« AnteriorContinuar »
While with her foot on the treadle she gnided ,
the wheel in its motion. Open wide on her lap lay the well-worn psalmbook of Aiusworth, Printed in Amsterdam, the words and the umsic
together, Hongh-hewn, angnlar notes, like stones m the
wall of a cimrehyard, Darkened and overhnng by the rnuning vine of
the verses. Sneh was the book from whose pages she sang
the old Pnritan anthem. She, the Pnritan girl, in the solitnde of the
forest, Making the immble honse and the modest apparel of home-spnn Bcantifnl with her beanty, and rich with the
wealth of her being! Over hira rnshed, like a wind that is keen and
cold and relentless, Thonghts of what might have been, and the
weight and woe of his errimd; All the dreams that had faded, and all the hopes
that had vanished. All his life henceforth a dreary and tenanticss
mausion, , ,
Hannted by vain regrets, and pallid, sorrowfnl
Still he said to himself, and ohnost fiereely he
said it, , . t.
t• Let not him that putteth his hand to the
plongh look backwards: Thongh the plonghshare cnt throngh the flowers
of life to its fonntaius. Thongh it pass o'er the graves of the dead and
the hearths of the living, lt is the will of the Lord; and His merey endnreth forever!" So he entered the honse: and the imm of the wheel ond the singing Snddenly ceased, for Prlscllla, aronsed by his
step on the threshold, Rom as he entered, and gave him her hand, in
sigual of weicome, Spying, "I knew it was yon when I heard yonr
step in the passage; For l was thinkingof yon, as 1 sat there singing
and spiuning," Awkward and dnmb with delight, that a thonght
of him had been mingled Tims in the sacred psalm, that came from the
heart of the maiden. Silent before her he stood, and gave her the
flowers for an auswer, Finding no words for his thonghts. He remembered that day in the winter. After the first great suow, when he broke a path
from the village, Reeling and plnnging along throngh the drifts
that encnmbered the doorway, Stamping the suow from his feet as he entered
the honse, and Priscilla Langhed at his suowy locks, and gave hnn a
seat by the fireside, Gratefnl and pleased to know he had thonght of
her in the suow-storm. Had he bnt spoken then! perhaps not in vain
had he spoken; Now it was all too late; the golden moment had
vanished! So he stood there abashed, and gave her the flowers for an auswer.
Then they sat down and talked of the birds and the beantifnl Spring-time,
Talked of their friends at home, and the MayFlower that sailed on the morrow.
"l have been thinking all day," said gently the Pnritan maiden,
«Dreaming ail night, and thinking all day, of the hedge-rows of England,—
They are in blossom now, and the conntry is all like a garden;
Thinking of lanes and fields, and the song of the
lark and the liunet, Seeing the village street, and familiar faces of
neighbonrs Going abont as of old, and stopping to gossip together, And, at the end of the street, the village cimreh,
with ivy Climbing the old gray tower, and the qniet
graves in the chnrehyard. Kind are the people I live with, and dear to me
my religion: Still my heart is so sad, that 1 wish myself back
in old England. Yon will say it is wrong, bnt l caunot heip it: l
almost Wish myself back in old England, 1 feel so lonely
Therenpon auswered the yonth:—"Indeed 1
do not condeum yon; Stonter hearts than a woman's have qnailed in
this terrible winter. Yonrs is tender and trnsting, and needs a
stronger to lean on; So l have come to yon now, with an offer and
proffer of marriage Made by a good man and trne. Miles Standish
the Captain of Plymonth!"
