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

New Arrivals

We drove a flourishing trade in turkeys, owing to the fact that many people came to our city shortly after William Penn arrived, and, not knowing how or where to get game, they believed they were particularly fortunate in being able to buy such large birds for sixpence each.

That you may understand how we found customers, in a land where any one who had the least glimmer of common sense might go out into the forest a couple of miles and shoot all he could carry home, let me say that from the day our governor arrived, until the close of the year, twenty-three ships, all bringing passengers, had come up the river. You can readily fancy that, after having eaten salted food so long, these people were much the same as wild with delight at being able to buy so much fresh meat for so small an amount of money.

Unfortunately, so far as Jethro and I were concerned, we were not the only ones in the city of Philadelphia ready to turn an honest penny by playing the part of trappers.

Further down the river were a number of Swedes, who had been in the country of Pennsylvania several years, and they came almost daily to our city with game, or farm produce, for sale.

Then there were the Indians, who had nothing to do save hunt, and who knew better than any others where to find wild birds or beasts. They were keen enough to understand what an opportunity there was to sell fresh stuffs to these people who had been eating salt food so long as to be very nearly pickled themselves, and surely they took advantage of it.


When some of the ships with passengers arrived, we who had made such an ado about the first baby born in our city, were not a little surprised to know that near to half a dozen babies had been born during the voyage, and, as father said, we thus had some of the very youngest settlers that ever came into a new country.

Jethro and I were inclined to look upon the first as something of a curiosity, and went on board the ship to see it; but as one after another came, the novelty was worn off, and our people would hardly turn their heads when a new baby was brought ashore.

When, however, one came who was called Sea-Mercy, we stared at her because of her having such a queer name, and, oddly enough, she was the ugliest of the lot.

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