This man was so full of hope that at length he aroused the others from their despair. Once more they began the weary work of bailing, and in spite of all the fury of the wind and waves the little vessel kept afloat.
At last the storm passed. Once more the fainting wanderers righted their vessel, and turned the prow towards the shores of France. But three days passed, and no land was seen, and they became more despairing than before.
For now the last grain of corn was eaten, the last drop of water drunk. Mad with thirst, sick with hunger, the men strained their weary eyes over the rolling waste of waters. No land was in sight. Then a terrible thought crept into one mind after another. In a low hoarse whisper one man and then another spoke out his thought-that one man should die for his fellows.
So deep were they sunk in woe that all were of one mind. So lots were cast, and the man upon whom the lot fell was killed.
These tortured wayfarers had become cannibals.
Kept alive in this terrible fashion the men sailed on, and at length a faint grey streak appeared on the horizon. It was the long-looked-for shore of France. But the joy was too great for their over-strained minds. The sight of land seemed to rob them of all power of thought or action. With salvation in sight they let the little vessel drift aimlessly this way and that.
While they thus drifted aimlessly a white sail hove in sight, and an English vessel bore down upon them. In the English vessel there happened to be a Frenchman who had sailed with Ribaut on his first voyage to Florida. He soon recognised his countrymen in spite of their sorry plight, and they were brought aboard the English vessel. And when they had been given food and drink, and were somewhat revived, they told their tale of misery.
The Englishmen were in doubt for some time as to what it was best to do. In the end they decided to set the most feeble on the shores of France, and to carry the others prisoners to the Queen of England, who at that time was about to send an expedition to Florida.
So ended the first attempt of the French to found a colony in North America.
Chapter 8 - How The French Founded a Colony in Florida
Two years after Ribaut's ill-fated expedition another company of Frenchmen set sail for America. This time Ret de Laudonnire was captain. He had been with Ribaut two years before, and now again he landed on the same spot where Ribaut had first landed, and set up the arms of France.
As they saw his ship come the Indians ran down to the beach welcoming him with cries of excitement and joy, and taking him by the hand the chief led him to the pillar which Jean Ribaut had set up. It was wreathed in flowers, and baskets of corn stood before it. For the Indians looked upon it as an idol, and made offerings to it. They kissed it with a great show of reverence, and begged the Frenchmen to do the same. "Which we would not deny them," says Laudonnire, who himself tells the story, "to the end we might draw them to be more in friendship with us."
Laudonnire was so delighted with the natives' friendly greeting that he resolved to found his colony among these kindly Indians. So a little way up the river which Ribaut had named the river of May, but which is now the St. John's, he built a fort.
It was late one evening in June when the Frenchmen reached the spot where they intended to build the fort; wearied with their long march through the forest they lay down upon the ground and were soon fast asleep.
But at day-break Laudonnire was astir. He commanded a trumpet to be sounded, and when all the men were aroused and stood together he bade them give thanks to God for their safe arrival. So standing beneath the waving palms, with the deep blue sky arching overhead, the men sang a psalm of thanksgiving and praise. Then kneeling they prayed long and earnestly.
The prayer ended, the men arose, and full of happy courage turned to their work. Every one took part with right good will. Some brought earth, some cut logs; there was not a man who had not a shovel or hatchet or some tool in his hand. The work went on merrily, and soon above the banks of the river the fort rose, secure and strong, fenced and entrenched on every side. In honour of their King Charles these new colonists called their fort Caroline, just as Ribaut had called his Charlesfort.
But as the native Chief Satouriona watched the fort grow he began to be uneasy. He wondered what these pale-faced strangers were about, and he feared lest they should mean evil towards him. So he gathered his warriors together, and one day the Frenchmen looked up from their labours to see the heights above them thick with savages in their war paint.
At once the Frenchmen dropped their tools and prepared to defend themselves. But Satouriona, making signs of peace, and leaving most of his warriors behind him, came down into the camp followed by a band of twenty musicians who blew ear-piercing blasts upon discordant pipes.
Having reached the camp Satouriona squatted on his haunches, showing that he wanted to take counsel with the Frenchmen. Then with many signs and gestures he told the Frenchmen that his great enemies the Thimagoes were near, and that if the Frenchmen wished to continue in friendship with him they must promise to help him against these powerful and hated foes.
Laudonnire feared to lose Satouriona's friendship. And thereupon with signs, helped out now and again with a word or two, a, treaty was made between the Indians and the Frenchmen, Laudonnire promising to help Satouriona against his enemies, the Thimagoes. With this treaty Satouriona was delighted, and he commanded his warriors to help the Frenchmen in building their fort, which they very readily did.
Then, mindful of his promise, as soon as the fort was finished, Laudonnire sent off some of his followers under one of his officers to find out who the Thimagoes really were of whom Satouriona spoke with such hate. Guided by some Indians, this officer soon came upon the Thimagoes. But instead of fighting with them he made friends with them, which greatly disgusted his Indian guides.
Meanwhile Satouriona, delighted at the idea of being able to crush his enemies with the Frenchmen's help, had gathered all his braves together and made ready for war.
Ten chiefs and five hundred warriors, fearful in war paint and feathers, gathered at the call. Then seeing that Laudonnire was not making any preparations for war, he sent messengers to him.
"Our chief has sent us," they said, "and he would know whether you will stand by your promise to show yourself a friend of his friends, an enemy of his enemies and go with him to war."
"Tell your chief, replied Laudonnire, " that I am not willing to purchase his friendship with the enmity of another. Notwithstanding I will go with him. But first I must gather food for my garrison, neither are my ships ready. An enterprise such as this needs time. Let your chief abide two months, then if he hold himself ready I will fulfil my promise to him."
The Indian carried this answer to the Chief who, when he heard it, was filled with wrath. He was not, however, to be stayed from war, and he determined to go alone.
With great ceremony he prepared to set out. In an open space near the river a huge fire was lit. In a wide circle round this the warriors gathered. Their faces were fearful with paint, and their hair was decorated with feathers, or the heads of wolves and bears and other fierce animals. Beside the fire was placed a large bowl of water, and near it Satouriona stood erect, while his braves squatted at his feet. Standing thus he turned his face, distorted with wrath and hatred, towards the enemy's country. First he muttered to himself, then he cried aloud to his god the Sun. And when he had done this for half an hour he put his hand into the bowl of water, and sprinkled the heads of his braves. Then suddenly, as if in anger, he cast the rest of the water into the fire, putting it out. As he did so he cried aloud:
"So may the blood of our enemies be poured out and their lives extinguished."
In reply a hoarse yell went up from the savage host, and all the woods resounded with the fiendish noise.
Thus Satouriona and his braves set forth for battle. In a few days they returned singing praises to the Sun, and bringing with them twenty-four prisoners and many scalps.
And now Laudonnire made Satouriona more angry than ever with him. For he demanded two of these prisoners. Laudonnire wanted them so that he might send them back to the chief of the Thimagoes as a proof that he at least was still friendly, for he already regretted his unwise treaty. But when Satouriona heard Laudonnire's request he was very angry and treated it with scorn.
"Tell your chief," he said, "that he has broken his oath, and I will not give him any of my prisoners."
When Laudonnire heard this answer he in his turn was very angry, and he resolved to frighten Satouriona into obeying him. So taking twenty soldiers with him he went to the chief's village. Leaving some of the soldiers at the gate, and charging them to let no Indians go in or out, he went into Satouriona's hut with the others. In perfect silence he came in, in perfect silence he sat down and remained so for a long time which, says Laudonnire, put the chief "deeply in the dumps."
At length when he thought that Satouriona was completely frightened, Laudonnire spoke.
"Where are your prisoners?" he said. "I command them to be brought before me." Thereupon the chief, "angry at the heart and astonied wonderfully," stood a long time without making any answer. But when at last he spoke it was boldly and without fear.
"I cannot give you my prisoners," he said. "For seeing you coming in such warlike guise they were afraid and fled to the woods. And not knowing what way they went we could not by any means find them again."
Laudonnire, however, pretended that he did not understand what the chief said, and again he asked for the prisoners.
The chief then commanded his son to go in search of them, and in about an hour he returned bringing them with him. As soon as they were brought before Laudonnire the prisoners greeted him humbly. They lifted up their hands to heaven, and then threw themselves at his feet. But Laudonnire raised them at once, and led them away to the fort, leaving Satouriona very angry.
Laudonnire now sent the prisoners back to the Thimagoes' chief, who was greatly delighted at the return of his braves. He was still more delighted when the Frenchmen marched with him against another tribe who were his enemies, and defeated them.
But while Laudonnire was thus making both friends and enemies among the Indians all was not peace in the colony itself. Many of the adventurers had grown tired of the loneliness and sameness of the life. The food was bad, the work was hard, and there seemed little hope that things would ever be better. And for all their hardships it seemed to them the Governor was to blame. So they began to murmur and be discontented, gathering together in groups, whispering that it would be a good deed to put an end to Laudonnire and choose another captain.
And now when the discontent was at its height Laudonnire fell ill. Then one of the ringleaders of the discontent urged the doctor to put poison in his medicine. But the doctor refused. Next they formed a plot to hide a barrel of gunpowder under his bed and blow him up. But Laudonnire discovered that plot, and the ringleader fled to the forest.
