Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. III: Colonial Literature, 16071764
By Colonel Henry Norwood (c. 16141689)
[From A Voyage to Virginia.]
ABOUT the ninth day of our being in the island, I fell to my oyster-cookery, and made a good progress that very day; when in the heat of my labour my cousin Cary brought me word, That he had just in that instant seen Indians walking on the main. I suspended my cookery out of hand, and hastened with all possible speed to be an eye-witness of that happy intelligence; but with all the haste I could make I could see no such thing, but judgd it a chimera that proceeded from some operation in my cousins fancy, who was more than ordinary of a sanguine nature, which made him see (as it were by inchantment) things that were not, having many times been deluded (as I judgd) by the same deception.
Defeated in this manner of my hopes to see Indians without the pains of seeking them, I returned to my work, and continued at it till one bottle was full, and myself tired: wherefore, that I might be a little recreated, I took a gun in my hand; and hearing the noise of geese on our shore, I approachd them privately, and had the good hap to be the death of one. This goose, now in my possession without witnesses, I resolved to eat alone, (deducting the head, bones, guts, &c., which were the cooks fees) hoping thereby to be much the better enabled to swim the creek, and perform the work I had upon my hand. I hung my goose upon the twist of a tree in a shrubby part of the wood, whilst I went to call aside our cook with his broach, and a coal of fire to begin the roast. But when we came to the place of execution, my goose was gone all but the head, the body stolen by wolves, which the Indians told us after, do abound greatly in that island.
The loss of this goose, which my empty stomach lookd for with no small hopes of satisfaction, did vex me heartily. I wishd I could have taken the thief of my goose to have servd him in the same kind, and to have taken my revenge in the law of retaliation. But that which troubled me more, was an apprehension that came into my mind, that this loss had been the effect of divine justice on me, for designing to deal unequally with the rest of my fellow-sufferers; which I thought, at first blush, lookd like a breach of trust: but then again when I considerd the equity of the thing, that I did it merely to enable myself to attain their preservation, and which otherwise I could not have done, I found I could absolve myself from any guilt of that kind. Whatever I sufferd in this disappointment, the cook lost not all his fees; the head and neck remained for him on the tree.
Being thus over-reachd by the wolf, it was time to return to my cookery, in order to my sally out of the island; for I had little confidence in the notice frequently brought me of more and more Indians seen on the other side, since my own eyes could never bear witness of their being there.
The next morning, being the ninth or tenth of our being there, I fell to work afresh, hoping to be ready to begin my journey that day; and being very busy, intelligence was brought, that a canoe was seen to lie on the broken ground to the south of our island, which was not discovered till now, since our being there: but this I thought might be a mistake cast in the same mould of many others that had deceived those discoverers, who fancyd all things real according to their own wishes. But when it was told me, that Indians had been at the poor womens cabbin in the night, and had given them shell-fish to eat, that was a demonstration of reality beyond all suspicion. I went immediately to be informd from themselves, and they both avowed it for truth, shewing the shells, (the like whereof I neer had seen) and this I took for proof of what they said.
The further account these women gave of the Indians, was, that they pointed to the south-east with their hands, which they know not how to interpret, but did imagine by their several gestures, they would be with them again to-morrow. Their pointing to the south-east was like to be the time they would come, moaning nine oclock to be their hour, where the sun will be at that time. Had the women understood their language, they could not have learned the time of the day by any other computation than pointing at the sun. It is all the clock they have for the day, as the coming and going of the Cabuncks (the geese) is their almanack or prognostick for the winter and summer seasons.
This news gave us all new life, almost working miracles amongst us, by making those who desponded, and totally yielded themselves up to the weight of despair, and lay down with an intent never more to rise again, to take up their beds and walk. This friendly charitable visit of the Indians did also put a stop to my preparations to seek them, who had so humanely prevented me, by their seeking ways to preserve and save our lives.
Instead of those preparations for my march which had cost me so much pains, I passed my time now in contriving the fittest posture our present condition would allow us to put on when these angels of light should appear again with the glad tidings of our relief; and the result was, that every able man should have his gun lying by his side, laden with shot, and as fit for use as possible, but not to be handled unless the Indians came to us like enemies, (which was very unlikely, the premises considered) and then to sell our lives at as dear a rate as we could; but if they came in an amicable posture, then would we meet them unarmd, chearfully, which the Indians like, and hate to see a melancholy face.
In these joyful hopes of unexpected deliverance by these Indians, did we pass the interval of their absence. Every eye lookd sharply out when the sun was at south-east, to peep thro the avenues of the wood to discover the approaches of our new friends. When the sun came to the south we thought our selves forgotten by them, and began to doubt the worst, as losing gamesters, at play for their last estate, suspect some stabcast to defeat the hopes of the fairest game. We feared some miscarriage, either from their inconstancy by change of their mind, or that some unlookd-for misfortune that our evil fates reserved for us, had interposed for our ruin.
Scouts were sent out to the right and left hands, without discovery of any body all the forenoon: and then, considering our case admitted no delay, I began to resume my former resolution of swimming to them that would not come to us. But how wholesome soever this counsel might seem in itself, it was most difficult to be put in practice, in regard of the cold time.
The northerly wind that in these climates does blow very cold in the heat of summer, does much more distemper the air in the winter season (as our poor comrades felt that Sunday night to their cost) and did send so cold a gale upon the surface of the water in the creek I was to pass, that, in the general opinion of all the concernd, it was not a thing to be attempted; and that if I did, I must surely perish in the act. I was easily perswaded to forbear an action so dangerous, and the rather, because I verily believed the Indians would bring us off, if our patience would hold out.
