Stories of the Pilgrims - M. B. Pumphrey

The "Speedwell"

Four days of good wind and fair weather brought the "Speedwell" to England. There the Pilgrims found about forty friends who wished to go with them to America. They had hired a little ship called the "Mayflower," which now lay in the harbor ready to sail. It, too, was loaded with provisions for the long journey and the cold winter.

The "Speedwell" was a smaller vessel than the "Mayflower," so some of the Pilgrims from Holland joined their friends on the larger boat. Then the two ships sailed out of the harbor into the blue sea.

The Pilgrims watched the shores of their native land grow faint and fainter. Would they ever see dear old England again? Surely none expected to see it so soon as they did.

They were hardly out of sight of land when the "Speedwell" began to leak. They could see no hole, but slowly the water rose in the bottom of the boat. It crept around the boxes and barrels stored there. "The hole must be behind this pile of boxes," said the captain.

While some of the men pumped the water out of the ship, others quickly moved the great boxes away.

Yes, there was a little stream of water running down from a hole in the side of the ship. This was soon mended, but still the water slowly rose in the boat. The men at the pumps worked harder than ever, but the water came in as fast as they could pump it out.

More holes were found and mended, but still the ship leaked. There was nothing to do but go back to land as soon as possible. Those on the "Mayflower" did not wish to go on without their friends, so both ships returned to England.

When the "Speedwell" reached shore, the ship builders came to look at it.

"It carries too heavy a mast for so small a ship," said one.

"The hull is worn out," said another. "See, it needs new boards, and fresh tar, and fresh paint. It will take weeks to repair this ship and make it safe for so long a voyage."

What could the Pilgrims do? The fine weather was passing. They would hardly reach America now before the heavy storms of winter came. It was quite plain they could not wait until the "Speedwell" was repaired.

The "Mayflower" could not hold all who wished to go to America, yet the Pilgrims could not hire another ship. The passengers on the "Speedwell" were a long way from home. It seemed hard for them to return to Holland.

So some of those who lived in England offered to give up their places in the "Mayflower" and return to their homes.

"Next summer there will be other ships sailing to America from England, and it may be a long time before another will go from Holland," they said.