About this time a ship arrived from France bringing food for the colony, so that for a time things went a little better. And when the ship sailed again for home Laudonnire sent the worst of the mutineers back in it. In their place the captain left behind some of his sailors. But this proved a bad exchange. For these sailors were little better than pirates, and very soon they became the ringleaders in revolt. They persuaded some of the older colonists to join them. And one day they stole a little ship belonging to the colony, and set off on a plundering expedition to the West Indies.
On the seas they led a wild and lawless life, taking and plundering Spanish ships. But after a time they ran short of food, and found themselves forced to put into a Spanish port. Here in order to make peace with the Spaniards they told all they knew about the French colony.
Thus it was that for the first time the Spaniards learned that the heretic Frenchmen had settled in their land, and speedily the news was sent home to Spain.
Meanwhile Laudonnire was greatly grieved for the loss of his ship. And as days passed, and there was no sign of the mutineers' return, he set his men to work to build two new ships.
For a time the work went well. But soon many of the men grew tired of it and they began to grumble. Why should men of noble birth, they asked, slave like carpenters? And day by day the discontent increased.
At last one Sunday morning the men sent a message to Laudonnire asking him to come out to the parade ground to meet them. Laudonnire went, and he found all the colony waiting for him with gloomy faces. At once one of them stepped forward, and asked leave to read a paper in the name of all the others. Laudonnire gave permission. The paper was read. It was full of complaints about the hard work, the want of food, and other grievances. It ended with a request that the men should be allowed to take the two ships which were being built and sail to Spanish possessions in search of food. In fact they wanted to become pirates like those mutineers who had already sailed away.
Laudonnire refused to listen to this request. But he promised that as soon as the two ships were finished they should be allowed to set out in search of gold mines.
The mutineers separated with gloomy faces; they were by no means satisfied with Laudonnire's answer, and the discontent was as deep as ever. Laudonnire now again became very ill and the malcontents had it all their own way. Soon nearly every one in the fort was on their side, and they resolved to put an end to Laudonnire's tyranny.
Late one night about twenty men all armed to the teeth gathered together and marched to Laudonnire's hut. Arrived there they beat loudly on the door demanding entrance. But Laudonnire and his few remaining friends knew well what this loud summons meant, and they refused to open the door. The mutineers, however, were not to be easily held back; they forced open the door, wounding one man who tried to hinder them, and in a few minutes with drawn swords in hand, and angry scowls on their faces, they crowded round the sick man's bed. Then holding a gun at his throat they commanded him to give them leave to set forth for Spanish waters. But the stern old Huguenot knew no fear. Even with the muzzle of the gun against his throat he refused to listen to the demands of the lawless crew.
His calmness drove them to fury. With terrible threats, and more terrible oaths, they dragged him from his bed. Loading him with fetters they carried him out of the fort, threw him into a boat and rowed him out to the ship which lay anchored in the river. All the loyal colonists had by this time been disarmed, and the fort was completely in the hands of the mutineers. Their leader then drew up a paper giving them leave to set forth to Spanish possessions. And this he commanded Laudonnire to sign.
Laudonnire was completely in the power of the mutineers. He was a prisoner and ill, but his spirit was unbroken, and he refused to sign. Then the mutineers sent him a message saying that if he did not sign they would come on board the ship and cut his throat. So, seeing no help for it, Laudonnire signed.
The mutineers were now greatly delighted at the success of their schemes. They made haste to finish the two little ships which they had been building, and on the 8th of December they set sail. As they went they flung taunts at those who stayed behind, calling them fools and dolts and other scornful names, and threatening them with all manner of punishments should they refuse them free entrance to the fort on their return.
As soon as the mutineers were gone Laudonnire's friends rowed out to him, set him free from his fetters, and brought him back to the colony.
They were now but a very small company, but they were at peace with each other, and there was plenty to do. So the weeks went quickly by. They finished the fort, and began to build two new ships to take the place of those which the mutineers had stolen. But they never thought of tilling the ground and sowing seed to provide bread for the future. Thus more than three months passed. Then one day an Indian brought the news that a strange ship was in sight. Laudonnire at once sent some men to find out what ship this might be, and whether it was friend or foe.
It proved to be a Spanish vessel which the mutineers had captured and which was now manned by them. But the mutineers who had sailed away full of pride and insolence now returned in very humble mood. Their buccaneering had not succeeded as they had hoped. They were starving, and instead of boldly demanding entrance, and putting in force their haughty threats, they were eager to make terms. But Laudonnire was not sure whether they really came in peace or not. So he sent out a little boat to the mutineers' ship. On the deck of it there was an officer with one or two men only. But below, thirty men, all armed to the teeth, were hidden. Seeing only these one or two men in the boat the mutineers let her come alongside. But what was their astonishment when armed men suddenly sprang from the bottom of the boat and swarmed over the sides of their vessel. Many of the mutineers were stupid with drink, all of them were weak with hunger, and before they could seize their arms, or make any resistance, they were overpowered and carried ashore.
There a court-martial was held, and four of the ringleaders were condemned to death. But these bold bad men were loath to die.
"Comrades," said one, turning to the loyal soldiers near, "will you stand by and see us die thus shamefully?"
"These," replied Laudonnire, sharply, "are no comrades of mutineers and rebels."
All appeals for mercy were in vain. So the men were shot and their bodies hanged on gibbets near the mouth of the river as a lesson to rebels.
After this there was peace for a time in Fort Caroline. But it soon became peace with misery, for the colony began to starve. The long-expected ship from France did not come. Rich and fertile land spread all round them, but the colonists had neither ploughed nor sown it. They trusted to France for all their food. Now for months no ships had come, and their supplies were utterly at an end.
So in ever increasing misery the days passed. Some crawled about the meadows and forest, digging for roots and gathering herbs. Others haunted the river bed in search of shell-fish. One man even gathered up all the fish bones he could find and ground them to powder to make bread. But all that they scraped together with so much pain and care was hardly enough to keep body and soul together. They grew so thin that their bones started through the skin. Gaunt, hollow-eyed spectres they lay about the fort sunk in misery, or dragged themselves a little way into the forest in search of food. Unless help came from France they knew that they must all soon die a miserable death. And amid all their misery they clung to that last hope, that help would come from France. So, however feeble they were, however faint with hunger, they would crawl in turns to the top of the hill above the fort straining their dimming eyes seaward. But no sail appeared.
At length they gave up all hope, and determined to leave the hated spot. They had the Spanish ship which the mutineers had captured, and another little vessel besides which they had built. But these were not enough to carry them all to France, so gathering all their last energy they began to build another boat. The hope of getting back to France seemed for a time to put a little strength into their famine stricken bodies. And while they worked Laudonnire sailed up the river in search of food. But he returned empty-handed. Famishing men cannot work, and soon the colonists began to weary of their labours.
The neighbouring Indians, too, who might have given them food, were now their enemies. They indeed now and again brought scant supplies of fish to the starving men. But they demanded so much for it that soon the colonists were bare of everything they had possessed. They bartered the very shirts from their backs for food. And if they complained of the heavy price the Indians laughed at them.
"If thou makest so great account of thy merchandise," they jeered, "eat it and we will eat our fish."
But summer passed. The grain began to ripen, and although the Indians sold it grudgingly the colony was relieved from utter misery for the time being.
But now fresh troubles arose, for the Frenchmen quarreled with the chief of the Thimagoes for whose sake they had already made enemies of Satouriona and his Indians.
Thinking themselves treated in an unfriendly manner by the Thimagoes the Frenchmen seized their chief, and kept him prisoner until the Indians promised to pay a ransom of large quantities of grain.
The Indians agreed only because they saw no other means of freeing their chief. They were furiously angry with the Frenchmen and, seething with indignation against them, they refused to pay an ounce of grain until their chief had been set free: and even then they would not bring it to Fort Caroline, but forced the Frenchmen to come for it. The Frenchmen went, but they very quickly saw that they were in great danger. For the village swarmed with armed warriors who greeted the colonists with scowls of deepest hatred. After a few days, therefore, although only a small portion of the ransom had been paid, the Frenchmen decided to make for home as fast as possible.
It was a hot July morning on which they set off. Each man besides his gun carried a sack of grain, so the progress was slow. They had not gone far beyond the village when a wild war whoop was heard. It was immediately followed by a shower of arrows. The Frenchmen replied with a hot fire of bullets. Several of the Indians fell dead, and the rest fled howling into the forest.
Then the Frenchmen marched on again. But they had scarcely gone a quarter of a mile when another war whoop was heard in front. It was answered from behind, and the Frenchmen knew themselves surrounded. But they stood their ground bravely. Dropping their bags of corn they seized their guns. A sharp encounter followed, and soon the Indians fled again into the forest. But again and again they returned to the attack, and the Frenchmen had to fight every yard of the way. At nine o'clock the fight began, and the sun was setting when at length the Indians gave up the pursuit. When the Frenchmen reached their boats they counted their losses. Two had been killed, and twenty-two injured, some of them so badly that they had to be carried on board the boats. Of all the bags of grain with which they had started out only two remained. It was a miserable ending to the expedition.
The plight of the colony was now worse than ever. The two sacks of grain were soon consumed; the feeble efforts at building a ship had come to nothing. But rather than stay longer the colonists resolved to crowd into the two small vessels they had, and sail homeward if only they could gather food enough for the voyage. But where to get that food none knew.
