Thursday, July 07, 2016

Thursday Novel Excerpt (Captain John Smith)

A second excerpt...
Thomas had never experienced such a flood of exuberation in his life as to see land after several months at sea. Captain Newport moved south along the coastline of "Virginia," named after Queen Elizabeth, the virgin queen. Finally, Cape Henry came into view, and they entered the head of the "Powhatan flu," as Captain John Smith called it. It wasn't long until James Towne came into view on the right side of the river.

Wynne had been expecting a settlement of a couple hundred, but there were barely sixty still alive at the site when they arrived. He hoped though that the worst was over. The originally triangular fort had burned to the ground over the winter, but Smith had rebuilt it better in a five-sided shape.

Captain Newport was surprised to find Captain John Smith in charge when he returned. This was Newport's third trip to the settlement. When they first came, Edward Wingfield had been elected president of the council. But he had been voted out and put under arrest, in large part because he was suspected of hiding food. Probably to his good fortune, he had been sent back to England on Newport's second return trip.

John Ratcliffe had been president when Newport had left that second time. But the discontented, dying colonists pushed him out as president too in the summer before Thomas arrived.

For good or ill, Captain Smith had then asserted himself as the man of the hour. He was a harsh leader for harsh times. Thomas would remember the disdainful look Smith gave him the first time he saw him. He would later understand the look to say, "Really? Another worthless mouth to feed."

Smith gave the some seventy new arrivals a stern speech that first night. The paltry number of survivors wanted to feast that first night at the arrival of supplies but Smith would not let them. It all had to be stored for the winter. He had built a new storehouse for that very reason. Of course the rats they had brought with them on the ships would spoil it all by the time they really needed it.

Thomas did not understand all of Smith's speech, but he caught the most important part: "He who does not work shall not eat."

No comments: