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Into the tranquil woods, where bluebirds and robins were

building Towns in the populous trees, with hanging gardens of

verdure, Peaceful, aerial cities of joy and affection and freedom. All around him was calm, but within him commotion and

conflict, Love contending with friendship, and self with each generous

impulse. 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 lamenta

tion, “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

shadow Over the wintry sea, to the desolate shores of New Eng

land? Truly the heart is deceitful, and out of its depths of corruption

200 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 devices,

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

1 Astaroth was a goddess, and Baal, a god of the Phoenicians.


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 Mayflowers blooming around him,

210 Fragrant, filling the air with a strange and wonderful sweet

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

slumber.1 “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 Mayflower 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, 220 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

1 The Ballad of the Babes in the Wood tells of a cruel uncle, who, to obtain the money of his little niece and nephew, hired two ruffians to take the children to a neighboring wood and there murder them. The innocence of the babes touched the heart of one of the men, who thereupon induced the other to leave them. The children died of starvation, and the robins covered them with leaves.

2 This is a pretty comparison. The Mayflower, or trailing arbutus, grows close to the ground as if to hide beneath the leaves; it is tinted with pink and is delicately fragrant.


Singing the hundredth Psalm, the grand old Puritan anthem, Music that Luther sang to the sacred words of the Psalm

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

Ainsworth, 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 verses.


Such was the book from whose pages she sang the old Puritan anthem,

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

spun 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;

240 1 Ainsworth was a follower of the teachings of Robert Browne, an English theologian, who was the founder of a religious sect. Ainsworth made a translation of the Psalms.

All the dreams that had faded, and all the hopes that had

vanished, All his life henceforth a dreary and tenantless mansion, 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;

245 Though the plougshare 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 forever!”

So he entered the house; and the hum of the wheel and

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

250 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 spin

ning." 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,

i Compare Luke, ix. 62.

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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



Then they sat down and talked of the birds and the beau

tiful Spring-time; Talked of their friends at home, and the Mayflower 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;

270 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

275 Kind are the people I live with, and dear to me my reli


Climbinchurchya people

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