The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mary of Plymouth, by James Otis

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Title: Mary of Plymouth
       A Story of the Pilgrim Settlement

Author: James Otis

Release Date: January 7, 2014 [EBook #44616]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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Transcriber's Note:

Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation in the original document have been preserved.

Scans of the original cover were marred by a library sticker. The cover of this ebook includes an artist's substitution for the missing material.



A Story of the Pilgrim Settlement



Copyright, 1910, by
Entered at Stationers' Hall, London



The purpose of this series of stories is to show the children, and even those who have already taken up the study of history, the home life of the colonists with whom they meet in their books. To this end every effort has been made to avoid anything savoring of romance, and to deal only with facts, so far as that is possible, while describing the daily life of those people who conquered the wilderness whether for conscience sake or for gain.

That the stories may appeal more directly to the children, they are told from the viewpoint of a child, and purport to have been related by a child. Should any criticism be made regarding the seeming neglect to mention important historical facts, the answer would be that these books are not sent out as histories,—although it is believed that they will awaken a desire to learn more of the building of the nation,—and only such incidents as would be particularly noted by a child are used. [4]

Surely it is entertaining as well as instructive for young people to read of the toil and privations in the homes of those who came into a new world to build up a country for themselves, and such homely facts are not to be found in the real histories of our land.

James Otis.



Why This Story Was Written 9
The Leaking "Speedwell" 10
Searching for a Home 13
After the Storm 15
Wash Day 16
Finding the Corn 17
Attacked by the Savages 20
Building Houses 22
Miles Standish 24
The Sick People 26
The New Home 27
Master White and the Wolf 29
The Inside of the House 30
A Chimney Without Bricks 32
Building the Fire 33
Master Bradford's Chimney 34
Scarcity of Food 36
A Timely Gift 38
The First Savage Visitor 39
Squanto's Story 41
Living in the Wilderness 42
The Friendly Indians 44
Grinding the Corn 46
A Visit From Massasoit 47
Massasoit's Promise 50
Massasoit's Visit Returned 52
The Big House Burned 53
The "Mayflower" Leaves Port 54
Setting the Table 56
What and How We Eat 58
Table Rules 60
When the Pilgrim Goes Abroad 62
Making a Dugout 63
Governor Carver's Death 65
William Bradford Chosen Governor 67
Farming in Plymouth 68
Ways of Cooking Indian Corn 70
The Wedding 72
Making Maple Sugar 73
Decorating the Inside of the House 74
Trapping Wolves and Bagging Pigeons 76
Elder Brewster 77
The Visit to Massasoit 79
Keeping the Sabbath Holy 80
Making Clapboards 81
Cooking Pumpkins 82
A New Oven 83
Making Spoons and Dishes 84
The Fort and Meeting-House 86
The Harvest Festival 89
How to Play Stoolball 91
On Christmas Day 93
When the "Fortune" Arrived 94
Possibility of Another Famine 96
On Short Allowance 98
A Threatening Message 99
Pine Knots and Candles 101
Tallow from Bushes 102
Wicks for the Candles 103
Dipping the Candles 105
When James Runs Away 106
Evil-Minded Indians 109
Long Hours of Preaching 110
John Alden's Tubs 112
English Visitors 113
Visiting the Neighbors 115
Why More Fish Are Not Taken 116
How Wampum is Made 118
Ministering to Massasoit 119
The Plot Thwarted 121
The Captain's Indian 122
Ballots of Corn 123
Arrival of the "Ann" 123
The "Little James" Comes to Port 125
The New Meeting-House 125
The Church Service 127
The Tithingmen 129
Master Winslow Brings Home Cows 130
A Real Oven 131
Butter and Cheese 132
The Settlement at Wessagussett 133
The Village of Merrymount 135
The First School 136
Too Much Smoke 138
School Comforts 139
How the Children Were Punished 140
New Villages 142
Clothing for the Salem Company 146
Preparing Food For the Journey 147
Before Sailing for Salem 148
Beginning the Journey 150
The Arrival at Salem 153
Sight-Seeing in Salem 154
Back to Plymouth 155




My name is Mary, and I am setting down all these things about our people here in this new world, hoping some day to send to my dear friend, Hannah, who lives in Scrooby, England, what may really come to be a story, even though the writer of it is only sixteen years old, having lived in Plymouth since the day our company landed from the Mayflower in 1620, more than eleven years ago.

If Hannah ever really sees this as I have written it, she will, I know, be amused; for it is set down on pieces of birch bark and some leaves cut from the book of accounts which Edward Winslow brought with him from the old home.

Hannah will ask why I did not use fair, white paper, and, if I am standing by when she does so, I shall tell [10] her that fair, white paper is far too precious in this new world of ours to be used for the pleasure of children.

In the last ship which came from England were large packages of white paper for the settlers at Salem, who came over to this wild land eight years after we landed, and when I asked my father to buy for me three sheets that I might make a little book, he told me the price would be more for the three sheets than he paid for the two deer skins with which to make me a winter coat.

Of course I put from my mind all hope of having paper to write on; but these sheets of bark take very well the ink made from elderberries which mother and I brewed the second winter after our new home was built. The pen is a quill taken from the wing of a wild goose shot by Captain Standish.


Hannah's father must have told her how much of trouble we had in getting here, for when the first vessel in which we set sail, named the Speedwell, put back to [11] Plymouth in England because of leaking so badly, her master could not have failed to tell the people of Scrooby how all the hundred and two of us, men, women and children, were crowded into the Mayflower.

From the sixth day of September until the eleventh day of November, which is over sixty long dreary days, we were on the ocean, and then our vessel was come into what Captain John Smith had named Cape Cod Bay.

Mother believed, as did the other women, and even we children, that we would go on shore as soon as the Mayflower had come near to the land; but before many hours were passed, after the anchor had been dropped into the sea, even the youngest of us knew that it could not be. [12]

We were weary with having been on board the vessel so long, and had made ourselves believe that as soon as we were arrived in the new world, food in plenty, with good, comfortable homes, would be ours.

Master Brewster, as well as the other men, said that houses must be built before we could leave the ship, and it was only needed we should go on deck and look about us, to know why this was so. Everywhere, except on the water, were snow and trees. It was a real forest as far as I could see in either direction, and everywhere the cold, white snow was piled in drifts, or blowing like feathers when the wind was high.

So deeply was the land covered that we, who watched the men when they went ashore for the first time to seek out some place whereon to make a village, thought that they had fallen into a hole while stepping off the rocks, because we lost sight of them so soon. Instead [13] of its being an accident, however, we could see that they were floundering in the snow, Master Bradford, whose legs are the shortest, being nearly lost to view.

We waited as patiently as possible for them to come back, though I must confess that Sarah, a girl of about my own age who came aboard the Mayflower at Plymouth when we put back because of the Speedwell's leaking so badly, and I could not keep in check our eagerness to hear from those people in Virginia, who it was said were living in comfort.

Not for many days did we come to realize that the settlers in Virginia were far, very far away from where we were to land, and to see them we should be forced to take another long voyage in a ship. We had come amidst the snow and the savage Indians, instead of among people from England, as had been planned when we set out on the journey.


Father was wet, cold, weary, and almost discouraged when he came on board the vessel after that first day on shore. The men had found no place which looked as if it might be a good spot for our village. Father said that he was not the only member of the company who had begun to believe it would have been better had we stayed in Leyden, or in any other place where we [14] would have been allowed to worship God in our own way, rather than thus have ventured into a wild forest where were fierce animals, and, perhaps, yet more cruel savages.

On that very night, soon after our fathers were on board again, a great storm came up. The vessel tumbled about as if she had been on the broad ocean, and when we heard the men throwing out more anchors, we children were afraid and cried, for Sarah's father said he believed the Mayflower would be cast ashore and wrecked on the cruel rocks over which the waves were dashing themselves into foam.

Some of the women were frightened, although my mother was not of the number, and it was only when Master Brewster came among us, praying most fervently, and saying that God would watch over us even as He had on the mighty ocean, that the cries and sobs of fear were checked. Truly did I think, while Sarah and I hugged each other very hard so that we might not be heard to cry, that this was a most wretched [15] place in which to make a new home, and how I wished we had never left Leyden, or that we had gone back to Scrooby instead of coming here!


It was Saturday when our vessel first came to anchor, and the storm held furious until Monday morning, when the snow was piled up higher than before, and many of the smaller trees were hidden from sight; but yet our fathers went on shore when the sun shone once more, while the sailors made ready to launch the big boat which they call the shallop. It had been tied down on the deck of the Mayflower, taking up so much space that, because of her, we children could not move around comfortably on deck even when the weather permitted.

Some of the upper timbers had been broken by the waves during the storms which came upon us while we were on the ocean, and it was said that much in the way of mending must be done before she could be made seaworthy. Therefore, owing to the need of room in which to work, the sailors took her ashore where it could be done with somewhat of comfort.

You must know that a shallop is a large boat, much larger than the one belonging to our ship, which is called a longboat. To my mind a shallop is like unto [16] a vessel such as the Speedwell, except that it is much smaller, capable of holding no more than twenty-five or thirty people. It has one mast, a sail, and oars, and, as father has told me, any one might safely make a long voyage in such a craft.


Captain Standish led the company of men, among which was my father, into the forest to search for a place in which to make our new home, and when we lost sight of them among the trees, it seemed as if we were more alone than before.

Sarah and I could not stay on deck to watch the men while they worked, because the cold was too [17] severe, therefore we went into the cabin where were other children huddled around the stove, and there tried to imagine what our homes would be like in such a desolate place.

While the sailors worked on the shallop, many of the women went on shore to wash clothes near the fire which had been built by the men, and a most dismal time they had, as we children heard when they came back at night. They were forced to melt snow in Master Brewster's big iron pot, and when the hot water had been poured into the tub, it speedily began to freeze. Mother said that the clothes were but little improved by having been washed in such a manner.

Next morning the cold was so bitter that the women and children did not venture much out on the deck of the vessel, save when one or another ran up to see if those who had set off to find a place for our new home were returning. The sailors continued work on the shallop during two days, and each time on coming back to the Mayflower for food or shelter, brought a load of wood in their boat so that we might have fuel in plenty for our fires on the ship.


Not until Friday evening did our fathers come back; no one of all the party of seventeen was missing, [18] although it seemed to me they had been in great danger.

Before they had gone on their journey more than a mile from the Mayflower, they saw five savages and a dog coming toward them, and hastened forward to learn what they might about this new world. The Indians ran among the trees as soon as they saw our people, and they ran so swiftly it was impossible to overtake them.

After making chase without coming upon the savages, Captain Standish led the way along the shore until [19] next day they came upon what looked as if an Indian village had once been in that place, for the land had been dug over much as though to raise crops, and there were what appeared to be many graves. On opening one of these piles of sand, there were found two baskets full of what one of the sailors said was Indian corn; but another declared it was Turkish wheat, while Captain Standish believed it should be called Guinny wheat. It had been left near the graves, for these savages believe that even after people are dead, they need food.

Later, when we had become acquainted with Samoset and Squanto, we came to know that on the spot which had been chosen for our home, there had been a large Indian village. Four years before we of the Mayflower came, a terrible sickness had attacked the settlement of savages, and more than two hundred died. Those who were alive and able to walk, deserted the place to go many miles into the forest away from the sea, and, except for the graves which our people found, every trace of the town was wiped out, the savages believing that only by the destruction of everything connected with the settlement, could the evil spirit of the mysterious sickness be cast out.

Our men were very glad to find this wheat, and as soon as they had brought it aboard the vessel, the women set about boiling some, for that seemed to be the only way in which it could be eaten, since it is hard, [20] almost like flint. Neither Sarah nor I, hungry though we were, felt like eating what had been left for dead people; but we did taste of it, and found it very good, even though it had not been cooked quite enough.

It was not long, however, before we found out how to prepare it, and many a time since then has it saved us from starving, but of that I will tell you later.


On the sixth of December, the shallop having been made ready for sea, the men started away to search once more for a place in which to build homes, and on the very next day, while they were sleeping in the forest in a hut that had been built of dead tree trunks and bushes, they were set upon by savages, who shot arrows among them.

There were thirty or forty of these savages, but as soon as our men fired upon them, they speedily disappeared. Our men then picked up the arrows, some of which were fashioned with heads of brass or eagles' claws.

No one was hurt by these weapons, although one of them passed through father's coat, and many were found sticking in the logs. Then our people gave solemn thanks to God because of having been saved from the savage foe, and afterward gathered up many of the arrows to be sent back to England, that our [21] friends there might see what were the dangers to be met with in the woods of this new world.

Five long, dreary days went by before the company came back once more, and then we were made happy by being told that a place for our village had been found. It was a long distance from where the Mayflower lay at anchor; and on the next morning another great storm came up, which forced us to stay on board the vessel until the fifteenth of December, when we set sail, and Sarah and I hugged each other fervently, for at last did it appear as if we could begin to make our homes.

Even then we were forced to stay in the Mayflower [22] yet longer, for after we were come into the bay where it had been said we should live, the men spent a long while choosing a place in which to build the houses.


It was agreed to build first one large house of logs, where we could all live until each man had chosen a place for himself, and both Sarah and I were on shore, standing almost knee-deep in the snow on that twenty-fifth of December, as we watched the men hew down trees, trim off the branches, and dig in the frozen ground to set up the first dwelling in this strange land.

The first thing done was to build a high platform, where the cannon that had been brought from England could be placed, so that the savages might be beaten off if they came to do us harm, and then the big house was begun.

Of course we women and children were forced to go back on board the vessel while the work was being [23] done, and very slowly was it carried on, because of the cold's being so great, and the storms so many, that our people could not work out of doors long at a time.

Our village was begun in the midst of the forest not very far from the seashore, where had been huts built by the savages; and because of the Indians having chosen that place in which to live, our people believed it would be well for them to make there the town which was to be called Plymouth, since it was from Plymouth in England that we had started on the voyage which ended in this wild place.

When mother asked father why the men did not search longer, instead of fixing upon a spot to which the savages might come back at any moment, he told her that much time must be spent in building houses, and not an hour should be wasted. They ought to get on shore as soon as possible in order to begin hunting, for the food we had on the Mayflower was by this time so poor that neither Sarah nor I could swallow the smallest mouthful with any pleasure.

