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Once he had come to the bed, and stood there a moment in
silence; Then he had turned away, and said: “I will not awake
him; Let him sleep on, it is best; for what is the use of more
talking!” Then he extinguished the light, and threw himself down on
his pallet, Dressed as he was, and ready to start at the break of the
morning, Covered himself with the cloak he had worn in his campaigns
in Flanders, — Slept as a soldier sleeps in his bivouac, ready for action. But with the dawn he arose; in the twilight ? Alden beheld
him Put on his corselet of steel, and all the rest of his armor, Buckle about his waist his trusty blade of Damascus, Take from the corner his musket, and so stride out of the
chamber.. Often the heart of the youth had burned and yearned to em
brace him, Often his lips had essayed to speak, imploring for pardon;
540 All the old friendship came back with its tender and grateful
emotions; But his pride overmastered the nobler nature within him, — Pride, and the sense of his wrong, and the burning fire of
the insult. So he beheld his friend departing in anger, but spake not, Saw him go forth to danger, perhaps to death, and he spake not!
545 1 A camp where the soldiers are ready to go into action at the slightest alarm.
2 Morning twilight; gray dawn.
Then he arose from his bed, and heard what the people were
saying, Joined in the talk at the door, with Stephen and Richard
and Gilbert, Joined in the morning prayer, and in the reading of
Scripture, And, with the others, in haste went hurrying down to the
sea-shore, Down to the Plymouth Rock,1 that had been to their feet as
a doorstep Into a world unknown, — the corner-stone of a nation!
There with his boat was the Master, already a little
impatient Lest he should lose the tide, or the wind might shift to the
eastward, Square-built, hearty, and strong, with an odor of ocean
about him, Speaking with this one and that, and cramming letters and parcels
. 555 Into his pockets capacious, and messages mingled together Into his narrow brain, till at last he was wholly bewildered. Nearer the boat stood Alden, with one foot placed on the
gunwale, One still firm on the rock, and talking at times with the
sailors, Seated erect on the thwarts, all ready and eager for starting.
1 The rock on which the Pilgrims are supposed to have stepped when landing from the Mayflower.
2 This was Captain Jones. He and his crew had no interest in the Pilgrims other than a commercial one. During all their association with him, he had treated them shabbily, although they gained his admiration in the end.
He too was eager to go, and thus put an end to his anguish, Thinking to fly from despair, that swifter than keel is or
canvas, Thinking to drown in the sea the ghost that would rise and
pursue him. But as he gazed on the crowd, he beheld the form of Priscilla Standing dejected among them, unconscious of all that was
passing. Fixed were her eyes upon his, as if she divined his intention, Fixed with a look so sad, so reproachful, imploring, and
patient, That with a sudden revulsion his heart recoiled from its
purpose, As from the verge of a crag, where one step more is destruc
tion. Strange is the heart of man, with its quick, mysterious instincts!
570 Strange is the life of man, and fatal or fated are moments, Whereupon turn, as on hinges, the gates of the wall adaman
tine! “Here I remain!” he exclaimed, as he looked at the heavens
above him, Thanking the Lord whose breath had scattered the mist and
the madness, Wherein, blind and lost, to death he was staggering head
long. “Yonder snow-white cloud, that floats in the ether above
me, Seems like a hand that is pointing and beckoning over the
ocean. There is another hand, that is not so spectral and ghost-like, Holding me, drawing me back, and clasping mine for pro
tection. Float, О hand of cloud, and vanish away in the ether! 580