The Lost Colony
—by Nathan on October 30, 2009—
The following is a piece that I wrote for my Greenhouse as extra credit (more about Greenhouse in a later blog maybe). It's regarding what the fate of a certain Roanoke Island colony could have been. A quick fact for you history buffs: Roanoke was set up as a colony by the English around the time when settlers were first coming to America. They for some unknown reason disappeared. No one knows why, but I have a tale on one reason why they could have vanished. Last note: All the characters in this story, save for the Dare family, are fictional. Enjoy.
Victor Wolfe, Roanoke's leading navigator and weapons master, stared fearfully up into the cloudy, gray sky. It glared menacingly back, taunting him with the threat of a sudden snowfall. We can't have that, he thought with a frown. Not in the poor condition we're in.
It had only been a few months ago that the men and women who had been brave enough to sail from England across a treacherous and dangerous sea had landed at Roanoke to set up a colony, but it seemed like an eternity in Victor's already jumbled mind. Some progress had been made, fortunately, but not enough for the new colonists to survive a frigid, bleak winter. One of their numbers, John White, had left for England only a few days ago. Yet Victor felt a dark foreboding that White would return too late.
Another fear that rose among the colonists was that of Indians. The neighboring tribe had once been friendly, but peaceful relationships had been strained after the native-related murder of George Howe.
Victor kicked the ground in frustration. How in heaven are we going to survive? He wondered. We can't hunt - all the animals are gone, and the water's too cold for fishing. Then there's the matter of warm clothes for winter. They still evade us. John White...when will you return? Victor didn't know, but a war between England and Spain would hold up the poor man for a long time. Maybe too long...
"Victor!" a voice called out. The man turned and smiled a little seeing his old friend Ananias Dare run up. "Victor! We've been looking for you. We have visitors, my friends, visitors. Savages! Three of them. It was the oddest thing. They just walked in, sat on the ground by the fire, and began eating food they had brought with them. None of them speaks our language, but you can speak Indian. Can you talk to them, get them to share some of their provisions?"
Victor nodded. He could speak Indian, all right. The last time a colony had tried to be established, Victor had fled into the woods after a fight and found a tribe of Croatans. He had quickly learned their language and had lived with them for a few years before being excommunicated because of another fight. He eventually stumbled across a new colony in Roanoke and quickly became the lead navigator for the hunters, thanks to his knowledge of the surrounding, woody terrain.
"Heh." A third man walked up. He was Daniel Trait, the colony's master hunter. "Help us? Bah! They'll more likely scalp us. Remember poor George? I say we leave the savages alone, but watch them. If they make any threatening moves, we'll kill them all. Help us? Are you a fool, Dare? No one can find any meat or fish. Too cold. They've all fled south, and I say we follow."
"We're not that desperate, Daniel," Victor muttered. "We won't leave. I'm going to side with Ananias on this one, hunter, though my heart does not go towards the Indians. Who knows? The savages could prove useful to us. But I'm going to have to agree with Daniel, too. If they do anything to harm anyone...then we'll be the ones doing the scalping."
The Indians had light brown skin and wore nothing but a loincloth and moccasins. Hardly enough protection against the fast-coming winter. The fire cast eerie shadows across their faces, making them look even more terrifying, almost like demons. But what was the difference? Victor sat and began conversing.
"Hello," he said, hoping he was speaking the right language. "Can you help us? My people are in need of food and warm clothes. Can you help?" he asked again.
"White man knows our talk," an Indian muttered, which relieved Victor. The savage had red paint on his face, large black eyebrows, and his hair was in a pony-tail. "How you learn?"
"I don't have time to tell you," Victor told him. "I want to know if you can help us with provisions."
"What white man asks is not possible for Quto and friends." The Indian shook his head. "Need food for them. Winter coming. Can not help white men. Why should we? White men only try to kill us with boom-sticks. White men must help themselves."
The Indians soon left the colony. Victor Wolfe was an angry man. "Idiot savages," he hissed. "How dare they refuse us? The devils! It is the will of her Majesty that we survive. Defying us is defying her. This is an insult to the Queen and to all of England! There shall be blood to pay."
"Now, Victor, what you are proposing is...preposterous, to say the least," Ananias said. Victor, Ananias, and other men sat in Victor's house. "We can't hope to wage war on the Indians! They would easily defeat us! We're outnumbered, our weapons are few, and they know the land better than us. Better than you even! I say we leave them alone. Vengeance is never justified, my friend."
"The man is right!" Daniel laughed. "You should have listened to me before, Victor. I said to leave them alone. But did you? No. Now you're mad. What are you going to do?"