Sarah and I were eager to be living on dry land once more, where we could move about as we pleased; for, large though the Mayflower had seemed to us when we first went on board, there was little room for all our company, and very many were grown so sick that they could not get out on deck even when the sun shone warm and bright. [24]

There were nineteen plots for houses laid out in all, because of the company's being divided into nineteen families. The plots were on two sides of a way running along by a little brook, where, so I heard my father say, one could get sweet fresh water to drink. It was decided that each man should build his own house.

The plot of land where father was to build our house was quite near the bay, but yet so far in among the trees as to be shaded from the sun in the summer, while Master Carver, who was chosen to be our governor, was to build his only a short distance away.


You must know that Captain Standish is not of the same faith as are we. He calls himself a "soldier of fortune," which means that he is ready to do battle wherever it seems as if he could strike a blow for the right. He, and his wife Rose, became friendly with us while we were at Leyden, for he was, although an Englishman, a captain in one of the Holland regiments, having enlisted in order to help the Dutch in their wars.

Swords of Captain Standish

Because of liking a life of adventure, and also owing to the fact that he and his wife had become warm friends with Elder Brewster and my parents, Captain Standish declared that he would be our soldier, standing ever [25] ready to guard us against the wild beasts, or the savages, if any should come to do us harm. Right gallantly has he kept his promise, and unless he had been with us this village of ours might have been destroyed more than once, and, perhaps, those of our people whose lives God had spared would have gone back to Holland or England, ceasing to strive for a foothold in this new world which is so desolate when covered with snow and ice.

A most kindly-hearted man is Captain Standish, and yet there are times when he has but slight control over his temper. Like a flash of powder when a spark falls upon it, he flares up with many a harsh word, and woe betide those against whom he has just cause for anger.

After coming to know him for one who strove not to control his tongue in moments of wrath, the Indians gave him the name of "Little pot that soon boils over," which means that his anger can be aroused quickly. He is not small, neither is he as tall as my father or Elder Brewster; but the savages spoke of him as "little," measuring him, I suppose, with many others of our people. [26]

We had not been long in Plymouth, however, before the Indians understood what a valiant soldier he is, and then they began to call him "Strong Sword."


It was yet very cold while our fathers were putting up the houses, and the sickness increased, so that at one time before the women and children could go on shore, nearly one half of our company were unable to sit up. All the while the food was very bad, save when more baskets of Indian corn were found.

One evening, when father had come on board the vessel after working very hard on our house, I heard him say to mother that we must try to be cheerful, praying to God that the sickness which was upon our people so sorely would pass us by until we could build the home, plant a garden, and raise food from the earth.

Sarah and I often asked each other when we were alone, whether the good Lord, whom we strove to serve diligently, would allow us to starve to death in this strange land where we had hoped to be so very near Him; for, indeed, as the days passed and the food we had brought with us from England became more nearly unfit to eat, it was as if death stood close at hand. [27]


It seemed like a very long while before the houses were ready so that we who were well could go on shore to live. I must tell you what our home is like. In Scrooby, when one builds a house, he has the trees sawed into timbers and boards at a mill; but in this new land we had no mills. When a man in England wants to make a chimney, he buys bricks and mortar; but here, as father said, we had plenty of clay and lime, yet could not put them to proper use until tools [28] were brought across the sea with which to work such material into needed form.

There was plenty of granite and other rock out of which to make cellars and walls; but no one could cut it, and even though it was already shaped, we had no horses with which to haul it. Think for a moment what it must mean not to have cows, sheep, oxen, horses or chickens, and we had none of these for three or four years.

My father built the house we are now living in, almost alone, having but little help from the other men when he had to raise the heavy timbers. First, after clearing away the snow, he dug a hole in the frozen ground, two or three feet deep, making it of the same shape as he had planned the house. Then, having cut down trees for timbers, he stood them upright all around the inside of this hole, leaving here a place for a door, and there another for a window, until the sides and ends of the building were made.

On the inside he filled the hole again with the earth he had taken out at the beginning, pounding it down solid to form a floor, and at the same time to help make the logs more secure in an upright position. Where the floor of earth does not hold the timbers firmly enough, what are called puncheons are fastened to the outside just beneath the roof.

Puncheons are logs that have been split and trimmed [29] with axes until they are something like planks, and you will see very many in our village of Plymouth. Hard work it is indeed to make these puncheon planks; but they were needed to fasten crosswise on the sides and ends of our house, in order to hold the logs more firmly in place.

Across the top of the house, slanting them so much that the water would run off, father placed a layer of logs to make the roof.

Three puncheons were put across the inside of the roof, being fastened with pegs of wood, for the few nails we have among us are of too much value to be used in house building.

That the roof might prevent the water from running into the house, father stripped bark from hemlock trees, and placed it over the logs two or three layers deep, fastening the whole down with poles cut from young trees.


Of course, when this home was first built, there were many cracks between the logs on the sides and ends; [30] but these mother and I stuffed full of moss and clay, while father was cutting wood for the fire, until the wind no longer finds free entrance, and we are not like to be in the same plight as was Master White, less than two months after we came ashore to live.

He would not spend the time to fill up the cracks, as we had done, and one night while he lay in bed, a hungry wolf thrust his paw through and scratched the poor man's head so severely that the blood ran freely. Sarah thinks he must have awakened very quickly just then.


We have a partition inside our house, thus dividing the lower part into two rooms. It is made of clay, with which has been mixed beach grass. Mother and I made a white liquid of powdered clam shells and water, with which we painted it until one would [31] think it the same kind of wall you have in Scrooby. With pieces of logs we children helped to pound the earth inside until the floor was smooth and firm; but father promised that at some later time we should have a floor of puncheons, as indeed we have now, and very nice and comfortable it is.

I wish you might see it after mother and I have covered it well with clean white sand from the seashore, and marked it in pretty patterns of vines and leaves: but this last we do only when making the house ready for meeting, or for some great feast.

At the windows are shutters made of puncheons, as is also the door, and both are hung with straps of leather in the stead of real hinges.

Perhaps you may think that with only a puncheon shutter at the window, we must perforce sit in darkness when it storms, or in cold weather admit too much frost in order to have light. But let me tell you that our windows are closed quite as well as yours, though not so nicely. We brought from home some stout paper, and this, plentifully oiled, we nailed across [32] the window space. Of course we cannot look out to see anything; but the light finds its way through readily.


I had almost forgotten to tell you how father built a chimney without either bricks or mortar, for of course we had none of those things when we first made our village.

Our chimney is of logs plastered plentifully with clay, and fastened to the outside of the building, with a hole cut through the side of the house that the fireplace may be joined to it.

The fireplace itself is built of clay, made into walls as one would lay up bricks, and held firmly together by being mixed with dried beach grass.

It looks somewhat like a large, square box, open in front, and with sides and ends at least two feet thick. [33] It is so large that Sarah and I might stand inside, if so be the heat from the fire was not too great, and look straight out through it at the sky.

Father drags in, as if he were a horse, logs which are much larger around than is my body, and mother, or one of the neighbors, helps him roll them into the big fireplace where, once aflame, they burn from one morning until another.


The greatest trouble we have, or did have during our first winter here, was in holding the fire, for the wood, having just been cut in the forest, is green, and the fire very like to desert it unless we keep close watch. Neither mother nor I can strike a spark with flint and steel as ably as can many women in the village; therefore, when, as happened four or five times, we lost our fire, one of us took a strip of green bark, or a shovel, and borrowed from whosoever of our neighbors had the brightest blaze, enough of coals to set our own hearth warm again.


Some of the housewives who are more skilled in the use of firearms than my mother or myself, kindle a blaze by flashing a little powder in the pan of a gun, allowing the flame to strike upon the tinder, and thus be carried to shavings of dry wood. It is a speedy way of getting fire; but one needs to be well used to the method, else the fingers or the face will get more of heat than does the tinder. Father cautions us against such practice, declaring that he will not allow his weapons to remain unloaded simply for kitchen use, when at any moment the need may arise for a ready bullet.

But we have in Plymouth one chimney of which even you in Scrooby might be proud.


Master Bradford built what is a perfect luxury of a chimney, which shows what a man can do who has genius, and my mother says he showed great skill in thus building. If you please, his chimney is of stone, even though we have no means of cutting rock, such as is known at Scrooby. He sought here and there for flat stones, laying them one upon another with a plentiful mixture of clay, until he built a chimney which cannot be injured by fire, and yet is even larger than ours. [35]

Its heart is so big that I am told Master Bradford himself can climb up through it without difficulty, and at the bottom, or, rather, where the fireplace ends and the chimney begins, is a shelf on either side, across which is laid a bar of green wood lest it burn too quickly; on this the pot-hooks and pot-claws may be hung by chains.

It would seem as if all this had made Master Bradford over vain, for because the wooden bar, which he calls a backbar, has been burned through twice, thereby spoiling the dinner, he has sent to England for an iron one, and when it comes his family may be proud indeed, for only think how easily one can cook when there are so many conveniences! [36]

Skillets from the "Mayflower"

We are forced to put our pots and pans directly on the coals, and it burns one's hands terribly at times, if the fire is too bright. Besides, the cinders fall on the bread of meal, which causes much delay in the eating, because so much time is necessary in scraping them off, and even at the best, I often get more of ashes than is pleasant to the taste.

Bread of any kind is such a rarity with us that we can ill afford to have it spoiled by ashes. During the first two years we had only the meal from Indian corn with which to make it; but when we were able to raise rye, it was mixed with the other, and we had a most wholesome bread, even though it was exceeding dark in color.


In Scrooby one thinks that he must have bread of some kind for breakfast; but we here in Plymouth have instead of wheaten loaves, pudding made of ground Indian corn, sometimes sweetened, but more often only salted, and with it alone we satisfy our hunger during at least two out of the three meals. I can remember of two seasons when all the food we had for more than [37] three months, was this same hasty pudding, as we soon learned to call it.

That first winter we spent here was so dreadful and so long that I do not like even to think of it. Nearly all the food we had brought from England was spoiled before we came ashore.

There were many times when Sarah and I were so hungry that we cried, with our arms around each other's neck, as if being so close together would still the terrible feeling in our stomachs.

All the men who were able to walk went hunting; but at one time, before the warm weather came again, only five men were well enough to tramp through the forest, and these five had, in addition, to chop wood for the whole village.

Mother and the other women who were not on beds of sickness, went from house to house, doing what they might for those who were ill, while we children [38] were sent to pick up dead branches for the fires, because at times the men were not able to cut wood enough for the needs of all.

Then so many died! Each day we were told that this neighbor or that had been called to Heaven. I have heard father often say since then, that the hardest of the work during those dreadful days, was to dig graves while the earth was frozen so solidly.

Think! Fifty out of our little company of one hundred and two, Captain Standish's wife among the others, were called by God, and as each went out into the other world, we who were left on earth felt more and more keenly our helplessness and desolation.


It was fortunate indeed for us that Captain Standish was among those able to labor for others, else had we come much nearer dying by starvation. A famous hunter is the captain, and one day, when I was searching for leaves of the checkerberry plant under the snow, mother having said the chewing of them might save me from feeling so hungry, Captain Standish dropped a huge wild turkey in front of me.

It seemed like a gift from God, and although it was very heavy, I dragged it home, forgetting everything except that at last we should have something to eat. [39]

Many days afterward I heard that the captain went supperless to bed that day, and when I charged him with having given to me what he needed for himself, he laughed heartily, as if it were a rare joke, saying that old soldiers like himself had long since learned how to buckle their belts more tightly, thus causing it to seem as if their stomachs were full.

A firm friend is Captain Standish, and God was good in that he was sent with us on the Mayflower.

It was when our troubles were heaviest, that Sarah came to my home because her mother was taken sick, and Mistress Bradford, who went there to do what she might as nurse, told Sarah to stay in some other house for a time.


We two were standing just outside the door of my home, breaking twigs to be used for brightening the [40] fire in the morning, when suddenly a real savage, the first I had ever seen, dressed in skins, with many feathers on his head, came into the village crying:

"Welcome English!"

Women and children, all who were able to do so, ran out to see him, the first visitor we had had in Plymouth. His skin was very much darker than ours, being almost brown, and, save for the color, one might have believed him to be a native of Scrooby dressed in outlandish fashion to take part in some revel.

Father was the more surprised because of hearing him speak in our language, than because of his odd dress; but we afterward learned that he had met, two or three years before, some English fishermen, and they had taught him a few words.

Very friendly he was, so much so that when he put his hand on my head I was not afraid, and I myself heard him talking with Master Brewster, during which [41] conversation he spoke a great many Indian words, and some in English that I could understand.

His name was Samoset, and after he had looked around the village, seeming to be surprised at the manner in which our houses of logs were built, he went away, much to my disappointment, for I had hoped, without any reason for so doing, that he might give me a feather from the splendid headdress he wore.

As I heard afterward, he promised to come back again, and when, six days later, he did so, there was with him another Indian, one who could talk almost the same as do our people. His was a strange story, or so it seemed to me, so strange and cruel that I wondered how he could be friendly with us, as he appeared to be, because of having suffered so much at the hands of people whose skins were white.

Squanto had been a member of the same tribe that owned the land where our village of Plymouth was built, and his real name, so Governor Bradford says, is Squantum.


Seven years before the Mayflower came, he had been stolen by one Captain Hunt, who had visited these shores on a fishing voyage, and by him was sent to Spain and sold as a slave. There a good Englishman [42] saw him and bought him of his master. He was taken to London, where he worked as a servant until an exploring party, sent out by Sir Ferdinando Gorges, was about to set sail for this country, when he was given passage.

While he had been in slavery, the dreadful sickness broke out, which killed or drove away all his people; therefore, when the poor fellow came back, he found none to welcome him.

How it was I cannot say, but in some way he wandered about until coming among the tribe of Indians called the Wampanoags, where he lived until Samoset happened to come across him.

As soon as he knew that we of Plymouth were English people, he had a desire to be friendly, because of what the good Englishman had done for him.

I have heard father say many times that but for Squanto, perhaps all of us might have died during that terrible winter when the good Lord took fifty of our company, which numbered, when we left England, but an hundred and two.


You must know that in this land everything is different from what you see in England. Of course the trees are the same; but oh, so many of them! We [43] are living now, even after our homes have been made, in the very midst of the wilderness, and in that winter time when Squanto and Samoset came to us, bringing the corn we needed so sorely, we were much like prisoners, for the snow was piled everywhere in great drifts.

