Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

The Leaking Speedwell

Hannah's father must have told her how much of trouble we had in getting here, for when the first vessel in which we set sail, named the Speedwell, put back to Plymouth in England because of leaking so badly, her master could not have failed to tell the people of Scrooby how all the hundred and two of us, men, women and children, were crowded into the Mayflower.

From the sixth day of September until the eleventh day of November, which is over sixty long dreary days, we were on the ocean, and then our vessel was come into what Captain John Smith had named Cape Cod Bay.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

Mother believed, as did the other women, and even we children, that we would go on shore as soon as the Mayflower  had come near to the land; but before many hours were passed, after the anchor had been dropped into the sea, even the youngest of us knew that it could not be.

We were weary with having been on board the vessel so long, and had made ourselves believe that as soon as we were arrived in the new world, food in plenty, with good, comfortable homes, would be ours.

Master Brewster, as well as the other men, said that houses must be built before we could leave the ship, and it was only needed we should go on deck and look about us, to know why this was so. Everywhere, except on the water, were snow and trees. It was a real forest as far as I could see in either direction, and everywhere the cold, white snow was piled in drifts, or blowing like feathers when the wind was high.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

So deeply was the land covered that we, who watched the men when they went ashore for the first time to seek out some place whereon to make a village, thought that they had fallen into a hole while stepping off the rocks, because we lost sight of them so soon. Instead of its being an accident, however, we could see that they were floundering in the snow, Master Bradford, whose legs are the shortest, being nearly lost to view.

We waited as patiently as possible for them to come back, though I must confess that Sarah, a girl of about my own age who came aboard the Mayflower  at Plymouth when we put back because of the Speedwell's  leaking so badly, and I could not keep in check our eagerness to hear from those people in Virginia, who it was said were living in comfort.

Not for many days did we come to realize that the settlers in Virginia were far, very far away from where we were to land, and to see them we should be forced to take another long voyage in a ship. We had come amidst the snow and the savage Indians, instead of among people from England, as had been planned when we set out on the journey.


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