This Thing of Darkness

Book Award Sub-Category
Award Category
Golden Writer
Book Cover Image
Logline or Premise
History tells us that William Shakespeare died in April of 1616.

Or did he?

What if the “William Kemp” who set sail from England for the New World in April of 1619 was actually the bard in disguise?
How would he adjust to life in the Virginia Colony? How would he interact with the Powhatans?
And what if he was forced to do battle with a monster out of legend?
This is the story of Shakespeare’s second life.
First 10 Pages

~ 1 ~

The Wild and Wasteful Ocean

Somewhere in the Atlantic, April, 1619

The dead man cowered in his bunk as the ship about him lurched and groaned on the storm-churned sea. The hull growled, the timbers whined, and the masts protested endlessly. Between blasts of thunder and the crashing of waves upon the deck above, the man could hear the shouts and cries of the crew and his fellow passengers. Wouldn’t it be ironic if we all went down? He thought. And for me, of all people. Full fathom five, indeed. Not that anyone would mourn his loss, since most who cared about him had already shared their grief back in England. Still, it would be sad to sink to the bottom of the Atlantic unnoticed, except by his bastard son, struggling to sleep in own bunk, and the other men on board, who couldn’t tell him from their favorite tapster for all the gold in America.

Abruptly, the ship rolled to starboard, throwing the frightened passenger onto the rough-planked floor of his cabin, where he lay, panting, like a terrified house cat, until the vessel corrected itself and he tumbled back in the other direction. He locked eyes with his now-awake son for an instant and saw his own terror reflected back at him, despite the darkness of the room.

“All’s well!” the man exclaimed, as he dragged himself back into his bunk. “Happens all the time!” If only he could sleep – not the eternal sleep threatened by this angry ocean, but simple sleep, sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care and so forth. He’d have paid any amount to doze through this tempest and awaken on the other side, in calmer seas, with a bit of blue sky overhead. He knew he owed God a death; he just hoped it wasn’t due yet.

Still, as much as he feared for his life and that of his boy, he was even more concerned for the safety of his books. His body, after all, was merely a vessel – much like this ship – but his books! His books were the children of his spirit, and…there the metaphor fell apart, like bread in wine. He would like to have gone into the hold, to ensure that his cargo was secure and dry, but candles and lamps were undoubtedly out all over the boat and, with its violent jostling, the man didn’t think such a journey likely to end in success.

As if on cue, the ship listed dangerously to port. A dog, belonging to one of the other passengers, yelped in terror, and the frightened passenger ruminated on how fear was a great equalizer amongst animals, making a man no better than a rat, or, alternatively, making them comrades-in-arms, in their battle against a common, implacable foe. If only they could take arms against this sea of troubles and by opposing, end them. Or it.

There came a blast of thunder so loud that he nearly soiled himself. It would be a wonder if the masts hadn’t been shattered to kindling. He’d had many a long night over his fifty-some years, but he promised the gods above and below he would never take His or Their names in vain again, if only they’d see him safely to shore this one last time.

Fretting and sweating in his bunk, he finally fell asleep.

He was awakened sometime later by a sharp noise at his door. With a glance, he confirmed the sound had likewise roused his son, and that someone had forced his way into their presence amidst a veritable cloud of Rhenish vapors.

"Do as I say, and no one gets hurt!" the shadow commanded.

Will frowned in disappointment. “That’s the best you can do?”

"Shut up and toss your purse my way, along with anything else o' value."

“You are drunk, sir. How do you expect to escape justice on this wee boat with nowhere to hide?” the dead man demanded incredulously.

“That’s my concern. Now, I won’t ask again. Your valuables. Now.”

Once more, the dead man glanced over at his son, who huddled quietly in his bunk. With a long-suffering sigh that projected a confidence he did not feel, he pulled his pistol from beneath his blanket and fired at the intruder, who flew backwards into the wall and immediately collapsed. Frightened by the blast, the boy leapt to his feet.

"Don't trouble yourself, lad. I'm just ridding the ship of its rats. One of them, anyway."

Anon, there came a stern knocking on the door. "That's the Captain and his men, I expect," he said to his son, who had returned to his previous position. In the next motion, he crossed to the door and pulled it open. In the corridor, the First Officer and several of the crew stood with weapons ready.

"We heard gunfire," the First Officer deadpanned.