About the hours of two or three oclock it pleased God to change the face of our condition for the best; for whilst I was busy at the fire in preparations to wait on them, the Indians, who had placed themselves behind a very great tree, discovered their faces with most chearful smiles, without any kind of arms, or appearance of evil design; the whole number of them (perhaps twenty or thirty in all) consisting of men, women and children; all that could speak accosting us with joyful countenances, shaking hands with every one they met. The words Ny Top, often repeated by them, made us believe they bore a friendly signification, as they were soon interpreted to signify my friend.
After many salutations and Ny Tops interchangd, the night approaching, we fell to parley with each other; but performd it in signs more confounded and unintelligible than any other conversation I ever met withal; as hard to be interpreted as if they had expressd their thoughts in the Hebrew or Chaldean tongues.
They did me the honour to make all applications to me, as being of largest dimensions, and equipd in a camblet coat glittering with galoon lace of gold and silver, it being generally true, that where knowledge informs not, the habit qualifies.
The ears of Indian corn they gave us for present sustenance, needed no other interpreter to let them know how much more acceptable it was to us than the sight of dead and living corpses, which raised great compassion in them, especially in the women, who are observed to be of a soft tender nature.
One of them made me a present of the leg of a swan, which I eat as privately as it was given me, and thought it so much the more excellent, by how much it was larger than the greatest limb of any fowl I ever saw.
The Indians stayed with us about two hours, and parted not without a new appointment to see us again the next day: and the hour we were to expect them by their pointing to the sun, was to be at two oclock in the afternoon. I made the chief of them presents of ribbon and other slight trade, which they lovd, designing, by mutual endearment, to let them see, it would gratify their interest as well as their charity, to treat us well. Ha-na Haw was their parting word, which is farewell, pointing again at the place where the sun would be at our next meeting. We took leave in their own words Ha-na Haw.
The going away of the Indians, and leaving us behind, was a separation hard to be borne by our hungry company, who nevertheless had received a competent quantity of corn and bread to keep us till they returned to do better things for our relief; we did not fail to give glory to God for our approaching deliverance, and the joy we conceivd in our minds in the sense of so great a mercy, kept us awake all the night, and was a cordial to the sick and weak to recover their health and strength.
The delay of the Indians coming next day, beyond their set time, we thought an age of tedious years. At two oclock we had no news of them, but by attending their own time with a little patience, we might see a considerable number of them, men, women, and children, all about our huts, with recruits of bread and corn to stop every mouth. Many of them desird beads and little truck they use to deal in, as exchange for what they gave us; and we as freely gave them what we had brought on shore; but to such of us as gave them nothing, the Indians failed not however to give them bread for nothing.
One old man of their company, who seemd, by the preference they gave him, to be the most considerable of the party, applyd himself to me by gestures and signs, to learn something (if possible) of our country, and occasion of the sad posture he saw us in, to the end that he might inform his master, the king of Kickotank, (on whose territories we stood) and dispose him to succour us, as we had need.
I made return to him in many vain words, and in as many insignificant signs as himself had made to me, and neither of us one jot the wiser. The several nonpluss we both were at in striving to be better understood, afforded so little of edification to either party, that our time was almost spent in vain. It came at last into my head, that I had long since read Mr. Smiths travels thro those parts of America, and that the word Werowance (a word frequently pronounced by the old man) was in English the king. That word, spoken by me, with strong emphasis, together with the motions of my body, speaking my desire of going to him, was very pleasing to the old man, who thereupon embracd me with more than common kindness, and by all demonstrations of satisfaction, did shew that he understood my meaning. This one word was all the Indian I could speak, which (like a little armour well placd) contributed to the saving of our lives.
In order to what was next to be done, he took me by the hand and led me to the sea side, where I embarkd with himself and one more Indian in a canoe, that had brought him there, which the third man rowed over to that broken ground, where, not long before, we made discovery of a canoe newly laid there, and (as they told us) was lodgd there on purpose to be ready for our transport, at such time as they thought fit to fetch us off; and the reason of their taking me with them was to help launch this weighty embarkation, which was very heavy for its proportion, as being made of the body of an oak or pine, some twenty-two foot in length, hollowed like a pig-trough, which is the true description of a canoe. The manner of its being put into motion is very particular; the labourers with long booms place their feet on the starboard and larboard sides of the boat, and with this fickle footing do they heave it forward.
I cannot omit a passage of one Major Stephens, who had been an officer in the late civil war, under Sir William Waller, and was now one of our fellow-sufferers. He could not be persuaded by any means to give his vote for prosecuting the way we were in for our relief, but differd as much in judgment with us, in this our design of going to the king of this country, as he had done in England, by engaging against his natural sovereign; he cryd out these rogues would draw us into their power, and take away our lives, advising, rather than to put our trust in this king, we should put ourselves into one of these canoes, and taking advantage of the calm time, we should try to get the north cape.
His fears and objections were so unreasonable, that they were not worth an answer, and his project of going thus by sea was so ridiculous, that it did exceed all chimeras of knight-errantry, and his apprehending the king would ensnare us, we all esteemed vain, as nothing could be more childish. We had been in the kings power (though we knew it not) ever since we set foot on that ground, so that had his mind been that way bent, he need use no other stratagem to end our lives, than to have forborne the sending us relief; every one dissented to the main project, and I did unfeignedly profess, for my own part, that I would much rather expose my life to the honour of a king (tho never so mean) than to the billows of the sea, in such a bottom; which would be to tempt God to destroy us, and punish our presumption by his justice, at the same time that he was saving us by a miracle of his mercy.
I should not have remembred this passage of Major Stephens, had he only shewd his antipathy in this single instance, but because he repeated the rancor of his mind, in two other very small occasions, which will follow, tis just that the malignity of so ill an humour should suffer some reprimand.
The canoes being fitted to take us in and waft us to the main, I made a fair muster of the remnant we had to carry off, and found we wanted six of the number we brought on shore, viz., four men and two women: five of those six we knew were dead, but missing one of our living women, we made the Indians understand the same, who as readily made us know that she was in their thoughts, and should be cared for as soon as we were settled in our quarters.
In passing the creek that was to lead us to an honest fishermans house, we entred a branch of it to the southward, that was the roadway to it. The tide was going out, and the water very shoal, which gave occasion to any one that had a knife, to treat himself with oysters all the way. At the head of that branch we were able in a short time to discover that heaven of happiness where our most courteous host did, with a chearful countenance, receive and entertain us. Several fires were kindled out of hand, our arms and powder were laid up in safety, and divers earthen pipkins were put to boil with such varieties as the season would afford. Every body had something or other to defend and save them from the cold; and my obligation to him, by a peculiar care that he had of me, exceeded all the rest. I had one intire side of the fire, with a large platform to repose on, to myself; furrs and deer skins to cover my body, and support my head, with a priority of respect and friendly usage, which, to my great trouble, I was not able to deserve at his hands, by any requital then in my power to return.
Our kind entertainment in the house of this poor fisherman, had so many circumstances of hearty compassion and tenderness in every part of it, that as it ought to be a perpetual motive to engage all of us who enjoyed the benefit of it, to a daily acknowledgement of the Almightys goodness for conducting us in this manner by his immediate hand, out of our afflictions, so may it ever be lookd upon as a just reproach to Christians, who, on all our sea-coasts, are so far from affording succour to those who, by shipwreck and misfortunes of the sea, do fall into their power, that they treat with all inhuman savage barbarity, those unhappy souls whom God hath thus afflicted, seizing on their goods as their proper perquisites, which the waves of the sea (by divine providence) would cast upon the shore for the true proprietors; and many times dispatching them out of the world to silence complaints, and to prevent all after-reckonings. And the better to intitle themselves to what they get in this way of rapine, they wickedly call such devilish acquests by the sacred name of Gods good, prophaning and blaspheming at the same time that holy name, as they violate all the laws of hospitality and human society. Whereas, on the contrary, our charitable host, influenced only by natural law, without the least shew of coveting any thing we had, or prospect of requital in the future, did not only treat in this manner our persons, but did also, with as much honesty, secure for us our small stores of guns, powder, etc., as if he had read and understood the duty of the gospel, or had given his only child as a hostage to secure his dealing justly with us. So that I can never sufficiently applaud the humanity of this Indian, nor express the high contentment that I enjoyed in this poor mans cottage, which was made of nothing but mat and reeds, and bark of trees fixd to poles. It had a loveliness and symmetry in the air of it, so pleasing to the eye, and refreshing to the mind, that neither the splendor of the Escurial nor the glorious appearance of Versailles were able to stand in competition with it. We had a boiled swan for supper, which gave plentiful repasts to all our upper mess.
Our bodies thus refreshed with meat and sleep, comforted with fires, and secured from all the changes and inclemencies of that sharp piercing cold season, we thought the morning (tho clad in sunshine) did come too fast upon us. Breakfast was liberally provided and set before us, our arms faithfully delivered up to my order for carriage; and thus in readiness to set forward, we put our selves in a posture to proceed to the place where the king resided. The woman left behind at the island, had been well lookd to, and was now brought off to the care of her comrade that came with us; neither of them in a condition to take a journey, but they were carefully attended and nourished in this poor mans house, till such time as boats came to fetch them to Virginia, where they did soon arrive in perfect health, and lived (one or both of them) to be well married, and to bear children, and to subsist in as plentiful a condition as they could wish.
In beginning our journey thro the woods, we had not advanced half a mile till we heard a great noise of mens voices, directed to meet and stop our further passage. These were several Indians sent by the king to order us back to our quarters. Major Stephens (not cured of his jealous humour by the experience of what he felt the night before) took this alarm in a very bad sense, and as much different from the rest of the company as in his former fit. He was again deluded with a strong fancy, that these violent motions in the Indians who approachd us, were the effect of some sudden change in their counsels to our detriment, and that nothing less than our perdition could be the consequence thereof, which he feared would immediately be put in practice by the clamorous men that made such haste to meet us, and (as he would apprehend) to kill and destroy us.
This passion of Major Stephens, cast in the same mould with that other he discovered in the island, had not (as we all thought and told him) whereon to raise the least foundation of terror to affright a child; for besides the earnest we had received of their good intentions the night before, these men who came so fast upon us, were all unarmd; nor was it likely, that king would now possibly imbrew his hands in our blood, and provoke he knew not how powerful a nation to destroy him, after such kind caresses, and voluntary expressions of a temper very contrary to such cruelty. In fine, we saw no cause in all the carriage of the Indians on which I could ground any fear, and therefore I longd with all impatience to see this king, and to enjoy the plenty of his table, as we quickly did.
When these Indians came up to us, this doubt was soon cleared. The good-naturd king being informd of our bodily weakness, and inability to walk thro the woods to his house on foot, (which might be about four miles distant from our setting out) had a real tenderness for us, and sent canoes to carry us to the place nearest his house, by the favour of another branch of the same creek; and to the end we might take no vain steps (as we were going to do) and exhaust our strength to no purpose, these Indians made this noise to stop us.
We entred the canoes that were mannd, and lay ready to receive us. We had a pleasant passage in the shallow water, eat oysters all the way: for altho the breakfast we had newly made, might well excuse a longer abstinence than we were like to be put to, our arrear to our stomachs was so great, that all we swallowed was soon concocted, and our appetite still fresh and craving more.
Having passd this new course for some three English miles in another branch of the creek, our landing place was contrivd to be near the house of the queen then in waiting. She was a very plain lady to see to, not young, nor yet ill-favourd. Her complexion was of a sad white: but the measures of beauty in those parts where they are exposed to the scorching sun from their infancy, are not taken from red and white, but from colours that will better lie upon their tawny skins, as hereafter will be seen.