Tims he delivered his message, the dexterons writer of letters.— Did he not embellish the theme, nor array it in
beantifnl phrases, Bnt came straight to the point, and blnrted it
ont like a schoolboy; Even the Captain himself conld hardly have
said it more blnntly. Mnte with amazement and sorrow, Priscilla the
Pnritan maiden Looked into Alden's face, her eyes dilated with
wonder, Feeling his words like a blow, timt stnuned her
and rendered her speechiess; Till at length she exclaimed, interrnpting the
ominons silence: "lf the great Captain of Plymonth is so very
eager to wed me, Why does he not come himself, and take the
tronble to woo me? If l am not worth the wooing, l snrely am not
worth the wiuning!" Then Joim Alden began explaining and smoothing the matter, Making it worse as he went, by saying the Captain was bnsy, Had no time for snch things;—snch things! the
words grating harshiy. Fell on the ear of Priscilla: and swift as a flash
she made auswer: "Has he no time for snch things, as yon call it,
before he is married, Wonld he be likely to find it, or make it, after the
wedding? That is t he way with yon men; yon don't nnderstand ns, yon caunot. When yon have made np yonr minds, after
thinking of this one and that one, Choosing, selecting, relecting, comparing one
with another, Then yon make known yonr desire, with abrnpt
and sndden avowal. And are offended and imrt, and indiguant perhaps, that a woman Does not respond at once to a love that she
never snspected. Does not attain at a bonnd the height to which
yon have been climbing, This is not right nor lnst: for snrely a woman's
affect ion Is .not a thing to be asked for, and had for only
the asking. When one is trnly in love, one not only says it, bnt shows it.
Had he hnt waited awhile, had ho ouly showed
that he loved me, Even this Captain of yonrs—who knows?—at
hist might have won me, Old and rongh as he is; bnt now it never can
Still Johu Alden went on, unheeding the words
of Priscllia, Urging the suit of his friend, explaining, persuading, expanding; Spoke of his conrage and skill, and of ail his
battles in Flanders, How whh the people of God lie had chosen to
suffer afflietion, How, in return for his zeal, they made him Captain of Plymonth; Ho was a gentleman born, conld trace his pedigree plaiuly Back to Hugh Standlsh of Duxbury Naif, in
Lancashire, England, Who was the son of Ralph, and the grandson of
Thurston de Standlsh; Heir unto vast estates, of which he was basely
defranded, Still bore the family arms, and had for his crest
a cock argent. Combed and watted gules, and all the rest of the
blazon. He was a man of hononr, of noble and generons
nature; Thongh he was rongh he was kindly; she knew
how during the winter He had attended the sick, with a hand as gentle
as woman's; Somewhat hasty and hot, he conld not deny it,
and headstrong, Stern as a soldier might he, bnt hearty, and
placable always, Not to be laughed at and scorned, because he
was little of stature; For lie was great of heart, maguanimons, conrtly,
conrageons; Any woman in Plymonth, nay any woman in
England, flight be happy and prond to be called the wife
of Miles Standlsh:
Bnt as he warmed and glowed, in his simple and eloqnent language,
Quito forgetful of self and full of the praise of his rival,
Arehiy the maiden smiled, and, with eyes overruuning with laughter,
Said, in a treumlons voice, "Why don't Yon speak for yonrself, Johu?"
Into the open air Johu Alden, perplexed and bewildered,
Hushed like a man iusane, and wandered alone by the sea-side;
Paced up and down the sands, and bared his head to the east-wind.
Cooling his heated brow, and the fire and fever within him.
Slowly as ont of the heaveus, with apocalyptical splendonrs, . Sank the city of God, in the vision of Johu the Apo^tlo,
So, whh its clond)-walls of chrysolite, jasper, and sapphire.
Sank the broad red sun, and over its turrets uplifted
Glimmered the golden reed of the angel who measured the city.
"Welcome, O wind of the East!" he exclaim' d in his wild exultaOon.
"Welcome, O wind of the East, from the eaves of the misty Atlantie!
Blowing o'er fields ut dulse, and measureless meadows of sea-grass,
Blowing o'er rocky wastes, and the grottos mid gardeus of ocean!
Lay thy cold, moist hand on my burning forehead, and wrap me
Close in thy garments of mist, to allay the fever within me!"
