Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

Possibility of Another Famine

When we were settled down, as one might say, and our visitors were at work building homes for themselves, I heard father and Master Brewster talking one evening about the addition to our number, and was surprised at learning, that while they rejoiced equally with us children at the coming of our friends, what might be in store for us in the future troubled them greatly.

The Fortune  had brought from England no more in the way of food than would suffice to feed the passengers during the voyage across the ocean, and the crew on her return. Therefore had we thirty-six mouths to feed during the long winter, more than had been reckoned on when we held our festival of thanksgiving.

Until overhearing this conversation, I had not given a thought to anything save the pleasure which would be ours in having so many more friends around us; but now, because Master Brewster and my father talked in so serious a strain, did I begin to understand that we might, before another summer had come, suffer for food even as we had during the winter just passed.

And it was because of our people being so disturbed regarding the store of provisions, that the ship did not remain in the harbor as long as would have pleased us. Governor Bradford told the captain that he must set sail while there was yet food enough in the ship to feed his crew during the voyage home, since we of Plymouth could not give him any.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

The Fortune, however, did not go back empty. She was loaded full with the clapboards which our people had made during the summer, and, in addition, were two hogsheads filled with beaver and otter skins, the whole of the freight amounting in value, so I heard Captain Standish say, to not less than five hundred pounds sterling.

We were saddened when the ship left the harbor; but not so much as on the day the Mayflower  sailed away, for, having sent back in the Fortune  goods of value, there was fair promise she would speedily return for more.


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