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.

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