Chapters 17and 18


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.


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.


WHEN all was ready, they bade their Dutch friends good-bye. How kind these people had been to them during the years they had lived in Holland. They had done all they could to make the Pilgrims happy and comfortable in their city. And when they were preparing to go away, many yellow balls of cheese, little tubs of butter, and webs of white linen came from these good Hollanders.

John Robinson and all the members of his church went to Delfshaven with those who were to sail on the “Speedwell.”

As the canal boats moved slowly away, the Pilgrims looked for the last time upon their little cottages. They had lived twelve long years in Holland, and it seemed like a dear home to them. Most of the children had never known any other home.

Groups of Hollanders stood at their doors to wave farewell to the Pilgrims as they passed. Five or six little boys with bare legs and clumsy wooden shoes, ran along beside the canal boats, calling in Dutch to their friends.

But now the boys had shouted a last “good-bye;” the city with its great mills and shops, its quaint houses and pretty gardens lay behind them. They were coming to the beautiful city gate with its round towers and pointed spires.

Mary Chilton and Faith and Patience Brewster stood together looking at the great gate. “Do you remember the first time we passed through this gate, Mary?” asked Patience. “That was eleven years ago and you were a very little girl then.”

“Yes, indeed, I remember it,” answered Mary. “I was six years old. I can remember our home in England and the ship in which we came to Holland. Can you, Fear?”

“I do not remember much about England,” answered Fear, who was the youngest of the three, “but I remember our home in Amsterdam. I wonder where Jan and Katrina are this summer. Their boat was in Leiden all winter.”

And so the girls talked of anything except their long parting. They could not speak of that. The tears were so close to Fear’s eyes she was afraid to wink lest they run over.

This was a beautiful summer day. Holland meadows had never looked brighter. There were gay little summerhouses perched on stilts by the side of the lake. Some stood in the water and a little boat tied to the steps of one showed how its owner had reached it. There he sat smoking his long pipe and watching his little son, who sat on the doorstep and fished.

Everywhere were the windmills, the dikes, and the canals that had seemed so strange to them at first. Now all these things seemed like old friends to the Pilgrims and made them sad to say good-bye to Holland.

Late in the evening they reached Delfshaven, where the “Speedwell” was waiting for them. All night the sailors worked, loading the goods from the canal boats into the ship, and making ready for an early start in the morning.

Then came the hardest parting. The tears would start. Even strong men wept as they looked into each other’s faces and thought that perhaps they might never see these friends again.

There on the ocean shore these brave men and women knelt down and prayed to the God they loved. They prayed that He would be with those who stayed as well as with those who sailed away. Their pastor’s voice broke many times as he spoke to God of his friends.

After this prayer, the Pilgrims went silently and sadly on board the “Speedwell” and sailed away to England. They waved to the dear ones on the shore and stood watching them as long as they could be seen.

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