Friday, April 1, 2011

A Journal from the Mayflower

8/3/1620
I stared at the ship that would be my home for the next few months. It was small, and probably crammed. About 100 people were boarding, and a few others were going on The Speedwell a smaller ship.

Mother ushered Hannah, Matthew, and all our bags up the ramp, and onto the top deck. The words The Mayflower reflected in the waving water below. I shivered just thinking about the water. It looked freezing cold and I couldn’t swim.

“Elizabeth!” My mother called from the ship. “Help your father with the rest of the bags.” I walked over to my father, and picked up two large bags.

“Thank you.” Father mumbled under the weight of the bags he was carrying. I nodded. I scrambled up the ramp, weaving through people, animals, and bags. I accidently stepped on a sailor’s foot and he called me a word I had never heard before.
I re-joined my mother and two siblings. They were starting to carry our bags below deck.

“Hannah, Elizabeth take these four bags, below deck. Matthew don’t play in the gull poop!” Mother cried. Hannah and I laughed, and grabbed the bags.
Below deck was dark, and crammed. I was smart enough to bring oil lamps, with matches. There were a few other people; most people were still on deck. Mother shortly joined us, with Matthew whose hands were suspiciously white and slimy.

Father came to join us, just as we started setting up our large goose-feather mattress. “There has already been a fight between a few men and sailors. Now I know where the name sailor-mouth comes from!” He said with a small smile. He set down the last of our seven bags. I opened one, and drew out my small drawstring bag. It contained my quilting, knitting, a small box of jewelry, and my two oil candles. The candles would provide a bit of light, but not a lot. I set the bag aside, and watched Hannah play with her two dolls. Hannah was 9, Matthew was 4, and I was 12.

We went on deck. It was a lot more crowded than it had been before. Sailors were untying the sail, and anchor. We were about to set sail. My siblings and I ran to the railing. A few people had gathered to say good-bye.

I saw grandmother and grandfather waving. We waved back. The boat lurched, and I almost fell overboard. It was the start of a long journey.

8/5/1620
England was soon out of sight. The Mayflower was making good time. Soon the sailors said we couldn’t come above deck anymore, because it was getting too crowded.

It was really crowded below deck. People started to get sea-sick. The smell of vomit soon replaced the smell of wine that used to be there. That made people even sicker. I haven’t gotten sick yet, mother, and Matthew had been throwing up earlier. Hannah is a bit green in the face, but hasn’t vomited yet. So far it’s been pretty bad.

The food has been ok. It’s normally salted pork, a slightly stale biscuit, and lime juice. I asked father why it was lime juice instead of water. He said it prevented scurvy, whatever that was.

If you ever go to the new world, my tip to you is get a bigger boat.

9/4/1620
It has been about a month now. Things haven’t gotten much better, or much worse. I’ve made friends with a girl named Martha, and her brother George.

Martha and George would perform these little two person skits that made me and Hannah laugh. They showed us their family’s chickens, and let us feed them. They let us hold their pet cat Louie.

Louie would be sitting on your lap, and all of a sudden run off when someone passes by. Then he would come right back, and settle into someone else’s lap. Just to start the whole process over again.
I liked having Martha and George around, it helped pass the time. I just hope we will be there soon. After meals my stomach hurts, I think I am going to be sick.

9/6/1620
The speedwell turned back today. One of the sailors came and informed us. He said it started leaking. I wished I was on that boat.

Now, I’ve started throwing up. Only Hannah hasn’t. I feel horrible sitting in bed most of the day. I wished there were windows, that would make me feel better, to see sunlight.

I’m pretty sure I passed on my germs to Martha. I feel bad about that. I haven’t seen either of them in days. When will we get off?

9/15/1620
I’ve gotten better. My stomach doesn’t hurt much, and I’ve only thrown up once this past week. I visited Martha, and George. They are getting over the sickness too.

