Marion Ames Taggart.

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A Story of Plymouth Colony in 1620

[Illustration: "Constance opened the door, stepping back to let the
bride precede her"]


_A Story of Plymouth Colony in 1620_








This story is like those we hear of our neighbours to-day: it is a
mixture of fact and fancy.

The aim in telling it has been to present Plymouth Colony as it was in
its first three years of existence; to keep to possibilities, even while
inventing incidents.

Actual events have been transferred from a later to an earlier year when
they could be made useful, to bring them within the story's compass, and
to develop it.

For instance, John Billington was lost for five days and died early, but
not as early as in the story. Stephen Hopkins was fined for allowing
his servants to play shovelboard, but this did not happen till some time
later than 1622. Stephen Hopkins was twice married; records show that
there was dissension; that the second wife tried to get an inheritance
for her own children, to the injury of the son and daughter of the first
wife. Facts of this sort are used, enlarged upon, construed to cause, or
altered to suit, certain results.

But there is fidelity to the general trend of events, above all to the
spirit of Plymouth in its beginnings. As far as may be, the people who
have been transferred into the story act in accordance with what is
known of the actual bearers of these names.

There was a Maid of Plymouth, Constance Hopkins, who came in the
_Mayflower_, with her father Stephen; her stepmother, Eliza; her
brother, Giles, and her little half-sister and brother, Damaris and
Oceanus, and to whom the _Anne_, in 1623, brought her husband,
Honourable Nicholas Snowe, afterward one of the founders of Eastham,

Undoubtedly the real Constance Hopkins was sweeter than the story can
make her, as a living girl must be sweeter than one created of paper and
ink. Yet it is hoped that this Plymouth Maid, Constance, of the story,
may also find friends.



I. With England's Shores Left Far Astern 3

II. To Buffet Waves and Ride on Storms 15

III. Weary Waiting at the Gates 31

IV. The First Yuletide 45

V. The New Year in the New Land 61

VI. Stout Hearts and Sad Ones 76

VII. The Persuasive Power of Justice
and Violence 90

VIII. Deep Love, Deep Wound 104

IX. Seedtime of the First Spring 119

X. Treaties 133

XI. A Home Begun and a Home Undone 150

XII. The Lost Lads 166

XIII. Sundry Herbs and Simples 183

XIV. Light-Minded Man, Heavy-Hearted Master 199

XV. The "Fortune" That Sailed, First West,
then East 216

XVI. A Gallant Lad Withal 234

XVII. The Well-Conned Lesson 251

XVIII. Christmas Wins, Though Outlawed 267

XIX. A Fault Confessed, Thereby Redressed 284

XX. The Third Summer's Garnered Yield 302


"Constance opened the door, stepping back to let
the bride precede her" _Frontispiece_
(_See page 157_)


"'Constantia; confess, confess - and do not try
to shield thy wicked brother'" 52

"'Look there,' said John Alden" 116

"'You look splendid, my Knight of the Wilderness'" 244


A Story of Plymouth Colony in 1620



With England's Shores Left Far Astern

A young girl, brown-haired, blue-eyed, with a sweet seriousness that was
neither joy nor sorrow upon her fair pale face, leaned against the mast
on the _Mayflower's_ deck watching the bustle of the final preparations
for setting sail westward.

A boy somewhat older than she stood beside her whittling an arrow from a
bit of beechwood, whistling through his teeth, his tongue pressed
against them, a livelier air than a pilgrim boy from Leyden was supposed
to know, and sullenly scorning to betray interest in the excitement
ashore and aboard.

A little girl clung to the pretty young girl's skirt; the unlikeness
between them, though they were sisters, was explained by their being but
half sisters. Little Damaris was like her mother, Constance's
stepmother, while Constance herself reflected the delicate loveliness of
her own and her brother Giles's mother, dead in early youth and lying
now at rest in a green English churchyard while her children were
setting forth into the unknown.

Two boys - one older than Constance, Giles's age, the other younger than
the girl - came rushing down the deck with such impetuosity, plus the
younger lad's head used as a battering ram, that the men at work stowing
away hampers and barrels, trying to clear a way for the start, gave
place to the rough onslaught.

Several looked after the pair in a way that suggested something more
vigorous than a look had it not been that fear of the pilgrim leaders
restrained swearing. Not a whit did the charging lads care for the wrath
they aroused. The elder stopped himself by clutching the rope which
Constance Hopkins idly swung, while the younger caught Giles around the
waist and nearly pulled him over.

"I'll teach you manners, you young savage, Francis Billington!" growled
Giles, but he did not mean it, as Francis well knew.

"If I'm a savage I'll be the only one of us at home in America,"
chuckled the boy.

"Getting ready an arrow for the savage?" he added.

"It's all decided. There's been the greatest to-do ashore. Why didn't
you come off the ship to see the last of 'em, Constance?" interrupted
the older boy. Constance Hopkins shook her head, sadly.

"Nay, then, John, I've had my fill of partings," she said. "Are they
gone back, those we had to leave behind?"

"That have they!" cried John Billington. "Some of them were sorry to
miss the adventure, but if truth were told some were glad to be well out
of it, and with no more disgrace in setting back than that the
_Mayflower_ could not hold us all. Well, they've missed danger and maybe
death, but I'd not be out of it for a king's ransom. Giles, what do you
think is whispered? That the _Speedwell_ could make the voyage as well
as the _Mayflower_, though she be smaller, if only she carried less
sail, and that her leaking is - a greater leak in her master Reynolds's
truth, and that she'd be seaworthy if he'd let her!"

"Cur!" growled Giles Hopkins. "He knows he'd have to stay with his ship
in the wilderness a year it might be and there's better comfort in
England and Holland! We're well rid of him if he's that kind of a
coward. I wondered myself if he was up to a trick when we put in the
first time, at Dartmouth. This time when we made Plymouth I smelled a
rat certain. Are we almost loaded?"

"Yes. They've packed all the provisions from the _Speedwell_ into the
_Mayflower_ that she will hold. We'll be off soon. Not too soon! The
sixth day of September, and we a month dallying along the shore because
of the _Speedwell's_ leaking! Constantia, you'll be cold before we make
a fire in the New World I'm thinking!"

John Billington chuckled as if the cold of winter in the wilderness were
a merry jest.

"Cold, and maybe hungry, and maybe ill of body and sick of heart, but
never quite losing courage, I hope, John, comrade!" Constance said,
looking up with a smile and a flush that warmed her white cheeks from
which heavy thoughts had driven their usual soft colour.

"No fear! You're the kind that says little and does much," said John
Billington with surprising sharpness in a lad that never seemed to have
a thought to spare for anything but madcap pranks.

"Here come Father, and the captain, and dear John," said little Damaris.

Stephen Hopkins was a strong-built man, with a fire in his eye, and an
air of the world about him, in spite of his severe Puritan garb, that
declared him different from most of his comrades of the Leyden community
of English exiles.

With all her likeness to her dead English girl-mother, who was gentle
born and well bred, there was something in Constance as she stood now,
head up and eyes bright, that was also like her father.

Beside Mr. Hopkins walked a thick-set man, a soldier in every motion and
look, with little of the Puritan in his air, and just behind them came a
young man, far younger than either of the others, with an open, pleasant
English face, and an expression at once shy and friendly.

"Oh, dear John Alden!" cried little Damaris, and forsook Constance's
skirt for John Alden's ready arms which raised her to his shoulder.

Giles Hopkins's gloom lifted as he returned Captain Myles Standish's

"Yes, Captain; I'm ready enough to sail," he said, answering the
captain's question.

"Mistress Constantia?" suggested Myles Standish.

"Is there doubt of it when we've twice put in from sea, and were ready
to sail when we left Southampton a month ago?" asked Constance. "Sure we
are ready, Captain Standish, as you well know. Where is Mistress Rose?"

"In the women's cabin with Mistress Hopkins putting to rights their
belongings as fast as they can before we weigh anchor, and get perhaps
stood on our heads by winds and waves," Captain Standish smiled. "Though
the wind is fine for us now." His face clouded. "Mistress Rose is a
frail rose, Con! They will be coming on deck to see the start."

