he rode. He was clad in a splendid
suit of burnished steel armor, richly inlaid with arabesque figures in
gold. Upon his shoulders were fixed a pair of large wings made from
eagles’ feathers set in a frame of silver and garnished with gold and
precious stones. He was attended by three Janizaries, one going before
and bearing his lance, the others walking on either side and leading
his horse to the station assigned him.

No sooner had Tur Pasha taken up position at his end of the lists, than
a flourish of trumpets announced the appearance of John Smith. The
champion of the Christians presented an aspect as simple as his name
and no less sturdy. His chestnut horse was a big, strong Norman, of the
breed far-famed for service in battle. His armor was of plain steel and
bore upon its surface many a dent in eloquent witness of hard knocks.
The only touch of finery about the Englishman was the plume of black
feathers which surmounted his helmet. He came upon the field attended
by one page carrying his lance.

After Captain Smith had halted at his post, the two champions sat like
statues facing each other for a few minutes, affording the spectators
opportunity to compare their points. At a signal blast from the
trumpet, the antagonists rode forward slowly and met midway in the
course. Saluting courteously, they passed each other, wheeled about and
returned to their respective stations.

A prolonged note from the trumpet warned the combatants to let down
their vizors and set their lances in rest. The next gave the signal for
the onset, and before it had died away each horseman had sprung forward
urging his charger to its utmost speed. As soon as he felt that his
horse was in full career, Smith leant forward, slackening the bridle
and grasping the pommel of the saddle with his left hand to steady
himself. His lance was couched at a level with his adversary’s breast
and his gaze was steadily fixed on the slit in the vizor through which
the wearer looked.

Nearer and nearer approached the onrushing horsemen. A few more
strides, two brief seconds and they must meet in the shock. John can
at last discern the glistening eyes of the Turk and in that instant
he raises the point of his lance toward the other’s face. The sudden
movement disconcerts the Turkish champion. Involuntarily he shifts his
aim and his weapon passes harmlessly over the Englishman’s shoulder
at the moment that our hero’s lance enters the eye of Tur Pasha and
penetrates his brain. He fell from his horse and Smith leapt to the
ground and unbuckled his helmet. A glance sufficed to show that the
Turk was dead and with a stroke of his sword John severed the head from
the body.

Whilst the pagans in mournful procession carried the headless trunk of
their recent champion into Regall, Smith was triumphantly escorted back
to the camp of the besiegers. He ordered the head of Tur Pasha to be
borne to the quarters of Prince Moyses, who was pleased to accept the
grizzly trophy. The spoils of victory were not unacceptable to John,
but he had no desire to trick himself out in the fancy armor with its
trimmings, and these he sold for a good round sum. The horse, however,
he was glad to keep, for he had long wished for an extra mount for
light service, but heretofore his slender means had denied him that
advantage. In the wars of the time, captains who could afford to do so
kept two or more horses during a campaign, one to carry them on the
march and another to ride in battle, for a man in armor was no light
burden, and a beast that had borne its master ten or twelve miles would
not be fit at the end of the journey for great exertion, although the
life of its owner might depend upon its rendering spirited service.
Captain Smith now had the satisfaction of knowing that he was one of
the best mounted men in the army, for the Arab was a marvel of speed
and agility and the Norman had been thoroughly trained by himself and
was a perfect battle-horse.

The chief mourner in Regall was one Grualgo, a fierce warrior, who had
been the bosom friend of the slain pasha. When the funeral rites had
been performed after the Muhammadan custom, Grualgo sent a message to
Captain John Smith proposing to redeem his friend’s head at the risk of
his own. He also offered to pledge his horse, arms and accoutrements
on the issue. It is hardly necessary to say that the challenge was
accepted with alacrity. Flushed with his recent victory and more than
ever confident in his skill, our champion was delighted at this early
chance for another display of his prowess. The consent of the general
was readily obtained. Prince Moyses was greatly pleased at the cheering
effect Smith’s success had worked upon the troops and he was no longer
doubtful of the Briton’s ability to uphold the honor of the Christian
army. The preparations were made as before, and the next day was
appointed for the combat.

Once more the walls were lined with the fair dames of Regall and in
their shadow assembled the garrison, more subdued than on the former
occasion but buoyed by hopes of better fortune. The Christians, on
their part, lined up, exultant and strong in the expectation of another
victory for their champion.

Grualgo entered the lists almost as splendidly mounted and equipped
as the pasha had been. Captain Smith wore the same plain but
serviceable suit of armor and rode his trusty Norman charger. He had
again exercised his right as the challenged to name the lance as the
principal weapon of the combat.

At the trumpet signal, the combatants spurred forward at full speed,
each with his weapon well and firmly aimed at his opponent’s breast.
They met in mid-career with a crash that resounded over the field. The
lances flew into pieces. The horses fell back upon their haunches. Both
riders reeled under the shock but each contrived to keep his seat.
Casting aside the splintered spears, they drew their pistols from the
saddle pockets. Smith was the first to fire, but at the instant of the
discharge the Turk’s horse swerved and the bullet hummed harmlessly by
his master’s head. Grualgo had reserved his shot and now took careful
aim. The Norman, in response to the pressure of his rider’s legs, was
gathering himself for a spring out of the line of fire when the report
of the Turk’s pistol rang out. The ball struck John’s headpiece fair in
the centre of the forehead but failed to penetrate the steel. Our hero
was stunned and sight suddenly forsook him. The bridle dropped from his
nerveless fingers and he swayed in his seat. He gave himself up for
lost as he felt his senses deserting him. Then came the thought that he
was the champion of the Christian army, that they were watching him,
depending upon him to secure victory for them. Exerting all the will at
his command, he set his teeth together and fought back the inclination
to swoon.

Grualgo seeing his enemy at his mercy, smiled with grim satisfaction
as he drew his second pistol, intending to dispatch the Christian
youth with deliberate and sure aim. But the trusty Norman had not been
trained to battle for nothing. The loose seat in the saddle and the
relaxed grip of the bridle told him that his master was in distress
and depended upon him to save his life. With quick but easy action, so
as not to unseat the rider, the intelligent beast strode out of range.
The Turk wheeled and galloped after him. His was the swifter steed and
he had no difficulty in overtaking Smith’s charger, but each time as
he levelled his weapon to fire, the Norman darted away at an angle. In
this manner the gallant animal contrived to prolong the combat for many
minutes. Meanwhile Smith’s senses and his strength were fast reviving.
It gladdened the noble steed to feel the returning firmness of seat
and grasp of the bridle, and his master, as his sight cleared, began to
lend his guidance to the clever tactics of the animal.

When Captain Smith fully realized the situation, he made up his mind
that success could be secured only by bold and daring action. In his
weakened state he could not hope to overcome the Turk in a prolonged
fight. He must rely upon surprising the other and bringing the affair
to an issue by a sudden attack. Grualgo would not risk his last shot
until he could make sure of his aim. He probably believed our hero to
be sorely wounded and had no thought of his reviving or resuming the

In one of his horse’s evasive rushes, Smith bent forward upon the
animal’s neck as though overcome by sudden pain, but the movement
was made to enable him to stealthily draw his loaded pistol from the
holster. Holding it concealed behind the high pommel of his saddle, he
braced his nerves for the final effort. Once more Grualgo approached
his foe but this time, instead of allowing his horse to spring aside,
John urged him forward, straight at the astonished Turk. Before the
latter could recover his presence of mind sufficiently to use his
weapon, the Englishman’s pistol was discharged full in his face, and he
fell to the ground in a dying state. Smith dismounted and gave the Turk
his _coup de grace_, or finishing stroke, and then cut off his head.

This proceeding must strike us as being cold-blooded and merciless,
but it was strictly in accordance with the terms of the combat and the
character of the age in which our hero lived. Our forefathers of the
seventeenth century were as rough as they were brave. They lived amid
scenes of strife and bloodshed, and men who hazarded their own lives
daily naturally held those of their enemies cheap.

This second defeat was a severe blow to the defenders of Regall. Their
two foremost champions had been vanquished and by a beardless boy, for
Captain Smith at this time had barely passed his twenty-first year.
There were no more challenges from the disheartened garrison. They lost
all desire to afford pastime for the ladies and they ceased to find
the Christians subjects for contemptuous jests as they had done in the
early days of the siege. Their sallies were now of rare occurrence and
were easily repelled, so that the work of preparation for the final
assault upon the city went forward with little interruption.

Our hero, in whom love of action was second nature, chafed sorely
under the slow and tedious engineering operations. At length he sought
and obtained permission from Prince Moyses to send a challenge into
the city. This message was couched in the most courteous terms and
was addressed to the ladies of Regall, our hero shrewdly suspecting
that in this way he would more quickly touch the honor of the men.
Captain John Smith begged to assure the ladies of Regall that he was
not so enamored of the heads of their servants, but that he was ready
to restore them upon proper terms. He urged the ladies to send forth a
champion who would risk his head in the effort to regain those of the
vanquished Turks. Captain Smith concluded by expressing his willingness
that his own head should accompany the others in case the champion of
the ladies proved the victor in the proposed combat. In due time an
acceptance of this challenge was received from one Boni Mulgro, and a
day was set for the trial of arms.

The conditions of this third duel were similar to those that governed
the two preceding combats, with the exception of one important
particular. John Smith, being the challenger on this occasion, the
choice of weapons rested with his adversary. Mulgro had no stomach for
a contest with the lance, of which Smith had proved himself a master.
He chose to fight with the pistol, battle axe and falchion. In the use
of these weapons, and especially the battle axe, he was expert. This
wise decision of the Turk came near to undoing our hero as the sequel
will show.

At the signal of attack, the combatants advanced upon each other but
not at the charge as would have been the case had lances been their
weapons. Instead, they caused their horses to curvet and prance
and change suddenly from one direction to another. These manœuvres,
resembling those of two wrestlers, were designed to disconcert the aim,
and in the present instance did so with such complete effect that each
of the champions emptied two pistols without touching his enemy.

They now resorted to the battle axe, on which the Turk rested his
hope of success. He found in Captain John Smith an antagonist little
less proficient than himself. For a while the strife waxed warm and
fast without any perceptible advantage to either. Heavy blows were
aimed and fended without ceasing, leaving neither, as Smith tells us,
with “scarce sense enough to keep his saddle.” At length a hard blow
delivered by the Turk struck John’s weapon near the head and it flew
from his hand. At the sight of this advantage gained by their champion,
the people of Regall set up such a shout as to shake the walls of the

It was a critical moment. Smith was disarmed. The Turk was within arm’s
length of him. He raised his battle axe to strike a crushing blow.
Before it could descend the Norman charger had sprung aside and the
weapon cut the air harmlessly. But the danger was only averted for a
moment. The Turk pressed close upon his adversary, striving to strike,
but each time the axe was raised the good horse reared suddenly or
sprung away.

Meanwhile Captain Smith had succeeded in drawing his falchion. Hardly
had its point cleared the scabbard, when Mulgro again came on with an
incautious rush. As the Turk raised his arm to swing the heavy weapon,
Smith thrust with full force and ran his sword through the body of Boni

The Christian army was fairly wild with delight at this third victory
of Captain John Smith, and the commander ordered a pageant in his
honor. With an escort of six thousand men-at-arms, the three Turk’s
heads and the spoils of the three combats borne before him, Captain
Smith was conducted to the pavilion of the general, who received
him surrounded by his principal officers. Prince Moyses embraced
our hero in the presence of the troops and, after complimenting him
warmly on his valiant deeds, presented him with a splendid charger
richly caparisoned, a beautiful scimitar of Damascus steel and a belt
containing three hundred ducats.

But more highly than these gifts John valued the distinction bestowed
upon him by his old commander. Count Meldritch, truly proud of his
young protégé, there and then appointed him a major-captain in his

Nor were these the only rewards that fell to the lot of Captain John
Smith on account of his prowess at the siege of Regall. At a later
period, when the knowledge of his conduct came to Duke Sigismund Bathor
of Transylvania, he presented our hero with a picture of himself set
in gold, conferred upon him a yearly pension of three hundred ducats--a
snug sum in those days--and capped all with a patent of nobility. This
patent entitled Captain John Smith to a coat of arms, bearing three
Turks’ heads in a shield.

John Smith’s patent of nobility, setting forth the deeds for which it
was conferred, may be seen in the College of Heralds, London, where, in
its original Latin form, it was officially recorded August 19th, 1625,
by Sir William Segar, Garter King-at-arms.



Regall is bombarded and taken by assault--The Earl of Meldritch leads
an army of thirty thousand into Wallachia--Fierce fighting and a
retreat through the enemy’s country--The “Master of Stratagem” commands
the vanguard and clears a pass--The Earl’s depleted army makes a last
stand in the fateful valley of Veristhorne--Forty thousand Tartars lay
before them and in their rear thirty thousand Turks--The Christians
make a splendid but hopeless defense--They attempt to cut their way
out and a mere handful escape--John Smith is left on the field covered
with wounds--He is found by the enemy and tended--Sold for a slave at
Axopolis and sent to Constantinople.

Although the defeat of their champions naturally had a depressing
effect upon the garrison, they continued to maintain a strong defence.
The approaches, upon which the besiegers had been at work for weeks
were now, however, completed and their guns brought within close range
of the walls of Regall. For fifteen days a constant fire was kept up by
twenty-six pieces of artillery and at the end of that time two large
breaches afforded ample avenues for assault.

When the Christian army entered the town a terrific conflict ensued,
but after two days of hand to hand fighting through the streets
the citadel fell and with the capture of that inner stronghold
all opposition ceased. Prince Moyses set his men to repair the
fortifications and when that had been accomplished left a garrison in
the place and proceeded to the reduction of a number of neighboring
towns. At the close of these minor operations the Prince’s army was
broken up and Captain John Smith went with the Earl of Meldritch into

The Earl opened the campaign in Wallachia with a body of thirty
thousand veteran troops, of which his own regiment was the pick.
Opposed from the first to great odds, they performed magnificent
service until finally annihilated in the fatal valley of Veristhorne.
But the army of Meldritch had many a hard fought fight before that
dreadful day. There was one great battle in Wallachia which closed
with twenty-five thousand dead upon the field. They lay so thick that
“there was scarce ground to stand upon,” says Smith, “but upon the dead
carcasses.” Though the Turks were defeated in this affair, the victory
had been purchased at such a heavy cost that the Earl decided to
retreat upon the fortified town of Rothenthrum, and this with as little
delay as possible because fresh bodies of the enemy were moving against
him from every direction.

The march of the retiring army was hampered at every step by the
enemy, who hung upon its rear and flanks and engaged portions of it
in frequent skirmishes. The men were thus wearied and their progress
retarded. The special object of these tactics on the part of the
Turks became apparent when the Christian commander learned that a
strong force had thrown itself across his path. It was posted in a
pass through which Meldritch must necessarily go in order to reach
Rothenthrum. Nor was this all, for the same news-bearer informed the
general that an army of forty thousand Tartars was moving rapidly to
join the Turks in the defile.

The situation was extremely perilous but it allowed the Earl no
alternative from the desperate course of attacking a body twice as
numerous as his own, enjoying the advantage of an ideal position. To
turn back would be certain destruction. To stay where he was would be
to die like a rat in a trap. The only hope--and it was very slim--lay
in cutting a way through the Turks holding the pass and gaining the
town, only a few miles beyond, before the reinforcing Tartars could
arrive. Hesitation was foreign to the character of Meldritch. Putting
a bold face upon the matter, he marched on until within a mile of the
pass and then halted his men to prepare for an attack as soon as night
should fall.

In the meanwhile our hero’s busy brain had been at work, and when the
troops came to a halt he had a simple but well-devised plan to propose
to his commander. He lost no time in repairing to the spot where the
general stood consulting with his leading officers. Although no more
than a major-captain, Smith could always gain the ear of his superiors,
who had long since learned to respect his judgment and shrewd

“Way there for my ‘Master of Stratagem,’” cried the Earl banteringly,
as our hero approached. “Now I warrant he hath some bold proposal
to advance that shall give us easement in this difficulty. Thou art
always welcome Captain Smith, for methinks Dame Fortune dances close
attendance on thee.”

Smith revealed his scheme and immediately received the consent of the
commander to its execution.

“By my halidame!” said the pleased general, “this powder-magician
of ours would rout the forces of Pluto and distract his realm
with horrible contrivances. Take what men you need and make what
arrangements your judgment prompts, Captain Smith. Tonight the van is
under your command.”

The leader of the vanguard was decidedly the post of honor in such an
action as was about to begin, and as our captain rode forward in the
dark at the head of three hundred picked horsemen, he felt justly proud
of the position assigned to him. Each of his men carried a spear on
the head of which was fastened a bunch of fireworks, designed to make
as much noise and splutter as possible. When they had arrived within a
few hundred yards of the Turks who lay in waiting at the entrance to
the pass, each man lighted the combustibles at the end of his lance and
charged with it thrust in front of his horse’s head. The effect upon
the enemy was immediate and decisive. Panic seized their ranks. They
turned and fled, falling over one another in their terrified haste to
escape the demons by which they supposed themselves to be beset. The
horses of their cavalry, no less alarmed by the strange sight, plunged
wildly amongst them, increasing the confusion.

Into this disordered mass rode Smith’s horsemen followed by the main
body, slaying as they went. So they cut their way through the pass and
emerged on the other side without losing a score of their number. It
was a great achievement, but Meldritch’s little army was still in very
grave danger. The Tartars were close at hand if not already in the way.
The Earl pushed forward, but he dared not urge his troops to their
utmost speed, in case he should come upon the enemy with his horses
exhausted. Furthermore, the night was unusually dark and the men had to
keep to the road and proceed cautiously for fear of falling or losing
their way.

With the first streaks of dawn, the anxious Earl, riding at the head
of the column, began to gaze forward with straining eyes. They were
entering the valley of Veristhorne and the refuge they sought was
scarce three miles distant. Presently the general, looking across the
valley, dimly discerned the black bulk of Rothenthrum upon the farther
side. But the cry of joy that started from his lips was cut short by
the sight of a huge dark mass stretched across the middle ground. It
was too late. Forty thousand Tartars lay before them and in their rear
thirty thousand Turks were advancing.

The Earl of Meldritch was one of those rare combinations--a dashing
leader and a sound general. His inclination would have prompted him
to charge the horde of barbarians that lay in his path, but such a
course would have been suicidal. Instead, he led his troops to the base
of a mountain where he immediately began dispositions to withstand
an attack. The Tartars commenced to form their ranks at sunrise
but, fortunately for the Christians, did not advance until noon.
This unexpected respite enabled Meldritch, not only to rest his men
and horses after their all-night march, but also to make some rough
defences. The Tartar cavalry were the greater proportion of their army
and that most to be feared. In order to check their charges, the Earl
surrounded his position, except where it rested upon the mountain, with
a cordon of sharpened stakes, driven firmly into the ground.

The sun was high in the heavens when the Tartar horsemen advanced to
the discordant clamor of drums, trumpets and hautboys. In dense ranks
they stretched far beyond each flank of the small Christian army and
looked as though they might envelop and swallow it with ease. Behind
them came a horde of foot-soldiers armed with bows and bills. By this
time detached bodies of Turks began to appear on the surrounding
hills where they complacently sat down to watch the combat in the
arena below, prepared, if necessary, to reinforce the Tartars. These
additional enemies amounted to about fifteen thousand in number, so
that Meldritch’s ten thousand were hopelessly overpowered. The Earl
realized that his little force was doomed but, like a good and brave
commander, he had made the best disposition possible of them and was
determined to fight to the last.

When the Tartar horse had advanced to within a half mile of his
position, Meldritch launched a body of his cavalry under Nederspolt
against them. These veteran troopers made a most brilliant charge and
threw the enemy into confusion, but the numbers of the Christians were
too small to permit them to follow up this advantage and they wisely
retired within their lines. The Tartars now advanced their foot,
whilst their horsemen reformed on either flank. The sky was presently
darkened by flight after flight of countless arrows which, however,
did comparatively little harm. The Christians retaliated with another
charge, breaking the centre of the enemy and checking his advance.
With ten thousand more cavalry Meldritch might have swept the ill
disciplined assailants from the field, but he was too weak to venture
upon aggressive tactics and once again had to retire his men in face of
a success.

In anticipation of a renewal of the attack by the Tartar horsemen,
Meldritch had formed his infantry, under Veltus, just beyond the
palisade of stakes. They were ordered to hold their ground as long
as possible and then to fall back behind the defence. The Tartars,
confident in their superior numbers, as well they might be, charged
repeatedly. Each time they were gallantly repulsed, but at length
Veltus had lost so many men that he was forced to fall back. The enemy,
brandishing their spears and yelling exultantly, followed close upon
the retiring foot-soldiers and came quite unawares upon the rows of
sharpened stakes. In a moment a mass of struggling men and horses lay
at the mercy of Meldritch’s troops who slew two thousand of them.

This splendid success on the part of the pitiful handful of Christians
now reduced to half their original number, dampened the ardor of
the Tartars. There was a momentary cessation in the attack and the
defence might have been maintained until darkness set in, perhaps, but
the bodies of Turks which we have mentioned as surveying the field
in readiness to render assistance if needed, now began to descend
to the valley. The Earl realized that once these auxiliaries joined
forces with the Tartars, all would be lost. He determined to seize
the moment of hesitancy on the part of the latter to make an attempt
to break through them and gain the town of Rothenthrum. Accordingly,
he quickly formed his cavalry in the van and advanced to the attack.
It was a forlorn hope but no better prospect offered. Five thousand
men threw themselves upon thirty thousand with the desperation of
despair. The Earl, upon his great white charger, rode in the lead,
followed by his own regiment in which Captain Smith was now the senior
officer. Straight at the Tartar cavalry they went and cut their way
through the front ranks as though they had been but paper barricades.
But rank after rank confronted them and with each fresh contact they
left numbers of their own men behind. The slaughter was indescribable.
Soon they were the centre of a maelstrom of frenzied human beings with
scarce more chance for escape than has a canoe in the vortex of a
whirlpool. They fought like heroes to the death and made fearful havoc
among their enemies. The gallant Earl and a few hundred followers made
their way as by a miracle through the surrounding mass and swimming the
River Altus, escaped.