~ 2 ~

So Quick, Bright Things Come to Confusion

Virginia’s Jamestown Colony, April, 1619

There is something enormously gratifying about splitting firewood, about using an axe with such violence and precision, about exercising one’s muscles in the out-of-doors, providing one’s family with the fuel necessary to cook its food and keep it warm. All in all, it was one of Jamieson’s favorite tasks, and this evening was no different. To his left, his eldest picked up and stacked the newly split logs under the eaves of the family home, that they might age and dry until needed. Well off to Jamieson's right, his two daughters frolicked amongst the wildflowers, far enough away to stay clear of the axe or any of the splinters its work might send flying, but near enough that Jamieson might reach them should the need arise.

He paused in his labors to wipe the sweat from his brow with the back of his left arm.

"Are we done, papa?" his son asked hopefully.

Jamieson smiled. Terrence reminded him of himself as a boy, always looking for a chore to be done as quickly as possible. "I'll cut a few more, yet," he responded. He still had some minutes before sunset, and he wanted to accomplish as much as possible before that nonnegotiable deadline.

Terrence sighed just loudly enough for his father to hear, but said nothing. He, too, was aware that sundown would bring an end to this task and the welcome advent of dinnertime, card games, and stories. Some of those stories, no doubt, would be about what happened to those who dared to stay out after dark, for it was well known that although the Powhatans were not the most aggressive of the local natives (nor yet the most agreeable), there were others who might think nothing of capturing or killing a settler's child. These stories terrified his sisters, but Terrence loved them. He wasn't afraid of the natives, at least not while he was indoors, and his father's musket stood ready for firing.

Long, long seconds later, Terrence heard his father lay the axe against the stump he used for splitting. He turned to see him take in the lowering sun.

“It’s about that time,” he said regretfully. Lord, how the man loved to work! “Girls!” he called. “Let us go inside. Terrence, be a good lad and bring the axe, will you?” Without waiting for a response, Jamieson looked over at the cottage and began to walk towards it.

His daughters, Meredith and Alice, were quick to obey their father’s commands, but Terrence was a bit slower in complying. He wasn’t allowed to use the axe just yet, but with his father’s back turned, he could not resist an errant swing or two. Just let one of the natives try him now! He’d chop ‘em to kindling.

“Terrence!” his father barked from the cottage door.

Of course. The man heard and saw everything. It was a blessing, his mother said, for the family but certainly a curse for young Terrence. He lowered his eyes sheepishly, slumped his shoulders, and carried the axe as he’d been taught. A lecture was coming, he knew, and a stern one at that.

Inside, the children’s mother was laboring over the stew pot when she suddenly cried out in pain. Jamieson, who’d just begun the process of barring the door, rushed to her side to determine the cause of her distress. The ladle, it seemed, had been too close to the flames, so that when she picked it up, she seared her fingers and the palm of her hand but good. Her husband poured cool water upon the burn and carefully wrapped the hand in linen.

“Wash up, now,” Terrence’s mother told him and his sisters, who stood by gawking. “It’s just a burn. Happens all the time.”

Salted pork. How Terrence hated it. He would have given anything for a bit of venison. Alas, salted pork was what there was, and it was that or nothing, as his father so often reminded him. Still, Terrence would rather have eaten his shoe. He glanced across the table and saw his father glaring at him — did the man ever do anything else? Hoping to appease him, Terrence shoved a goodly bite of meat into his mouth and chewed, careful to keep any sign of disgust from his face.

“I was thinking,” said Jamieson to no one in particular, “of building a smokehouse, ‘twould give our meat a bit more flavor and make the fish and fowl last longer. I’ll be needing some help, of course…” He let the last trail off, but his son knew exactly who the help was meant to be and couldn’t have been happier.

“I can do it!” he volunteered, a little too lustily.

His sisters giggled and his mother fought back a chuckle herself, even as she winced at the lingering pain in her hand. “Just you finish your supper first!” she scolded gently.

That task accomplished and everything tidied up, the family gathered near the hearth, to enjoy a few songs and fables by the fire. Only, Jamieson could not locate his pipe for his customary postprandial smoke. He checked and rechecked his pockets. He searched the table. He scanned the hearth.

“Ye left it outside, papa!” Terrence reminded him. “By the chopping block.”

“Did I?” Jamieson asked in obvious disappointment. “Well, I suppose I’ll have to do without —”

But his son, eager for his father’s approval, rushed to the door Jamieson had never quite finished locking, threw aside the bar, and rushed out into the darkness.

