Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

How the Children were Punished

It must be set down that he was not indolent when it seemed to him that one of us should be punished. As Captain Standish said, after he had looked into the room to see James Billington whipped for having been idle, the teacher "had a rare brain for inventing instruments for discipline."

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

It was the flapper which the captain had seen in use upon James, and surely it must have caused great pain when laid on with all Master Lyford's strength. A piece of tanned buckskin, six inches square, with a round hole in the middle large enough for me to thrust my thumb through, fastened to a wooden handle,—this was the flapper; and when it was brought down heavily upon one's bare flesh, a blister was, raised the full size of the hole in the leather.

He had also a tattling stick, which was made of half a dozen thick strips of deer hide fastened to a short handle, and when he flogged the children with it, they were forced to lie down over a log hewn with a sharp edge at the top: This sharp edge of wood, together with the blows from the stout thongs, caused great pain.

Master Lyford was not always so severe in his punishment. He had whispering-sticks, which were thick pieces of wood to be placed in a child's mouth until it was forced wide open, and then each end of the stick was tied securely at the back of the scholar's neck in such a way that he could make no manner of noise. Sarah wore one of these nearly two hours because of whispering to me, and when it was taken out, the poor child could not close her jaws until I had rubbed them gently during a long while.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

Then there was the single-legged stool, upon which it was most tiring to sit, and this was given to the child who would not keep still upon his bench. I was forced to use it during one whole hour, because of drumming my feet upon the floor when the cold was most bitter, and the fire would not burn owing to the wood being so wet. It truly seemed to me, before the punishment was come to an end, as if my back had been broken.

Master Lyford was also provided with five or six dunce's caps, made of birch bark, on which were painted in fair letters such names as "Tell-Tale," "Bite-Finger-Baby," "Lying Ananias," "Idle Boy," and other ugly words.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

However, I dare say this was for good, and went far toward aiding us in our studies. Master Allerton declares that there are no truer words in the Book, than those which teach us that to spare the rod is to spoil the child, and surely we of Plymouth were not spoiled in such manner by Master Lyford, nor by the other teachers who came to us later.


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