Page images
PDF
EPUB

But unheeded fell this mild rebuke on the Captain, Who had advanced to the table, and thus con

tinued discoursing: " Leave this matter to me, for to me by right it

pertaineth. War is a terrible trade; but in the cause that is

righteous, Sweet is the smell of powder; and thus I answer

the challenge!” Then from the rattlesnake's skin, with a sudden,

contemptuous 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 your answer!Silently out of the room then glided the glistening

savage, Bearing the serpent's skin, and seeming himself

like a serpent, Winding his sinuous way in the dark to the depths

of the forest.

V.

TAR SAILING OF THE MAY FLOWER.

the savage.

Just in the gray of the dawn, as the mists uprose

from the meadows, Tharz was a stir and a sound in the slumbering

village of Plymouth; Clang‘ng and clicking of arms, and the order im

perative, “ Forward !” Given in tone suppressed, a tramp of feet, and then

silence. Figures ten, in the mist, marched slowly out of the

village. Standish the stalwart it was, with eight of his valor

ous army, Led by their Indian guide, by Hobomok, friend of

the white men, Northward marching to quell the sudden revolt of 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 Midianites and

Philistines. Over them gleamed far off the crimson banners of

morning; Under them loud on the sands, the serried billows,

advancing, Fired along the line, and in regular order retreated. Many a mile had they marched, when at length

the village of Plymouth Woke from its sleep, and arose, intent on its manifold labors.

27

.

VOL. II.

Sweet was the air and soft ; and slowly the smoke

from the chimneys Rose over roofs of thatch, and pointed steadily east

ward ; Men came forth from the doors, and paused and

talked of the weather, Said that the wind had changed, and was blowing

fair for the May Flower; Talked of their Captain's departure, and all the

dangers that menaced, He being gone, the town, and what should be done

in his absence. Merrily sang the birds, and the tender voices of

women

Consecrated with hymns the common cares of the

household. Out of the sea rose the sun, and the billows re

joiced at his coming ; Beautiful were his feet on the purple tops of the

mountains; Beautiful on the sails of the May Flower riding at

anchor, Battered and blackened and worn by all the storms

of the winter. Loosely against her masts was hanging and flap

ping her canvas, Rent by so many gales, and patched by the hands

of the sailors. Suddenly from her side, as the sun rose over the

ocean, Darted a puff of smoke, and floated seaward ; anon

rang Loud over field and forest the cannon's roar, and

the echoes Heard and repeated the sound, the signal-gun of

departure ! Ah! but with louder echoes replied the hearts of

the people! Meekly, in voices subdued, the chapter was read

from the Bible,

Meekly the prayer was begun, but ended in fer

vent entreaty ! Then from their houses in haste came forth the Pil

grims of Plymouth, Men and women and children, all hurrying down

to the sea-shore, Eager, with tearful eyes, to say farewell to the May

Flower, Homeward bound o'er the sea, and leaving them

here in the desert.

Foremost among them was Alden. All night he

had lain without slumber, Turning and tossing about in the heat and unrest

of his fever. He had beheld Miles Standish, who came back late

from the council, Stalking into the room, and heard him mutter and

murmur, Sometimes it seemed a prayer, and sometimes it

sounded like swearing. Once he had come to the bed, and stood there a

moment in silence; Then he had 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 worn in his

campaigns in Flanders, – Slept as a soldier sleeps in his bivouac, ready for

action. But with the dawn he arose ; in the twilight Alden

beheld him Put on his corslet of steel, and all the rest of his Buckle about his waist his trusty blade of Damascus, Take from the corner his musket, and so stride out

armor,

of the chamber. Often the heart of the youth had burned and

yearned to embrace him, Often his lips had essayed to speak, imploring for

pardon, All the old friendship came back, with its tender

and grateful emotions ; But his pride overmastered the noble nature within

him, Pride, and the sense of his wrong, and the burning

fire of the insult. So he beheld his friend departing in anger, but

spake not, Saw him go forth to danger, perhaps to death, and

he spake not! Then he arose from his bed, and heard what the

people were saying, Joined in the talk at the door, with Stephen and

Richard and Gilbert, Joined in the morning prayer, and in the reading

of Scripture, And, with the others, in haste went hurrying down

to the sea-shore, Down to the Plymouth Rock, that had been to their

feet as a door-step Into a world unknown,

the corner-stone of a nation!

There with his boat was the Master, already a

little impatient Lest he should lose the tide, or the wind might shift

to the eastward, Square-built, hearty, and strong, with an odor of

ocean about him, Speaking with this one and that, and cramming

letters and parcels Into his pockets capacious, and messages mingled

together

« PreviousContinue »