In a panic, Jamieson and his wife dashed after their son, calling his name and demanding he return. They were stopped cold by a terrible roar unlike any sound they’d ever heard. “It’s a bear!” Jamieson cried out, but he didn’t believe it. As he turned to fetch his musket, he was hit in the back by something heavy and hard that knocked him onto his belly. His wife and daughters screamed and continued to scream. Jamieson rolled over and saw Terrence’s bloody head on the floor to his left, gazing over at him with a look of utter confusion and be-damned if the lips weren’t moving! “Shut the door!” Jamieson yelled to his wife, the only one close enough to manage it.

But it was already too late.

~ 3 ~

Ripeness is All

The Atlantic Ocean, April, 1619

The fact that he woke up the next morning struck him as nothing less than miraculous. In the first place, he was astounded to discover he’d actually fallen asleep again; in the second, the ship was still afloat. His left knee ached, but that was nothing new. And his belly burned something terrible. That little concern would kill him in earnest someday, he’d no doubt, but evidently today was not that day.

He glanced about his cabin. It was little more than a closet, but that ‘little more’ was much more than the rest of the passengers enjoyed. Such, the prerogatives of wealth. He pondered that wealth, his son, and the time ahead. He knew the days of his second life were dwindling rapidly, and that his next death would be final. And so, he wanted to live, truly live, in the time remaining to him. After his funeral (which he’d attended in disguise), he traveled, just as he had in his youth, in his salad days. But although unknown to him, everywhere he went was nevertheless known by and to someone, and he left each location a little dismayed at the lack of surprise. America, on the other hand, was full of still-unexplored forests, mountains, meadows and lakes. The dead man wanted to see the ‘ugly’ mermaids of which he’d heard tell. He wanted to see the savages who skulked about the primordial woodlands. He wanted to see trees that had never known the axe and rivers that had never been fished. And to greet this New World, he had become a new man.

Nowadays, he called himself William Kemp. He was comfortable enough with William, and being William Kemp made him laugh, as the real William Kemp never had. Not that anyone on board or in the New World would know the difference, and, in fact, the new William Kemp was counting on it. He was somewhat disappointed to discover no women dressed as men amongst the other passengers (a favorite fantasy of his), but he did encounter a man dressed as a woman who called herself Margaret. Will had seen many such men in his time, and Margaret’s effort was especially refined, despite her rather hulking size. He thought, whimsically, that he might marry her, if only to cement their two disguises with further authenticity. Nothing convinced like the veneer of domesticity.

Such musings naturally put him in mind of his actual wife, the poor, forlorn victim-of-all victims he’d gradually learned to despise, largely because of how she made him feel about himself. He had been – was! – a man of great accomplishment, but in her eyes, he was a faithless husband, a poor father, and a terrible drunk, which insult hurt worse than the other two combined. In his mind, he was an excellent drunk. Quam bene vivas referre, non quam diu.

She was a right Christian martyr, though – at least she thought herself to be, never mind that he’d brought much wealth and luxury into her life, wealth and luxury she could never have expected at the time of their marriage. As a provider, he’d exceeded expectations to the same degree that the sun exceeds a candle. But she always wanted more of him – more intimacy, more time, more conversation and, most especially, more frequent attendance at church. He was like his father in that regard, however, and would rather have listened to the slaughter of swine for all eternity than spend another moment in the pews. Besides, he’d spent the better part of his life listening to the greatest orators in the land; the pastor at his local church was a poor substitute.

He’d been glad to say goodbye to his town, as well. In retirement, he’d been beleaguered by folks angling for loans, for gifts, for his benison. None of them really seemed to know him or his work, none seemed to have any genuine feelings for him outside of jealousy. As a boy and young man, he’d always thought his town too small, too provincial. He was more than sorry that his retirement had confirmed it. And so, he was saddled with a wife, a home, and a town that no longer brought him the least bit of satisfaction, of joy. What was to be done? Now a man of title and reputation, he could not simply leave. The scandal would have been too great for someone whose continued income depended upon public adoration. Fortunately, his own works instructed him, and he contrived to fake his own death.


“Good morrow, Master Kemp,” the first mate said as Will emerged onto the deck.

“As I am still alive to see it, yes, ‘tis very good, indeed. And please, there’s no need to call me Master Kemp. Will is more than adequate.”

