Authors: D. Sallen
When I asked Pungo about the Powhatan religion, he mumbled a few words about, maybe a demon, an Okee. His attitude made me mildly curious about this Okee.
With Moyock’s increasingly obvious talents, I began to think he would be a good companion on the trail to the Grail. I’ll have to train him to work with, and ride the horses bareback. I had the only saddle in Jamestown and wasn’t about to part with it. Considering the opposition to him, I didn’t think it prudent to let him ride the horses near the settlement. I arranged for Moyock to live in one of Powhatan’s settlements a few miles from Jamestown. I wanted him to learn all he could about their language, and to keep his ears open for any information about other white settlers to the north.
I could bring my steeds to that village and give Moyock riding lessons without being spied upon by hostile parties.
Back in Jamestown, Pungo brought me word that Pochins, son of Powhatan, and Chief of the Kecoughtan, named a price for the slave girl that I wanted to free.
“Pochins, he say he want horse for slave girl.”
No way I could
part with one of them. I didn’t know how far it was to find the Welsh and the Holy Grail. I needed the horses to carry not only me, and
Moyock, but also supplies for the trip. “Tell Pochins, I cannot part with a horse, but I will discuss other prices.”
When Pungo returned he said, “Pochins say slave girl very valuable. She hard worker. Give warriors much fun. He will take five matchstick rifles and ammunition for her.”
“Tell Pochins, the weapons
belong to the settlement, and not to me. I have no control over them. As a counter, I could trade some metal tools, a hatchet, saws or hammers.”
Pungo was a long time returning. When I saw him coming down the trail, I figured he had some bad news. He carried a bundle. When he got up to me he dropped the bundle. A wad of black hair spilled out of it. “Pochins say, he is Chief. You do not offer Chief cheap tools. Here is your girl. You can have her.”
I stared in horror at the scalp. My bloody red scarf was still wrapped around it. “My god! That fiend! That loathsome swine!” I’ve seen terrible things done to men in battle, but to butcher a female prisoner shocked me. The scalp appeared to be fresh. “Did he kill her in front of you?”
“Yes. They use her first, Pochins, his sons, others. He tell me to do. I can not. Stallion not work. He want to kill me. Son say that start war with my clan. Pochins calm down, stab and scalp girl. He say I bring to you.”
“He has made an enemy. I will not forget this.”
Captain Smyth said, “Best you forget it, son. There’s no use in getting worked up over a slave girl. From the way you said she was treated, she wouldn’t have lived long anyway. Perhaps she’s better off.”
“Better off is dead? I would have freed her.”
“To what purpose? Have you thought about that?”
I couldn’t give him a good answer.
“Remember these people are savages, not Christians. You can’t be concerned over the things they do to each other…or you’ll never sleep.”
He told Pungo to bury the scalp and my scarf.
Smith’s question forced me to examine my own less than noble intentions. True I had planned to free her from slavery. Beyond that I merely expected that she would be available for my own lusts. I hadn’t thought further.
Now I feared for Moyock’s safety. Rather than ride my noisy horses, carefully skirting other Natural clusters, I walked to the village where he stayed. Entering the camp, I raised my right hand in a gesture that the Naturals recognized as coming in peace.
With Moyock translating, using two languages and hand signs, I probed an old man for information about the distant countryside as far as he knew it. He had not heard of other White Men. Because of trade with other tribes, he had heard of high hills to the west. Considering the size of the James and York, it stood to reason that highlands existed as a source of the rivers somewhere to the west.
Before I left I talked to Moyock alone. “I want to tell you something, that I don’t want anyone else to know. I’m thinking of making a long exploring trip far from Jamestown. I would like to take you with me, just the two of us, if you want to go. Only think about it for now. I’ll tell you more at a later time.”
“Leaving Jamestown seems good to me…think I have many enemies there,” he replied.
“Yes, you do. And so do I. Both of us must be on guard all the time.”
