Richard of Jamestown  by James Otis


It was while all the people, gentlemen as well as laborers, were doing their, best to repair the loss, and to put Jamestown into such shape that we might be able to withstand an attack from the savages, if so be they made one, that even a worse misfortune than the fire came upon us.

Some of those whom Captain Newport had lately brought to Virginia, while roaming along the shores of the river in order to learn what this new land was like, came upon a spot where the waters had washed the earth away for a distance of five or six feet, leaving exposed to view a vast amount of sand, so yellow and so heavy that straightway the foolish ones believed they were come upon that gold which our people had been seeking almost from the very day we first landed.


From this moment there was no talk of anything save the wealth which would come to us and the London Company.

Even Captain Newport was persuaded that this sand was gold, and straightway nearly every person in the village was hard at work digging and carrying it in baskets on board the John and Francis as carefully as if each grain counted for a guinea.

Of all the people of Jamestown, Captain Smith and Master Hunt were the only ones who refused to believe the golden dream. They held themselves aloof from this mad race to gather up the yellow sand, and strove earnestly to persuade the others that it would be a simple matter to prove by fire whether this supposed treasure were metal.

In the center of the village, where all might see him, Master Hunt set a pannikin, in which was a pint or more of the sand, over a roaring fire which he kept burning not less than two hours.


When he was done, the sand remained the same as before, which, so he and my master claimed, was good proof that our people of Jamestown were, in truth, making fools of themselves, as they had many a time before since we came into this land of Virginia.