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.


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