On the way back to Jamestown I followed what I thought would be a more direct route. In a clearing I came across what appeared to be one of the native temples. Since no one was around, I decided to examine it. Constructed like a large wikkiup with an open front end, there was a fire pit just inside the archway. Beyond the entrance a ways was a raised platform. The smell of death was so overpowering I felt giddy.
Forcing myself farther in, I could see a number of human bodies on the platform. Many were just skeletons that must have been there a long time. The smell came off of a rotting cadaver. I wondered what an ‘Okee’ had to do with this place. It gave me the shivers.
From the gloom at the back of the temple I heard a low moan…which increased to a
My hair stood on end. I turned to see a horrible crouching demon! It crawled at me over the bodies! OKEE!
I froze! It reached for me! It didn’t want to shake hands! At double time I resumed my journey to Jamestown. I thought it prudent not to mention this little adventure to anyone.
My red-haired vision returned that night. Where before expressionless, this time her long hair floated around her and a slight smile graced her face. Puzzled by this recurring dream, I wondered why I only saw her head.
Back in Jamestown normal activity continued until Captain Argyll returned to the dock. One evening I found him in his cabin at ease. He invited me in. “So, young man, how do you like the life of a pioneer?”
I brought him up to date mentioning the attempt on my life. “Do you remember who the other late passenger at London was?”
He thought about it for awhile and said, “Y’ve had some bad experience that makes ye’ think a bod followed ye’ here all the way from England?”
I related my experience with the he/she. “That’s passing strange. Ye’ don’t know why those blackguards wanted yer? It wasn’t a jealous husband, was it now?
Involuntarily I turned red, which seemed explanation enough for him. “I don’t remember the name of that passenger. I’ll have to search my records and tell you later. There’s more important doings about. I aim to sail up one of the other rivers entering into the bay. To see what’s there, if anything. A scouting expedition you might say. Just your thing. Want to come along?”
He showed me a map he’d drawn of Chesapeak Bay and where some tributaries entered into it. “I aim to go up this second one for now, and later the third one which appears to be much larger than the York or Rappahannock.”
“I want to go with you. Is there anything in particular you’re looking for?”
“More to get the lay of the land and see what possibilities it might have. Want to keep an eye open for any kind of mineral or other resource. The Virginia Company is losing money on this Jamestown venture. They want something more profitable than cedar planks.”
“I can see why. The many dead settlers don’t improve their net either.”
“Aye. The Governor may have to show an iron hand with the natives.”
“I’ve a notion he’ll have to show an iron hand with the settlers. There’s too many that don’t pull their share. If the Governor approves, Captain Smyth has plans to cut the rations of those who don’t labor. Some of the soft handed toffs will have fits.”
Captain Argyll, with an expression like a half-faced monkey, silently looked at me.
“I’m a hunter. Bringing in game is my job, not growing crops.”
Glaring at my uncalloused hands, “I hope you’re good at it, Lad. Otherwise he might have you sowing wheat and shucking corn.”
He irritated me with his unasked for comments on myself. Never the less, I expected to make use of him. Not wanting to get his hackles up with a sour retort, I just chuckled as though he was joking.
Although the Governor ruled the settlement, Captain Smyth ran day to day matters. I consulted him on anything I wanted to do, or anywhere I was going. I told him I should go with Argyll because I thought I had a better handle on shore activities than did a sea Captain. Smyth, reluctantly I thought, agreed I should make the trip.
The river being fairly deep at Jamestown we sailed on a low tide. Not knowing how deep the Rappahannock was, Argyll wanted to enter it on a high tide. About two hours up river, we came along an abandoned east side Natural settlement. Shortly after, we saw a group of natives on the west side. I suggested to Argyll we stop and visit.
“Aye, ye’ can go ashore, Lad, but four seaman’ ll go with ye’ to watch yer back. I’ll keep an eye on ye’ from here.”