The trees, growing thickly over the ground, save where they had been cut down to build our homes and to provide us with wood for the fires, prevented all, except such of the men as were well enough to go out with their guns in the hope of shooting animals that could be eaten as food, from going abroad, save from one house to the other. [44]

And little heart had we for leaving the shelter of our homes. In nearly every house throughout the village was there sickness or death; the cold was piercing, and, however industriously we had worked filling the cracks between the logs with clay, the wind came through in many places, so that for the greater part of the time we needed to hug closely to the fire lest we freeze to death.

There were days when it seemed indeed as if the Lord had forgotten us; when, with the hunger, and the cold, and the sickness on every hand, it was as if we had been abandoned by our Maker.


With the coming of Samoset and Squanto, however, although the illness was not abated, and one after another of our company died, it seemed, perhaps only to us children, as if things were changed. These Indians were the only two persons in all the great land who were willing to take us by the hand and do whatsoever they might to cheer, and because of this show of kindness did we feel the happier.

Squanto, as father has said again and again, did very much to aid. First he showed our people how to fish, and this may seem strange to you, for the English had used hooks and lines many years before the [45] New World was dreamed of; yet, it is true that the savages could succeed, even without proper tackle, better than did our people.

Squanto showed father how, by treading on the banks of the brooks, to force out the eels which had buried themselves in the mud during the cold weather, and then taught him how to catch them with his hands, so that many a day, when there was nothing whatsoever in our home to eat, we hunted for eels, boiling rather than frying them, because the little store of pork was no longer fit to cook with.

Another thing which Squanto did that was wondrously helpful, was to teach us how to grind this Indian corn, Guinny wheat, or Turkie wheat, which ever it should be called, for none of us seemed to know which was the right name for it. The wheat that we found among the Indian graves could be made ready for the table, as we believed, only by boiling it a full day, and then it was not pleasing to the taste. But when Squanto came, he explained that it should be pounded until it was like unto a coarse flour, when it might be made into a pudding that, eaten with salt, is almost delicious. [46]


When I heard him telling father that it must be ground, I said to myself that we were not like to know how it might taste, for there is not a single mill in this land; but Squanto first cut a large tree down, leaving the stump a full yard in height. Then, by building a fire on the stump, scraping away with a sharp rock the wood as fast as it was charred, he made a hollow like unto a hole, and so deep that one might put in half a bushel of this Turkie wheat.

From another portion of the tree he shaped a block of wood to fit exactly the hole in the stump, and this he fastened to the top of a young, slender tree, when even we children knew that he had made a mortar and pestle, although an exceeding rude one.

We had only to pull down the heavy block with all our strength upon the corn, thus bruising and crushing it, when the natural spring of the young tree would pull it up again. In this way did we grind our Guinny wheat until it was powdered so fine that it might be cooked in a few moments. [47]


One day Samoset, Squanto, and three other savages came into our new village of Plymouth, walking very straight and putting on such appearance of importance that I followed them as they went to the very center of the settlement, for it seemed to me that something strange was about to happen, as indeed proved to be the case.

The Indians had come to tell our governor that their king, or chief, was in the forest close by, having [48] in mind to visit the Englishmen, and asked if he should enter the village.

I was so busy looking at the feathers and skins which these messengers wore that I did not hear what reply Captain Standish made, for he it was who had been called upon by Governor Carver to make answer; but presently a great throng of savages, near sixty I was told, could be seen through the trees as they marched straight toward us.

Then my heart really stood still, as I saw Master Winslow walking out to meet them, with a pot of strong water in his hand; but Captain Standish said I need not be afraid, as he was only going to greet the chief of the Indians, carrying the strong water, three knives, a copper chain, an earring, and somewhat in the way of food.

It seemed like woeful waste to give that which was of so much value to a savage, but Captain Standish said it would be well if we could gain the favor of this powerful Indian even at the expense of all the most precious of our belongings.

A brave show did the savages make as they came into the village, marching one after the other! The feathers were of every color, and in such quantity it seemed as if all the birds in the world could not yield so many, even though every one was plucked naked. And the furs! The chief, whose name is Massasoit, [49] wore over his shoulders a mantle so long that it dragged on the snow behind him, and he had belts and chains of what looked to be beads; but Captain Standish told me it was what the Indians called wampum, and served them in the place of money.

Governor Carver stood at the door of Elder Brewster's house, which as yet had no roof, and beckoned for the chief and those who followed him, to enter. Inside were Mistress Carver's rug and mother's two cushions, which had been laid on the ground for the savage to sit on, and greatly did I fear that all those precious things would be spoiled before the visit was come to an end. [50]

I cannot tell you what was said or done, for neither Sarah nor I could get inside Master Brewster's house, so crowded was it with the men of our village and with savages. More than half of those who had come with the chief were forced to remain outside, because of there not being space for all within the walls. Sarah and I had our fill of looking at them; but never one gave the slightest attention to us. It seemed much as if they believed their station was so high that it would be beneath their dignity to speak with children.


The savages and our people were long in the half-built house, and both Sarah and I wondered what could be going on to take up so much time, more especially since we knew that, of the Indians, only Samoset and Squanto could speak in English. Later we came to understand that this chief, Massasoit, was making a bargain with the men of Plymouth.

My father called it a treaty, which, so mother explained to me, is the same as an agreement between two nations.

Massasoit, being the ruler over all the Indians nearby our village, promised that neither he nor any of his tribe should do any manner of harm to us of Plymouth; [51] but if any wicked ones did work mischief, they should be sent to our governor to be punished.

He promised also that if anything was stolen by his people from us, he would make sure it was sent back, and if, which is by no means likely, any of us living in Plymouth took from the Indians aught of their property, our governor should send it straightway to the savages.

Massasoit said that if any Indians came to fight or kill our people, he would send some of his men to help us, and if any tried to hurt his people, our fathers must take sides with him. Both Sarah and I think this is wrong, for why should Englishmen fight for the savages?

It seems to me much as if the white men should not agree to go to war with any except those who try to kill us; but father said it was no more than a fair trade.

All this was agreed to while Elder Brewster's house was so full of visitors and our people, that they must have been packed together like herring in a box, and when the bargain, or treaty, had been made, all the savages, except Samoset and Squanto, marched away. [52]

Soon after Massasoit had gone, his brother, Quadequina, and several more Indians appeared, and we entertained them also.

It was much like a feast day, to have so many people in this new village of ours that all the space beneath the trees seemed to be crowded, and we felt quite lonely when our fathers took up once more the work of building houses.


Next day Captain Standish and Master Allerton went to call upon Massasoit, and I was so frightened that I trembled when they marched away, for it seemed to me as if some harm would be done them in the savage village.

They came back at nightfall, none the worse for having been so venturesome, and what do you think they brought as a present from the chief? A few handfuls of nuts such as grow in the ground, and many leaves of a plant called tobacco, which these savages burn in a queer little stone [53] vessel at the end of a long, hollow reed, by putting the reed in their mouths, and sucking the smoke through to keep the herb alight.

This ended our round of pleasure, the first we had had for many a long day, and once more we trembled before the sickness which was destroying so many of our people.


It was yet winter when we met with a sad loss, for the Common House, as we called it, when speaking of that first building which was put up that all of us might have a shelter on shore while the dwellings were being built, took fire, and much of it was burned. Father believes that the logs in the fireplace had been piled too high, because of the weather's being so very cold, and thus the flames came directly upon the chimney and the backbar, kindling all into a blaze.

It was most mournful to see next morning, the blackened, smoldering logs of our first house which had served as a shelter less than one month, and mother says it was a warning to us that even our own homes are in danger of being speedily destroyed, unless the chimneys can be so built as to resist fire. [54]


All was excitement in this little village when our people began to make ready for sending the Mayflower home. She had been lying at anchor close by the shore, giving shelter to them as were yet without homes, and affording a timely place of refuge when the Common House was partly burned; but our fathers had decided that she could no longer be kept idle. It was much like breaking the last ties which bound us to the old homes in England, when the time had been set for her to go back.

Sarah and I could have no part in making the Mayflower ready for sailing, since we were only two girls who were of no service or aid; but we watched the [55] sailors as they came and went from the shore, wishing, oh so fervently! that we and those we loved might remain in the vessel which had brought us so safely across the wide ocean.

During such time as we were forced to remain on board of her because of having no other place of shelter, she seemed all too small for our comfort, and we rejoiced at being able to leave her; but when it was known that she was going back to our old homes, where were all our friends, save those who had come to this new world with us, it was much like starting anew.

Sarah and I stood with our arms around each other as she sailed out of the harbor, while all the people were gathered on the shore to wish her a safe voyage, and I know that my cheeks were wet with tears as I saw her disappearing in the east, leaving us behind.

That night father prayed most fervently for all on board, that they might have a safe and speedy passage, and it was to me as if I had parted at the mouth of the grave with some one who was very dear to me.

Then were we indeed alone amid the huge trees, surrounded by wild beasts and savage Indians, and the sickness was yet so great among us, that I wondered if God had really forgotten that we had come to this new world in order to worship him as we had been commanded? [56]


I often ask myself what you of Scrooby would say could you see us at dinner. We have no table, and boards are very scarce and high in price here in this new village of ours, therefore father saved carefully the top of one of our packing boxes, while nearly all in the settlement did much the same, and these we call table boards.

A Wooden Trencher Bowl

When it is time to serve the meal, mother and I lay this board across two short logs; but we cover it with the linen brought from the old home, and none in the plantation, not even the governor himself, has better, as you well know.

I would we had more dishes; but they are costly, as even you at home know. Yet our table looks very inviting when it is spread for a feast, say at such times as Elder Brewster comes.

Vessels of Gourds

We have three trencher bowls, and another larger [57] one in which all the food is placed. Then, in addition to the wooden cups we brought from home, are many vessels of gourds that we have raised in the garden, and father has fashioned a mold for making spoons, so that now our pewter ware, when grown old with service, can be melted down into spoons until we have a goodly abundance of them.

It is said, although I have not myself seen it, that a table implement called a fork, is in the possession of Master Brewster, having been brought over from England. It is of iron, having two sharp points made to hold the food.

I cannot understand why any should need such a tool while they have their own cleanly fingers, and napkins of linen on which to wipe them. Perhaps [58] Master Brewster was right when he said that we who are come into this new world for the single reason of worshiping God as we please, are too much bound up in the vanities of life, and father says he knows of no more vain thing than an iron tool with which to hold one's food.

I have seen at Master Bradford's home two bottles made of glass, and they are exceedingly beautiful; but so frail that I should scarce dare wash them, for it would be a great disaster to break so valuable a vessel.


And now, perhaps, you ask what we have to eat when the table is spread? Well, first, there is a pudding of Indian corn, or Turkie wheat, and this we have in the morning, at noon, and at night, save when there may be a scarcity of corn. For meats, now that our people are acquainted with the paths through the woods, we have in season plenty of deer meat, or the flesh of bears and of wild fowl, such as turkeys, ducks, and pigeons. Of course there are lobsters in abundance, and only those less thrifty people who do not put by store sufficient for the morrow, live on such food as that.

Every Saturday we have a feast of codfish, whether alone or if there be company, and Elder Brewster has [59] already spoken to us in meeting upon the vanity of believing it is necessary that we garnish our table with no less a fish than cod on Saturdays, saying it is a sign that our hearts are not yet sufficiently humble.

My father is over careful of me, Mistress White claims, because he allows that I be seated at the table with himself and my mother when they eat, instead of being obliged to stand, as do other children in the village when their elders are at meals. Poor Mistress White fears that I am pampered because of being an only child; but for my own part I cannot see how I do less reverence to my parents by sitting when eating, than by standing throughout a long feast when one's legs grow weary, as did mine the last time we were invited to dine with Elder Brewster. [60]

Of course we have no chairs; but the short lengths of tree trunks which father has cut to serve as stools are most comfortable, even though it be impossible to do other than sit upright on them, and very often, if one grows forgetful, as did Captain Standish at Master Brewster's home a short time ago, there is danger of losing the stool. Our mighty soldier being thus careless, tumbled backward, so surprised that he forgot to let go his trencher bowl, thereby plentifully besmearing himself with hot hasty pudding that he had been served with in great abundance.


Mother has written down some rules for me at table, so that I may do credit to my bringing up when at the house of a friend, and these I am copying for you, to the end that it shall be seen I am not so pampered by being allowed to sit while eating, as to forget what belongs to good breeding: [61]

"Never sit down at the table till asked, and after the blessing.

"Ask for nothing; tarry till it be offered thee. Speak not.

"Bite not thy bread, but break it.

"Take salt only with a clean knife. Dip not the meat in the same.

"Hold not thy knife upright, but sloping, and lay it down at the right hand of the plate with blade on plate.

"Look not earnestly at any other that is eating.

"When moderately satisfied, leave the table.

"Sing not, hum not, wriggle not."

You may see that if I follow these rules carefully, I shall not bring shame upon my mother. It is only when the large wooden bowl, which is called the voider, is placed on the table that I am most awkward, and mother insisted on my learning this poem, which contains many wholesome rules for behavior:

"When the meat is taken quite away,

And voiders in your presence laid,

Put you your trencher in the same

And all the crumbs which you have made.

Take you with your napkin and knife,

The crumbs that are before thee;

In the voider a napkin leave,

For it is a courtesy."



If there be a desire to travel, we must either walk, or sail in boats, and one may not go far on foot in either direction along the coast, without coming upon streams or brooks over which has been felled a tree to serve as bridge. Now father thinks a bridge of that kind is all that may be necessary, because of his footing being so sure; but you know that women are more timid, and it is difficult to walk above the rushing streams on so slight a support as a round log.

Because of having made our plantation near to a deserted Indian village, there were paths through the woods in every direction, and these we used whenever making an excursion in search of bayberry plums, or herbs of any kind.

The Indians, after Squanto had made us friendly [63] with the great chief Massasoit, were ready to sell us boats, and queer sorts of ships would they seem in your eyes. One kind is made of the bark taken from the birch tree in great sheets, sewn together with sinews of deer, and besmeared with fat from the pitch pine.

I have seen one that would carry with safety four people, so light that I myself could lift it, but no man may use one of these bark vessels without first having been taught how to sail it, for they are so like a feather on the water that the slightest movement oversets them.

For my part, I feel more secure in what our people call a dugout, which is made with much labor by the Indians, and is, as Captain Standish says in truth, "a most unwieldy ship."


