Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

What and How We Eat

And now, perhaps, you ask what we have to eat when the table is spread? Well, first, there is a pudding of Indian corn, or Turkie wheat, and this we have in the morning, at noon, and at night, save when there may be a scarcity of corn. For meats, now that our people are acquainted with the paths through the woods, we have in season plenty of deer meat, or the flesh of bears and of wild fowl, such as turkeys, ducks, and pigeons. Of course there are lobsters in abundance, and only those less thrifty people who do not put by store sufficient for the morrow, live on such food as that.

Every Saturday we have a feast of codfish, whether alone or if there be company, and Elder Brewster has already spoken to us in meeting upon the vanity of believing it is necessary that we garnish our table with no less a fish than cod on Saturdays, saying it is a sign that our hearts are not yet sufficiently humble.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

My father is over careful of me, Mistress White claims, because he allows that I be seated at the table with himself and my mother when they eat, instead of being obliged to stand, as do other children in the village when their elders are at meals. Poor Mistress White fears that I am pampered because of being an only child; but for my own part I cannot see how I do less reverence to my parents by sitting when eating, than by standing throughout a long feast when one's legs grow weary, as did mine the last time we were invited to dine with Elder Brewster.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

Of course we have no chairs; but the short lengths of tree trunks which father has cut to serve as stools are most comfortable, even though it be impossible to do other than sit upright on them, and very often, if one grows forgetful, as did Captain Standish at Master Brewster's home a short time ago, there is danger of losing the stool. Our mighty soldier being thus careless, tumbled backward, so surprised that he forgot to let go his trencher bowl, thereby plentifully besmearing himself with hot hasty pudding that he had been served with in great abundance.


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