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Still at the face of the speaker, her arms uplifted in horror ;
But John Alden, upstarting, as if the barb
Piercing the heart of his friend had struck his own, and had sundered
Once and for ever the bonds that held him bound as a captive,
Wild with excess of sensation, the awful delight of his freedom,
Mingled with pain and regret, unconscious of what he was doing,
Clasped, almost with a groan, the motionless form of Priscilla,
Pressing her close to his heart, as for ever his own, and exclaiming :
“ Those whom the Lord hath united, let no inan put them asunder!"
Even as rivulets twain, from distant and separate sources, Seeing each other afar, as they leap from the rocks, and pursuing Each one its devious path, but drawing nearer and nearer, Rush together at last, at their trysting-place in the forest ; So these lives that had run thus far in separate channels, Coming in sight of each other, then swerving and flowing asunder, Parted by barriers strong, but drawing nearer and nearer, Rushed together at last, and one was lost in the other.
Forth from the curtain of clouds, from the tent of purple and scarlet,
Issued the sun, the great High-Priest, in his garments resplendent,
Holiness unto the Lord, in letters of light, on his forehead,
Round the hem of his robe the golden bells and pomegranates,
Blessing the world he came, and the bars of vapour beneath him
Gleamed like a grate of brass, and the sea at his feet was a laver !
This was the wedding morn of Priscilla the Puritan maiden. Friends were assembled together; the Elder and Magistrate also Graced the scene with their presence, and stood like the Law and the
Gospel, One with the sanction of earth and one with the blessing of heaven. Simple and brief was the wedding, as that of Ruth and of Boaz. Softly the youth and the maiden repeated the words of betrothal, Taking each other for husband and wife in the Magistrate's presence, After the Puritan way, and the laudable custom of Holland. Fervently then, and devoutly, the excellent Elder of Plymouth Prayed for the hearth and the home, that were founded that day in
affection, Speaking of life and of death, and imploring divine benedictions.
Lo! when the service was ended, a form appeared on the threshold, Clad in armour of steel, a sombre and sorrowful figure !
Why does the bridegroom start and stare at the strange apparition ?
Why does the bride turn pale, and hide her face on his shoulder ?
Is it a phantom of air,-a bodiless, spectral illusion ?
Is it a ghost from the grave, that has come to forbid the betrothal ?
Long had it stood there unseen, a guest uninvited, unwelcomed ;
Over its clouded eyes there had passed at times an expression
Softening the gloom and revealing the warm heart hidden beneath them,
As when across the sky the driving rack of the rain-cloud
Grows for a moment thin, and betrays the sun by its brightness.
Once it had lifted its hand, and moved its lips, but was silent,
As if an iron will had mastered the fleeting intention.
But when were ended the troth and the prayer and the last benediction,
Into the room it strode, and the people beheld with amazement
Bodily there in his armour Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth!
Grasping the bridegroom's hand, he said with emotion, “ Forgive me!
I have been angry and hurt,—too long have I cherished the feeling;
I have been cruel and hard, but now, thank God! it is ended.
Mine is the same hot blood that leaped in the veins of Hugh Standish,
Sensitive, swift to resent, but as swift in atoning for error.
Never so much as now was Miles Standish the friend of John Alden."
Thereupon answered the bridegroom:“ Let all be forgotten between us,-
All save the dear, old friendship, and that shall grow older and dearer !"
Then the Captain advanced, and, bowing, saluted Priscilla,
Gravely, and after the manner of old-fashioned gentry in England,
Something of camp and of court, of town and of country, commingled,
Wishing her joy of her wedding, and loudly lauding her husband.
Then he said with a smile : "I should have remembered the adage,
If you would be well served, you must serve yourself; and moreover, No man can gather cherries in Kent at the season of Christmas !"
Great was the people's amazement, and greater yet their rejoicing, Thus to behold once more the sunburnt face of their Captain, Whom they had mourned as dead; and they gathered and crowded
about him, Eager to see him and hear him, forgetful of bride and of bridegroom, Questioning, answering, laughing, and each interrupting the other, Till the good Captain declared, being quite overpowered and bewildered, He had rather by far break into an Indian encampment, Than come again to a wedding to which he had not been invited.
Meanwhile the bridegroom went forth and stood with the bride at
Breathing the perfumed air of that warm and beautiful morning.
Touched with autumnal tints, but lonely and sad in the sunshine,
Lay extended before them the land of toil and privation;
There were the
of the dead, and the barren waste of the sea-shore, There the familiar fields, the groves of pine, and the meadows; But to their eyes transfigured, it seemed as the Garden of Eden, Filled with the presence of God, whose voice was the sound of the ocean.
Soon was their vision disturbed by the noise and stir of departure, Friends coming forth from the house, and impatient of longer delaying, Each with his plan for the day, and the work that was left uncompleted. Then from a stall near at hand, amid exclamations of wonder, Alden the thoughtful, the careful, so happy, so proud of Priscilla,
Brought out his snow-white steer, obeying the hand of its master,
Led by a cord that was tied to an iron ring in its nostrils,
Covered with crimson cloth, and a cushion placed for a saddle.
She should not walk, he said, through the dust and heat of the noonday ;
Nay, she should ride like a queen, not plod along like a peasant.
Somewhat alarmed at first, but reassured by the others,
Placing her hand on the cushion, her foot in the hand of her husband,
Gayly, with joyous laugh, Priscilla mounted her palfrey.
“Nothing is wanting now," he said, with a smile, “but the distaff;
Then you would be in truth my queen, my beautiful Bertha !”
Onward the bridal procession now moved to their new habitation,