We played a few games for about two hours till super. I learned that the lime juice was out, so we had to drink beer, which didn’t taste that bad actually. Mother refused to drink, but soon she was forced to or go thirsty.

Some of the adults got drunk, and started singing at the top of their lungs. Father yelled at them to be quiet, but they kept on singing. I guess I’m going to be up all night.

The drunk people eventually stopped singing. But I could hear some of them hiccupping. I finally fell asleep. My dreams where full of hiccups.

9/17/1620
Today has been boring as usual. The sailors limited the beer, so that no one would get drunk. Hey! The first smart idea on this boat! I thought.

The sailors said only a couple months now. I hope they’re right. Now none of us are vomiting. Hannah is lucky to never of gotten it. Mother says she will get the next sickness harder than we will. I hope it’s not the flu.
There has been a group of men, who have been getting restless. They’ve snapped at their wives, and yelled at their children. I’m pretty sure next their going to take out their boredom on sailors. That will be fun.
Hannah and I have started playing with Martha and George again. We are almost out of games to play. We have made up a couple, and repeated them. It gets old after a while.

So most of the time now we just talk about our lives in England, how bored, and miserable we are, and stuff like that. I hope We will be there soon.

9/22/1620
Remember what mom said about Hannah getting the next sickness, but harder? Well, she was right. Hannah was one of the first to get a high fever. She complained night and day about how hot she was and how much her head hurt.

More and more people started getting sick. I started coughing, and getting dizzy. Matthew got a fever, and Father had a bad headache.

There aren’t many people vomiting now. Just coughing, and sneezing, and wheezing. I was freezing cold at night, and when I would pull the sheets up I would burn up. That would go on all night.

Then people started dying. I watched as sailors would come down wrap up a body and carry it away. I started hearing people weeping for the home they had left, for the loved ones they had lost, and just because they were in pain.

I got a fever and felt horrible. My head felt like a burning ember. I couldn’t move. My mouth was as dry as sand, because I had nothing to drink. I would lie and moan for water, it felt like no one heard me.

9/25/1620
The fever left me and everyone else as soon as it came. I learned that few children died, only about 15 adults. Now I am really tired of rocking back and forth all day and night. I’m tired of the horrible food, crammed spaces, and horrible smell

I’m tired of the sailors yelling to us to quit or moaning and groaning. It’s been almost three months. I long for fresh food, water, and air.

11/1/1620
The captain Christopher Pringle says we will arrive this month. A few of the women kissed the sailor who announced the news.

“I wonder when this month we will get there?”Hannah asked. We were with Martha and her brother.

“I don’t know I hope soon. No one should live in these condtions.” George answered. Martha and I agreed.

“But Its taking so long!” Martha complained. I told her that’s just how sea life is, and she should never be a sailor’s wife. My friends laughed at that.

Mother started to get things together.

“What are you doing my dear?” Father asked.

“I want to be ready when we arrive.” Mother answered.

“Well, we don’t know how long that will be.” Father said.

We better get there soon. I’m getting ready to swim the rest of the way there.

11/9/1620
“Land Ho!” A sailor yelled above us. The deck exploded with people trying to get to the hatch. Hannah and I were one of the first to get there. A man ahead of us opened the door, and everyone pushed and shoved to get out.

The sunlight blinded me for a moment. But it felt good to have fresh air at last. When my eyes came into focus I ran with Hannah to the rail. There was land in the distance getting closer and closer.

After about three hours the ship got as close as it could go. My family got on one of the rowboats. The crew paddled twords shore. Good-bye Mayflower. Hello America!

3 comments:

  1. Wow Alex! You are an extremely talented writer! I think you have a bright future ahead of you in this area. Good work!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really could envision this through your words. Keep writing everyday, you have a wonderful talent.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Alex, this is amazing! Your use of adjectives is fantastic. Keep up the good work and let us read more of your writings, OK?

    ReplyDelete

 

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