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.


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