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

A Threatening Message

It was not many days after we had learned that we might be hungry before another harvest should come, when a savage, whom we had never before seen, came to Plymouth, asking for our chief. On being conducted to Governor Bradford, he delivered unto him a bundle of arrows which were tied together with a great snake skin.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

It so happened that Squanto was in the village, and, on being sent for, he explained to our people that the sending of the arrows tied in the snake skin was a threat, which meant that speedily those from whom it had come would make an attack upon us. He also declared that the messenger was from the nation of the Narragansetts, of whom I have already told you.

The governor consulted with the chief men of Plymouth as to what should be done, with the result that Squanto was instructed to tell the Narragansett messenger that if his people had rather have war than peace, they might begin as soon as pleased them, for we of Plymouth had done the Narragansetts no wrong, neither did we fear any tribe of savages. Then the snake skin was filled with bullets, as token that the Indians would not find us unprepared when they made an attack, and given to the messenger that he might carry it back to those who had sent him.

That night, when mother mourned because it seemed certain war would soon be made upon us, father spoke lightly of the matter, as if it were something of no great importance. However, both Sarah and I took notice that from the hour the Narragansett messenger left Plymouth carrying the snake skin filled with bullets, there were two men stationed, on top of the fort night and day, and a certain store of provisions taken inside, as if the food might be used there rather than in our homes.

We knew nothing whatsoever about warfare, girls as we were, but yet had common sense enough to understand from such preparations, that our fathers were holding themselves ready, and expecting that an attack would be made by the savages within a very short time.