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Stranger journey to Plymouth

by MoonIris


Dearest grandmother Lily,

It is I, your granddaughter Charlotte. I am aware of the thoughts that might occur to you. I am also aware of how frightened you must be for me. I shouldn’t have run away, but my taste for adventure wouldn’t let me stay home in England. I did not leave because of you, my dear grandmother. You have offered me more than I could have ever imagined and you will forever have my gratitude. I ran away because the feeling of adventure and the unknown lands of the New World have tempted me to leave my comfortable home. I found a ship, the Mayflower, that I was able to board and which took me overseas, to the New World. It’s now summer here and I shall tell you all about my experience.

Leaving for this adventure made me experience many fears as well as hopes. I had no idea what the New World would be like. I feared hunger, diseases and the relationship with the Native Americans. I did not know what to expect of all this, but I was still excited about the trip. Even though I had my fears, my hopes helped me stay brave, exactly like you know me. I hope to find here a new way of living, riches, the opportunity for a new beginning and, most importantly, the freedom of being truer to my own self, unconstrained by any of the limits and restrictions in our society.

You should know that I have boared this ship with James, one of my dearest friends. Here, we are thought to be married, although we are not so neither in front of God, nor of the law, not even in our hearts, but this was the only way we could have boarded this ship safely. He came here in search of a better place to work and invest.

The Mayflower is anything but wonderful. This ship was build for cargo, not people. We didn’t have much space and the smell was dreadful. Most of the people there had never been on sea before, and seasickness was quite common. I missed indeed the luxury of fresh air. We were also accompanied by rats and, believe me, they were nothing like the ones that I’d seen back home. They were at least three times bigger. The food was not excellent either. We usually had peas or sometimes bean pottage. We also ate cheese and biscuits, the so-called ship’s biscuits. Water was in short supply so we often drank bear. The atmoshpere there was quite dull. I sometimes joined the prayer of the Saints. You probably don’t know me as a person who prays often but I must tell you that during storms praying was the only thing that we women could do. I offered to help in despair that we might sink during one of those horrible storms. Unfortunately, my help was denied. At some point, a man had been thrown overboard during one of the storms, but luckily he survived as he held on to a rope. During this sea voyage, a miracle has happened, a baby was born. I do not remember his name although I did see him once. Only one man sadly died at sea.

We arrived at the same time with the winter. I have never been through a harsher winter and I hope that I shall not. Never again. The snow was fallling heavily and we were cold to the bones. We found a land lot where we built our settlement. James and other men had started building our home while we were still on the ship. We had decided that it was safest for us to stay on it, at least until the houses were to be nearly finished. First I was a bit annoyed that I couldn’t wander around but then I realised we had far more important worries. Many of us died leaving children orphans. The poor little ones were lost without their parents. I tried to amuse them, keep them company and reassure them that things would get better. I had a particular interest in a little girl called Anne, aged 10. She was the sweetest and had sadly lost both of her parents at the beginning of the winter. She had no other familly. I had never intended to raise a child but I have decided to take care of her. James was rather surprised by my wish. So was I, as a matter of fact. However, although I had chosen to take care of her, I did not intend to give up on pursuing my dream of adventure and finding treasure that I had at the beginning of my journey.

Sadly, I have lost the number of dead bodies... The Indians were not very pleased to see us at first. For quite a lot of time, there was a lot of tension between us and even attacks, but fortunately those did not result in casualties.

Luckily, we received help as soon as summer arrived and it came from the Indians. At first, we didn’t trust each other but we soon learned to put our differences aside. They helped us with hunting, fishing and growing our food. We were very thankful for them. Now it’s summer and we have recently had a large feast in celebration of our great harvest. Our men have gathered large amounts of food and even the Indians joined us for this meal. We had quite a few visitors from their community.

Anne is still in my and James’ care. I have not found my treasure yet but I might just know what it will be. A few of our men paid visits to the Indians and I intend to pay one as well. During this encounter, I wish to learn more about them and this knowlledge will be the tresure that I hoped to find here.

I do not know if you are able to do this but we would be delighted if you could pay us a visit here, in our new Plymouth.

Your dearest granddaughter,

Charlotte. 


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Mon Dec 28, 2020 3:55 pm
pelsteam wrote a review...



Hello, pelsteam here to review.

Judging by the context of the Mayflower, this letter would have been written during the early 17th century. I’m not very well-versed in this historical period, but I did note one or two things as I was reading that might warrant a second check:

I feared hunger, diseases and the relationship with the Native Americans.


The term Native American is much more contemporary than 17th century. “Natives” is probably the most neutral and historically accurate term you could use.

You should know that I have boared this ship with James, one of my dearest friends. Here, we are thought to be married, although we are not so neither in front of God, nor of the law, not even in our hearts, but this was the only way we could have boarded this ship safely. He came here in search of a better place to work and invest.


Although I love your turn of phrase in this second sentence, I question if the writer would admit to this. Most of the people on the Mayflower and indeed people of the time would have been deeply religious. Already Charlotte would have likely done something utterly scandalous in running away, and I think she would try and make herself look as good as possible by either claiming marriage or simply not mentioning a man at all (at least to her grandmother, maybe not if she was writing to a close friend).

I sometimes joined the prayer of the Saints.


Again, I’m not well-versed in the Mayflower voyage nor the religion of the day, but this stood out to me as sounding like something Catholics would do. The Pilgrims were not Catholic.

However, although I had chosen to take care of her, I did not intend to give up on pursuing my dream of adventure and finding treasure that I had at the beginning of my journey.


Again, I query that Charlotte would admit this to her grandmother. The attitudes of the day would largely have been that the women should be maternal and selfless. She would most likely have been expected to work hard despite raising a child, so I would play on this angle instead.

Moving on to a few other points:

I hope to find here a new way of living, riches, the opportunity for a new beginning and, most importantly, the freedom of being truer to my own self, unconstrained by any of the limits and restrictions in our society.


This is a very interesting point and one I think you could explore in a lot more detail to give us a picture of Charlotte’s character. She’s gone overseas with a group of very strict Protestants; has she been at all disillusioned by the “freedom” she’s experienced? What is her idea of freedom? Are her beliefs putting her at odds with the rest of the settlers? These could all be really interesting to explore.

Sadly, I have lost the number of dead bodies... The Indians were not very pleased to see us at first. For quite a lot of time, there was a lot of tension between us and even attacks, but fortunately those did not result in casualties.


Your first line implies the Indians were responsible for the deaths but your second line contradicts it.

I do not know if you are able to do this but we would be delighted if you could pay us a visit here, in our new Plymouth.


As I understand it, casual visits would have been very unlikely during this time period. Charlotte would have been more likely to accept she would never see anyone from England again but perhaps have faith in a reunion in heaven.

Overall, a very interesting piece and I think you could definitely take it down a few different routes if you wanted to explore any of the ideas further.




MoonIris says...


Thank you for the review! :)



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Wed Dec 23, 2020 2:37 pm
Georgie wrote a review...



Hey! This is very interesting. It's obviously a historical fiction letter assignment, which is always fun. I only noticed a few things to be improved upon (although I'm sure your teacher who graded it already pointed them out!). You misspelled beer, which you spelled bear. Charlotte also refers to both "Indians" and "Native Americans." I think it's a little jarring when she switches between them, so probably choose one (most likely, at the time, she would use the former). Your sentences are a little long, so maybe consider breaking them up. Other than these few things, though, it's a very interesting story and it's cool to read about events in the far past tense. Great work!





“Sorry about the blood in your mouth. I wish it was mine. I couldn't get the boy to kill me, but I wore his jacket for the longest time.”
— Richard Siken