February 26, 2016

The Mystery of Roanoke by Eva

Eleanor Dare watched her father’s ship sail into the horizon, the sails flapping gently in the wind. Her daughter, Virginia, cooed in her arms, her tiny hands waving around aimlessly in the air. Virginia was just over a week old, and Eleanor felt that her father was leaving too soon after her birth, but the colony needed supplies.
Eleanor smiled down at Virginia. Her chubby cheeks were red from the slowly-chilling weather, and Eleanor’s hands felt numb inside of her baby’s blankets. She trudged back up the beach to the colony.
Eleanor’s father, John White, was appointed governor of the Roanoke colony by Sir Walter Raleigh, and he was very proud of his rank. In 1587, Eleanor’s father led a group of 117 people to the New World. He was ordered to lead the colony and keep it running smoothly, so of course he knew it was his responsibility to return to England when the small colony ran low on supplies. But Eleanor couldn’t help thinking if only it had been later after Virginia was born.
Virginia was born a very healthy baby, and was nailed with a title she would carry for the rest of her life: the first baby born in the New World.
Eleanor was a proud mother. She knew long before the colony reached the New World that she would be the mother of an important baby in English history.
By the time Eleanor reached the family’s one-roomed cabin, Virginia was beginning to grow heavy in her arms. Eleanor’s husband, Ananias, sat outside the door waiting for her. When he saw Eleanor, he smiled and said, “Has your father left the docks yet?”
Eleanor looked down at sleeping Virginia in her arms. “Yes. I miss him already,” she answered.
Ananias stood up and walked over to his wife. “Don’t worry. He’ll be back soon,” he said, knowing Eleanor longed for her father.
Eleanor nodded and walked into the doorway of the house. Her skirt tracked sand from the beach and Eleanor sighed knowing she would have to wash it again. She put Virginia in her small crib that her father had made her before he had left. “A little going away present,” he had said. “So you won’t miss me too much.”
Virginia wrapped her tiny hands around the bars of the crib and drooled. Eleanor grabbed her apron and wiped her chin. She was very tired and she knew she needed to sleep. She sat down on the bed she shared with Ananias and fell into a hard, uncomfortable sleep.
Days passed. It had been almost three years since Eleanor had seen her father. It was as of she had forgotten his voice. He seemed so far away.
One morning, Eleanor was feeling particularly sad. There was small breakfast for the people of the colony. Eleanor gritted her teeth as people complained about the food shortage and how they blamed her father for not being prepared. “Maybe he wanted this to happen!” One colonist exclaimed. Eleanor knew him by the name of William. “We should have never boarded that ship! And I’ll bet you anything he purposely attacked those filthy savages!”
Eleanor glared at William, and he stopped talking. She stood on top of a tree stump, one that the people had used to build their houses.
“I know times are tough, but you cannot blame my father for this. We will have all the things we need soon. For now, we need to make the best of what we have.”
William rolled his eyes. Ananias glared.
Before the colony had arrived in the New World, fifteen Englishmen had come to map the land and prepare it for the colony came. When Eleanor and the rest of the people had finally set foot on the land, all fifteen men were gone; bones left half-buried in their place.
Eleanor’s father was enraged. He knew that the native savages had killed them, and he decided to approach the nearest tribe: The Croatoans. The chief, who was called Chief Manteo, told Eleanor’s father, John White, that the Secotan, Aquascogoc, and Dasamongueponke warriors had attacked the men and killed them. After Eleanor’s father received this news, he led a few of his men out to launch an attack on the Dasamongueponke Indians, but soon realized their big mistake: They had accidently mistaken the Dasamongueponke Indians for the Croatoans, and now the colony lived in constant fear of attack by the once-friendly tribe.
Eleanor had liked the Croatoan’s; they had come to the settlement once before. They were very friendly, and they seemed very much unlike the stories of the gruesome and violent animals that other colonies had ran into and failed because of. But despite their mischaracterized personalities, Eleanor still knew of the long bows they carried and the sharp knifes they held. They had to be used for something other than hunting.
Eleanor’s father had told the colony not to worry, that the Indians were nothing to be afraid of, but Eleanor and the rest of the colony were still wary even though the Indians had showed no sign of hostility towards the people.
