HE next night the stars looked down upon a
strange sight. On the shore of the sea near a large city, a
group of Pilgrims waited for the ship which was to carry
them to Holland.
It grew very late. One by one the lights of the city went
out, and all was dark and still. Even
the little waves seemed to speak in whispers as they crept
up to the shore.
"On a wooden box sat a mother with her baby
asleep in her arms"
On a wooden box sat a mother with her baby asleep in her
arms. Two tired little children, with the warm sand for a
bed and a blanket for
 a pillow, slept beside her. Some of the older children were
too excited to sleep. They amused themselves by throwing
pebbles into the water or playing in the sand.
Others of the company sat on boxes or on the sand, talking
in low tones. They did not speak about the homes and friends
they were leaving; that would make them too sad. They talked
of the better times they would have in the new home.
One by one the children fell asleep, some on the warm sand,
others pillowed in their mothers' arms.
As the night wore on the men paced anxiously up and down the
shore. They peered out over the black water hoping to see
the dark form of the vessel which was to take them to
At any time the soldiers might be upon them. Every minute
they waited on the shore added to their peril.
Watchmen were placed at points along the shore to warn the
Pilgrims of any approaching danger.
A terrible dread was sinking into their hearts. What if the
ship should not come at all? What if the soldiers should
suddenly swoop down upon them? But these thoughts they would
not speak aloud. They tried to cheer each other with
From a distant clock tower the bells chimed three. The
Pilgrims drew closer together and spoke in hushed voices.
 "Are you quite sure this is the place where the captain of
the ship promised to meet us?" asked William Bradford.
"This is the very spot, just where this little brook flows
into the sea," answered Elder Brewster.
"It will soon be dawn," said John Robinson.
"I fear daylight will find us still waiting here for the
"That must not be," replied Elder Brewster, "for the
soldiers would soon be upon us. If the ship does not come
within an hour we must
seek the homes of our friends. Hark! What is that? I
thought I heard the splash of oars."
In silence they listened, straining their ears to catch the
sound. Again they heard it, and their hearts leaped with
hope and thankfulness.
A moment later a boat rowed by two men was
seen approaching the shore. Quickly and quietly the boat was
loaded and rowed back to the ship, which lay out in the deep
water. Then it returned
for another load, and another, until all the people and
their goods had been carried to the ship.
"Now, Captain, let us set sail at once, and by daylight we
shall be safe out of the king's reach," said Elder Brewster.
"Oh, do not be too sure of that," said a stern voice by his
side. In a moment the Pilgrims found
themselves surrounded by soldiers.
"What does this mean, Captain?" cried Elder
 Brewster. But the captain was nowhere to be seen. He was
ashamed of his wicked deed, and dared not face the men whom
he had betrayed into the hands of the soldiers.
It was of no use to resist the king's men, so when the first
gray light of morning came, the Pilgrims again stood on the
Last night the stars had twinkled merrily when they saw the
Pilgrims about to escape King James. Now they saw them with
their burdens on their backs, and their children in their
arms, going toward the great, black prison. The little stars
still twinkled faintly but seemed to say, "Be brave! The
One who made us and made you is stronger than King James."
Then one by one they closed their eyes, as if unwilling to
see the prison doors close upon women and babies.
In a few days the doors of the prison opened again, and the
women with their children passed out. I think they were not
so very glad to be free, for their husbands were still in
prison and they had no homes to which they might go. Some
had friends there in the city who gladly welcomed them.
Others returned to Scrooby, where they lived with friends
and neighbors. It was several months before all the men were
allowed to return to their families.
Because he had hired the ship and made most of the plans for
leaving England, Elder Brewster
 was the last to leave the prison. He soon found Mistress
Brewster and the children in the old house which had always
been their home. Another man kept the inn now, but he and
his wife were kind-hearted people and had gladly opened
their house to these homeless ones.
"Jonathan seems two years older than he did last fall," said
his father that night, after the children had gone to bed.
"Yes, Jonathan is quite a man for his thirteen years. He
helps care for the horses and does many errands for the
innkeeper. The girls, too, help about the house, that they
may not be a burden to these kind people."
"To-morrow we will look for a little home of our own, where
we can be comfortable until spring," said Elder Brewster.
"And what shall we do in the spring?" asked Mistress
"Go to Holland!" answered her husband.