Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

The Harvest Festival

You shall now hear about our harvest festival, which Governor Bradford declared should be called a day of thanksgiving because the Lord had been good to us in permitting of our getting from the earth, the sea, and the forest, such a supply of food as gave us to believe that never more would famine visit Plymouth.

True it is the crop of peas had failed, but the barley, so father said, was fairly good, while the Indian corn grew in abundance. Our people had taken a great many fish, and the hunters found in the forest a goodly supply of birds and animals, Already were there seven houses built, without counting the Common House that had been repaired soon after it was injured by fire, and the fort with its palisade.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

As soon as the harvest was over, the Governor sent four men out after such fowls and animals as might be taken, and in two days they killed as many as would serve to provide all the people of Plymouth with meat for at least a full week.

There were wild ducks in greatest number, together with turkeys, and small birds like unto pheasants. No less than twenty deer were killed, and it was well we provided such a bountiful supply for the thanksgiving festival, because on the day before the one appointed, Massasoit, with ninety of his men, came to Plymouth, bringing as gifts five deer, and it seemed as if the Indians did nothing more than eat continuously.

Instead of giving thanks on one particular day, as Governor Bradford had ordered, three days were spent in such festivities as we had not seen since leaving our homes in England.

The deer and the big turkeys were roasted over fires built in the open air, and we had corn and barley bread, baked pumpkins, clams, lobsters, and fish until one was wearied by the sight of so much food.

Nor was eating the only amusement during this thanksgiving time, for we played at games much as we would have done in Scrooby.

There was running, jumping, and leaping by the men, stoolball for the boys, and a wolf hunt for those soldiers under Captain Standish who were not content with small sports.


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