Stephen of Philadelphia - James Otis

Turning an Honest Penny

It would not be well if I should leave you to believe that during all this first winter in America I did nothing save bather fuel and hunt for game.

It is true that there was but little to be done in the way of useful labor, because of every one's waiting until it should be known where the city was to be built, yet Jethro and I hit upon a plan for turning an honest penny, even in a land where no trading was done, save the buying of furs from the savages.

We had come to know some of the Indians right well, as you may suppose, and often went into that one of their villages which stood not above a mile from father's cave. There we saw beautifully fashioned spoons made of handsome white wood, which the savages said was spoon-wood; but father told us it should be called laurel.

Now, you must know that many of the savages used seashells, sharpened to a keen edge, in the stead of knives, and with these hits of shell one could hollow out the bowl of a spoon more neatly than with a pocket- knife, besides which, it was to me interesting to use such odd tools.

To make a long story short, Jethro and I set about making these wooden spoons, and soon learned to do the work so deftly that we could turn out even better wares than did the savages.

[Illustration] from Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis

At first we had given our time to such labor because of its being pleasing to us; but we soon found that it was possible to sell as many as could be made, for it was slow work, and from that day on we drove a brisk business, being so taken up with it as to give over roaming in the forest with the other lads.


Front Matter

The Name of My City
My Own Name
Why We Went to London
Bound for America
On Board Ship
Unknown Country
The End of the Voyage
Going Ashore
Our First Shelter
A Tedious Task
Our Cave Home Completed
How We Kept House
Savages Come to Town
What the Savages Wore
Game in Plenty
Sea Food
News of the Factor
Arrival of the Amity
Going to Meet the Factor
A Tiresome Journey
Meeting Old Friends
Roasting Turkeys
Turning an Honest Penny
A Place for the City
Building the City
A Bear Hunt
The New Home
Penn's Care for Colonists
The First Baby
How the Indians Live
Indian Utensils and Tools
Canoes of Bark
Making Wampum
The Beehive Huts
Finishing the Cure
Starting a Fire
Cooking Indian Corn
News of Penn's Arrival
Our Humble Preparations
The Welcome to Penn
A Day of Festivities
Penn Joins in the Sports
More Serious Business
What a Bake Oven Is
Baking in the New Oven
Penn Plans to Buy Land
Penn and the Indians
The Price Paid for Land
Gratitude of the Indians
Trapping Wild Turkeys
New Arrivals
Government by the People
The Promise of a School
Dock Creek Bridge
The Nail Business
Buying Iron in New York
No Merrymaking after Dark
Busy Days
Enoch Flower's School
End of Our School Days
Settlement of Germantown
New Laws in Our Own Town
A Division of Opinion
A Matter of History
Boundary Lines
The Governor's Following
A Proud Departure
The Settlement of Chester
Dining in State
Anchored off New Castle
An Uncomfortable Night
A Dull Journey
In Lord Baltimore's City
A Splendid Home
A Question of Duty
Amy of Maryland
The Shops of Maryland
The Result of the Visit
Philadelphia Progresses
Penn Goes Back to London