The Indians hew down a huge pine tree, and when I say it is done without the use of axes, then you will [64] wonder how the timber can be felled. Well, when one of the savages desires to build him a boat, he selects the tree from which it is to be made, and builds a little fire around the trunk close to the ground. As fast as the flames char the wood, he scrapes it away with a sharp rock, or a thick seashell, and thus keeps scraping the burning wood until the tree falls.

Then he cuts off ten or twelve feet in length by burning and scraping exactly as before, and this is the [65] length of the boat he would build; but it is simply a solid log. Now he sets about building a fire along the top, charring the wood and scraping it away until, after what must surely be a wonderful amount of labor, he has hollowed out that huge log into a shell. The bark is then stripped from the outside, and the ends fashioned by burning until they are smooth, and the ship is completed.


It was in April, when, because the weather had grown so warm it seemed much as if we had been restored to the favor of God, that a great calamity came upon us of Plymouth, and my father says it is impossible for us to understand how sore a stroke it was to our people who count on making a home in this new world.

Governor Carver had hoped to make such a garden as should be a model for all in the village, and to that end he worked exceedingly hard, so father says. He was planting and hoeing from early light until it was no longer possible to see what he was about because of the coming of night. Already many of the plants, concerning which Samoset and Squanto had told us, were showing through the ground, until, as Captain Standish said, "all the others should take pattern by [66] him that we might not taste again of the bitterness of famine."

The day had been very warm, and the governor was working exceeding hard, when suddenly he complained of a pain in his head. He strove in vain to continue the labor; but Mistress Carver insisted that he come into the house and lie down on a bear skin, which Captain Standish had made into a bed-cover, and this he did.

Master Bradford and my father were summoned in the hope that it might be possible to give him some relief; but they could do no more than pray for his recovery, and even while they were pleading most fervently with God, the poor man lost all knowledge of himself, nor did he speak again.

During three days every one prayed; no trees were hewn lest the noise disturb him, and all the women in the village gathered in or around the house that they might be ready in case their services were needed. It was as if we were having three Sabbaths at once. Then he died, without having come to know that he was ill, and we were more heartsick and lonely even than when the Mayflower sailed away.

It seemed to me as if then was the time, when our hearts were so sore, that our people ought to have poured out their souls in prayer over the lifeless body of him who had been so good a friend to us all; but that [67] was forbidden. Therefore Governor Carver was laid in the grave without a word or sound, other than the sobs of the women and children, who mourned so sorely.

Those who had muskets discharged them as a parting salute to him who had been our governor, and we walked sorrowfully and in silence away, little dreaming that within three short weeks Mistress Carver would be buried near her husband's last resting place in this world.


Two days after we had said farewell to Master Carver, Master William Bradford was chosen governor; but because he was yet stricken with the sickness, Master Isaac Allerton was named as his assistant.

I have no doubt that Hannah will be surprised at knowing that "little Willie Bradford," as I have heard the old women call him, has become our governor. When a boy, he lived in Scrooby, and came, rather from curiosity than a desire for the truth, among our people, who were called Separatists, or Non-Conformists, because they would not conform, or agree, to King James' orders regarding their religion.

William Bradford came to believe, after attending the meetings in Elder Brewster's house, that ours was [68] the true religion, and when our people made up their minds to go into Holland where they might be allowed to worship God as they chose, Master Bradford went with them. There he learned the trade of a weaver of cloth; but later he apprenticed himself to a printer.

Now he is become the foremost man of all our company, because of being the governor, and of a truth has he been a very present help to us in our time of trouble.


I wish you might have seen how different to that which is the custom in Scrooby, was our farming done on the first season after we came ashore from the Mayflower. Because of having no working cattle with which to plough, the men were forced to dig up the ground with spades, and weary labor it was. Those of our people who were well enough to remain in the field, planted nearly twenty-six acres, six of which were sown with barley and peas, while the remainder was given over to Indian corn.

Squanto showed us how this last should be done, and, strange as it may seem to you in England, he used fish with which to enrich the land, putting three small ones in each hill.

You must know that all of us children, and the [69] women, work at the planting of this corn, for it is the only kind of food to be had which can be kept throughout the year without danger of being spoiled, and when one grows weary with the task, it is only needed to bring to mind our hunger when we first came ashore.

Perhaps you may wonder where we got so much of the corn for seed. It has all come from the Indians in one way or another. Some of it Squanto brought from Massasoit's people; but a goodly portion has been found on the graves, of which there are very many near our village.

As to planting barley and peas, Squanto knew nothing; therefore the work was done somewhat as it would have been done at home, except that the land was encumbered with rocks and trees, and we were much perplexed by lack of tools.

The seed was finally put into the ground, but even when the task had been performed to the best of our [70] ability, it was an odd looking farm to those who had seen the fair fields of England. Large rocks stood here and there, while many stumps of trees yet remained, for our fathers had not been able to clear the land entirely. We shall have much work at harvest, in gathering the crops from amid all these unsightly things.


I must tell you of a way to cook this Indian corn which Squanto showed to Captain Standish, and now we have it in all the houses, when we are so fortunate as to have a supply of the wheat in our possession.

It is poured into the hot ashes of the fireplace, and allowed to remain there until every single wheat kernel has been roasted brown. Then it is sifted out of the ashes, beaten into a powder like meal, and mixed with snow in the winter, or water in the summer. Three spoonfuls a day is enough for a man who is on the march, or at work, so Captain Standish says, and we children are given only two thirds as much.

Mother says it is especially of value because little labor is needed to prepare it; but neither Sarah nor I take kindly to the powder.

The Indians also steep the corn in hot water twelve hours before pounding it into a kind of coarse meal, when they make it into a pudding much as you would [71] in Scrooby; but mother likes not the taste after it has been thus cooked before being pounded, thinking much of the fine flavor has been taken from it.

Sometimes we make a sweet pudding by mixing it with molasses and boiling it in a bag. It will keep thus for many days, and I once heard Captain Standish say that there were as many sweet puddings made in Plymouth every day as there were housewives.

Next fall we shall have bread made of barley and Indian corn meal, so father says, and I am hoping most fervently that he may not be mistaken, for both Sarah and I are heartily tired of nookick, and of sweet pudding, which is not very sweet because we have need to guard carefully our small store of molasses.

We girls often promise ourselves a great feast when a vessel comes out from England bringing butter, for we have had none that could be eaten since the first two weeks of the voyage in the Mayflower.

Squanto often tells us of a kind of vegetable, or fruit, I am not certain which, that grows in this country, and is called a pumpkin. It must be very fine, if one may judge by his praise of it, and we are looking forward to the time when it shall be possible to know for ourselves. [72]


And now I am to tell you of a marriage in Plymouth which deeply concerned Sarah and me. You may be certain that we made great account of it, although Master Bradford warned us against setting our hearts on the wicked customs of England.

I had hoped Elder Brewster would marry the couple, for Sarah and I were deeply interested in them, having seen much of the love-making while we were on board the Mayflower.

If the bride and groom had been in England, it would [73] have been a time of feasting; but our people here shun such show, therefore did we lose much of merrymaking.

Although the bride and groom went to Elder Brewster's house, which has served us as a place for religious meetings, it was Governor Bradford who listened to their vows and declared them to be man and wife, and in less than half an hour the newly-made husband was working in the field, while the wife was making sugar.


Yes, we have sugar in plenty now, and, strange as it may seem, it comes from the trees. It was Squanto, that true friend of ours, who showed us how to take it from the maples, of which there are scores and scores growing everywhere around us.

To get it one has only to make a hole in a maple tree, and put therein a small wooden spigot shaped like a spout, and straight-way, [74] when the first warm weather comes in the spring, the sap of the tree, mounting from the roots to the branches, will run out of the hole through the spout into whatsoever vessels we place beneath.

After that we boil it in kettles until it becomes thick like molasses, or yet more, until it is real sugar, after having been poured in pans of birch-bark to cool. It has a certain flavor such as is not to be found in the sugar of England; but answers our purpose so well that it can be used to sweeten the meal made from the corn, or eaten as a dainty.


You must know that our house is not now as rough on the inside as it would appear from what I first wrote. Father has saved the skins of all the animals he has caught, and prepared them in the same way as do the Indians, which makes the fleshy side look like fine leather. These we have hung on the walls, and they not only serve to keep out the wind, but are really beautiful. With the rough logs and the chinking of clay hidden from view, it is easy to fancy that ours is a real house, such as would be found in England.

We have many fox skins, for father has shot large numbers of foxes, and in what seems to me a curious fashion. He saves all the fishes' heads that can be [75] come at, and on moonlight nights throws them among the trees, where the foxes, getting the scent, give him a fair opportunity for shooting.

Once he killed four in less than two hours, and we have hung them in that corner of the kitchen which we call mother's. Thus it is that she can sit leaning her shoulders against the warm fur, through which the wind cannot come.

There is no need for me to tell you that we have more wolf skins than any other kind, for our people find it necessary to kill such animals in order to save their own lives. One night before all the snow had melted from the ground, Degory Priest was coming through the forest after attending to his traps, and was followed by five hungry wolves, who kept close at his heels, and would have eaten the poor man but for his industry in swinging a long pole that he carried to help himself across the streams.

Fortunately for Degory Priest, Captain Standish heard his outcries while he was yet a long distance from the village, and went out with three armed men to give him aid. [76]


Our fathers dig deep pits, which are covered with light brushwood, in such portions of the forest as the wolves are most plenty, and many a one has fallen therein, being held prisoner until some of the people can kill him by means of axes fastened to long poles. Father has built many traps of logs; but I cannot describe how because of never having seen one.

Wolf Head Decoration on the Meeting-House

Thomas Williams killed seven wolves in four days by tying four or five mackerel hooks together, covering them with fat, and leaving them exposed where the ravening creatures could get at them.

Twice before the snow was melted, the men of the village had what they called a "wolf-drive," when all made a ring around a certain portion of the forest where the animals lurked, and, by walking toward a given center, drove the creatures together where they could be shot or killed with axes. [77]

Sarah and I do not dare venture very far from the village because of the ferocious animals, and if the time ever comes when we are no longer in deadly fear of being carried away and eaten by the dreadful creatures, this new world of ours will seem more like a real home.

I wish it might be possible for you to see the flocks and flocks of pigeons which come here when the weather grows warm. It is as if they shut out the light of the sun, so great are the numbers, and father says that again and again do they break down the branches of the trees, when so many try to roost in one place. Any person who so chooses may go out in the night after the pigeons have gone to sleep, and gather as many bags full as he can carry, so stupid are the birds in the dark, and even when they are not the most plentiful, we can buy them at the rate of one penny for twelve.


I must tell you that there is being made a stout fort where we can all go in case any wicked savages should come against us, and when that has been finished, we shall have a real meeting-house, for one is to be put up inside the walls.

Mother says she is certain Mistress Brewster will be relieved, for now we meet each Sabbath Day at her [78] home. It must be a real hardship for her when Elder Brewster preaches an unusually long sermon, for many a time have the pine knots been lighted before he had come to an end, and, of course, the evening meal could not be cooked until we who had come to meeting had gone to our homes.

Father has told me that Elder Brewster was a postmaster of Scrooby when he first knew him; that his belief in our faith was so strong as to make him one of the Non-Conformists, and so earnestly did he strive to perform whatsoever he believed the Lord had for him to do, that his was the house in Scrooby where our people listened to the expounding of the word of God.

When he, with the others of our friends, went to Leyden, Master Brewster was chosen as assistant to our preacher Robinson, and was made an elder.

It is not seemly that a child so young as I should speak even in praise of what my elders have done; but surely a girl can realize when a man is watchful for the comfort of others, heeding not his own troubles or pains, so that those around him may be soothed, and, next to Captain Standish, Elder Brewster was the one to whom we children could go for advice or assistance.

When the sickness was upon us, he, hardly able to be out of his bed, ministered in turn to those who were dying, and to us who were nigh to starvation, in as [79] kindly, fatherly a manner as when he had sufficient of the goods of this world to make himself comfortable both in body and mind.


That which gave mother and me a great fright was Governor Bradford's command that Edward Winslow and Master Hopkins visit the village of the Indian chief, Massasoit, in order to carry as presents from our settlement of Plymouth a suit of English clothing, a horseman's coat of red cotton, and three pewter dishes.

It seemed to my mother and me as though it was much like going to certain death; but Squanto, who was to act as guide, claimed that no harm could come to them. I trust not these savages, who look so cruel, and cried heartily when our people set out; but God allowed them to return in safety, although they were not overly well pleased with the visit.

Massasoit treated them in the most friendly manner, [80] and seemed to be well pleased with the gifts; but he set before them only the very smallest quantity of parched corn, no more than two spoonfuls to each one, and failed to offer anything else when that had been eaten.

Except that they were hungry during all the five days of the stay, the savages treated them kindly, and my father believes that we need have no fear this tribe will do us any harm; but there are other Indians in the land who may be tempted to work mischief.


As soon as the fields had been planted, it was decided that six men of the company should spend all [81] their time at fishing, to the end that we might lay up a store of sea food for the coming winter; therefore they go out in the shallop every day, except the Sabbath, which begins at three o'clock on Saturday afternoon. At that time we children gather in one house or another, but mostly at Elder Brewster's, where we study the Bible, or listen to lectures by Governor Bradford.

We are not allowed to walk around the village after the Bible lessons are finished, but must run directly home, and remain there until we go to meeting in Elder Brewster's house next morning.

Captain Standish says he does not favor such long Sabbaths, while we have so much work on hand; but he is not listened to on such matters, for his duty in the village is only that of a military leader.


It is true indeed that there is very much work to be done. First comes the planting and tending of the crops. Then there is the fishing and the hunting that we may have meat. Lastly is the making of clapboards, which task was begun soon after the seed had been put in the ground, for Governor Bradford believed we should make enough with which to load the first vessel that came to us from England.

It was all we could do, just then, in the way of getting [82] together that which might be sold to the people in the old country, and father said the men of Plymouth must be earning money in some other way than by trying to gather furs, for already were the animals growing more timid and scarce.

It is not easy work, this clapboard-making, and I cannot wonder that the men complain at being forced to continue it day after day. First an oak tree is cut by saws into the length necessary for clapboards, which, so father tells me, should be about four feet long. Then a tool called a "frow" is used to split the trunk of the tree into slabs, or clapboards, making them thin at one edge and half an inch or more thick at the other.

