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before leaving, Newport was presented with a heap of corn-ears to the amount of seven or eight bushels, in farther return for his politeness and his presents.
For some time after this, little was heard of Powhatan except occasionally through the medium of some of his tribes, who are said to have refused trading with the English in consequence of his orders to that effect. He had become jealous of them, it would seem; and Smith, on the other hand, reciprocated so much of his ill humor, that he at one time thought of falling upon him by surprise, and taking away all his stores. But appearances were still kept up on both sides; and in December, (1608) the emperor invited the captain to visit him
- he wanted his assistance in building a house, and if he would bring with him a grindstone, fifty swords, a few muskets, a cock and a hen, with a quantity of beads and copper, he might depend upon getting a ship load of corn. Smith, always ready for an adventure, accepted the invitation, and set off with a pinnace and two barges, manned by forty-six volunteers. The expedition was considered so hazardous that many excused themselves from going, after having engaged to do so; though all knew that if any thing was to be had, Smith was not the man to return disappointed.
Commencing this voyage on the 29th of the month, with victualling for three or four days, he lodged the first night at Warrasqueake. The chief sachem at this place, being friendly, did all in his power to dissuade the captain from pursuing his journey. “Powhatan will use you kindly,” said he, “ but he has sent for you only to cut your throat. Trust him not, and give him no opportunity to seize upon your arms." The next night and several more were passed at Kekoughtan, where the English were detained by a severe storm, but found merry cheer and good fires. The colonists who were in the habit of travelling with Smith had learned hardihood." They were not curious in any weather, (he informs us,) to lye three or foure nights together vnder the trees.” They liked hunting too as they marched, and here was a fine opportunity; "an hundred fortie-eight foules, the President, Anthony Bagnall, and Serieant Pising did kill in three shoots.” It was the 12th of January when they reached Werowocomoco.
They went ashore, quartered without much ceremony at the first house they found, and sent to Powhatan for a supply of provisions. They were promptly furnished with plenty of bread, venison and tur. keys. Their liberal host seasted them again the next day; but not without inquiring, at the close of the entertainment, when they proposed to go home, insinuating that the pleasure of their company was wholly unexpected, and that he and his people had very little cornthough for forty swords he thought forty baskets might be collected. In reply, Smith asked if he had forgotten his own invitation thus suddenly; and then produced the messengers who had carried it, and who happened to be near at hand. The emperor affected to regard the affair as a mere joke, and laughed heartily. Smith then proposed trade; but Powhatan would take nothing but guns and swords, and valued a basket of corn higher than a basket of copper. The captain was nettled, and spoke his mind boldly and without reserve, giving the emperor to understand withal, that necessity might force him to use disagreeable expedients for relieving his own wants and the need of the colony.
Powhatan listened to this declaration with cool gravity, and replied with a corresponding frankness. “I will spare you what I can,” said he, “ and that within two days. But, Captain Smith, I have some doubts as to your object in this visit. I am informed that you wish to conquer more than to trade, and at all events you know
my people must be afraid to come near you with their corn, so long as you go armed and with such a retinue. Lay aside your weapons, then. Here they are needless. We are all friends, all Powhatans." The information alluded to here was probably gathered from two or three Germans, who had deserted the colony and gone among the Indians.
A great contest of ingenuity now ensued between the Englishman and the savage—the latter apparently endeavoring to temporise only for the purpose of putting the former and his men off their guard. He especially insisted on the propriety of laying aside their arms. Captain Smith,” he continued, “I am old, and I know well the difference between peace and war. I wish to live quietly with you, and I wish the same for my successors. Now the rumors which reach me on all hands make me uneasy. What do you expect to gain by destroying us who provide you with food?
And what can you get by war, if we escape you and hide our provisions in the woods? We are unarmed too, you see. Do you believe me such a fool as not to prefer eating good meat, sleeping quietly with my wives and children, laughing and making merry with you, having copper and hatchets and any thing else—as your friend—to flying from you as your enemy, lying cold in the woods, eating acorns and rools, and being so hunted by you meanwhile, that if but a twig break, my men will cry out there comes Captain Smith. Let us be friends, then. Do not invade us thus with such an armed force. Lay aside these arms."
