“Let us gather the fruits of our first labors and rejoice together,” said Governor Bradford.
“Yes,” said Elder Brewster, “let us take a day upon which we may thank God for all our blessings, and invite our Indian friends who have been so kind to us.”
The great Indian chief, Massasoit, came with ninety of his bravest warriors, all dressed in deerskins, feathers, and foxtails, with their faces smeared with red, white, and yellow paint.
Now there were only eleven buildings in the whole village, four log storehouses and seven little log houses; so the Indian guests ate and slept outside. This was no problem though, for it was one of those warm weeks in the season we call Indian summer.
To supply meat for the occasion four men had already been sent out to hunt wild turkeys. They killed enough in one day to last the whole company almost a week. Massasoit helped the feast along by sending some of his best hunters into the woods. They killed five deer, which they gave to their paleface friends, that all might have enough to eat.
Under the trees were built long, simple tables on which were piled baked clams, broiled fish, roast turkey, and deer meat.The young Pilgrim women helped serve the food to the hungry Indians. One was Mary Chilton, who leaped from the boat at Plymouth Rock; the other was Mary Allerton. She lived for seventy-eight years after this first Thanksgiving, and of those who came over in the Mayflower she was the last to die.
What a merry time everybody had during that week! Young John Howland was there. While they were sailing in mid ocean, he fell overboard but was quick enough to catch hold of a trailing rope. Perhaps after dinner he invited Elizabeth Tilley, whom he afterward married, to sail over to Clarke’s Island and return by moonlight.
One proud mother, we may be sure, showed her bright-eyed boy, Peregrine White, who was the first baby born in Plymouth.
And so the fun went on. In the daytime the young men ran races, played games, and had a shooting match. Every night the Indians sang and danced for their friends; and to make things still more lively they gave every now and then a shrill war whoop that made the woods echo in the still night air.