in amazement at the large masts that stood tall on the Mayflower ship. The crisp white sails, having been let down
for a last minute inspection, billowed proudly in the cold Southampton
wind. Crewmen were scurrying up and down
the shrouds or running about the ship, hurrying to prepare any last minute
details for the voyage. Big burly men
heaved heavy barrels onto the ship and rolled them below deck. While Jane stood mesmerized by the hustle
and bustle, she heard a familiar voice shout to her from behind.
darling, come out of the way of the crewmen there and help your old father with
this luggage.” Jane turned around and
grinned at her father’s efforts to push one of their trunks up the loading ramp
while trying to grab at her 6 year-old brother, Isaac, as he darted back and
forth exhilarated at the prospect of what he called “a funny boat ride”.
coming Father!” She called as she made her way back through the throng of men,
women, and children that were boarding the Mayflower. Jane grabbed Isaac’s hand just as he was
about to roll one of the barrels into the water and whirled him around to face
you listen to me young man,” she said severely, “Father needs our help in
packing things onto the ship and I’m not strong enough to help him on my
own. Now are you going to help us or are
you going to continue running around like a lunatic?” Isaac giggled and twisted free of her grasp.
“I’m gonna run around like a lunatic!” He said gleefully. Then, without warning, he spun around and
darted between two men lugging a barrel onto the ship and disappeared into the
Jane called, “Isaac come back you-”
Before she could finish a worn hand gently rested on her shoulder.
him be, child.” Her father said chuckling.
turned to face him. “But, Father, he’ll get lost with all of these people on
here. How will we find him?”
father heaved their trunk onto his good shoulder. “As long as the boy is on the
ship we’ll find him. Now carry those chests
and let’s find out where we’re going to be sleeping.” Without waiting he strode up the loading ramp
and onto the ship. Jane gave a sigh of
surrender and picked up their two smaller chests and hurried after father. She and he followed the crowd of people down
to the orlop deck and to what she presumed to be the sleeping quarters. The passengers hurried to find the most
comfortable spots before they were taken.
she whispered, glancing around at the low ceilings and cramped space, “is this
where we’re going to sleep?”
darling,” he said. “Now find a bed quickly before we all end up sleeping on the
floor.” Jane wrinkled her nose at the
mildew covered floor and scurried to find a bed large enough to fit her, her
father, and her brother. She had just
spotted a bed near a window and was going towards it when someone suddenly
crashed into her. The two chests that
she was holding fell out of her arms, spilling the contents on the ground.
am so very sorry!” a girls voice said, “Are you alright?” Jane looked up and
saw a pretty red-headed girl with wide green eyes staring back at her.
fine,” Jane said while she snatched up her father’s spyglass before someone’s
foot landed on it. The girl dropped to
her knees and helped her pick up her things.
suppose I wasn’t paying any attention to where I was going,” the girl said
apologetically. She handed Jane a rolled up map and continued talking. “I’ve
never been on a ship before and I was just amazed at everything I saw and I
wasn’t watching where I was going and-”
Jane’s laughing stopped her.
it was alright,” Jane said closing up the chests and picking them up. “I’ve
never been on a ship either. It is quite
amazing.” The girl finally relaxed and
managed a smile.
“It is isn’t
it?” she said as they tried to squeeze their way towards the bed that Jane was
trying to occupy. “My name is Sarah, by the way.”
Jane said as she set her chests down on the bed. “Is your whole family here?”
Sarah answered quickly, “It’s just me and my father. He’s one of the sympathizers who wanted to
support the Separatists
on this trip, but he has a bad back and needed someone to look after him on
this voyage. I’m the oldest in our
family so, as expected, I was the one to come with him, with my mother being
pregnant and all.” She plopped down on Jane’s bed and crossed her legs. “What
here with my father and brother,” Jane answered as she sat next to Sarah, “We’re
one of the Separatist
families that came on this voyage. Most
of my relatives are still in the Netherlands though. They didn’t think this expedition was safe
enough for their women and children and highly disapproved of my father even
considering taking my brother and me.”
Sarah’s eyes were wide again and she leaned forward, obviously
fascinated with Jane’s story.
“And what of your mother?” she
asked. “Was she left behind with your
Jane bit her lip as she felt
tears sting her eyes. “Not exactly,” she said slowly, “My mother died of the
Italian plague a few months after she visited her father in Italy.” Sarah gasped.
“Oh, I’m so sorry Jane,” she
said, “I had no idea. I would have never brought it up if I had known, honest.”
Jane managed a smile as she
patted Sarah’s arm. “It’s alright,” she said, “There’s no way you could have
known.” She looked around at the
crowded room and suddenly felt a need for air. “Come on,” she said, hopping up,
“Let’s go up onto the top deck.”
The girls zigzagged through the
throng of people that were still looking for beds and hurried up the stairs to
the top deck. Jane breathed in the fresh
salty air as they ran to the side of the ship.
“Oh, isn’t this great Jane? ”
Sarah exclaimed. The wind had picked up
and was now whipping the girls’ hair back and forth. Jane just nodded and grinned. On land there was a crowd of at least fifty or
more people coming to see the passengers off. It was packed with friends and
family waving goodbye to their loved ones.
Some seemed to be crying while others looked as if they were happy to
see the large company go. Suddenly, Jane
noticed two men were untying the ropes that secured the boat to the port. “Sarah, look!” Jane said, pointing to the
men, “I think we’re about to set sail!” Sarah’s
eyes lit up with excitement as her focus turned toward men. Just then a distinguished looking man
approached the two girls.
“Excuse me, young ladies,” he
said kindly, “My name is Master Christopher Jones I’m afraid I’m going to have
to ask you to remain on the orlop deck for the remainder of this voyage. The
sea can be very unfriendly and it would be a pity to see one of you fall
overboard during a storm.”
Jane suddenly felt her
excitement drain from her body. “You…you mean people can actually fall over
into the water?” she asked. Her heart
sank as the man nodded his head.
“Yes, it is very easy and very possible
for one to lose his footing when the boat pitches and if you happened to be on
the top deck during one of our fiercer storms it is highly likely that you will
fall overboard. It has happened many times before. That is why I strongly suggest that you two stay below deck for your own safety.
Please and thank you.” With that, he
tipped his hat and strode away, whistling an old English tune.
“Well that’s no fun,” Sarah said
as the two made their way back to the stairs that led to the orlop deck, “I
think I’d rather stay up here than below deck where it’s cramped and boring.
Don’t you think so Jane?” She looked up gasped. “Why, Jane, what’s the matter? You look like
you’ve just seen a ghost.”
Jane didn’t answer. She felt sick to her
stomach. The words that Master John had
spoken still swirled around in her head.
It is very easy and very possible
for one to lose his footing when the boat pitches, she heard him say, it’s highly likely that you will fall over
board. Jane suddenly felt herself
fall into a vortex of fear as the girls made their way down the stairs and into
the ever-crowded sleeping quarters. Her
heart pounded against her chest and her palms became sweaty. I would
drown if I ever fell into that dreaded water, she thought, I would drown and be lost in this friendless
sea forever. She heard Sarah say
something to her, but she couldn’t make out the words. It felt like the room was spinning. Sarah shouted something, then shook Jane,
then shout some more. Suddenly, without warning, Jane collapsed onto