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

The Fort and Meeting-House

That which Captain Standish calls a fort is very much like our homes, or the Common House, except that it is larger, and has small, square openings high up on the walls to serve both as windows and places through which our people can shoot at an enemy, if any come against us.

Surely there are none in this new world who should wish us harm, and yet my father says that we have need to guard ourselves carefully, because Squanto and Samoset have both insisted that a tribe of savages who call themselves Narragansetts, and who live quite a long distance away, may seek to drive us from the land.

This fort, the logs of which are sunken so deeply into the earth that they cannot easily be overthrown, has been built on the highest land within the settlement, and extending from it in such a manner as to make it a corner of the enclosure, is a fence of logs, which Captain Standish calls a palisade, built to form a square. The fence is made like the sides of our houses; but the logs rise higher above the surface than the head of the tallest man.

There are two gates in the palisade, one on the side nearest the fort, with the other directly opposite, and these can be fastened with heavy logs on the inside. All the people have been told that at the first signal of danger, they must flee without loss of time inside the fence of logs, after which the gates will be barred, and no person may go on the outside without permission from Captain Standish.

The six cannon, which I told you had been mounted on a platform when we first began to build the houses, have been taken to the top of the fort, and from there, so Captain Standish says, we can hold in check a regular army of Indians; but God forbid that anything of the kind should be necessary after we have come to this new world desiring peace, and with honest intentions toward all men.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

Because it is not reasonable to suppose that any human being could wish to work us harm, Sarah and I look upon that which is called a fort, rather as a meeting-house than a place of defence, and such it really looks to be, for the floor is covered with seats made of puncheon planks placed on short lengths of logs, while at one end is a desk for the preacher built in much the same fashion as are the seats.

Here, also, so Governor Bradford has promised, we children shall have a school as soon as a teacher can be persuaded to come over from England. As it is now, our parents teach us at home, and father believes I can even now write as well as if I had been all this while at school in Scrooby. With both a meeting-house and a school, it will seem as if we had indeed built a town in this vast wilderness.