The beauty of this queens mind (which is more permanent than that of colour) was conspicuous in her charity and generosity to us poor starved weather-beaten creatures, who were the object of it. A mat was spread without the house, upon the ground, furnishd with pone, homini, oysters, and other things. The queen made us sit down and eat, with gestures that shewed more of courtesy than majesty, but did speak as hearty welcome as could in silence be expected: and these were the graces that, in our opinion, transcended all other beauties in the world, and did abundantly supply all defects of outward appearance in the person and garb of the queen. The southerly wind made the season tolerable; but that lasted but little, the north-west gale coming violently on us again.
When this collation of the queen was at an end, we took leave of her majesty with all the shews of gratitude that silence knew how to utter. We were now within half an hours walk of the kings mansion, which we soon discovered by the smoak, and saw it was made of the same stuff with the other houses from which we had newly parted, namely, of mat and reed. Locust posts sunk in the ground at corners and partitions, was the strength of the whole fabrick. The roof was tied fast to the body with a sort of strong rushes that grow there, which supplyd the place of nails and pins, mortises and tenons.
The breadth of this palace was about eighteen or twenty foot, the length about twenty yards. The only furniture was several platforms for lodging, each about two yards long and more, placd on both sides of the house, distant from each other about five foot; the space in the middle was the chimney, which had a hole in the roof over it, to receive as much of the smoak as would naturally repair to it; the rest we shared amongst us, which was the greatest part; and the sitters divided to each side, as our soldiers do in their corps de guarde.
Fourteen great fires, thus situated, were burning all at once. The kings apartment had a distinction from the rest; it was twice as long, and the bank he sat on was adornd with deer skins finely dressd, and the best furrs of otter and beaver that the country did produce.
The fire assignd to us was suitable to our number, to which we were conducted, without intermixture of any Indian but such as came to do us offices of friendship. There we were permitted to take our rest until the king pleased to enter into communication with us. Previous to which he sent his daughter, a well-favourd young girl of about ten or twelve years old, with a great wooden bowl full of homini (which is the corn of that country, beat and boiled to mash). She did in a most obliging manner give me the first taste of it, which I would have handed to my next neighbour after I had eaten, but the young princess interposed her hand, and taking the bowl out of mine, delivered it to the same party I aimed to give it, and so to all the rest in order. Instead of a spoon there was a well-shapd muscle-shell that accompanied the bowl.
The linen of that country grows ready made on the branches of oak trees (or pine); the English call it moss. It is like the threads of unwhited cotton-yarn ravelled, and hangs in parcels on the lower boughs, divine providence having so ordered it for the convenience and sustenance of the deer, which is all the food they can get in times of snow. It is very soft, sweet and cleanly, and fit for the purpose of wiping clean the hands, and doing the duty of napkins.
About three hours after this meal was ended, the king sent to have me come to him. He called me Ny a Mutt, which is to say, My brother, and compelled me to sit down on the same bank with himself, which I had reason to look upon as a mighty favour. After I had sat there about half an hour, and taken notice of many earnest discourses and repartees betwixt the king and his crotemen, (so the Indians call the kings council) I could plainly discover, that the debate they held was concerning our adventure and coming there. To make it more clear, the king addressd himself to me with many gestures of his body, his arms displayd in various postures, to explain what he had in his mind to utter for my better understanding. By all which motions I was not edifyd in the least, nor could imagine what return to make by voice or sign, to satisfy the kings demands in any thing that related to the present straights of our condition. In fine, I admird their patient sufferance of my dulness to comprehend what they meant, and shewd myself to be troubled at it; which being perceivd by the king, he turnd all into mirth and jollity, and never left till he made me laugh with him, tho I knew not why.
I took that occasion to present the king with a sword and long shoulder-belt, which he received very kindly; and to witness his gracious acceptance, he threw off his Mach coat, (or upper covering of skin) stood upright on his bank, and, with my aid, did accoutre his naked body with his new harness, which had no other apparel to adorn it, besides a few skins about his loyns to cover his nakedness. In this dress he seemd to be much delighted; but to me he appeard a figure of such extraordinary shape, with sword and belt to set it off, that he needed now no other art to stir me up to laughter and mirth, than the sight of his own proper person.
Having made this short acquaintance with the king, I took leave, and returned to my comrades. In passing the spaces betwixt fire and fire, one space amongst the rest was blinded with a traverse of mat; and by the noise I heard from thence, like the beating of hemp, I took it to be some kind of elaboratory. To satisfy a curiosity I had to be more particularly informd, I edgd close to the mat; and, by standing on tiptoe for a full discovery, I saw a sight that gave me no small trouble. The same specifical queen (whose courtesy for our kind usage the other day, can never be enough applauded) was now employed in the hard servile labour of beating corn for the kings dinner, which raised the noise that made me thus inquisitive. I wishd myself in her place for her ease: but the queens of that country do esteem it a privilege to serve their husbands in all kinds of cookery, which they would be as loth to lose, as any Christian queen would be to take it from them.
Several Indians of the first rank followed me to our quarters, and used their best endeavours to sift something from us that might give them light into knowing what we were. They sought many ways to make their thoughts intelligible to us, but still we parted without knowing what to fix upon, or how to steer our course in advance of our way to Virginia.
In this doubtful condition we thought it reasonable to fall upon a speedy resolution what was next to be done on our parts, in order to the accomplishment of our voyage by land, which we hopd (by the divine aid) we might be able to effect after a little more refreshment by the plenty of victuals allowed us by the king, who was no less indulgent and careful to feed and caress us, than if we had been his children.