The setting sun looked down upon thirty thousand dead and dying
strewn over the Valley of Veristhorne, but lying in gory heaps where
the last desperate flower of that splendid army of thirty thousand
veterans that the Earl of Meldritch had proudly led into Wallachia a
few months before and amongst them almost all his leading officers.
“Give me leave,” says Captain Smith, in his account of the affair, “to
remember the names of my own countrymen in these exploits, that, as
resolutely as the best, in the defense of Christ and his Gospel ended
their days; as Baskerfield, Hardwicke, Thomas Milmer, Robert Molineux,
Thomas Bishop, Francis Compton, George Davison, Nicholas Williams and
one John, a Scot, did what men could do; and when they could do no
more left there their bodies, in testimony of their minds. Only Ensign
Carleton and Sergeant Robinson escaped.”

These men were members of Smith’s company and their captain lay among
them where he had fallen covered with wounds. But he was not quite
dead. The Turks and Tartars going over the field in search of spoils
were attracted to him by the superiority of his armor. This led them to
believe that he was a man of rank, and finding that he still lived they
carried him into their camp with a view to preserving his life for the
sake of ransom. His hurts were tended and he was nursed with care. When
sufficiently recovered to travel, he was sent down to the slave market
at Axopolis. Here Smith was put up to auction together with a number of
other poor wretches who had escaped death on the field of battle to
meet with a worse fate, perhaps, at the hands of cruel masters.

Our hero fetched a good price, as much on account of his vigorous
appearance as because there seemed to be a prospect of profit in the
purchase if he should turn out to be a nobleman as was suspected. He
was bought by the Pasha Bogall and sent by him as a present to his
affianced at Constantinople. Smith tells us that “by twenty and twenty,
chained by the necks, they marched in files to this great city, where
they were delivered to their several masters, and he to the young
Charatza Tragabigzanda.”



John Smith is delivered to the Lady Charatza, his future mistress--He
falls into kind hands and excites the Turkish Maiden’s interest--Her
mother intervenes and he is sent to an outlying province--He
finds a brutal master and is subjected to treatment “beyond the
endurance of a dog”--He slays the cruel Timariot and escapes upon
his horse--Wanders about for weeks and at length reaches a Christian
settlement--Adventures in Africa--A trip to sea with Captain
Merham--The Britisher fights two Spanish ships and holds his own--Smith
renders good service in the fight and employs one of his novel
“stratagems”--Return to England.

John Smith had never found himself in worse straits than now, as
shackled to a fellow slave he tramped along the road between Axopolis
and the Turkish capital. Hopeless as the situation seemed to be, he
did not give himself up to despair, nor wear himself by repining over
a condition which was beyond his power to remedy. He had learned from
experience that the sun is apt to break through the clouds of the
darkest day and when we are least expecting it. So, with the philosophy
that is characteristic of the true soldier of fortune, he determined
to await the turn of events with patience, and meanwhile found
entertainment for his mind in a study of the strange people and places
that came to his notice on the way. He has left an interesting account
of these, but as they had no direct bearing upon the actual events of
his life, we will pass them over.

The Pasha Bogall appears to have been a character somewhat like Sir
John Falstaff, the hero of imaginary military exploits. He prepared the
Lady Charatza--as Smith calls her--for the reception of his gift by a
letter. In this fanciful missive the Giaour was described as a Bohemian
nobleman whom the valiant Bogall had defeated in single combat and made
prisoner. In his desire to exalt himself in the mind of his mistress,
the Turk fell into two errors. He took it for granted that the slave
and the Turkish damsel would be unable to converse with each other and
he expatiated on Smith’s prowess in order to enhance by comparison his
own valor in overcoming him.

The fair Charatza was naturally curious to see this noble and
unfortunate slave for whom she could hardly fail to entertain feelings
of compassion. When they met, the lady was more impressed than she
would have cared to acknowledge by the bearing and address of the
handsome captain. They found a ready means of communication in Italian
which both understood and spoke with tolerable fluency. Questioned as
to the combat in which the Pasha had defeated him, Smith laughed and
declared that he had never set eyes on the doughty Turk until they met
in the market place of Axopolis. As to being a Bohemian nobleman, he
claimed no greater distinction than that of an English gentleman and a
captain of horse.

Charatza did not doubt the truth of Captain Smith’s statement to her,
but she caused inquiry to be made about him amongst the other captives
who had been distributed here and there in the city. Thus she learned
that her slave, whilst in truth no more than a captain in rank, was one
of the most renowned soldiers in the army of the Emperor, and indeed
had no equal among men of his age. The story of the three Turks reached
her through the same sources and aroused admiration where curiosity and
compassion had before been excited. The outcome was something like that
in the story of Othello and Desdemona.

The Turkish lady, young and romantic, found the stories of Captain
Smith’s adventures so interesting that she insisted upon his telling
them over and over again. In order to enjoy this pleasure, without
arousing criticism of her unusual familiarity with a male slave, she
had him assigned to work in her private garden which formed a part of
the extensive grounds attached to the mansion. There undisturbed, hours
were spent daily by the captive in reciting to his fair owner stories
of his varied experiences and in giving her accounts of different
places and peoples in the wonderful world of which she knew almost

Thus several weeks passed and our hero, who was well fed and
comfortably lodged meanwhile, fast regained his wonted strength and
energy. It may be asked, why did he not attempt to escape? The thought
of course entered his mind, but investigation soon satisfied him that
the difficulties in the way were almost insurmountable. The place was
surrounded by high walls which were guarded day and night by armed
eunuchs. Smith had no clothes but his own nor any means of securing
others. Even if he gained the streets he would be marked as a foreigner
and suspected of being an escaped slave. Under the circumstances he
determined to abide his time in the hope that his fair mistress might
become willing to release him and aid in his escape.

But affairs took a turn that neither of the young people, who were
beginning to feel a strong regard for each other, had looked for.
The mother of Charatza, informed by a jealous Turkish servant of the
meetings between her daughter and the Giaour, came upon them one day
and expressed her indignation in stinging terms. She declared her
determination to sell the English slave immediately and would have
carried her threat into effect but for the suggestion of Charatza
that the Pasha might not be pleased at such disposition of his gift.
Finally a compromise was agreed upon. The brother of Charatza was a
Timariot, that is a Turkish feudal chieftain, at Nalbrits, in a distant
province. It was decided that Smith should be sent there, Charatza
hoping to be able to contrive his return, and indeed having some idea
that the captive might be induced to turn Muhammadan and enter the
Sultan’s army.

So John Smith was sent to Nalbrits and at the same time Charatza
despatched a letter to her brother in which she begged him to treat
the young Englishman kindly and to give him the lightest sort of work.
Any good effect that might have accrued from this well-intentioned but
ill-advised letter was prevented by another which went forward at the
same time. In it the Pasha’s mother told of the extraordinary interest
Charatza had displayed in the infidel slave and expressed a suspicion
that the young girl’s affections had become fastened upon him. This of
course enraged the haughty and fanatical Turk and the unfortunate Smith
immediately felt the weight of his new master’s displeasure. Within an
hour of his arrival at Nalbrits he was stripped naked, his head and
face were shaved “as smooth as the palm of his hand” and he was put
into a garment of undressed goat-skin with an iron ring round his neck.

Our hero now entered upon a life too miserable for description
and, as he expresses it, “beyond the endurance of a dog.” He was
subjected to the hardest and vilest tasks and, being the latest comer
among hundreds of slaves, became slave to the whole herd, for such
was the custom which he was in no position to contest. He found his
companions a poor lot, broken in body and spirit, and sunk in apathetic
resignation to their condition. He endeavored to discover among them
a few with sufficient courage and enterprise to plan an uprising, but
soon abandoned the idea. It was clear that any chance that might arise
for escape would be impaired by the co-operation of such hopelessly
sunken wretches. During the months that he remained in this terrible
bondage his main effort was to sustain his own spirits and to combat
the tendency to fall into despair. Few men could have succeeded in
this, but John Smith combined with great physical strength and the
highest courage an unshakable trust in Providence. The event justified
his confidence and he fully deserved the good fortune which ultimately
befell him.

When he had been several months at Nalbrits, it happened that Smith
was put to work on the threshing floor at a country residence of the
Pasha. Here he labored with a long heavy club, the flail not being
known to the people of those parts. The Pasha seems to have entertained
a feeling of positive hatred for the slave, fanned no doubt by frequent
letters from Charatza, who could have no knowledge of his condition.
It was a favorite pastime with the Turk to stand over Smith whilst
at his labor and taunt him. At such times, it was with the greatest
difficulty that the captain restrained the desire to leap upon his
persecutor and strangle him. He knew, however, that to have raised his
hand against his cruel master would have entailed torture and probably
a lingering death.

One morning the Pasha came into the barn where Smith was alone at work.
The malicious Turk fell to sneering at his slave as usual and when the
latter, goaded beyond endurance, replied with spirit, the Pasha struck
him across the face with a riding whip. Smith’s threshing bat whistled
through the air, and at the first blow the brutal Timariot lay dead at
the feet of his slave. There was not an instant to be lost. It was by
the merest chance that Smith was alone. The overseer might return at
any moment. Stripping the body of the slain Pasha and hiding it under a
heap of straw, Smith threw off his goat-skin and hurriedly donned the
Turkish costume. He loosed the horse which the Turk had ridden to the
spot, sprang into the saddle and galloped at random from the place.

Smith’s first impulse was to ride as fast as possible in the opposite
direction to Nalbrits, and this he did, continuing his career until
night overtook him. He entered a wood at some distance from the road
and there passed the hours of darkness. He never failed to keep
a clear head in the most critical emergencies and in the haste of
departure had not neglected to secure the Pasha’s weapons and to
snatch up a sack of corn from the threshing floor. The latter would
preserve his life for some time and with the former he proposed to sell
it dearly if overtaken. He had no idea as to what direction to take
in order to reach a Christian community. Daybreak found him in this
condition of perplexity, and he resumed his wandering flight with less
impetuosity and a careful regard to avoid every locality that appeared
to be inhabited. At a distance his costume might prove a protection,
but on closer inspection a beholder could not fail to note the iron
collar that proclaimed him a slave.

Smith had ridden about aimlessly for three days and nights, not knowing
where he was nor how far from Nalbrits, when he suddenly chanced upon
one of the great caravan roads that traversed Asia and connected with
the main highways of Europe. He knew that if he followed this road far
enough westward he must come eventually into some Christian country,
but caution was more necessary than ever, for these were much travelled
routes. He concluded to skirt the road by day and ride upon it only
after dark. At the close of the fourth day after his escape he came to
the meeting point of several crossroads and then learned the peculiar
method employed by the people of those parts to direct travellers.
The sign posts were painted with various designs to indicate the
directions of different countries. For instance, a half moon pointed to
the country of the Crim Tartars, a black man to Persia, a sun to China,
and a cross--which our hero perceived with joy--distinguished the road
leading to the Christian realm of Muscovy, the Russia of today.

After sixteen days’ riding, without encountering a mishap, Smith
arrived safely at a Muscovite settlement on the Don where he was warmly
received. The galling badge of bondage was filed from his neck and
he felt then, but not before, once more a free man. His wants were
supplied and he was furnished with sufficient money to enable him to
continue his journey in comfort. He proceeded into Transylvania where
his old comrades welcomed him as one from the grave, having lamented
him as among the dead at Rothenthrum. The Earl of Meldritch was
delighted to meet his old captain and “Master of Stratagem” once more
and regretted that the existing state of peace prevented their fighting
together again. That condition determined our hero to seek service in
Africa where he heard that a war was in progress. Before his departure,
Prince Sigismund presented him with fifteen hundred ducats, and so he
set out with a well-filled purse and a light heart.

Captain Smith journeyed to Barbary in company with a French adventurer
who, like himself, cared little where he went so that the excursion
held out a prospect of fighting and new experiences. On this occasion,
however, they were disappointed in their hope of military service. They
found the conditions such as they were not willing to become involved
in. The Sultan of Barbary had been poisoned by his wife, and two of his
sons, neither of whom had a right to the succession, were contending
for the throne. Our adventurers considered this state of things more
akin to murder than to war and declined to take any part in it,
although they might without doubt have enriched themselves by doing so.

Upon his return to the port of Saffi, Captain Smith found a British
privateering vessel in the harbor under the command of a Captain
Merham. An acquaintance sprang up between the two which quickly ripened
into friendship. One evening, Smith with some other guests was paying a
visit to the privateer, when a cyclone suddenly swept down upon them.
Captain Merham barely had time to slip his cable before the hurricane
struck his ship and drove it out to sea. All night they ran before the
wind, and when at length the storm had ceased they were in the vicinity
of the Canaries. The Captain wished to “try some conclusions,” after
the manner of Captain La Roche on a former occasion, before returning
to port. His guests were not averse to the proposal and so he hung
about to see what vessels chance might throw in their way.

They were soon rewarded by intercepting a Portuguese trader laden
with wine from Teneriffe. This they eased of its cargo and allowed to
go its way. The next day they espied two sails some miles distant and
proceeded to overhaul them. They did this with such success that they
were within small-arm range of the ships before they perceived them
to be Spanish men-of-war, either superior to themselves in armament
and probably in men. Seeing himself so greatly overmatched, Merham
endeavored to escape, and a running fight was maintained for hours. At
length, towards sunset, the Spaniards damaged the Britisher’s rigging
and coming up with him, boarded from either side. Merham’s ship must
have been captured by the enemy, who greatly outnumbered his own men,
but whilst the fight on deck was in progress, Captain Smith secured
“divers bolts of iron”--cross-bars, probably--with which he loaded one
of the guns. The charge tore a hole so large in one of the Spanish
ships that it began to sink. At this both the attacking vessels threw
off their grappling irons and withdrew.

The Spaniards were busy for two or more hours repairing the breach
in their ship and Merham was occupied as long in putting his sailing
gear in order, so that he could not profit by the damage to the enemy.
When at length he did get under way the Spaniards were in condition
to follow and the chase was continued all night. With the break of
day the fight was resumed, but not before the Spanish senior officer
had offered the British captain quarter if he would surrender. Merham
answered this proposal with his cannon and hove to with the intention
of fighting it out.

The Spaniards realized that they were no match for the Britisher in
gun-play and they therefore lost no time in grappling. A fierce hand
to hand conflict ensued and lasted for an hour with varying success,
but the odds were beginning to tell against Merham’s men when their
captain turned the tide by a clever stratagem. He sent some sailors
aloft to unsling the mainsail and let it fall on the top of a number
of Spaniards beneath. Whilst these were struggling to get clear of the
canvas, about twenty of them were killed. This disheartening occurrence
induced the attacking ships to disengage. The cannonading continued on
both sides, however, and after a while the Spanish captains once more
boarded with all the men available.

Again the combat raged at close quarters for an hour or more and again
Merham’s men began to give way under the weight of superior numbers.
This time it was Captain Smith who saved the situation by a desperate
expedient. A number of Spaniards had gathered near the centre of the
ship upon a grating which afforded them the advantage of an elevated
station. Beneath this body of the enemy, our hero exploded a keg of
powder. This had the effect of blowing about thirty Spaniards off the
scene but at the same time it set fire to the ship. The flames sent the
boarders scurrying back to their own vessels which sailed to a safe

Whilst Merham was engaged in putting out the fire the Spaniards
kept their guns playing upon him, ceasing only at intervals to make
proposals for surrender, at all of which the British captain laughed.
When the flames were extinguished he invited the Spanish officers
with mock ceremony to come on board his vessel again, assuring them
that Captain Smith was yearning to afford them further entertainment.
But the Spaniards had no longer any stomach for boarding parties and
contented themselves with firing at long range until nightfall when
they sailed away.

Captain Merham took his crippled ship back to Saffi to undergo repairs
and there our hero left him, after expressing his gratification for
the diversion the privateersman had afforded him, and took ship for




John Smith becomes interested in American colonization--Devotes
his money and his services to the Virginia venture--Sails with an
expedition to the New World composed of an ill-assorted company of
adventurers--They fall into dissensions at the outset--Each is jealous
of others and all of John Smith--He is placed under arrest and a
gallows erected for his accommodation--The emigrants grow weary of the
adventure--When almost within sight of the continent they plan to put
about and return to England--A storm decides the matter by sweeping
them into Chesapeake Bay--A party is landed and has an early conflict
with the Indians.

The life of John Smith naturally divides itself into two parts, each
covering about twenty-five years. We have followed him through the
former period with its exciting episodes and varying scenes. During
this term he is the soldier of fortune, seeking to satisfy his love of
adventure and to gain knowledge and experience. Beyond these motives
he has no definite purpose in view. He is ready to enlist in any cause
that offers opportunity for honorable employment. This early stage of
his activity has developed his mind and body and strengthened that
stability of character for which he was distinguished. He returns to
England, bronzed and bearded, somewhat disgusted with the horrors
of war and dissatisfied at the futility of the life of the mere
adventurer. His energy is in no degree abated but he longs to find some
purposeful direction for his enterprise. Fortunately for him, for his
country, and for us, the opportunity awaited the man.

Up to this time, all the efforts of Englishmen to plant colonies in
America had resulted in failure. The movement began with the voyages
and discoveries of the Cabots in the reign of Henry the Seventh and for
a century was pursued with difficulty in the face of the superior naval
strength of Spain, which nation claimed exclusive right to the entire
continent. The defeat of the “invincible Armada” afforded freedom of
the seas to English navigators and marked the beginning of a new era
in American exploration and settlement. The majority of the men who
engaged in this field of enterprise were actuated by no better motive
than the desire to gain wealth or satisfy a love of adventure. There
were, however, not a few who entered into the movement with patriotic
motives and of these the gallant and ill-fated Raleigh is the most
conspicuous. He devoted his fortune to exploration of the Western
Hemisphere and spent in this endeavor more than a million dollars.
In 1584 his vessels under Amidas and Barlow made a landing in the
Carolinas, took possession in the name of Queen Elizabeth, and called
the country “Virginia.” In the following year a colony of one hundred
and eight men was sent out under Sir Ralph Lane. A settlement was
made upon the island of Roanoke but the enterprise was soon abandoned
and the colonists returned to England. In 1586, Sir Richard Grenville
left fifty men at the deserted settlement, only to be massacred by
the Indians. But Raleigh persisted in his efforts. Another party
of emigrants was sent out and this time it was sought to encourage
home-making in the new land by including women in the colonists. The
fate of these pioneers who are commonly referred to as the “Lost
Colony” is a blank. A later expedition found the site of the settlement
deserted and no trace of its former occupants could ever be discovered.

The unfortunate results of these efforts dampened the ardor for
American colonization and for twelve years there was a cessation of the
attempts to people Virginia. Raleigh had exhausted his means and his
later explorations were made with borrowed money and directed to the
discovery of gold mines in Guiana. In 1602, Bartholomew Gosnold made
a successful voyage to Virginia, returning with a cargo of sassafras.
Several other expeditions followed which, although they made no
settlements, revived public interest in the American possession and
made the route a comparatively familiar one. When John Smith returned
to his native land he found the colonization of Virginia occupying
a prominent place in the minds of his countrymen. It was a project
precisely fitted to satisfy the nobler ambition which now fired him to
devote his talents and energies to his country’s service. It promised
to combine with a useful career a sufficient element of novelty and
adventure, and he lost no time in allying himself with the chief
promoters of the movement.

The territory of Virginia had been granted to Sir Walter Raleigh by
Queen Elizabeth. The latter died in 1603, the year before Smith’s
return to England, and her successor, James the First, imprisoned
Raleigh on a charge of high treason and confiscated his possessions. In
1606, the King issued a charter for the colonization of Virginia to a
company, which Smith joined with five hundred pounds of his own money.
But previous to this he had been one of the most diligent workers in
the promotion of the scheme, inducing merchants and noblemen to support
the project with capital and persuading desirable men to volunteer
as colonists. Neither object was easy of attainment and the latter
was the more difficult. Numerous broken-down gentlemen of indifferent
character were eager to embrace the chance of retrieving their fortunes
in a new land, and hundreds of dissolute soldiers out of employment
offered their services to the promoters. But the need was for farmers,
mechanics, and laborers, and few of these could be induced to leave
their homes in the prosperous state of the country at that time.
Consequently the organizers of the expedition had to content themselves
with a poor assortment of colonists who, but for the presence of
Captain John Smith among them, would assuredly have added one more to
the list of failures connected with North American colonization. It was
due to him mainly, and almost solely, that the settlement at Jamestown
survived and became the root from which branched the United States of

The expedition, when at length it was organized, consisted of three
vessels carrying, aside from their crews, one hundred and five
colonists. The largest of the ships, named the _Susan Constant_, was
barely one hundred tons burden, the second, named the _Godspeed_, was
somewhat smaller, and the third, the _Discovery_, no more than twenty
tons. Their commanders were Captain Christopher Newport, Captain
Bartholomew Gosnold and John Ratcliffe respectively. Other important
members of the expedition were Edward Wingfield, a man with little
but his aristocratic connections to recommend him; Robert Hunt, a
clergyman, whose name should be linked with that of John Smith as one
of the saviours of the colony, and a few whose introduction we may
defer until circumstances bring them prominently upon the scene. For
the rest, forty-eight were gentlemen of little account, about thirty
were men of lower estate, but no greater usefulness, and only a
score belonged to the artisan and mechanic class. Smith had engaged
and fitted out a few men with whose quality he had some acquaintance,
including Carlton and Robinson, the only two Englishmen of his own
command who had escaped from the disaster in the Valley of Veristhorne.

In the last days of the year 1606, this ill-assorted company sailed
out of the Thames under conditions calculated to create dissensions
from the outset. King James, one of the most feeble monarchs who ever
occupied the English throne, had reserved to himself the right to
select the Council by which the colony should be governed, allowing to
that body the privilege of electing its President. But for some reason,
which it is impossible to surmise, the choice of the monarch was kept
secret and names of the Council enclosed in a box which was to be
opened only when the party reached its destination. Thus they started
upon the voyage without a commander or any recognized authority among
them, and each man of prominence, feeling satisfied that the King could
not have overlooked his superior claims to a place in the Council,
assumed the tone and bearing of an accepted leader whilst resenting
similar action on the part of others.

