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

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.