"The voyage may give sweet Rose new strength, Captain Standish,"
murmured Constance coming close to the captain and slipping her hand
into his, for she was his prime favourite and his lovely, frail young
wife's chosen friend, in spite of the ten years difference in their

"Ah, Con, my lass, God grant it, but I'm sore afraid for her! How can
she buffet the exposure of a wilderness winter, and - hush! Here they
are!" whispered Myles Standish.

Mistress Eliza Hopkins was tall, bony, sinewy of build, with a dark,
strong face, determination and temper in her eye. Rose Standish was her
opposite - a slight, pale, drooping creature not more than five years
above twenty; patience, suffering in her every motion, and clinging
affection in every line of her gentle face.

Constance ran to wind her arm around her as Rose came up and slipped one
little hand into her husband's arm.

Mrs. Hopkins frowned.

"It likes me not to see you so forward with caresses, Constantia," she
said, and her voice rasped like the ship's tackles as the sailors got up
the canvas.

"It is not becoming in the elect whose hearts are set upon heavenly
things to fawn upon creatures, nor make unmaidenly displays."

Giles kicked viciously at the rope which Constance had held. It was not
hard to guess that the unnatural gloom, the sullenness that marked a boy
meant by Nature to be pleasant, was due to bad blood between him and
this aggressive stepmother, who plainly did not like him.

"Oh, Mistress Hopkins," cried Constance, flushing, "why do you think it
is wrong to be loving? Never can I believe God who made us with warm
hearts, and gave us such darlings as Rose Standish, didn't want us to
love and show our love."

"You are much too free with your irreverence, Mistress Constantia; it
becomes you not to proclaim your Maker's opinions and desires for his
saints," said Mrs. Hopkins, frowning heavily.

"'Sdeath, Eliza, will you never let the girl alone?" cried Stephen
Hopkins, angrily.

"As though we had nothing to think of in weighing anchor and leaving
England for ever - and for what else besides, who knows - without carping
at a little girl's loving natural ways to an older girl whom she loves?
I agree with Connie; it's good to sweeten life with affection."

"Connie, forsooth!" echoed Mrs. Hopkins, bitterly. "Are we to use
meaningless titles for young women setting forth to found a kingdom? And
do you still use the oaths of worldlings, as you did just now? Oh,
Stephen Hopkins, may you not be found unworthy of your high calling and
invoke the wrath of Heaven upon your family!"

Stephen Hopkins looked ready to burst out into hot wrath, but Myles
Standish gave him a humorous glance, and shrugged his shoulders.

"What would you?" he seemed to say. "Old friend, bad temper seizes every
opportunity to wreak itself, and we who have seen the world can afford
to let the women fume. Jealousy is a worse vice than an oath of the
Stuart reign."

Stephen Hopkins harkened to this unspoken philosophy; Myles Standish had
great influence over him. This, with the rapid gathering on deck of the
rest of the pilgrims, served to avert what threatened to be an explosion
of pardonable wrath. They came crowding up from the cabins, this
courageous band of determined men and women, and gathered silently to
look their last on home, and not merely on home, but on the comforts of
the established life which to many among them were necessary to their

There were many children, sober little men and women, in unchildlike
caricatures of their elders' garb and with solemn round faces looking
scared by the gravity around them.

Priscilla Mullins gathered the children together and led them over to
join Constance Hopkins. She and Constance divided the love of the child
pilgrims between them. Priscilla, round of face, smooth and rosy of
cheek, wholesome and sensible, was good to look upon. It often happened
that her duty brought her near to wherever John Alden might chance to
be, but no one had ever suspected that John objected.

John Alden had been taken on as cooper from Southampton when the
_Mayflower_ first sailed. It was not certain that the pilgrims could
keep him with them. Already they had learned to value him, and many a
glance was now exchanged that told the hope that sunny little Priscilla
might help to hold the young man on this hard expedition.

The crew of the _Mayflower_ pulled up her sails, but without the usual
sailor songs. Silently they pulled, working in unison to the sharp words
of command uttered by their officers, till every shred of canvas, under
which they were to set forth under a favouring wind, was strained into
place and set.

