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

Setting the Table

I often ask myself what you of Scrooby would say could you see us at dinner. We have no table, and boards are very scarce and high in price here in this new village of ours, therefore father saved carefully the top of one of our packing boxes, while nearly all in the settlement did much the same, and these we call table boards.

When it is time to serve the meal, mother and I lay this board across two short logs; but we cover it with the linen brought from the old home, and none in the plantation, not even the governor himself, has better, as you well know.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis


I would we had more dishes; but they are costly, as even you at home know. Yet our table looks very inviting when it is spread for a feast, say at such times as Elder Brewster comes.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis


We have three trencher bowls, and another larger one in which all the food is placed. Then, in addition to the wooden cups we brought from home, are many vessels of gourds that we have raised in the garden, and father has fashioned a mold for making spoons, so that now our pewter ware, when grown old with service, can be melted down into spoons until we have a goodly abundance of them.

It is said, although I have not myself seen it, that a table implement called a fork, is in the possession of Master Brewster, having been brought over from England. It is of iron, having two sharp points made to hold the food.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

I cannot understand why any should need such a tool while they have their own cleanly fingers, and napkins of linen on which to wipe them. Perhaps Master Brewster was right when he said that we who are come into this new world for the single reason of worshiping God as we please, are too much bound up in the vanities of life, and father says he knows of no more vain thing than an iron tool with which to hold one's food.

I have seen at Master Bradford's home two bottles made of glass, and they are exceedingly beautiful; but so frail that I should scarce dare wash them, for it would be a great disaster to break so valuable a vessel.