The captain answered this speech, and several others to the same effect, until, either seeing or supposing that the emperor's object was hostile, he gave secret orders for hauling his boat ashore through the ice, and landing those of his company who still remained aboard. He introduced two or three women to sustain a sharp conversation with the enemy, and suddenly availed himself of that opportunity to leave the house, with all his attendants and luggage. In a few minutes Smith found himself surrounded with Indians; and thereupon, we are told, “ with his pistoll, sword and target, hee made such a passage among these naked Diuils, that at his first shoot those next him tumbled one over another.” The rest fled in all directions.
Powhatan was not yet discouraged. His men again flocked about Smith with civil explanations of every thing which had happened; and he himself sent him a large and handsome bracelet by the hand of one of his chief orators, with a speech full of compliments and excuses. Baskets were furnished for carrying the corn which had been sold
aboard the boat; and the Indians even offered their services to guard the arms of the English, while they were taking care of the provisions. This favor was declined; but as the English were still under the necessity of waiting for the tide of the next morning, no pains were spared to entertain them with feasts and sports meanwhile. Smith supposes that the sachem was all this time preparing his forces for surprising them at supper. He probably conjectured right; and but for Pocahontas there is reason to believe that this game would actually have succeeded. The kind-hearted princess came to Smith's quarters in the woods, alone and in the evening, and earnestly advised him by all means to leave her father's territories as soon as• possible. The latter was collecting all his power, she said, to make an assault upon him, unless those who were sent with his supper should themselves succeed in despatching him.
In less than an hour afterwards came eight or ten lusty fellows, with great platters of venison and other victuals, who were importunate that the English should extinguish their matches, the smoke of which they affected to think very disagreeable. The captain, without noticing this circumstance, made them taste every dish, and then sent some of them back to tell Powhatan that the English were ready to see him; as for themselves, he understood their villany, but they should go free. Other messengers came in soon after, at intervals, to learn how matters went on. The night was spent without sleep on either side. Each party watched the movements of the other with vigilant eyes, while both were subtile and civil enough still to affect friendship. At high water Smith went off with his company, leaving with the em-peror, at his own request, an Englishman to kill game for him, and two or three of the Germans to assist him in building a house.
But the game was not yet over. He had no sooner set sail for Pamunkey, than the emperor despatched a deputation across the woods to Jamestown, to take advantage of his absence for buying up a quantity of ammunition and arms. On arriving, these messengers told Captain Winne, the temporary commander of the colony, that their comming was for some extraordinary tooles and shift of apparell; by which colorable excuse they obtained sixe or seven more (of the colonists) to their confederacie, such expert theeues, that presently furnished them with a great many swords, pike-heads, peeces, shot, powder and such like.” Indians enough were at hand to carry away the articles as soon as obtained; and the next day the deputation returned home unsuspected, after making an agreement for the services of such traitorous vagabonds as were willing to desert from the colony. One or two of those who had deserted already had provided Powhatan with as many as three hundred hatchets, fifty swords, eight "pieces," and eight pikes.
Meanwhile Smith had arrived at Pamunkey, and here Opechan. canough was entertaining him with all manner of feasting and mirth. On the day agreed upon between the parties for commencing trade, the captain, with fifteen of his men, went up a quarter of a mile from the river to the sachem's house, the appointed rendezvous. He
found no person there, excepting a lame man and a boy. The other houses in the village were entirely abandoned. Presently, however, came the sachem, followed by many of his subjects, well armed with bows and arrows. Attempts were made to buy corn, but so unsuecessfully that Smith was provoked, and remonstrated as he had done with Powhatan. Upon this, the sachem sold what provision was at hand, and promised to give better satisfaction the next day.
Then, accordingly, Smith made his appearance again. He found four or five men at the house with great baskets, but whether with any thing in them does not appear. Opechancanough himself came in soon after, and commenced a cheerful convers
ersation, enlarging particularly upon the pains he had taken to keep his promise. Just at this moment one of Smith's company brought him word that the house was beset. The woods and fields all around him were thronged with more than seven hundred savages, armed and painted for battle.
