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Then within him there thundered a voice, like the voice of . the Prophet:1 “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:

365 “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 Mayflower riding at

anchor, Rocked on the rising tide, and ready to sail on the morrow; Heard the voices of men through the mist, the rattle of cordage

370 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.

375 “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,

1 Nathan, the prophet.

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24 The courtship of MilES STANDISH Through the sea, that shall lift the walls of its waters around

me,

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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 kin

dred; Better be dead and forgotten, than living in shame and

dishonor! Sacred and safe and unseen, in the dark of the narrow chamber

385 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!”

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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 Plymouth, 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

Cæsar, i The story of the Israelites' escape from bondage in Egypt and their pursuit by Pharaoh through the Red Sea will be found in Exodus, chapters xii-xiv.

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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

400 I have fought ten battles and sacked and demolished a

city. Come, sit down, and in order relate to me all that has

happened.”

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Then John Alden spake, and related the wondrous adven

ture From beginning to end, minutely, just as it happened; How he had seen Priscilla, and how he had sped in his

courtship, Only smoothing a little, and softening down her refusal. But when he came at length to the words Priscilla had

spoken, Words so tender and cruel, “Why don't you speak for your

self, John?Up leaped the Captain of Plymouth, and stamped on the

floor, till his armor 1 The former countship of Hainault comprised a part of France as well as the present province in Belgium Brabant was formerly a large and important district of the Netherlands. Godfrey the Bearded was the first to assume the title of Count of Brabant; this title was changed to Duke by his great-grandson, Henry I, the Warrior (1190–1235). The old duchy is now divided into North Brabant in Holland and the provinces of Antwerp and Brabant in Belgium. For footnote on Flanders see page 3.

Clanged on the wall, where it hung, with a sound of sinister omen.

410 All his pent-up wrath burst forth in a sudden explosion, E’en as a hand-grenade, that scatters destruction around it. Wildly he shouted, and loud: “John Alden! you have

betrayed me! Me, Miles Standish, your friend! have supplanted, defrauded,

betrayed me! One of my ancestors2 ran his sword through the heart of Wat Tyler ;3

415 Who shall prevent me from running my own through the

heart of a traitor? Yours is the greater treason, for yours is a treason to

friendship! You, who lived under my roof, whom I cherished and loved

as a brother; You, who have fed at my board, and drunk at my cup, to

whose keeping I have intrusted my honor, my thoughts the most sacred

and secret, — You, too, Brutus! 4 ah, woe to the name of friendship here

after! Brutus was Cæsar's friend, and you were mine, but hence

forward Let there be nothing between us save war, and implacable

hatred!"

420

1 A hand-grenade is a sort of bomb thrown by hand into the trenches of the enemy or upon those entering a breach in a fortification. The effective use of the hand-grenade by the soldiers in the trenches has been one of the notable features of modern warfare.

2 John Standish, a squire of Richard II.

3 In 1381, during the reign of Richard II, in England, Wat Tyler led the peasants in an unsuccessful revolt.

4 These are said to have been the words of Cæsar when he saw his friend Brutus among those who were attacking him.

425

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 door

. way, Bringing in uttermost haste a message of urgent importance, Rumors of danger and war and hostile incursions of Indians! Straightway the Captain paused, and, without further ques

tion or parley, Took from the nail on the wall his sword with its scabbard of iron,

430 Buckled the belt round his waist, and, frowning fiercely,

departed. Alden was left alone. He heard the clank of the scabbard Growing fainter and fainter, and dying away in the dis

tance. Then he arose from his seat, and looked forth into the dark

ness, Felt the cool air blow on his cheek, that was hot with the insult,

435 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.1

Meanwhile the choleric Captain strode wrathful away to

the council, Found it already assembled, impatiently waiting his com

ing; Men in the middle of life, austere and grave in deport

ment,
1 Compare Matthew, vi. 6.
2 The council was composed of the leading men of the colony.

440

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