This "frow" is shaped something like a butcher's cleaver, and a wooden mallet is used to drive it into the log until the splint is forced off.

Our people made many clapboards during the time between planting and harvest, so that we had enormous stacks under the trees ready to put on board the first vessel that should sail for England.


When the first pumpkins were ripe, Squanto showed us how to cook them, and most of us find the fruit an [83] agreeable change from sweet puddings, parched corn, and fish.

This is the way that Squanto cooked pumpkins. First he was careful to find one that was wholly ripe. In the top of the yellow globe he cut a small hole through which it was possible for him to take out the seeds, of which there are many. Then the whole pumpkin was put into the iron oven and baked until the pulp on the inside was soft, after which the shell could be broken open, and the meat of the fruit eaten with the sugar which we get from the trees.

Mistress Bradford invented the plan of mixing the baked pumpkin pulp with meal of the Indian corn, and made of the whole a queer looking bread, which some like exceeding well, but father says he is forced to shut his eyes while eating it.


Perhaps I have not told you how we happen to have an oven, when there is only the big fireplace in which to cook our food. Mistress White and Mistress Tilley each brought from Leyden, in Holland, what some people call "roasting kitchens," and you can think of nothing more convenient. The oven or kitchen is made of thin iron like unto a box, the front of which is open, and the back rounded as is a log. It is near [84] to a yard long, and stands so high as to take all the heat from the fire which would otherwise be thrown out into the room.

In this oven we put our bread, pumpkins, or meat and set it in front of, and close against, a roaring fire. The back, or rounded part is then heaped high with hot ashes or live embers, and that which is inside must of a necessity be cooked. At the very top of the oven is a small door, which can be opened for the cook to look inside, and one may see just how the food is getting on, without disturbing the embers that have been heaped against the outer portion.

We often borrow of Mistress Tilley her oven, and father has promised to send by the first ship that comes to this harbor, for one that shall be our very own. When it arrives, I am certain mother will be very glad, for there is no kitchen article which can save so much labor for the housewife.


I wish you might see how greatly I added to our store of spoons during the first summer we were here [85] in Plymouth. Sarah and I gathered from the shore clam shells that had been washed clean and white by the sea, and Squanto cut many smooth sticks, with a cleft in one end so that they might be pushed firmly on the shell, thus making a most beautiful spoon.

Sarah says that they are most to her liking, because it is not necessary to spend very much time each week polishing them, as we are forced to do with the pewter spoons.

Some day, after we own cows, we can use the large, flat clam shells with which to skim milk, and when we make our own butter and cheese, we shall be rich indeed.

After the pumpkins ripened, and when the gourds in the Indian village were hardened, we added to our store of bowls and cups until the kitchen was much the same as littered with them, and all formed of the pumpkin and gourd shells.

Out of the gourd shells we made what were really most serviceable dippers, and even bottles, while in [86] the pumpkin shell dishes we kept much of our supply of Indian corn.

Captain Standish gave me two of the most beautiful turkey wings, to be used as brushes; but they are so fine that mother has them hung on the wall as ornaments, and we sweep the hearth with smaller and less perfect wings from the birds or turkeys father has brought home.

This no doubt seems to you of Scrooby a queer way of keeping house.


That which Captain Standish calls a fort is very much like our homes, or the Common House, except that it is larger, and has small, square openings high up on the walls to serve both as windows and places through which our people can shoot at an enemy, if any come against us. [87]

Surely there are none in this new world who should wish us harm, and yet my father says that we have need to guard ourselves carefully, because Squanto and Samoset have both insisted that a tribe of savages who call themselves Narragansetts, and who live quite a long distance away, may seek to drive us from the land.

This fort, the logs of which are sunken so deeply into the earth that they cannot easily be overthrown, has been built on the highest land within the settlement, and extending from it in such a manner as to make it a corner of the enclosure, is a fence of logs, which Captain Standish calls a palisade, built to form a square. The fence is made like the sides of our houses; but the logs rise higher above the surface than the head of the tallest man.

There are two gates in the palisade, one on the side nearest the fort, with the other directly opposite, and these can be fastened with heavy logs on the inside. All the people have been told that at the first signal of danger, they must flee without loss of time inside the fence of logs, after which the gates will be barred, and no person may go on the outside without permission from Captain Standish.

The six cannon, which I told you had been mounted on a platform when we first began to build the houses, have been taken to the top of the fort, and from there, [88] so Captain Standish says, we can hold in check a regular army of Indians; but God forbid that anything of the kind should be necessary after we have come to this new world desiring peace, and with honest intentions toward all men.

Because it is not reasonable to suppose that any human being could wish to work us harm, Sarah and I look upon that which is called a fort, rather as a meeting-house than a place of defence, and such it really looks to be, for the floor is covered with seats made of puncheon planks placed on short lengths of logs, while at one end is a desk for the preacher built in much the same fashion as are the seats. [89]

Here, also, so Governor Bradford has promised, we children shall have a school as soon as a teacher can be persuaded to come over from England. As it is now, our parents teach us at home, and father believes I can even now write as well as if I had been all this while at school in Scrooby. With both a meeting-house and a school, it will seem as if we had indeed built a town in this vast wilderness.


You shall now hear about our harvest festival, which Governor Bradford declared should be called a day of thanksgiving because the Lord had been good to us in permitting of our getting from the earth, the sea, and the forest, such a supply of food as gave us to believe that never more would famine visit Plymouth.

True it is the crop of peas had failed, but the barley, so father said, was fairly good, while the Indian corn grew in abundance. Our people had taken a great many fish, and the hunters found in the forest a goodly supply of birds and animals. Already were there seven houses built, without counting the Common House that had been repaired soon after it was injured by fire, and the fort with its palisade.

As soon as the harvest was over, the Governor sent [90] four men out after such fowls and animals as might be taken, and in two days they killed as many as would serve to provide all the people of Plymouth with meat for at least a full week.

There were wild ducks in greatest number, together with turkeys, and small birds like unto pheasants. No less than twenty deer were killed, and it was well we provided such a bountiful supply for the thanksgiving festival, because on the day before the one appointed, Massasoit, with ninety of his men, came to Plymouth, bringing as gifts five deer, and it seemed as if the Indians did nothing more than eat continuously.

Instead of giving thanks on one particular day, as [91] Governor Bradford had ordered, three days were spent in such festivities as we had not seen since leaving our homes in England.

The deer and the big turkeys were roasted over fires built in the open air, and we had corn and barley bread, baked pumpkins, clams, lobsters, and fish until one was wearied by the sight of so much food.

Nor was eating the only amusement during this thanksgiving time, for we played at games much as we would have done in Scrooby.

There was running, jumping, and leaping by the men, stoolball for the boys, and a wolf hunt for those soldiers under Captain Standish who were not content with small sports.


I know not if my friend Hannah has seen the game of stoolball as it is played in our village of Plymouth, because those among us who take part in it use no sticks nor bats, but strike the ball only with their hands. Of course we have no real stools here as yet, because of the labor necessary to make them, when a block of wood serves equally well on which to sit; but the lads who play the game take a short piece of puncheon board, and, boring three holes in it, put therein sticks to serve as legs. [92]

These they place upon the ground behind them, and he who throws the ball strives to hit the stool rather than the player, who is allowed only to use his hands in warding it off. Whosesoever stool has been hit must himself take the ball, throwing it, and continuing at such service until he succeeds in striking another's stool.

Sarah and I had believed that at this festival time, we would gather in the new meeting-house to praise the Lord for his wondrous goodness; but Master Bradford believed it would not be seemly to mix religious services with worldly sports, therefore it was not until the next Sabbath Day that we heard lessons of the Bible explained from that reading desk built of puncheons and short lengths of tree trunks.

Perhaps it was because Governor Bradford allowed the men and boys to play at games during the time of thanksgiving, that they came to believe such sports would be permitted on Christmas, even though the elders of our colony had decided no attention should be paid to the day because of its being a Pagan festivity. [93]


On the morning of the first Christmas after our houses had been built, many of the men and boys, when called upon to go out to work for the common good, as had been the custom every week day during the year, declared that they did not believe it right to labor at the time when it was said Christ had been born. Whereupon Governor Bradford, after telling them plainly that he believed laziness rather than any religious promptings of the spirit inclined them to remain idle on that day, said he would leave them alone until they were come to have a better understanding of the matter.

Then he, with those who were ready to obey the rules, went to their work; but on coming back at noon, he found those who did not believe it seemly to labor on Christmas day, at play in the street, some throwing bars, and others at stoolball. Without delay the governor seized the balls and the bars, carrying them into the fort, at the same time declaring that it was against his conscience for some to play while others worked. This, as you may suppose, brought the merrymaking to an end.

For my part I enjoyed the Christmas festivities as we held them at Scrooby, and cannot understand why, [94] simply because certain heathen people turned the day into a time for play and rejoicing, we should not make merry after the custom of those in England.


I hardly know how to set about telling you of that time when the first ship came into our harbor. It was not long after the day of thanksgiving when, early one morning, even before any of our people had begun work, some person cried out that a vessel was in sight.

It had been nearly a year since we landed on the shores of the new world, and in all that time we had seen no white people outside of our own company. Therefore you can fancy how excited we all were. Even Governor Bradford himself found it difficult to walk slowly down to the shore, while Sarah and I ran with [95] frantic haste, as if fearing we might not be able to traverse the short distance before the vessel was come to anchor and her crew landed.

If I should try to tell you how we felt on seeing this first vessel that had visited Plymouth, believing she had on board some of our friends who had been left behind when the Mayflower sailed, it would hardly be possible for me to write of anything else, so long would be the story. Therefore it is that I shall not try to describe how we stood at the water's edge, every man, woman and child in Plymouth, wrapped in furs until we must have looked like so many wild animals, for the day was exceeding cold and windy, watching every movement made by those on board the vessel until a boat, well laden with men and women, put off from her side.

Then we shouted boisterously, for it was well nigh impossible to remain silent, and those who recognized familiar faces among the occupants of the shallop screamed a welcome to the new world, and to our town of Plymouth, until they were hoarse from shouting.

The ship which had come was the Fortune, and she brought to us thirty-six of those who had been left behind at Leyden. During fully two days we of Plymouth did little more than give our entire attention to these welcome visitors, hearing from them news of those of our friends who were yet in Holland, and [96] telling again and again the story of the sickness and the famine with which we had become acquainted soon after landing from the Mayflower.


When we were settled down, as one might say, and our visitors were at work building homes for themselves, I heard father and Master Brewster talking one evening about the addition to our number, and was surprised at learning, that while they rejoiced equally with us children at the coming of our friends, what might be in store for us in the future troubled them greatly.

The Fortune had brought from England no more in the way of food than would suffice to feed the passengers during the voyage across the ocean, and the crew on her return. Therefore had we thirty-six mouths to feed during the long winter, more than had been reckoned on when we held our festival of thanksgiving.

Until overhearing this conversation, I had not given a thought to anything save the pleasure which would be ours in having so many more friends around us; but now, because Master Brewster and my father talked in so serious a strain, did I begin to understand that we might, before another summer had come, suffer for food even as we had during the winter just passed. [97]

And it was because of our people being so disturbed regarding the store of provisions, that the ship did not remain in the harbor as long as would have pleased us. Governor Bradford told the captain that he must set sail while there was yet food enough in the ship to feed his crew during the voyage home, since we of Plymouth could not give him any.

The Fortune, however, did not go back empty. She was loaded full with the clapboards which our people had made during the summer, and, in addition, were two hogsheads filled with beaver and otter skins, the whole of the freight amounting in value, so I heard Captain Standish say, to not less than five hundred pounds sterling.

We were saddened when the ship left the harbor; but not so much as on the day the Mayflower sailed away, for, having sent back in the Fortune goods of [98] value, there was fair promise she would speedily return for more.


When the Fortune had gone, the men of our settlement took an exact account of all the provisions in the common store, as well as of those belonging to the different families, and the whole was divided in just proportion among us every one.

Then it was learned that we had no more in Plymouth to eat than would provide for our wants during six months, and since in that time there would not be another harvest, it was decided by the governor and the chief men of the village, that each person should be given a certain amount less than the appetite craved; short allowance, Captain Standish called it.

Sarah and I were faint at heart on learning of this decision, for it seemed as if during this winter we were to live again in the misery such as we had known the past season of cold and frost, when we hunted the leaves of the checkerberry plant, and chewed the gum which gathers in little bunches on the spruce trees, to satisfy our hunger.

Those who had come over in the Fortune to join us were, as can well be understood, grieved because of their putting us to such straits; it was a matter which [99] could not be helped, and we of the Mayflower strove earnestly not to speak of the possible distress which might be ours, lest our friends so lately come might think we were reproaching them.


It was not many days after we had learned that we might be hungry before another harvest should come, when a savage, whom we had never before seen, came to Plymouth, asking for our chief. On being conducted to Governor Bradford, he delivered unto him a bundle of arrows which were tied together with a great snake skin.

It so happened that Squanto was in the village, and, on being sent for, he explained to our people that the sending of the arrows tied in the snake skin was a threat, which meant that speedily those from whom it had come would make an attack upon us. He also declared that the messenger was from the nation of the Narragansetts, of whom I have already told you. [100]

The governor consulted with the chief men of Plymouth as to what should be done, with the result that Squanto was instructed to tell the Narragansett messenger that if his people had rather have war than peace, they might begin as soon as pleased them, for we of Plymouth had done the Narragansetts no wrong, neither did we fear any tribe of savages. Then the snake skin was filled with bullets, as token that the Indians would not find us unprepared when they made an attack, and given to the messenger that he might carry it back to those who had sent him.

That night, when mother mourned because it seemed certain war would soon be made upon us, father spoke lightly of the matter, as if it were something of no great importance. However, both Sarah and I took notice that from the hour the Narragansett messenger left Plymouth carrying the snake skin filled with bullets, there were two men stationed on top of the fort night and day, and a certain store of provisions taken inside, as if the food might be used there rather than in our homes.

We knew nothing whatsoever about warfare, girls as we were, but yet had common sense enough to understand from such preparations, that our fathers were holding themselves ready, and expecting that an attack would be made by the savages within a very short time. [101]


Perhaps you would like to know how we light our homes in the evening, since we have no tallow, for of course people who own neither hogs, sheep, cows nor oxen, do not have that which is needed for candles.