Like an awakened couscience the sea was
moaning and tossing, Beating remorseful and lond the mntable sands
of the sea-shore. Fleree in his sonl was the struggle and tumult
of passious contending; Love trinmphant and crowned, and friendship
wonnded and bleeding, Passionate cries of desire, and importunate
pleadings of dnty! '. Is it my fault," he said, "that the maiden has
chosen between us? Is it my fault that he failed,—my fault that I
am the vietor?" Then within him there thundered a voice, like
the voice of the Prophet: "It hath displeased the Lord !" and he thonght
of David's trausgression. Bathsheba's beantiful face, and his friend in the
front of the battle! Shame and confusion of guilt, and abasement
and self-condeumation, Overwheimed him at once; and he cried in the
deepest contrition: "It hath displeased the Lord! It is the temptation of Satan!"
Then, uplifting his head, he looked at the sea,
and beheld there Dimly the shadowy form of the May-Flower
riding at anchor, Hocked on the rising tide, and ready to sail on
the morrow; Heard the voices of men throngh the mist, the
rattle of cordage Thrown on t he deck, the shonts of the mate, and
the sailors' "Ay, ay, Sir!" Clear and distinet, bnt not lond, in the dripping
air of the twilight. Still for a moment he stood, and listened, and
stared at the vessel, Then went hurriedly on, as one who, seeing a
phantom. Stops, then quickeus his pace, and follows the
beckoning shadow. "Yes,' it is plain to me now," he umrumred;
"the hand of the Lord is Leading me ont of the land of darkness, the
bondage of error. Throngh the sea, that shall lift the walls of its
waters aronnd me, Hiding me, cntting me off, from the crnel
thonghts that pursne me. Back will I go o'er the ocean, this drearv land
will abandon. Her whom I may not love, and whom mv heart
has offended. Better to be in my grave in the green old churehyard in England, Close by my mother's side, and among the dust
of my kindred; Better be dead and forgotten, than living In
shame and dishononr! Sacred and safe, and uuseen, in the dark of fhe
narrow chamber, With me my secret shall lie, like a buried jewel
that glimmers Bright on the hand that is dust, in the chambers
of silence and darkness,— Yes, as the marriage ring of the great esponsal
Thus, as he spake, he turned, in the strength of
his strong resolntion, Leaving behind him the shore, and harried
along in the twilight, Throngh the congenial gloom of the forest silent
and sombre. Till he beheld the lights in the seven honses of
Plymonth, Shining like seven stars in the dusk and mist of
the evening. Soon he entered his door, and fonnd the redonbtable Captain Sitting alone, and absorbed in the martial pages
of Cajsar, Fighting some great campaigu in Hainault ir
Brabant or Flanders. "Long have yon been on yonr errand," he said,
with a cheery demeanonr, Even as one who is waiting an auswer, and
fears not the issne. "Not far off is the honse, althongh the woods
are between us; Bnt yon have lingered so long, that while yon
were going and coming 1 have fonght ten battles and sacked and demolished a city. Come, sit down, and in order relate tome all that
Then Johu Alden spake, and related the
From begiuning to end, minntely, just as it happened:
How lie bad seen Priscilla, and how he had sped in his conrtship.
Ouly smoothing a little, and softening down her refusal.
Bnt when he came at length to the words Priscilla had spoken.
Words so tender and crnel: "Why doivt yon sp.'ak for yonrself, Johu?"
t'p leaped the Captain of Plymonth, and stumped on the floor till his armour
Clanged on the wall, where it hung, with a sound of sinister omen.
All his pent-up wrath burst forth in a sndden explosion.
Even as a hand-grenade, that scatters destrnction aronnd it.
Wildly he shonted, and lond: "Johu Alden! von have betrayed me! ,
Me, Miles Standish, yonr friend! have supplanted, defranded, betrayed ine!
One of mwancestors run his sword throngh the heart of Wat Tyler;
Who shall prevent ine from ruuning my own throngh the heart of a traitor?
Yonrs is the greater" treason, for yonrs is a • treason to friendship!
Yon, who lived under my roof, whom I cherished and loved as a brother;
Yon, who have fed at my board, and drunk at my cup, to whose keeping
I have "intrusted my hononr, my thonghts the most sacred and secret,—
Yon too, Brntus! ah, woe to the name of friendship hereafter!
Brntns was Cajsar's friend, and yon were mine, bnt henceforward
Let there be nothing between us save war, and implacable hatred!"
