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

When James Runs Away

We went back to the time when James Billington, son of John, caused us all such a fright by his wayward behavior.

Because James was not a favorite with any of us girls, being prone to tease us at every opportunity, and spending more of his time in mischief than in work, I must be careful how I speak of the lad, lest I fall into that sin which Elder Brewster warns us to guard against: allowing one's feelings to control the tongue, thereby speaking more harshly against another than is warranted by the facts.

I must, however, set it down that James was not a favorite with any save his parents; but seemed ever watching for an opportunity to make trouble for others, and just before the harvest time did he succeed in throwing the entire village into a state of confusion and anxiety.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

On a certain afternoon, I cannot rightly recall the exact time, it was noted by Sarah and myself, that, contrary to his usual custom, James had not prowled around where we children were at work in the fields with the intent to perplex or annoy us, and we spoke of the fact as if it was an unusually pleasant incident, little dreaming of the trouble which was to follow.

That night, while father was reading from the Book, and explaining to us the more difficult passages, the mother of James came to our home, asking if we had seen her son.

Even then but little heed was given to the fact that the boy had not returned for his share of the scanty supper; but mayhap an hour later every one in the settlement was summoned by the beating of the drum, and then did we learn that James Billington had disappeared.

The first thought was that some of the evil-disposed savages had carried him away, and, acting upon the governor's orders, Captain Standish set off with eight men to hunt for the missing lad.

I have never heard all the story of the search; but know that they visited more than one of the Indian villages, and perhaps would not have succeeded in their purpose but that Squanto was found at Nauset, and, aided by some of his savage friends, he speedily got on the track of the missing boy.

Captain Standish and his men were absent three days before they came back, bringing James Killington, and when his mother took him in her arms, rejoicing over his return as if he had really escaped some dreadful danger, Governor Bradford commanded that she and her husband give to James such a whipping as would prevent anything of the kind from happening again, for, as it appeared, the boy had willfully run away, counting, as he said, to turn Indian because of savages not being obliged to work in the fields.