“As you say, Will. The captain would like a word.”

He was no seer, Will, but he’d been expecting as much and imagined he could probably predict the ensuing conversation to the last detail.

“Master Kemp,” the captain would say. “You shot and killed a man aboard my ship last night.”

“Only after he broke into my quarters and threatened my apprentice and me.”

“That’s as may be,” the captain would offer, “but I cannot have my passengers murdering one another, even in self-defense. Why didn’t you shoot him in the shoulder, or the leg? How am I to question his corpse?”

The actual conversation was little different, save for one small but vital detail: the dead man was one of parolees from Newgate Prison, and was sure to have had friends both onboard and in Jamestown.

Will, it seemed, had kicked the proverbial hornets’ nest.

~ 4 ~

I shall no more to sea, to sea –

Here shall I die ashore!

Jamestown Colony, April, 1619

The fog fell away almost coyly, like a new bride disrobing for her husband on their wedding night, and revealed a dark shape against the horizon. The New World! Nothing had captured his imagination so since he was a boy watching pageant plays in his village and dreaming of bigger things in London. Even as his eyes beheld it, he had difficulty believing it. How was it possible that such a land had existed unknown for so long? The mystery of it all thrilled and frightened him. Soon, very soon, he would disembark and take his first steps in a place few Europeans had ever visited. It was likely, in his wandering, his feet would find virgin soil, where no one of any sort had ever walked – not Alexander, not Caesar, not even His Majesty. Oh, Raleigh had made a cursory sort of exploration, but surely there were untold acres, whole countries of land that he’d never seen.

Will was no fool, however, and he knew there would be dangers, both unfathomable and mundane. That was why he’d purchased his flintlock pistol — the very latest thing — along with a musket, and brought along a brace of daggers and his rapier. He was not a young man, could not pass for one in anyone’s company, but he would not be taken or taken advantage of easily. Whoever dared try was in for a terrible surprise. Or so he hoped.

Gradually, he became aware of his fellow passengers gathering on either side of him, each of them seemingly as lost in his own thoughts as Will himself had been seconds earlier. If anyone could gaze upon America and not feel shaken, inspired, and astounded, that person was dead inside.

“I wonder if them savages is watchin’ us,” the man to his left said.

“Ah,” Will answered, “but we’ll be watching them back, won’t we?”

The other man scoffed. “Yes, but they know where we are! We can’t see them, yet!”

“Thank God for your yelling, then.”

The other man’s jaw snapped shut with an audible click and then, after a moment, he muttered, “Damned gentlemen…” before wandering off.

On Will’s right, another man chuckled and said, “I’ll be amazed if that one lasts a week.”

Will smiled and nodded back at the fellow, but had no interest in further conversation. He’d endured a lifetime of talk and was looking forward to a little silence once he got ashore. Instead, it seemed the perfect time to enjoy his pipe. He was nearly out of tobacco, but that was one thing, he understood, that the New World had in abundance. Perhaps he would even grow some himself – he didn’t need the money, but a man wanted a hobby, didn’t he? And, at his age, hunting was probably out of the question.

A vast gap on the approaching coast gave evidence of a river mouth — the James River, in fact — and a well-named river it was, too, since, like its namesake at a public speaking event, it seemed to go on and on. Will chuckled. He wondered if, even here, he was far enough from England to say such things aloud. Probably not, he guessed.

As the ship progressed upriver, Will noted the James was much greener in hue than the Thames – a brownish-gray on the best of days and ofttimes full of refuse. There was none in the James, however, and Will could actually see great fish leaping from its waters upon occasion. Into this reverie stepped his son, again. Will had been putting off certain necessary discussions with the young man, but they could not be avoided forever. Best, he thought, to have it all over with, so that dread of its coming did not dampen his enjoyment of whatever the New World had to offer.

“Son,” he said, in acknowledgment of the boy’s presence.

“I have a name,” the boy answered gruffly.

“That you have. The name of my dearest friend as it happens, and also of my brother. I’d have chosen something else for you, had I been consulted.”


“I might’ve called you Edward, I think, or Alexander.”

The boy hunched over the rail, was quiet a moment, and then said, “Not even William?”

“Gods, no! You’re no mere copy of your father, whatever else you may be.”

“Alexander was a king, wasn’t he?”

“An emperor!” Will beamed.

