There is something more horrible than hoodlums, churls and vipers, and that is knaves with moral justification for their cause. — Thomas More

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Smith Wounded

The last Jamestown settlers brought over letters in which the English merchants asked for gold, and urged the colonists to make diligent search for a passage to India, where so much money could be made by trading for silks, pearls, and spices. In obedience to these orders, a new excursion was tried, but of course no such passage was ever found on the coast of Virginia.

When the ships went back to England, Smith sent a letter to the company, begging them to send out farmers, carpenters, blacksmiths, masons, and men to cut down trees, rather than so many fine gentlemen who did not know how to work.

Then, as soon as the ships had gone, Captain Smith set all the colonists to work building houses, planting corn, and working hard in many ways, so as to supply their daily needs. He also ordered that the Indians should be treated kindly. But the settlers, thinking they knew better than he, refused to work, and treated the Indians so unjustly that they secretly planned to kill all the English.

We are told that this plot was overheard by Pocahontas. She ran through the forest all alone, one dark night, and, coming to Jamestown, secretly told Captain Smith of his peril. He was so grateful to Pocahontas for her warning that he wanted to give her a present; but she refused it, saying that if her people saw it they would suspect she had betrayed them.

By Captain Smith's wise measures, the Indians were awed into good behavior, and for a time Jamestown was safe. But, unfortunately, a terrible accident soon happened to the brave man who had been the life of the colony. A gun, shot off by accident, set fire to the powder in a boat where Smith lay asleep. He was badly wounded, and would have been burned to death had he not had the presence of mind to roll out of the boat into the water.

There were no good doctors in Jamestown, and as the wound in his thigh did not heal, Captain Smith sailed back to England in the next vessel, never to visit Jamestown again. But when quite cured he explored the northeast coast of our country, and drew a good map of it, calling that part of America New England. It was in reward for this service that the king gave him the title of Admiral of New England." Being now too old to continue his journeys any longer, Smith spent the rest of his life in writing an account of his travels and of the founding of Jamestown.

Some people say that Captain Smith, like many sailors, was so fond of spinning yarns that he did not always tell the exact truth. He cannot have been a bad man, however, for when he died, those who had gone out to Jamestown with him said that he hated baseness, laziness, pride, and falsehood; that he never sent any one into a danger he was not ready to share; that he was strictly honest in all his dealings; and that he loved actions more than words; and he was honored and mourned by all. Brave Captain Smith was buried in London, where his friends placed this inscription over his grave: "Here lies one conquered, that hath conquered kings."

After Captain Smith left them, the Jamestown colonists became idler than ever, and treated the Indians so unkindly that even Pocahontas refused to visit them any more. The result was that they could not buy any corn, and as they had no crops of their own, they had so little food, when winter came, that only sixty out of about six hundred colonists managed to live.

This terrible winter in Jamestown is known in history as "Starvation Time; "and some people say that the settlers became so desperate from hunger that they actually turned cannibals. Their sufferings were so great that those who survived determined to go home in the spring. So they put their scant stock of provisions on board their ships, and prepared to sail.

But before leaving they wanted to set fire to the houses they had built, and destroy the place where "none had enjoyed one happy day." The governor, however, refused to let them do this. To make sure his orders should not be disobeyed, he embarked last, after seeing that all was safe.

The little band of discouraged settlers now sailed slowly down the James River. But on reaching its mouth, they were overjoyed to meet three ships coming from England, with a stock of provisions and many new colonists. They therefore turned around and went back to Jamestown, where, you may be sure they were very thankful to find their houses still standing and all ready to receive them.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell