Saturday, May 10, 2014

“They’ll kill us all, one by one!”

Starvation was the enemy inside Jamestown Fort, but outside the log walls another enemy lurked. President George Percy gave orders that no one was to venture outside the palisade. One snowy morning a hunger-crazed young man climbed over the wall, saying he was going to catch a squirrel. He soon returned--with an Indian arrow protruding from his side. He fell, and the snow beneath him turned bright red.

From JAMESTOWN: THE NOVEL, here is what happened next:
They laid him out just inside the gate while a grave was readied, and as word spread, an uneven procession of curious spectators filed past young Crookdeck’s body,
The killing was the first sign they had had from their Indian neighbors since the murders of Ratcliffe and his men. The arrow was still stuck in Crookdeck’s rib cage, but the point had gone in sideways, so that his back lay flat against the ground. There was very little blood now from the arrow wound, and one might almost believe that this young man had fallen asleep with a make-believe arrow affixed to his jerkin. Most of the blood had come from his mouth, and a thin red line had trickled from the corner of his mouth to his ear. The eyes were closed; the thin, boyish face in repose brought a stifled sob or two from . . . the first women who came to see.  
They met Thomas Wotton, who looked impassively at the corpse and said, “Damned savages! They’ll kill us all, one by one!”
. . .

After Crookdeck’s burial, President Percy announced that the night watch would be doubled, in case this killing portended a larger Indian attack.

But something worse was to come, the next day.

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