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

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.