On one occasion, while exploring the country, after he left his boat, and was proceeding in company with two Englishmen, and a savage for his guide, he was beset with two hundred savages. The Englishmen were killed; the savage he tied to his arm with his garter, using him as a buckler. Smith was soon wounded and taken prisoner; but not until he had killed three of the Indians. The fear inspired by his bravery checked their advance, till he sunk to the middle in a miry spot which was in his way, as he retreated backward. Even then they dared not come near him, till, being nearly dead with cold, he threw away his arms. Upon being taken, he presented to their king a round ivory compass, which was the means of saving him from instant death. Just as they were preparing to pierce him with their arrows, the chief, lifting the compass, they all laid down their bows and arrows, at the same time releasing him from his pitiable situation.
All must have perished but for the bravery and strength of one man, John Smith, who for several years kept the struggling colony alive by his personal authority and wise treatment of the Indians. Born in [Pg 46]England in 1579, he was at the time of the settlement of Jamestown twenty-eight years old. While but a boy he was left an orphan, and was early apprenticed to a trade; but he had such a longing for adventure that he soon ran away and went to the Continent to seek his fortun