Eleanor missed her father. He was strong man, full of hope for the colony. Eleanor hoped that he was right, though, as sometimes optimism can bring false hope.
Later that night, Eleanor sat on her bed in the cabin. Virginia slept in her crib. Ananias lay on the bed, asleep from all the day’s work. Eleanor, no matter how hard she tried, couldn’t sleep. Her stomach sat empty, her longing for her father over-whelming. She blew out her candle and put her head on the pillow. The straw mattress felt scratchy on her skin.
Suddenly a scream rose from a neighboring cabin. Eleanor Dare jumped up. She sat in silence for a second. She knew she hadn’t been dreaming. Eleanor took deep breaths and listened. Footsteps stirred the leaves around the cabin.
Another scream rang out, but was cut off. Fear enveloped Eleanor, her heart beat fast. She turned to wake Ananias, but heard the door creak open a sliver. Eleanor ran to the crib.
“Who are you!?” Eleanor screamed. More yelling voices could be heard around the settlement and more footsteps could be heard from outside. The door creaked open some more, and Eleanor braced herself for the worst.
To Eleanor’s relief, one of Eleanor’s neighbors, the one who had complained earlier that day, stood in the door way. He ran in, breathing heavily.
“What’s going on, William?” Eleanor whispered.
“We’re under attack.”
Dread filled Eleanor’s empty stomach. She felt time freeze. She wanted her father. He would know what to do. He would save them all. But he wasn’t here, Eleanor thought with a sickening realization.
William grabbed Eleanor’s shoulders. “You’ve got to get out of here if you want to live!”
When Eleanor didn’t respond, William slapped her hard across the face. Eleanor lifted her hand to her face. William pulled her arm. “We’re going to die! Hurry!”
“Ananias!” Eleanor exclaimed. She ran over to the side of his bed and pushed him. He sat up and stared at Eleanor before seeing the terror in her eyes, as they seemed to say it all. He grabbed Virginia from her crib and rushed outside, Eleanor trailing not far behind.
Outside was total chaos. People were screaming left and right. Fire from torches burned on the rooftops and children clung to their mothers. Eleanor ran beside Ananias, who was clutching wailing Virginia tightly in his arms.
Then Eleanor saw them: tall dark-skinned men with long bows knocking against their backs as they ran. Their knives were used, as Eleanor could see, and she stifled a scream. They hid in the shadows like swirling darkness, and Eleanor felt like she was re-living her worst nightmare.
As Eleanor and Ananias ran, tears continued to flow down Eleanor’s face. Once they had reached the borders of the settlement, Eleanor saw one of the colonist drag his knife against the tall, wooden poles that surrounded the colony. CROATOAN, he wrote in large slanted letters.
So her father would know.
As Eleanor ran into the forest, she knew that when her father returned, he would not know what happened. What use did the word CROATOAN do for him? She knew she had to try to get her father to understand. She had to lead him to her.
The next morning, sunlight crept through the branches of the tall trees within the forest. Eleanor woke up in the middle of a clearing. She didn’t remember falling asleep. She must have collapsed from running too long.
As her vision cleared, Eleanor Dare realized that she was all alone. None of her colony could be seen, but more importantly her family.
“ANANIAS!” Eleanor screamed. “VIRGINIA!”
Eleanor felt her eyes grow hot. She sat up, pulling herself up, but quickly fell down in pain. Her ankle was twisted at a funny angle, and Eleanor cursed under her breath.
No one answered in the bushes. Eleanor dragged herself forward, flinching every time her foot hit a rock. She moved a few feet in one hour, but eventually gave up. Crying, she lay down in the leaves and fell asleep.
When her eyes opened again, she remembered how the words CROATOAN were etched into her mind. She thought for a while about what she could do so her father would find her.
She must not have run too far from the camp. She knew that when her father landed he would look in a wide circle around the settlement, a few miles at the least. She had to leave a clue… something so that he would know where to come find her.
Suddenly Eleanor had an idea. She found a large rock from by a stream and another smaller sharp rock nearby. She used the small rock to press letters into the soft stone. When she was done she admired her work. The first Dare Stone: a gravestone for her lost husband and daughter.
