At last the Dauphine came into a harbor or lake three leagues in circumference, where more than thirty canoes were assembled, filled with people. Suddenly Francois Parmentier leaped to his feet and waved his cap with a shout.
“Now what madness has taken you?” queried Verrazzano.
“I know where we are, that’s all. This is Wampum Town,—L’Anorme Berge—the Grand Scarp. This is one of their great trading places, Captain. Father heard about it at Cape Breton from some south-country savages.”
“And what may wampum be?” asked Verrazzano coolly.
“’T is the stuff they use for money—bits of shell made into beads and strung into a belt. There is an island in this bay where they make it out of their shell-fish middens—two kinds—purple and white. On my word, this big chief has on a wampum belt now!”
This was interesting information indeed, and the natives seemed prepared to traffic in all peace and friendliness. Verrazzano found upon investigation that on the north of this bay a very large river, deep at the mouth, came down between steep hills. Afterward, following the shore to the east, he discovered a fine harbor beyond a three-cornered island. Here he met two chiefs of that country, a man of about forty, and a young fellow of twenty-four, dressed in quaintly decorated deerskin mantles, with chains set with colored stones about their necks. He stayed two weeks, refitting the ship with provisions and other necessaries, and observing the place. The crew got by trading and as gifts the beans and corn cultivated by the people, wild fruits and nuts, and furs. Further north they found the tribes less friendly, and at last came so near the end of their provision that Verrazzano decided to return to France. He reached home July 8, 1524, after having sailed along seven hundred leagues of the Atlantic coast.
[Illustration: “The natives seemed prepared to traffic in all peace and friendliness”—Page 132]
Francis I. was in the thick of a disastrous war with Spain, and had not time just then to consider further explorations. The war was not fairly over when a Cadiz warship, in 1527, caught Verrazzano and hanged him as a pirate.
The not unnatural conclusion of Verrazzano that what he saw was an ocean or a great inland sea led to extraordinary misconceptions in the maps and charts of the time. It was not until the early part of the seventeenth century that the region was actually explored, by Newport and Smith, and found to be only Chesapeake Bay.
I wake the gods with my sullen
I am the Drum!
They wait for the blood-red flowers that bloom
In the heart of the sacrifice, there in the gloom
With terror dumb—
I sound the call to his dreadful doom—
I am the Drum!