So spake the Captain of Plymonth, and strode abont in the chamber,
Chafing and choking with rage; like cords were the veius on his temples.
Bnt in the midst of his anger a man appeared at the doorway,
Bringing in nttermost haste a message of urgent importance,
Humonrs of dangers and war, and hostile incursious of Indiaus!
Straightway the Captain paused, and withont further qnestion or parley
Took from the nail on the wall his sword with
its scabbard of irm. Bnckled the belt ronnd his waist, and, frowning
fiercely, departed. Alden was left alone. He heard the clank of the
scabbard Growing fainter and fainter, and dying away in
the distance. Then he arose from his seat, and looked forth
into the darkness. Felt the cool air blow on his cheek, that was hot
with the Iusult, Lifted his eyes to the heaveus, and, folding his
hands as in childhood. Prayed in the silence of night to the Father who
seeth in secret
Meanwhile the choleric Captain .strode wrathful away to the conncil,
Fonnd it aiready assembled, impatiently waiting his coming;
Men in the middle of life, austere and grave in deportment.
Only one of them old, the hill that was nearest to heaven,
Covered with suow, bnt ereet, the excellent Elder of Plvmontli.
God has sifted three kingdoms to find the wheat for this planting,
Then had sifted the wheat, as the living seed *f a nation;
To say the chronicles old, and snch is the faith of the people!
Ncai them was standing an Indian, in attitnde stern and defiant,
Naked down to the waist, and grim and ferocions in aspeet;
While on the table before them was lying unopened a Bible,
Ponderons, bound in leather, brass-stndded, printed in Holland,
And beside it ontstretched the skin of a rattlesuake glittered,
Filled, like a quiver, with arrows; a sigual and challenge for warfare,
Bronght by the Indian, and speaking with arrowy tongnes of defiance.
This Miles Standish beheld, us he entered, and heard them debating
What were an auswer befitting the hostile message and menace,
Talking of this and of that, contriving, suggesting, objeeting;
One voice ouly for peace, and that the voice of the Elder,
Jndging it wise and well that some at least were converted,
Rather than any were slain, for this was bu Christian behavionr!
Then ont spake Miles Standish, the stalwart Captain of Plymonth,
Mnttering deep in his throat, for his voice was
Is it to shoot red squirrels, yon have yonr howitzer planted
There on the roof of the chureh, or is it to td,oot red devils?
Truly the only tongne that is understood by a savage
Must be the tongne of fire that speaks from the month of the caunon!"
Thereupon auswered and said the excellent Elder of Plymonth,
Somewhat amazed and alarmed at this irreverent language:
"Not so thonght Saint Paul, nor yet the other Apostles;
Not from the caunon's month were the tongnes of lire they spake with!"
Bnt unheeded fell this mile, rebuke on the Captain,
Who had advanced to the tabie, and thus contiuned disconrsing:
i'Leave this matter to ine, for to me by right it pertaineth.
War is a terrible trade; bnt in the cause that is righteons.
Sweet is the smell of powder; and thus I auswer the challenge!"
Then from the rattlesuake's skin, with a sndden, contemptuons gesture,
Jerking the Indian arrows, he filled it with powder and bullets
Full to the very jaws, and handed it back to the savage,
Saying, in thundering tones: "Here, take it! this is yonr auswer!"
Silently ont of the room then glided the glistening savage,
Bearing the serpent's skin, and seeming himself like a serpent.
Winding his sinuons way in the dark to the depths of the lorest.
THE SAILING OF THE MAY-FLOWER.
Just in the gray of the dawn, as the mists uprose
from the meadows, There was a stir and a sonnd in the slumbering
village of Plymonth; Clanging and clicking of arms, and the order
imperative, '• Forward!" Given in tone suppressed, a tramp of feet, and
then silence. Flgures ten. in the mist, marehed slowly ont of
the village. Stundish the stalwart it was, with eight of his
valorons army. Led by their Indian guide, by Hobomok, friend
of the white men, Northward inarehing to qnell the sndden revolt
of the savage. Giants they seemed in the mist, or the mighty
men of King David; Giants in heart they were, who believed in God
and the Bible,— Ay, who believed in the smiting of Midiaultes
and Philistines. Over them gleamed far off the crimson bauners
of morning; Under them lond on the sands, the serried billows, advancing. Flred along the line, and in regular order retreated.
