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Only one of them old, the hill that was nearest to heaven, Covered with snow, but erect, the excellent Elder of Plym
outh. God had sifted three kingdoms 1 to find the wheat for this
planting, Then had sifted the wheat, as the living seed of a nation; So say the chronicles old, and such is the faith of the people!
445 Near them was standing an Indian, in attitude stern and
defiant, Naked down to the waist, and grim and ferocious in aspect; While on the table before them was lying unopened a
Bible, Ponderous, bound in leather, brass-studded, printed in
Holland, And beside it outstretched the skin of a rattlesnake glittered,
450 Filled, like a quiver, with arrows: a signal and challenge of
warfare, Brought by the Indian, and speaking with arrowy tongues
of defiance. This Miles Standish beheld, as he entered, and heard them
debating What were an answer befitting the hostile message and
menace, Talking of this and of that, contriving, suggesting, objecting;
455 One voice only for peace, and that the voice of the Elder, Judging it wise and well that some at least were converted, Rather than any were slain, for this was but Christian
behavior! 1 The three kingdoms were England, Scotland, and Holland.
2 An Indian method of declaring war was to send the enemy a rattlesnake skin filled with arrows.
Then out spake Miles Standish, the stalwart Captain of
Plymouth, Muttering deep in his throat, for his voice was husky with
anger, “What! do you mean to make war with milk and the water
of roses? Is it to shoot red squirrels you have your howitzer planted There on the roof of the church, or is it to shoot red devils? Truly the only tongue that is understood by a savage Must be the tongue of fire that speaks from the mouth of
the cannon!” Thereupon answered and said the excellent Elder of Plym
outh, Somewhat amazed and alarmed at this irreverent language: “Not so thought Saint Paul, nor yet the other Apostles; Not from the cannon's mouth were the tongues of fire 1 they
spake with!” But unheeded fell this mild rebuke on the Captain, 470 Who had advanced to the table, and thus continued dis
coursing: “Leave this matter to me, for to me by right it pertaineth.2 War is a terrible trade; but in the cause that is righteous, Sweet is the smell of powder; and thus I answer the
Then from the rattlesnake's skin, with a sudden, contemptuous gesture,
475 Jerking the Indian arrows, he filled it with powder and
bullets Full to the very jaws, and handed it back to the savage,
. i Compare Acts, ii. 3 and 4.
2 As Miles Standish had been appointed the military commander of the colony, the Compact gave him full authority in all matters relating to war.
Saying, in thundering tones : “Here, take it! this is your
answer!" Silently out of the room then glided the glistening savage, Bearing the serpent's skin, and seeming himself like a
serpent, Winding his sinuous way in the dark to the depths of the
THE SAILING OF THE MAYFLOWER
Just in the gray of the dawn, as the mists uprose from
the meadows, There was a stir and a sound in the slumbering village of
Plymouth; Clanging and clicking of arms, and the order imperative,
"Forward!” Given in tone suppressed, a tramp of feet, and then si
lence. Figures ten, in the mist, marched slowly out of the village. Standish the stalwart it was, with eight of his valorous
army, Led by their Indian guide, by Hobomok, friend of the white
men, Northward marching to quell the sudden revolt of the
savage. Giants they seemed in the mist, or the mighty men of King David;
490 Giants in heart they were, who believed in God and the
Bible, — 1 This expedition of Miles Standish took place in 1623. The uprising of these scattered tribes had been made known to the Pilgrims by Massasoit, chief of the friendly tribe of Wampanoags.
Ay, who believed in the smiting of Midianites and Philis
tines.1 Over them gleamed far off the crimson banners of morning; Under them loud on the sands, the serried billows, advancing, Fired along the line, and in regular order retreated. 495
Many a mile had they marched, when at length the village
of Plymouth Woke from its sleep, and arose, intent on its manifold
labors. Sweet was the air and soft; and slowly the smoke from the
chimneys Rose over roofs of thatch, and pointed steadily eastward; Men came forth from the doors, and paused and talked of the weather,
500 Said that the wind had changed, and was blowing fair for
the Mayflower; Talked of their Captain's departure, and all the dangers
that menaced, He being gone, the town, and what should be done in his
absence. Merrily sang the birds, and the tender voices of women Consecrated with hymns the common cares of the house
hold. Out of the sea rose the sun, and the billows rejoiced at his
coming; Beautiful were his feet on the purple tops of the mountains; Beautiful on the sails of the Mayflower riding at anchor, Battered and blackened and worn by all the storms of the
i The Midianites were an Arabian tribe. The Philistines were a belligerent people with whom the Hebrews were often at war.
? In accordance with the articles of contract, the Mayflower remained in the harbor until the Pilgrims had established the colony.
Loosely against her masts was hanging and flapping her canvas,
510 Rent by so many gales, and patched by the hands of the
sailors. Suddenly from her side, as the sun rose over the ocean, Darted a puff of smoke, and floated seaward; anon rang Loud over field and forest the cannon's roar, and the
echoes Heard and repeated the sound, the signal-gun of depar
ture! Ah! but with louder echoes replied the hearts of the people! Meekly, in voices subdued, the chapter was read from the
Bible, Meekly the prayer was begun, but ended in fervent entreaty !? Then from their houses in haste came forth the Pilgrims of
Plymouth, Men and women and children, all hurrying down to the sea
shore, Eager, with tearful eyes, to say farewell to the Mayflower, Homeward bound o'er the sea, and leaving them here in the
Foremost among them was Alden. All night he had lain
without slumber, Turning and tossing about in the heat and unrest of his
fever. He had beheld Miles Standish, who came back late from the
council, Stalking into the room, and heard him mutter and murmur, Sometimes it seemed a prayer, and sometimes it sounded
like swearing. 1 April 5, 1621, was the date of the departure of the Mayflower.
Prayer for strength to continue the struggle in the New World and resist the temptation to return to England in the Mayflower.