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

Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

Why More Fish are not Taken

I can well fancy you are asking how it is we complain thus about the scarcity of food, when you know that the sea is filled with fish.

Captain Standish declares that there are no less than two hundred different kinds to be found off this coast, and lobsters are at some seasons so plentiful that the smallest boy may go out and get as many as he can carry. I myself have seen one so large that I could hardly lift it, and father says its weight was upwards of twenty pounds.

You will say that if we could send out a certain number of our people in boats to get food thus from the sea, what should prevent us from taking as many as would be necessary for our wants during one year? I myself put that same question to father one night last winter while we were hungry, and mother and I sat chewing the dried leaves of the checkerberry plant which ground to powder between our teeth, and he answered me bitterly:

"It is owing to our own shortsightedness, my daughter; to our neglect to understand what might be met with in this new world. Those who made ready for the voyage believed we should find here food in abundance; but yet had no reason for such belief. It was known that we were to go into the wilderness, and yet, perhaps, for we will not say aught of harm against another, it was thought that we should find in the forest so much of fowls and of animals as would serve for all our needs."

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

"But why do we not take more fish, father?" I asked, speaking because such conversation served to keep my mind from the hunger which was heavy upon me.

"Because of not having the lines, the hooks, or the nets with which to catch a larger store. When the Fortune  sailed for home, Governor Bradford sent to the people in London who had made ready the Mayflower, urging that they send in the next ship which may come to this land such fishing gear as is needed. When that reaches us, then shall we be able not only to guard against another time of famine; but have of cured fish enough to bring us in money sufficient to buy other things we now need."

And thus speaking of money reminds me to set down what the savages use in the stead of gold and silver coins.