Stories of the Pilgrims - M. B. Pumphrey

Friends or Foes?

One day late in November, Governor Bradford and his friend Edward Winslow walked along the top of the hill toward Plymouth. They carried guns on their shoulders and their game bags were heavy with the wild ducks they were bringing home.

[Illustration] from Stories of the Pilgrims by M. B. Pumphrey

"They turned and saw an Indian
running toward them"

Suddenly they heard a light, quick step on the dry leaves behind them. They turned and saw an Indian running toward them. He pointed to the sea and tried to tell them something, but the Englishmen could not understand his language.

The three men hurried to the village, and Squanto was called to the common-house. To him the Indian told his message.

"He says a great ship is coming," said Squanto. "It is not far away. He thinks it is a French ship."

Governor Bradford looked sorely troubled. The French were not friendly with the English. If their ship came to Plymouth it would try to capture the town. The governor thanked the Indian for coming to warn him of the danger, and gave him presents and food.

Soon every one in the town knew the word which the Indian had brought. Governor Bradford ordered a cannon to be fired to call home any who were away hunting or fishing.

Nearly every one came down to the shore to watch for the ship. They had not waited long when a sail appeared around the point. Yes, it was coming straight toward Plymouth harbor.

Captain Miles Standish and some of the other men hurried to the cannon on the hill. They carefully aimed them at the coming vessel.

"If it is the ship of an enemy, we will be ready for it," said the captain. Every man, and every boy who was big enough, carried a gun.

As the boat drew nearer, the people became more and more excited. Hardly a word was spoken, but their white faces showed how anxious they were.

They shaded their eyes with their hands and tried to see what flag floated from its mast. In every heart was a prayer that it might be that of old England.

[Illustration] from Stories of the Pilgrims by M. B. Pumphrey

"All eyes were fixed upon the masthead"

Nearer and nearer came the ship. All eyes were fixed upon the masthead. Now a flash of white could be seen, but what were the darker colors? Breathless they waited. As the flag again fluttered in the breeze, a bright red cross flashed into sight.

"The flag of old England!" "It is an English ship!" "An English ship!" The hills rang with their joyful shouts.

From the cannon on the fort a roar of welcome boomed across the water, and a minute later came an answer from the cannon on the ship.

Priscilla darted away up the hill to the elder's cottage, where Mistress Brewster, too weak to leave the house, sat waiting at the window. One glance at Priscilla's sunny face told her the ship was from England.

"Oh, mother dear, it is an English ship. Perhaps Patience and Fear, or Jonathan is upon it," cried Priscilla. "Sit close to the window, and I will run home and tell you when I see them." Leaving Mistress Brewster with her face buried in her trembling hands, the girl hurried back to the shore. There the children who had been silent with fright now shouted and ran up and down the beach. They could hardly wait for the ship to land.

"I hope my brother Jonathan is on that boat," said Love Brewster, hopping first on one foot and then on the other.

"So do I," cried one of the others. "Let us play this is a fairy ship, and will bring each of us one wish. You are the littlest, Samuel, so you may wish first."

"I wish it would bring some more little children to play with. You big boys never let me play with you."

"That is because you can't run fast enough, Samuel. You would get lost. What do you wish for, Francis Billington?"

"I wish it would bring me a soldier suit and a sword like the captain's 'Gideon,' " said Francis. This was a wild wish indeed. Who ever heard of a little boy having a soldier suit and a sword!

Giles Hopkins would not waste his wish on anything which he knew could not come true.

"I wish it would bring the cow we left in England. I am so hungry for some milk, and butter, and cheese. I am just tired of beans, and bread with no butter."

"Be glad you have the beans and bread, Giles," said Priscilla, coming up behind them. "Elder Brewster says there is hardly enough corn to last through the winter, and the other grain is nearly gone. We had better wish the fairy ship would bring us more meal."

Just then a small boat was lowered from the side of the ship. All watched to see the men climb down the rope ladder into it, though they could not see who they were at this distance.

Some of the Pilgrims were expecting brothers, some were looking for sons or daughters, others for friends. It seemed to those on shore that the men rowed very slowly.

But at last the little boat touched the stone which we call Plymouth Rock. Almost the first to leap ashore was Elder Brewster's oldest son. Little Love had his "wish."

There were other dear old friends who had been left in England or Holland, and there were some people whom the Pilgrims did not know, about thirty-five in all. How glad the Pilgrims were to see them!

When the captain of the vessel came ashore, he brought a large bag of mail. It was now just a year since the "Mayflower" had brought the little band of Pilgrims to this new land. In all this time they had not heard one word from the friends at home. Now there were letters for all.

The candles burned late in Plymouth that night. In Elder Brewster's home the last candle had flickered and gone out, but still the family sat about the blazing fire and listened while Jonathan told them of Fear and Patience, and of many old friends in Holland.

The ship had not brought the provisions which the Pilgrims so much needed. It had not even brought food for its passengers. There had been hardly enough for the voyage, and the Pilgrims must give the sailors food for the trip back to England.

After that, they would have barely corn enough for themselves during the long winter; yet here were thirty-five more hungry mouths to be fed. What had been a bountiful supply of food for fifty was a very small amount for eighty-five.

But the corn, and the barley, and the dried fruits, and smoked fish were equally divided among them. They must all have been hungry many times, but none died for want of food.

The Pilgrims tried to buy corn from the Indians who lived near by, but they had none to spare. The snow was so deep and the ice so thick that hunting and fishing were almost impossible.

Winter dragged slowly. The food was nearly gone. Something must be done very soon. So Governor Bradford and a few others rowed away to buy food from a tribe of Indians who lived a long way from Plymouth. They were gone many days, but when they returned their boat was well loaded with baskets of corn.

At last spring came. The streams were full of fish. Deer, wild turkeys, and other game could be found in the forest, and there was food enough for all.

It was not long before many new cabins were built along Leiden Street, and other streets were being made. Scores of new farms were cleared that summer, and soon the sunny hillsides rocked with the waving grain.

During the spring and summer several other ships came, bringing hundreds of passengers. These people did not all settle at Plymouth. They made homes for themselves and formed new towns, or settlements, a few miles away.

At last the smoke went curling up from many chimneys in New England, as this part of our country is still called. One of these towns was Boston, another was Salem, and there were many others. They were all very friendly with one another, and the people were never again so sad or lonely as the Pilgrims had been.