Well, first, we find our candles among the trees, and of a truth the forest is of such extent that it would seem as if all the world might get an ample store of material to make light. We use knots from the pitch pine trees, or wood from the same tree split into thin sheets or slices; but the greatest trouble is that the wood is filled with a substance, which we at first thought was pitch, that boils out by reason of the heat of the flame, and drops on whatever may be beneath.

Captain Standish has lately discovered, and truly he is a wonderful man for finding out hidden things, that the substance from the candle wood, as we call the pitch pine, is turpentine or tar, and now, if you please, [102] our people are preparing these things to be sent back to England for sale, with the hope that we shall thereby get sufficient money with which to purchase the animals we need so sorely.

I would not have you understand that there are no real candles here in Plymouth, for when the Fortune came, her captain had a certain number of tallow candles which he sold; but they are such luxuries as can be afforded only on great occasions. Mother has even at this day, wrapped carefully in moss, two of them, for which father paid eight pence apiece, and she blamed him greatly for having spent so much money, at the same time declaring that they should not be used except upon some great event, such as when the evening meeting is held at our house.


Squanto has shown us how we may get, at only the price of so much labor, that which looks very like tallow, and of which mother has made many well-shaped candles.

You must know that in this country there grows a bush which some call the tallow shrub; others claim it should be named the candleberry tree, while Captain Standish insists it is the bayberry bush.

This plant bears berries somewhat red, and speckled [103] with white, as if you had thrown powdered clam shells on them.

I gathered near to twelve quarts last week, and mother put them in a large pot filled with water, which she stands over the fire, for as yet we cannot boast of an iron backbar to the fire-place, on which heavy kettles may be hung with safety.

After these berries have been cooked a certain time, that which looks like fat is stewed out of them, and floats on the top of the water.

Mother skims it off into one of the four earthen vessels we brought with us from Scrooby, and when cold, it looks very much like tallow, save that it is of a greenish color. After being made into candles and burned, it gives off an odor which to some is unpleasant; but I think it very sweet to the nostrils.


I suppose you are wondering how it is we get the wicks for the candles, save at the expense and trouble of bringing them from England. Well, you must [104] know that there is a plant which grows here plentifully, called milkweed. It has a silken down like unto silver in color, and we children gather it in the late summer.

It is spun coarsely into wicks, and some of the more careful housewives dip them into saltpetre to insure better burning. Do you remember that poem of Master Tusser's which we learned at Scrooby?

Wife, make thine own candle,

Spare penny to handle.

Provide for thy tallow ere the frost cometh in,

And make thine own candle ere winter begin.

When candle-making time comes, I wish there were other children in this household besides me, for the work is hard and disagreeable, to say nothing of being very greasy, and I would gladly share it with sisters or brothers.

Mother's candle-rods are small willow shoots, and because of not having kitchen furniture in plenty, she hangs the half-dipped wicks across that famous wooden tub which we brought with us in the Mayflower. [105]


It is my task to hang six or eight of the milkweed wicks on the rod, taking good care that they shall be straight, which is not easy to accomplish, for silvery and soft though the down is when first gathered, it twists harshly, and of course, as everyone knows, there can be no bends or kinks in a properly made candle.

Mother dips perhaps eight of these wicks at a time into a pot of bayberry wax, and after they have been so treated six or eight times, they are of sufficient size, for our vegetable tallow sticks in greater mass than does that which comes from an animal.

A famous candle-maker is my mother, and I have known her to make as many as one hundred and fifty in a single day.

The candle box which your uncle gave us is of great convenience, for since it has on the inside a hollow for each candle, there is little danger that any will be broken, and, besides, we may put therein the half-burned candles, for we cannot afford to waste even the tiniest scraps of tallow. [106]

Captain Standish has in his home candles made from bear's grease, and as wicks, dry marsh grass braided.

When the second winter had begun, and the snow lay deep all around, save where our people had dug streets and paths, Sarah and I were forced, as a matter of course, to remain a goodly portion of the time within our homes. Those of the men who were not needed to hew huge trees into lengths convenient for burning, were hunting and setting traps, in the hope of adding to the store of provisions which was so scanty after it had been divided among those who came in the Fortune, and Sarah and I had little else to do than recall to mind that which had happened during the summer, when all the country was good to look upon instead of being imprisoned by the frost.


We went back to the time when James Billington, son of John, caused us all such a fright by his wayward behavior.

Because James was not a favorite with any of us girls, being prone to tease us at every opportunity, and spending more of his time in mischief than in work, I must be careful how I speak of the lad, lest I fall into that sin which Elder Brewster warns us to guard [107] against: allowing one's feelings to control the tongue, thereby speaking more harshly against another than is warranted by the facts.

I must, however, set it down that James was not a favorite with any save his parents; but seemed ever watching for an opportunity to make trouble for others, and just before the harvest time did he succeed in throwing the entire village into a state of confusion and anxiety.

On a certain afternoon, I cannot rightly recall the exact time, it was noted by Sarah and myself, that, contrary to his usual custom, James had not prowled around where we children were at work in the fields with the intent to perplex or annoy us, and we spoke of the fact as if it was an unusually pleasant incident, little dreaming of the trouble which was to follow. [108]

That night, while father was reading from the Book, and explaining to us the more difficult passages, the mother of James came to our home, asking if we had seen her son.

Even then but little heed was given to the fact that the boy had not returned for his share of the scanty supper; but mayhap an hour later every one in the settlement was summoned by the beating of the drum, and then did we learn that James Billington had disappeared.

The first thought was that some of the evil-disposed savages had carried him away, and, acting upon the governor's orders, Captain Standish set off with eight men to hunt for the missing lad.

I have never heard all the story of the search; but know that they visited more than one of the Indian villages, and perhaps would not have succeeded in their purpose but that Squanto was found at Nauset, and, aided by some of his savage friends, he speedily got on the track of the missing boy.

Captain Standish and his men were absent three days before they came back, bringing James Billington, and when his mother took him in her arms, rejoicing over his return as if he had really escaped some dreadful danger, Governor Bradford commanded that she and her husband give to James such a whipping as would prevent anything of the kind from happening [109] again, for, as it appeared, the boy had willfully run away, counting, as he said, to turn Indian because of savages' not being obliged to work in the fields.


It was during this summer that we had good cause for alarm. Word was brought by Samoset that a large party of Massasoit's people, being angry because of his having showed us white folks favor, were bent on attacking him and us, with the intent to destroy entirely our town of Plymouth.

Captain Standish marched forth once more, this time with twelve men at his heels, and I heard John [110] Alden tell my father that the brave soldier went directly to the village of those who would have murdered us, where, without the shedding of blood, they took from all the evil-minded Indians their weapons.

It seems more like some wild fancy than the sober truth, to say that twelve men could, without striking a blow in anger, overcome no less than sixty wild savages, and yet such was the case, for John Alden is known to be a truthful man, and Captain Standish one who is not given to boasting.

The long dreary winter passed slowly, and during a goodly number of days we of Plymouth were hungry, although having sufficient of food to keep us from actual starvation. Yet never once did I hear any repining because of our having been brought to such straits through the neglect of those who came in the Fortune, and who should have provided themselves with food sufficient for their wants until another harvest time had come.


We went more often to the meeting-house in the fort than would have been the case, perhaps, had our bodily comfort been greater, and Elder Brewster preached to us more fervently than mayhap he might have done but for the gnawing of hunger in his stomach. [111]

Every Sabbath Day from nine o'clock in the morning until noon, and after that, from noon to dark, did we sing, or pray, or listen to the elder's words of truth, all the while being hungry, and a goodly portion of the time cold unto the verge of freezing.

My mother claimed that there was no reason why we should not have a fireplace in the meeting-house, even though none but the children might be allowed to approach it; but Elder Brewster insisted that to think of bodily suffering while engaged in the worship of God, was much the same as a sin, and it seemed to Sarah and me as if his preaching was prolonged when the cold was most intense.

Again and again have I sat on the puncheon benches, my feet numbed with the frost, my teeth chattering until it was necessary to thrust the corner of mother's mantle into my mouth to prevent unseemly noise, almost envying Master Hopkins when he walked from his bench to the pulpit in order to turn the hourglass for the second or third time, because of his thus having a chance for exercising his limbs.

You must know that, having no clocks, the time in the meeting-house is marked by an hourglass, and it is the duty of one of the leading men of the settlement to turn it when the sand runs out. Therefore, when Master Hopkins has turned it the second time, thus showing that the third hour of the sermon has [112] begun, I am so worldly-minded and so cold as to rejoice, because of knowing that Elder Brewster, save on especial days, seldom preaches more than the three hours.


It was during this winter that John Alden, who is a cooper as well as Captain Standish's clerk, spent three days in our home, making for mother two tubs which are fair to look upon, and of such size that we are no longer troubled on washdays by being forced to throw away the soapy water in order to rinse the clothes which have already been cleansed. You may think it strange to hear me speak thus of the waste of soapy water, because you in Scrooby have of soap an abundance, while here in this new land we are put to great stress through lack of it.


It would not be so ill if all the housewives would make a generous quantity, but there are some among us who are not so industrious as others, and dislike the labor of making soap. They fail to provide sufficient for themselves, but depend upon borrowing; thus spending the stores of those who have looked ahead for the needs of the future.

Well, as I have said, the winter passed, and we were come to the second summer after making this settlement of Plymouth.

Once more was famine staring us in the face, therefore every man, woman and child, save those chosen to go fishing, was sent into the fields for the planting.


It was while our people were out fishing that they were met by a great surprise, which was nothing less than a shallop steering as if to come into the harbor, and in her were many men.

At first our fishermen feared the visitors might be Frenchmen who had come bent on some evil intent; but nevertheless our people approached boldly, and soon learned that the shallop came from a ship nearby, which Master Weston had sent out fishing from a place on the coast called Damarins Cove.

This Master Weston, so I learned later, was one of [114] those merchants who had aided in fitting out our company in England; but after our departure had decided to send a colony on his own account, and the people afterward settled at Wessagussett.

The reason why the shallop, of which I have just spoken, came toward our village of Plymouth, was that Master Weston's ship had brought over seven men who wished to join us, and, what was yet better, they had with them letters from our friends at home.

It was unfortunate that they had no food other than enough to serve until they should have come to our settlement, and thus it was that there were more mouths yet for us to feed from our scanty store.

A few weeks later we heard that a company of men from England had begun to build a village within five and twenty miles of our Plymouth town. There is [115] little need for me to say that we rejoiced to learn of neighbors in this wilderness of a country; but were more than surprised because the ship which brought them over the seas had not come into our harbor.


That another village was to be built, and so near at hand that in case the savages came against us in anger we might call upon the people for aid, was of so much importance in the eyes of Governor Bradford, that he at once sent Captain Standish and six men to visit our neighbors. This he did not only in order to appear friendly, but with the hope that from the new-comers we might be able to add to our store of food.

It was a great disappointment to all, and particularly to Sarah and me, when the captain came back with the report that the new settlers were glad to leave London streets. They were of Master Weston's company; among them were those who had come in the shallop from Damarins Cove, bringing to us letters from England, and the people who were eager to cast in their lot with us.

"They are a quarrelsome, worthless company, and have already fought with the Indians after having received favors from them," Captain Standish said [116] to my father, when he had made his report to the governor. "One Thomas Weston is the leader, and if he continues as he has begun, there will soon be an end of the entire party."

Instead of getting food from them for our needs, it is more than likely, so the captain declares, that we may be called upon to save them from starvation. From the first they stole corn from the Indians, or took it by force, and it seemed certain they could not continue such a lawless course until harvest time.


I can well fancy you are asking how it is we complain thus about the scarcity of food, when you know that the sea is filled with fish.

Captain Standish declares that there are no less than two hundred different kinds to be found off this coast, and lobsters are at some seasons so plentiful that the smallest boy may go out and get as many as he can carry. I myself have seen one so large that I could, hardly lift it, and father says its weight was upwards of twenty pounds.

You will say that if we could send out a certain number of our people in boats to get food thus from the sea, what should prevent us from taking as many as would be necessary for our wants during one year? [117] I myself put that same question to father one night last winter while we were hungry, and mother and I sat chewing the dried leaves of the checkerberry plant which ground to powder between our teeth, and he answered me bitterly:

"It is owing to our own shortsightedness, my daughter; to our neglect to understand what might be met with in this new world. Those who made ready for the voyage believed we should find here food in abundance; but yet had no reason for such belief. It was known that we were to go into the wilderness, and yet, perhaps, for we will not say aught of harm against another, it was thought that we should find in the forest so much of fowls and of animals as would serve for all our needs."

"But why do we not take more fish, father?" I asked, speaking because such conversation served to keep my mind from the hunger which was heavy upon me.

"Because of not having the lines, the hooks, or the nets with which to catch a larger store. When the [118] Fortune sailed for home, Governor Bradford sent to the people in London who had made ready the Mayflower, urging that they send in the next ship which may come to this land such fishing gear as is needed. When that reaches us, then shall we be able not only to guard against another time of famine; but have of cured fish enough to bring us in money sufficient to buy other things we now need."

And thus speaking of money reminds me to set down what the savages use in the stead of gold and silver coins.


You must know that the Indians hereabout have no tools of iron or of steel, as do you in Scrooby; but perform all their work by means of fire and sharp pieces of flint stone. In order to have something that can be called money, although they of course do not use that word in speaking of it, they get from the dark spots which are found in clam shells, beads about one-eighth of an inch in thickness and an inch long.

These they call wampum, and string them on threads cut from the skin of a deer. Because of a great deal of labor's being necessary in the [119] making of them, these bits of wampum, or beads, are valued as highly by the Indians as we value gold or silver, and the savage who would hoard up his wealth that it may be seen of others, makes of these strings of wampum a belt many inches broad.

It is convenient to wear these belts, for when the owner wishes to buy something from another Indian or even from us white people, he has merely to take off one or two strings from the belt, thereby decreasing the width ever so slightly.

When Massasoit came to Plymouth, he wore three of these wampum belts, and among those who followed him, I saw five or six who had an equal number.


It was early in this second springtime that had come to us in Plymouth, when Samoset brought word into the village that Massasoit, the savage chief that had been so kind to us, was ill unto death, and that those jealous Indians whom Captain Standish had [120] disarmed so valiantly, were only waiting until their king should die before they made an attack upon our town.

This news was believed to be of such importance that straightway Governor Bradford commanded Captain Standish to gather as many of his men as could be spared from Plymouth, and go at once to Massasoit's village.