The need of acknowledged authority was felt from the outset. Newport,
Gosnold, and Ratcliffe, were, for the nonce, merely sailing masters
and had as much as they could well do to fulfill their duties in
that capacity. The expedition emerged from the Thames to encounter
contrary winds and stormy weather, so that it was forced to beat about
off the coast of England for weeks without making any progress. The
emigrants began to quarrel, and among the principal men of the party
there broke out a spirit of jealousy which was never allayed. This was
directed chiefly against Captain Smith. His companions were forced
to admit to themselves that this self-possessed and confident young
man was their superior in all those qualities that would be of most
account in the strange land for which they were destined, and they
had sufficient discernment to realize that no matter who might become
the nominal President of the colony, John Smith would be its master
spirit and actual leader. This was made manifest in these first few
weeks of trying delay. Did one of the ship-captains need assistance?
John Smith was a practical navigator and could both handle a vessel and
read the charts. In the dispositions for defence in case of attack, he
had to be relied upon as the best gunner and leader of fighting men
among them. When the voyagers became troublesome none but John Smith
could effectually quiet them. A few words in his calm firm tones would
quickly quell a disturbance. Some of these men had served under him and
had learned to respect his character. The others instinctively felt
that he was a man of sense and strength--one of those rare creatures
who rise to every emergency and lift their subordinates with them.

Men of broad and generous minds would have rejoiced to think that
they had among them one who was capable of steering them through all
their difficulties and whose experience would help them to avoid many
a pitfall and disaster. There were a few among the gentlemen, such as
George Percy, Parson Hunt and Scrivener, who took this sensible view of
the situation. On the other hand, Wingfield, Kendall, Ratcliffe, Archer
and several more, conscious of their own inferiority, became possessed
by an insane jealousy of our hero. This grew with the progress of the
voyage and constant discussion of their silly suspicions, until at
length they had fully persuaded themselves that Captain John Smith
was a dark conspirator who entertained designs against themselves and
contemplated treason against his King and country. They believed,
or professed to believe, that he had distributed creatures of his
own throughout the three vessels with the intention of seizing the
expedition and proclaiming himself king of the new country as soon
as they should arrive at it. With this excuse they made him a close
prisoner when the vessels were in mid-Atlantic.

When the party charged with this disgraceful office approached him
on the deck of the _Susan Constant_, Smith handed to them his sword
without a word and went below smiling grimly. He had long since
fathomed the weakness and the incompetence of these self-constituted
leaders. He knew that the time would come when his services would be
indispensable to them and he was content to abide it in patience. They
should have realized that, if their suspicions were just, he had but
to raise his voice and the vessels would be instantly in mutiny. But
they had not sufficient intelligence to perceive that if John Smith
was the dangerous character they assumed him to be their best course
was to propitiate him rather than to arouse his enmity. Instead of
being impressed by the self-confident manner in which he yielded to
confinement in the hold they gained courage from the incident and
actually thought that they might go to any extreme without resistance
on his part. So, when the vessels made land at the West Indies, these
masterful gentry erected a gallows for the purpose of hanging our hero,
or, perhaps, of frightening him. Now we know that they could not have
undertaken a more difficult task than that of attempting to strike fear
into the heart of John Smith, and as to actual hanging, whilst he had
a considerable sense of humor, it did not carry him so far as taking
part in a performance of that sort. When they brought him on deck and
solemnly informed him that the gallows awaited him, he laughed in their
faces and told them that it was a shame to waste good timber, for he
had not the remotest thought of using the contrivance. In fact, he
took the matter with such careless assurance that they wisely concluded
to abandon the project and sailing away, left their useless gallows

Steering for that portion of the mainland where the former ill-fated
colonies had been planted, the vessels were soon out of their reckoning
and beat about for several days without sight of land. They had been
already four months upon a voyage that should have occupied no more
than two and had made serious inroads into the stock of provisions
which was calculated to furnish the store of the settlers. They began
to grow fearful and discontented. Many wished to put about and sail
homeward, and even Ratcliffe, the captain of the _Discovery_, favored
such a course. Whilst they were debating the proposition, a violent
storm arose and luckily drove them to their destination. On the
twenty-sixth day of April, 1607, they entered the Bay of Chesapeake.

Eager to see the new land of promise, a party of the colonists went
ashore that day. They wandered through forest and glade, cheered by the
genial warmth of the southern clime and delighted with the beautiful
scenery and luxuriant vegetation. But before they returned to the ships
they were reminded that this natural paradise was in possession of a
savage people who could hardly be expected to respect King James’s gift
of their land to strangers. As the exploring party made their way back
to the shore they fell into an ambush--the first of many which they
were destined to experience. They had not seen a human being since
landing, and the shower of arrows that proclaimed the presence of the
Indians came as a complete surprise. Neither redman nor paleface was
quite prepared for intimate acquaintance at this time, and the sound of
the muskets sent the former scurrying to the hills whilst the latter
hurried to the shelter of the ships, carrying two men who had been
severely wounded.

Thus the Jamestown colonists came to America. How little they were
qualified for the work before them we have already seen. As we
progress with our story we shall see how often they brought misfortune
upon themselves and how the wisdom and energy of one man saved the
undertaking from utter failure.



The President and Council are established and a settlement made at
Jamestown--Newport and Smith go on an exploring expedition--They
meet Powhatan, the great Werowance of the country--They are feasted
and fêted by the old Chief--A quick return to Jamestown and a
timely arrival--The Indians attack the settlers and take them
unawares--Gallant stand made by the gentlemen adventurers--The
appearance of Newport and his men prevents a massacre--A fort and
stockade are hurriedly erected--Smith is tried on a charge of treason
and triumphantly acquitted--Captain Newport returns to England with the
two larger ships.

It was, indeed, a fair land to which the white men had journeyed from
over the seas. Smith says of it: “Heaven and earth never agreed better
to frame a place for man’s habitation. Here are mountains, hills,
plains, rivers, and brooks, all running most pleasantly into a fair
bay, compassed, but for the mouth, with fruitful and delightsome land.”
The country was covered, for the most part, with virgin forest. Here
and there a small clearing afforded a site for a cluster of wigwams
around which lay fields of maize or other cereals. The birds and
animals that we prize most highly as table delicacies abounded in the
wilds, and the waters swarmed with fish.

A very small proportion of the land was occupied. The Indian villages
were few and miles apart. The country round about the Jamestown
settlement was in the possession of the Algonquin tribe, divided into
many bands, generally numbering not more than a few hundred souls,
each band under its own chief and all owning allegiance to a king or
werowance named Powhatan. There was constant intercourse between the
villages, and their men joined together for purposes of war, or the
chase. Rough forest trails formed the only roads between the different
centres, whilst blazed trees marked by-paths that led to springs,
favorite trapping grounds, or other localities of occasional resort.

The royal orders permitted the opening of the box of instructions as
soon as the colonists should have reached Virginia, and they lost
no time in satisfying their anxiety to learn the membership of the
Council. It appeared that the King had selected for that distinction
and responsibility, Edward Wingfield, Bartholomew Gosnold, Christopher
Newport, John Ratcliffe, George Kendall and John Smith. The last named
was still in irons and his fellow-councilmen were, with the possible
exception of Newport, unfriendly to him. It was decided that he should
not be admitted to the body, and the remaining members proceeded to
elect Wingfield, Smith’s arch-enemy, to the position of President.

For the next two weeks and more, the colonists remained upon the ships.
Meanwhile they explored the surrounding country for a favorable site
on which to settle. The Indians with whom they came in contact during
this time treated them with the utmost kindness, freely furnishing food
and tobacco, which latter few of the settlers had ever smoked, although
Raleigh had introduced the leaf into England some years earlier.
Everything was so strange to the adventurers, many of whom were absent
from their native land for the first time, that they forgot for a while
their discontent and jealousies in the interest and wonder excited by
new sights and scenes.

We can imagine, for instance, the mixed sensations of the strangers
when a band of Rappahonacks marched towards them, headed by their chief
playing upon a reed flute. They were all fantastically trimmed, we will
say, for their only dress was a coat of paint. The chief, as befitted
his rank, was the most grotesque figure of all, but the effect was
equally hideous and awesome and the Englishmen were divided between
merriment and fear. On one side of his head the chief wore a crown of
deer’s hair dyed red and interwoven with his own raven locks; on the
other side, which was shaven, he wore a large plate of copper, whilst
two long feathers stood up from the centre of his crown. His body
was painted crimson and his face blue. Around his neck was a chain of
beads, and strings of pearls hung from his ears which were pierced to
hold bird’s claws set in gold. He and his followers each carried a bow
and arrows and a tomahawk with stone head.

At length it was decided to settle upon a little peninsula jutting into
the river. There was a great deal of disagreement about this site.
Smith favored it, mainly because its comparative isolation made it
easier to defend than a location further inland, but he was allowed no
voice in the selection. It was, however, an unfortunate choice, for
the ground was low and marshy and no doubt a great deal of the later
mortality was due to the unhealthy situation of the infant settlement
of Jamestown. Here, however, the colonists landed on the thirteenth
day of May and set up the tents in which they lived for some time
thereafter. There is too much to be done to justify the absence of an
available strong arm and Smith, although virtually a prisoner still,
is allowed to join in the general labor and this he does cheerfully
without any show of resentment on account of his past treatment.

The President gave evidence of his incapacity from the very outset.
Relying implicitly upon the friendly attitude of the Indians he refused
to allow any defences to be considered, and even went so far as to
decline to unpack the arms which had been brought from England,
declaring that to do so would be a display of distrust which the
savages might resent. The latter, who were permitted to go in and out
of the camp with their weapons, were no doubt for a time divided in
mind as to whether the white men were superhuman beings invulnerable to
arrows or only a species of foolish and confiding fellow-creatures such
as they had never known. Wingfield had most of his men busy felling
trees and making clapboards with which to freight the vessels on their
return, for it must be understood that these colonists were practically
employees of the company that had been at the expense of sending them
out and which expected to make a profit on the investment. It was
necessary therefore to secure cargoes for shipment to England, but the
position should have been fortified and houses erected before all else.

Newport was anxious to have more extensive information of the country
to report to his employers who entertained the belief--absurd as it
seems to us--that by penetrating one or two hundred miles farther
westward the settlers would come upon the Pacific and open a short
route to India. Newport therefore organized an expedition to explore
the river. He took twenty men and was glad to include Smith in the
party. There was no opposition on the part of the Council to the
arrangement. Indeed, it was entirely to their liking. None of them was
over keen to penetrate the unknown with its possible dangers and each
was reluctant to leave the settlement for the further reason that he
distrusted his fellow-members of the Council and was jealous of them.
As to Smith, they had made up their minds to send him back to England
a prisoner, to be tried on charges of treason, conspiracy, and almost
anything else their inventive minds could conceive.

So Captain Newport and his party proceeded slowly up the river in their
shallop, greeted kindly by the Indians in the various villages along
the banks and feasted by them. The travellers in their turn bestowed
upon their entertainers presents of beads, nails, bottles, and other
articles, trifling in themselves but almost priceless to the savages
who had never seen anything of the kind. At length the party arrived
at a village named Powhatan. It was located very near the present
situation of Richmond, and perhaps exactly where the old home of the
Mayo family--still called “Powhatan”--stands. This village was governed
by a son of the great Werowance. The capital of the latter was at
Werowocomico, near the mouth of the York River, but he happened to be
at Powhatan at the time of Newport’s arrival. I say that he happened to
be there, but it is much more likely that he had been informed of the
expedition and had gone overland to his son’s village with the express
intention of meeting the strangers, about whom he must have been keenly

Powhatan was the chief of all the country within a radius of
sixty miles of Jamestown, and having a population of about eight
thousand, which included two thousand or more warriors. Although over
seventy years of age, he was vigorous in mind and body. His tall,
well-proportioned frame was as straight as an arrow. His long gray hair
flowed loose over his shoulders and his stern and wrinkled countenance
expressed dignity and pride. The English learned to know him for a keen
and subtle schemer, to whom the common phrase, “simple savage,” would
be altogether misapplied. He was sufficiently sagacious to realize from
the first that in the white men he had a superior race to deal with and
he made up his mind that the most effective weapon that he could use
against them would be treachery.

On this occasion, he dissembled the feelings of anger and fear that
he must have felt against the intruders and received them with every
sign of amity. To his people, who began to murmur at their presence and
displayed an inclination to do them harm, he declared:

“They can do us no injury. They desire no more than a little land
and will pay us richly for it. It is my pleasure that you treat them

In the meanwhile, his keen penetrating glance was taking in every
detail of his visitors’ appearance, scrutinizing their weapons and
dress, and closely examining their faces as they spoke, for the
settlers had picked up a little of the language.

When the voyagers, after being feasted and fêted at the village of
Powhatan, continued their journey up the river, the “Emperor,” as the
early writers call him, furnished them with a guide, whose chief duty
doubtless was to act as spy and report their movements to him. Newport
proceeded up the river until it became too shallow to admit of further
progress. He then turned and commenced the descent. He had not gone
many days’ journey when he began to notice a change in the attitude of
the Indians which prompted him to hasten on to the settlement with all
speed. It was well that he did so for the settlers were in a critical

We have seen that Wingfield altogether neglected to place the colonists
in a position to defend themselves from attack. During the absence
of the exploring expedition he had so far departed from his foolish
attitude as to permit Captain Kendall to erect a paltry barricade of
branches across the neck of the little peninsula, but this was the
only measure of safety he could be induced to take. The Indians were
permitted to come and go as freely as ever and the arms were left in
the packing cases. Of course it was only a matter of time when the
Indians would take advantage of such a constantly tempting opportunity
to attack the newcomers.

One day, without the slightest warning, four hundred savages rushed
upon the settlement with their blood-curdling war-whoop. The colonists
were utterly unprepared and most of them unarmed. Seventeen fell at
the first assault. Fortunately the gentlemen habitually wore swords,
these being part of the every-day dress of the time, and many of them
had pistols in their belts. They quickly threw themselves between the
unarmed settlers and the Indians and checked the latter with the fire
of their pistols. Wingfield, who though a fool was no coward, headed
his people and narrowly escaped death, an arrow cleaving his beard.
Four other members of the Council were among the wounded, so that only
one of them escaped untouched.

The gallant stand made by the gentlemen adventurers only checked the
Indians for a moment, and there is no doubt that every man of the
defenders must have been slain had not the ships created a diversion
by opening fire with their big guns. Even this assistance effected but
temporary relief, for the Indians would have renewed the attack at
nightfall, with complete success in all probability, but the appearance
of Newport at this juncture with his twenty picked and fully armed
men put a different complexion on affairs. The reinforcement sallied
against the attacking savages and drove them to retreat.

It is hardly necessary to state that all hands were now engaged with
feverish zeal in erecting a fort and stockade. Some demi-culverins were
carried ashore from the ships and mounted. The arms were uncased and
distributed and certain men were daily drilled in military exercises,
whilst a constant guard was maintained throughout the day and night.
From this time the intercourse between the whites and Indians was
marked on both sides by caution and suspicion.

When the defences had been completed, Captain Newport made preparations
for an immediate departure and then the Council informed Smith that he
was to be returned to England a prisoner for trial. Fortunately for
the future of the colony, our hero rebelled against such an unjust
proceeding, saying, with reason, that since all persons cognizant of
the facts were on the spot, it was on the spot that he should be tried,
if anywhere. His contention was so just, and the sentiment in his favor
so strong, that the Council was obliged to accede to his demand. He
protested against a moment’s delay, declaring that, if found guilty by
a jury of his peers, he would willingly return to England in chains
with Captain Newport and take the consequences.

The trial resulted in a triumphant acquittal. There was not one iota of
real evidence adduced against the prisoner. Wingfield and others had
nothing but their bare suspicions to bring forward. It did transpire,
however, in the course of the proceedings that the President had not
only been moved by malice but that he had endeavored to induce certain
persons to give false evidence against his enemy. On the strength
of these revelations, the jury not only acquitted Captain Smith but
sentenced the President to pay him two hundred pounds in damages, which
sum, or its equivalent, for it was paid in goods, our hero promptly
turned into the common fund.

Smith accepted his acquittal with the same calm indifference that had
characterized his behavior since his arrest and showed a readiness
to forget past differences and encourage harmony among the leaders.
Mr. Hunt also strove to produce peace and goodwill in the settlement
but the efforts were useless. When Newport left them in June, the
colony was divided into two factions, the supporters of Wingfield and
those of Smith, who was now of course free of his seat at the Council
board. And so it remained to the end of our story--jealousy, meanness,
incompetence and even treachery, hazarding the lives and the fortunes
of the little band of pioneers who should have been knit together by
common interests and common dangers.



The colonists experience hard times and a touch of starvation--Fever
seizes the settlement and one-half the settlers die--The entire charge
of affairs devolves upon Captain Smith--President Wingfield is deposed
and Ratcliffe appointed in his place--Smith leads an expedition in
search of corn--Returns to find trouble at Jamestown--The blacksmith
to be hanged for treason--At the foot of the gallows he divulges a
Spanish plot--Captain Kendall, a Councilman, is involved--His guilt is
established--He seizes the pinnace and attempts to sail away--Smith
trains a cannon upon the boat and forces the traitor to land--He is

Just before the departure of Captain Newport with the two larger
ships--the pinnace, _Discovery_, was left for the use of the
colonists--Mr. Hunt had administered the communion to the company in
the hope that the joint participation in the holy sacrament might
create a bond of amity between them. On that occasion Captain Smith
had modestly addressed the assembled settlers, urging them to forget
past disagreement, as he was ready to do, and address themselves
energetically to the important business of the community.

“You that of your own accord have hazarded your lives and estates in
this adventure, having your country’s profit and renown at heart,” he
said with earnestness, “banish from among you cowardice, covetousness,
jealousies, and idleness. These be enemies to the raising your honors
and fortunes and put in danger your very lives, for if dissension
prevail among us, surely we shall become too weak to withstand the
Indians. For myself, I ever intend my actions shall be upright and
regulated by justice. It hath been and ever shall be my care to give
every man his due.”

The plain, frank speech moved his hearers, but in the evil times that
quickly fell upon them good counsel was forgotten and strife and
ill-nature resumed their sway.

The colonists had arrived too late in the year to plant and they soon
began to experience a shortage of provisions. The grain which had lain
six months in the holds of leaky vessels was wormy and sodden, unfit
for horses and scarcely eatable by men. Nevertheless, for weeks after
Newport left, a small allowance of this formed the principal diet of
the unfortunate settlers. The woods abounded in game, it is true, but
they were yet unskilled in hunting and dared not venture far from their
palisades, whilst the unaccustomed sounds of axe and hammer had driven
every beast and most of the birds from the neighborhood. They must
have starved but for the sturgeon that they secured from the river.
On these they dined with so little variation that their stomachs at
last rebelled at the very sight of them. One of this miserable company,
describing their condition, says with melancholy humor: “Our drink was
water; our lodgings castles in the air.”

But lack of food was only one of the hardships which befell the poor
wretches. There were but few dwellings yet constructed, and being
forced to lie upon the low damp ground, malarial fever and typhoid
broke out among them and spread with such fearful rapidity that not
one of them escaped sickness. Hardly a day passed but one at least
of their number found a happy release from his sufferings in death.
Fifty in all--just half of them--died between June and September.
The unaccustomed heat aided in prostrating them, so that at one time
there were scarce ten men able to stand upon their feet. And all this
time the Indians kept up a desultory warfare and only refrained from
a determined attack upon the settlement for fear of the firearms. Had
they assaulted the stockade, instead of contenting themselves with
shooting arrows into it from a distance, the colonists could have made
no effective defence against them.

Shortly, the whole weight of authority and the entire charge of the
safety of the settlement fell upon Captain Smith. He was sick like
the rest, but kept his feet by sheer strength of will, knowing that
otherwise they would all fall victims to the savages in short order.
Gosnold was under the sod. Wingfield, Martin and Ratcliffe were on the
verge of death. Kendall was sick and, moreover, had been deposed from
his place in the Council. In fact, all the chief men of the colony
were incapacitated, “the rest being in such despair that they would
rather starve and rot with idleness than be persuaded to do anything
for their own relief without constraint.” In this strait the courage
and resolution of one man saved them as happened repeatedly afterward.
He nursed the sick, distributed the stores, stood guard day and
night, coaxed and threatened the least weak into exerting themselves,
cunningly hid their real condition from the Indians, and, by the
exercise of every available resource, tided over the terrible months of
July and August.

Early in September, Wingfield was deposed from the presidency. His
manifest incompetency had long been the occasion of discontent which
was fanned to fever heat when the starving settlers discovered that the
leader, who was too fine a gentleman to eat from the common kettle, had
been diverting the best of the supplies from the public store to his
private larder. The climax which brought about his downfall, however,
was reached when it transpired that the President had made arrangements
to steal away in the pinnace and return to England, leaving the
settlement in the lurch. Ratcliffe was elected to fill his place. He
was a man of no greater capacity than his predecessor, but it happened
that conditions improved at about this time and the undiscerning
colonists were willing to give him credit for the change.

Early fall brings ripening fruit and vegetables in the South. The
Indians, who fortunately had no idea of the extremity to which the
colony had been reduced, began to carry corn and other truck to the
fort, glad to trade for beads, little iron chisels or other trifles.
Wild fowl came into the river in large numbers and, with these welcome
additions to their hitherto scanty diet, the sick soon began to recover
health and strength. Smith, so soon as he could muster a boat’s crew,
made an excursion up the river and returned with some thirty bushels of
corn to famine-stricken Jamestown. Having secured ample supplies for
immediate needs, our hero, who was by this time generally recognized
as the actual leader of the colony, put as many men as possible to
work building houses and succeeded so far as to provide a comfortable
dwelling for every one but himself.

Our adventurers, convalescent for the most part, now experienced a
Virginia autumn in all its glory. The days were cloudless and cool.
The foliage took on magic hues and presented patterns marvellously
beautiful as an oriental fabric. The air, stimulating as strong wine,
drove the ague from the system and cleared the brain. The fruits of
the field stood ripe and inviting whilst nuts hung in profusion from
the boughs of trees amongst which fat squirrels and opossums sported.
Turkeys with their numerous broods wandered through the woods whilst
partridges and quail abounded in the undergrowth. Where starvation had
stared them in the face the colonists now saw plenty on every hand
and, with the appetites of men turning their backs upon fever-beds,
ate to repletion. With the removal of their sufferings, they dismissed
the experience from their minds and gave no heed to the latent lesson
in it. Not so Captain Smith, however. He realized the necessity of
providing a store of food against the approach of winter, without
relying upon the return of Newport with a supply ship.

