Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

Building the Fire

The greatest trouble we have, or did have during our first winter here, was in holding the fire, for the wood, having just been cut in the forest, is green, and the fire very like to desert it unless we keep close watch. Neither mother nor I can strike a spark with flint and steel as ably as can many women in the village; therefore, when, as happened four or five times, we lost our fire, one of us took a strip of green bark, or a shovel, and borrowed from whosoever of our neighbors had the brightest blaze, enough of coals to set our own hearth warm again.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

Some of the housewives who are more skilled in the use of firearms than my mother or myself, kindle a blaze by flashing a little powder in the pan of a gun, allowing the flame to strike upon the tinder, and thus be carried to shavings of dry wood. It is a speedy way of getting fire; but one needs to be well used to the method, else the fingers or the face will get more of heat than does the tinder. Father cautions us against such practice, declaring that he will not allow his weapons to remain unloaded simply for kitchen use, when at any moment the need may arise for a ready bullet.

But we have in Plymouth one chimney of which even you in Scrooby might be proud.


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