On the shore was gathered a crowd gazing, wondering, at this departure.
Some there were who were to have been of the company in the lesser ship,
the _Speedwell_, which had been remanded from the voyage as unfit for
it. These lingered to see the setting forth for the New World which was
not to be their world, after all.

There were many who gazed, pityingly, awe-struck, but bewildered by the
spirit that led these severe-looking people away from England first, and
then from Holland, to try their fortunes where no fortune promised.

Others there were who laughed merrily over the absurdity of the quest,
and these called all sorts of jests and quips to the pilgrims on the
ship, inviting to a contest of wit which the pilgrims utterly disdained.

And then the by-standers on wharf and sands of old Plymouth became
silent, for, as the _Mayflower_ began to move out from her dock, there
arose the solemn chant of a psalm.

The air was wailing, lugubrious, unmusical, but the words were awesome.

"When Israel went out from Egypt, from the land of a strange people,"
they were singing.

"A strange people!" And these pilgrims were of English blood, and this
was England which they were thus renouncing!

What curious folk these were!

But this psalm was followed by another: "The Lord is my shepherd."

Ah, that was another matter! No one who heard them, however slight the
sympathy felt for this unsympathetic band, but hoped that the Lord would
shepherd them, "lead them beside still waters," for the sea might well
be unquiet.

"Oh, poor creatures, poor creatures," said a buxom woman, snuggling her
baby's head into her deep shoulder, and wiping her own eyes with her
apron. "I fain must pity 'em, that I must, though I'm none too lovin'
myself toward their queer dourness. But I hope the Lord will shepherd
'em; sore will they need it, I'm thinkin', yonder where there's no
shepherds nor flocks, but only wild men to cut them down like we do haw
for the church, as they all thinks is wicked!" she mourned, motherly
yearning toward the people going out the harbour like babes in the wood,
into no one would dare say what awful fate.

The pilgrims stood with their faces set toward England, with England
tugging at their heart strings, as the strong southeasterly wind filled
the _Mayflower's_ canvas and pulled at her shrouds.

And as they sailed away the monotonous chant of the psalms went on,
floating back to England, a farewell and a prophecy.

Rose Standish's tears were softly falling and her voice was silent, but
Constance Hopkins chanted bravely, and the children joined her with
Priscilla Mullins's strong contralto upholding them.

Even Giles sang, and the two scamps of Billington boys looked serious
for once, and helped the chant.

Myles Standish raised his soldier's hat and turned to Stephen Hopkins,
holding out his right hand.

"We're fairly off this time, friend Stephen," he said. "God speed us."

"Amen, Captain Myles, for else we'll speed not, returned Stephen

"Oh, Daddy, we're together anyway!" cried Constance, with one of her
sudden bursts of emotion which her stepmother so severely condemned, and
she threw herself on her father's breast.

Mr. Hopkins did not share his wife's view of his beloved little girl's
demonstrativeness. He patted her head gently, tucking a stray wisp of
hair under her Puritan cap.

"There, there, my child, there, there, Connie! Surely we're together and
shall be. So it can't be a wilderness for us, can it?" he said.

An hour later, the wind still favouring, the _Mayflower_ dropped
sunsetward, out of old Plymouth Harbour.


To Buffet Waves and Ride on Storms

The wind held fair, the golden September weather waited on each new day
at its rising and sent it at its close, radiantly splendid, into the sea
ahead of the _Mayflower_ as she swept westward.

Full canvas hoisted she was able to sail at her best speed under the
favouring conditions so that the hopeful young people whom she carried
talked confidently of the houses they would build, the village they
would found before heavy frosts. Captain Myles Standish, always
impetuous as any of the boys, was one of those who let themselves forget
there were such things as storms.

"We'll be New Englishmen at this rate before we fully realize we've left
home; what do you say, my lassies three?" he demanded, pausing in a
rapid stride of the deck before Constance Hopkins and two young girls
who were her own age, but seemed much younger, Humility Cooper and her
cousin, Elizabeth Tilley.

"What do you three mermaidens in this forward nook each morning?"
Captain Standish went on without waiting for a reply to his first
question, which indeed, he had not asked to have it answered.

"Elizabeth's mother, Mistress John Tilley, is sick and declares that she
shall die," said Constance, Humility and Elizabeth being shyly silent
before the captain.

"No one ever thought to live through sea-sickness, nor wanted to,"
declared Captain Myles with his hearty laugh. "Yet no one dies of it,
that is certain. And is Mistress Ann Tilley also lain down and left
Humility to the mercy of the dolphins? And is your stepmother, too, Con,
a victim? It's a calm sea we've been having by comparison. I've sailed
from England into France when there _was_ a sea running, certes! But
this - pooh!"

"Humility's cousin, Mistress Ann Tilley, is not ill, nor my stepmother,
Captain Standish, but they are attending to those who are, and to the
children. Father says that when he sailed for Virginia, before my mother
died, meaning to settle there, that the storm that wrecked them on
Bermuda Island and kept us from being already these eleven years
colonists in the New World, was a wind and sea that make this seem no
more than the lake at the king's palace, where the swans float."

Constance looked up smiling at the captain as she answered, but he noted
that her eyes were swollen from tears.

"Take a turn with me along the deck, child," Captain Myles said,
gruffly, and held out a hand to steady Constance on her feet.

"Now, what was it?" he asked, lightly touching the young girl's cheek
when they had passed beyond the hearing of Constance's two demure little
companions. "Homesick, my lass?"

"Heartsick, rather, Captain Myles," said Constance, with a sob.
"Mistress Hopkins hates me!"

"Oh, fie, Connie, how could she?" asked the captain, lightly, but he
scowled angrily. There was much sympathy between him and Stephen
Hopkins, neither of whom agreed with the extreme severity of most of
the pilgrims; they both had seen the world and looked at life from their
wider experience.

Captain Standish knew that Giles's and Constance's mother had been the
daughter of an old and honourable family, with all the fine qualities of
mind and soul that should be the inheritance of gentle breeding. He knew
how it had come about that Stephen Hopkins had married a second time a
woman greatly her inferior, whose jealousy of the first wife's children
saddened their young lives and made his own course hard and unpleasant.
Prone to speak his mind and fond of Giles and Constance, the impetuous
captain often found it hard to keep his tongue between his teeth when
Dame Eliza indulged in her favourite game of badgering, persecuting her
stepchildren. Now, when he said: "Fie, how could she?" Constance looked
up at him with a forlorn smile. She knew the captain was quite aware
that her stepmother could, and did dislike her, and she caught the anger
in his voice.

"How could she not, dear Captain Myles?" she asked. Then, with her
pent-up feeling overmastering her, she burst out sobbing.

"Oh, you know she hates, she hates me, Captain!" she cried. "Nothing I
can do is pleasing to her. I take care of Damaris - sure I love my little
sister, and do not remember the half that is not my sister in her! And
I wait on Mistress Hopkins, and sew, and do her bidding, and I do not
answer her cruel taunts, nor do I go to my father complaining; but she
hates me. Is it fair? Could I help it that my father loved my own
mother, and married her, and that she was a lovely and accomplished

"Do you want to help it, if by helping you mean altering, Connie?" asked
Captain Myles, with a twinkle. "No, child, you surely cannot help all
these things which come by no will of yours, but by the will of God. And
I am your witness that you are ever patient and dutiful. Bear as best
you can, sweet Constantia, and by and by the wrong will become right, as
right in the end is ever strongest. I cannot endure to see your young
eyes wet with tears called out by unkindness. There is enough and to
spare of hard matters to endure for all of us on this adventure not to
add to it what is not only unnecessary, but unjust. Cheer up, Con, my
lass! It's a long lane - in England! - that has no turning, and it's a
long voyage on the seas that ends in no safe harbour! And do you know,
Connie girl, that there's soon to be a turn in this bright weather?
There's a feeling of change and threatening in this soft wind."

Constance wiped her eyes and smiled, knowing that the captain wished to
lead her into other themes than her own troubles, the discussion of
which was, after all, useless.

"I don't know about the weather, except the weather I'm having," she
said. "Ah, I don't want it to storm, not on the mid-seas, Captain

"Aye, but it's the mid-seas of the year, Connie, when the days and
nights are one in length, and at that time old wise men say a storm is
usually forthcoming. We'll weather it, never fear! If we are bearing

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