Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

Dipping the Candles

It is my task to hang six or eight of the milk-weed wicks on the rod, taking good care that they shall be straight, which is not easy to accomplish, for silvery and soft though the down is when first gathered, it twists harshly, and of course, as everyone knows, there can be no bends or kinks in a properly made candle.

Mother dips perhaps eight of these wicks at a time into a pot of bayberry wax, and after they have been so treated six or eight times, they are of sufficient size, for our vegetable tallow sticks in greater mass than does that which comes from an animal.

A famous candle-maker is my mother, and I have known her to make as many as one hundred and fifty in a single day.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

The candle box which your uncle gave us is of great convenience, for since it has on the inside a hollow for each candle, there is little danger that any will be broken, and, besides, we may put therein the half-burned candles, for we cannot afford to waste even the tiniest scraps of tallow.

Captain Standish has in his home candles made from bear's grease, and as wicks, dry marsh grass braided.

When the second winter had begun, and the snow lay deep all around, save where our people had dug streets and paths, Sarah and I were forced, as a matter of course, to remain a goodly portion of the time within our homes. Those of the men who were not needed to hew huge trees into lengths convenient for burning, were hunting and setting traps, in the hope of adding to the store of provisions which was so scanty after it had been divided among those who came in the Fortune, and Sarah and I had little else to do than recall to mind that which had happened during the summer, when all the country was good to look upon instead of being imprisoned by the frost.


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