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To and fro in his breast his thoughts were heaving and

dashing, As in a foundering ship, with every roll of the vessel, Washes the bitter sea, the merciless surge of the ocean! “Must I relinquish it all,” he cried with a wild lamentation, “Must I relinquish it all, the joy, the hope, the illusion ? Was it for this I have loved, and waited, and worshipped

in silence ? Was it for this I have followed the flying feet and the

Over the wintry sea, to the desolate shores of New England ?
Truly the heart is deceitful, and out of its depths of cor-

Rise, like an exhalation, the misty phantoms of passion;
Angels of light they seem, but are only delusions of Satan.
All is clear to me now; I feel it, I see it distinctly!
This is the hand of the Lord; it is laid upon me in anger,
For I have followed too much the heart's desires and de-

Worshipping Astaroth blindly, and impious idols of Baal.
This is the cross I must bear; the sin and the swift retri-


So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went on

his errand; Crossing the brook at the ford, where it brawled over

pebble and shallow, Gathering still, as he went, the May-flowers blooming

around him, Fragrant, filling the air with a strange and wonderful

sweetness, Children lost in the woods, and covered with leaves in their



“Puritan flowers,” he said, “and the type of Puritan

maidens, Modest and simple and sweet, the very type of Priscilla! So I will take them to her; to Priscilla the May-flower of

Plymouth, Modest and simple and sweet, as a parting gift will I take

them; Breathing their silent farewells, as they fade and wither

and perish, Soon to be thrown away as is the heart of the giver." So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went on his

errand; Came to an open space, and saw the disk of the ocean, Sailless, sombre and cold with the comfortless breath of

the east-wind; Saw the new-built house, and people at work in a

meadow; Heard, as he drew near the door, the musical voice of

Priscilla Singing the hundredth Psalm, the grand old Puritan

anthem, Music that Luther sang to the sacred words of the

Psalmist, Full of the breath of the Lord, consoling and comforting

many. Then, as he opened the door, he beheld the form of the

maiden Seated beside her wheel, and the carded wool like a snow

drift Piled at her knee, her white hands feeding the ravenous

spindle, While with her foot on the treadle she guided the wheel in

its motion.

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Open wide on her lap lay the well-worn psalm-book of

Printed in Amsterdam, the words and the music together,
Rough-hewn, angular notes, like stones in the wall of

a churchyard,
Darkened and overhung by the running vine of the

Such was the book from whose pages she sang the old

Puritan anthem,
She, the Puritan girl, in the solitude of the forest,
Making the humble house and the modest apparel of home-

Beautiful with her beauty, and rich with the wealth of her

being ! Over him rushed, like a wind that is keen and cold and

relentless, Thoughts of what might have been, and the weight and

woe of his errand; All the dreams that had faded, and all the hopes that had

vanished, All his life henceforth a dreary and tenantless man

sion, Haunted by vain regrets, and pallid, sorrowful faces. Still he said to himself, and almost fiercely he said it, "Let not him that putteth his hand to the plough look

backwards; Though the ploughshare cut through the flowers of life to

its fountains, Though it pass o'er the graves of the dead and the hearths

of the living It is the will of the Lord; and his mercy endureth for


So he entered the house and the bum of the wheel and

the singing Suddenly ceased; for Priscilla, aroused by his step on the

threshold, Rose as he entered, and gave him her hand, in signal of

welcome, Saying, “I knew it was you, when I heard your step in the

passage; For I was thinking of you, as I sat there singing and

spinning." Awkward and dumb with delight, that a thought of him

had been mingled Thus in the sacred psalm, that came from the heart of the

maiden, Silent before her he stood, and gave her the flowers for an

answer, Finding no words for his thought. He remembered that

day in the winter, · After the first great snow, when he broke a path from the

village, Reeling and plunging along through the drifts that encum

bered the doorway, Stamping the snow from his feet as he entered the house,

and Priscilla Laughed at his snowy locks, and gave him a seat by the

fireside, Grateful and pleased to know he had thought of her in the

snow-storm. Had he but 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 answer.



Then they sat down and talked of the birds and the

beautiful Spring-time, Talked of their friends at home, and the May Flower that

sailed on the morrow. "I have been thinking all day,” said gently the Puritan

maiden, Dreaming all night, and thinking all day, of the hedge

rows of England, They are in blossom now, and the country is all like

a garden; Thinking of lanes and fields, and the song of the lark and

the linnet, Seeing the village street, and familiar faces of neighbors Going about as of old, and stopping to gossip together, And, at the end of the street, the village church, with the ivy Climbing the old gray tower, and the quiet graves in the

churchyard. Kind are the people I live with, and dear to me my religion; Still my heart is so sad, that I wish myself back in

Old England. You will say it is wrong, but I cannot help it: I almost Wish myself back in Old England, I feel so lonely and


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Thereupon answered the youth: - "Indeed I do not

condemn you; Stouter hearts than a woman's have quailed in this terrible

winter. Yours is tender and trusting, and needs a stronger to lean on; So I have come to you now, with an offer and proffer of

marriage Made by a good man and true, Miles Standish the Captain

of Plymouth!”

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