THE FIRST WASHING DAY IN NEW ENGLAND
T was Monday morning, and the sun was brighter and the
weather more mild than in weeks before.
The children gazed eagerly toward the shore and thought what
fun it would be to have a long run on that smooth, sandy
beach, or to hunt for nuts in those great woods. They were
so tired of being on the ship.
Just then Mistress Brewster came upon the deck. She shaded
her eyes with her hand and looked off across the water.
"What a good place to do our washing!" she said, as she
gazed at the shore. "Not one proper washing day have we had
since we sailed."
It did not take long to get tubs, pails, and everything
ready. John Alden and John Howland loaded the things into
the boat and rowed the merry party to the shore.
But Mistress Brewster did not forget the children, who
looked longingly at the boat as it pulled away.
When it came back for its next load, she said kindly, "Come,
boys. You shall have your run on the beach. We need your
quick feet and strong arms to bring brushwood for our fires.
And the girls must come too. They can help spread the
clothes upon the bushes to dry."
 It seemed so good to be on the ground again. As soon as the
boat touched the sand the children sprang ashore and raced
each other up and down the beach.
The first washing day in New England
"Let's hunt for nuts under those trees!" cried Love
Brewster, and away the boys bounded
toward the woods. John Alden shouldered his gun and went
with them, for it was not safe for them to go into the
In the edge of the woods stood a tall, straight tree. The
long scales which curled from its shaggy bark told John
Alden it was a hickory tree.
 Under the tree was a thick carpet of yellow-brown leaves.
Under that carpet there must be plenty of sweet nuts.
The boys dragged their feet through the deep leaves, or
tossed them aside with their hands. Yes, there lay the white
nuts, thousands and thousands of them. The frost had opened
their tough, brown coats, but the tree had covered them with
a blanket of leaves.
While the boys were gone, the men drove two forked stakes
into the hard sand. Across the top of these stakes they
placed a long pole from which to hang the great kettles.
Soon the fire was snapping and crackling under the kettles.
The flames leaped higher and higher as the children piled
dry leaves and branches upon them. Then the water began to
simmer and sing.
All the morning the women rubbed and boiled, or rinsed and
wrung the clothes. The men were kept busy carrying water
By noon the tubs were empty, and as Mary Chilton spread the
last little dress to dry, she saw the boat pull away from
"Here comes Priscilla with our dinner!" she cried.
Priscilla was a wonderful cook. Sometimes there was but
little to cook, but Priscilla could always make something
dainty and good from the plainest food.
 To-day she had made a great kettle of soup, with
vegetables and the broth of the wild birds. How good it
smelled as it heated over the fire!
"Here comes Priscilla with our dinner"
Long before night the clean, fresh clothes were dry and
folded away in the tubs and kettles. Then the tired but
happy Pilgrims rowed back to the "Mayflower."