Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

Scarcity of Food

In Scrooby one thinks that he must have bread of some kind for breakfast; but we here in Plymouth have instead of wheaten loaves, pudding made of ground Indian corn, sometimes sweetened, but more often only salted, and with it alone we satisfy our hunger during at least two out of the three meals. I can remember of two seasons when all the food we had for more than three months, was this same hasty pudding, as we soon learned to call it.

That first winter we spent here was so dreadful and so long that I do not like even to think of it. Nearly all the food we had brought from England was spoiled before we came ashore.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

There were many times when Sarah and I were so hungry that we cried, with our arms around each other's neck, as if being so close together would still the terrible feeling in our stomachs.

All the men who were able to walk went hunting; but at one time, before the warm weather came again, only five men were well enough to tramp through the forest, and these five had, in addition, to chop wood for the whole village.

Mother and the other women who were not on beds of sickness, went from house to house, doing what they might for those who were ill, while we children were sent to pick up dead branches for the fires, because at times the men were not able to cut wood enough for the needs of all.

Then so many died! Each day we were told that this neighbor or that had been called to Heaven. I have heard father often say since then, that the hardest of the work during those dreadful days, was to dig graves while the earth was frozen so solidly.

Think! Fifty out of our little company of one hundred and two, Captain Standish's wife among the others, were called by God, and as each went out into the other world, we who were left on earth felt more and more keenly our helplessness and desolation.


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