Gateway to the Classics: Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis
Stephen of Philadelphia by  James Otis

News of the "Factor"

I would I had the time in which to tell you all that Jethro and I did during that first winter in America, when it was as if we had come into a land overflowing with milk and honey, with none to molest or make afraid; but if I am to tell you how we built the city of Brotherly Love, I must be careful not to spend time and words on that which Jethro and I did in the way of pleasure, because our doings were of no account, whereas the making of the chief town in this country of Pennsylvania was, as it seems to me, of great importance.

The Factor, which, as you may remember, was the third ship of our fleet, and sailed from the port of Bristol, did not get across the ocean until nearly the middle of December. During the voyage up the river to find us, she was frozen in while anchored for the night.

It was impossible to move the vessel until warm weather had come, and neither her master, nor any of those on board, had any idea as to where we might be, or even if we had finished our voyage.

Therefore it was that many of the passengers landed and made for themselves caves, much as we had done, save that they were pressed for time because of the frosty weather, or set up rude huts, and in these make-shifts for homes they spent the winter, while a few remained on board.

As a matter of fact, they were not so many miles away but that the journey might easily have been continued by land, yet we were as ignorant of their whereabouts as they were of ours, and thus we remained apart when it would have been so much pleasure to have spent the time in each other's company.

However, the Indians finally brought us news of the ship which was imprisoned in the ice, and many of us went down to visit her, Jethro and I among the number, as you shall hear very shortly.


First I must explain certain matters, lest you set me down as one who talks with a double tongue, as the savages say.

I have told you that we could not understand what the Indians meant by their odd-sounding words, and that is true of the time when we first landed; but many of our people, my father among the others, at once set about learning the language, to such effect that by the time the brown men knew of the whereabouts of the Factor, we, meaning certain of our company, could contrive to carry on quite a lengthy conversation with those who came among us to sell game or furs.

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