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The story of the Lost Colony has created curiosity among intellectuals for many years. There have been many theories and many more are still under speculation about the sudden and mysterious disappearance of an entire colony of British settlers when they first set up their colony in the North of America (what they called the New Land) in the late 1500’s.
I have presented this tale of the Lost Colony in the form of a fictitious short story. Captain John Smith arrives with his settlers in Jamestown just after the disappearance of the Roanoke colony in 1607. He narrates the story through his lens and tries to find the cause of the disappearance of the colony while in conversation with the Chief of the natives.
1608, Jamestown, New Land.
While having a serious conversation with Chief Powhatan, I ventured to ask him about the Lost Colony of 1587. It is a task that has been delegated to me to acquire any such possible information that can be found on the mysterious disappearance of the Roanoke Colony. The Lost Colony! I remember encountering the reports of John White, who was the Governor of the colony when in England. The reports certainly acquired my curiosity and I will venture to present the contents of it fleetingly.
Sir Walter Raleigh acquired the Charter for colonisation and settlement in the Northern side of the New Land from The Highness Queen Elizabeth I in 1584. Sir Walter Raleigh appointed various people in charge of the initial trips and colonisation of Roanoke Island but in vain. Raleigh received reports of incidents wherein the colonists maintained an antagonism with the natives.
1587- Raleigh dispatches 115 colonists with John White as the Governor to settle on Chesapeake Bay. John White reports the expedition thus:
“I arrive with the settlers on Chesapeake Bay. We intend to travel to Roanoke to investigate the situation as recommended by Sir Raleigh”
On his arrival, he astoundingly finds no trace of the colony! He reports:
“Arrived at the coast of the Roanoke settlement. We are neither successful at locating the colony nor the settlers. It is shocking and mysterious. A single skeleton has been found and we have reached general assumption that it was a garrison and an English man. My companion, Captain Simon Fernandez insists we stay and build a new settlement. I have decided to heed him and renew our relations with the native Croatan tribe”
Soon, a new settlement is built. I have often wondered about the intentions of John White and his companions in rebuilding the settlement over an already doomed land. However, the situation is not in control as the settlers struggle with limited supplies and ammunition. He leaves behind 115 colonists including his newly born granddaughter. John White returns to England to acquire fresh supplies and faces the misfortune of inability to return to the colony for three years. The Spanish troop’s constant attack on England has rendered him helpless. What follows his return is most astonishing and marked as an unforgettable tale to explorers like me who intend to build a colony on the New Land. I shall present an extract from John White:
“August 1590, I have returned after a long absence. But I do not find the settlement. There are no traces of the colonists and we are unaware of their location if they have moved. A stockade board has been discovered around the fence of the settlement with the word CROATAN carved on it. There are no evidences of any attacks found and the settlement seems to be dismantled in an organised manner. We believe that the settlers were not forced and have moved from the location. A search should be conducted but it seems difficult with this weather. My companions have also grown fearful of the area. I need to return to report this sudden disappearance.”
There are no traces of the 90 men, 17 women and 11 children that White left behind until now. It is an inexplicable event and it is even more astonishing to know that we have not yet been successful to find any of the disappeared settlers or to even know what happened to the colony.
I looked at the Chief waiting for his answer. He looked at me seriously and finally said, “I did it!” in his stiff accent, “I had the whole colony slaughtered before my eyes. They were never supposed to be there anyway”. I still ponder on what the Chief said. It is really difficult to believe. I have many a times speculated the causes for their disappearance myself. It could have been a disease, or a wild storm that vanquished the colony at once. It could have been that they were attacked by the Spanish troop or just that the settlers left in search of supplies. But what I have heard today, changes it all. I do not know the truth nor can I confirm the Chief’s explanation. However, if this is true, I can feel the danger my colony is in under the natives. We are not safe, we will not be. We need more measures to feel safe in the New Land. If it is not the truth, then we have not proceeded any farther with this ‘mystery’. But finding any absolute truth in this matter seems impossible. This is a mystery indeed.