“Our order,” says Smith, “was daily to have prayers, with a psalm, at which solemnity the poor savages wondered.” When it was over the Susquesahanocks, in a fervent manner, held up their hands to the sun, and then embracing the Captain, adored him in like manner. With a furious manner and “a hellish voyce” they began an oration of their loves, covered him with their painted bear-skins, hung a chain of white beads about his neck, and hailed his creation as their governor and protector, promising aid and victuals if he would stay and help them fight the Massawomeks. Much they told him of the Atquanachuks, who live on the Ocean Sea, the Massawomeks and other people living on a great water beyond the mountain (which Smith understood to be some great lake or the river of Canada), and that they received their hatchets and other commodities from the French. They moumed greatly at Smith’s departure. Of Powhatan they knew nothing but the name.
Strachey, who probably enlarges from Smith his account of the same people, whom he calls Sasquesahanougs, says they were well-proportioned giants, but of an honest and simple disposition. Their language well beseemed their proportions, “sounding from them as it were a great voice in a vault or cave, as an ecco.” The picture of one of these chiefs is given in De Bry, and described by Strachey,” the calf of whose leg was three-quarters of a yard about, and all the rest of his limbs so answerable to the same proportions that he seemed the goodliest man they ever saw.”
It would not entertain the reader to follow Smith in all the small adventures of the exploration, during which he says he went about 3,000 miles (three thousand miles in three or four weeks in a rowboat is nothing in Smith’s memory), “with such watery diet in these great waters and barbarous countries.” Much hardship he endured, alternately skirmishing and feasting with the Indians; many were the tribes he struck an alliance with, and many valuable details he added to the geographical knowledge of the region. In all this exploration Smith showed himself skillful as he was vigorous and adventurous.
He returned to James River September 7th. Many had died, some were sick, Ratcliffe, the late President, was a prisoner for mutiny, Master Scrivener had diligently gathered the harvest, but much of the provisions had been spoiled by rain. Thus the summer was consumed, and nothing had been accomplished except Smith’s discovery.
SMITH’S PRESIDENCY AND PROWESS
On the 10th of September, by the election of the Council and the request of the company, Captain Smith received the letters-patent, and became President. He stopped the building of Ratcliffe’s “palace,” repaired the church and the storehouse, got ready the buildings for the supply expected from England, reduced the fort to a “five square form,” set and trained the watch and exercised the company every Saturday on a plain called Smithfield, to the amazement of the on-looking Indians.