To Have and To Hold
XIII. In Which The Santa Teresa Drops Downstream
AN hour's ride brought us to the block house standing within the forest, midway
between the white plantations at Paspahegh and the village of the tribe. We
found it well garrisoned, spies out, and the men inclined to make light of the black
paint and the seething village.
Amongst them was Chanco the Christian. I called him to me, and we listened to
his report with growing perturbation. "Thirty warriors!" I said, when he had
finished. "And they are painted yellow as well as black, and have dashed their
cheeks with puccoon: it's … l'outrance, then! And the war dance is toward! If we
are to pacify this hornets' nest, it's high time we set about it. Gentlemen of the
block house, we are but twelve, and they may beat us back, in which case those
that are left of us will fight it out with you here. Watch for us, therefore, and have
a sally party ready. Forward, men!"
"One moment, Captain Percy," said Rolfe. "Chanco, where's the Emperor?"
"Five suns ago he was with the priests at Uttamussac," answered the Indian.
"Yesterday, at the full sun power, he was in the lodge of the werowance of the
Chickahominies. He feasts there still. The Chickahominies and the Powhatans
have buried the hatchet."
"I regret to hear it," I remarked. "Whilst they took each other's scalps, mine own
felt the safer."
"I advise going direct to Opechancanough," said Rolfe.
"Since he's only a league away, so do I," I answered.
We left the block house and the clearing around it, and plunged into the depths of
the forest. In these virgin woods the trees are set well apart, though linked one to
the other by the omnipresent grape, and there is little undergrowth, so that we
were able to make good speed. Rolfe and I rode well in front of our men. By now
the sun was shining through the lower branches of the trees, and the mist was
fast vanishing. The forest - around us, above us, and under the hoofs of the
horses where the fallen leaves lay thick - was as yellow as gold and as red as
"Rolfe," I asked, breaking a long silence, "do you credit what the Indians say of
"That he was brother to Powhatan only by adoption?"
"That, fleeing for his life, he came to Virginia, years and years ago, from some
mysterious land far to the south and west?"
"I do not know," he replied thoughtfully. "He is like, and yet not like, the people
whom he rules. In his eye there is the authority of mind; his features are of a
nobler cast " -
"And his heart is of a darker," I said. "It is a strange and subtle savage."
"Strange enough and subtle enough, I admit," he answered, "though I believe not
with you that his friendliness toward us is but a mask."
"Believe it or not, it is so," I said. "That dark, cold, still face is a mask, and that
simple-seeming amazement at horses and armor, guns and blue beads, is a