The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. — Marcus Aurelius

Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

A Visit from Massasoit

One day Samoset, Squanto, and three other savages came into our new village of Plymouth, walking very straight and putting on such appearance of importance that I followed them as they went to the very center of the settlement, for it seemed to me that something strange was about to happen, as indeed proved to be the case.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

The Indians had come to tell our governor that their king, or chief, was in the forest close by, having in mind to visit the Englishmen, and asked if he should enter the village.

I was so busy looking at the feathers and skins which these messengers wore that I did not hear what reply Captain Standish made, for he it was who had been called upon by Governor Carver to make answer; but presently a great throng of savages, near sixty I was told, could be seen through the trees as they marched straight toward us.

Then my heart really stood still, as I saw Master Winslow walking out to meet them with a pot of strong water in his hand; but Captain Standish said I need not be afraid, as he was only going to greet the chief of the Indians, carrying the strong water, three knives, a copper chain, an earring, and somewhat in the way of food.

It seemed like woeful waste to give that which was of so much value to a savage, but Captain Standish said it would be well if we could gain the favor of this powerful Indian even at the expense of all the most precious of our belongings.

A brave show did the savages make as they came into the village, marching one after the other! The feathers were of every color, and in such quantity it seemed as if all the birds in the world could not yield so many, even though every one was plucked naked. And the furs! The chief, whose name is Massasoit, wore over his shoulders a mantle so long that it dragged on the snow behind him, and he had belts and chains of what looked to be beads; but Captain Standish told me it was what the Indians called wampum, and served them in the place of money.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

Governor Carver stood at the door of Elder Brewster's house, which as yet had no roof, and beckoned for the chief and those who followed him, to enter. Inside were Mistress Carver's rug and mother's two cushions, which had been laid on the ground for the savage to sit on, and greatly did I fear that all those precious things would be spoiled before the visit was come to an end.

I cannot tell you what was said or done, for neither Sarah nor I could get inside Master Brewster's house, so crowded was it with the men of our village and with savages. More than half of those who had come with the chief were forced to remain outside, because of there not being space for all within the walls. Sarah and I had our fill of looking at them; but never one gave the slightest attention to us. It seemed much as if they believed their station was so high that it would be beneath their dignity to speak with children.


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