The English, of whom there were only fifteen on shore, were generally much alarmed at this news, and could easily perceive that Opechancanough enjoyed their surprise. But Smith was now in his element. “My worthy countrymen," said he to his trembling comrades, “ Had I no more to fear from my friends, than from thèse enemies, I should be willing to meet twice as many-would you but second me. But what course shall be taken? If we begin with them, and seize the king, we shall have more than our hands full to keep him and defend ourselves. If we kill them all, we must starve for want of their provisions. As for their fury, that is the least subject of apprehension. You know I have heretofore managed two or three hundred of them alone. Now here are sixteen of us, to their seven hundred. If
dare stand but to fire your pieces, the very smoke will be enough for them. But at all events let us fight like men, and not die like sheep. First, however, let me propose some conditions to them, and so we shall have something to fight for.” The occasion admitting of no argument, the company pledged themselves promptly to second him in whatever he attempted, or die.
The captain then advanced towards the sachem, and addressed him: "Opechancanough,” said he, “ I perceive you are plotting to murder me, but I fear you not. As yet, neither your men nor mine have done much harm. Now, therefore, take your arms-as you see here are mine-my body shall be as naked as yours-the island in the river is a fit place for a combat, and the conqueror of us two shall be master of all. If you have not men enough about you, take time to muster more-as many as you will-only let every one bring his basket of corn, and against that I will stake the value in copper.
The sachem replied very soothingly to his proposal. He was sorry to see any suspicion of unkindness; and begged that the captain would do him the honor to accept a handsome present, (by way of peaceoffering,) which was ready for him at the door of the house. The object of this suggestion was sufficiently obvious; for besides the forty or fifty Indians constituting the sachem's body-guard within, “the bait," as Smith calls it, at the door, (meaning the present) was guarded
by about two hundred men, and thirty more were stationed behind a large tree which lay lengthwise athwart the passage-way, with their arrows ready notched. It was now Smith's turn to make a movement. He seized the sachem in the midst of his retinue, by his long locks, presenting a pistol ready-cocked at his bosom; and in this position led him out trembling with terror, among the multitude who surrounded the house. He immediately gave up his vambrace, bow and arrows, and his frightened subjects hastened to follow his example.
“ I perceive, ye Pamunkies”-shouted the captain at this moment, still holding on by the sachem's hair— I perceive how eager ye are to kill me. My own long-suffering is the cause of your insolence. Now shoot but one arrow to shed one drop of blood for one of these men, or steal but the least of these beads, and ye shall not hear the last of me so long as a Pamunkey remains alive who will not deny the name. I am not now in the mire of a swamp, ye perceive. Shoot then, if ye dare. But at all hazards ye shall load
boat with your corn, or I will load her with your carcasses. Still, unless you give me the first occasion, we may be friends, and your king may go free. I have no wish to harm him or you."
This speech had its effect. The savages laid aside their arms, and brought in their, commodities for trade in such abundance, that the English at length became absolutely weary of receiving them. Once indeed, in the course of the day, some forty or fifty stout fellows made a violent rush into the house when Smith was asleep, and some two hundred more followed close after them; but by Smith's usual activity they were soon driven back, and then the sachem sent some of his ancients, or counsellors, to excuse the intrusion. The rest of the day passed in harmony, and towards night the captain began his return voyage down the river, leaving the sachem at liberty. Various attempts were made to surprise him on the route, and he was at one time near being poisoned to death in his food. On the other hand, Smith was determined not to go home without his revenge upon Powhatan. He returned by way of Werowocomoco for him; but he found, when he reached that village, that the traitorous Germans had caused the emperor to abandon his new house, and carry off all his family and provision. Those of the Powhatans who remained, treated the English so indifferently, that the latter had much ado to escape with their lives. They finally reached Jamestown after an absence of six weeks, with a cargo of four hundred and seventy-nine bushels of corn and two hundred pounds of deer-suet, that entire amount having been purchased for twenty-five pounds of copper and fifty pounds of iron and beads.