Saturday, September 26, 2015

“Ask him what Powhatan says now.”

In this scene from JAMESTOWN: THE NOVEL, Lord De La Warr, governor of Virginia, negotiates with Powhatan, the ruler of the Chesapeake tribes: 

         “Tell him,” De la Warr said, . . . “Powhatan must give back what is ours. He has taken near two hundred swords from us, and axes and pole-axes, and chisels and hoes, and he has taken some of our people prisoner.”
         Kempes spoke again. . . . “Powhatan says--“ he began hesitantly. . . . “Powhatan says because you have taken his land, he has taken your weapons and iron things. If you give him a coach and three horses, such as the great men in your country have, he will give you the iron things back.”
         De la Warr pounded his cudgel again. . . . “You see what comes of trying to civilize these damned savages?. . . Powhatan has been the cause of all our troubles,” he said slowly. “We have lost too many good men because of him. Now we shall send him a message he can understand.” Turning to Captain Martin, he said, “Take your broadsword and cut off this one’s right hand.” He jerked his head toward the Indian Okewan.
         Martin’s mouth dropped open in disbelief, and he put his hand on the hilt of his sword, not to draw it, but to keep it firmly in its place. “My lord! You cannot mean that! These two have come here in good faith!”
         “Savages have no faith!” De la Warr said. “Words do no good with them. Blood is the language they understand!”
         “But me no buts! I gave you an order! Will you carry it out, or not? . . . .
         Blood spurted, and Okewan’s right hand, cleanly severed at the wrist bone, hung at the edge of the tree stump and then fell on the grass.

--excerpt from JAMESTOWN: THE NOVEL.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Treasure Recovered

[From JAMESTOWN: THE NOVEL: Meg Worley finds the gold cross her lover gave to her twenty years ago. ]

         It’s mine, Will,” she whispered, “That cross is mine!”
         Parker opened his mouth in amazement, stared at her, and then at the cross in his hand, as if he were trying to understand her meaning. Then he closed his mouth firmly and tucked the cross into one grimy palm. “Oh, no,” he said craftily, “This here is a solid gold cross, and I found it. You got no proof it’s yours. This came off a dead man three score miles from here. It don’t belong to you, but If you want, I’ll sell it to you.”  He folded his arms across his chest and grinned. “Name me a price.”
         “You bastard!” Will’s fist caught him off guard, and he fell backward against the wall of the storehouse. Before he could recover his footing, Will hit him again, knocking loose one of his front teeth. Spitting blood and clutching his chin, he watched speechlessly as Will searched in the grass for the cross, which had flown from Parker’s hand in the assault.
         “Here it is!” Will knelt to pick it up, to give it to Meg. Gently, he took her hand in his, and with the other he pressed the cross and chain on her upturned palm and closed her fingers around it. Then, for a moment, he held on to her hand tightly with both of his. Looking down, she saw that one of his hands was skinned and bleeding from his having hit Parker.
         “You hurt yourself,” she said numbly.
         “No matter.” . . .

         Then at last she opened her hand and looked at the cross. With one finger, she touched its four points, then she traced its width and length. She moved her hand so that its angles caught the noontime sun, and watched its burnished surface gleam.
         “Do you want to put it on?” Leaning over her, Will took hold of the ends of the chain nnd brought them up slowly, like one performing a religious ceremony, and fastened them around her neck. “There,” he said softly.
         She stood up, turned to face him, and kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you,” she said. She said no more, and he did not ask her.

--Virginia Bernhard, JAMESTOWN: THE NOVEL A Story of America’s Beginnings (2014)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Roanoke Survivor Lost--and Found

In JAMESTOWN: THE NOVEL, Will Sterling, a friend, tells Meg Worley that he has met a man with an improbable story of a wandering Englishman, perhaps one from Roanoke.  
         “At first, years ago, there was such talk about hunting for the lost Roanoke people, and...\.? there were those stories the Indians told about English in clothes like ours, and George Percy’s tale of the blond-haired boy in the woods, and  Henry Spelman’s claims about Englishmen living at Ritanoe--you cannot help but wonder.”
         “I think I want to know,” Meg said slowly, “and then sometimes I think maybe I don’t. . , , You know--“ she caught herself. She had been about to tell Will about about the gold cross....

 [Will takes Meg to hear the man’s story of the body he came across in the woods.]         

         “No marks on him, just lying there under a big oak tree, dead as a fish out of water. . . I looked around to see if he had anything on him that would tell who he was, but all that was on him was a little bag around his neck with this in it.” Rummaging in a pouch at his waist, Parker drew forth a thin gold chain. Attached to it, dangling from his hand, was a small gold cross. “Pretty, ain’t it?”

--Virginia Bernhard, JAMESTOWN: THE NOVEL A Story of America’s Beginnings (2014)