The Coming of the White Men/Little Pilgrims of long ago

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The Coming of the White Men by Mary Hazelton Blanchard Wade
Little Pilgrims of long ago

"POP! pop! pop!" went the corn as Joe shook the popper over Uncle Sam's fire.

"It is the very evening for roasted apples and pop-corn/' the old man said soon after his young friends arrived. "Joe, you run down cellar and get some of the biggest apples you can find. Lucy, dear, take these ears of corn and shell them. \Ye will put the apples in the hot ashes and pop the corn over those lovely red coals."

"Oh, what fun !" cried Lucy. 'You are always thinking of the nicest things to do. I never knew anyone like you."

"I hope the Pilgrims had a few Uncle Sams with them," said Joe, coming back with the apple

"They popped corn sometimes, but n<>t in our way," the old man said. : T don't believe anyone of them ever saw a corn-popper. They used to hide the kernels in the hot ashe^ and then watch fur them to come shooting out over the roum.


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'Then what fun there was as the children scram-

bled to get them ! They enjoyed it, and I am glad they did. Poor little children, they did not have too much fun at any time. You must not blame their parents, though. They had been brought up that way themselves. They thought they must be very strict or their children might grow up to be bad men and women.

'Spare the rod and spoil the child/ they said over and over again. And they also often repeated these words : 'Children should be seen and not heard.'

"Now I believe children should look forward to Sunday with pleasure," Uncle Sam went on. "It ought to be the best day in the week for everybody, young and old. But, dear me! the poor little Pil- grims had to keep so still and sober from Saturday evening to Sunday evening, it must have been pain- ful. Not a loud word must be spoken, not a laugh must be heard. Then there was the long sermon Sunday morning. Hours long ! Just think of it !

"Rain or shine, heat or cold, everyone went to church. That is, unless he was too sick to sit up. They went in a sort of procession. The women and children walked in the middle. Some of the men


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marched ahead and the rest at the end of tin- line. They carried their guns, for they must be ready for an attack by the savages at an}- moment.

'There was no fire in the church on the coldest day of winter. Some of the people carried foot- stoves to keep themselves warm. These were imn pans or cups in which live coals were carried. The children sat in one port of the church and their par- ents in another."

Joe smiled.

'I know what you are thinking," said Uncle Sam,

who noticed the smile. 'You are thinking that the children could whisper together during the long sermon. That is a great mistake, Joe. There was always a man in the church who looked out for such things. He stood where he could see everything that w r as going on. He had a long stick with a squirrel tail on one end and a hard knob on the other.

"If he saw one of the older people nodding, softly and quickly the 'tithing man', as he was called. would be at the side of the erring one. Then the furry end of the stick would dance over the sleepy one's face and the eyes would open with a start.

"But if a child began to whi-pcr, lie was not


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treated so gently. The hard knob at the other end of the stick would suddenly come down on his head and make it ache in a very unpleasant way.

'The Pilgrims had no clocks. They used hour- glasses instead.

'The tithing-man watched the hour-glass on the pulpit. The moment the last grain of sand had fallen through, he walked softly up the aisle and tipped the glass over.

'The hours in church must have passed very slowly for the children. The sermon was very, very long, and they could understand little of what the minister said.

'The poor children had no Santa Claus. Worse even than that, they had no Christmas ! Thanks- giving was the only great holiday of the year."

"No Christmas!" cried Joe and Lucy together.

'Why, Uncle Sam," Joe went on, "Christmas is the Christ Day. You know what I mean. And the Pilgrims thought so much of the Bible and going to church, and all that ! Why, I don't understand."

'They thought it was wrong to make a pleasure of religious things," replied Uncle Sam. "It was many, many years before the fashion of the Dutch people spread over America. It is a grand fashion,


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too. \Ycll, well, we cannot help it if the Pilgrims didn't celebrate Christmas, so we will turn from that to the brave man whom the children admired so much.

I shouldn't wonder if they were a little afraid of Miles Standish. He had a wonderful sword which he prized above everything else. A Turk had given it to him. It was marked with strange fig- ures which the Pilgrims did not understand.

1 That sw^ord will save you from harm so long as you keep it with you,' the Turk had told the brave captain.

"Miles Standish was a little man and at first the Indians made fun of him. They thought he was too small to be much of a warrior. But they found

j

they had made a mistake in this and learned to fear him.

! 'I think you children have never been to Plym- outh. Next summer I will take you there, if your mother is willing. You shall stand on the rock- where people say the Pilgrims landed. Then we will go up to the Memorial I Tall and look at I.ahy Peregrine's cradle and the chair of the first g ernor. Dear me! I can't think of all the thii


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saved from those first days of Plymouth. We will see them all, though, and have a good time."

'That will be jolly fun," said Joe, jumping up and dancing around the room. "I wish it were next


summer now."


"Don't be noisy Joe," said his sister. "Uncle Sam won't tell us anything more, if you are."

"I have told more now than you will remember, my dear," said her old friend. "Before we leave the Pilgrims, however, I must say one thing. After they were well settled, friends from England came to join them. This made them very happy.

"A few years afterwards, still other people came from England to live in this part of the country. Their religion was not exactly the same as that of the Pilgrims. They were called the Puritans. They said:

'We do not wish to go out of the English church. Yet we would like to make it pure. Some things have grown up in it which we think are wrong.'

'There were many Puritans in England, but the king would not listen to them. That is why they made up their minds to come to America.

"They were not poor like the Pilgrims. They


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brought plenty of clothes and furniture, horses, cattle, and pigs, and everything they needed to make themselves comfortable. They did not have to suf- fer as the Pilgrims did.

'The first Puritans came to Salem. They said : 'The word Salem means peace. It is a good name for our new home.'

Hundreds of Puritans followed the first ones who came to America. They settled in Boston and other places near by. They built forts and school- houses, besides homes for themselves.

'They planted wheat and rye as well as Indian corn. They cut down the forests and caught fish and salted them. They bought furs from the Indians, and sent them, as well as lumber and salt fish, to England. The English people were glad to buy these things and sent in return books, tools, and other things the Puritans needed in their new home."

Uncle Sam stopped to rest a moment. Then he went on :

"Maybe you think the Pilgrims were strict."

Joe and Lucy nodded their heads.

"Well, I suppose they were. We call their ways old-fashioned, now-a-days. But if you had lived


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in their time, you would have been a good deal hap- pier with them than with the Puritans.

"Strict! Why, the Puritans wanted to make everybody believe just as they did. They did not have any patience with those who did not agree with them.

"They had hard laws, too. They punished anyone who swore, or even scolded. A high frame called the stocks stood in the middle of every village. It had a number of holes in it. Many of those who did small wrongs had to sit all day with their legs and arms through these holes. That was the way they were held up to scorn.

'Then there were ducking-stools. If women be- came common scolds, they were bound to these stools and ducked in a river or pond.

"Once in a while a man was caught swearing. It was a sad day for him. A split stick was fas- tened on his tongue for hours together. If that did not cure him, his tongue was burned with a red- hot iron.

"The children had a hard time of it in school as well as at home. If they told wrong stories, they had to hold out their tongues to be burnt with a good dose of mustard."

Uncle Sam looked quite sad as he went on to tell of a little girl who took something which belonged to a playmate.

"Her teacher held her ringers over red-hot coals and burned them."

"I don't believe children dared to turn round or whisper in school very often," said Joe.

"I should say not. If they did, a sudden rap came upon their heads. It made them wish they had not broken the rules."

"I am glad I am alive now, and have such a lovely home, and father and mother, and "

"Uncle Sam," said Joe, ending the sentence for his sister.