The Council readily agreed to the proposed expedition in search of
provisions, but it was not in their mind to give the command to Captain
Smith. Far from being grateful to the man who had saved the settlement
in the time of its dire distress and helplessness, they were more than
ever jealous of his growing influence with the colonists. None of
them was willing to brave the dangers and hardships of the expedition
himself nor did they dare, in the face of Smith’s popularity, to
appoint another to the command. In this difficulty they pretended a
desire to be fair to the other gentlemen adventurers by putting a
number of their names into a lottery from which the commander should
be drawn. The hope was that by this means some other might be set up
as a sort of competitor to Smith. There were those among the gentlemen
who penetrated this design and had sufficient sense to circumvent it.
George Percy, a brother of the Earl of Northumberland, and Scrivener,
were among our hero’s staunch adherents. Percy contrived that he should
draw the lot from the hat that contained the names. The first paper
that he drew bore upon it the words: “The Honorable George Percy.”
Without a moment’s hesitation he showed it to Scrivener, as though for
confirmation, and crumpling it in his hand, cried:

“Captain John Smith draws the command,” and the announcement was
received with a shout of approval.

“Thou hast foregone an honor and the prospect of more,” said Scrivener,
as they walked away together.

“Good Master Scrivener,” replied the young nobleman, with a quizzical
smile, “one needs must have a head to carry honors gracefully and I
am fain to confess that I deem this poor caput of mine safer in the
keeping of our doughty captain than in mine own.”

It was early in November when Smith, taking the barge and seven men,
started up the Chickahominy. The warriors were absent from the first
village he visited and the women and children fled at the approach of
his party. Here he found the store-houses filled with corn, but there
was no one to trade and, as he says, he had neither inclination nor
commission to loot, and so he turned his back upon the place and came
away empty-handed. Now, if we consider the impression that must have
been made upon those Indians by this incident, we must the more keenly
regret that so few others were moved by similar principles of wisdom
and honesty in their dealings with the savages. In his treatment of the
Indian down to the present day the white man appears in a very poor
light, and most of the troubles between the two races have been due to
the greed and injustice of the latter. John Smith set an example to
later colonists which, had they followed it, would have saved them much
bloodshed and difficulty.

Proceeding along the narrow river, the expedition arrived at other
villages where the conditions better favored their purpose. The Indians
seem to have gained some inkling of the impoverished state of the
Jamestown store, for at first they tendered but paltry quantities of
grain for the trinkets which Smith offered to exchange. But they had
to deal with one who was no less shrewd than themselves. The Captain
promptly turned on his heel and marched off towards his boat. This
independent action brought the redskins crowding after him with all the
corn that they could carry and ready to trade on any terms. In order
to allay their suspicions as to his need, Smith declined to accept
more than a moderate quantity from any one band, but by visiting many,
contrived without difficulty to fill the barge and, as he says, might
have loaded the pinnace besides if it had been with him.

We will now leave Captain Smith and his party bringing their boat down
the river towards home and see what is going on at Jamestown in the
meanwhile. We shall find throughout our story that the master spirit of
the colony never leaves the settlement but that some trouble breaks out
in his absence. This occasion was no exception to the rule. One day,
shortly before the return of the expedition, Ratcliffe, the President,
fell into an altercation with the blacksmith, and in the heat of
passion struck the man. The blow was returned, as one thinks it should
have been, but in those days the distinction between classes was much
more marked than in these and the unfortunate artisan was immediately
clapped in jail.

To have struck a gentleman was bad enough, but the hot-headed
north-country blacksmith had raised his hand against the representative
of the sacred majesty of the King and that constituted high treason.
A jury of his fellows found him guilty and he was sentenced to be
hanged without delay. A gallows was quickly erected and the brawny
blacksmith, after receiving the ministrations of Mr. Hunt, was bidden
to mount. But the condemned man craved the usual privilege of making a
dying speech, and the request was granted. To the consternation of the
assembled colonists he declared that he was in possession of a plot
to betray the settlement to the Spaniards, and offered to divulge the
details on condition that his life should be spared. This was granted.
Indeed, it is difficult to understand how the colonists could have
entertained the design to hang almost the most useful man among them.

In order to appreciate the blacksmith’s revelation, we should
understand that although Spain had some years previously entered into
a treaty of peace with England, she remained keenly jealous of the
growing power of the latter nation and never ceased to employ underhand
methods to check it. Spanish spies were numerous in England and were
to be found among all classes, for some of the Catholic nobility were
not above allowing their religious zeal to outrun their sense of
patriotism. In particular was Spain concerned about the new ardor for
American colonization, of which one of the earliest manifestations was
the settlement at Jamestown, and it is more than probable that she had
sent several of her secret agents out with the expedition from England.
However that may be, Captain Kendall, erstwhile member of Council, was
the only one accused by the reprieved man. A search of the traitor’s
quarters disclosed papers that left no doubt as to his guilt.

The searching party had just returned to the Council room with the
incriminating documents when Captain Smith landed his party and entered
the fort to find the settlement in the greatest state of excitement.
He at once joined the Council and was in deliberation with the other
members when a man burst in upon them shouting:

“Captain Kendall hath seized the pinnace and is about sailing away in

The Councilmen rushed from the chamber without ceremony and made
towards the shore. There, sure enough, was the pinnace in mid-stream
and Captain Kendall hoisting her sail to catch a stiff breeze which
was blowing out of the river. The spectators stood open-mouthed in
speechless dismay, or bewailed the escape that they seemed to consider
accomplished. That was not the view of Captain Smith. He took in the
situation at a glance and as quickly decided upon counteraction.
Running back to the fort he had a gun trained on the pinnace in a trice
and shouted to its occupant to come ashore or stay and sink and to make
his decision instanter. One look at the determined face peering over
the touch-hole of the cannon sufficed the spy. He brought the boat
ashore and within the hour was shot.



Peace and plenty at the settlement--Smith sets out to discover the
source of the Chickahominy--He falls into an ambush and has a running
fight with two hundred warriors--Walks into a swamp and is forced to
surrender--Opechancanough the chief of the Pamaunkes--Smith is put to a
test of courage--He figures in a triumphal procession--Has suspicions
that he is being fattened for the table--He sends a timely warning to
Jamestown and diverts a projected attack by the Indians--Smith is dealt
with by the medicine men--A strange, wild ceremony enacted by hideously
painted and bedecked creatures.

The close of the year 1607 found the settlement in good circumstances.
The store was well stocked with maize, peas and beans, smoked venison
and fish, dried fruits and nuts. Warm coats and coverings had been made
from fur and feathers and a large quantity of wood had been cut and
stacked for fuel. There did not appear to be any danger of hardship
in Jamestown during the ensuing winter, although such a careless
and incompetent lot as our settlers were apt to create trouble for
themselves out of the most favorable conditions. There were only
three persons in authority--Ratcliffe, Martin and Smith. The first
was a man of mean ability and doubtful integrity. Martin, honest and
well-meaning, was a constant invalid and incapable of any degree of
activity. Smith was by this time recognized by all as the true leader
of the colony and the only man in it who could secure obedience and
maintain discipline. When he was in Jamestown, order prevailed and
work progressed. When he left, the settlers scarcely pretended to heed
the orders of the other members of the Council. Indeed, Percy and
Scrivener, who were known to be in full accord with Smith, had greater
influence with the rank and file than Ratcliffe or Martin. In fact the
north-country nobleman and the Londoner played the part of faithful
watchdogs during the Captain’s absence, and it was arranged that one at
least of them should always remain at Jamestown when Smith went abroad.

As we know, inaction was positively abhorrent to our hero and,
the settlement being now thoroughly quiet and quite prepared for
the winter, he determined on an expedition designed to trace the
Chickahominy to its source. Exploration was one of the chief duties
of the colonists and Smith, as he tells us, hoped that he might soon
discover “some matters of worth to encourage adventurers in England.”
The Indians along the river had been so friendly during his foraging
trip the month before that he felt safe in making the present journey,
but his military training and natural prudence would not permit him
to relax his usual precautions. But there was one important feature
of Indian tactics with which the American colonists had not become
familiar. They had yet to learn how large bodies of redskins would
watch a settlement, or track a party on the move, for days and weeks
without allowing their presence to be known. Ever since their landing,
the settlers had been under the sleepless eye of spies lying hidden in
grass or behind trees, and from the moment Captain Smith left Jamestown
his progress had been flanked by a body of savages moving stealthily
through the woods.


The barge proceeded fifty miles up the river without incident, but
presently the stream became too shallow to admit of its going farther.
A canoe was secured from a village in the vicinity, with two Indians to
paddle it. In this Smith decided to push on to the head of the river,
taking with him two of his men. The remainder he left in the barge,
instructing them not to go on shore and to keep a sharp lookout until
his return. Twenty miles onward the canoe travelled when an obstruction
of fallen trees brought the party to a halt. It seemed probable that
the source of the stream could be but a few miles beyond and Smith
determined to seek it on foot accompanied by one of the Indians. The
other and the two Englishmen he left in the canoe, cautioning them to
keep their matches burning, and at the first sign of danger to fire an

Smith had hardly gone a mile through the forest when he was suddenly
startled by a shrill war-whoop. He could see no one and he had not
been warned of danger by his men as agreed. He concluded, therefore,
that they had been surprised and killed with the connivance of the
guide. Even as the thought flashed through his mind he grappled with
the Indian beside him and wrenched the bow from his grasp. It was done
in an instant, and as quickly he bound an arm of the savage to his own
with one of his garters. He had not completed the act when an arrow
half spent struck him on the thigh and a moment later he discerned two
dusky figures drawing their bows upon him. These disappeared at the
discharge of his pistol, and he was congratulating himself on having
routed them so easily when two hundred warriors, hideous in paint and
feathers, rose from the ground in front of him. At their head was
Opechancanough, the chief of the Pamaunkes.

The situation would have suggested surrender to the ordinary man.
There could be no use in Smith’s contending against such numbers and
to retreat to the river would be no less futile, since his men in the
canoe must have been captured. It was not, however, in our hero’s
nature to give up until absolutely obliged to do so. He could see
no possibility of escape but he proposed to make it as difficult as
possible for the savages to capture him. With this thought he placed
the guide before him as a shield and prepared, with a pistol in each
hand, to meet an onrush of the warriors. But they had no mind to rush
upon those fearful fire-spitting machines and kept off, discharging
their arrows from a distance that rendered them harmless. Seeing this,
Smith began to retire, keeping his face towards the enemy and holding
his human buckler in place. The Indians responded to this movement by
cautiously advancing and at the same time they sought to induce the
Englishman to lay down his arms, promising to spare his life in case he
should do so. Smith positively declined the proposition, insisting that
he would retain his weapons but promising not to make further use of
them if he should be permitted to depart in peace; otherwise he would
use them and kill some of his assailants without delay. The Indians
continuing to advance upon him, Smith let go both his pistols at them
and took advantage of the hesitation that followed to retreat more

Of course this combat was of the most hopeless character and our hero
must ultimately have been shot to death had not an accident suddenly
put an end to his opposition. Still stepping backward and dragging his
captive with him he presently walks into a deep morass and reaches the
end of his journey in more than one sense, for it is in this swamp that
the Chickahominy rises and he has fulfilled his undertaking to find
the head of the river. It was at once clear to the dauntless explorer
that he must yield, and that quickly, for he and his Indian were fast
sinking in the icy ooze of the bog. He threw his pistols away in token
of surrender and his savage adversaries rushed up and extricated him
from his perilous situation.

It was with feelings of curiosity and interest on either side that
Captain John Smith, the leader of the colonists, and Opechancanough,
the chief of the Pamaunkes, confronted each other. Both men of noble
bearing and fearless character, they must have been mutually impressed
at the first encounter. The chief’s erect and well-knit frame towered
above the forms of his attendant warriors and, together with the
dignity and intelligence of his countenance, marked him as a superior
being. In later years he played an important part in colonial history
and met a shameful death by assassination whilst a captive in the hands
of the authorities of Virginia.

Smith, whose presence of mind never deserted him, immediately addressed
himself to the task of diverting the chieftain’s mind from the recent
unpleasant circumstances and with that end in view produced his pocket
compass and presented it to the savage. The Pamaunke was readily
attracted by the mystery of the twinkling needle which lay in sight but
beyond touch, and when our hero showed how it pointed persistently to
the north, the wonder of the savage increased. Having thus excited the
interest of his captors, Smith went on to hold their attention with a
more detailed explanation of the uses of the instrument. He described,
in simple language and with the aid of signs, the shape and movement
of the earth and the relative positions of sun, moon and stars. This
strange astronomical lecture, delivered in the depths of the forest,
at length wearied the auditors and they prepared to set out on the
return journey, for they had no thought of killing the captive at that
time. He was a man of too much importance to be slain off-hand and
without learning the pleasure of the great Powhatan in the matter. They
did, however, tie him to a tree and make a pretence of drawing their
bows upon him but, as the paleface met the threatened death without
so much as blinking, the savages derived little satisfaction from the
amusement. Before taking the march, Smith was given food and led to a
fire, beside which lay the body of Emery, one of the men he had left in
the canoe, stuck full of arrows.

The return of Opechancanough to the settlement of the Pamaunkes was in
the nature of a triumphal procession. As the band approached a village
they gave vent to their piercing war-whoop and entered it chanting
their song of victory. In the midst of the procession walked the Chief
with Smith’s weapons borne before him and the captive, guarded by eight
picked warriors, following. A ceremonial dance took place before the
party dispersed to their various lodgings for the night. The captive
was well treated and had an excellent opportunity to study the natives
and their habits, for Opechancanough carried his prize on a circuit of
many villages before finally bringing him to the capital of Powhatan.
Nor did the peril of his situation prevent our hero from exercising his
usual keen powers of observation, for he has left us a minute account
of his strange experiences during these weeks of captive wandering.

Every morning bread and venison were brought to the Englishman in
sufficient quantity to have satisfied ten men. His captors never by
any chance ate with him and, remembering the reluctance of Eastern
peoples to partake of food with those whom they designed to harm,
this fact excited his apprehensions. These Indians were not cannibals
but he had not that consoling knowledge, and the insistent manner in
which they pressed meat upon him raised a disagreeable suspicion that
they were fattening him for the table. The thought of death--even
with torture--he could endure calmly, but the idea of being eaten
afterwards caused him to shudder with horror. We can not help thinking,
however, that the sinewy captain might have visited his enemies with a
posthumous revenge had they recklessly subjected him to such a fate and
themselves to such grave hazard of acute indigestion.

But the captive’s concern for the settlement at Jamestown outweighed
all other considerations. He surmised with reason, that having him
in their power, the Indians would endeavor to overcome the colonists,
whose natural incapacity to take care of themselves would be enhanced
by the belief that their leader was dead. He was racking his brain
to devise some means of communicating with them, when chance threw
an opportunity to him. It seems that in the encounter preceding his
surrender to Opechancanough Smith had seriously wounded one of the
Indians. He was now called upon to cure his victim and replied that he
might be able to do so if in possession of certain medicine which could
be obtained from Jamestown. The Chief agreed that two messengers should
bear a letter to the settlement, although he could not believe that
a few lines scrawled upon paper would convey any meaning, much less
elicit the desired response.

The messengers journeyed to the fort with all speed, and as they were
not permitted to approach closely, left the note in a conspicuous place
and there received the reply. Of course Smith took the opportunity
to warn the settlers of the projected attack, and prayed them to
be constantly on their guard. He also suggested that some show of
strength, as a salvo from the big guns, might have a salutary effect
upon the messengers. The latter, after they had received the medicine
requested, and turned homewards, were treated to such a thunderous
discharge of cannon and musketry that they ran for miles in terror of
their lives and arrived at the village well-nigh scared out of their
wits. Their account of this terrible experience decided the Indians
not to attempt a descent upon Jamestown and their respect increased
for a man who could convey his thoughts and wishes by means of such a
mysterious medium as a letter appeared to them to be.

Although the Indians had Smith unarmed and completely in their power,
they were not at all satisfied of his inability to harm them, and the
question seems to have caused them considerable anxiety. The medicine
men of the tribe undertook by incantations and other species of
deviltry to ascertain whether the captive’s intentions towards them
were good or otherwise. Smith was led in the morning to a large house
in the centre of which a fire burned. Here he was left alone, and
presently to him entered a hideous creature making unearthly noises in
his throat to the accompaniment of a rattle, whilst he danced about the
astonished Englishman in grotesque antics. This merry-andrew’s head was
decorated with dangling snake-skins and his body painted in a variety
of colors. After a while he was joined by three brother-priests who
set up a discordant chorus of shrieks and yells, whirling and skipping
about the house the while. They were painted half in black and half
in red with great white rings round their eyes. Shortly these were
joined by three more medicine men equally fantastic in appearance
and actions. The ceremony was maintained by these seven throughout
the day, much to the disgust of Smith, who soon found it tiresome and
uninteresting and particularly so as it involved an absolute fast from
dawn to sundown. In the evening women placed great mounds of food
upon the mats of the house and invited Smith to eat, but the priests
refrained from doing so until he had finished.

This performance was repeated on the two successive days, but we are
not told what conclusion was reached by all the fuss.



After a weary circuit of the Indian villages Smith is brought to
Werowocomico--He is received by Powhatan in the “King’s House”--The
chiefs in council decide to put him to death--He is bound and laid out,
preparatory to being killed--Pocahontas intervenes at the critical
moment--Powhatan’s dilemma and Opechancanough’s determination--“The
Council has decreed the death of the paleface”--“I, Pocahontas,
daughter of our King, claim this man for my brother”--The Indian maiden
prevails--Smith is reprieved and formally adopted into the tribe--They
wish him to remain with them and lead them against his own people.

One morning, shortly after the episode of the medicine men, Captain
Smith learned, to his great relief, that commands had been received
for his removal at once to the capital. He had no idea what, if any
fate had been determined upon for him, but he was heartily tired of the
weary wanderings and suspense of the past weeks and ready to face the
worst rather than prolong the uncertainty. Werowocomico, the principal
seat of the “Emperor” Powhatan, was short of a day’s journey distant,
and Opechancanough, with his illustrious prisoner, reached the town
as the early winter night was setting in. The capital of the Werowance
consisted of about thirty large wigwams, or “houses,” as the earlier
writers called them, and a number of smaller ones. These for the nonce
were reinforced by the tepees, or tents, of the many Indians who had
come in from distant villages for the occasion which was no ordinary
one. The large wigwams were made in the form of the rounded tops of the
wagons called “prairie schooners,” which in the days before railroads
were used upon the continent of North America for long-distance travel.
These wagon tops were sometimes taken off and placed upon the ground
to serve as tents, when the occupants would be lying in a contrivance
exactly like the ancient wigwam in shape. The latter was commonly big
enough to contain a whole family and sometimes harbored an entire band
of fifty or sixty natives. In that case it had two rows of apartments
running along the sides and a common hall in the middle. The structure
was composed of a framework of boughs covered with the bark of trees or
with skins--sometimes a combination of both.

Smith’s captors approached the capital in triumphal fashion, chanting
their song of victory and flourishing their weapons in exultant pride.
The town was prepared to give them the reception usually accorded
to victorious warriors returning from battle. Great fires burned at
frequent points illuming the scene with a garish light in which the
bedaubed and bedizened savages looked doubly hideous. Chiefs and people
were attired in all their fantastic finery and even the children made
some show of tawdry ornament. The women had prepared food with even
more than ordinary profusion and had laid the mats in anticipation
of the prospective feasting. A double line of fully armed and foully
painted warriors--“grim courtiers,” Smith calls them--formed an avenue
to the “King’s house” along which the captive passed into the presence
of the great Werowance, whilst the spectators “stood wondering at him
as he had been a monster.”

At the farther end of the wigwam, upon a platform, before which a
large fire blazed, reclined the aged but still vigorous chieftain,
upon a heap of furs. On either side of him stood the principal chiefs
and medicine men of the tribe, whilst the women of his family grouped
themselves behind. Two dense walls of warriors lined along the sides of
the wigwam leaving a space in the centre which was covered by a mat.
Upon this Smith took his stand and calmly surveyed the scene which
was not without an element of rude beauty. A loud shout had greeted
his entrance. In the profound silence that followed, two women--“the
Queen of Appamatuck and another”--came forward with food which they
placed before him and signed to him to eat. Our hero’s appetite and his
curiosity never failed him under any circumstances. He had a habit of
living in the present moment and not concerning himself unduly about
the uncertain future. So, in this crisis, when the ordinary man would
have been too much preoccupied with the thought of his fate to attend
to the needs of his stomach, Smith addressed himself in leisurely
fashion to the pile of food and at the same time studied the details
of his surroundings with a retentive eye. Meanwhile, the savages stood
silent and stock still as statues until he had finished.

When at length our hero rose refreshed and ready to face his fate,
Powhatan also stood up and beckoned to him to approach the royal dais.
Powhatan was arrayed in his state robe of raccoon skins. A band of
pearls encircled his brow and a tuft of eagle’s feathers surmounted his
head. Smith was impressed by the dignity and forcefulness of the old
chief who addressed him in a deep bass voice.

“The paleface has abused the hospitality of Powhatan and requited his
kindness with treachery,” said the chieftain in slow and solemn tones.
“The paleface and his brethren came to Powhatan’s country when the
summer was young and begged for food and land that they might live. My
people would have slain them but I commanded that grain be given to
the palefaces and that they be allowed to live in peace in the village
which they had made. Was this not enough? Did not Powhatan thus prove
his friendship and good will to the strangers in his land?”

We know that all this was a mixture of falsehood and sophistry. As
such Smith recognized it, of course, but, as he did not wish to arouse
the chief’s anger by contradicting him, he decided to keep silence and
an immovable countenance. After a pause, during which he endeavored
without success to read the effect of his words in the prisoner’s face,
Powhatan continued:

“Powhatan’s people have given the palefaces abundance of food--venison
and fowls and corn. They have furnished them with warm furs. They have
shown them the springs of the forest. They have taught them to trap the
beasts and to net the fish. And the palefaces, scorning the kindness of
Powhatan and his people, turn their fire-machines upon them and slay
them. You--their werowance--they send to spy out the land of Powhatan
so that they may make war upon his villages in the night time. Now my
people cry for your blood. What shall I say to them? How shall I again
deny my warriors whose brothers you yourself have slain?”