Nodding to himself, the boy said, “Then call me Xander, if Richard likes you not.”

“Xander it is. A new name, for a New World!” It was no less than he’d done himself, anyhow. For all that, his son was dark-skinned – black, like his mother – and Will was uncertain how the boy might be received by the people of Jamestown. And then, as the father of such a child, well, he was not exactly above judgment, either, was he? “It is just possible,” he said to his son, “that the people of this New World will not look favorably upon us as individuals or a pair. We may alleviate some scrutiny if we pretend that you are my servant or apprentice instead of my son.”

Xander frowned at this, but said nothing as he considered the matter. At length, he declared, “I’ll play that part, but don’t you forget what you’ve promised me.”

“Never,” Will agreed.


This James River was so wide in places that its far shore was nothing more than a line of shadow across the horizon, and it was not difficult to imagine that such a vast and powerful tributary might indeed run all the way to China. But that was beyond Will’s interest. Having been aboard the George for six weeks, he desired nothing more than landfall and a bed that did not list to-and-fro with every breeze. Jamestown, the captain had told him, was still two or three days upriver, though. He would therefore have to content himself with richly-scented air, redolent of fir, oak and alder, of grasses and sweet, ripe earth. And, of course, the river itself. Even the Avon had never smelled so good.

Looking about himself, it was evident that his fellow passengers were of his mind, for the deck was nearly packed to capacity with those fleeing the horrid confines below decks.

It had become something of a ritual for the mysterious Margaret to acknowledge his presence whenever she was nearby. Sometimes, this was done through the slightest of nods; on other occasions, she walked to his side and inquired as to his health and frame of mind. There was, Will noted, a connection there, an understanding of some sort, and more and more he believed they were destined to become friends, though the particulars remained unclear to him. In light of this possibility, he felt it past time to introduce his son.

“Isn’t the air just lovely?” he asked Margaret by way of greeting. Before she could answer, he said, “There’s someone I’d like you to meet. Richard!” he called over his shoulder to the boy, who leaned upon the rail some ten paces distant.

“Xander,” his son reminded him.

“Yes, yes,” Will replied, “Margaret, this is my apprentice, Xander.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Margaret said, nodding in Xander’s direction.

“You look like one of my mum’s companions,” the boy declared, sharing just the tiniest taste of his Southwark dialect.

Will blushed in embarrassment at the boy’s forwardness, but Margaret merely raised an eyebrow in his direction. “Is that a good thing, or a bad?” she asked him.

“Oh! Pardon!” said Xander. “A good, a good. They’re as kind and true a bunch as you could hope to meet.”

Margaret and Will both smiled at the boy’s recovery. “Then I hope I shall meet them, one day,” Margaret replied.

Will didn’t think it likely, but kept that to himself.


The big day arrived.

Gazing at the shore again, Will could at last see evidence of a settlement ‘round the next bend, the very town where this ship was meant to dock. Small towns and villages in England had buildings of stone, despite their diminutive size. This village, from all he could see, had no such buildings, and even the streets were dirt. There would be no luxuries, then, no convenience. At least not for the foreseeable future. But it was nothing more or less than Will had expected, which was why a goodly portion of the ship’s cargo belonged to him. He’d even brought along his customary bed, which he’d had stolen from his wife at the time of his death, under the pretext of leaving it to his surviving child and her husband. It would never arrive at her home. Call him a bastard, but if he was going to begin a new life in a relative wilderness, he was damned-well going to have a good night’s sleep.

The ship’s bell rang out behind him, startling him from his daydreaming. An answering bell chimed from the shore and all about him, Will saw the crew rushing to their various stations. The rest of the passengers appeared as well, some with sleep still in their eyes, others, already carrying everything they’d brought along and anxious to disembark. Will was in no rush. His belongings would take a while to offload, and, anyway, he never liked being part of the frantic throng.

What though it all seemed a fantasy, a strange fever dream, Jamestown itself looked very real indeed. And now that he saw it, Will wondered again at the rumors of cannibalism, of Spanish spies, of hostile natives, and more. At one point, the people of Jamestown had even been ravaged by the plague. It was an ancient enemy, the plague, but no less deadly for all that. He’d lost loved ones, family and friends to it, and yet he endured. Why? It was a question he’d asked himself countless times over the years; he’d given up hope of ever finding an answer.

