Stories of the Pilgrims - M. B. Pumphrey

Preparing for the Journey

That spring brought very busy days to the Pilgrims in Leiden. Those who were going to America had many things to prepare, and those who stayed behind were glad to help them get ready.

They must have plenty of cloth made, for there would be no time to weave more until their new homes were built. It would be cold winter by that time and they must have warm jackets, and dresses, and cloaks.

So hum-m-m-m! hum-m-m-m! went the spinning wheels from morning till night. And click! clack! click! clack! went the big looms, as the flying shuttle wove the gray yarn into cloth.

Pilgrims prepare for the journey

Preparing for the journey

Far into the night the tired women stitched with busy fingers. In those days all the sewing must be done by hand, and it took much time and much patient labor to make a garment.

There was plenty of work for the children as well as for their elders. Even tiny hands could hold the skein while mother wound the yarn into a ball. And you should have seen the dozens of thick, warm mittens and stockings that were knit by little hands that summer.

The Pilgrims could not take any cows with them, so in every cottage there were small tubs being packed with sweet, yellow butter to be taken to the new homes across the sea.

It would take them many weeks to cross the ocean, and much food would be needed for the journey. They could not raise more grain until the next summer, so they must take enough to last them all winter.

With the money the Pilgrims had given him, Elder Brewster had bought a small ship in Holland. It was called the "Speedwell," and it now waited for them at Delfshaven, about twenty-four miles away.

If you had been in Leiden one morning late in July, you might have seen the Pilgrims loading the canal boats which would carry them to Delfshaven. Almost before it was light that morning the men began to carry things upon the boats. Their kind Dutch neighbors worked as busily as they, helping to carry the heavy boxes of ship bread, salted meats, or dried fruits.

There were barrels and barrels of meal, and other barrels holding grain for seed. There were great sacks of beans, dried peas, and vegetables, but at last the boats were loaded.

The Pilgrims had many friends in England who they thought would like to go to America with them. So Elder Brewster had gone to England to see them, and to arrange for a ship to carry them all across the sea.

He was gone several weeks, and when he returned he found the Pilgrims ready for the journey. Each family could take only a few of the most needful things. There would not be room on the ship for all their goods, so they would take only such things as they could not make.

The beautiful china plates and cups which they had bought in Holland must be left, for they would be easily broken. Their old pewter dishes would last much longer, and they would look very well when they were scoured bright with sand.

They would take their silver spoons and the steel knives they had brought from England. The old brass candlesticks, the spinning wheels, and the great copper kettles must have a place in the boat.