Captain Ragan managed to get his ship back across the Atlantic but with storm damage. He was glad to be back in Liverpool to make a report on his exploration to the new West Wind Company. They believed that they wanted to perhaps settle and profit from this “New World.”
The men in their stuffed suits sat around him at the table. Ragan was still dressed like a sea captain and portrayed a rugged man.
“I wouldn’t be too optimistic if I were you,” he started. “First of all, you’ve got to get across the Atlantic with everything you need, and you need plenty. No tools there, just a shoreline, lots of swamps, mosquitoes carrying malaria, and heavy woods. Any clearings there are going inland, you can be sure there’s a tribe of hostile Indians there, close to the water and … they don’t want you there.”
“So, did you encounter them?”
“They encountered us, sent a hail of arrows at us, flying out of the woods. We fired in there, they never seen a musket. Noise scared ‘em but they come back. Not till we hit two or three of them, put musket balls in ‘em and then they backed off.”
One said, “Why couldn’t we be friends with them? Bring them gifts. What do they need?”
And another: “But the question is: What do we want? What do we need over there?”
Ragan said: “I don’t think you need anything. You’ll just get a lot of trouble. You may think it’s beautiful woodlands and you can get some game out of it, furs, maybe some trapping. But them natives ain’t gonna let that happen. They think it’s their land.”
Someone countered: “No sign of it. No boundaries marked anywhere in the wilderness, are there? They don’t have any laws written down anywhere, do they? Do they have courthouses? What do they have — squatter’s rights? Aren’t they just savages without any idea of property rights? How can they claim all the land anyway when there’s so much of it?
“Right of possession, I reckon,” said Ragan. “They got it, and they ready to fight for it. And you ain’t gonna do no hunting, no farming, no nothing without their say-so. And they’re everywhere. It will take some kind of brashness to start from scratch over there with one ship load of people. Are they that desperate for some place to live?”
“Muskets, you said they were scared of them. Every man with a musket, every woman too.”
“Sir, you don’t know how difficult it is firing one. Most women aren’t up to it. And what kind of life is it if you’ve got to be armed and fearful all the time. And them arrows, they don’t make no noise or nothing, they just come flying at you, and all the time you trying to load a ball and pour some gunpowder on it. In that place, you lucky to even have any dry powder at all after a few days in the woods.”
“Gifts. How can we be friends?”
“They seem to have what they need. Plenty of game. Winter shelter, furs to stay warm. Villages pulling together for defense against wild animals and … maybe even other tribes, I don’t know. I just know they don’t like us.”
“How about further south,” said one fellow, rolling out a map for the table.
“Fellow named Oglethorpe has all that territory leased. Plans to empty some penal colonies and settle it that way. Poor bastards got nothing to lose, most of them in jail over debt or stealing bread or something. Some of them are indeed hardened criminals they want to get rid of. Best let them have it down there, lots of swamps too, even more mosquitoes further south you get.”
“But then down here on this peninsula, swampy or what?”
“Spain has it locked down. Lots of beaches, swamps in the interior. They’ve got forts in several places. Get down that way you run right into them.”
“Well, we’re looking at this location here … right here …. and they want to call it Jamestown. What can we expect if we finance some ships there? And what if we had war ships from the King’s Navy?”
“Cannons.” said Ragan. “armor against arrows, plenty of noisy muskets. Marksmen who can hit what they target, lots of them … sure, you could probably take over some area. And then you’ve made enemies for the rest of your lives. You will have to fight Indians for every hectare of land you take. Is that what you want?
“Whatever it takes.”
“Whatever it takes for what?” asked Ragan.
“To get a fresh start. This place is a shit hole and there’s no opportunity here any more. Sounds like the New World is there for the taking.”
Another looked to Ragan with a question: “You did say that no entity legally owns the land, correct, and none of the shoreline, none of the fishing waters, correct, so … we just load up and go take it.”
Ragan replied: “I said … you will have to fight the people who hold it. Were you listening? Are you sure that you want to consider this territory …. free? It … won’t be free. You’ll pay in blood for it.”
Another chimed in: “We’ve got blood. We don’t have money.”
And the other said again to Ragan: “Well, we surely don’t want to pay for it, sir. They don’t want or need our currency and there is no means to convey such a worthless thing in their world.”
Another voice: “There’s no land here for such as us, at any price. The landowners hold it and sap the rest of us. Kind of narrows our options.”
“Hell, yes,” said another voice. “Bring on the savages! Can you go back over with us, Captain Ragan?”
“We can probably make a deal,” said Ragan, “provided we are all armed to the teeth. Maybe it’ll be like the Promised Land when they had to drive out the Caananites first. As captain I will require a pistol for my sash.”
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