While the majority of those on board continued to crowd the rail, Will crossed the deck and gazed out into the woods along the shore, hoping to see the birds or animals of the New World. The crush of humanity no longer held interest for him. He might well and truly have declared, “Man delights not me.” But to glimpse creatures he’d never before seen? He had no greater desire.

“And where will you go from here?” a familiar voice asked.

Will turned slightly to see Margaret standing not three paces away, leaning against her own section of rail.

“I’ve rented an empty cottage for a fortnight or two. I’d like to get the lay of the land before making any further plans. You?”

The man who was Margaret smiled. “I don’t rightly know. I’m looking for lodgings myself, and, from there, who can say?”

“If I decide to build in town, you’re welcome to claim one of my rooms,” Will said, thinking of his earlier notion. “Might be safer for you.”

“Ah,” Margaret grinned, “but will be it be so for you?” She arched an eyebrow at him, and he found himself blushing, in spite of his experience.

“I am not worried,” he answered.

They chatted in this manner for some time, until the captain approached and informed them that all their belongings had been carried ashore and were ready to be claimed.

“Alexander!” Will called to his son, “go and see if there’s anyone in town willing to haul our belongings thither for a fee.” To Margaret, he said, “I should have thought there’d have been someone here for the purpose, but it appears Jamestown is even more rustic than advertised.” He shrugged. “But it’s all one, isn’t it? We came looking for the brave New World, the unpredictable and unexpected, and so it presents itself in the tiniest of details.”

In time, Xander returned, empty-handed and alone, looking much perturbed.

“Yes?” Will asked him.

“Most of the people I met wouldn’t trade two words with me.”

Will had an inkling as to why this might be so and expected the boy did as well, but refrained from sharing his thoughts. There would be time for such a discussion after they’d settled in. He was roused from further musings by the approach of a horse-drawn wagon, driven by an old man and a boy of no more than ten. Taken aback by this rather underwhelming welcome, Will asked, “Where is everyone?”

The old man chuckled through a nearly toothless grin. “Come and gone,” said he. “As you must have seen. Folks get so excited when new supplies arrive, they can’t hardly wait to unpack ‘em.”

It seemed Will had lingered too long. “Can you help my apprentice and me then?”

“’S what I’m here for.”

With that, the old man and his son climbed down and started to grapple with the various crates, finally seizing on the largest.

“What’s this, then? A bed?”

“It is,” said Will. “It will undoubtedly require all of us to get it onto your wagon.”

The old man shook his head. “Gentlemen,” he muttered dismissively. It seemed a common complaint.

Both locals and all three arrivals did indeed have to lend their muscles to the task of loading the bed. But that was not the end of their durance. A large, square box proved equally unwieldy for the old man and son. As they struggled and stumbled with their burden, Will called out, “Careful with that crate, there. It’s valuable.”

“Gods, it’s heavy,” the old man replied. “What’s in it, cobblestones?”


The man scoffed. “Books? Valuable? For what, kindling?”

Margaret elbowed the man aside and hefted the entire load onto the cart by herself, eliciting gasps of surprise from both locals. Even Will was impressed.

“I packed that crate,” said he. “It’s got to be twice the weight of a man!”

Margaret shrugged. “A woman in my…situation…can’t afford to be weak.” Not wishing to say more, she attacked the rest of the baggage with near maniacal attention until the task was complete.

“Where to?” the old man asked, after climbing back into his seat at the front of the wagon.

“I’ve rented Turnby’s cabin, for the short term.”

“Turnby’s, is it?” the boy said. “Good luck.”

Will frowned. If these two were indicative of the rest of Jamestown’s inhabitants, it was just possible he’d made a mistake in coming hither.

The old man spat from his perch. “Wanna hop on up here?”

None of the new arrivals did.

“Suit yourselves.”

Despite his bad feet and dodgy knee, it was no kind of walk from the ship, through the heart of Jamestown, and into its outskirts – such as they were, and Will was glad he’d disembarked last, for the other passengers had flooded the main street of the village and provided enough distraction that Will and his companions were able to pass by without trouble or interruption.

“How many people call Jamestown home?” Will asked of the old man.

“There’s nigh onto seven, eight hundred hereabouts. Almost a thousand throughout Virginia. Settlers, I mean. Of savages, there’s many thousand more.”

Will very much doubted he’d see any of the native folk in the near future. It was said they kept mostly to themselves and only appeared if the English encroached on their territory or they found reason to trade.

Submission file