[An excerpt from JAMESTOWN: THE NOVEL.]
With their sails neatly furled and their tall masts swaying gently against the clouds, the four little vessels looked like some species of giant spiked sea turtles floating lazily together in the sun. It was quiet aboard the ships, and many of the passengers, wearied by their early morning leave-taking, had lain down to rest or doze. There was nothing to do until dark, when the tide turned and they could move on downriver to the sea. They would stop briefly to pick up the men with Captain Davis at Point Comfort, and then chart their course for Newfoundland. Above them, a few curious gulls from Chesapeake Bay flapped about, and some came to rest in the ships’ riggings.
It was William Strachey, lounging about on the f’oc’sle of the Deliverance, who first sighted the longboat.
“A ship! There’s a ship!”
Strachey’s shout roused a couple of crew members who had been taking their ease in the shadow of the great cabin. It also roused Thomas Gates, who bounded out of his quarters as if he had been shot out by a cannon. “The devil you say! Where?” Gates clambered up the ladder to where Strachey and the two sailors were now standing and pointing. The approaching vessel was barely more than a speck on the horizon, where the wide James River opened even wider to empty into the Chesapeake Bay. At such a distance, the vessel was impossible to identify. . . .
Who would be sailing upriver to Jamestown? Captain Davis had left a light guard at Point Comfort, but those men knew the pinnaces were coming down.
There was no need for anyone to come upriver.