Saturday, July 11, 2015

“John Smith may not live to fight again.”

        John Smith had been hideously wounded in the accident upriver. The Indians, who watched and knew everything that happened along the river, had seen what happened. Wahunsonacock, the father of Pocahontas and the ruler of the Powhatan people discussed it with his brothers. He had developed a grudging admiration for his enemy.

         Had Pocahontas not flung herself at John Smith, Wahunsonacock might have adopted him into the tribe. But Pocahontas had to be disciplined, and her father told himself he did not want his daughter sleeping with a foreigner.
         “He has the courage of a hawk, but he is badly wounded. I saw the fire aboard his ship myself, and I saw how it burned him as he leaped into the river. His clothes were all in flames. When his men pulled him out of the water, he was very near death. They said it was his gunpowder bag that caught fire.” Wahunsonacock inhaled the fragrant smoke from his tobacco leaf, exhaled, and squinted at his brothers through a fine blue haze. “I say Francis West tried to kill him.”
         “Smith made him stay at the Falls. They had hot words. West said he wanted to go back to England and Smith said he could not.”
         Opechancanough smiled. “If these English begin to quarrel among themselves, they may kill each other and save us the trouble.”....
         But Wahunsonacock, whose heart ached for his banished daughter and who wished that John Smith could have been his son, not his enemy, was silent.

--Virginia Bernhard, Jamestown: The Novel, 77-78.

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