One day full of troubled, anxious thoughts Laudonnire climbed the hill and looked seaward. Suddenly he saw something which made his heart beat fast, and brought the colour to his wasted cheeks. A great ship, its sails gleaming white in the sunlight was making for the mouth of the river. As he gazed another and still another ship hove in sight. Thrilling with excitement Laudonnire sent a messenger down to the fort with all speed to tell the news, and when they heard it the men who had seemed scarce able to crawl arose and danced for joy. They laughed, and wept, and cried aloud, till it seemed as if joy had bereft them of their wits.
But soon fear mingled with their joy. There was something not altogether familiar about the cut and rig of the ships. Were they really the long-looked-for ships from France, or did they belong to their deadly and hated enemies, the Spaniards? They were neither one nor the other. That little fleet was English, under command of the famous admiral, John Hawkins, in search of fresh water of which they stood much in need. The English Admiral at once showed himself friendly. To prove that he came with no evil intent he landed with many of his officers gaily clad, and wearing no arms. The famine-stricken colonists hailed him with delight, for it seemed to them that he came as a deliverer.
Gravely and kindly Hawkins listened to the tale of misery, yet he was glad enough when he heard that the Frenchmen had decided to leave Florida, for he wanted to claim it for Queen Elizabeth and England. When, however, he saw the ships in which they meant to sail homewards he shook his head. "It was not possible," he said, "for so many souls to cross the broad Atlantic in those tiny barques." So he offered to give all the Frenchmen a free passage to France in his own ships. This Laudonnire refused. Then Hawkins offered to lend him, or sell him, one of his ships. Even this kindness Laudonnire hesitated to accept.
Thereupon there arose a great uproar among the colonists, they crowded round him clamouring to be gone, threatening that if he refused the Englishman's offer they would accept it and sail without him.
So Laudonnire yielded. He told Hawkins that he would buy the ship he offered, but he had no money. The Englishman, however, was generous. Instead of money he took the cannon and other things now useless to the colonists. He provided them with food enough for the voyage, and seeing many of the men ragged and barefoot, added among other things fifty pairs of shoes.
Then with kindly good wishes Hawkins said farewell and sailed away, leaving behind him many grateful hearts. As soon as he was gone the Frenchmen began to prepare to depart also. In a few days all was ready, and they only waited for a fair wind in order to set sail. But as they waited, one day, the fort was again thrown into a state of excitement by the appearance of another fleet of ships. Again the question was asked, were they friends or foes, Spaniards or Frenchmen? At length, after hours of sickening suspense, the question was answered, they were Frenchmen under the command of Ribaut.
The long-looked-for help had come at last. It had come when it was no longer looked for, when it was indeed unwelcome to many. For the colonists had grown utterly weary of that sunlit cruel land, and they only longed to go home. France with any amount of tyranny was to be preferred before the freedom and the misery of Florida.
But to abandon the colony was now impossible, for besides supplies of food the French ships had brought many new colonists. This time, too, the men had not come alone but had brought their wives and families with them. Soon the fort which had been so silent and mournful was filled with sounds of talk and laughter. Again, the noise of hatchet and hammer resounded through the woods, and the little forsaken corner of the world awoke once more to life.
Chapter 9 - How the Spaniards Drove the French Out of Florida
Scarcely a week had passed before the new peace and happiness of the French colony was brought to a cruel end.
Late one night the men on board the French ships saw a great black hulk loom silently up out of the darkness. It was followed by another and another. No word was spoken, and in eerie silence the strange ships crept stealthily onwards, and cast anchor beside the French. The stillness grew terrible. At length it was broken by a trumpet call from the deck of one of the silent new-comers.
Then a voice came through the darkness. "Gentlemen," it asked, "whence does this fleet come?"
"From France," was the reply.
"What are you doing here?" was the next question.
"We are bringing soldiers and supplies for a fort which the King of France has in this country, and for many which he soon will have."
"Are you Catholics or Lutherans?"
The question came sharply across the dark water. It was answered by many voices.
"We are Lutherans," cried the French, "we are of the new religion."
Then it was the Frenchmen's turn to ask questions.
"Who are you," I they cried, "and whence come ye?"
"I am Pedro Menendez," replied the voice out of the darkness. "I am Admiral of the fleet of the King of Spain. And I am come into this country to hang and behead all Lutherans whom I may find by land or by sea. And my King has given me such strict commands that I have power to pardon no man of them. And those commands I shall obey to the letter, as you will see. At dawn I shall come aboard your ship. And if there I find any Catholic he shall be well-treated, but every heretic shall die."
In reply to this speech a shout of wrath went up from the Frenchmen.
"If You are a brave man," they cried, "why wait for dawn? Come on now, and see what you will get."
Then in their anger they heaped insults upon the Spaniards, and poured forth torrents of scoffing words. Thereupon Menendez was so enraged that he swore to silence those Lutheran dogs once and for ever. So the order was given, and his great ship slowly moved towards the French.
The threats of the French had been but idle boasting; they could not withstand the Spaniards, for their leader was ashore with most of his soldiers. So cutting their cables they fled out to sea pursued by the foe.
There was a mad chase through the darkness. But the heretic devils, as the Spaniards called them, were skilful sailors. Menendez could not catch them, and when day dawned he gave up the chase and moodily turned back to Fort Caroline.
Here he found the French ready for him, and they seemed so strong that he would not attack, but sailed away southwards until he reached the river of Dolphins.
Here Menendez landed and took possession of the country in the name of the King of Spain. While cannon boomed and trumpets blew he stepped on shore followed by his officers and gentlemen. In all the gay trappings of knighthood, with many-coloured banners fluttering in the breeze, they marched. Then as they advanced another procession came toward them. At the head of it was a priest in all the pomp and splendour of his priestly robes. He carried a gilded crucifix in his hand, and as he marched he sang a Te Deum.
When the two processions met Menendez and all his company knelt, and baring their heads kissed the crucifix. So was the land claimed for Spain and the Catholic faith, and St. Augustine, the oldest town in the United States, was founded.
Meanwhile, the fleeing French ships had turned, followed the Spaniards, and seen them land. Then they went back to Fort Caroline with the news.
While these things had been happening Laudonnire had been very ill. He was still in bed when Ribaut, followed by several of his chief officers, came to his room to tell him the news which the returning ships had just brought. And beside his sickbed they held a council of war. It was decided to attack the Spaniards and drive them from the land. But how?
First one plan and then another was discussed, and to each some one objected. But at length it was decided to go by sea and attack the Spaniards suddenly in their newly-founded fort.
So almost every man who could hold a gun set forth with Ribaut, and Laudonnire was left in the fort with the feeble and sick, and scarcely a man besides who had ever drawn a sword or fired a shot. Their leader was as sick and feeble as any of them. But he dragged himself from his bed to review his forces. They were poor indeed, but Laudonnire made the best of them. He appointed each man to a certain duty, he set a, watch night and day, and he began to repair the broken-down walls of the fort, so that they would be able to make some show of resistance in ease of attack.
While Laudonnire was thus ordering his poor little garrison the ships carrying the rest of the colonists sailed on their way. The wind was fair, and in the night they crept close to where the Spanish vessels lay.
But when day dawned and the Spaniards saw the French vessels close to them they fled to the shelter of their harbour. And a sudden storm arising the French were driven out to sea again.
As Menendez watched them from the shore he rejoiced. He knew by the number of the ships that most of the French colonists must be in them, and he hoped that they would all be lost in the storm.
Then as he watched a sudden thought came to him. While the Frenchmen were battling with wind and waves he resolved to move quickly over land and take Fort Caroline. For he knew that it must be almost, if not quite, unprotected.
One of the French mutineers who had deserted Laudonnire was now in the Spanish fort. He would show the way. Full of this splendid idea, eager to carry it out at once, he ordered Mass to be said, then he called a council and laid his plan before his officers. They, however, met his eagerness with coldness. It was a mad and hopeless plan, they thought, and they did their best to dissuade Menendez from it. But Menendez was determined to go.
"Comrades," he said, "it is now that we must show our courage and our zeal. This is God's war, and we must not turn our backs upon it. It is war against heretics, and we must wage it with blood and with fire."
But the Spanish leader's eager words awoke no response in the hearts of his hearers. They answered him only with mutterings. Still Menendez insisted. The debate grew stormy, and angry words were flung this way and that.
At length, however, Menendez had his way. The clamour was stilled, the officers gave a grudging consent, and preparations for the march were begun. In a few days all was ready, and the expedition set out. It was a simple matter. There was no great train of sumpter mules or baggage wagons. Each man carried his own food and ammunition, and twenty axemen marched in front of the little army to cleave a way through the forest.
The storm still raged. Rain fell in torrents, and the wind howled ceaselessly as on and on the men trudged. They plunged through seas of mud, and grass which grew waist high, and threaded their way along the narrow paths cloven for them by the axemen.
So for three days they toiled onward. Their food was gone, their ammunition soaked, they were drenched to the skin, footsore and famishing, when upon the third night they lay down upon the muddy ground, cursing their leader for having brought them forth to died thus miserably. But while the men cursed Menendez prayed. All night he prayed. And before day dawned he called his officers to a council. They were now within a mile of Fort Caroline, and he was eager to attack.
But his officers were sick of the whole business. The men were utterly disheartened; one and all they clamoured to return.
Yet once again Menendez bent them to his will. In the darkness of the forest he spoke to the wretched, shivering, rain-drenched men. He taunted, he persuaded, and at length wrung from them a sullen consent to follow him.
So once again the miserable march was begun, and when day dawned they stood on the hill above the fort .