From what I could determine from the warrior who met me, this was a scouting party from Powhatan’s main settlement looking for another village location. I was invited up to their temporary wikkiup. I raised my hand to the Chief seated outside. I didn’t know him, but I recognized Ma-to-aka seated near him. She knew me. I heard ‘Squire Allen,’ among the words she spoke to her husband in their language.
From where our boat was pulled up I heard a seaman call, “Behint yer Squire!”
I turned to see another Chief stride toward me from the edge of the forest. An impressive scowling man carrying a club at his side. He didn’t appear to be one of the welcoming committee.
“Allen? Allen?” he said. “You are (a word I didn’t understand) White Man who loves slave girl. You insult me! You are nothing!” He had more guts than sense. He swung his club high. I leaped against him… pushed him off-balance and down. I drew my saber, kept him at bay. Ma-to-aka’s husband darted toward me. I instinctively cut him down. That allowed Pochins to swing his club. I managed to block it with my arm instead of my head. He nearly broke my left arm.
I skipped over the body to free my saber. I drove Pochins back.
With their cutlasses, two of the seamen ran up to join on either side of me. Now the rest of the Natural warriors gathered weapons and started for us. Backing toward the boat we moved as fast as we dared. If some of that gang got behind us, we were in trouble. Captain Argyll fired a cannon shot over our heads. Panicked, our foes hesitated, fell back. I grabbed Ma-to-aka by the hand and dragged her back to the boat with us.
It took two sailors to hoist her kicking and screaming aboard the Clyde. In doing so the ruffians took some personal liberties with her.
They, and she, thought she was abducted for their pleasure.
“Let her up! No ones raping her!
I drew my saber and faced an angry crew. The biggest brute turned toward me with his cutlass. “We got ‘er aboard! Yer not ‘aving ‘er first!”
My back was to the rail. Nude Ma-to-aka lay at my feet, angry seamen on both sides of us. I drew my pistol with my left hand. I pointed it at the leader’s groin. “Back off! Or you’ll never have a woman again!”
Someone in back hollered, “Let’s get ‘im! ‘E can’t shoot but one!”
“Avast yer bleeding buggers”! Shouted Captain Argyll. He backed up his command with a loaded pistol. “I’ll decide who gets the prize!”
“Captain!” I shouted. “She’s the Princess Ma-to-aka. If she’s abused, she’ll be no use as a ransom to Powhatan!”
All activity froze!
Argyll took time to think. “We’re not pirates…And there’ll be no raping of women on my ship! Now stand down! All o’ye! Bosun! You tie her hands and feet. Put her in my berth…and no, I’ll not use her either!
Now then, we must put about! All hands to your stations!”
When we were on the way back down the Chesapeak, Argyll had time to talk. “I’ve cut short my trip up the river for yer captive. Ye’ should know, calling the men off was a bit chancy. They’ve not had a wench since London.”
“If Powhatan can be calmed, she may save some lives. Your crew can always go back to old-lady-five-fingers.”
“Aye, and on a ship this size, there’s always at least one pouf who likes to satisfy the buggers.”
Now that I knew Argyll planned to sail up the much larger Potomac River. I prepared to go with him. Knowing what fools men were for gold, I began casually mentioning around that I wanted to explore to the west. If there was any gold it would be higher in stream beds, not down here in the mucky tidal waters.
“So you’ll be making yoursel’ rich while we’re out o’sight,” observed one of the soldiers,a lout with amouth like a fish.
“Not likely. Anything I find of value belongs to Virginia Company. They’ll not let me keep it.”
“Only what you can fiddle, hey.”
He was a sly-talking trouble maker. I took offense at this clod impugning my honor. If he hadn’t been smiling, I would have given him a lesson in manners. I
chose to treat his words lightly. My remarks had served their purpose. “D’ya think I can operate a mine by myself? Hey, I’ve not even started yet, much less found anything. It’s way too soon to talk about diving up spoils.”