Stories of the Pilgrims - M. B. Pumphrey

Water Babies

On and on the ship sailed. How wide the water seemed.

Some days were full of sunshine: then the little children could play upon the deck. They loved to watch the sunset across the wide ocean. Then the sky was bright with purple and gold. Each wave caught the colors from the clouds until the whole world seemed aglow.

They loved to watch the stars come out in the evening. At first only two or three of the biggest, bravest ones peeped forth, to see if the sun had gone. Then a few others looked timidly out. Yes, the sun was really gone, and his glory of red and gold was quickly following him.

Then troops of little stars burst from their hiding places. They twinkled merrily at the little Pilgrims, as if to say, "See we are going with you to your new home. We went with you to Holland; we will go with you to America. Do not be lonely."

But it grew colder, for the winter was drawing near. Many days the deck was too cold and icy to play upon. Then the children must stay in the dark, crowded cabin.

Poor little Pilgrims! Many were ill, and all wished the long voyage ended. There were but few games they could play in the little cabin, and they had no toys or story books. How they longed for the green fields and shady woods!

Then Priscilla told them stories of the sunny land where she once lived. Did only pleasant things happen in that wonderful country? If there were any unhappy times there, Priscilla never spoke of them. The stories she told were such merry tales they brought sunshine into the gloomiest little faces.

Even tired mothers, who were too far away to hear the story, would smile as they looked into Priscilla's laughing eyes. "What a comfort that child is," they often said.

Then Mary Chilton, who had grown to be a large girl now, played games with them. John Alden whittled out a wonderful puzzle for them, and every one tried to make the voyage pleasant.

But nine weeks is a long time to be shut up on a boat, and be tossed about by the rough waves. The little ones were so tired, it seemed to them they could not stand it any longer.

Then what do you think happened away out there on the ocean? Two dear little baby boys were born. Oh, how happy the children were! They forgot to be tired then.

You may be sure those babies never lacked nurses. It was such fun to hold them and sing to them softly until they closed their eyes and went to sleep.

Of course, every one wanted to help name the babies. Each thought of the very best name he knew, but it was hard to suit all.

Giles Hopkins wished to name his baby brother Jan, after a friend in Holland, but that name did not suit his parents at all. They did not want to give their baby a Dutch name.

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

"Those babies never lacked nurses"

Mistress Hopkins thought he should be named Stephen for his father.

"No," said Master Hopkins, "if he were given my name he would be called 'little Stephen' until he grew to be a man. I believe no child was ever born here before. I wish he might have a name no other has ever had."

What could it be? Some spoke of "Mayflower," but others thought that a better name for a little girl.

A week passed and still the baby was not named. "This will never do," said his mother. "Constance, you have not said what you would like to name your little brother."

Constance said she had been thinking "Ocean" would be a good name for this baby.

"Ocean!—Ocean!" whispered the mother to herself. It was certainly a very suitable name, but it had a queer sound. Surely no other child had ever borne that name.

When Elder Brewster heard about the new name he said, "I know of a word in another language which means ocean. It is Oceanus. Perhaps you would like that name better."

"Oceanus!" That seems like a queer name for a child, but the pilgrims often gave their children names which seem strange to us. This did not sound so strange to them. They thought "Oceanus Hopkins" a very good name for the baby, and so it was decided.

Then came the other wee baby. He too must have a suitable name. What should it be?

After many names had been considered, Mary Allerton said she thought "Wandering" would be a good name for the baby, because the Pilgrims were wandering in search of a home.

Mistress White did not quite like "Wandering" for a name, but she asked Elder Brewster if he did not know another word which meant the same thing.

And so this baby was named "Peregrine." Peregrine White and Oceanus Hopkins! "Those are very large names for such very tiny babies," thought little Love Brewster.