No sound came from it, no watchman stood upon the ramparts. For towards morning, seeing that it rained harder than ever, the captain of the guard had sent his men to bed, for they were soaked to the skin and he was sorry for them. In such rain and wind what enemy would venture forth? he asked himself. It was folly to stay abroad on such a night he thought. So he dismissed the guard, and went off to bed.
Thus none heard or saw the approach of the Spaniards. Then suddenly the silence of the dawn was broken with fierce war cries.
"At them," shouted the Spaniards, "God is with us!"
The sleeping Frenchmen started from their beds in terror. Half naked they sprang to arms. On every side the Spaniards poured in. The dim light of dawn showed the dark cruel faces, and the gleam of drawn swords. Then clash of steel, screams of frightened women and children, curses, prayers, all mingled together in terrible confusion.
At the first alarm Laudonnire sprang from his bed, and seizing his sword called his men to follow him. But the Spaniards surrounded him, his men were slain and scattered, and he himself was forced back into the yard of his house. Here there was a tent. This stopped his pursuers, for they stumbled over the cordage and became entangled with it. The confusion gave Laudonnire a few minutes' respite in which he escaped through a breach in the ramparts, and took refuge in the forest. A few others fleeing this way and that escaped likewise. But some, the first moment of terror past, resolved to return and throw themselves on the mercy of the Spaniards rather than face starvation in the woods.
"They are men" said one; "it may be when their fury is spent they will spare our lives. Even if they slay us what of that? It is but a moment's pain. Better that than to starve here in the woods or be torn to pieces by wild beasts."
Still some held back, but most agreed to throw themselves upon the mercy of the Spaniards.
So unarmed and almost naked as they were, they turned back to give themselves up. But little did these simple Frenchmen understand the fury of the foe. When they neared the fort the Spaniards rushed out upon them and, unheeding their cries for mercy, slew them to a man. Those who had held back, when they saw the fate of their companions, fled through the forest. Some sought refuge among the Indians. But even from that refuge the Spaniards hunted them forth and slew them without pity. Thus the land was filled with bloodshed and ruin. Many were slain at once by the sword, others were hanged on trees round the fort, and over them Menendez wrote, "I do this not as to Frenchmen but as to Lutherans." Only a few miserable stragglers, after untold sufferings, reached the little ship which still lay at anchor in the river. Among these was Laudonnire.
Their one desire now was to flee homewards, and unfurling their sails they set out for France.
The colony of Fort Caroline was wiped out, and rejoicing at the success of his bold scheme, Menendez marched back to St. Augustine where a Te Deum was sung in honour of this victory over heretics.
Meanwhile the Frenchmen who had set forth to attack St. Augustine by sea had been driven hither and thither by the storm, and at length were wrecked. But although the ships were lost all, or nearly all, of the men succeeded in reaching the shore in safety. And not knowing what had happened at Fort Caroline they set out in two companies to try to reach the fort by land.
But they never reached the fort. For one morning scarcely ten days after the destruction of Fort Caroline some Indians came to Menendez with the news that they had seen a French ship wrecked a little to the south.
The news delighted Menendez, and he at once set out to capture the shipwrecked men. It was not long before he saw the lights of the French camp in the distance. But on coming nearer it was seen that they were on the other side of an arm of the sea, so that it was impossible to reach them. Hiding, therefore, in the bushes by the water's edge Menendez and his men watched the Frenchmen on the other side. The Spaniards soon saw that their enemies were in distress. They suspected that they were starving, for they could be seen walking up and down the shore seeking shellfish. But Menendez wanted to make sure of the state they were in, and he made up his mind to get nearer to the Frenchmen. So he put off his fine clothes, and dressing himself like a common sailor, got into a boat and rowed across the water.
Seeing him come one of the Frenchmen swam out to meet him. As he drew near Menendez called out to him: "Who are you, and whence come ye?"
"We are followers of Ribaut, Viceroy of the King of France," answered the Frenchman."
"Are you Catholics or Lutherans?" asked Menendez.
"We are Lutherans," answered the man.
Then after a little more talk Menendez told who he was.
With this news the man swam back to his companions. But he soon returned to the boat to say that five of the French leaders wished to speak with the Spanish leader, and begged for safe conduct to his camp.
To this Menendez readily agreed, and returning to his own side he sent the boat back to bring the Frenchmen over.
When they landed Menendez received them courteously. And after returning his ceremonious greetings the Frenchmen begged the Spaniards to lend them a boat so that they might cross the river which lay between them and Fort Caroline.
At this request Menendez smiled evilly. "Gentlemen," he said, "it were idle for you to go to your fort. It has been taken, and every man is slain."
But the Frenchmen could not at first believe that he spoke the truth. So in proof of his words the Spanish leader bade his men show the heretics the plunder which had been taken from their fort. As they looked upon it the hearts of the Frenchmen sank.
Then ordering breakfast to be sent to them Menendez left them, and went to breakfast with his own officers.
Breakfast over he came back to the Frenchmen, and as he looked at their gloomy faces his heart rejoiced. "Do you believe now," he asked, "that what I told you is true?"
"Yes," replied the Frenchmen, "we believe. It would be useless now to go to the fort. All we ask of you is to lend us ships so that we may return home."
"I would gladly do so," replied Menendez, "if you were Catholics, and if I had ships. But I have none."
Then seeing that he would give them no help to reach home, the Frenchmen begged Menendez at least to let them stay with his people until help came to them from France. It was little enough to ask, they thought, as France and Spain were at peace. But there was no pity or kindliness in the Spanish general's heart.
"All Catholics," he replied sternly, "I would defend and succour. But as for you, you are Lutherans, and I must hold you as enemies. I will wage war against you with blood and fire. I will wage it fiercely, both by land and sea, for I am Viceroy for my King in this country. I am here to plant the holy Gospel in this land , that the Indians may come to the light and knowledge of the Holy Catholic, faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, as taught by the Roman Church. Give up your banners and your arms, and throw yourselves on my mercy, and I will do with you as God gives me grace. In no other way can you have truce or friendship with me."
To this the Frenchmen knew not what to say. First they consulted together, then some of them went back across the water to take counsel with those who waited there. They talked long, and anxiously those on the Spanish side awaited their return. At length one of their messengers returned, and going to Menendez he offered him a large sum of money if he would swear to spare their lives.
But Menendez would promise nothing. The Frenchmen were helpless. They were starving and in his hands. And both he and they knew it. They saw no hope anywhere, so they yielded to the Spanish general's demands.
Once more the boat was sent across the water, and this time it came back laden with banners, arms and armour. Then guarded by Spanish soldiers the Frenchmen were brought across by tons. As each batch landed they found themselves prisoners; their arms were taken from them and their hands were tied behind their backs.
All day, hour after hour, the boat plied to and fro: and when all the Frenchmen had been brought over they were ordered to march forward. The Spanish general walked in front. But he did not go far, for the sun was already setting, and it was time to camp for the night. So but a little way from the shore he stopped, and drew a line in the sand. And when the wretched Frenchmen reached that line, weaponless and helpless as they were, they were one and all put to death. Then, glorying in his deed, Menendez returned to St. Augustine.
But he had not yet completely wiped out the French colony. For besides those he had so ruthlessly slain there was another large party under Ribaut, who, ignorant of all that had happened, were still slowly making their way to Fort Caroline. But again news of their whereabouts was brought to Menendez by Indians, and again he set off to waylay them.
He found them on the same spot as he had found the first party. But this time the Frenchmen had made a raft, and upon this they were preparing to cross the water when the Spaniards came upon them. The Frenchmen were in such misery that many of them greeted the appearance of their enemies with joy. But others were filled with misgiving. Still they resolved to try to make terms with the Spaniards. So first one of his officers, and then Ribaut himself, rowed across the strip of water to parley with the Spanish leader. They found him as pitiless as their companions had found him. And seeing that they could make no terms with him many of the Frenchmen refused to give themselves up, and they marched away. But after much parleying, and many comings and goings across the river, Ribaut, believing that Menendez would spare their lives, yielded up himself and the rest of his company to the Spaniards.
He was soon undeceived. For he was led away among the bushes, and his hands were tied behind his back. As his followers came over they, too, were bound and led away. Then as trumpets blew and drums beat the Spaniards fell upon their helpless prisoners and slew them to a man.
When Ribaut saw that his hour was come he did not flinch. "We are but dust," he said, "and to dust we must return: twenty years more or less can matter little." So with the words of a psalm upon his lips he met the swordthrust.
Not till every man lay dead was the fury of the Spaniards sated. Then, his horrible labour ended, Menendez returned once more in triumph to his fort.
Those of the French who had refused to give themselves up to Menendez now wandered back to the shore where their ship had been wrecked. Out of the broken pieces they tried to build a ship in which they might sail homeward. But again news of their doings was brought to Menendez by the Indians. And again he set out to crush them. When the Frenchmen saw the Spaniards come they fled in terror. But Menendez sent a messenger after them promising that if they yielded to him he would spare their lives. Most Of them yielded. And Menendez kept his promise. He treated his prisoners well. But, when an opportunity arrived, he sent them home to end their lives as galley slaves.
Chapter 10 - How a Frenchman Avenged the Death of His Countrymen
When the news of these terrible massacres reached France it was greeted with a cry of horror. Even the boy King, Charles IX, Catholic though he was, demanded redress. But the King of Spain declared that the Frenchmen had been justly served. The land upon which they had settled was his, he said, and they had no right to be there. He was sorry that they were Frenchmen, but they were also pirates and robbers, and had received only the just reward of their misdeeds.
