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

Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

How the Children were Punished

It must be set down that he was not indolent when it seemed to him that one of us should be punished. As Captain Standish said, after he had looked into the room to see James Billington whipped for having been idle, the teacher "had a rare brain for inventing instruments for discipline."

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

It was the flapper which the captain had seen in use upon James, and surely it must have caused great pain when laid on with all Master Lyford's strength. A piece of tanned buckskin, six inches square, with a round hole in the middle large enough for me to thrust my thumb through, fastened to a wooden handle,—this was the flapper; and when it was brought down heavily upon one's bare flesh, a blister was, raised the full size of the hole in the leather.

He had also a tattling stick, which was made of half a dozen thick strips of deer hide fastened to a short handle, and when he flogged the children with it, they were forced to lie down over a log hewn with a sharp edge at the top: This sharp edge of wood, together with the blows from the stout thongs, caused great pain.

Master Lyford was not always so severe in his punishment. He had whispering-sticks, which were thick pieces of wood to be placed in a child's mouth until it was forced wide open, and then each end of the stick was tied securely at the back of the scholar's neck in such a way that he could make no manner of noise. Sarah wore one of these nearly two hours because of whispering to me, and when it was taken out, the poor child could not close her jaws until I had rubbed them gently during a long while.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

Then there was the single-legged stool, upon which it was most tiring to sit, and this was given to the child who would not keep still upon his bench. I was forced to use it during one whole hour, because of drumming my feet upon the floor when the cold was most bitter, and the fire would not burn owing to the wood being so wet. It truly seemed to me, before the punishment was come to an end, as if my back had been broken.

Master Lyford was also provided with five or six dunce's caps, made of birch bark, on which were painted in fair letters such names as "Tell-Tale," "Bite-Finger-Baby," "Lying Ananias," "Idle Boy," and other ugly words.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

However, I dare say this was for good, and went far toward aiding us in our studies. Master Allerton declares that there are no truer words in the Book, than those which teach us that to spare the rod is to spoil the child, and surely we of Plymouth were not spoiled in such manner by Master Lyford, nor by the other teachers who came to us later.