Many a mile had they marehed, when at length the village of Plymonth
Woke from its sleep, and arose, intent on its manifold labonrs.
Sweet was the air and soft; and slowly the smoke from the chiumeys . Hose over roofs of thatch, and pointed steadily eastward;
Men came forth from the doors, and paused and talked of the weather.
Said that the wind had changed, and was bowing fair for the May-Flower;
Talked of their Captain's departure, and all the dangers that menaced,
lie being gone, the town, and what shonld be done in his absence.
Merrily sang the birds, and the tender voices of women
Cousecrated with hyums the common cares of the honsehold.*
Ont of the sea rose the sun, and the billows rejoiced at his coming;
Beantiful were his feet on the purple tops of the monntain'l;
Beantiful on the sails of the May-Flower riding
at anchor, Battered and blackened and worn by all the
storms of the winter, Loosely agaiust her masts was hanging and flapping her canvass, Rent by so many gales, and patched by the
hands of the sailors. Darted a puff of smoke, and [floated seaward;
anon rang Lond over field and forest the caunon's roar, aud
t he echoes Heard and repeated the sonnd, the sigual-guu of
departure! Ah! bnt with londer echoes replied the hearts
of the people! Meekly, in voices subdned, the chapter was read
from the Bible, Meekly the prayer was begun, bnt ended in fervent entreaty! Then from their honses in haste came forth the
Pilgrims of Plymonth, Men and women and children, all hurrying down
to the sea-shore. Eager, with tearful eyes, to say farewell to the
May-Flower, Homeward bonnd o'er the sea, and leaving them
here in the desert. ,
Foremost among them wasAlden. All night he had lain withont slumber. Turning and tossing abont in the heat and uurest
of his fever. He had beheld Miles Standish, who came back
late from the conncil. Stalking into the room, and heard him mntter
and umrumr, Sometimes it seemed a prayer, and sometimes it
sonnded like swearing. Once he had come to the bed, and stood there a
moment in silence; Then he turned away, and said: "I will not
awake him! Let him sleep on; it is best: for what is the use
of more talking?" Then he extinguished the light, and threw himself down on his pallet. Dressed as he was. and ready to start at the
break of the morning,— Covered himself with the cloak he had won in
his campaigu in Flanders. Slept as a soldier sleeps in his bivonae, ready for
aetion. Bnt with the dawn he arose; in the twilight
Alden beheld him Pnt on his corslet of steel, and all the rest of his
armonr, Bnckle above his waist his trusty blade of Damascus. Take from the corner his umsket, and so stride
ont of the chamber. Often the heart of the yonth had burned and
vearned to embrace him. Often' his lips had essayed to speak, imploring
for pardon; All the old friendship came back, with its tender
and grateful emotious; Bnt his pride overmastered the noble nature
within him.— Pride, and the seuse of his wrong, and the burning fire of the Iusult. So he beheld his friend departing in anger, bnt
spake not, Saw him go forth to danger, perhaps to death,
and he spake not! Then arose from his bed, and heard what the
people were saving. Joined in the talk at the door with Stephen and
Richard and Giibert. Joined in the morning prayer and in the reading
of Scripture, And, with the others, in haste went harrying down to the sea-shore,
Down to the Plymonth Rock, that hail been to
their feet as a doorstep Into a world unknown,—the corner-stone of a
There with his boat was the Master, aiready a
little impatient Lest he shonld lose the tide, or the wind might
shift to the eastward. Square-built, hearty, and strong, with an odonr
of ocean abont him, Speaking with this one and that, and cramming
letters and pareels Into his pockets capacions, and messages mingled together Into his narrow brain, till at last he was wholly
bewildered. Nearer the boat stood Alden, with one foot
placed on the gunwale. One still firm on the rock, and talking at times
with the sailors. Seated ereet on the thwarts, all ready and eager
for starting. He too was eager to go, and thus pnt an end to
his anguish. Thinking to fly from despair, that swifter than