Towards morning we were treated with a new regale brought to us by the same fair hand again. It was a sort of spoon-meat, in colour and taste not unlike to almond-milk temperd and mixd with boiled rice. The ground still was Indian corn boiled to a pap, which they call Homini, but the ingredient which performed the milky part, was nothing but dry pokickery nuts, beaten shells and all to powder, and they are like our walnuts, but thicker shelld, and the kernel sweeter; but being beaten in a mortar, and put into a tray, hollowd in the middle to make place for fair water, no sooner is the water poured into the powder, but it rises again white and creamish; and after a little ferment it does partake so much of the delicate taste of the kernel of that nut, that it becomes a rarity to a miracle.
Major Morrison, who had been almost at deaths door, found himself abundantly refreshed and comforted with this delicacy; he wished the bowl had been a fathom deep, and would say, when his stomach called on him for fresh supplies, that if this Princess Royal would give him his fill of that food, he should soon recover his strength.
Our bodies growing vigorous with this plenty, we took new courage, and resolvd (as many as were able) to attempt the finding out of Virginia. We guessd the distance could not be great, and that it bore from us S. by W. to S. W. Our ignorance of the latitude we were in, was some discouragement to us; but we were confident, from what the seamen discoursed, we were to the southward of the Menados, then a Dutch plantation, now New York. Fair weather and full stomachs made us willing to be gone. To that end we laid out for a quantity of pone; and for our surer conduct we resolved to procure an Indian to be our pilot through the wilderness, for we were to expect many remoras in our way, by swamps and creeks, with which all those sea-coasts do abound.
The king remarking our more than ordinary care to procure more bread than amounted to our usual expence, gathered thence our design to leave him, and shift for our selves. To prevent the rashness and folly of such attempt, he made use of all his silent rhetorick to put us out of conceit of such design, and made us understand the peril and difficulty of it by many obstacles we must meet with. He shewd us the danger we should expose ourselves unto, by rain and cold, swamps and darkness, unless we were conducted by other skill than we could pretend to. He pointed to his fires and shocks of corn, of which he had enough, and made it legible to us in his countenance, that we were welcome to it. All the signs the king made upon this occasion, we were content to understand in the best sense; and taking for granted our sojourning there was renewed to another day, we retired to our quarters.
About midnight following, the king sent to invite me to his fire. He placed me near him as before, and in the first place shewing me quarters of a lean doe, new brought in. He gave me a knife to cut what part of it I pleased, and then pointing to the fire, I inferrd, I was left to my own discretion for the dressing of it. I could not readily tell how to shew my skill in the cookery of it, with no better ingredients than appeard in sight; and so did no more but cut a collop and cast it on the coals. His majesty laughd at my ignorance, and to instruct me better, he broachd the collop on a long scewer, thrust the sharp end into the ground (for there was no hearth but what nature made) and turning sometimes one side, sometimes the other, to the fire, it became fit in short time to be served up, had there been a dining-room of state such as that excellent king deserved.
I made tender of it first to the king, and then to his nobles, but all refused, and left all to me, who gave God and the king thanks for that great meal. The rest of the doe was cut in pieces, stewed in a pipkin, and then put into my hands to dispose of amongst my company.
As soon as I had dispatchd this midnight venison feast, and sent the rest to my comrades, the king was greatly desirous to make me comprehend, by our common dialect of signs and motions, the ingenious stratagem by which they used to take their deer in the winter season, especially when the surface of the earth is coverd with snow. He shewed me in the first place a small leather thong, in which (said he) any kind of deer should be invited to hamper himself and lie fast tyd on his back, until the engineer (or some body else for him) should take quiet possession of him. I could not conceive the particular structure of this machine, so as to direct the making of it elsewhere; but thus much in the general I did understand; they would fasten a pine green branch at the end of a pole (such as hops grow upon) which should lie athwart an oak, like the pole of a turners lathe, and the green hanging dingle-dangle at the pole end, fastened by a string; it should be set at a height for a deer to reach, but not without mounting and resting on his hinder legs, that so in pulling the branch, as at a trigger, the machine discharging, his heels are struck up to fly in the air, and there he remains on his back so straitly hamperd, that the least child may approach to touch and take him.
Before I parted, the king attackd me again, with reiterated attempts to be understood, and I thought by these three or four days conversation, I had the air of his expression much more clear and intelligible than at first. His chief drift for the first essay seemed to be a desire to know which way we were bound, whether north or south; to which I pointed to the south. This gave him much satisfaction, and thereupon steps in the little grotman before described, who by the motion of his hand seemed to crave my regard to what he was going about. He took up a stick, with which he made divers circles by the fire-side, and then holding up his finger to procure my attention, he gave to every hole a name; and it was not hard to conceive that the several holes were to supply the place of a sea-chart, showing the situation of all the most noted Indian territories that lay to the southward of Kickotank.
That circle that was most southerly, he called Achomack, which, tho he pronouncd with a different accent from us, I laid hold on that word with all demonstrations of satisfaction I could express, giving them to understand, that was the place to which I had a desire to be conducted.
The poor king was in a strange transport of joy to see me receive satisfaction, and did forthwith cause a lusty young man to be called to him, to whom, by the earnestness of his motions, he seemed to give ample instructions to do something for our service, but what it was we were not yet able to resolve. In two or three days time, seeing no effect of what he had so seriously said, we began again to despond, and did therefore resume our former thoughts of putting our selves in posture to be gone; but the king seeing us thus ready at every turn to leave him, shewed in his looks a more than ordinary resentment; still describing (as he could) the care he had taken for us, and impossibility of accomplishing our ends by our selves, and that we should surely faint in the way and die without help, if we would not be ruled by him.
