| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
JAMES VI. OF SCOTLAND, I. OF ENGLAND—THE STORY OF THE "MAYFLOWER"
 WHEN Henry VIII. broke away from the Church of Rome he did
not make much change in the services or in the ruling of the
Church. He merely said that the Pope had nothing to do with
the Church in England, and he commanded the services to be
read in English, instead of Latin. But by degrees many
Protestants began to think that the Church of England was
too like the Church of Rome. They wanted to have no prayer
book at all. They wanted to have very simple services and
very simple churches. These people were called Puritans.
They were very stern and grave, but many of the best and
bravest men in England joined them.
At this time men did not wear plain, dark clothes as they do
now. They wore bright colors and their clothes were often
made of silk and velvet, and trimmed with lace. They wore
their hair long and curly, and they had feathers in their
hats. But the Puritans thought this gay dress was wicked.
They cut their hair short and wore dark clothes and plain
linen collars, instead of lace and feathers and gay-coloured
silks and satins. They even spoke in a slow and sad tone of
voice, using curious and long words, and they very seldom
The Puritans felt that in England they could not
 worship God in what
seemed to them the right way. So, although they loved their
country, they resolved to leave it, and sail away
over the sea to the new lands which had been discovered.
There they would found a New England where they could be
The first of these Puritans who left England were
called the Pilgrim Fathers. The ship
they sailed in was called the Mayflower.
There were only one
hundred of them—men, women, and children.
Before they started there were many sad partings. All left
dear friends behind; some said good-bye for ever to fathers
and mothers; some left their wives and little children,
hoping one day to be able to send for them, when they had
made a new home, far over the sea. But sad as they were,
their hearts were full of hope, and in spite of tears they
They started in the summer, but they had so many delays and
misfortunes that it was winter before they reached America.
They did not come to the part of America to which they had
expected to come, but reached land much further north, where
the winter was very cold—far colder than the English
As the little Mayflower drew near, the shore of their new
home looked very dark and dreary to those Pilgrim Fathers.
There were no people to greet them on the beach, no houses
with twinkling lights by night and cheerful smoke by day.
There was nothing but the rough, rocky shore, and beyond it,
a mass of bare, brown trees. There was no sound but the roar
of the waves, the call of sea-birds, and the cry of wild
The little band of pilgrims felt very lonely when they
landed in this strange country, hundreds and hundreds of
miles from any white people. Dark woods and wilderness lay
in front, behind the cold grey sea separating them from
 all their loved ones; and round them, day and night, the fear of
attack from the wild Red Indians who inhabited the land.
But in spite of dangers and hardships they did not lose
heart. Soon the noise of axe and saw was heard in the forest
as the Pilgrim Fathers felled trees and cut them into planks
with which to build their houses. Through cold and wind and
rain they worked, and a little town of wooden houses rose
round the little wooden meeting-house, as they called their
The building went on slowly for all the Pilgrim Fathers
could not work at once. Some of them had to keep watch in
case of attack from the Red Indians, while the remainder
built the houses and laid out the gardens.
The little band struggled bravely. They were often cold and
hungry, weary and afraid, still they did not give up hope.
They had very little to eat. Sometimes they did not even
know at night if they would have anything for breakfast in
the morning. Once an eagle was shot, and they thought it was
a great treat. It tasted something like mutton. Once a
sailor found a herring on the shore. As it was only enough
for one, the captain had it for supper. But many of the
pilgrims, unused to such hardships, died during the winter.
At last the dark days passed, and with the sunshine of the
spring came brighter times. And with the spring the
Mayflower, which had lain in the bay all winter, sailed back
With sad hearts the pilgrims saw it go. It was the last link
which bound them to their old home. Yet in spite of the
longing in their hearts for the green fields and white
cliffs of England, in spite of all the hardships they had
suffered, not one pilgrim returned home with the Mayflower.
They knelt upon the shore, watching with
 tear-dimmed eyes
till the last glimmer of its white sails died away in the
distance, then they turned back to their work. But for many
days after, the bay seemed sad and empty with no little
Mayflower riding at anchor in it.
The Pilgrim Fathers named their town Plymouth, after the
town in England from which they had sailed. From
these few settlers the great American nation has grown, and
although America is no longer a British
colony, but a separate nation, it is a nation which has
grown out of the British nation.
If you look at the map of America you will see Plymouth
marked in the State of Massachusetts. In that town there is
a hall called Pilgrim Hall, and in front of it stands a rock
which is railed round and carefully preserved. It is the
rock which the feet of the Pilgrim Fathers first touched
when they landed to found New England. The people of America
are proud to remember that they are descended from those
stern, brave men and women, so they guard the stone as
something precious, and the 22nd of December, the day on
which the Pilgrim Fathers landed, is called Forefathers' Day
and is kept as a holiday.
The breaking waves dashed high on a stern and rockbound coast,
And the woods against the stormy sky their giant branches tossed.
And the heavy night hung dark, the hills and water o'er;
When a band of exiles moor'd their bark on the wild New England shore.
Not as the conqueror comes, they the true-hearted came;
Not with the roll of stirring drums and the trumpet that sings of fame.
Not as the flying come, in silence and in fear;
They shook the depths of the desert gloom with their hymns of lofty cheer.
Amidst the storm they sang, and the stars heard and the sea,
And the sounding aisles of the dim wood rang to the anthem of the free.
The ocean eagle soared from his nest by the white waves' foam,
And the rocking pines of the forest roar'd, this was their welcome home.
There were men with hoary hair amidst that pilgrim band:
Why had they come to wither there, away from their childhood's land?
There was woman's fearless eye, lit by her deep love's truth,
There was manhood's brow serenely high, and the fiery heart of youth.
What sought they thus afar? bright jewels of the mine?
The wealth of seas? the spoils of war? no—'twas a faith's pure shrine.
Yes, call it holy ground, which first their brave feet trod!
They have left unstain'd what there they found, freedom to worship God!
"A band of exiles moor'd their bark on the wild New England shore."
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics