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Like an awakened conscience, the sea was moaning and tossing, Beating remorseful and loud the mutable sands
of the sea-shore. Pierce in his soul was the struggle and tumult
of passions contending; Love triumphant and crowned, and friendship
wounded and bleeding, Passionate cries of desire, and importunate
pleadings of duty! "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 victor?" Then within him there thundered a voice, like
the voice of the Prophet: "It hath displeased the Lord!" —and he
thought of David's transgression, Bathsheba's beautiful face, and his friend in the front of the battle!
Shame and confusion of guilt, and abasement and self-condemnation,
Overwhelmed 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, Bocked on the rising tide, and ready to sail on
the morrow; Heard the voices of men through the mist, the
rattle of cordage Thrown on the deck, the shouts of the mate,
and the sailors' " Ay, ay, Sir!" Clear and distinct, but not loud, 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 quickens his pace, and follows the
beckoning shadow. "Yes, it is plain to me now," he murmured;
"the hand of the Lord is Leading me out of the land of darkness, the
bondage of error, Through the sea, that shall lift the walls of its
waters around me, Hiding me, cutting me off, from the cruel
thoughts that pursue me. Back will I go o'er the ocean, this dreary land
will abandon, Her whom I may not love, and him whom my
heart has offended. Better to be in my grave in the green old
churchyard 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 dishonor!
Sacred and safe and unseen, in the dark of the 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 espousal hereafter!"
Thus as he spake, he turned, in the strength
of his strong resolution, Leaving behind him the shore, and hurried
along in the twilight, Through the congenial gloom of the forest
silent and sombre, Till he beheld the lights in the seven houses of
Shining like seven stars in the dusk and mist of the evening.
Soon he entered his door, and found the redoubtable Captain
Sitting alone, and absorbed in the martial pages of Caesar,
Fighting some great campaign in Hainault or Brabant or Flanders.
"Long have you been on your errand," he said with a cheery demeanor,
Even as one who is waiting an answer, and fears not the issue.
"Not far off is the house, although the woods are between us;
But you have lingered so long, that while you were going and coming
I have fought ten battles and sacked and demolished a city.
Come, sit down, and in order relate to me all that has happened."