Neither Charles nor his mother, who was the real ruler in France at this time, wished to quarrel with the King of Spain. So finding that no persuasions would move him, and that instead of being punished Menendez was praised and rewarded, they let the matter drop.
But there was one man in France who would not thus tamely submit to the tyranny of Spain. His name was Dominique de Gourges. He hated the Spaniards with a deadly hatred. And when he heard of the Florida massacre he vowed to avenge the death of his countrymen. He sold all that he had, borrowed what money he could, and with three ships and a goodly company of soldiers and sailors set sail.
At first, however, he kept, his real object secret. Instead of steering straight for Florida he steered southward, making believe that he was going to Africa for slaves. But after encountering storms and contrary winds he turned westward, and when off the coast of Cuba he gathered all his men together and told them what he had set out to do.
In vivid, terrible words he recounted to them the horrible slaughter. "Shall we let such cruelty go unpunished?" he asked. "What fame for us if we avenge it! To this end I have given my fortune, and I counted on you to help me. Was I wrong?"
"No," they all cried, "we will go with you to avenge our countrymen!"
So with hearts filled with thoughts of vengeance they sailed onward to Fort Caroline.
The Spaniards had repaired the fort and now called it Fort Mateo. They had also built two small forts nearer the mouth of the river to guard the entrance to it. Now one afternoon the men in these forts saw three ships go sailing by. These were the French ships bringing Gourges and his companions. But the men in the forts thought that they were Spanish ships and therefore fired a salute. Gourges did not undeceive them. He fired a salute in reply and, sailing on as if he were going elsewhere, was soon lost to sight.
At length, having found a. convenient place out of sight of the forts, he drew to the shore. But when he would have landed he saw that the whole beach was crowded with savages armed with bows and arrows and ready for war. For the Indians, too, had taken the strange ships to be Spanish. And as they had grown to hate the Spaniards with a deadly hatred they were prepared to withstand their landing.
Fortunately, however, Gourges had on board a trumpeter who had been in Florida with Laudonnire. So now he sent him on shore to talk with the Indians. And as soon as they recognised him they greeted him with shouts of joy. Then they led him at once to their chief who was no other than Satouriona, Laudonnire's one-time friend.
So amid great rejoicings the Frenchmen landed. Then Satouriona. poured into their ears the tale of his wrongs. He told them how the Spaniards stole their corn, drove them from their huts and their hunting grounds, and generally ill-treated them. "Not one peaceful day," he said, "have the Indians known since the Frenchmen went away."
When Gourges heard this he was well pleased. "If you have been ill-treated by the Spaniards," he said, "the French will avenge you."
At this Satouriona, leaped for joy.
"What!" he cried, "will you fight the Spaniards?"
"Yes," replied Gourges, "but you must do your part also."
"We will die with you," cried Satouriona, "if need be."
"That is well," said Gourges. "How soon can you be ready? For if we fight we should fight at once."
"In three days we can be ready," said the Indian.
"See to it then," said Gourges, "that you are secret in the matter so that the Spaniards suspect nothing."
"Have no fear," replied Satouriona; "we wish them more ill than you do."
The third day came and, true to his word, Satouriona appeared surrounded by hundreds of warriors, fearful in paint and feathers. Then some by water, some by land, the French and Indians set forth, and after many hardships and much toil they reached one of the forts which the Spaniards had built near the river Is mouth. From the shelter of the surrounding trees they gazed upon it.
"There!" cried Gourges, "there at last are the thieves who have stolen this land from our King. There are the murderers who slew our countrymen."
At his words the men were hardly to be restrained. In eager whispers they begged to be led on. So the word was given, and the Frenchmen rushed upon the fort.
The Spaniards had just finished their mid-day meal when a cry was heard from the ramparts. "To arms! to arms! the French are coming!"
They were taken quite unawares, and with but short resistance they fled. The French and Indians pursued them and hemmed them in so that not one man escaped. In like manner the second fort was also taken, and every man slain or made prisoner.
The next day was Sunday, and Gourges spent it resting, and making preparations to attack Fort Mateo.
When the Spaniards in Fort Mateo saw the French and their great host of yelling, dancing Indians they were filled with fear. And in order to find out how strong the force really was one of them dressed himself as an Indian and crept within the French lines. But almost at once he was seen by a young Indian chief. And his disguise being thus discovered he was seized and questioned. He owned that there were scarce three hundred men in the fort and that, believing the French to number at least two-thousand, they were completely terror-stricken. This news delighted Gourges, and next morning he prepared to attack.
The fort was easily taken. When the Spaniards saw the French attack, panic seized them and they fled into the forest. But there the Indians, mad with the desire of blood and vengeance, met them. Many fell before the tomahawks; others turned back choosing rather to die at the hands of the French than of the Indians. But which way they turned there was no escape. Nearly all were slain, a few only were taken prisoner.
When the fight was over Gourges brought all the prisoners from the three forts together. He led them to the trees where Menendez had hanged the Frenchmen a few months before. There he spoke to them.
"Did you think that such foul treachery, such, abominable cruelty would go unpunished?" he said. "Nay, I, one of the most lowly of my King's subjects, have taken upon myself to avenge it. There is no name shameful enough with which to brand your deeds, no punishment severe enough to repay them. But though you cannot be made to suffer as you deserve you shall suffer all that an enemy may honourably inflict. Thus your fate shall be an example to teach others to keep the peace and friendly alliance, which you have broken so wickedly."
And having spoken thus sternly to the trembling wretches Gourges ordered his men to hang them on the very same trees upon which Menendez had hanged the Frenchmen. And over their heads he nailed tablets of wood upon which were burned the words "Not as Spaniards or as Mariners, but as Traitors, Robbers and Murderers."
Then at length the vengeance of Gourges was satisfied. But indeed it was scarce complete, for Menendez the chief over and leader of the Spaniards was safe in Europe, and beyond the reach of any private man's vengeance. The Spaniards, too, were strongly entrenched at St. Augustine, so strongly indeed that Gourges knew he had not force enough to oust them. He had not even men enough to keep the three forts he had won. So he resolved to destroy them.
This delighted the Indians, and they worked with such vigour that in one day all three forts were made level with the ground. Then, having accomplished all that he had come to do, Gourges made ready to depart. Whereupon the Indians set up a wail of grief. With tears they begged the Frenchmen to stay, and when they refused they followed them all the way to the shore, praising them and giving them gifts, and praying them to return.
So leaving the savages weeping upon the shore the Frenchmen sailed away, and little more than a month later they reached home.
When they heard of what Gourges had done the Huguenots rejoiced, and they greeted him with honour and praise. But Philip of Spain was furiously angry. He demanded that Gourges should be punished, and offered a large sum of money for his head. King Charles, too, being in fear of the King of Spain, looked upon him coldly, so that for a time he was obliged to flee away and hide himself.
Gourges had used all his money to set forth on his expedition, so for a few years he lived in poverty. But Queen Elizabeth at length heard of him and his deeds. And as she, too, hated the Spaniards she was pleased at what he had done, and she asked him to enter her service. Thus at length he was restored to honour and favour. And in honour and favour he continued all the rest of his life.
Chapter 11 - The Adventures of Sir Humphrey Gilbert
The terrible disasters in Florida did not altogether stop French adventurers from going to the New World. But to avoid conflict with Spain they sailed henceforth more to the northern shores of erica, and endeavoured to found colonies there. This made. Englishmen angry. For by right of Cabot's voyages they claimed all America. from Florida to Newfoundland, which, says a writer in the time of Queen Elizabeth, "they bought and annexed unto the crowne of England." The English, therefore, looked upon the French as interlopers and usurpers. The French, however, paid little attention to the English claims. They explored the country, named mountains, rivers, capes, and bays, and planted colonies where they liked. Thus began the long two hundred years' struggle between the French and English for possession of North America.
The French had already planted a colony on the St. Lawrence when an Englishman, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, determined also to plant one in North America.
He was the first Englishman ever to attempt to found a colony in America. Many Englishmen had indeed sailed there before him. But they had only gone in quest of gold and of adventures, and without any thought of founding a New England across the seas. This now, with Queen Elizabeth's permission, was what Sir Humphrey hoped to do.
He set out with a little fleet of five ships. One of these was called the Raleigh, and had been fitted out by the famous Sir Walter Raleigh who was Gilbert's step-brother. Walter Raleigh, no doubt, would gladly have gone with the company himself. But he was at the time in high favour with Good Queen Bess, and she forbade him to go on any such dangerous expedition. So he had to content himself with helping to fit out expeditions for other people.
The Raleigh was the largest ship of the little fleet, and Sir Walter spared no cost in fitting it Out. But before they had been two days at sea the Captain of the Raleigh and many of his men fell ill. This so greatly discouraged them that they turned back to Plymouth.
Sir Humphrey was sad indeed at the loss of the largest and best-fitted ship of his expedition, but he held on his way undaunted. They had a troublous passage. Contrary winds, fogs and icebergs delayed them. In a fog two of the ships named the Swallow and the Squirrel separated from the others. But still Sir Humphrey sailed on.
At length land came in sight. But it was a barren, unfriendly coast, "nothing but hideous rocks and mountains, bare of trees, and void of any green herbs," says one who went with the expedition. And seeing it so uninviting they sailed southward along the coast, looking for a fairer land.