Mr. Wolfe glared at the hunter, a scowl on his hard face. "I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to kill every savage hidden in the trees. This is an insult to our home and our monarch. A wrongdoing such as this should not be able to go unpunished! Anyone who wishes to help can follow me. Anyone who doesn't...never consider yourself a lover of England again."
That night, Victor and twenty other men snuck out of the colony. Light from a fire lit up the sky. That's where the savages are, Victor thought with a wry grin. They're probably just sitting there, not even knowing that we're coming. This will be very easy.
They came upon a circle devoid of trees. A group of Indians danced around a blazing hearth, whooping and shouting. They weren't sitting, but they were completely oblivious to the would-be-killers.
Victor signaled for his men to surround the circle, but to stay in the shadows. "I'll shoot first, and then you all will," he ordered. "Next, we'll rush in and kill the rest of the animals. Understand?"
The men murmured that they did.
"Good. Now, let the offenders of England perish." The men circled the ring of whooping Indians. Victor raised his gun and aimed it at one's back. It was the one he had spoken to in the settlement, the one who had defied his - defied England's! - wishes. Victor took good aim with his gun, wrapped his finder around the trigger, and fired.
The Indian fell with a cry, and several other savages did the same as more shots rang out. Those who had survived the volley raised their tomahawks in defense.
Pity for them, Victor thought with a smirk, rushing into the open, his knife in hand.
The other colonists, giving war cries, also charged the Indians, ready to slaughter the ones who had dared to offend the amazing Mother Country. Victor knew that the Indians did not stand a chance. There was no hope of survival for these creatures tonight.
Just as soon as the fighting commenced, it ended. All the Indians were dead. Only one Englishman had fallen in the battle: Daniel Trait.
Your sacrifice four our country shall never be forgotten, Daniel, my boy, Victor contemplated. It shall be remembered by all of us here tonight. Tonight...and forever. I will tell the Queen of your bravery once I get the chance. I swear it. He would never get that chance.
The colonists returned to their homes happy men, praising their noble leader for his outstanding and courageous fighting. Victor the Victorious, the navigator thought, puffing his chest with pride. That's what the men are calling me. A fitting name, yes, for a brave fellow such as me. Very proper indeed.
They came without warning. Before the sun rose, they came swift and fierce, dragging out villagers and burning houses. Screams of loss and horror pierced the chilly night like a bird's song breaks the early morning silence. Victor was awoken by two strong arms wrapping around his body.
"What is the meaning of this?" he cried in English. His captors - two Indians - glared at him, unable to understand a word, and not even caring. The white men were theirs...and they would pay for their atrocities.
The entire colony of Roanoke was yanked into the cold. Snow had begun to fall slightly. A man was quickly carving a word into a tree. Victor read it as "CROATHAN". That was the name of the tribe...the tribe that now held them prisoner. He just hoped that if John White returned, he could somehow make out the word, too, and avenge them.
Victor was thrown into a group along with Ananias, Ananias's wife Eleanor, and their child, Virginia. "Where are these savages taking us?" Victor hissed.
Ananias just shook hid head and pulled his family closer.
An Indian spoke to Victor. "Repeat this to all your people," he commanded. "We take you as payment for slaughtering brethren. I Motsak, brother of Quto. I kill you when we get home. The rest of people...I do not know what happen to them. Tell people, now! Then move."
Victor repeated the phrase to the colonists as they trudged along. "They obviously found out that I led the attack tonight," he sighed to Ananias. "Now, they want to kill me."
"I guess that just goes to show what I said," the other man returned. "Vengeance is never justified. I just wished that you believed that sooner, my friend."
"So do I. And I hope these savages believe that too, for your sake."
"We'll just have to wait. And see. And pray that God delivers us from the hands of our enemies."
While on the road, Victor grew ill. On the third day of walking, he fell. Despite Motsak's pleadings of revenge, the rest of the Indians left the white man to die. So Victor laid there, his body wracked by a sickness he did not know. He could see his breath in the frigid air. As cold and death claimed his heart, he mumbled, "Vengeance is never justified." Then, darkness replaced his sight, and Victor Wolfe lay dead.
Perhaps the winds had picked up his final words, for the Indians spared the colonists upon reaching their home, and even came back to give Victor a proper burial. After the war in Europe was resolved, John White returned to America, but he was never able to find the colonists. The people of Roanoke and the Indians eventually grew friendly and mingled and married. A new race soon sprang from the two. Indians with lighter skin and hair. And forever, they kept the wise words of Ananias Dare, the first father in the New World, in their hearts: Vengeance is never justified.