Writing Out Loud:
The Choices We Make

By George Stahl

433 years ago, today, July 22, 1587 Wednesday, you and just over 100 men, women and children arrived on Roanoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina. You were taken there by a man named Captain John White. White was there before, two years prior to you being there.

He was there with another group of Englishmen to establish a colony for Sir Walter Raleigh. You and the others are there now, with White to regroup and take the previous settlers with you to the mainland at Chesapeake Bay.

There is just one problem. There are no others, all of the first group appear to be gone. The only thing that remains is a sun bleached skeleton and abandoned houses. White is beside himself without an explanation, and you are feeling like you just want to go back to England. Another problem.

It wasn’t your boat that got you there, and there aren’t exactly flights or cruises leaving every hour for Heathrow or the docks of Port of London. In other words, you are pretty much at the mercy of your Captain, and he decides it’s best to stay on the island and not head to Chesapeake Bay.

“Isn’t anybody concerned with this? I mean, how did all of those people just… disappear?” you ask. Not surprisingly, there is no answer. But when the lanterns and the candles go out, the adults do talk.

Once the children are in their beds, beds once occupied by the previous tenants, the theories, stories, and innuendos come out like the place were on fire. Along with accusations of White having gone mad, and the local Indians having taken the settlers and done God knows what with them.

It is all too much for you, so you find yourself a nice quiet, dark place and curl up and go to sleep. Just not in one of the empty beds. The next morning will be the time to sort this out. Then you can decide where you will go.

When you wake up, you soon realize that this day will present its own set f
problems. Captain White and some of the other men are standing around a fire in the center of the village, and you walk over. It seems that they are in talks of dividing up the remaining houses, and responsibilities.

That’s your cue. No talk about finding the others, no talk about even trying to find out what happened to them, just, how do we take advantage of the situation. When the situation gets gloomy, and doomy, the weak get to splitting the bootie and stepping not over, but on their fellow man.

Four months and thirteen days ago, you decided to join this group and sail off to the New World to be a part of something huge. Back in England, in May, you came across a flier looking for volunteers. The whole thing is financed by Sir Walter Raleigh, a guy who was pretty respected, widely known as a famous explorer, and very rich.

How could anything go wrong? Seeing that that wasn’t exactly the smartest thing you have ever done, you make the choice to leave before this gets really weird. So, the sooner the better you can leave would suit you just fine.

You could steal a boat, a row boat or small fishing boat, or you could swim the narrow channel between the island and the mainland. After all, it can’t be to far, you can see the mainland from the island. More choices. Just a hint, friend.

You better make up your mind soon, you don’t know it now, but in three short years, Captain White is going to leave you guys like he did the first group, and he won’t be back for three more years.

That’s not the kicker here though. That will be, that before White comes back, if you stay, you and over 100 others will be joining the first set who disappeared and you guys will be called, ‘The Lost Colony of Roanoke’. Choices.

We all have choices, and most of us make them daily. Especially nowadays. We have so many choices now that they can be confusing. They seem to be changing almost on a weekly basis. There is no record that back in 1587 anyone of the colonists used a boat, or swam off the island before the rest all disappeared.

As far as anyone knows, all 115 of them just vanished In the choices we have been forced to make recently, have you seen any of those red flags come up before you chose what you did? If you did, did you recognize them, and listen to them?

I am not going to go over any of that now, but with all that is happening, it’s
probably a good idea not to just ignore what you hear or see and it’s certainly not a good idea to blindly make the choice either.

We don’t know what happened to those men, women and children of the first group of Roanoke Island, (except that skeleton). One of the interesting things about their vanishing is that nothing looked out of place when the next group came to the island.

No signs of struggle, no signs of leaving in a hurry, and not a clue as to what happened to them. They seemed to have been good with why ever it was they chose to leave. Then, six years later, when White returned, he found the same thing with the second group.

Another 115 people left everything in the state of what they were doing, and just vanished from the island. What choice were they given, and why did they all make the same one?

The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect those of the Sun. George Stahl can be reached at stahl_george@yahoo.com

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