Laws are like spider-webs which, if anything small falls into them they ensnare it, but large things break through and escape. — Solon of Athens

Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

Before Sailing for Salem

The hinder part of the shallop was partly filled with dried beach grass, that we might have a soft bed if so 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.

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.


Front Matter

Why This Story was Written
The Leaking Speedwell
Searching for a Home
After the Storm
Wash Day
Finding the Corn
Attacked by the Savages
Building Houses
Miles Standish
The Sick People
The New Home
Master White and the Wolf
Inside of the House
A Chimney Without Bricks
Building the Fire
Master Bradford's Chimney
Scarcity of Food
A Timely Gift
The First Savage Visitor
Squanto's Story
Living in the Wilderness
The Friendly Indians
Grinding the Corn
A Visit From Massasoit
Massasoit's Promise
Massasoit's Visit Returned
The Big House Burned
The Mayflower Leaves Port
Setting the Table
What and How we Eat
Table Rules
A Pilgrim Goes Abroad
Making a Dugout
Governor Carver's Death
Bradford Chosen Governor
Farming in Plymouth
Cooking Indian Corn
The Wedding
Making Maple Syrup
Decorating the House
Trapping Wolves and Pigeons
Elder Brewster
The Visit to Massasoit
Keeping the Sabbath Holy
Making Clapboards
Cooking Pumpkins
A New Oven
Making Spoons and Dishes
The Fort and Meeting-House
The Harvest Festival
How to Play Stoolball
On Christmas Day
When the Fortune Arrived
Possibility of Another Famine
On Short Allowance
A Threatening Message
Pine Knots and Candles
Tallow From Bushes
Wicks for the Candle
Dipping the Candles
When James Runs Away
Evil-Minded Indians
Long Hours of Preaching
John Alden's Tubs
English Visitors
Visiting the Neighbors
Why More Fish are not Taken
How Wampum is Made
Ministering to Massasoit
The Plot Thwarted
The Captain's Indian
Ballots of Corn
Arrival of the Ann
Little James Comes to Port
The New Meeting-House
The Church Service
The Tithingmen
Master Winslow Brings Cows
A Real Oven
Butter and Cheese
Settlement at Wessagussett
The Village at Merrymount
The First School
Too Much Smoke
Schools Comforts
How Children Were Punished
New Villages
Making Ready for a Journey
Clothing for Salem
Food for the Journey
Before Sailing for Salem
Beginning the Journey
The Arrival at Salem
Sight-Seeking in Salem
Back to Plymouth