BACK TO ENGLAND?
NE day, almost before the snow had melted from the ground,
Priscilla, Mary Chilton,
and some of the other girls began to look for spring flowers
near the edge of the forest.
They brushed away the dry leaves to see if the violets or
windflowers had started to grow. Sometimes they found,
pushing their way up through the earth, a group of tiny
rough balls which would some day unroll into a beautiful
There were many pale little plants lifting their first buds
up through the earth and leaves, but not a flower on any of
"It must be too early for blossoms," said Mary Chilton.
"See, there are still patches of snow in that shady hollow."
"This is Mistress Brewster's birthday, and I did hope we
could find a few blossoms for her,"
"Since she cannot come to the woods, let us take some of the
woods to her," said Mary, digging up a handful of earth and
"Why do you take those dry leaves?" asked one of the girls.
Mary lifted the old leaves of the little plant she held, and
showed the furry stems and buds of the hepatica. "They will
open in a day or two if we
 put them in the sun, and Mistress Brewster will enjoy
watching them unfold," she said.
When the basket was filled with the dead-looking earth and
leaves, it seemed like a queer birthday present for the dear
old lady whom the girls often lovingly called "mother." But
it was not many days until dozens of little furry stems
lifted their dainty purple and white blossoms above the
As the girls came out of the forest, they looked across the
water to where the "Mayflower" still lay in the harbor. The
ship swung lightly to and fro as though glad to be free from
the icy bounds which had held it so many weeks.
The spring storms were over now, and the "Mayflower" must
soon return to England. Every evening for a week the
Pilgrims had bent over their rough pine tables, writing
letters for the "Mayflower" to carry to friends across the
It was eight months since they had left England, and there
was so much to write in these first letters to their
friends. They must tell about the place where they had
settled, the new homes they were making, and about their
Then there was the sad story of sickness and death, which
must be told. Many of the letters were full of sadness and
longing for England.
As the girls walked slowly down the hill each was thinking
of all that had happened to the little
 band since the "Mayflower" dropped anchor in that harbor.
"There must be a meeting in the common-house this morning,"
said Mary Chilton, as she noticed a number of people
entering the square log building. "Let us go in."
When they entered the large room, they saw the captain of
the "Mayflower" standing before the people. He was thanking
the Pilgrims for the kindness they had shown to him and to
his men; for nursing them when they were ill, and for
sharing their provisions with them when food was so scarce.
"To-morrow, if the wind is fair, we set sail for England,"
he said. "You have had a sad, hard winter here. Many of
those whom the "Mayflower" brought to this shore are dead.
Now that there are so few of you, are you not afraid to stay
here in this lonely land? If any of you wish to return to
England, I will give you free passage."
The Pilgrims thought of the loved ones they had lost, and of
the new grave on the hill where, only a few days before,
they had laid their dear governor, John Carver.
Mistress Brewster's eyes grew dim as she thought of her son,
and of Fear and Patience so far across the water. Should she
return to them? "No," she thought, "we are making them a
better home here, and sometime they will come to us."
 William Bradford, who had been chosen as the new governor,
was the first to speak.
"Men, you have heard the captain's offer. What do you say?
Do any of you wish to return to England?"
"No," came the answer. "Our homes are here, and here we will
"And these maids who have lost both father and mother, do
they not wish to return to their old homes across the sea?"
asked the ship's captain.
"Speak, Priscilla," said Governor Bradford.
"I have no home other than the one Elder Brewster and his
wife so kindly offered me," said Priscilla.
"I have no wish to return, since all I have is here," said
Again Governor Bradford spoke. "Do not answer in haste," he
said. "Think what it means to remain in this wild new land.
Let each man answer for himself and his family. What say
you, Master Allerton?"
"I and my family will stay," he replied.
So said all the others. Not one of the brave men and women
accepted the captain's offer.