Shortly after setting sail, the Pilgrims run into a problem. The captain of the smaller ship, Mr. Reynolds, realizes that the ship is leaky and probably can’t survive a voyage. Both ships dock to wait for repairs; however, no leaks can be found. Eventually, it’s decided that the smaller ship must stay behind. The ship’s provisions are transferred to the larger ship, which is captained by Christopher Jones, and the remaining Pilgrims set sail, sorry to leave their friends.
Notice that Bradford gives the strong impression that there are only Pilgrims aboard the ship. In reality, there were other people traveling to New England as well, including indentured servants, farmers, and people with no strong Separatist convictions.
One of the people who stay behind is Mr. Cushman. On August 17, 1620, he writes a long letter to Edward Southworth, a friend living in London, complaining about the lengthy process of repairing the smaller ship. He also complains that Mr. Weston is being unreasonable in demanding new conditions for the Pilgrims’ contract. Some Pilgrims point out that Mr. Robinson should have confirmed the conditions earlier. In light of the disunity and financial troubles of the voyage, Cushman writes, “if ever we establish a colony, God works a miracle.”
The chapter ends on a note of disunity and suspense—it’s not clear how the Pilgrim leaders will be able to overcome their disagreements over contracts and debts and work together to run a successful colony in New England. Cushman’s observation stresses the Pilgrim’s faith in God’s benevolence, and how they intimately connect their financial decisions to their religious beliefs.