Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

Governor Carver's Death

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 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.

Those among us who should know best, and my father is one of the number, say that all prayers either over or for the dead, are not only superstitions and vain, but are also idolatry, and against the teachings of the Bible. 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.


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