“The Powhatan mistakes the purpose of myself and my people,” replied
Smith. “It is our wish and intent to treat our red brothers with
justice and friendliness. If we have killed some it hath been in
defence of our own lives. Our fire-machines have spoken only when the
bow was drawn against us. It is not in our minds to make war upon the
great Powhatan nor yet to rob him of his lands. Whatsoever we ask at
his hands we are ready to pay for. If the great Werowance allows the
clamor of his warriors for my life to override his own good judgment,
so be it. But I would warn Powhatan and his chiefs that my death will
be the signal for relentless war against their people, for I am the
subject of a mighty king whose rule extends over lands many times
greater than those of Powhatan, whose soldiers are as numerous as the
stars in the heavens and whose ships sail the seas in every direction.
He will surely avenge my death with a bitter vengeance.”

Smith had no idea of committing himself to an argument and wisely
contented himself with a brief statement of the facts, adding a
threat that he hoped might give the savages pause. It was clear from
Powhatan’s remarks that he was determined to place the prisoner in the
wrong, and contradiction could have no good effect. Finding that his
captive had nothing more to say, the Werowance sent him to a nearby
wigwam with instructions that he should be made comfortable and allowed
to rest. Meanwhile, the chiefs went into council over his fate.

Smith’s words had made a strong impression upon Powhatan, who was
the most sagacious Indian of his tribe. He was altogether averse to
putting the prisoner to death because he was forced in his mind to
acknowledge the white men as superior beings with whom it would be
dangerous to evoke a war. Doubtless they would soon send another chief
to replace Smith and more would be gained by holding him for ransom
than by killing him. But Powhatan’s wise conclusions were not shared by
the other members of the council. With hardly an exception they were
in favor of Smith’s death by the usual torturous methods. One of the
chiefs was a brother of the man who had died as the result of a pistol
wound inflicted by Smith in the skirmish preceding his capture. He was
implacable in the demand for the usual satisfaction of a life for a
life, and was warmly supported by Opechancanough who, to the day of his
death at their hands, maintained an unappeasable hatred for the whole
race of white men. Now Opechancanough was, after the great Werowance,
the most influential chief in the tribe, and rather than incur his
displeasure and that of the others, Powhatan yielded against his better
judgment. He did this, however, only after having expressed his opinion
to the contrary, and the real respect which he felt for Smith led him
to stipulate that the captive should not be put to the torture but
should be executed by the more humane and speedy means employed by the
savages with members of their own tribe.

This conclusion of the council having been reached, Smith was brought
again into the king’s house and informed of it. He bowed with courage
and dignity to the decision which he felt that it would be futile
to protest against and calmly held out his arms to the warriors who
came forward to bind him. Whilst these tightly bound his hands to his
sides and tied his feet together, others rolled into the centre of
the wigwam a large stone. When this had been placed, the prisoner was
required to kneel and lay his head upon it. This he did with the serene
self-possession that had not been shaken in the least during this
trying ordeal. At the same time he silently commended his spirit to his
Maker, believing that the next moment would be his last on earth. The
executioners stood, one on either side, their clubs poised ready for
the signal to dash out his brains.

Powhatan was in the act of raising his hand in the fatal gesture that
would have stamped our hero’s doom, when a young girl, as graceful as
a doe and not less agile, burst through the throng that surrounded
the Werowance and sprang to the prisoner’s side. Waving back the
executioners with the haughty dignity derived from a long line of noble
ancestors, she drew her slim and supple figure to its full height and
faced the group of chieftains with head erect and flashing eyes.

“Pardon, Powhatan! Pardon, my father!” she cried in a rich voice
quivering with emotion. “Pocahontas craves the life of the captive, and
claims the right to adopt him as a brother according to the immemorial
custom of our tribe.”

Powhatan was in a quandary. Pocahontas was his favorite daughter, his
pet, and the comfort of his old age. He had never denied her anything,
nor ever thought to do so. He had a strong inclination to grant her
request, but as he looked round the circle of angry faces and heard the
subdued mutterings of his chiefs he hesitated to incur their discontent.

“The Council has decreed the death of the paleface. It can not be, my
daughter,” he said. But there was an unusual trace of indecision in his

“It _must_ be, my father!” cried the girl, with spirit. “Is a princess,
and your child, to be denied the right that every woman of our tribe
enjoys? Any woman of the Powhatans may redeem a condemned prisoner by
adopting him, and I--I, Pocahontas, daughter of our king, claim this
man for my brother.”

Powhatan was deeply moved by the dignified and earnest plea of the
girl and was about to accede to it when Opechancanough leaned forward
and whispered in his ear. The words of the Chief of the Pamaunkes,
whatever they were, seemed to be decisive, for Powhatan, with a gesture
of mingled annoyance and regret, signed to the executioners to perform
their task. The eyes of Pocahontas had been anxiously fixed upon her
father during this pause in the proceedings and, as she saw his sign of
submission to the argument of the Pamaunke, she threw herself upon the
head of Smith and entwined her arms about his neck.

She had nothing further to say, realizing that words would have no
effect, but, with the quick wit of a woman, she had advanced an
argument which was unanswerable. The executioners dropped their clubs
and looked perplexedly towards the Werowance. The assembled warriors
gazed expectantly in the same direction. The affair had reached an
_impasse_. None there dared lay a hand on the girl save the Powhatan,
and he had no thought of doing so. He gazed at her with proud
satisfaction for a few moments, whilst a presentiment took possession
of his mind that this slip of a girl had unwittingly saved her tribe
from a world of possible troubles.

“Let be!” he said with an air of weariness. “The paleface shall be
adopted into the tribe to make hatchets for me and beads for his little

With that Smith was unbound and taken to a wigwam where they brought
him food and left him to wonder at the marvellous workings of
Providence and pass a peaceful night.

The next morning our hero was led to one of the larger houses which
was divided in the middle by a partition. Smith was instructed to seat
himself and to await events. Presently, from the other side of the
screen came the most hideous howls and shrieks he had ever heard, but
Smith had got beyond the point of being disturbed by anything that
might occur. For half an hour or more the strange sounds continued,
when Powhatan and his chiefs entered, accompanied by Smith’s old
friends the noisy medicine men. He was informed that the ceremony
which had just taken place was that of his adoption into the tribe
and Powhatan formally addressed him as “son.” From this time Smith
was treated with the utmost consideration and those who had been
the most eager for his death, with the exception of the implacable
Opechancanough who departed to his village in high dudgeon, now vied
with each other in efforts to secure his good-will. Powhatan and Smith
held many conferences together in which each learned a great deal from
the other and grew to regard his erstwhile enemy with feelings of
respect and friendship.

The savages had entertained the hope that after the adoption Smith
would remain with them and they even thought to induce him to lead
them against Jamestown. It is needless to say that he firmly declined
to do either. Powhatan being at length convinced of Smith’s friendly
intentions agrees to his return but, in satisfaction of his own desire
as well as to appease the disappointment of his people, he exacts
a ransom to consist of two of the largest guns in the fort and the
biggest grindstone.



Powhatan by excessive greed overreaches himself--Smith is allowed to
return to the settlement--He finds the colonists, as usual, disturbed
by dissensions--Arrives just in time to prevent Ratcliffe and others
from deserting--Newport arrives with the “first supply”--The Indians
continue to treat Smith as a tribal chief--Fire destroys Jamestown
completely--Newport and Smith visit Powhatan--The purple beads
“fit only for the use of Kings”--The astute Indian Chief meets his
match in Captain John Smith--The settlers are smitten with the gold
fever--Captain Newport sails for England with a wonderful cargo.

Had Powhatan been less specific in his demand, or less greedy in his
desire, Captain Smith might have found it difficult to agree to his
proposal. But, when the Werowance made a point of exacting the “two
largest guns and the biggest grindstone” in the fort, Smith had no
hesitation in saying that he would permit Powhatan’s messengers to
carry away the articles mentioned. This point having been settled to
their mutual satisfaction, the Chief detailed twelve men to guide and
guard our hero on the road to Jamestown which, being but twelve miles
from Werowocomico, they reached by easy marches. The Indian escort was
treated with all the kindness Smith could command for them. Each was
given a present and they were charged with the delivery of a package to
Powhatan, containing a number of the things most highly prized by the
savages. When the time for their departure came they asked for the guns
and grindstone which they were to carry back to their Chief.

“Certes! They be yours if you can carry them,” replied Smith, pointing,
with a quizzical smile, at two demi-culverins each weighing more than
four tons and a huge grindstone which four men could hardly raise
on edge. The baffled savages looked on these ponderous things with
dismay and had to admit that they could not be carried to Werowocomico
though the whole tribe came after them. Smith was not willing that his
visitors should leave without gaining some impression of the power as
well as the size of the ordnance and so he loaded one of the guns with
small stones and discharged it into the trees where the icicle-laden
boughs were thickest. The smoke and racket that followed filled the
Indians with terror and they took their leave hurriedly, doubtless glad
that the roaring, fire-spitting monster was not to accompany them.

The great majority of the settlers welcomed Captain Smith, whom they
had never expected to see again, with genuine joy. Once more he had
arrived just in the nick of time, for the affairs of the colony had
been going from bad to worse during his absence and were now on the
point of a crisis that, had it not been averted, would have probably
effected the ruin of the colony. There had been no improvement in the
government. Ratcliffe had become justly unpopular in the presidency and
Archer, a pettifogging lawyer and mischief-maker, had been admitted
to the Council. Martin, feeble in health and mind, had fallen under
the complete domination of the other two and with them and other
malcontents had entered into a conspiracy which the return of Captain
Smith was just in time to frustrate. He no sooner heard of their plot
to sail to England in the pinnace and desert the settlement than he
bearded them in the Council room.

“So,” he cried, indignation and contempt showing in every tone and
gesture. “So! These be the gallant gentlemen who contended among
themselves for leadership of our enterprise! By my halidame! A fine
pack of leaders--tufftaffaty humorists rather! Ye mind me of one
Falstaffe--a cowardly, gluttonous braggart he--I once saw depicted
at the Globe playhouse. Not one of you has hazarded his skin beyond
musket-shot of the fort but now, having fattened and reposed yourselves
through the winter, ye would return to England and brag of your brave
deeds and feats of arms. But--and I mistake not--we shall find a
different conclusion for your plot. I hold the King’s commission to
maintain the flag of England in this country and whilst my arm and
brain serve me that will I do in good faith and count all such as
oppose the commands of His Most Gracious Majesty, enemies of the realm
and traitors to their country. Take heed then how ye proceed in this
matter, for I will see to it that the guns are manned day and night by
good and true men with instructions to sink the pinnace at the first
show of sinister design.”

With that Smith clapped his hat upon his head and strode out of the
Council room.

If the conspirators had entertained any thought of pursuing their
project in the face of Captain Smith’s opposition, the ringing shout
with which he was greeted by the waiting crowd outside was sufficient
to banish it. Word of what was going forward had drawn the settlers to
the Council House and much of Smith’s harangue, delivered in a voice
strong with anger, had penetrated to them. They were almost to a man
in sympathy with him, for the cowardly plotters belonged exclusively
to the “gentleman” class among the colonists, men who arrogated to
themselves superior privileges and rights whilst unwilling to bear even
their share of hardship and toil. These poor creatures should not be
considered representative of the gentlemen of England, who in those
stirring times produced many of the bravest and most self-sacrificing
leaders in the chronicles of Christendom.

The settlers had almost begun to despair of Newport’s return when one
day, in early January, he sailed into the river with a well-laden
ship and upwards of one hundred new colonists. His appearance put
an end to a pretty scheme which the attorney Archer had concocted
to encompass Smith’s downfall. Direct from England, with authority
superior to that of any man in Jamestown, Newport instituted an inquiry
into the government of the colony during his absence and determined
that Wingfield and Archer should return with him, to answer to the
Company. Scrivener he appointed to the Council and thus assured Smith
of one firm ally in that body. Newport had started for America with
two vessels. These became separated in mid-ocean and the _Phœnix_,
commanded by Captain Francis Nelson, did not arrive until considerably

The relations between the Indians and the colonists now became
very friendly, owing to the adoption of Smith by the tribe. After
his return to Jamestown, Pocahontas and some of the other women of
Werowocomico came to the settlement twice or three times a week
laden with provisions, these being Smith’s share, as a chief, of the
tribal stores. On these occasions, men would also bring foodstuff to
be disposed of in trade. These supplies were very timely, for the
settlement had again approached the verge of starvation when Smith
returned after his seven weeks of captivity, and Captain Newport’s
arrival did not greatly mend that matter, for the larger part of the
edible supplies sent from England were upon the tardy vessel. In the
barter with the savages, Smith established a scale of exchange based
upon the values set by the Indians themselves upon the wares of the
foreigners. This was of course fair enough, but his enemies, more than
ever jealous of the great influence he evidently enjoyed with the
Indians, sought to undermine it by giving them very much more than they
asked for their grain and venison. The result was that in a short while
a pound of copper would scarce purchase as much as an ounce had secured
under Smith’s regulation. The schemers had the satisfaction of seeing
Smith fall in the regard of the Indians, who naturally thought that he
had been cheating them.

The newcomers were of course a welcome accession to the depleted
colony, but they brought misfortune upon it at the outset. They had
been little more than a week within the stockade when one of them
through carelessness set fire to the house in which he was lodged. The
flames spread and in a few short hours all the buildings and even the
fortifications were consumed. Nothing could be saved but the clothes
upon the men’s backs, and the supplies which Newport had landed went
with the rest. In this extremity the settlers must have perished of
cold and starvation, or fallen under the arrows of the savages, but for
the amicable relations which had been brought about by Captain Smith.
As it was, the Indians hastened to bring furs and food to the relief of
the miserable white men who were prostrated body and soul by the sudden
misfortune. They sat about the ruins of Jamestown, bewailing their lot
and praying Captain Newport to carry them home to England. This would
have been impossible at the time, even had he a mind to do so, for
there was not enough food on the ship to serve such a numerous company
as far as the West Indies.

Smith was ashamed at the cowardice of his countrymen and fearful
lest their puerile exhibition of weakness should lower them in the
estimation of the Indians, many of whom were on hand, for the flames
of Jamestown had been plainly visible at Werowocomico. Seconded by
Mr. Hunt, Newport, Percy and Scrivener, he went among the whimpering
colonists persuading, threatening, cajoling--in short, using any means
to make them bestir themselves.

“See yonder dominie, good Master Hunt, how, with exhortation, he
hearteneth the afflicted,” he cried seeking to shame them by the
exhibition of a good example. “Yet no man among us hath suffered so
great loss as he. For not only his chattels and clothes have been
destroyed but also his books on which he set more store than upon
gold or aught else. Yet hath no moaning or complaint issued from him,
but he beareth himself bravely and with composure as becometh a true
gentleman and a servant of God.”

These efforts at length moved the settlers to action and, with the
aid of the sailors and some Indians who were hired to assist, rude
structures were hastily raised in sufficient numbers to afford shelter
to all. The work of rebuilding Jamestown in a permanent fashion was
necessarily deferred.

Smith now proposed that Newport should pay a visit to Powhatan. During
his captivity our hero had taken pains to impress the Chief with an
idea of Newport’s importance and power. Indeed, he had addressed
himself to this task with such enthusiasm that the savages conceived
of Newport as “Captain Smith’s God,” and by that title he was known
among them. Taking an escort of forty men, Smith, Newport and Scrivener
reached Werowocomico without any mishap and received a warm welcome.
Powhatan awaited them in the same “long house” which had been the scene
of our hero’s stirring adventure. It was a state occasion, as Smith’s
former appearance there had been, and the assemblage presented much the
same aspect. But now, in place of scowling faces and angry mutterings,
Smith and his companions were met with smiles and cries of friendly
greeting. After formal salutations had been exchanged, a great feast
was set out in which they all partook. This was followed by dancing,
singing, and mimic combats.

Smith’s prime object in suggesting this visit of Newport to the Chief
of the Powhatans lay in a hope that it might tend to cement the
friendly relations existing between the redmen and the settlers. He
was not, however, forgetful of the needs of the settlement, always
on the verge of starvation, and proposed to take advantage of the
opportunity to secure as much food as possible from the ample stores
of Werowocomico. He warned Newport to part with his wares on the
best terms obtainable and to show but few things at a time and those
with a pretence at reluctance. But Newport’s eagerness to play the
part of “big chief” and Powhatan’s shrewdness came near to upsetting
Smith’s plans. When Newport had presented a very generous gift to the
Werowance, intimating that the rest of the goods were to be disposed of
in trade, the wily Powhatan decided to circumvent him by an appeal to
his pride.

“It is not seemly,” he said, “that two great Werowances such as you and
I should haggle over the details of trade. Lay out your wares then,
that I may see them and what pleases me I will take, paying to you a
fair price according to my judgment.”

Smith could scarce keep a straight countenance when he heard this
_naïve_ speech of the old chieftain, but his amusement soon gave way
to deep concern as he saw the infatuated Newport spread out his entire
stock before Powhatan.

Smith had serious cause for apprehension. The influence of the settlers
over the Indians and, indeed, their very lives depended upon the
copper, glass, beads and similar trifles which the Indians coveted so
greedily. If these became cheapened in their eyes, the colonists would
have nothing with which to propitiate them, nor with which to pay for
the provisions so constantly needed. And here was the reckless Newport
permitting Powhatan to help himself on condition of paying what he
pleased for what he should take. The rates of exchange set by Smith had
already, as we know, been ruinously enhanced in favor of the Indians,
and this transaction was calculated to still more greatly raise them.
He did not dare to protest, for fear of arousing Powhatan’s anger, but
fortunately his quick wit enabled him to save the situation without
creating any unpleasantness.

Among the many things displayed for the inspection of the great
Werowance, Smith noted some beads of a different tint to any others
there. He quietly abstracted the package, taking care that Powhatan
should see him do so. When at length the Chief had indicated all the
things he wished to retain, he fixed a price on them which, as Smith
had anticipated, was not more than one-tenth as much as the Indians had
usually paid for such articles. Having settled that business to his
entire satisfaction, the greedy Chief turned to Smith and asked to be
shown the package which the latter had put aside. Powhatan suspected
that it contained something of unusual value and Smith cunningly
confirmed this suspicion by pretending the greatest reluctance to
exhibit the articles. Presently, however, he showed them, saying:

“These be as you see different in color from all the other beads. They
be purple--the royal color in the countries beyond the seas--and fit
only for the use of kings.”

Of course Powhatan was consumed with a desire to possess them and
equally of course Smith did not readily yield to him. At last the
Werowance received the coveted purple beads on the payment of six
times as much for them as he had given for all the things secured from
Newport. It was immediately decreed that purple beads might only be
worn by the Powhatan and his family but Opechancanough was allowed a
few as a mark of special favor.

After five days of entertainment and friendly intercourse, the
Englishmen returned to the settlement. It was Newport’s intention
to load up his vessel with cedar and depart for England as soon as
possible. Just at this time, however, a trivial accident gave an
entirely new and unfortunate turn to the affairs of the colony. One of
the settlers discovered some yellow dust shining in the bottom of a
stream near the settlement. Immediately, the whole colony was smitten
with the gold-fever. Neglecting all else they gave themselves up to the
pursuit of the precious metal. As one of them says: “There was no talk,
no hope, but dig gold, wash gold, refine gold, load gold; such a bruit
of gold that one mad fellow, a wag, desired to be buried in the sands
lest they should, by their art, make gold of his bones.” The outcome of
all this was that, after several weeks delay, Newport sailed away with
a ship laden with _mica dust_.



Captain Nelson arrives in the Phœnix with reinforcements and
supplies--Powhatan becomes disgruntled--Smith yields to Pocahontas what
he had refused to her father--Smith sets out to explore Chesapeake
Bay--The expedition meets with storm and shipwreck--The party is
led into an ambush--They find the Indians everywhere unfriendly and
learn of Powhatan’s treachery--The Susquehannocks and their giant
chief--They propose to make Smith the head of the tribe--Ratcliffe is
deposed and Scrivener assumes the Presidency--The colony is put in good
condition--Newport returns bent on fanciful schemes--The coronation of

Smith, Scrivener and a few other men of balanced minds had escaped the
gold-fever. They doubted in the first place whether the stuff was worth
anything and realized that, even if it should prove to be gold indeed,
the time occupied in the search of it had better have been employed in
the urgent affairs of the settlement. They were very glad, therefore,
to see Newport at last take his departure, and immediately set men
at work rebuilding the town and fortifications and breaking ground
preparatory to planting corn. The settlers were thus engaged when,
quite unexpectedly, the _Phœnix_ arrived with Captain Nelson and one
hundred and twenty emigrants. As usual, the reinforcement included two
or more gentlemen for every laborer or artisan. Smith’s disappointment
on this account was, however, offset by the fact that Captain Nelson
brought six months’ provisions which were sorely needed by the settlers.

Hardly had Newport gone than the colony began to reap the fruit of
his unwise traffic with the Indians. Smith had always been careful
to prevent the natives from securing any of the European weapons, or
even pieces of iron from which they might fashion swords. Newport
was less cautious, perhaps because the consequences could entail no
hazard to himself. Just before his departure he gave Powhatan twenty
cutlasses for as many turkeys, despite the earnest protests of Smith.
Powhatan was not long in learning the superiority of these weapons
over his own and, thinking to secure more of them, he sent messengers
to Smith, asking for swords in exchange for fowls. It is needless to
say that the demand was flatly refused, although Smith was loath to
displease the chieftain. Powhatan was keenly disappointed, for he had
thought that, as a member of the tribe, Smith would be more amenable
to his wishes. He was also seriously offended, and sought to gain
his point by stealth. Some of his people were sent to the settlement
with instructions to steal whatever they could and, in particular, to
purloin as many weapons as possible.

As Indians were frequent visitors to Jamestown and of late had been
permitted to go about the settlement freely, it was comparatively easy
for Powhatan’s emissaries to carry on their pilferings for some time
without detection. At length, however, several of them were caught in
the act and imprisoned. Fearing that they were about to be put to death
they revealed a conspiracy against the colony on the part of Powhatan
and his principal chiefs. Thus forewarned of the intended treachery,
Smith hastened the work on the defences of the place and kept a
vigorous guard day and night. In the meanwhile he held possession of
his prisoners much to the uneasiness of the great Werowance. Repeated
requests for their release were denied, although the messengers came
laden with presents. Opechancanough came in person but had no better
success. At length Powhatan sent Pocahontas with expressions of his
regret for the untoward actions of his subjects and assurances of his
future goodwill. This appeal was effective. Smith yielded, not to the
Chief but to the girl who had saved his life.