He shewed me again his stores of corn, and made such reiterated signs, by the chearfulness of his countenance, that we should not want, whilst he had such a plenty, as made us lay aside all thoughts of stirring till he said the word. But as oft as he lookd or pointed to the coast of Achomack, he would shake his head, with abundance of grimaces, in dislike of our design to go that way till he saw it good we should do so. I was abundantly convinced of our folly in the resolution we were ready to take of going away without better information of the distance from Achomack, and the way that led to it; and having so frank a welcome where we were, we resolved to stay till the king should approve of our departure, which he was not able to determine till the messenger came back, that he had sent to Achomack, who, it now seemed more plainly, was dispatchd upon my owning that place to be our home, tho we knew it not from any cause we could rely upon, before we saw the effect.
While we livd in this suspense, the king had a great mind to see our fire-arms, and to be acquainted with the use and nature of them. That which best did please his eye I presented to him, and shewd him how to load and discharge it. He was very shy at first essay, fearing it might hurt him, but I made him stand upon his lodging place, and putting him in a posture to give fire, he presented the mouth of his gun to the chimney hole, and so let fly. The combustible nature of the kings palace not well considerd, the fabrick was endangered by the kings own hand, for the flashing of the powder having taken hold of the roof at the smoak-hole, all was in a flame; but a nimble lad or two ran up to quench it, and did soon extinguish it without considerable damage to the building, which was of mat and boughs of oak as aforesaid.
The kings eldest son, of about eighteen years of age, was hugely enamourd with our guns, and lookd so wistfully on me, when he saw what wonders they would do, that I could not forbear presenting him with a birding-piece. Some of our company, who knew that by the laws of Virginia, it was criminal to furnish the Indians with fire-arms, gave me caution in this case, but I resolved, for once, to borrow a point of that law; for tho it might be of excellent use in the general, yet as our condition was, I esteemed it a much greater crime to deny those Indians any thing that was in our power, than the penalty of that law could amount to.
Father and son abundantly gratifyd in this manner, the king thought himself largely requited for the cost we put him to in our entertainment. I taught his son to shoot at fowls, to charge his gun and clean it, insomuch that in a few minutes, he went among the flocks of geese, and firing at random he did execution on one of them to his great joy, and returned to his father with the game in his hand, with such celerity, as if he had borrowed wings of the wind.
About three oclock this afternoon, the king was pleased in great condescension to honour me with a visit, a favour which I may (without vanity) assume to myself, and my better habit, from the many particular applications that he made to me, exclusive of the rest of the company. He thought I was too melancholy, (for the Indians, as has been observd, are great enemies to that temper) and shewd me by his own chearful looks, what humour he would have put me on; he would not have me in the least apprehensive of wanting any thing his country afforded, as his mien and gesture witnessed; and for the higher proof of his reality, he found me out a divertisement, that was very extraordinary. He came at this time attended by his young daughter, who had done us the good offices before mentiond, and having first by kind words and pleasant gestures given us renewed assurance of hearty welcome, he singled me out, and pointed with his hand to a way he would have me take, but whither, or to what end, I was at liberty to guess; upon that he produced his little daughter for my conductrix to the place to which I should go, and shewed his desire that I should follow her where-ever she should lead me.
Major Stephens, not yet enough convincd of the Indians fidelity, would have discouraged me from leaving the company in that manner, unreasonably fancying that this was a contrivance in the king to take away my life in a private way; but this I thought did so much outstrip all his other senseless jealousies, that after I had acknowledgd the obligation I had to his care of my person, his needless caution had no other effect on me than to turn it into ridicule. These inordinate fears of this major in three foregoing instances, might (I confess) have been very well omitted, as not worthy the mention, and so they should have been, had his humour and constitution in prosperous times been any way suitable to this wary temper; but because his habits on shore were scandalously vicious, his mouth always belching oaths, and his tongue proving him the vainest hector I had seen, I thought it was pity to lose such a strong confirmation of that known truth, viz., that true innate courage does seldom reside in the heart of a quarrelling and talking hector.
The weather (as I have said) was excessive cold, with frost, and the winds blowing very fresh upon my face, it almost stopt my breath. The late condition I had been in, under a roof, with great fires, and much smoak, did conduce to make me the more sensible of the cold air: but in less than half an hour that pain was over; we were now in sight of the house whereto we were bound, and the lady of the place was ready to receive us, (who proved to be the mother of my conductrix) and to shew me my apartment in the middle of her house, which had the same accommodation to sit and rest upon, as before has been described in other instances.
The lusty rousing fire, prepared to warm me, would have been noble entertainment of itself, but attended (as it was quickly) with good food for the belly, made it to be that compleat good chear, I only aimed at; a wild turkey boiled, with oysters, was preparing for my supper, which, when it was ready, was served up in the same pot that boiled it. It was a very savoury mess, stewd with muscles, and I believe would have passed for a delicacy at any great table in England, by palates more competent to make a judgment than mine, which was now more gratifyd with the quantity than the quality of what was before me.
This queen was also of the same mould of her majesty whom we first met at our landing place, somewhat antient (in proportion to the kings age) but so gentle and compassionate, as did very bountifully requite all defects of nature; she passed some hours at my fire, and was very desirous to know the occasion that brought us there (as her motion and the emphasis of her words did shew) but I had small hopes to satisfy her curiosity therein, after so many vain attempts to inform the king in that matter. In fine, I grew sleepy, and about nine oclock every one retired to their quarters, separated from each other by traverses of mat, which (besides their proper virtue) kept the ladies from any immodest attempts, as secure as if they had been bars of iron.
As soon as the day peeped in, I went out and felt the same cold as yesterday, with the same wind, N. W. I was not forward to quit a warm quarter, and a frank entertainment, but my young governess, who had her fathers orders for direction, knew better than myself what I was to do: she put herself in a posture to lead the way back from whence we came, after a very good repast of stewd muscles, together with a very hearty welcome plainly appearing in the queens looks.