Ananias Dare &
Virginia Went Hence
Unto Heaven 1591
Anye Englishman Shew
John White Govr Via
Eleanor’s ankle became better after a few days after she found some herbs that seemed to numb the pain. When the Indians had come to the settlement the first time, Eleanor watched a young girl place some of the same herb onto a small boy’s bent fingers. It seemed to help, so Eleanor was relieved when she found the prickly plant near the riverbed.
Soon she could walk, and she walked a few miles west. Every once in a while, she placed another stone so her father would find her. She followed the river, taking breaks every few hours. It seemed the particular soft stone was plentiful near the river, so Eleanor had a lot of material to work with.
Time passed slowly. Eleanor’s father had still not returned, or at least ventured far enough to find her. Eleanor felt her hope slip away like sand in the palm.
One day, Eleanor was finishing up one of her stones. She brushed her hand on the surface of the rock. Behind her, a twig snapped. “Hello?” Eleanor called out. “Father?”
Eleanor’s heart lifted. Could it be? She hadn’t seen a single person for over a year. She wished with all her heart that the sound had been a loving soul that could lead her home. But alas, she was an optimist like her father, and now she had brought herself false hope.
An Indian appeared out of the brush. Eleanor jumped. All around her, more men appeared, each with a bow as tall as Eleanor. They spoke to each other in fast, hushed tones, as if they were worried Eleanor could understand them. The first Indian raised his bow. More followed his lead until Eleanor felt like the whole world was pointing sharp, accusing fingers in her direction.
“Please,” Eleanor begged. She hoped that the Indians were Croatoans, and that maybe they remembered her and had some sympathy, but she knew that she was too far to still be in their territory. “I need to find my father. I can’t die! Please!”
The Indian pulled his bow back despite Eleanor’s pleads. Eleanor knew that this was the end of her story.
John White paced on the deck of his ship. It had been a rough journey from England. Storms came often and water ran low. But the worst thing about the journey was that John missed his daughter – beautiful Eleanor – and his grand-daughter, Virginia.
His heart ached terribly for his family. It had been three years since he’d left them. He hadn’t intended for him to be away so long, but war in England made it incredibly hard for him to set sail.
John thought about the last time he had seen Eleanor. She was standing on the beach. He had hugged her. John remembered the feelings that that hug would be the last, and it had haunted him all the way back to his homeland.
But now John was too excited to worry about such things. They had been sailing for almost three months now, and according to his calculations, they should be finding land any day now.
Suddenly from above, a man’s voice echoed in the morning air. “LAND HO!”
John’s heart jumped. In the distance was a small strip of land, maybe a mile away. He was so close, so close to what he loved most.
When the ship had moved a little closer to the island, the crew began to lower a lifeboat down the side of the ship. It landed in the water with a satisfying splash.
“Okay, men. Today we shall see our loved ones again. We shall see our home again. We shall see all that we have missed! I will bring five men including me to see the island first and arrange for more lifeboats. Who will go with me?”
Men cheered and waved arms. William picked four men and they climbed into the boat.
Once they had reached the island, John jumped out before anyone else. He ran up the beach, ignoring the sand in his boots. He ran through brush and trees. By the time he got to the colony, he was out of breath, sweat dripping down his face. “Eleanor! My beautiful Eleanor! I have returned!”
No one answered. John walked into the village and looked around. His heart fell to his feet.
Half the houses were burned to the ground and all were empty. Not a soul was in sight, but most importantly his beloved Eleanor. John couldn’t see anything anymore – the tears mixed with the sand on his face.
John stumbled to Eleanor’s house, or what remained of it. Half of it was completely gone, the other half burned. In the corner lay the blackened remains of the crib that John had given to his daughter before he had left.
So she wouldn’t miss him so much.
John stared at the crib. He knew right then that he would never see Eleanor again. And as he stared at the ruined house, John knew that his entire world had burned away.
John turned. There was no reason to stay in the wretched place. He walked toward the beach wen something caught his eye – there, on the tall wooden poles that had bordered the settlement, were the words CROATOAN, written in jagged letters. John leaned against the poles and traced the letters with his hand. The Croatoans had done this, he thought. The Croatoans killed my daughter.
And with that, John White returned to England.
(This was a class assignment, which is why she finished it. After I read it, I gasped and said, You killed them!! She answered, Yep. I killed 'em all.)