There had been a great deal of discussion about the freighting of
the _Phœnix_. Ratcliffe, Martin, and, in fact, the majority were for
loading the vessel with the delusive dust which had formed Newport’s
cargo. Smith and Scrivener protested against another shipment of
what they strongly suspected to be no more than “glittering dirt.”
Captain Nelson took the same view of the matter and in the end the
_Phœnix_ sailed out of the James with an honest lading of good Virginia
cedar. This was on June the second, 1608. The same day Smith left the
settlement in an open barge of three tons’ burden, accompanied by
fifteen men. Most of these were newcomers, who were not a little set
up on account of an experience they had gained with Newport during his
recent visit. That able seaman generally contrived to make himself
ridiculous when he transferred the scene of his activities to dry
land. He had brought out a large boat in five sections designed to be
carried across the mountains in his projected journey to the South Sea.
The expedition started with a great flourish of trumpets and after
being gone two and a half days returned to Jamestown and abandoned
the enterprise. Now those of Smith’s force who had been in Newport’s
company thought that the latter’s expedition was a fair sample of
exploration. They were eager for adventure and very much feared
that Smith, in an open boat committed to the sea, would not journey
far enough to satisfy their appetite. The leader heard these doubts
expressed and promised himself some amusement at the expense of his
eager adventurers.

Smith’s determination was to thoroughly explore Chesapeake Bay. It was
no light undertaking. The region was quite unknown to him and peopled
by Indian tribes with which he had not yet come in contact. The mere
matter of navigation involved grave dangers, for the Bay being wide
and open, is subject to almost the full force of wind and tide. But in
the face of all these difficulties, and many more that arose with the
progress of the exploration, Smith accomplished his purpose and that
so effectually that his map of the Bay was the best in existence until
recent times, and is still acknowledged to be an excellent one. The
work was at that time of course of the utmost importance and, although
it took the authorities at home some time to see it, information of
the country and inhabitants of Virginia was of much greater value than
fanciful stories of gold mines and short cuts to the South Sea.

Our adventurers soon found that exploring with Captain Smith was a very
different thing from a picnic expedition with Captain Newport. They
encountered rough weather from the outset. Their hands blistered and
their backs ached with rowing against a strong wind. The briny waves
drenched their clothes and soaked their bread. Their water keg was
broached by some accident and before they could replenish it they came
so near to being famished that they “would have refused two barrels of
gold for one of puddle water.” This was their condition when a terrible
storm struck them, carrying away their masts and sails. By good
fortune, rather than any effort of their own, they contrived to gain
the shelter of an uninhabited island where they went ashore.

The men who had been fearful lest Captain Smith should not venture far
enough, were now all for returning to Jamestown, but their leader had
no mind to turn back. Opposition and difficulty ever increased his
determination and nerved him to greater effort.

“Gentlemen,” said Smith to the disheartened company, “remember the
example of Sir Ralph Lane’s company in worse straits, how they begged
him to proceed in the discovery of Moratico, saying that they had
yet a dog that would sustain them for a while. Then what shame would
it be to us to return, having ample provision of a sort, and scarce
able to say where we have been, nor yet heard of that we were sent to
seek. You can not say but I have shared with you in the worst that is
past; and for what is to come, of lodging, diet, or whatsoever, I am
content you allot the worst part to me. As to your apprehensions that
I will lose myself in these unknown large waters, or be swallowed up
in some stormy gust, abandon these childish fears, for worse than is
past is not likely to happen, and to return would be as dangerous as to
proceed. Regain, therefore, your old spirits, for return I will not--if
God please--till I have seen the Massawomekes, found Patawomek, or the
head of this bay which you imagine to be endless.”

They remained two days upon the island, and when the storm abated
resumed their journey with fresh sails fashioned from their shirts.

The exploring party had been out just two weeks when they came across
the mouth of the Potomac--or Patawomek, as Smith called it. They
sailed thirty miles up the river without sight of human being, when
two Indians appeared from nowhere, after their mysterious manner, and
offered to serve them as guides. Pretending to take them to a village
at the head of a creek, the wily savages neatly led them into an
ambuscade. Suddenly the English found themselves in the centre of three
or four hundred Indians, “strangely painted, grimed and disguised,
shouting, yelling and crying, as so many spirits from hell could not
have showed more terrible.” Had they discharged their arrows at once,
instead of wasting time in capering about, the explorers must have been
killed to a man. But these Indians, who had not yet become acquainted
with the dreadful “spit-fires” of the strangers, thought that they had
them entirely at their mercy and doubtless proposed to reserve them
for the torture. Smith ordered his men to fire a volley in the air and
the effect of the discharge of fifteen muskets at once was all that
could be wished. Many of the savages fled into the forest, others threw
themselves prone upon the ground and all cast aside their weapons in
sign of surrender. Smith learned that messengers from Powhatan had
instigated these people to attack the expedition and had urged upon
them, above all, to secure the white men’s weapons. Had they known
the terrible nature of those weapons they certainly would not have
indulged in any such foolishness and they did not think kindly of
their brothers, the Powhatans, for having egged them on to it. Smith
established friendly relations with these people who never occasioned
further trouble.

In their progress the voyagers found the Indians almost everywhere in
arms and ready to attack them, having been prompted thereto by the
emissaries from Werowocomico. In most cases, however, the natives were
converted to peaceful good-will without bloodshed, the flash and report
of the fire-arm proving to be a powerful pacifier. Wherever they went,
the explorers heard of the Massawomekes. They seem to have been a
particularly warlike tribe, situated near the head of the bay, who were
dreaded and hated by all their neighbors. Smith was very anxious to see
these people and proceeded up the bay with the intention of visiting
their country. But his men were succumbing so fast to the fatigue and
exposure that, when at length there were but five left fit for active
service, he deemed it wise to defer the exploration of the head of the
bay. Before turning homeward, however, he sent a messenger inland to
the country of the Susquehannocks who had the reputation of being a
tribe of giants.

After a delay of a few days a deputation of sixty warriors from the
Susquehannocks visited the camp of the Englishmen. They were bigger
and more warlike than any Indians that the settlers had encountered up
to that time, and it was agreeable to Smith to find that they had come
prepared to make an alliance with him and, indeed, to adopt him into
the tribe as a chief. In token of their good-will they presented him
with a bear’s skin cloak, such as was only worn by great Werowances,
eighteen mantles, a chain of beads weighing six or seven pounds and a
number of other gewgaws. Their chief was a man of extraordinary size,
even for a Susquehannock. Smith thus describes him:

“The calf of his leg was three-quarters of a yard about, and all the
rest of his limbs so answerable to that proportion that he seemed the
goodliest man we had ever beheld. His hair on one side was long, the
other shorn close with a ridge over his crown like a cock’s comb.
His arrows were five quarters of a yard long, headed with flints or
splinters of stone in form like a heart, an inch broad and an inch and
a half or more long. These he wore at his back in a wolf’s skin for his
quiver, his bow in the one hand and his club in the other.”

These people proposed that Smith should assume the headship of the
tribe and lead them in war against the Massawomekes and other enemies.
Had our hero entertained any such ambition as that with which he
was charged by Wingfield and his supporters, here was an excellent
opportunity to set up a kingdom. The Susquehannocks were not only
exceptionally warlike, but also one of the most numerous tribes in
that part of America. No doubt, with a man like Smith at their head,
they could soon have established sovereignty over hundreds of miles of
territory. It is needless to say, however, that the offer was declined
as tactfully as possible and the expedition turned homeward.

Smith arrived in Jamestown just as another crisis in the affairs of
the colony had been reached. Ratcliffe, the President, had shamefully
abused his office for some time past. He had taken for his private use
the best things in the public stores, he had beaten several of the
settlers, with little or no provocation, and had diverted a number
of laborers from useful employment to the task of building him a
pleasure-house in the woods. Smith appeared on the scene when the wrath
of the colonists had almost risen beyond bounds. Had he not arrived
when he did they would probably have taken Ratcliffe’s life. As it was,
they would hear of nothing short of his deposition and invited Smith
to take his place at the head of the government. Smith, however, who
was the active instrument in disposing of the obnoxious officer, hardly
thought that he could accept the proposal with a good grace and so
persuaded them to allow him to substitute Scrivener for himself. So,
with this change, the summer passed in peace, and satisfactory progress
was made in the rebuilding of the settlement.

The colony had never been in a better condition than now to make good
progress. The settlers were well content with the rule of Smith and
Scrivener, who always knew just what they wanted to do and how to do
it. Work and rations were fairly apportioned. Gentlemen were required
to take their turn at labor with the rest. A military company was
formed and drilled, and the Indians were kept in check by the practice
of diplomacy and a show of force. This happy state of things was
completely upset by the return of Newport with instructions from his
employers to discover the South Sea, to bring back gold, and to search
for the survivors of the lost Roanoke colony. But this was not the sum
of Newport’s mad mission. He was also charged with the coronation of
Powhatan, to whom King James sent a present of a wash-basin and pitcher
and an Elizabethan bed with its furnishings. Newport failed to bring
the food and other things of which the settlers stood in such constant
need, but instead landed seventy Dutchmen and Poles for the purpose
of establishing manufactories of “pitch, tar, glass and soap-ashes.”
By this time, Smith had been regularly elected President. He was
thoroughly disgusted with the foolish instructions of the London
company, and when Newport undertook to undo much of the good work that
had been accomplished with so great trouble, even going so far as to
restore Ratcliffe to the presidency, Smith bluntly gave him his choice
of immediately taking himself and his ship off, or of being detained
for a year that he might gain the experience that he was sadly in
need of. Newport wisely chose the former alternative and sailed away,
having, as before, sown the seeds of trouble from which the colonists
were to reap a bitter crop before long.



Smith goes on a foraging expedition and engages in a contest of
wits with Powhatan--Doctor Russell and Captain Smith get into a
tight place--And get out again--Powhatan plans to murder his adopted
son--Pocahontas warns the Captain of the intended treachery--The feast
and the disappointed waiters--How eight designing Indians afford goodly
entertainment to three Englishmen--And how they are neatly laid by the
heels by their intended victims--“The English sleep like the village
dog, with one eye cocked”--How the ambushers were ambushed and the
captors captured--“If there be one among you bold enough to essay a
single combat, let him come out!”

With the approach of winter the colony of Jamestown found itself in
hardly better condition than at the same time in the previous year.
It is true that their health was now better but they had many more
mouths to feed and rather less chance of obtaining provisions from the
Indians. These, as we know, had been unfriendly for some months past,
due to Newport’s reckless generosity towards them and particularly
to his foolish gift of swords, which Smith refused to duplicate. The
more experienced among the settlers had protested strongly against
the crowning of Powhatan, fearing that the savage would interpret
the ceremony as a measure of propitiation and a sign of dread on the
part of the English. And this proved to be the case. It was soon
evident that the great Werowance had risen mightily in self-esteem
in consequence of the silly coronation and that his respect for the
settlers had fallen in proportion. The neighboring bands, acting on
his orders, refused to furnish corn on any terms, and messengers sent
to Werowocomico returned empty handed, telling of having been treated
with a high-handed contempt. After Scrivener and Percy had made futile
expeditions, it became clear that, as usual, Smith must attend to the
matter in person if the colony was to be saved from starvation.

Smith immediately began preparations for a visit to the capital of
Powhatan, whose spies doubtless gave him early information of the fact,
for, just at this time, an embassy arrived from the newly-crowned
“emperor” demanding workmen to build him an English house to contain
the gorgeous bedstead that his brother, the King of England, had sent
to him. He also asked for fifty swords, as many muskets, a cock and
hen, a large quantity of copper and a bushel of beads. This modest
requisition he expected would be filled forthwith, and in return for
his compliance he promised to give Captain Smith a shipload of corn,
provided he came for it in person. Here was a very palpable trap and
something like a veiled defiance. Smith was as little prone to shirk
danger as he was to decline a challenge, and he returned answer that he
should presently be at Werowocomico. In the meanwhile he was sending
three Germans and two Englishmen to build the projected palace, but,
for the rest of the request, he thought that he had better bring
the things mentioned by the Chief himself, for he feared that the
messengers might hurt themselves with the swords and muskets.

Leaving Scrivener in charge of the settlement, Smith, with forty-six
volunteers, embarked in the pinnace and two barges. George Percy
commanded one of the latter and Francis West, brother of Lord Delaware,
the other. The journey by water was a tolerably long one for open
boats, and they broke it by a stay of two or three days at Kecoughten,
a village occupying the site of the present town of Hampton. The
Chief received them with genuine friendliness and warned Smith that
Powhatan contemplated treachery. Here the party “kept Christmas among
the savages, where they were never more merry, nor fed on more plenty
of good oysters, fish, flesh, wild fowl and good bread; nor never had
better fires in England than the dry, smoky houses of Kecoughten.” The
enthusiasm with which the chroniclers among the colonists expatiate
upon such simple comforts as these when it happens to be their good
fortune to experience them, gives us a very good idea of the miserable
condition that generally prevailed at Jamestown.

When at length the party arrived at Werowocomico, they found the river
frozen over to a distance of half a mile from shore. Smith overcame
this obstruction by leaving his boats and wading to land with a squad
of men. The entire absence of welcome was a sinister indication, but
Smith, unabashed, took possession of a deserted wigwam on the bank and
sent messengers to Powhatan for provisions. These were forthcoming, and
the chieftain agreed to meet the English captain the next morning in a
formal pow-wow.

Before noon the following day, Captain Smith and his handful of men
went up to the town, putting a bold face on what they all believed
to be a very bad matter. Once more the two chiefs met in the famous
“king’s house.” Powhatan received Smith with the utmost coolness, and
it was noticeable that he did not address him by his tribal name. When
the matter of food supplies came up, he declared that he had so little
to spare that he was loath to exchange it for copper which his people
could not eat. As a special favor to the English and in consideration
of their great need he would stretch a point to let them have thirty
bushels in exchange for as many swords, but he was really not at all
anxious to make the trade. Indeed, so short was the food supply at
Werowocomico that he hoped that the English would speedily depart for
he could ill afford to entertain so many hungry stomachs.

“As to that,” replied Smith, “we have come at your invitation, and will
delay no longer than is necessary to effect our purpose, which is to
secure, at a fair price, so much corn and venison as you can readily
spare from the well-filled stores of Werowocomico.”

Each had intimated that he was well acquainted with the actual
conditions at the headquarters of the other, but Smith was at a loss to
determine whether Powhatan had merely guessed at the urgent needs of
the colonists, or whether he was really informed of the state of things
at Jamestown. As yet he had no suspicion of the truth, which was that
the Dutchmen sent to build the Chief’s house had betrayed the colony.
Tempted by the abundant food and comfortable lodgings at the capital of
the Powhatans, they had secretly sold their allegiance to the Chief,
intending to remain with the Indians and marry into their tribe.

Powhatan continued the negotiations in the same independent tone,
declaring that he would exchange corn for swords and muskets and for
nothing else. At length this persistent attitude provoked Smith to a
decisive reply.

“Let me speak the Werowance plain as I would that he should speak to
me. We will part with our swords and muskets no sooner than we will
with our clothes. Why, indeed, should we do so, when by a use of these
same we can readily get all the corn we want and still retain them? We
came here as honest and well-meaning men to get provisions and get them
we will, if not by fair means then by foul. If blood be shed in this
matter, upon your head be it, for I am, and ever have been, willing, in
good faith, to uphold the friendship which we plighted to one another.”

This language was too plain to be misunderstood and Powhatan proceeded
upon another tack. He assured his dear son that his intention in the
matter had been misunderstood. There were, it was true, no spare
supplies in Werowocomico, but messengers should at once be sent into
the surrounding country to collect foodstuff and the English Werowance
would in good time be furnished with as much as he desired. Of course
this was only a ruse to gain time, and as such Smith recognized it, but
he was not himself averse to postponing conclusions, since his boats
and men could not join him for some days. He immediately set gangs of
Indians to work in breaking up the ice, explaining that he would need
the pinnace to load his supplies upon when they arrived. Powhatan was
not in the least deceived by this explanation and himself sent to the
various chiefs under his dominion for reinforcements. In the meantime,
wishing to establish an alibi in connection with the murder of Captain
Smith, which he had planned, he withdrew to a neighboring village.

The next day, there were few Indians in evidence, although several
hundreds of them lay concealed within arrow shot. Smith’s men were
engaged on the bank of the river, whilst he and Doctor Russell were
consulting together in a wigwam at some distance. Suddenly they became
aware of the approach of scores of silent savages from every direction.
They were armed, and a glance was sufficient to perceive that their
intentions were evil. Two or three carried torches with which they
proposed to fire the wigwam and then brain the white men as they should
run out. Russell was for instantly rushing upon the foe, but Smith, who
never lost his head in any emergency, checked him.

“Nay,” he said, laying his hand upon the other’s arm. “Rest we here
until they be close upon the house when they durst not shoot their
arrows for fear of slaying one the other. Then will we sally against
them and fend ourselves from their tomahawks as best we can.”

The advice was excellent, for had they exposed themselves otherwise
they must have been killed at the first discharge. Each had his pistols
with him, and these they quietly primed and with composure awaited
the oncoming savages. At length they were within a few yards of the
house, and at the word from Smith, Doctor Russell sprang out at his
side. Four Indians fell at the discharge of the pistols which were
fired in their very faces. Those in front hastily leaped out of the
line of the smoking weapons, making a lane into which the Englishmen
dashed, swinging their swords right and left. The sortie was so sudden
and unexpected that Smith and his companion were clear through the
circle of savages and speeding towards the river before the Indians
could recover from their surprise. They might easily have overtaken
the Englishmen, being much more fleet of foot, but the appearance of
Smith’s men, who had been warned by the pistol reports, checked all
thought of pursuit.

This episode made it evident that Powhatan had determined upon
desperate measures, and it also satisfied Smith that he could no longer
look for any immunity on account of his membership in the tribe. The
next morning Powhatan, his plot having failed, returned to the town and
sent a messenger to Smith with a strip of wampum in token of peace.
He was exceedingly sorry that some of his people had rashly taken
advantage of his temporary absence on the business of the captain’s
supplies to attack their brother chief. The culprits, fearing his
wrath, had taken to the woods, but on their return they should be
severely punished. Tomorrow Powhatan would load the ship of the English
Werowance with corn and he hoped that they would part good friends.
To all of this Smith contented himself by replying that he should be
ready to receive the corn when it arrived and to pay a fair price for
it in any commodity but weapons.

Smith thought it hardly possible that Powhatan would venture another
attack now that the pinnace with reinforcements was close at hand,
and he might have been taken by surprise but for a timely warning. As
he lay in his wigwam late that night, thinking over the many weighty
affairs depending upon his disposition, he heard his name called
softly as out of the ground. At length he realized that some one was
whispering under the edge of the wigwam. Going out cautiously, he found
Pocahontas awaiting him. She had come at the risk of her life to warn
him, for she declared that if her father learned that she had betrayed
his secret, he would kill her with his own hand. In agitated whispers,
broken by her tears, she informed her adopted brother that it had been
arranged to delay the loading on the following day, so that Smith
would be unexpectedly compelled to spend another night on shore. That
after dark, a feast would be borne to him by eight men who would wait
upon him and the two gentlemen who usually supped with him. That, at a
favorable opportunity, the attendant Indians would seize the arms of
the Englishmen and give a signal to the band of warriors by whom the
wigwam would be surrounded. Having told her story, the Indian maiden
vanished silently into the night.

Smith of course laid his plans to circumvent his astute adoptive
father, but he made no effort to expedite the loading which was delayed
as he had been led to expect, so that night fell before it had been
completed. Smith, Doctor Russell and George Percy sat down to supper
as usual that night, just as eight unarmed, but stalwart, Indians,
who looked little like waiters, came to the wigwam laden with viands
which Powhatan begged his dear son and friends to accept. They were
pleased to do so, and proceeded to attack the bountiful supply of
good things without delay. But, to the dismay of the waiters, the
Englishmen did not lay aside their arms. On the contrary, each of them
had four pistols in his belt and a fifth cocked and primed by his side
upon the ground. Furthermore, they lined themselves with their backs
against the side of the wigwam, so that they constantly faced their
anxious attendants who had thus no chance to spring upon them unawares.
The Indians were plainly nonplussed and disconcerted. The feasters,
whilst eating leisurely, enjoyed to the full the discomfiture of their
intended captors. Smith vowed that it was the goodliest entertainment
he had had since landing in Virginia. When our adventurers had filled
their stomachs, they quietly levelled their pistols at the waiters and
signed to them to keep silence and to lie down. They then bound each
with cord, allowing them sufficient freedom of the legs to hobble.
Pushing two of these before him as a shield, Smith threw back the skin
flap and stood in the entrance of the wigwam.

“Warriors of the Powhatans!” he cried, addressing the concealed
savages, to whom he knew that the light of the fire at his back made
him plainly visible. “Warriors of the Powhatans! The English sleep like
the village dog, with one eye cocked, but you think to find us snoring
like old women when you steal upon us in the night. We also have
learned something of the ambuscade since coming among you. What ho, my

An answering shout ran along in the rear of the line of lurking
savages, conveying to them the uncomfortable announcement that they had
lain shadowed by a band of English.

“Back to your wigwams, valiants!” continued Smith derisively, “and
dream of conquests that ye are not fit to achieve. If there be one
among you bold enough to essay a single combat let him come out with
his club and I with my bare hands will meet him. No? Then away with
you! Your brother assassins will I hold in surety of a peaceful night’s
slumber.” With that he re-entered the wigwam, pulling his bound Indians
after him.

The pinnace was loaded without hitch the next morning. Indeed, the
Indians, who appeared to be much depressed, had no greater desire
than to see the strangers depart. When all was ready, Smith handed
to them a liberal recompense for the provisions they had supplied,
although their repeated treacheries would have fully justified him,
one would think, in refusing payment. The barges were yet empty and
Smith determined to go on to Pamaunke, the seat of his old enemy
Opechancanough, and see if he could not induce that chief to complete
the supply.

The expedition had no sooner left Werowocomico, than two of the
renegade Dutchmen journeyed with all haste to Jamestown. There they
purported to deliver a message from the President, and by means of this
ruse secured a number of weapons, tools, and other useful articles,
besides persuading six of their countrymen to desert the colony and,
like themselves, throw in their lot with the Indians.



