The heat and the pressure began soon after they got underway: 102 Pilgrims huddled in the lantern-lit darkness of the low-ceilinged ‘tween-decks; women and small children allowed to have the captain’s cabin (Jones had generously offered to bunk with his petty officers); no hatches open because of continuous storms; all non-essential personnel required to stay below decks; the constant crying of small children; no chance to cook any meals.
It added up to seven weeks of the hell of an ill-lighted, rolling, pitching, stinking inferno, the kind that brings up sins that had lain buried for years—anger, self-pity, bitterness, vindictiveness, jealousy, despair. All these surfaced sins had to be faced, confessed, and given up to the Lord for His cleansing. No matter how full they felt, or how grim the daily situation, they continued to seek God together, praying through despair and into peace and thanksgiving.
Pilgrims were harassed
The weary Pilgrims were forced to endure yet another ordeal— harassment from the sailors. Several of the crew had taken to mocking them unmercifully, and their self-appointed leader had taken such a dislike to the Pilgrims that he would gloat at their sickness and delight in telling them how much he looked forward to sewing them in shrouds and feeding them to the fish. For surely some of them would soon be dying—death was a familiar late among landlubbers on these long voyages—and these the puniest assortment of “psalm-singing puke-stockings” he had ever seen.
But just at the peak of his tormenting, this same crewman suddenly took gravely ill of an unknown fever and died within a single day! No one else caught this mysterious disease, and his was the first shrouded body to go over the side. Thereafter, there was no more mocking from the crew.