In the year 1625, Oldham returns to the colony, despite the fact that he’s been banished. He calls the Pilgrims good-for-nothings, and as a result he’s locked up and sent away from Plymouth, along with Lyford. Oldham later sails to Virginia, and during the voyage he nearly dies in a storm. The experience inspires Oldham to confess his sins and become a better Christian. He later lives with his wife and children in Massachusetts, but dies after being attacked by Indians. Lyford returns to his wife, who learns that he’s had a child with another woman. As the Bible says, Lyford dug a hole for himself, and now had to lie in it.
As with many of the other corrupt characters in the book, Bradford describes Lyford’s fate as a teachable moment for future generations of Pilgrims. Lyford is portrayed as a sinful man who’s brought about his own abject misery. The description of Oldham’s conversion mirrors a quintessential Christian motif: the near-death experience that prompts a religious awakening.
Lyford later makes alliances with some “worthy reformers” based in Ireland. During his time with these people, Lyford is said to have “defiled” a young woman who was engaged to be married to another man. Lyford later sails to the Massachusetts Bay, in the town later known as Salem. He eventually moves to Virginia, where he dies.
Bradford doesn’t explain how he learned that Lyford “defiled” the Irish woman (it’s possible, one could say, that he or others just invented the story in order to defame his enemy’s reputation). Also note that Bradford never even considers the woman’s agency in the matter.
In the middle of the year, a ship arrives at Plymouth, bearing a letter from “the Adventurers in England.” In the letter the adventurers (investors) accuse the Pilgrims of treating them and their religious beliefs with outright hostility. The Pilgrims also receive a letter from “the Adventurers in England who remained friendly to them.” Therein, they explain that the Virginia Compact’s partnership is dissolved due to a failure to turn a profit. They also ask that the Pilgrims send them enough money to free them of their stake in the company’s common stock. The ship bears supplies for sale to the colonists, including cattle and shoes. Some colonists are offended by the high prices the investors charge. However, they purchase supplies and send the ship back laden with beaver furs and fish. When the ship sails back, though, it is captured by a Turkish fleet and its sailors are enslaved—confirming “the uncertainty of all human things.”
The merchant investors (“adventurers”) clash with the Pilgrims largely because they disagree with the Pilgrims’ religious beliefs, and perhaps as a result don’t consider the Pilgrims to be trustworthy businessmen. Around the same time, the Virginia Company itself dissolves; however, many investors want their money back. As a result, the Pilgrims continue with an arrangement similar to the one they’d established previously: the investors send them some supplies to ensure their survival, and the Pilgrims send back valuable furs and pelts to repay their obligations. Also note that once again Bradford uses a tragedy to derive an easy religious moral.
The Pilgrims also send a second ship to England, captained by Myles Standish. In England, Standish’s mission is to convince the remaining investors to fall in line instead of demanding their money back right away. Standish has little success, since there is a plague in England; however, he makes “good preparations” for a future agreement with the investors. Meanwhile, the Pilgrims experience a good harvest, and send a shipload of corn and beaver furs back to England.
Uncontrollable natural disasters, such as storms and plagues, dominate this chapter, confirming Bradford’s observation about life’s uncertainties. However, one of the central tenets of Pilgrim life is that God rewards the faithful—thus, Bradford closes the chapter by noting the bountiful harvest.