Smith pays a visit to Opechancanough and declines to walk into
a trap--“Drop your arms on the instant or your Chief’s life is
forfeit”--Smith affords the Pamaunkes an object lesson and reads them
a lecture--A messenger with sad news from Jamestown--Smith loses an
old friend and a faithful ally--The Indians set a trap for the White
Werowance and fall into it themselves--Smith loads his boats and
returns to Jamestown--He finds the settlement in a condition of anarchy
and threatened with starvation--And promptly proceeds to restore law
and order--The colonists are given to understand that “he that will not
work shall not eat.”

At Pamaunke, Opechancanough resorted to the same species of dalliance
and subterfuge that Powhatan had practised so ineffectually. He claimed
to have but a few bushels of corn to spare and set the price up so
high that Smith laughed in his face. This fencing was carried on for
several days, the real object being to permit the return of a number
of warriors who happened to be absent from the village, likely enough
being part of the reinforcements that Powhatan had summoned from his
under-chiefs. When these had arrived, Opechancanough promised to have
a more satisfactory quantity of supplies for the English captain on
the following day. Smith, accompanied by sixteen men, accordingly went
up to a large house at the time appointed, prepared to negotiate the
exchange. Opechancanough received the party with the appearance of
utmost cordiality and declared that he had at great pains collected a
large quantity of provisions for his guests. In token of his friendship
to Smith he had prepared for him a personal present contained in a heap
of baskets stacked up outside the wigwam. The Chief invited his white
brother to step out and inspect the gift. Smith went to the door and
looked around. His quick eye, sharpened by suspicion, detected a score
or more of arrow heads projecting from over the top of a fallen tree at
about twenty yards distance. The bows were drawn ready to let fly at
him as soon as he appeared in the open.

Smith turned to the treacherous chief and in no uncertain terms
taxed him with his perfidy. He asked him if he were not ashamed to
stoop to such dirty tricks, so ill-becoming a man and a brave. He
professed himself willing to believe that Opechancanough possessed the
courage that repute gave him credit for and proposed to afford him
an opportunity to prove it. Let them two, suggested Smith, go upon a
barren island in the middle of the river and settle their difference
whilst yet their people had not come to blows. Each should take the
goods about which they experienced so much difficulty in coming to an
understanding and the victor would be entitled to the whole. In this
way might they reach a conclusion like honorable gentlemen and avoid
much needless trouble. This proposal was not at all to the liking of
the Indian, who desired nothing so little as to harm his brother the
Werowance of the English, whose groundless suspicions deeply pained him.

“Opechancanough!” replied Smith to these lying protestations, “it is
not meet that we should waste time in idle badinage, for whether your
words be spoken in jest or mere deceit they do not serve to further
my purpose. Your plenty is well beknown to me and a reasonable part
of it I must have and am willing to pay you therefor a reasonable
compensation. When last I visited Pamaunke you promised to provide me
with all the provisions I might ask when I should come again. Now I
claim the fulfillment of that promise, nor will I abide any refusal
though it be couched in honeyed words. Here are my wares. Take you your
choice of them. The rest I will barter with your people on fair terms.”

Smith had hardly completed this politic and not unreasonable speech,
when Doctor Russell, who had been left with the boats, hastily entered
the house, and going to Smith’s side warned him that the place was
surrounded by hundreds of armed warriors, who were evidently only
awaiting a signal to make an attack. Smith looked at Opechancanough who
was evidently disconcerted by Russell’s appearance and the whispered
conference that followed. There was no doubt whatever in the Captain’s
mind about the Indian chieftain’s evil intentions. To parley farther
would be worse than useless. To sally forth in the face of the awaiting
bowmen would surely be to lose some of his men. Decisive action was
necessary and that without an instant’s delay. Smith’s mind was quickly
made up and his design executed with equal celerity.

On one side of the wigwam were grouped the Englishmen. On the other
Opechancanough stood in the midst of forty of his tallest warriors,
himself towering above them all. Whilst Smith had carried on his
hurried conversation with the doctor, the Pamaunke engaged in excited
debate with his braves. Smith watched his formidable adversary like
a hawk and at a favorable opportunity bounded into the midst of the
surrounding warriors and, before a hand could be raised, had the Chief
fast by the scalp-lock and a pistol presented at his breast. Not an
Indian dared interfere as Smith dragged his captive to the other side
of the house whilst he cried to Percy and West to guard the doors.

“Drop your arms on the instant or your Chief’s life is forfeit!” cried
Smith to the amazed warriors. They obeyed with little hesitation and
the Englishmen gathered up their weapons.

Still with his fingers entwined in Opechancanough’s hair, Captain
Smith drew him out of the house and into the presence of the warriors
waiting in ambush. Some of his men carried out the seized weapons and
threw them in a heap before the captain and his captive, whilst the
disarmed braves were made to form a group behind them. This humiliating
spectacle had an instantaneous effect upon the spectators. Overcome
with shame and apprehension they bowed their heads in despair and
allowed their weapons to drop from their hands.

“Pamaunkes!” said Smith, addressing them in stern tones. “You have
gone about to compass my death. What have I done that you should
meet my honorable offices with such foul treachery? I promised you
my friendship as your Chief promised his to me. In what manner hath
he kept that promise? But, despite your presumption, I am willing to
overlook that which is passed and take you again into my favor. Now,
mark me well! for I speak you in all earnestness! If you repeat your
treacheries or shoot but one arrow to the hurt of any of my people,
then will I surely visit the Pamaunkes with a bitter vengeance. I am
not now powerless, half drowned and frozen, as when you captured me.
Yet for your good usage and sparing of me then, am I kindly disposed
towards you. In all friendliness I came to barter with you and you
undertook to freight my ship. That shall you do, receiving therefor a
proper recompense.”

The Indians expressed their willingness to abide by these conditions
and declared that every soul in the band should be immediately engaged
in the task of loading the vessel, leaving the matter of payment to be
decided by the English Werowance later.

“So be it!” said Smith. “Your Chief and brethren are free. They may
take their weapons and go. But beware! For if again you play me false I
shall show no such mercy upon you.”

The band now set to work to load the barges with all possible speed,
for, like the men of Werowocomico after trying conclusions with our
Captain, they were only too anxious to have the English begone. They
were just at the point of departure when there arrived a tattered and
footsore white man, pinched with hunger and cold. He had reached the
extremity of his endurance when he staggered into the camp of his
people at Pamaunke. This brave fellow was Master Richard Wyffin, one of
the gentlemen adventurers who had arrived with Captain Nelson in the
_Phœnix_. After being fed and warmed, he told his story to Smith. It
appeared that some two weeks previous Scrivener, the acting President,
together with Captain Waldo and Anthony Gosnold, newly appointed
members of the Council, and eight men, had left the settlement on
a visit to Hog Island, where the colonists kept some swine that had
been imported from the West Indies. A sudden storm overtook the party
and capsized their boat. All were drowned and their bodies some days
later were recovered by Indians. Wyffin, at the grave hazard of his
life, had set out alone to carry the sad tidings to the President.
After wandering out of his way for several days, the messenger
reached Werowocomico, where he expected to find Smith. Here he would
have fallen a prey to the vengeance of Powhatan’s warriors had not
Pocahontas hidden him and, when opportunity served, set him upon the
road to Pamaunke. Smith was much affected by the news of the death
of Scrivener, for whom he had a strong regard and whose value to the
colony he fully appreciated.

During the loading of the barges Smith had had a heart to heart talk
with Opechancanough. That chief, now thoroughly subdued in spirit
and persuaded that frankness might better serve his interests than
deception, gave the Englishman a fairly truthful account of the actual
state of affairs. From this and his own observation, Smith reached the
conclusion that the stores of Pamaunke could not well stand the strain
of freighting both his barges. He decided, therefore, to be satisfied
with one barge load, determining to return to Werowocomico for the
second. This he felt quite justified in doing, for it was well known
to him that Powhatan’s garners were always overflowing, for the great
Werowance exacted a heavy tribute from the minor chiefs of the tribe.
Moreover, Smith was willing to punish his adoptive father as the author
of all the trouble that had befallen the expedition. Accordingly, after
leaving Pamaunke, the boats turned their prows upstream and started
back to Werowocomico.

Towards evening the expedition, turning a bend in the river, came
suddenly upon a place where a number of people were assembled on the
bank, evidently awaiting their coming. They were men and women, quite
unarmed, and each bearing a basket of corn. Smith chuckled when he
beheld the palpable trap.

“Surely they take us for barn-yard fowls and think that we will run to
a handful of grain held out in a sieve. The grain we will take but in
no such simple fashion.”

He had no doubt that a hundred or more stout bowmen lay hidden behind
the innocent looking crowd which greeted him with eager offers to
trade. Dissembling his suspicions, Smith declared that the day was too
far spent for trading. He would lie-to for the night, he said, and in
the morning would come ashore unarmed as they demanded.

When darkness had set in Smith picked twenty-five men and placed them
under the commands of Percy and West. These officers were directed to
take the force in one of the barges several miles farther up the river
and there to land twenty of them. The remaining five were to bring
back the boat that its absence might not excite the suspicions of the
savages on the morrow. Percy and West were then to proceed through
the forest with their men and dispose them before daylight in the
rear of the Indian ambuscade. It was quite dark when the barge, with
muffled oars, pulled upstream, but some hours later a clear moon arose,
enabling the party to carry out its instructions to the letter.

The next morning, the unarmed Indians were on the bank as before with
their baskets of corn, and Smith went ashore as he had promised with
a squad of men, all of whom had left their weapons in the pinnace. No
sooner had they set foot on land than the would-be traders scattered
and fled into the surrounding forest, leaving their baskets upon the
ground. At the same instant a band of warriors rose from the cover in
which they had lain hidden and drew their bows upon the English.

“Stay your hands, Powhatans, and look to your backs!” cried Smith with
extended forefinger.

The warriors glanced behind them to see Percy’s men drawn up with
levelled muskets. Uttering a howl of dismay, they plunged into the
thicket and disappeared. The baskets of corn were carried aboard the
barges and the party continued its journey.

They found Werowocomico completely deserted. Powhatan had fled, taking
his renegade Dutchmen and emptying his stores. However, thanks to
the attempted ambuscade, Smith had now nearly as great a quantity
of provisions as his boats could carry and he returned to the fort.
The expedition had been absent six weeks. In that time its members
had been exposed to much hardship and many dangers of which we have
made no mention. They had relieved the settlement, during a period of
great stringency, of the keep of forty-six men and now they returned
with five hundred bushels of corn and two hundred pounds of meat.
Furthermore, not a man was missing from the party. This was, indeed, an
achievement to be proud of, but it was not of the kind to impress the
proprietors at home. Had Smith come back with empty boats and the loss
of some lives, so that he had learned some fanciful rumor of a gold
mine in a mythical country, they would have been better pleased with

The President found the colony in a bad way. The food supply was
almost exhausted and the settlers were within sight of starvation. The
councilmen, who should never have all left Jamestown at the same time,
had been drowned together. In the absence of all authority, discipline
naturally disappeared and disaffection spread. This as we shall see
later had developed into treason and conspiracy before the President’s
arrival. There had been some attempted desertions and doubtless would
have been more but for the contemplation of the fate of Scrivener and
his companions. Work of all descriptions had entirely ceased and the
men spent their days in loafing and quarrelling.

Smith took the situation in hand with his usual decision and firmness.
He determined to check the demoralization at any cost but wisely
decided to employ genial measures where they would avail. Calling the
settlers together, he gave them a clear understanding of his attitude
at the outset. Standing on the steps of the Council House, he addressed
them in the following words, his tone and gesture carrying conviction
to his hearers.

“Countrymen! The long experience of our late miseries should be
sufficient to persuade everyone to correct his errors and determine
to play the man. Think not, any of you, that my pains, nor the
adventurers’ purse, will maintain you in idleness and sloth. I speak
not thus to you all, for well I know that divers of you deserve both
honor and reward, but the greater part must be more industrious or
starve. It hath heretofore been the policy of the Council to treat
alike the diligent and the idle, so that a man might work not at all
yet was he assured of warm lodging and a full belly--at least as much
of these comforts as was enjoyed by them that toiled for the betterment
of the colony. Such a condition will not I maintain. You see that
power now resteth wholly in myself. You must obey this now for a law,
that he that will not work--except by sickness he is disabled--shall
not eat. The labors of thirty or forty industrious men shall not be
consumed to maintain a hundred and fifty idle loiterers. That there is
disaffection among you I know. I hope that it will cease forthwith,
but if not, I warn you that I shall hesitate not to take the life of
any man who seeks to sow the seeds of treason in this His Majesty’s
colony of Virginia. I would wish you, therefore, without contempt of
my authority, to study to observe the orders that I here set down,
for there are now no more Councillors to protect you and to curb my
endeavors. He that offendeth, therefore, shall most assuredly meet due



The settlement is reduced to order and industry--The renegade Dutchmen
and their friends in the fort--Smith stalks a traitor through the
forest--Captures him and brings him back to be hanged--The Chief of the
Paspaheghs enters upon a dangerous enterprise--He finds Smith ready
to try a conclusion with him--The Indian giant and the Englishman
engage in a wrestling match--The bout ends in the discomfiture of
the Paspahegh--He cuts “a sorry figure squirming like a toad under a
harrow”--He is carried captive to the fort and held for exchange with
the traitorous Dutchmen--But Smith’s heart is touched by the appeal of
the warriors and he releases the Chief.

The uncompromising attitude of the President had a good effect upon
even the worst members of the colony who, even though they were not
moved thereby to honest endeavor, were at least restrained by fear
from active interference. There was now in the public store enough
provision to carry the settlement, with prudent use, over to the time
of harvest. Their minds were therefore relieved of what was usually
the most pressing anxiety, and they were free to devote their labors
to internal improvement. Smith divided the settlers into squads of
ten or fifteen, to each of which was assigned a particular duty every
day. Six hours a day, with the exception of the Sabbath, were given to
work. The remaining time was consumed in pastimes which tended to cheer
the spirits whilst preserving the health of the men. Smith himself
was constantly on duty and seemed to have a hundred pair of eyes,
for nothing escaped his notice. Passing from one group of laborers
to another, he directed their work, cheered the weak, praised the
industrious, reproved the unhandy and punished the shirkers. Under the
new regulations, the erection of public buildings and the construction
of fortifications progressed rapidly and at the same time the health
and temper of the colonists greatly improved.

Smith was of course ere this fully informed of the defection of the
three Dutchmen whom he had sent to Powhatan, but he had yet to learn
that these renegados had many sympathizers and some active confederates
at Jamestown among the seventy foreigners exported by the company.
For some time after the institution of the new regulations, it had
been apparent that a clever system of thievery was being carried on
in the fort. Arms, ammunition and tools disappeared from time to time
and no trace of the offenders could be had. The persons entrusted by
Smith with the task of detecting the thieves having utterly failed
to discover them, he determined to undertake the matter himself. It
was certain that the stolen articles were conveyed out of the fort
after dark, and Smith therefore took to spending his nights on watch.
At length his vigils were rewarded by the sight of five men scaling
the palisades over which they hauled a number of heavy packages.
He followed them stealthily. They took the rough road leading from
Jamestown to the glass factory, a mile distant, which they reached in
about half an hour. As they approached the house, a number of Indians
came out to meet them, and among these Smith recognized by his voice
a certain Franz, who was painted and bedecked to represent a redskin.
Smith lay concealed close at hand during the transfer of the goods and
heard the entire conversation of the conspirators. The party from the
fort wasted no time in returning, and Smith let them go upon their way
without interference. His mind was set on capturing the traitor Franz.

After the Dutchmen had left, the Indians distributed the burden among
themselves and set out in the opposite direction. Smith rightly
surmised that they would not go far before encamping, and that, knowing
that there was no party abroad from the settlement, they would not deem
it necessary to maintain a guard when they slept. But he kept well in
the rear for fear of alarming them, for the savage is alive to the
breaking of a twig or the rustling of a leaf on a still night. Their
camp-fire would guide him to them when they stopped.

The band proceeded along the trail for a few miles and then suddenly
struck into the depths of the forest, but soon halted and prepared
for the night by building a fire. Round this they sat for a while
talking and eating dried venison and bread. One by one they stretched
themselves out by the blazing wood until at length all were sunk
in deep slumber. Smith had crept near before this and had marked
the position of Franz who, being more susceptible to cold than his
companions, was wrapped in a long fur. For fully an hour after the
last man had lain down Smith waited patiently with his eyes fixed on
the fur-robed figure of the Dutchman. At last he thought it safe to
advance, and gradually stole forward until he stood over the recumbent
form of the traitor. It would have been an easy matter to stab the
sleeping man to the heart, but, although he richly deserved such a
fate, the thought was repugnant to our hero, who preferred, even at the
risk of his own life, to make the other captive.

Had Smith attempted to seize Franz, or in any other way to awaken
him suddenly, no doubt the man would have alarmed his companions.
Smith, therefore, proceeded with calm deliberation to bring his victim
gradually to his senses. Kneeling beside him, with a cocked pistol in
one hand, he set to brushing his face lightly with a wisp of grass.
The sleeping man began to breathe more rapidly as the slight irritation
excited him, then he turned restlessly several times and at last slowly
opened his eyes upon Smith and the threatening pistol. The Captain’s
eyes, readable in the light of the fire, spoke more eloquently than
words could have done. Franz realized that death would follow the first
sound he should make. In obedience to the signs of his captor he rose
quietly and stepped out of the ring of light into the gloom of the
surrounding forest. Smith’s hand grasped his hair whilst the pistol
was pressed against the nape of his neck. In his character of Indian,
Franz had carried no weapons but a bow and arrow and these lay where
he had slept, so that he was quite powerless to resist. When they had
proceeded cautiously until safely beyond earshot, Smith urged his
prisoner forward with all speed and within an hour after his capture
had him safely lodged in the jail of the fort.

The proof of this Dutchman’s guilt being so absolute, the jury before
whom he was tried found him guilty without hesitation and he was hanged
forthwith. It would be interesting to know how the Indians accounted
for the complete disappearance of the disguised Dutchman who had lain
down to sleep with them. They may have supposed that he had wandered
from the camp in the night and lost his way. It is quite as likely,
however, that they decided that the god of the English angered at
his perfidy had carried him off. Of course it was not long before
they learned the truth, but Smith took immediate measures to suppress
the illicit dealings that had been carried on between the Indians and
the traitors in the fort. A blockhouse was erected at the neck of the
peninsula upon which Jamestown stood and neither redman nor white was
thereafter permitted to pass it during day or night without giving an
account of himself. But the affair of Franz was not the end of the
trouble with the foreign settlers, as we shall see.

Shortly after the incident of Franz, the German, or the Dutchman, as
the early writers called him, Smith received a message from the Chief
of the Paspaheghs, who declared that he was in possession of a number
of stolen articles which he desired to return to the white Werowance
in person. He proposed that the latter should meet him at a designated
place some miles from Jamestown and take over the purloined property.
Smith was getting a little tired of these transparent subterfuges, but
as they invariably turned to his advantage it seemed to be inadvisable
to neglect such an opportunity. Accordingly he went to the appointed
place, taking with him a guard of ten men fully armed. There they
found the Chief, attended by fifty warriors. He was a man of gigantic
stature, being even taller than Opechancanough. Smith wished to come
at once to the purpose of the meeting, but the Chief seemed disposed
to palaver and consume time. At length he expressed a desire to speak
to the Captain privately and apart. To this request Smith acceded and
walked aside with the Paspahegh, keeping a sharp lookout the while.

It would seem that this Indian, who had only encountered our hero
in his most genial moods, was sufficiently bold and enterprising to
venture upon an attempt to dispose of him single handed. The idea may
have been suggested to his mind by noticing that Smith, contrary to
his custom, was on this occasion armed only with a falchion. No doubt
the Paspahegh had a right to rely greatly upon his superior size but
had he consulted Opechancanough before entering upon this hazardous
undertaking, he might have received some deterrent advice.

The two leaders continued to walk away until they were completely
beyond the sight of their followers. Smith had instructed his men not
to follow him, feeling confident that as long as he had the Chief
within arm’s length he could control the situation, and with that idea
he kept close by the Paspahegh’s side. The Indian seemed to find the
proximity unsuited to his plans, for he attempted several times to
edge away. These attempts were not lost upon Smith who took care to
frustrate them, for the Chief carried a bow and arrows which he could
not use with effect except at some distance from his intended victim.

At length the Paspahegh lost patience, or gave up hope of eluding the
vigilance of his companion. Suddenly he sprang to one side and turned
on Smith with his bow drawn taut and an arrow fitted in it. But before
he could loose the shaft our hero was upon him and had grasped him in
a wrestler’s hold. The Chief dropped his useless weapon and addressed
himself to the task of overthrowing his antagonist. He dared not cry
for help, for to do so would be to bring the English to the assistance
of their leader. Smith, on the other hand, was not inclined to court
interference. To “try a conclusion” by single combat was always to his
liking, and he thoroughly enjoyed the present situation.

For a while the clasped figures swayed to and fro, the Indian striving
by sheer weight to crush his smaller adversary to the ground. Smith, on
his part, contented himself at first with the effort necessary to keep
his feet, but, when he felt the savage tiring from his great exertions,
decided to try offensive tactics. The Indian was no wrestler and,
moreover, he had secured but a poor hold. Smith held his antagonist
firmly round the waist where he had seized him at the onset and now
he suddenly dropped his hold to the savage’s knees. With a tight grip
and a mighty heave upwards he threw the Paspahegh over his head and
turned to fall upon him. But the Indian was agile despite his great
size. He had broken his fall with his hands, and, regaining his feet
quickly and without injury, immediately grappled with Smith. It was
no eagerness for the combat that prompted the Paspahegh to re-engage
with such alacrity but the knowledge that unless he closed at once his
opponent might draw his sword and run him through. Smith would rather
have continued the duel on equal terms, but the chivalrous instinct
that could prefer such a condition to slaying a helpless enemy was
entirely beyond the comprehension of the savage.

The struggle was now renewed with vigor. The Indian, moved to frenzy
by fear, put forth such strength that for a space of time Smith was
powerless to withstand him. Nearby was a stream and towards this the
Indian dragged our hero, doubtless with the hope of getting into deep
water where his much greater height would have given him an advantage.
As they neared the bank, Smith contrived to get his foot between the
other’s legs and trip him. The Paspahegh loosed his hold and stumbled
forward for a pace or two. He quickly recovered and faced about to
receive a stinging blow on the chin, and as he reeled under it Smith
sprang at his throat and got it in a tight grasp. It was in vain that
the Indian struggled to shake off that iron grip. Smith’s clutch did
not relax until the savage exhausted and breathless sank to the ground.