This of itself would have received but scant attention from my parents or me, for it seemed as if the captain was ever going out in search of some adventure or another; but on this occasion, it was urged by the governor that Master Winslow, who had shown himself during our first winter on these shores to have some considerable knowledge regarding sickness, go and try if he might not lend the savage king some aid.

It was a fearsome time for everyone. We knew, because of what Samoset had said, that many of [121] Massasoit's people were awaiting an opportunity to murder us, and, when Master Winslow should go into the village among so many enemies, it was to be feared the savages might fall upon him, knowing the chief was so ill he could not give the white man any help.

During eight long, weary days we waited for the return of Master Winslow, fearing each hour lest we should hear that he was no longer in this world, and then, to our great relief, he came into the village late one evening, while my mother and I were praying for his safe-keeping.

Master Winslow had been most fortunate in the visit, for the good Lord allowed that the savage chief should be restored to health, and by way of showing his gratitude for what had been done, Massasoit told Master Winslow that the white people of Wessagussett had so ill-treated the Indians along the coast, that a plot was on foot to kill not only them, but us at Plymouth.


It was the same news which Samoset had brought us, and there could no longer be any doubt as to its truth.

Captain Standish had come back only to set out again, for when Master Winslow told Governor Bradford [122] that which Massasoit had said, several of our men were sent in hot haste to this place where Master Weston's men were making so much mischief. Again we of Plymouth waited in anxious suspense until that day when Captain Standish, and all whom he had taken with him, returned once more to the village.

They had met one Indian who, they believed, was planning to murder Captain Standish himself. This Indian and six of his savage companions they had killed, driving the others away into the forest.

It was believed by father that the Indians, knowing we had ever treated them fairly and justly, and also that our men had punished those who did wrong, would no longer hold enmity against us of Plymouth simply because of our skins' being white.


I must tell you that our captain has adopted a follower who hugs him as closely as ever shadow could. It is a savage by the name of Hobomok, whom Samoset brought to Plymouth. He must suddenly have fallen in love with our valiant warrior, for he keeps close at his heels during all the waking hours, and, as John Alden says, sleeps as near, during the night, as Captain Standish will permit. [123]

He is called by our people "the captain's Indian," and surely he appears to be as faithful and unselfish as any dog.


We have come to put this Indian corn, or Turkey wheat, to another use than that of eating, for it has been agreed to let the kernels serve as ballots in public voting.

Each man may put into Standish's iron cap, which is what our people use when they cast their ballots, a single kernel of the corn to show that it is his intent to elect whomsoever had been spoken of for this or that office; but if a bean be cast, it is used as counting against him who desires to be elected, and a law has already been made which says that "if any man shall put more than one Indian corn or bean into Captain Standish's helmet in time of public election, he shall forfeit no less than ten pounds in lawful money."


And now, because there is so much of excitement, owing to the frequent coming and going of strangers, [124] which neither Sarah nor I can well understand, I will set down, in as few words as may be possible, only such news as seems of importance, beginning with the time before our second harvesting.

Then the ship Ann came, bringing yet more people, although, fortunately, a considerable store of food, and in her were the wives and children of some of our company who had come over in the Mayflower. How joyous was the meeting between those who had long been separated. Sarah and I could see, however, that more than one of these women were disappointed, having most likely allowed themselves to believe their husbands were gathering riches in the new world. I heard one, who found her husband much the same as clad in rags, wish that she and her children were in England again.

When the ship Ann went back to England, my mother and I were left alone, for it had been decided by the head men of the town that Master Edward Winslow should take passage in her to look after certain business affairs of the colony, and, what seemed to me the more important, to buy some cows. The sorrow of it was that my father was chosen to journey with Master Winslow.

We were exceedingly lonely, and should have felt yet more desolate but for Captain Standish and John Alden both of whom did whatsoever they might to cheer. [125]


It was while we were alone that the ship Little James came, laden with fifty men, women and children to be joined to our colony, and when they were settled, did it seem as if Plymouth was much the same as a city, with so many people coming and going.

What with the food which had been brought in the Ann and the Little James, and with the bountiful harvest we reaped in the fall, there seemed no longer to be any fear of famine; and with so many hands to make light work, as Elder Brewster said, there was no good reason why we should not have a meeting-house to be used for no other purpose than as a place in which to worship God.


It was after the harvest time that the people set about building it, and that it might be seen by those who looked at it from the outside, to be a building other than for living purposes, the logs, instead of being set upright in the earth, were laid lengthwise, and notched at the ends in a most secure fashion, with a roof that rises to a peak like unto those on the houses in Scrooby.

The very best of oiled paper is set in the windows. There is a real floor of puncheon boards, which we [126] keep well covered with the white sand from the shore, and Priscilla Mullens spends much time drawing with a stick fanciful figures in the glistening covering, causing it to look like a real carpet.

There are benches sufficient for all, and at that end opposite the door is the preacher's desk, over which hangs a sounding board, not delicately fashioned like the one at Scrooby, but made of puncheons, yet serving well the purpose of allowing the preacher's voice to seem louder.

Elder Brewster still believes that it would be wrong for us to have a fireplace in the meeting-house, because one who truly worships his Maker should be willing to sacrifice his comfort. One Sabbath Day, when the elder's sermon was so long that the hourglass had been turned three times by the tithingman, and the sand was already running well for the fourth time, I believed of a truth that my feet were really frozen.

But I did not even shuffle them on the floor, because once when I did so, a most serious lesson did my mother read me when we were at home again, and that very evening Elder Brewster spoke in meeting of the wickedness of children who had no more fear of God before their eyes than to disturb by unseemly noise those who had gathered for his worship.

John Alden, who is ever ready to do what he can [127] for the comfort of others, has now nailed bags made of wolf skins on the benches, into which we may thrust our feet and thus keep them warm.


Captain Standish has taught Master Bean's eldest son, Nathan, how to drum, and he it is who summons our people before nine of the clock in the morning, and one of the clock in the afternoon.

Then we go from our homes in seemly fashion; but all the men carry their firearms and wear swords, for there are wicked Indians about, and many wild beasts which come even into the village, when there is much snow on the ground. Therefore do the fathers and the brothers of Plymouth guard the mothers and sisters. [128]

It is that part of the meeting-house on the right side as you go in, that has been set apart for the women and girls. The men have their benches on the opposite side, while the boys, except the very, very little ones, sit directly under the preacher's desk, where all may know if they behave themselves in seemly fashion. Sarah says it would be much to the comfort of us girls if even the baby boys could be thus set apart by themselves.

Deacon Chadwick leads the congregation in the songs of praise, by reading a line, for we have but four psalm books here, and then we sing such words as he has spoken; so it goes on throughout all the psalm, causing the music to sound halting and unequal. Besides which, it is seldom that the verses can be sung in such a manner within less than half an hour, and meanwhile we must all be kept standing.

When the meeting is over, and the morning service is nearly always finished within four hours, we remain in our seats until the preacher and his wife have gone out, after which the men march around to the deacon's bench, and there leave furs or corn, money or wampum, if perchance they have any, as gifts toward the support of the preaching. Sometimes, when I have a feeling of faintness from the cold and long hours of sitting, I cannot help envying the preacher and his wife being able to leave thus early. [129]


The tithingmen are elected as town officers, and each has ten families to visit during the week, when they hear the children recite their lessons for the next Sabbath Day. It is their duty to see that every person goes to the meeting-house on Sabbath Day, with no loitering on the way, and even after the preaching is over, and we have returned to our homes, do they march up and down the street to prevent us from straying out of doors until the Sabbath is at a close.

My mother believes, and so do I, that it would be better if the tithingmen refrained from walking to and fro in the church while the elder is preaching; but so they do, each carrying a stick which has a knob on one end and a fox or wolf tail on the other, striking the unruly children on the head with the knob end of the stick, and tickling with the fox tail the faces of those who are so ungodly as to sleep during the preaching. [130]


I despair of trying to make you understand how thankful we were to God, when the ship in which Master Winslow and father returned, sailed into the harbor.

It seemed to me as if I should never have enough of looking at him, or feeling the pressure of his hand upon my head, after he had thus been gone for eight weary months; but, strange to say, the others in the town thought it more pleasing to look at the cattle which Master Winslow brought, than at our people who had come back to us.

Yes, in the ship Charity, on which Master Winslow and father came, were three cows and a bull, and you who have never known the lack of butter, cheese, and milk, cannot understand how grateful our people were for such things.

The animals were no sooner on shore and eating [131] greedily, than straightway we pictured to ourselves a large herd of cows, such as are seen in England, and when for the first time we saw the milk, a spoonful was given to each person in order that he or she might once more know the taste of it.

In the same vessel came a preacher, by name of John Lyford, a ship carpenter, and a man who is skilled in making salt; therefore does it seem now as if our town of Plymouth could boast of nearly as many comforts and conveniences as you enjoy at Scrooby.

Nor were the return of father and Master Winslow, the coming of the animals, the arrival of the salt man, or the joining to our company of the preacher, the only things for which we had to give thanks.


Father brought in the vessel as many bricks as would serve to make an oven by the side of our fireplace, and thus it was that we were the first family in Plymouth who could bake bread or roast meats, as do people in England.

This oven is built on one side of the fireplace, with a hole near the top, for the smoke to go through. It has a door of real iron, with an ash pit below, so that we may save the ashes for soap-making without storing them in another place. [132]

At first the oven was kept busily at work for the benefit of our neighbors, being heated each day, but for our own needs it is used once a week. Inside, a great fire of dried wood is kindled and kept burning from morning until noon, when it has thoroughly heated the bricks. Then the coals and ashes are swept out; the chimney draught is closed, and the oven filled with whatsoever we have to cook. A portion of our bread is baked in the two pans which mother owns; but the rest of it we lay on green leaves, and it is cooked quite as well, although one is forced to scrape a few cinders from the bottom of the loaf.


Can you imagine how Sarah and I feasted when, for the first time in four years, we had milk to drink, and butter and cheese to eat? [133]

You must not believe that we drank milk freely, as do you at Scrooby, for there are many people in Plymouth, all of whom had been hungering for it even as had Sarah and I. Father claimed that each must have a certain share, therefore it is a great feast day with us when we have a large spoonful on our pudding, or to drink.

John Alden made a most beautiful churn for mother; but many a long month passed before we could get cream enough to make butter, so eager were our people for the milk. Now, however, when there are seventeen cows in this town of ours, we not only have butter on extra occasions; but twice each year mother makes a cheese.


Because of having spent so much time, and set down so many words in trying to describe how we lived when we first came to this new world, I must hasten over [134] that which occurred from day to day, in order to tell you what seems to me of the most importance, without giving heed to the time when the events took place.

I have already told you of the village at Wessagussett, which was built by men who had been sent to this land by Master Weston, and also that they were driven away by Captain Standish because of working so much mischief among the Indians that our own lives were in danger.

Well, it was not long after Captain Standish had punished them, before one and then another came back to the huts, which had been left unharmed, and we at Plymouth learned of their doings through Samoset or Squanto.

Had they been God-fearing people, willing to obey our laws, Governor Bradford would have welcomed them right gladly; but because of their refusing to do that which was right, and their giving themselves up to riotous living, our fathers could do no less than hold them at a distance.

Then it was that one Master Thomas Morton, calling himself a gentlemen, who came over in the Charity and had lived among us in Plymouth a short time, much to the shame and discomfort of those who strove to profit by the teachings of the Bible, claimed that the evil-doers at Wessagussett were being wronged [135] by us. He even went so far as to tell Governor Bradford to his face that he was stiff-necked and straight-laced, preaching what decent men could not practice.


After such a shameful outburst, it did not surprise any one that he joined those at Wessagussett, and perhaps it was as well that he did so, for he would not have been permitted to remain longer in Plymouth.

Flint-Lock Gun

Match-Lock Gun

Master Morton changed the name of the village to Merry Mount, and it has been said that everyone there gave himself over to riotous living. They do not even have a meeting house, and John Alden declares that they never pray, except by reading prayers out of a book, which is an evil practice, so Elder Brewster insists.

Captain Standish sorely offended mother by saying he cared not whether they read or sang their prayers, so that they stopped selling firearms and strong drink to the Indians. But this last they did, until the captain could no longer hold his [136] temper in check, and he laid the matter before Governor Bradford and the chief men of the town.

Then did the governor send to Master Morton by Squanto a letter, telling him that for the safety of all the white people he ought to stop his evil work of teaching the savages how to use firearms, which might one day be turned against us.

To this Master Morton made reply that he had sold firearms to the savages, and would do so as long as he liked. He said his doings did not concern us of Plymouth, and that no man could make him do other than as he pleased.

After reading the letter from Master Morton, the governor sent Captain Standish with fourteen men to Merry Mount, and Sarah's father told her that there was a disagreeable battle before the captain could bring Master Morton away. He was kept in Plymouth until a vessel sailed for England, and then sent back in her, much against his will, but those who were so venturesome as to talk with him before he left, claim that he threatened to come back at some later day, when he would have revenge upon the governor and the captain.


I must not forget to tell you that last year there was opened a school, in that part of the old fort which was [137] first used as a meeting-house. Our friends in England sent to us a preacher by name of John Lyford, as I have already said, and he it was who began the school, teaching all children whose parents could pay him a certain amount either in wampum, beaver skins, corn, wheat, peas, or money.

Sarah and I went during seven weeks, and would have remained while school was open, but that Master Lyford had hot words with Governor Bradford because of letters which he wrote to his friends in England, wherein were many false things set down concerning us of Plymouth. Then it was father declared that I should go on with my studies at home, rather than be taught by a man who was doing whatsoever he might to bring reproach upon our village.

It caused me much sorrow thus to give over learning, for Master Lyford taught us many new things, and neither Sarah nor I could understand how it would work harm to us, even though we did study under the direction of one who was not a friend to Plymouth.

I felt sorry because of Master Lyford's having done that which gave rise to ill feelings among our people, since it resulted in his being sent away from Plymouth. It would not have given me sorrow to see him go, for to my mind he was not a friendly man; but it seemed much like a great loss to the village, when the school was closed. [138]

It would surprise you to know how comfortable everything was in the school; it seemed almost as if we children were being allowed to give undue heed to the pleasures of this world, though I must confess that during the first hour of the morning session we were distressed by the smoke.