My nimble pilot led me away with great swiftness, and it was necessary so to do; the weather still continuing in that violent sharpness, nothing but a violent motion could make our limbs useful. No sooner had I set my foot in the kings house to visit my comrades, but a wonderful surprize appeared to me in the change of every countenance, and as every face did plainly speak a general satisfaction, so did they with one voice explain the cause thereof, in telling me the messengers of our delivery were arrivd, and now with the king.
I hastened to see those angels, and addressing myself to one of them in English habit, askd him the occasion of his coming there? He told me his business was to trade for furrs, and no more; but as soon as I had told him my name, and the accidents of our being there, he acknowledgd he came under the guidance of the Kickotank Indian (which I imagind, but was not sure the king had sent) in quest of me and those that were left on shore, sent by the governors order of Virginia to enquire after us, but knew not where to find us till that Indian came to his house; he gave me a large account of the ships arrival, and the many dangers and difficulties she encountred before she could come into James river, where she ran ashore, resolving there to lay her bones. His name was Jenkin Price. He had brought an Indian of his neighbourhood with him that was very well acquainted in those parts, for our conduct back to Achomack, which Indian was called Jack.
The king was very glad of this happy success to us, and was impatient to learn something more of our history than hitherto he had been able to extract from signs and grimaces. Jenkin Price, with his broken Indian, could make a shift to instruct Jack to say any thing he pleased, and Jack was the more capable to understand his meaning by some sprinklings of English, that he had learnt at our plantations. Betwixt them both they were able to satisfy the king in what he pleased to know. Jack told them of himself what a mighty nation we were in that country, and gave them caution not to imbezzle any goods we had brought with us, for fear of an after-reckoning. I wondered, upon this serious discourse he had with the king, to see guns and stockings, and whatever trifles we had given, offerd to be returnd, and being told the reason of it by Jenkin Price, I was very much ashamed of Jacks too great zeal in our service, which, tho it did proceed from a principle of honesty, and good morality in him, we were to consider that our dearest lives, and all we could enjoy in this world, was (next to divine providence) owing to the virtue and charity of this king, and therefore not only what they had in possession, but whatever else he should desire that was in my power, would be too mean an acknowledgment for so high obligations. I took care to let them know that I had no hand in the menace by which Jack brought them to refund what they had got of us; the right understanding whereof increased our good intelligence, and became a new endearment of affection betwixt us.
By better acquaintance with these our deliverers, we learnd that we were about fifty English miles from Virginia. That part of it where Jenkin did govern, was calld Littletons Plantation, and was the first English ground we did expect to see. He gave me great encouragement to endure the length of the way, by assuring me I should not find either stone or shrub to hurt my feet thorow my thin-soaled boots, for the whole colony had neither stone nor underwood; and having thus satisfyd my curiosity in the knowledge of what Jenkin Price could communicate, we deferred no longer to resolve how and when to begin our journey to Achomack.
The Indian he brought with him (who afterwards lived and died my servant) was very expert, and a most incomparable guide in the woods we were to pass, being a native of those parts, so that he was as our sheet-anchor in this our peregrination. The king was loth to let us go till the weather was better temperd for our bodies; but when he saw we were fully resolved, and had pitchd upon the next morning to begin our journey, he found himself much defeated in a purpose he had taken to call together all the flower of his kingdom to entertain us with a dance, to the end that nothing might be omitted on his part for our divertisement, as well as our nourishment, which his small territory could produce. Most of our company would gladly have deferred our march a day longer, to see this masquerade, but I was wholly bent for Achomack, to which place I was to dance almost on my bare feet, the thoughts of which took off the edge I might otherwise have had to novelties of that kind.
When the good old king saw we were fully determined to be gone the next day, he desired as a pledge of my affection to him, that I would give him my camblet coat, which he vowed to wear whilst he lived for my sake; I shook hands to shew my willingness to please him in that or in any other thing he would command, and was the more willing to do myself the honour of compliance in this particular, because he was the first king I could call to mind that had ever shewd any inclinations to wear my old cloaths.
To the young princess, that had so signally obliged me, I presented a piece of two-penny scarlet ribbon, and a French tweezer, that I had in my pocket, which made her skip for joy, and to shew how little she fancyd our way of carrying them concealed, she retired apart for some time, and taking out every individual piece of which it was furnishd, she tied a snip of ribbon to each, and so came back with scissars, knives and bodkins hanging at her ears, neck and hair. The case itself was not excusd, but bore a part in this new dress: and to the end we might not part without leaving deep impressions of her beauty in our minds, she had prepared on her forefingers, a lick of paint on each, the colours (to my best remembrance) green and yellow, which at one motion she dischargd on her face, beginning upon her temples, and continuing it in an oval line downwards as far as it would hold out. I could have wishd this young princess would have contented herself with what nature had done for her, without this addition of paint (which, I thought, made her more fulsome than handsome); but I had reason to imagine the royal family were only to use this ornament exclusive of all others, for that I saw none other of her sex so set off; and this conceit made it turn again, and appear lovely, as all things should do that are honourd with the royal stamp.
I was not furnishd with any thing upon the place, fit to make a return to the two queens for the great charity they used to feed and warm me; but when I came into a place where I could be supplyd, I was not wanting that way, according to my power.
Early next morning we put our selves in posture to be gone, viz. Major Stephens, myself, and three or four more, whose names are worn out of my mind. Major Morrison was so far recovered as to be heart-whole, but he wanted strength to go thro so great a labour as this was like to prove. We left him with some others to be brought in boats that the governor had orderd for their accommodation; and with them the two weak women, who were much recoverd by the good care and nourishment they receivd in the poor fishermans house.
Breakfast being done, and our pilot Jack ready to set out, we took a solemn leave of the good king. He inclosed me in his arms with kind embraces, not without expressions of sorrow to part, beyond the common rate of new acquaintance. I made Jack pump up his best compliments, which at present was all I was capable to return to the kings kindness; and so, after many Hana haes, we parted.
