To Have and To Hold
XII. In Which I Receive A Warning And Repose A
SHORTLY before daybreak I was wakened by a voice beneath my window.
"Captain Percy," it cried, "the Governor wishes you at his house!" and was gone.
I dressed and left the house, disturbing no one. Hurrying through the chill dawn, I
reached the square not much behind the rapid footsteps of the watch who had
wakened me. About the Governor's door were horses, saddled and bridled, with
grooms at their heads, men and beasts gray and indistinct, wrapped in the fog. I
went up the steps and into the hall, and knocked at the door of the Governor's
great room. It opened, and I entered to find Sir George, with Master Pory, Rolfe,
West, and others of the Council gathered about the great centre table and talking
eagerly. The Governor was but half dressed; West and Rolfe were in jack boots
and coats of mail. A man, breathless with hard riding, spattered with swamp mud
and torn by briers, stood, cap in hand, staring from one to the other.
"In good time, Captain Percy!" cried the Governor. "Yesterday you called the
profound peace with the Indians, of which some of us boasted, the lull before the
storm. Faith, it looks to-day as though you were in the right, after all!"
"What 's the matter, sir?" I asked, advancing to the table.
"Matter enough!" he answered. "This man has come, post haste, from the
plantations above Paspahegh. Three days ago, Morgan, the trader, was decoyed
into the woods by that Paspahegh fool and bully, Nemattanow, whom they call
Jack of the Feather, and there murdered. Yesterday, out of sheer bravado, the
Indian turned up at Morgan's house, and Morgan's men shot him down. They
buried the dog, and thought no more of it. Three hours ago, Chanco the Christian
went to the commander and warned him that the Paspaheghs were in a ferment,
and that the warriors were painting themselves black. The commander sent off at
once to me, and I see naught better to do than to dispatch you with a dozen men
to bring them to their senses. But there 's to be no harrying nor battle. A show of
force is all that 's needed, - I'll stake my head upon it. Let them see that we are
not to be taken unawares, but give them fair words. That they may be the sooner
placated I send with you Master Rolfe, - they'll listen to him. See that the black
paint is covered with red, give them some beads and a knife or two, then come
home. If you like not the look of things, find out where Opechancanough is, and
I'll send him an embassy. He loves us well, and will put down any disaffection."
"There's no doubt that he loves us," I said dryly. "He loves us as a cat loves the
mouse that it plays with. If we are to start at once, sir, I'll go get my horse."
"Then meet us at the neck of land," said Rolfe.
I nodded, and left the room. As I descended the steps into the growing light
outside, I found Master Pory at my side.
"I kept late hours last night," he remarked, with a portentous yawn. "Now that this
business is settled, I'll go back to bed."
I walked on in silence.
"I am in your black books," he continued, with his sly, merry, sidelong glance.
"You think that I was overcareful of the ground, that morning behind the church,