When the room had been used as a Sabbath Day meeting-house, there was neither chimney nor fireplace, because Elder Brewster believed that too much bodily comfort would distract our thoughts from the duty we owed the Lord. But when the place had been turned into a schoolroom, it was necessary to have warmth, if for no other reason than that the smaller children might not be frost-bitten.

John Billington was hired to build a fireplace and chimney, and, as all in Plymouth know, he dislikes to work even as does his son James. Therefore it was that he failed to make the chimney of such height above the top of the fort as would admit of a fair draught, so Master Lyford declared, and we were sorely troubled with smoke until the fire had gained good headway.

It was the duty of the boys to provide wood and keep the fire burning; while we girls kept the room [139] swept and cleanly, all of which tended to give us a greater interest in the school.


For our convenience when learning to write, puncheon planks were fastened to the four sides of the room, with stakes on the front edges to serve as legs in order to hold them in a sloping position, and at such desk-like contrivances we stood while using a pen, or working at arithmetic with strips of birch-bark in the stead of paper. The same benches which had been built when the room was our meeting-house, served as seats when we had need to rest our legs.


Master Lyford built for himself a desk in the center of the room, where he could overlook us all, and so great was his desire for comfort, which was one of the complaints made against him by Governor Bradford, that he had fastened a short piece of puncheon plank to one side of the log which served as chair, so that he might lean his back against it when he was weary.


It must be set down that he was not indolent when it seemed to him that one of us should be punished. As Captain Standish said, after he had looked into the room to see James Billington whipped for having been idle, the teacher "had a rare brain for inventing instruments for discipline."

It was the flapper which the captain had seen in use upon James, and surely it must have caused great pain when laid on with all Master Lyford's strength. A piece of tanned buckskin, six inches square, with a round hole in the middle large enough for me to thrust my thumb through, fastened to a wooden handle,—this was the flapper, and when it was brought down heavily upon one's bare flesh, a [141] blister was raised the full size of the hole in the leather.

He had also a tattling stick, which was made of half a dozen thick strips of deer hide fastened to a short handle, and when he flogged the children with it, they were forced to lie down over a log hewn with a sharp edge at the top. This sharp edge of wood, together with the blows from the stout thongs, caused great pain.

Master Lyford was not always so severe in his punishment. He had whispering-sticks, which were thick pieces of wood to be placed in a child's mouth until it was forced wide open, and then each end of the stick was tied securely at the back of the scholar's neck in such a way that he could make no manner of noise. Sarah wore one of these nearly two hours because of whispering to me, and when it was taken out, the poor child could not close her jaws until I had rubbed them gently during a long while.

Then there was the single-legged stool, upon which it was most tiring to sit, and this was given to the child who would not keep still upon his bench. I was forced to use it during one whole hour, because of drumming my feet upon the floor when the cold was [142] most bitter, and the fire would not burn owing to the wood being so wet. It truly seemed to me, before the punishment was come to an end, as if my back had been broken.

Master Lyford was also provided with five or six dunce's caps, made of birch bark, on which were painted in fair letters such names as "Tell-Tale," "Bite-Finger-Baby," "Lying Ananias," "Idle Boy," and other ugly words.

However, I dare say this was for good, and went far toward aiding us in our studies. Master Allerton declares that there are no truer words in the Book, than those which teach us that to spare the rod is to spoil the child, and surely we of Plymouth were not spoiled in such manner by Master Lyford, nor by the other teachers who came to us later.


While I have been setting down all these things that you might know how we lived here in the wilderness, other villages have been built around us until we can no longer say we are alone, or that our only neighbors are those Englishmen in Virginia, which [143] place is so far away that we should need make a voyage in a ship in order to come at it.

First I will speak of that village of Merry Mount, wherein dwell those people who, led by Thomas Morton, are a reproach to those who walk in the straight path.

Then, so we have heard, there are white men living on the river called Saco; at the mouth of the river Piscataqua and higher up the stream is, so Squanto declares, a village called Cochecho.

At Pemaquid, and on the nearby island of Monhegan, are settlements whose dwellers are nearly all fishermen, and who send their catch to England.

One Captain Wollaston, with between thirty and forty men, began to make a village on the seashore not above fifty miles from here; but he soon tired of battling with the wilderness, and set sail with all his people for Virginia.

Master John Oldham, who came to Plymouth with Master Lyford, having had hot words with Governor Bradford, set off for a place called Nantasket, where, in company with four other discontented ones of our village, he aims to make a town.

Near by Plymouth, if one makes the journey by boat, is a town called Salem, lately set up with Master Endicott as the governor, wherein live more than two hundred people, and within a few weeks it has been [144] said that another company are making homes on Massachusetts Bay, calling the place Charlestown.

Therefore you can see how fast this new world is being covered with villages and towns, and we who were the first to gain a foothold in the wilderness, are surrounded by neighbors until it seems as if the land were really thronged with people.


Not two months ago my father got word that among those who had come to build homes at the place already named Salem, were many of our old friends whom we left behind at Leyden, and I was nearly wild with delight when he said to my mother:

"Verily we two have earned a time of rest, and if it be to your mind we will go even so far as Salem, to [145] greet those friends of ours who have so lately come from Leyden."

"And Mary?" my mother asked.

"She shall go with us. If you and I are to give ourselves over to pleasure, it is well she should have a share."

Since the day on which we landed from the Mayflower, I had not been allowed to stray above half a mile from the village, and now I was to journey like a princess, with nothing to do save seek that which might serve for my pleasure or amusement.

Then, remembering how sad at heart Sarah would be if we were parted after having been so much together these ten years, I made bold to ask my mother if she might journey with us, and after having speech with my father, she gave her consent.

There is no need for me to tell you that we two girls were wondrously happy and woefully excited at the idea of visiting strange people, concerning whom we had heard not a little, for, as Captain Standish has said, never were homeseekers outfitted in such plenty.

When he heard of what father counted on doing, Captain Standish offered to make one of the party, saying that it would gladden him to see a friendly face from Leyden, and it was his idea that we go in the shallop, taking with us John Alden to aid in working the vessel. [146]

You can well fancy that Sarah and I were pleased to have the captain with our party, for he has ever been a good friend of ours, and as for John Alden, if Mistress Priscilla was willing to spare him from home, we were content, knowing he was at all times ready, as well as eager, to do his full share of whatsoever labor might be at hand.


Just fancy! The Massachusetts Bay Company gave to each man and boy who came over from England to Salem four pairs of shoes, and four pairs of stockings to wear with them, a stout pair of Norwich garters, together with four shirts, and two suits of doublet and hose of leather lined with oiled skin. As if that were not enough, to the list were added a woolen suit lined with leather, two handkerchiefs, and a green cotton waistcoat. Then came a leather belt, a woolen cap, a black hat, two red knit caps, two pairs of gloves, a cloak lined with cotton, and an extra pair of breeches.

Is it any wonder that Sarah and I were eager to see these gentlemen who must have needed a baggage ship in order to bring over their finery. Think of people coming into the wilderness outfitted in such extravagant fashion as that! [147]

Surely they should be able to live comfortably, and without anxiety for the future, because the company that sent them to build the town of Salem, took good care that they were provided with provisions in plenty until they had sown and reaped.

If we of Plymouth had come so burdened with clothes and food, we should have been spared many a sad day, when an empty stomach, scantily covered with thin clothing, knew at the same time the biting of the frost and the gnawing of hunger. It is little wonder that Sarah and I were eager to see these fortunate people, if for no other reason than to learn how they carried themselves before us of Plymouth, who failed of being fine birds through absence of fine feathers.


During one full week before the time set for us to leave home, mother and I worked from daylight until dark making ready the food, for it was no slight task to prepare enough to fill the stomachs of all our company.

It is true we would be housed and fed in Salem; but no one could say how the voyage might be prolonged, if the wind proved contrary, therefore did it behoove us to prepare for a long passage lest we suffer from hunger by the way. [148]

We made nookick enough, as father said, for the Plymouth army, and of Indian corn meal and pumpkin bread, no less than twenty large loaves. We had a sweet pudding in a bag for each person, counting Sarah and me; Captain Standish had shot two wild ducks as his portion of the stores, and these had been roasted until they were of a most delicious brown shade, causing one's mouth to water when looking at them.

Father had cut up the salt and pickled fish until it could be stored in gourds, and John Alden caught lobsters enough to prevent our suffering from hunger during at least two days.

We had two pumpkins freshly roasted, which would remain sweet a long while; the full half of a small cheese, a pat of butter as a luxury, and much else which I cannot well call to mind.


The hinder part of the shallop was partly filled with dried beach grass, that we might have a soft bed if so [149] be we were, as it seemed likely, still on the voyage when night came. In the forward portion of the vessel was a keg of John Alden's making, filled with sweet spring water, and thus, as you may see, everything had been done to minister to our comfort.

I was half afraid Elder Brewster might force us to wait beyond the day appointed for leaving, in order to read us more than one lesson on the sin of over-indulgence; but, fortunately, he could not spend the time to overlook the preparations, because of building a new chimney to his house, the old one having burned on Saturday night.

On the evening before we sailed, many of our neighbors came in to pray with us that God would have us in His holy keeping while we wandered so far from home, and my eyes were filled to overflowing when Elder Brewster made special mention of Sarah and me, asking that we might not be led from straight paths by the sight of so much worldly vanity as was likely waiting for us in that town of Salem, which had grown so suddenly and so rapidly.

Sarah slept with me on that night, and after we were gone to bed in the kitchen, we could hardly close our eyes, so great was our excitement, as we thought of all the strange sights we were likely to see. I am of the belief that we had not been asleep above an hour, when mother came to make ready the morning meal. [150]

It was yet dark; but father had it in mind to make the start as soon as day broke, and there was much to be done before that time. We ate hurriedly of the Indian corn meal pudding, and then Captain Standish and John Alden came to join us in the service of praise, when I am afraid my sin was great, for I could hardly keep my mind on the words of his prayer, so eager did I feel to begin the journey.

Elder Brewster has told us children again and again that we are offending God when we allow our thoughts to stray while He is being worshiped, and even with his warning in mind, I could not but wonder why father's prayer was so much longer on that morning than I ever had known before. Twice I heard Captain Standish cough while we were on our knees, and I was so wicked as to feel pleased because he, like me, had grown impatient.


The day had not fully dawned when we marched down to the shore where the shallop lay at anchor; but early though the hour was, we found there assembled nearly all the townspeople, come to bid us Godspeed on the dangerous journey. One would have thought we were counting to travel as far as England, to judge from the looks of sorrow on the faces of our friends, and we [151] did not go aboard the small vessel until Elder Brewster had prayed once more for our safe return from the place where temptation in so many forms awaited us.

However much time I might spend over the task, it would be impossible for me to describe, in such a manner that you could understand it, the pleasure which Sarah and I had during the journey. It was our first voyaging in so small a vessel, but we could not well have been alarmed, for the sea was as smooth as velvet, save where it was ruffled here and there by the gentle breeze which filled the sail of the shallop.

Both my father and Captain Standish fretted because there was not wind enough to send us along at a smarter pace; but we girls were well content with the slow progress, since it would be but prolonging our pleasure. [152]

As the day grew older, we partook of food, and each one, save him who was at the helm, chose such position as was best suited to comfort. Father pointed out to us certain landmarks on the coast, which he said had been set down by Captain John Smith of Virginia when he journeyed in this region, and John Alden told of settlers who had begun to make plantations on the shores of Massachusetts Bay.

At noon father read from the Book, while John Alden steered, and after a season of prayer mother spoke with Captain Standish concerning friends in Holland.

It was as if this carried the captain's mind back to the time when he had been an officer in the Dutch army, for straightway he began telling stories of adventure and of thrilling escapes from death, until Sarah and I were at the same time entranced and alarmed. Even though I burned to have him continue, it was a relief when he changed the subject to speculate upon what the future might hold for us of Plymouth.

When night came, we were yet at sea, and mother, Sarah, and I lay down on the dry beach grass in the bottom of the boat, after father had once more prayed that the Lord would hold us, as He does the sea, in the hollow of His hand. We slept as sweetly as if in our own beds at Plymouth, never once awakening until Captain Standish cried out that we should open our eyes to the glory of the sunrise. [153]


We were then near unto the village of Salem, and there was no more than time in which to break our fast, and join with father in thanks to God because of His having saved us through the night, when the shallop was run in as close to land as the depth of water would permit.

Captain Standish carried each of us ashore, wading in the sea knee-deep to do so, and after we were standing dry-shod on the sand, the vessel was pushed off at anchor, lest she should take ground when the tide went down.

Then we went into the village, where already more than thirty houses had been built, father and Captain Standish walking in the lead, while John Alden remained by the side of mother, and we girls followed [154] on behind, soberly and slowly, even though our hearts were beating fast with excitement.

Not for long were we left to our own devices. As soon as we were seen by one of the women, all our party were made welcome to Salem, and when it was learned that we had come from Plymouth, in the hope of meeting those whom we had known at Leyden, it was as if every person in the village made effort to entertain us.


It is not for me to say ought against those who treated us so kindly; but yet I must set it down that Sarah and I were somewhat disappointed. There was no such show of luxury and vanity as we had been led to expect, after learning how wondrously these people had been supplied with clothes. The houses were no better than could be found in our own village of Plymouth, and, save that there was pickled beef and pork in great abundance, the food was no more tempting.

The elders of our little company speedily found old friends whom they had parted with in Leyden; but Sarah and I, having been so young when we left Holland, could not be expected to remember any of the children. We wandered here and there however, [155] being greeted by strangers as if we were old friends, comparing all we saw with that which could be found in Plymouth, and coming to believe that ours was the most goodly home.


I believe we looked forward to going back quite as eagerly as we had to coming. Right glad were all of us, including even Captain Standish, when we said good-by to the people of Salem, and our shallop, with a strong wind astern, sailed with her bow toward Plymouth.

"It is well that we go abroad at times, if for no other reason than to learn how dear is our own hearthstone," the captain said in a tone of content, as he sat in the [156] bottom of the boat with his back against the mast, burning the Indian weed in a little stone vessel which Hobomok had brought to him from Massasoit's village.

Then he fell to telling Sarah and me stories, tiring not until we were once more at home, for the return voyage was exceeding speedy.

And now, because I am just returned to the place where we landed ten years ago, concerning which I have been trying to tell you, it is well I should come to the end, trusting that the Lord may be as good to you, as he has been to us children of Plymouth during all these years of hardships and sorrows.

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