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Let there be nothing between us save war, and
So spake the captain of Plymouth, and
strode about in the chamber,
Chafing and choking with rage ; like cords
were the veins on his temples. But in the midst of his anger a man appeared
at the doorway,
Bringing in uttermost haste a message of ur
gent importance, Rumors of danger and war and hostile incur
sions of Indians !
Straightway the Captain paused, and, without
further question or parley,
Took from the nail on the wall his sword with
its scabbard of iron,
Buckled the belt round his waist, and, frown
ing fiercely, departed.
Alden was left alone. He heard the clank of
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 insult,
Lifted his eyes to the heavens, 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 wrath
ful away to the council, Found it already assembled, impatiently wait
ing his coming ; Men in the middle of life, austere and grave in
Only one of them old, the hill that was nearest
Covered with snow, but erect, the excellent
Elder of Plymouth.
God had sifted three kingdoms to find the
wheat for this planting, Then had sifted the wheat, as the living seed of
a nation ; So say the chronicles old, and such is the faith
of the people! Near them was standing an Indian, in attitude
stern and defiant, Naked down to the waist, and grim and fero
cious in aspect; While on the table before them was lying un
opened a Bible, Ponderous, bound in leather, brass-studded,
printed in Holland, . And beside it outstretched the skin of a rattle
snake glittered, Filled, like a quiver, with arrows; a signal and
challenge of warfare, Brought by the Indian, and speaking with
arrowy tongues of defiance.
This Miles Standish beheld, as he entered, and
heard them debating What were an answer befitting the hostile mes
sage and menace, Talking of this and of that, contriving, suggest
ing, objecting; One voice only for peace, and that the voice of
the Elder, Judging it wise and well that some at least
were converted, Rather than any were slain, for this was but
Then outspake Miles Standish, the stalwart
Captain of Plymouth, Muttering deep in his throat, for his voice was
husky with anger, “ What! do you mean to make war with milk
and the water of roses.?
Is it to shoot red squirrels you have your how
There on the roof of the church, or is it to
shoot red devils ?
Truly the only tongue that is understood by a
Must be the tongue of fire that speaks from the
mouth of the cannon ! "
Thereupon answered and said the excellent
Elder of Plymouth, Somewhat amazed and alarmed at this irrev
erent language: “ Not so thought Saint Paul, nor yet the other
Not from the cannon's mouth were the tongues
of fire they spake with !”
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