And now to their great joy they fell in again with the Swallow. The men in the Swallow were glad, too, to see the Golden Hind and the Delight once more. They threw their caps into the air and shouted aloud for joy.
Soon after the re-appearance of the Swallow the Squirrel also turned up, so the four ships were together again. Together they sailed into the harbour of St. John's in Newfoundland. Here they found fishermen from all countries. For Newfoundland had by this time become famous as a fishing-ground, and every summer ships from all countries went there to fish.
Sir Humphrey, armed as he was with a commission from Queen Elizabeth, was received with all honour and courtesy by these people. And on Monday, August 5th, 1583, he landed and solemnly took possession of the country for two hundred leagues north, south, east and west, in the name of England's Queen.
First his commission was read aloud and interpreted to those of foreign lands who were there. Then one of Sir Humphrey's followers brought him a twig of a hazel tree and a sod of earth, and put them into his hands, as a sign that he took possession of the land and all that was in it. Then proclamation was made that these lands belonged to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England by the Grace of God. "And if any person shall utter words sounding to the dishonour of her Majesty, he shall lose his ears, and have his ship and goods confiscated." The arms of England, engraved on lead and fixed to a pillar of wood, were then set up, and after prayer to God the ceremony came to an end. Thus Newfoundland became an English possession, and by right of Sir Humphrey Gilbert's claims it is the oldest colony of the British Empire.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert had taken possession of the land. But it soon became plain that it would be impossible to found a colony with the wild riff-raff of the sea of which his company was formed. Troubles began at once. A few indeed went about their business quietly, but others spent their time in plotting mischief. They had no desire to stay in that far country; so some hid in the woods waiting a chance to steal away in one or other of the ships which were daily sailing homeward laden with fish. Others more bold plotted to steal one of Sir Humphrey's ships and sail home without him. But their plot was discovered. They, however, succeeded in stealing a ship belonging to some other adventurers. It was laden with fish and ready to depart homeward. In this they sailed away leaving its owners behind.
The rest of Sir Humphrey's men now clamoured more than ever to be taken home. And at length he yielded to them. But the company was now much smaller than when he set out. For besides those who had stolen away, many had died and many more were sick. There were not enough men to man all four ships. So the Swallow was left with the sick and a few colonists who wished to remain, and in the other three Sir Humphrey put to sea with the rest of his company.
He did not, however, sail straight homeward. For he wanted to explore still further, and find, if he could, an island to the south which he had heard was very fertile. But the weather was stormy, and before they had gone far the Delight was wrecked, and nearly all on board were lost.
"This was a heavy and grievous event, to lose at one blow our chief ship freighted with great provision, gathered together with much travail, care, long time, and difficulty. But more was the loss of our men to the number almost of a hundred souls." So wrote Master Edward Hay who commanded the Golden Hind, and who afterwards wrote the story of the expedition.
After this "heavy chance" the two ships that remained beat up and down tacking with the wind, Sir Humphrey hoping always that the weather would clear up and allow him once more to get near land. But day by day passed. The wind and waves continued as stormy as ever, and no glimpse of land did the weary sailors catch.
It was bitterly cold, food was growing scarce, and day by day the men lost courage. At length they prayed Sir Humphrey to leave his search and return homeward. Sir Humphrey had no wish to go, but seeing his men shivering and hungry he felt sorry for them, and resolved to do as they wished.
"Be content," he said. "We have seen enough. If God send us safe home we will set forth again next spring."
So the course was changed, and the ships turned eastward. "The wind was large for England," says Hay, "but very high, and the sea, rough." It was so rough that the Squirrel in which Sir Humphrey sailed was almost swallowed up. For the Squirrel was only a tiny frigate of ten tons. And seeing it battered to and fro, and in danger of sinking every moment, the captain of the Golden Hind and many others prayed Sir Humphrey to leave it and come aboard their boat. But Sir Humphrey would not.
"I will not forsake my little company going homeward,' he said. "For I have passed through many storms and perils with them."
No persuasions could move him, so the captain of the Golden Hind was fain to let him have his way. One afternoon in September those in the Golden Hind watched the little Squirrel anxiously as it tossed up and down among the waves. But Sir Humphrey seemed not a whit disturbed. He sat in the stern calmly reading. And seeing the anxious faces of his friends he cheerfully waved his hand to them.
"We are as near to heaven by sea as by land," he called, through the roar of waves.
Then the sun went down. Darkness fell over the wild sea, and the ships could only know each other's whereabouts by the tossing lights.
Suddenly to the men on the Golden Hind it seemed as if the lights of the little frigate went out. Immediately the watch cried out that the frigate was lost.
"It was too true. For in that moment the frigate was devoured and swallowed up by the sea."
Yet the men on the Golden Hind would not give up hope. All that night they kept watch, straining their eyes through the stormy darkness in the hope of catching sight of the frigate or of some of its crew. But morning came and there was no sign of it on all the wide waste of waters. Still they hoped, and all the way to England they hailed every small sail which came in sight, trusting still that it might be the Squirrel. But it never appeared. Of the five ships which set forth only the Golden Hind returned to tell the tale. And thus ended the first attempt to found an English colony in the New World.
Chapter 12 - About Sir Walter Raleigh's Adventures in the Golden West
The first attempt to found an English colony in America had been an utter failure. But the idea of founding a New England across the seas had now taken hold of Sir Humphrey's young step-brother, Walter Raleigh. And a few months after the return of the Golden Hind he received from the Queen a charter very much the same as his brother's. But although he got the Charter Raleigh himself could not sail to America, for Queen Elizabeth would not let him go. So again he had to content himself with sending other people.
It was on April 27th, 1584, that his expedition set out in two small ships. Raleigh knew some of the great Frenchmen of the day, and had heard of their attempt to found a colony in Florida. And in spite of the terrible fate of the Frenchmen he thought Florida would be an excellent place to found an English colony.
So Raleigh's ships made their way to Florida, and landed on Roanoke Island off the coast of what is now North Carolina. In those days of course there was no Carolina, and the Spaniards called the whole coast Florida right up to the shores of Newfoundland.
The Englishmen were delighted with Roanoke. It seemed to them a fertile, pleasant land, "the most plentiful, sweete, fruitfull and wholesome of all the worlde." So they at once took possession of it "in the right of the Queen's most excellent Majesty as rightful Queen and Princess of the same."
The natives, too, seemed friendly "and in their behaviour as mannerly and civil as any man of Europe." But the Pale-faces and the Redskins found it difficult to understand each other.
"What do you call this country?" asked an Englishman.
"Win gan da coa," answered the Indian.
So the Englishmen went home to tell of the wonderful country of Wingandacoe. But what the Indian had really said was "What fine clothes you have!"
However, the mistake did not matter much. For the Englishmen now changed the name of the land from whatever it had been to Virginia in honour of their Queen.
This first expedition to Roanoke was only for exploring, and after a little the adventurers sailed home again to tell of all that they had seen. But Raleigh was so pleased with the report of Roanoke Island which they brought home, to him that he at once began to make plans for founding a colony there. And the following April his ships, were ready and the expedition set out under his cousin, Sir Richard Grenville.
But now almost as soon as they landed troubles began with the Indians. One of them stole a silver cup, and as it was not returned the Englishmen in anger set fire to the corn-fields and destroyed them. This was a bad beginning. But the Englishmen had no knowledge yet of how cruel and revengeful the Redman could be. So it was with no misgivings that Sir Richard left a colony of over a hundred men in the country. And promising to return with fresh supplies in the following spring he sailed homeward.
The Governor of this colony was named Ralph Lane. He was wise and able, but he was soon beset with difficulties. He found that the place chosen for a colony was not a good one, For the harbour was bad, the coast dangerous, and many of the Indians were now unfriendly. So he set about exploring the country, and decided as soon as fresh supplies came from England to move to a better spot.
Spring came and passed, and no ships from England appeared. The men began to starve. And seeing this the Indians who had feared them before, now began to be scornful and taunt them.
"Your God is not a true god," they said, "or he would not leave you to starve."
They refused to sell the colonists food no matter what price was offered. Their hatred of the English was so great indeed that they resolved to sow no corn in order that there should be no harvest; being ready to suffer hunger themselves if they might destroy the colony utterly.
As the days passed the Englishmen daily felt the pinch of hunger more and more. Then Lane divided his company into three, and sent each in a different direction so that they might gather roots and herbs and catch fish for themselves, and also keep a lookout for ships.
But things went from bad to worse; the savages grew daily bolder and more insolent, and the colonists lived constantly in dread of an attack from them.
At length, although he had tried hard to avoid it, Lane was forced to fight them. They were easily overcome, and fled to the woods. But Lane knew well that his advantage was only for the moment. Should help not come the colony would be wiped out. Then one day, about a week after the fight with the Indians, news was brought to Lane that a great fleet of twenty-three ships had appeared in the distance.
Were they friends, or were they foes? That was the great question. The English knew the terrible story of Fort Caroline. Were these Spanish ships? Fearing that they might be Ralph Lane looked to his defenses, and made ready to withstand the enemy, if enemy they proved to be, as bravely as might be.
But soon it was seen that their fears were needless, the ships were English, and two days later Sir Francis Drake anchored in the wretched little harbour.