Smith allowed his fallen foe a few minutes to recover himself somewhat
and then, drawing his sword and twisting the Indian’s scalp-lock
about his left hand, he made him rise and march back to the place where
their respective followers awaited them. The Paspahegh was over six
feet in height and Smith of only medium stature, so that the former had
to stoop in order to accommodate himself to his captor’s grasp. Thus he
cut a very sorry figure when he came within the view of his warriors
squirming like a toad under a harrow. Smith now demanded the articles
for the recovery of which he had been induced to meet the Indians,
and their deceit was proved when they failed to produce them. Much to
their relief, the thoroughly cowed warriors were permitted to depart
unharmed, but they were obliged to return without their Chief, who was
conveyed a prisoner to the fort.

The Paspahegh seems to have been the most manly of the chieftains
with whom Smith came in conflict. He accepted his imprisonment with
uncomplaining dignity and calmly awaited the fate which he had every
reason to believe would be death. Smith, however, had never entertained
thought of killing his captive. It was in his mind to hold the chief
for exchange with the Dutchmen but, with his usual clemency, he
allowed him to depart with a deputation of his tribesmen who shortly
appeared at the settlement. These professed repentance and promised
good behavior in the future. They declared that their chief had been
instigated to treachery by another--meaning Powhatan. That he had
always been kindly disposed towards Smith and at the time of his
captivity had been one of the few chiefs in favor of sparing his life.
Finally they agreed to clear and plant an extra field of corn for the
English against the next harvest. Smith yielded, assured them of his
future friendship as long as they deserved it and giving to each a
present sent them upon their way contented.



Powhatan stirs his Dutch allies to reluctant activity--They concoct a
conspiracy to seize Jamestown and massacre the English--The movement
fails and all Powhatan’s warriors fall into the hands of Smith--“It is
within my power to cut off the Powhatans root and branch!”--The old
Chief is bowed in shame and repentance--A very righteous fate befalls
the perfidious Dutchmen--Friendly relations are again established
between the whites and the Indians--A grand scheme of government which
has a bad inception--Ratcliffe, Archer and other mischief-makers return
to Virginia--Smith is seriously injured and returns to England.

The Dutchmen at Werowocomico had been living on the fat of the land.
They were installed as honored members of the tribe and granted many
unusual privileges. Powhatan was well pleased with their work in the
erection of his English house and their success in stealing from the
settlement. But he expected much more from these white allies, who came
to him boasting that they would show him how to subdue the English and
drive them into the sea. The traitors would have been well content to
have Powhatan forget those idle promises and allow them to continue
in peace the life of ease and comfort into which they had settled.
They were mechanics, quite ignorant of military matters. They could
steal muskets but were unable to drill the savages in the use of them
and, indeed, through their faulty instructions caused a number of the
Indians to be blown up by gunpowder. However, Powhatan was insistent
that they should redeem their promises and it became necessary to
bestir themselves.

Smith had effectually put a stop to the traffic between the thieves
in the fort and their confederates among the Indians, but it would
have been quite impossible to prevent communications, since there
was constant intercourse between the settlers and the natives of the
surrounding country. The Dutchmen, therefore, had no difficulty in
laying plans with certain of their countrymen in Jamestown. A scheme
was at length conceived that appeared to present some prospect of
success and met with the approval of Powhatan. On a certain night the
conspirators within the fort were to blow up the arsenal and set fire
to the settlement at several points simultaneously. In the confusion
that would follow two thousand Indians would rush into the enclosure
and massacre the surprised settlers. There was one point about this
arrangement that was not quite satisfactory to the plotters. Their
contemplated rush might be effectually checked by a few faithful and
determined men in control of the big guns. These were always handled by
experienced English gunners and it would be necessary to seduce some of
these from their allegiance. With this view, the schemers approached
Douse and Mallard, whose posts were at the main entrance. To them
they promised rich rewards and high favor with Powhatan on condition
of disabling the guns on the night of the attack and deserting to
the enemy. The gunners apparently fell in with this proposal and the
conspirators congratulated themselves on having their plans arranged
beyond the possibility of miscarriage.

On the appointed night two thousand warriors under picked chiefs
crept up to within half a mile of the fort and lay in waiting for the
signal flames that were to call them to the attack. Hour after hour
passed without a sign from Jamestown. The settlement was apparently
sunk in peaceful slumber, but, as a matter of fact, every man within
the stockade was wide awake and standing silently to his arms ready
to repel an attack, whilst the conspirators lay snug and safe in the
jail. At the first streak of dawn, the disappointed Indians prepared
to return, when they found themselves face to face with a body of
musketeers. They were ordered to lay down their arms and did so without
delay. Contention would have been useless for they lay between two
bodies of the English and were completely cut off. Captain Percy, in
command of the ambuscade, now demanded the surrender of the renegade
white men. The Indians were unable to comply with this request for
those worthies, realizing that something was wrong, had sneaked off
some hours earlier and were on their way to Werowocomico.

The warriors were rounded up and marched into the fort, and Smith
immediately selected one of their chiefs to act as a messenger and sent
him, under the escort of Master Richard Whyffin and Serjeant Ford, to

“Tell your Werowance,” ran Smith’s message, “that I have all his
warriors penned up as we pen our sheep. It is within my power to cut
off the Powhatans root and branch, and if I visit them with their
deserts, that will I do. For the present I demand the immediate
surrender of the foreign renegados who fled from this place and those
that I sent to work at Werowocomico. I make no conditions. What I may
do with the warriors of the Powhatans is yet to be determined. Mayhap
my temper may cool upon reflection, but at present my heart is filled
with wrath against Powhatan and all his tribe. Go! I have spoken!”

The following day the Indian messenger and the two Englishmen returned,
but they were unaccompanied by the Dutchmen. From Powhatan the chief
brought this message:

“Powhatan is bowed in anguish and his gray hairs sweep the dust. He
prays the great English Werowance to hear these his words for they
are spoken in truth and all sincerity from the bottom of his heart.
Powhatan pleads for mercy and the friendship of Captain Smith. Never
again, so long as Powhatan lives, will he or any of his people raise
hand against the English. This is no idle talk, Powhatan swears it by
the name of his gods and the god of the strangers and will give ample
hostages to insure his good faith. Why should Captain Smith slay the
warriors who but obeyed the commands of their Werowance? Would he
visit his wrath upon the squaws and children of the Powhatans who sit
wailing in their wigwams? If the fields of Werowocomico, of Pamaunke
and of Oropaks, yield no harvest in the coming fall, where will the
English procure corn to stay their hunger? But if the white Werowance
must satisfy his just wrath, then let him come to Werowocomico and
sate it upon me. I am here alone and unguarded and will bow my head to
the stroke of his sword. Then let him return and release my warriors
so that the wailing of my people may not reach my ears in the happy
hunting grounds of my fathers.

“As to the renegados, who betrayed me as they had betrayed you, it
is not in Powhatan’s power to return them to you for they were slain
before your messengers arrived in Werowocomico. The hungry curs slunk
back to their wigwams in time for the morning meal. This I gave them
in plenty--for it is not our custom to send a man fasting to the
spirit-land--but afterwards their brains were dashed out by my orders
and their bodies have been seen by the English captains who came with
your messenger.

“Powhatan has spoken the last word. Let the English Werowance decide.
Powhatan here awaits his death at the hands of Captain Smith, if it
will redeem his people, but if his warriors must be doomed, then let
Powhatan come and join them in their death so that all may go together
to the happy hunting grounds.”

It is needless to say that Captain Smith was profoundly touched by
the pitiful appeal of the old Chief. He did not doubt his present
sincerity, nor had he cause to do so. Powhatan was completely humbled
and his words were, as he said, “spoken from the bottom of his heart.”
So long as Smith remained in the colony the old Werowance maintained
his plight and neither he nor his people committed an unfriendly
act against the English. The warriors who returned with their arms
carried away an impression of the might and justice of Captain Smith
that became a tradition in the tribe. For many years after his death
the exploits of the White Werowance were related in wigwam and around
camp fire. At this time his influence over the Indians of Virginia was
supreme and founded upon respect no less than upon fear. His wishes
were promptly complied with and the chiefs frequently consulted him
about the affairs of the tribe. The most amicable relations were
established between the whites and the natives. The former went about
the country freely and without fear of harm. The latter came to the
fort with their wares and provisions, glad to trade on a fixed scale
which was once again established. The settlers learned how to plant
corn in the Indian fashion--a method which is followed in Virginia to
this day. The Indians taught them how to net fish and snare animals.
Thus the colony progressed in the most useful direction and before
Smith left them many of the settlers were as adept in the practices of
woodcraft as any Indian.

What might have been the outcome had the affairs of the settlement been
left in the hands of the man who showed time and again that he had
such an understanding of the situation as none of the other leaders
possessed, it is impossible to surmise. Certain it is, however, that
in such a case, the later experience of the settlers as well as the
Indians would have been a much more happy one. As it was, Smith had
no sooner reduced conditions to the favorable state which has been
described, than another influx of “gentlemen,” vested with authority
that they were quite incapable of exercising wisely, tended to undo
much of the good which he had accomplished at such great pains.

In the early part of 1609, the London Company secured a new charter,
under which they proposed to exploit Virginia on a scale of grandeur
which was in itself a proof of their utter ignorance of the real
conditions and needs of the colony. The company, as reorganized,
was composed of twenty-one peers and innumerable knights and
gentlemen. Officers were appointed with high-sounding titles. Lord
Delaware was made Captain-general of Virginia; Sir Thomas Gates,
Lieutenant-captain-general; Sir George Somers, Admiral; Captain
Newport, Vice-admiral; Sir Thomas Dale, High-marshal; Sir Ferdinando
Wainman, General of the Horse. Just think of it! General of the
Horse in Virginia! Keeper of the Hogs, or Master of the Poultry, or
Superintendent of the Fish Seines, would have been more to the purpose.
What a humble and insignificant individual plain “Captain John Smith”
must have appeared to these grand gentlemen!

In May, nine vessels with five hundred emigrants were despatched from
England, under the command of Gates, Somers and Newport. To each of
these a governor’s commission was given with the understanding that he
who should arrive first should take charge of the colony and supersede
Smith. Evidently these gentlemen were not sportsmen, for, rather than
take any chance, they decided to go in the same ship. This vessel, the
_Sea-Venture_, was parted from the rest of the fleet in a hurricane and
wrecked on the Bermudas. The lives of the prospective potentates were
saved but they did not reach Virginia until months afterwards and when
Smith had left. Meanwhile seven of the original ships arrived at their
destination. Amongst the mixed company that they landed were Ratcliffe
and Archer who figured large in the contingent of “gentlemen.” Most
of these were “profligate youth, whose friends were only too well
satisfied to give them ample room in remote countries, where they might
escape the worse destinies that awaited them at home. Poor gentlemen,
bankrupt tradesmen, rakes and libertines, such as were more apt to ruin
than to raise a commonwealth.” The minds of these, naturally open to
evil, had been poisoned by Ratcliffe and Archer against Smith, and they
landed in a spirit of antagonism to him.

This “lewd Rout,” as one of the contemporary chroniclers terms
them, were ripe for mischief and, led on by Ratcliffe and Archer,
they plunged into all manner of license and disorder. It was their
impression that in the absence of the commissioners the colony was
without recognized authority and they might therefore do as they
pleased without let or hindrance. They were never more mistaken,
however. Smith took the view, rightly without question, that until a
commission superseding him arrived, he remained at the head of affairs.
He gave these gentry warning that unless they mended their ways he
should deal sternly with them. This had the effect of moving them to
plots and stratagems designed to put him out of the way. Forced to
extreme measures, Smith seized the ringleaders, including those meanest
of mortals, Ratcliffe and Archer, and confined them in prison. Order
was speedily restored, and, the better to preserve it, Smith divided
the colonists, who were in any event too numerous to live in Jamestown,
into several parties which he sent into different quarters of the
surrounding country to establish settlements. Despite the friendly
attitude of the Indians these newcomers contrived to create trouble
with them almost immediately, and more lives were thus needlessly
sacrificed in a week than had been lost in Smith’s troublous dealings
with the Indians in the course of a year.

At this juncture an accident--some think that it was the result of
design--put a sudden end to Smith’s career in Virginia. One night as
he slept his powder bag exploded, severely injuring him. For several
weeks he lay in dreadful pain, unable to rise from his couch. When, at
length, he was sufficiently recovered to be carried on board ship, he
turned over the government to Captain Percy, and in the autumn of 1609
sailed from Virginia, which he was never to see again.

A sorrowing group of his faithful followers watched the vessel until
its ensign dropped below the horizon. One of them has said: “Thus we
lost him that in all his proceedings made justice his first guide
and experience his second; ever hating baseness, sloth, pride and
unworthiness more than dangers; that never allowed more for himself
than his soldiers with him; that upon no danger would send them where
he would not lead them himself; that would never see us want what he
had or by any means could get us; that would rather want than borrow,
or starve than not pay; that loved action more than words, and hated
falsehood and covetousness worse than death; whose adventures were our
lives, and whose loss our deaths.”

The literal truth of the last words was soon to be proven.



What befell Jamestown after Captain John Smith left it--A score of
rival leaders create disorder and encourage license--The Indians
overcome the white men and put them to flight--Ratcliffe falls into
a trap and with his men is massacred--Winter finds them sick and
starving--“Now we all felt the want of Captain Smith”--Reinforcements
arrive but it is determined to abandon the colony--The appearance of
Lord Delaware frustrates the move--Jamestown is restored and prospers
for a spell--The tobacco craze and what it led to--Opechancanough
directs a great massacre--The Colony of Virginia is at last firmly

It is a dismal tale, the recital of what befell the five hundred
colonists of Virginia after the departure of Captain John Smith, but no
more striking vindication of his management of affairs could be found
than in the rapid wreck of the colony when his guiding hand was removed
from the helm. Almost at once a condition of anarchy set in. Percy
was honest and not unwise but he lacked the iron will and indomitable
energy of Smith, and nothing less was needed to cope with the
situation. There were soon, in the words of an eye-witness, “twenty
presidents,” each with his particular followers, forming a faction
at variance with all the others. Strife and dissension pervaded the
settlement. Idleness and waste prevailed. The Indians were treated as
though the chief aim of the settlers had been to create their enmity.
The more prudent of the older colonists sought to divert their fellows
from the destruction upon which they were plainly heading, but without
avail. Percy, depressed by anxiety, fell ill of a fever which confined
him to his bed, and, with the last vestige of authority removed, the
colonists gave themselves up unrestrainedly to riot and feasting.

The fruits of their wicked recklessness were soon visited upon these
miserable incompetents. The Indians attacked the various settlements
beyond Jamestown and with almost invariable success. Martin, at
Nansemond, had been kindly received by the chief of the band of that
name. This treatment he requited by suddenly falling upon the village
and seizing its contents. The Indians recovering from their surprise
assaulted the whites and routed them. Martin fled to Jamestown, having
lost many of his men and--crowning shame!--nearly all their arms.
Shortly after this episode, Ratcliffe and West went to Werowocomico
with two ships, each carrying thirty fully armed men--a greater force
than Smith ever took upon an expedition. Powhatan, by this time moved
to anger and contempt, practised against the newcomers the tactics he
had so ineffectually tried against Smith. Ratcliffe and his men fell
into the Indian’s trap with childish readiness and all save one were
massacred. West fled and turned his prow towards England where he and
his company eventually arrived in safety. Similar occurrences at last
produced an astounding condition. The white colonists became actually
_afraid_ of the Indians, who treated them with well-merited contempt
and almost domineered over them. Gradually, the entire stock of arms
and ammunition found its way into the hands of the savages.

When things had reached this pass it would have been an easy matter
for the Indians to have exterminated the whites. It is probable that
they were only deterred from doing so by the prospect of the speedy
starvation of the colony. They had consumed their provisions with blind
improvidence and had made absolutely no attempt to secure a harvest.
The fields had been given up to weeds and the plows allowed to rust.
The Indians refused to give a grain for charity and would only trade
on the most exorbitant terms. Beads and playthings were a drug in the
market. Arms and ammunition were now demanded and readily obtained by
the Indians, in whose minds the memory of Smith’s reception of similar
proposals was fresh. Says one of the ill-fated colonists:

“Now we all felt the want of Captain Smith yea his greatest maligners
could then curse his loss. Now for corn, provisions and contribution
from the savages, we had nothing but mortal wounds with clubs and

The cold of winter found them too weak and fearful to venture beyond
the palisades in quest of firewood; besides, there was scarce an axe
left in Jamestown. In this extremity, they burned the buildings and
even tore down the stockade to feed the fires. They died like flies and
presently the survivors were reduced to cannibalism. First an Indian
who had been killed in a skirmish was eaten and then the poor wretches
gave themselves up without restraint to devouring their fellows.

On the twenty-third day of May, 1610, the party which had been wrecked
on the Bermudas sailed into the James in two vessels which they had
constructed with infinite labor. Sixty emaciated creatures, little
more than skeletons and hardly better than idiots, crawled out to
greet the arrivals, whose coming was barely in time to save the
lives of this pitiful remnant of the colony which Smith had left at
Jamestown. That place was reduced to ruins. Many of the buildings had
been torn to pieces and great gaps yawned in the palisades. So dismal
was the picture and so fearful the stories of the ragged wretches
who represented the prosperous colonists the newcomers had expected
to meet, that Somers and Gates determined to return to England and
abandon the settlement. The sixty starving and half demented men were
taken on board the ships, which set sail down the river. The exultant
savages who stood upon the banks congratulated themselves that once
more the white intruder was forced to leave their land. But a strange
incident suddenly turned the tide of affairs.

The departing ships no sooner cleared the mouth of the river than they
perceived three vessels approaching and flying the flag of England.
They proved to be reinforcements under Lord Delaware who had come out
as Governor of Virginia. Somers and Gates of course put about and
returned to Jamestown. The conditions of affairs quickly changed. Lord
Delaware, though not a man of equal force of character and resource
with Captain Smith, was nevertheless one of sound judgment and
considerable energy. He had an ample supply to tide over a year and,
together with Somers’s men, who had thrived on the food and climate of
the Bermudas, several hundred strong and healthy colonists. He set them
to work repairing the fortifications and buildings, tilling the fields,
and performing other useful labors. Rule and order were established and
strictly maintained. Smith’s policy of firm but just dealing with the
Indians was resumed and they ceased to give trouble.

Thus, when sickness compelled Lord Delaware to return to England in the
following March, he left Jamestown thoroughly resuscitated and on the
highroad to prosperity. On the way home, the retiring governor passed
Sir Thomas Dale coming to the colony with three ships and a full year’s
supplies. If he did not make much progress, Dale at least preserved the
advance which had been effected by Delaware until, at the beginning of
August, Gates’s return as Governor marked the inception of a new era
for Virginia.

Gates brought out three large ships, a number of cattle, horses, three
hundred men, and so great a quantity of supplies as to put the question
of starvation out of mind, for the first time in the history of the
colony. Gates was well adapted by character, if not by experience, to
rule the American possession. His emigrants were, for the most part,
of a sort to benefit the settlement--men of good morals, accustomed to
work and adept at various handicrafts. There were now a number of women
in the country and family life began to make its appearance. Jamestown
soon assumed the appearance of an orderly town, with a public hall, a
church, store-house and neat dwellings. Along the river banks farms,
plantations and cattle ranches appeared in time.

The rapid spread of the practice of smoking in England brought about
the greatest changes in the condition of the colony of Virginia.
Tobacco commanded good prices, with a constantly increasing demand,
and soon every other enterprise in the colony was abandoned in favor
of the production of the narcotic plant. The settlers went tobacco mad
as in earlier days they had given themselves up to the gold frenzy.
Nothing else was thought of. Fields were neglected, buildings and
fortifications were allowed to fall into decay. It was said in England
that the very streets of Jamestown were planted in tobacco. Every man
saw in the leaf a prospect of speedy wealth, and readily sacrificed
the demands of the present to the pursuit of a golden future. The
Company was delighted with the rich cargos that poured into England and
promised to fill their coffers to overflowing. Every encouragement was
given the colonists to persist in their short-sighted policy. Smith,
with true wisdom, warned the proprietors and the public that the result
could not be anything but disaster, but he was scouted as a croaker,
envious of the good fortune of his successors.

During the four years that the tobacco madness was at its height the
former discipline was utterly relaxed. There was little disorder
because everyone was busy in the tobacco fields from morning till
night. But the defences were entirely neglected and no guard was
maintained by day or night. Indeed, there did not appear to be any
need for such precaution. The Indians had been friendly for years and
many of them lived in the fort and even in the homes of the settlers.
Opechancanough was now the Chief of the tribe, Powhatan being dead. The
former was ever the implacable enemy of the whites but had up to this
time hidden his true feelings under a cloak of cordiality. Secretly and
patiently, meanwhile, the cunning savage was plotting the destruction
of all the whites in Virginia, now numbering several thousands of men,
women and children, scattered over a wide range of country.

The blow fell suddenly. On the same day the Indians attacked the
settlers at different points and found them quite unprepared for
resistance. Nearly four hundred were slain, and the massacre would have
been much more extensive but for the fact that in many cases natives
who had acquired a real regard for their white neighbors warned them
in time and in some instances defended them. The tobacco planters now
huddled in Jamestown, anxious only for their lives. Hurriedly the
place was put in better condition to withstand assault and provisioned
against a siege. But Opechancanough was too astute to attack Jamestown
and an armed peace ensued.

The tidings of the massacre horrified England. The Company was
panic-stricken and at a loss what to do. Smith called upon them with
a proposal for the effective defence of the colony, and offered to
go out and put it into operation himself. The proprietors hesitated
to incur the expense and, in the meanwhile, their perplexity was
relieved by the cancellation of their charter. The colony was attached
to the crown and the settlers were left to their own resources. Under
these conditions they seem to have fared better than when subject to
proprietary interests at home, for from the year of the massacre, 1622,
Virginia enjoyed a century and a half of uneventful prosperity.


 Transcriber’s Notes:

 --Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

 --Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

 --Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 --Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

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