It pleased God to send us dry weather, and not excessive cold. We had made provision of Pone to bait on by the way, and we found good water to refresh us; but all this did not hinder my being tird and spent almost to the last degree. Jack very kindly offerd his service to carry me on his shoulders (for I was brought to a moderate weight by the strict diet I had been in) but that would have been more uneasy to me, in contemplation of his more than double pains, and so I resolved to try my utmost strength, without placing so great a weight on his shoulders.
The hopes of seeing English ground in America, and that in so short a time as they made us expect, did animate my spirits to the utmost point. Jack fearing the worst, was of opinion, that we should call at his aunts town, the queen of Pomumkin, not far out of the way: but Jenkin Price opposed that motion, and did assure me our journeys end was at hand. His words and my own inclination carried the question, and I resolved, by Gods help, that night to sleep at Jenkins house.
But the distance proving yet greater than had been described, and my boots trashing me almost beyond all sufferance, I became desperate, and ready to sink and lie down. Jenkin lulld me on still with words that spurrd me to the quick; and would demonstrate the little distance betwixt us and his plantation, by the sight of hogs and cattle, of which species the Indians were not masters. I was fully convincd of what he said, but would however have consented to a motion of lying without doors on the ground, within two or three nights shot of the place, to save the labour of so small a remainder.
The close of the evening, and a little more patience (thro the infinite goodness of the Almighty) did put a happy period to our cross adventure. A large bed of sweet straw was spread ready in Jenkins house for our reception, upon which I did hasten to extend and stretch my wearied limbs. And being thus brought into safe harbour by the many miracles of divine mercy, from all the storms and fatigues, perils and necessities to which we had been exposed by sea and land for almost the space of four months, I cannot conclude this voyage in more proper terms, than the words that are the burthen of that psalm of providence, O that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wondrous works unto the children of men!
Our landlord Jenkin Price, and conductor Jack took great care to provide meat for us; and there being a dairy and hens, we could not want. As for our stomachs, they were open at all hours to eat whateer was set before us, as soon as our wearied bodies were refreshd with sleep. It was on Saturday the day of January, that we ended this our wearisome pilgrimage, and entered into our kings dominions at Achomat, called by the English, Northampton county, which is the only county on that side of the bay belonging to the colony of Virginia, and is the best of the whole for all sorts of necessaries for human life .
When I came to the house of one Stephen Charlton, he did not only outdo all that I had visited before him, in variety of dishes at his table, which was very well orderd in the kitchen, but would also oblige me to put on a good farmer-like suit of his own wearing cloaths, for exchange of my dirty habit; and this gave me opportunity to deliver my camblet coat to Jack, for the use of my brother of Kickotank, with other things to make it worth his acceptance.
Having been thus frankly entertaind at Mr. Charltons, our company were in condition to take care for themselves. We took leave of each other, and my next stage was to Esquire Yardly, a gentleman of good name, whose father had sometime been governor of Virginia. There I was received and treated as if I had in truth and reality been that man of honour my brother of Kickotank had created me. It fell out very luckily for my better welcome, that he had not long before brought over a wife from Rotterdam, that I had known almost from a child. Her father (Custis by name) kept a victualling house in that town, livd in good repute, and was the general host of our nation there. The esquire knowing I had the honour to be the governors kinsman, and his wife knowing my conversation in Holland, I was receivd and caressd more like a domestick and near relation, than a man in misery, and a stranger. I stayd there for a passage over the bay, about ten days, welcomed and feasted not only by the esquire and his wife, but by many neighbours that were not too remote.
About the midst of February, I had an opportunity to cross the bay in a sloop, and with much ado landed in York river, at Esquire Ludlows plantation, a most pleasant situation. I was civilly receivd by him, who presently orderd an accommodation for me in a most obliging manner. But it fell out at that time, that Captain Wormly (of his majestys council) had guests in his house (not a furlong distant from Mr. Ludlows) feasting and carousing, that were lately come from England, and most of them my intimate acquaintance. I took a sudden leave of Mr. Ludlow, thankd him for his kind intentions to me, and using the common freedom of the country, I thrust myself amongst Captain Wormlys guests in crossing the creek, and had a kind reception from them all, which answered (if not exceeded) my expectation.
Sir Thomas Lundsford, Sir Henry Chickly, Sir Philip Hollywood, and Colonel Hamond were the persons I met there, and enjoyd that night with very good chear, but left them early the next morning, out of a passionate desire I had to see the governor, whose care for my preservation had been so full of kindness.
Captain Wormly mounted me for James Town, where the governor was pleased to receive and take me to his house at Greenspring, and there I passd my hours (as at mine own house) until May following; at which time he sent me for Holland to find out the king, and to sollicite his majesty for the treasurers place of Virginia, which the governor took to be void by the delinquency of Claybourne, who had long enjoyd it. He furnishd me with a sum of money to bear the charge of this solicitation; which took effect, tho the king was then in Scotland. He was not only thus kind to me (who had a more than ordinary pretence to his favour by our near affinity in blood) but, on many occasions, he shewd great respect to all the royal party, who made that colony their refuge. His house and purse were open to all that were so qualifyd. To one of my comrades (Major Fox) who had no friend at all to subsist on, he shewd a generosity that was like himself; and to my other (Major Morrison) he was more kind, for he did not only place him in the command of the fort, which was profitable to him whilst it held under the king, but did advance him after to the government of the country, wherein he got a competent estate.
And thus (by the good providence of a gracious God, who helpeth us in our low estate, and causeth his angels to pitch tents round about them that trust in him) have I given as faithful an account of this signal instance of his goodness to the miserable objects of his mercy in this voyage, as I have been able to call to a clear remembrance.