Drake had not come on purpose to relieve the colony. He had been out on one of his marauding expeditions against the Spaniards. He had taken and sacked St. Domingo, Cartagena, and Fort St. Augustine. And now, sailing home in triumph, chance had brought him to Raleigh's colony at Roanoke. And when he saw the miserable condition of the colonists, and heard the tale of their hardships, he offered to take them all home to England. Or, he said, if they chose to remain he would leave them a ship and food and everything that was necessary to keep them from want until help should come.
Both Lane and his chief officers who were men of spirit wanted to stay. So they accepted Drake's offer of the loan of a ship, agreeing that after they had found a good place for a colony and a better harbour, they would go home to England and return again the next year.
Thus the matter was settled. Drake began to put provisions on board one of his ships for the use of the colony. The colonists on their side began writing letters to send home with Drake's ships. All was business and excitement. But in the midst of it a great storm arose. It lasted for four days and was so violent that most of Drake's ships were forced to put out to sea lest they should be dashed to pieces upon the shore.
Among the ships thus driven out to sea was that which Drake had promised to give Ralph Lane. And when the storm was over it was nowhere to be seen.
So Drake offered another ship to Lane. It was a large one, too large to get into the little harbour, but the only one he could spare. Lane was now doubtful what was best to do. Did it not seem as if by driving away their ship God had stretched out His hand to take them from thence? Was the storm not meant as a sign to them?
So not being able to decide by himself what was best to do, Lane called his officers and gentlemen together, and asked advice of them.
They all begged him to go home. No help had come from Sir Richard Grenville, nor was it likely to come, for Drake had brought the news that war between Spain and England had been declared. They knew that at such a time every Englishman would bend all his energies to the defeat of Spain, and that Raleigh would have neither thoughts nor Money to spare for that far-off colony.
At length it was settled that they should all go home. In haste then the Englishmen got on board, for Drake, was anxious to be gone from the dangerous anchorage "which caused him more peril of wreck," says Ralph Lane, "than all his former most honourable actions against the Spaniards."
So on the 19th of June 1586, the colonists set sail and arrived in England some six weeks later. They brought with them two things which afterward proved to be of wit great importance. The first was tobacco. The use of it had been known ever since the days of Columbus, but it was now for the first time brought to England. The second was the potato. This Raleigh planted on his estates in Ireland, and to this day Ireland is one of the great potato growing countries of the world.
But meanwhile Raleigh had not forgotten his colonists, and scarce a week after they had sailed away, a ship arrived laden "with all manner of things in most plentiful manner for the supply and relief of his colony."
For some time the ship beat up and down the coast searching vainly for the colony. And at length finding no sign of it, it returned to England. About a fortnight later Sir Richard Grenville also arrived with three ships. To his astonishment when he reached Roanoke he saw no sign of the ship which he knew had sailed shortly before him. And to his still greater astonishment he found the colony deserted. Yet he could not believe that it had been abandoned. So he searched the country up and down in the hope of finding some of the colonists. But finding no trace of them he at length gave up the search and returned to the forsaken huts. And being unwilling to lose possession of the country, he determined to leave some of his men there. So fifteen men were left behind, well provided with everything necessary to keep them for two years. Then Sir Richard sailed homeward.
In spite of all these mischances Raleigh would not give up his great idea. And the following year he fitted out another expedition. This time there were a few women among the colonists, and John White, who had already been out with Lane, was chosen as Governor.
It was now decided to give up Roanoke which had proved such an unfortunate spot, and the new company of colonists was bound for Chesapeake Bay. But before they settled there they were told to go to Roanoke to pick up the fifteen men left by Sir Richard Grenville and take them to Chesapeake also.
When, however, they reached Roanoke the Master of the vessels, who was by birth a Spaniard, and who was perhaps in league with the Spanish, said that it was too late in the year to go seeking another spot. So whether they would or not he landed the colonists, and sailed away, leaving only one small boat with them.
Thus perforce they had to take up their abode in the old spot. They found it deserted. The fort was razed to the ground, and although the huts were still standing they were choked with weeds and overgrown with wild vines, while deer wandered in and out of the open doors. It was plain that for many months no man had lived there. And although careful search was made, saving the bones of one, no sign was found of the fifteen men left there by Sir Richard. At length the new colonists learned from a few friendly Indians that they had been traitorously set upon by hostile Indians. Most of them were slain; the others escaped in their boat and went no man knew whither.
The Englishmen were very angry when they heard that, and wanted to punish the Indians. So they set out against them. But the Indians fled at their coming, and the Englishmen by mistake killed some of the friendly Indians instead of their enemies. Thus things were made worse instead of better.
And now amid all these troubles on the 18th of August, 1587, a little girl was born. Her father was Ananias Dare, and her mother was the daughter of John White, the Governor. The little baby was thus the grand-daughter of the Governor, and because she was the first English child to be born in Virginia she was called Virginia.
But matters were not going well in the colony. Day by day the men were finding out things which were lacking and which they felt they must have if they were not all to perish. So a few days after Virginia was christened all the chief men came to the Governor and begged him to go back to England to get fresh supplies, and other things necessary to the life of the colony. John White, however, refused to go. The next day not only the men but the women also came to him and again begged him to go back to England. They begged so hard that at last the Governor consented to go.
All were agreed that the place they were now in was by no means the best which might be chosen for a colony, and it had been determined that they should move some fifty miles further inland. Now it was arranged that if they moved while the Governor was away they should carve on the trees and posts of the door the name of the place to which they had gone, so that on his return he might be able easily to find them. And also it was arranged that if they were in any trouble or distress they should carve a cross over the name.
All these matters being settled John White set forth. And it was with great content that the colonists saw their Governor go. For they knew that they could send home no better man to look after their welfare, and they were sure he would bring back the food and other things which were needed.
But when White arrived in England he found that no man, not even Raleigh, had a thought to spare for Virginia. For Spain was making ready all her mighty sea power to crush England. And the English were straining every nerve to meet and break that power. So John White had to wait with what patience he could. Often his heart was sick when he thought of his daughter and his little granddaughter, Virginia Dare, far away in that great unknown land across the sea. Often he longed to be back beside them. But his longings were of no avail. He could but wait. For every ship was seized by Government and pressed into the service of the country. And while the Spaniards were at the gate it was accounted treason for any Englishman to sail to western lands.
So the summer of 1588 passed, the autumn came, and at length the great Armada sailed from Spain. It sailed across the narrow seas in pride and splendour, haughtily certain of crushing the insolent sea dogs of England. But "God blew with His breath and they were scattered." Before many days were over these proud ships were fleeing before the storm, their sails torn, their masts splintered. They were shattered upon the rocky shores of Scotland and Ireland. They were swallowed by the deep.
The sea power of Spain was broken, and the history of America truly began. For as has been said "the defeat of the Invincible Armada was the opening event in the history of the United States."
Free now from the dread of Spain, ships could come and go without hindrance. But another year and more passed before John White succeeded in getting ships and provisions and setting out once more for Virginia.
It was for him an anxious voyage, but as he neared the place where the colony had been, his heart rejoiced, for he saw smoke rising from the land. It was dark, however, before they reached the spot, and seeing no lights save that of a huge fire far in the woods the Governor sounded a trumpet call. The notes of the trumpet rang through the woods and died away to silence. There was no answer. So the men called and called again, but still no answer came. Then with sinking heart John White bade them sing some well-known English songs. For that, he thought, would surely bring an answer from the shore.
So through the still night air the musical sound of men's voices rang out. But still no answer came from the silent fort. With a heart heavy as lead the Governor waited for the dawn. As soon as it was light he went ashore. The fort was deserted. Grass and weeds grew in the ruined houses. But upon a post "in fair capital letters" was carved the word "Croatoan." This was the name of a neighbouring island inhabited by friendly Indians. There was no cross or sign of distress carved over the letters. And when the Governor saw that he was greatly comforted.
He spent some time searching about for other signs of the colonists. In one place he found some iron and lead thrown aside as if too heavy to carry away, and now overgrown with weeds. In another he found five chests which had evidently been buried by the colonists, and dug up again by the Indians.
They had been burst open and the contents lay scattered about the grass. Three of these chests John White saw were his own, and it grieved him greatly to see his things spoiled and broken. His books were torn from their covers, his pictures and maps were rotten with the rain, and his armour almost eaten through with rust.
At length, having searched in vain for any other signs of the colonists, the English returned to the ships and set sail for Croatoan.
But now they encountered terrible storms. Their ships were battered this way and that, their sails were torn, their anchors lost. And at length in spite of all entreaties, the captain resolved to make sail for England. So John White never saw Croatoan, never knew what had become of his dear ones. And what happened to little Virginia Dare, the first English girl to be born on the soil of the United States, will never be known. But years afterwards settlers were told by the Indians that the white people left at Roanoke had gone to live among the Indians. For some years it was said they lived in a friendly manner together. In time, however, the medicine men began to hate the Pale-faces, and caused them all to be slain, except four men, one young woman, and three boys. Was the young woman perhaps Virginia Dare? No one can tell.
All Raleigh's attempts at founding a colony had thus come to nothing. Still he did not despair. Once again he sent out an expedition. But that too failed and the leader returned having done nothing. Even this did not break Raleigh's faith in the future of Virginia. "I shall yet live to see it an English nation," he said.
But although Raleigh's faith was as firm as before, his money was gone. He had spent enormous sums on his fruitless efforts to found a colony. Now he had no more to spend.