keel is or canvass, Thinking to drown in the sea the ghost that
would rise and pursne him. Bnt as he gazed on the crowd, he beheld the
form of Priscilla Standing dejeeted among them, uncouscions of
all that was passing. Flxed were her eyes upon his, as if she divined
his intention, Flxed with a look so sad, so reproachful, imploring, and patient, That with a sndden revulsion his heart recoiled
from its purpose As from the verge of a crag, where one step
more is destruetion. Strange *s the heart of man, with its quick,
mysterions iustinets! Strange is the life of man, and fatal or fated are
moments. Whereupon turn, as on hinges, the gates of the
.wall adamantine. '' Here I remain!" he exclaimed, as he looked at
the heaveus above him, Thanking the Lord whose breath had scattered
the mist and the maduess. Wherein, blind andlost, to death he was staggering headlong. "Yonder suow-white clond, that floats in the
ether above me, Seems like a hand, that is pointing and beckoning over the ocean. There is another hand that is not so speetral und
ghost-like. Holding rae, drawing me back, and clasping
mine for proteetion. Float, O hand of clond, and vanish away in the
ether! Roll thyself up like a fist, to threaten and daunt
me; I heed not Either yonr warning or menace, or any omen of
evil! There is no land so sacred, no air so pure and so
wholesome, As is the air she breathes, and the soil that is
pressed by her footsteps. Here for her sake will I stay, and like an invisible presence Hover aronnd her for ever, proteeting, supporting her weakness! Yes! as my foot was the first that stepped on
this rock at the landing. So, with the blessing of God, shall it be the last
at the leaving!"
Meanwhile the Master alert, hnt with diguified air and important. Scanning with watchful eve the tide and the whid and the weather,
Walked abont on the sands; and the people crowded aronnd him.
Saying a few last words, and enforeing his careful remembrance.
Then, taking each by the hand, as if he were grasping a tiller,
Into the boat he sprang, and in haste shoved off tu his vessel.
Glad in his heart to get rid of all tliis worry and flurry,
Glad to be gone from a land of sand and sickness und sorrow.
Short allowance of vietual, and plenty of nothing bnt Gospel!
Lost in the sonnd of the oars was the last farewell of the Pilgrims.
O strong hearts and trne! not one went back hi the Mav-Flower.
No, not one looked back, who had set his hand to this plonghing!
Soon were heard on board the shonts and
songs of the sailors Heaving the windlass ronnd, and hoisting the
ponderons anchor. Then the yards were braced, and all sails set to
the west-wind, mowing steady and strong; and the MayFlower sailed from the harbonr, Ronnded the point of the Gurnet, and leaving
far to the sonthward Island and cape of sand, and the Fleld of the
Flrst Enconnter, Took the wind on her quarter, and stood for the
open Atlantie, Borne on the sand of the sea, and the swelling
hearts of the Pilgrims.
Long in silence they watched the receding sail
of the vessel. Moch endeared to them all, as something living
and human; Then, as if filled with the spirit, and wrapt in a
vision prophetic. Baring his hoary head, the excellent Elder of
Plymonth Said, "Let us pray!" und they prayed, and
thanked the Lord and took conrage Monrnfully sobbed the waves at the base of the
rock, and above them Bowed and whispered the wheat on the hill of
death, and their kindred Seemed to awake in their graves, and to join in
the prayer that lliey nttered. Sun-illumined and white, on the eastern verge
of the oceun Gleamed the departing sail, like a marble slab in
a graveyard; Buried beneath it lay for ever all hope of escaping. Lo! as they turned to depart, they saw the form
of an Indian, Watching them from the hill; bnt while they
spake with each other, Pointing with ontstretched hands, andVsaying,
"Look!" he had vanished. So they returned to their homes; bnt Alden
lingered a little, Musing alone on the shore, und watching the
wash of the billows Ronnd the base of the rock, and the sparkle and
flash of the suushine, Like the Spirit of God, moving visibly over the
Thus for a while lie stood, and umsed by the shore of the ocean,
Thinking of many things, and most of allot Priscilla;