Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

Pine Knots and Candles

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.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

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, 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.


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