And now great changes came. Good Queen Bess died and James of Scotland reigned in her stead. Raleigh fell into disgrace, was imprisoned in the Tower, and after a short release was beheaded there. Thus an end came to all his splendid schemes. Never before perhaps had such noble devotion to King and country been so basely requited. At the time it was said that "never before was English justice so injured or so disgraced" as by the sentence of death passed upon Raleigh. No man is perfect, nor was Raleigh perfect. But he was a great man, and although all his plans failed we remember him as the first great coloniser, the first Englishman to gain possession of any part of North America.
PART II STORIES OF VIRGINIA
Chapter 13 - The Adventures of Captain John Smith
Raleigh was the true father of England beyond the seas. He was a great statesman and patriot. But he was a dreamer too and all his schemes failed. Other men followed him who likewise failed. But it would take too long to tell of them all, of Bartholomew Gosnold who discovered and named Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod; of Bartholomew Gilbert, brave Sir Humphrey's son, who was slain by Indians, and of many more besides.
Again and again men tried to plant a colony on the shores of America. Again and again they failed. But with British doggedness they went on trying, and at length succeeded.
Raleigh lay in the Tower of London, a prisoner accused of treason. All his lands were taken from him. Virginia, which had been granted to him by Queen Elizabeth was the King's once more to give to whom he would. So now two companies were formed, one of London merchants called the London Company, one of Plymouth merchants called the Plymouth Company. And both these companies prayed King James to grant them permission to found colonies in Virginia. Virginia therefore was divided into two parts; the right to found colonies in the southern half being given to the London Company, the right to found colonies in the northern half being given to the Plymouth Company upon condition that the colonies founded must be one hundred miles distant from each other.
These companies were formed by merchants. They were formed for trade, and in the hope of making money, in spite of the fact that up to this time no man had made money by trying to found colonies. in America, but on the contrary many had lost fortunes.
Of the two companies now formed it was only the London Company which really did anything. The Plymouth Company indeed sent out an expedition which reached Virginia. But the colony was a failure, and after a year of hardships the colonists set sail for England taking home with them such doleful accounts of their sufferings that none who heard them ever wished to help to found a colony.
The expedition of the London Company had a better fate. It was in December, 1606, that the little fleet of three ships, the Susan Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery, put out from England, and turned westward towards the New World.
With the expedition sailed Captain John Smith. He was bronzed and bearded like a Turk, a swaggering, longheaded lovable sort of man, ambitious, too, and not given to submit his will to others. Since a boy of sixteen he had led a wandering adventurous life - a life cramful of heroic deeds, of hairbreadth escapes of which we have no space to tell here. But I hope some day you will read his own story of these days. For he was a writer as well as a warrior, and "what his sword did his pen wrote." Every American boy and girl should read his story, for he has been called the first American writer.
Now with this saucy, swaggering fellow on board, troubles were not far to seek. The voyage was long and tedious. For six weeks adverse winds kept the little fleet prisoner in the English Channel within sight of English shores, a thing trying to the tempers of men used to action, and burning with impatience to reach the land beyond the seas. They lay idle with nothing to do but talk. So they fell to discussing matters about the colony they were to found. And from discussing they fell to disputing until it ended at length in a bitter quarrel between Smith and another of the adventurers, Captain Edward Wingfield.
Captain Wingfield was twice John Smith's age, and deemed that he knew much better how a colony ought to be formed than this dictatorial youth of twenty-seven. He himself was just as dictatorial and narrow into the bargain. So between the two the voyage was by no means peaceful.
Good Master Hunt, the preacher who went with the expedition, in spite of the fact that he was so weak and ill that few thought he would live, did his best to still the angry passions.
To some extent he succeeded. And when a fair wind blew at length the ships spread their sails to it and were soon out of sight of England. Two months of storm and danger passed before the adventurers sighted the West Indies. Here they went ashore on the island of San Dominica. Delighted once more to see land and escape from the confinement of the ship, they stayed three weeks among the sunny islands. They hunted and fished, traded with the savages, boiled pork in hot natural springs, feasted on fresh food and vegetables, and generally enjoyed themselves.
But among all this merry-making Wingfield did not forget his anger against John Smith. Their quarrels became so bad that Wingfield decided to end both quarrels and John Smith. So he ordered a gallows to be set up and, having accused Smith of mutiny, made ready to hang him. But John Smith stoutly defended himself. Nothing could be proved against him. He laughed at the gallows, and as he quaintly puts it "could not be persuaded to use them."
Nevertheless, although nothing could be proved against him, there were many who quite agreed that Captain John Smith was a turbulent fellow. So to keep him quiet they clapped him in irons and kept him so until their arrival in Virginia. After leaving the West Indies the adventurers fell into more bad weather, and lost their course; but finally they arrived safely in Chesapeake Bay.
They named the capes on either side Henry and Charles, in honour of the two sons of their King. Upon Cape Henry they set up a brass cross upon which was carved "Jacobus Rex" and thus claimed the land for England. Then they sailed on up the river which they named James River, in honour of the King himself. Their settlement they named Jamestown, also in his honour. Jamestown has now disappeared, but the two capes and the river are still called by the names given them by these early settlers.
Before this expedition sailed the directors of the Company had arranged who among the colonists were to be the rulers. But for some quaint reason they were not told. Their names, together with many instructions as to what they were to do, were put into a sealed box, and orders were given that this box was not to be opened until Virginia was reached.
The box was now opened, and it was found that John Smith was named among the seven who were to form the council. The others were much disgusted at this, and in spite of all he could say, they refused to have him in the council. They did, however, set him free from his fetters. Of the council Wingfield was chosen President. All the others, except John Smith, took oath to do their best for the colony. Then at once the business of building houses was begun. While the council drew plans the men dug trenches and felled trees in order to clear space on which to pitch their tents, or otherwise busied themselves about the settlement.
The Indians appeared to be friendly, and often came to look on curiously at these strange doings. And Wingfield thought them so gentle and kindly that he would not allow the men to build any fortifications except a sort of screen of interwoven boughs.
Besides building houses one of the colonists' first cares was to provide themselves with a church. But indeed it was one of the quaintest churches ever known. An old sail was stretched beneath a group of trees to give shelter from the burning sun. And to make a pulpit a plank of wood was nailed between two trees which grew near together. And here good Master Hunt preached twice every Sunday while the men sat on felled trunks reverently listening to his long sermons.
While the houses were being built Smith, with some twenty others, was sent to explore the country. They sailed up the river and found the Indians to all appearance friendly. But they found no gold or precious stones, and could hear nothing of a passage to the Pacific Ocean which they had been told to seek. So they returned to Jamestown. Arriving here they found that the day before the Indians had attacked the settlement and that one Englishman lay slain and seventeen injured.
This was a bitter disappointment to Wingfield who had trusted in the friendliness of the Indians. But at length he was persuaded to allow fortifications to be built. Even then, however, the colonists were not secure, for as they went about their business felling trees or digging the ground the savages would shoot at them from the shelter of the surrounding forest. If a man strayed from the fort he was sure to return wounded if he returned at all; and in this sort of warfare the stolid English were no match for the wily Indians. "Our men," says Smith, "by their disorderly straggling were often hurt when the savages by the nimbleness of their heels well escaped."
So six months passed, and the ships which had brought out the colonists were ready to go back to England with a cargo of wood instead of the gold which the Company had hoped for. But before the ships sailed Smith, who was still considered in disgrace, and therefore kept out of the council, insisted on having a fair trial. For he would not have Captain Newport go home and spread evil stories about him.
Smith's enemies were unwilling to allow the trial. But Smith would take no denial. So at length his request was granted, the result being that he was proved innocent of every charge against him, and was at length admitted to the council.
Now at last something like peace was restored, and Captain Newport set sail for home. He promised to make all speed he could and to be back in five months' time. And indeed he had need to hasten. For the journey outward had been so long, the supply of food so scant, that already it was giving out. And when Captain Newport sailed it was plain that the colonists had not food enough to last fifteen weeks.
Such food it was too! It consisted chiefly of worm-eaten grain. A pint was served out daily for each man, and this boiled and made into a sort of porridge formed their chief food. Their drink was cold water. For tea and coffee were unknown in those days, and beer they had none. To men used to the beer and beef of England in plenty this indeed seemed meagre diet. "Had we been as free of all sins as gluttony and drunkenness," says Smith, "we might have been canonised as saints, our wheat having fried some twenty-six weeks in the ship's hold, contained as many worms as grains, so that we might truly call it rather so much bran than corn. Our drink was water, our lodging castles in the air."
There was fish enough in the river, game enough in the woods. But the birds and beasts were so wild, and the men so unskilful and ignorant in ways of shooting and trapping, that they succeeded in catching very little. Besides which there were few among the colonists who had any idea of what work meant. More than half the company were "gentlemen adventurers," dare devil, shiftless men who had joined the expedition in search of excitement with no idea of labouring with their hands.
Badly fed, unused to the heat of a Virginian summer the men soon fell ill. Their tents were rotten, their houses yet unbuilt. Trees remained unfelled, the land untilled, while the men lay on the bare ground about the fort groaning and in misery. Many died, and soon those who remained were so feeble that they had scarce strength to bury the dead or even to crawl to the "common kettle" for their daily measure of porridge.
In their misery the men became suspicious and jealous, and once more quarrels were rife. Wingfield had never been loved. Now many grew to hate him, for they believed that while they starved he kept back for his own use secret stores of oil and wine and other dainties. No explanations were of any avail, and he was deposed from his office of President and another chosen in his place.