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This is the sword of Damascus I fought with in Flanders;1 this breastplate,
Well I remember the day! once saved my life in a skirmish;
Here in front you can see the very dint of the bullet
Fired point-blank at my heart by a Spanish arcabucero.2 Had it not been of sheer steel, the forgotten bones of Miles Standish
Would at this moment be mould, in their grave in the Flemish morasses."
Thereupon answered John Alden, but looked not up from
"Truly the breath of the Lord hath slackened the speed of the bullet;
He in his mercy preserved you, to be our shield and our weapon!"
Still the Captain continued, unheeding the words of the
"See, how bright they are burnished, as if in an arsenal
That is because I have done it myself, and not left it to others.
1 Flanders was a large countship of the Low Countries. The territory covered by the provinces of East and West Flanders in modern Belgium was once a part of this ancient county. In the fourteenth century, the city of Bruges, in Flanders, was a commercial center of Europe. In the market place of "that quaint old Flemish city," stands the belfry of which Longfellow has written. Although Flanders was frequently at war, her people nevertheless preserved their habits of thrift and industry and so were able to maintain their industrial prosperity.
2 A Spanish word, meaning a soldier whose principal weapon was an arquebus, an ancient hand gun.
The marshes of Flanders.
Serve yourself, would you be well served, is an excellent adage;
So I take care of my arms, as you of your pens and your inkhorn.1
Then, too, there are my soldiers, my great, invincible army, Twelve men, all equipped, having each his rest 2 and his
Eighteen shillings a month, together with diet and pillage, And, like Cæsar,3 I know the name of each of my soldiers!" This he said with a smile, that danced in his eyes, as the
Dance on the waves of the sea, and vanish again in a moment.
Alden laughed as he wrote, and still the Captain
"Look! you can see from this window my brazen how
itzer + planted
High on the roof of the church, a preacher who speaks to
Steady, straightforward, and strong, with irresistible logic, Orthodox, flashing conviction right into the hearts of the heathen.
Now we are ready, I think, for any assault of the Indians: 50 Let them come, if they like, and the sooner they try it the better,
1 The forerunner of the modern inkwell.
2 As the matchlock was a heavy weapon, a support, or rest, was needed to steady the aim.
3 Julius Cæsar was a great Roman general, statesman, writer, and orator. One of his famous books is the Commentaries, an account of his campaigns in Gaul and in the Civil War. His writings were first made public in 51 B. c. The editio princeps of Cæsar's works was published about the middle of the fifteenth century; it was, therefore, among the earliest of printed books.
4 An old-fashioned cannon.
Let them come if they like, be it sagamore, sachem, or pow-wow,1
Aspinet, Samoset, Corbitant, Squanto, or Tokamahamon!"
Long at the window he stood; and wistfully gazed on the
Washed with a cold gray mist, the vapory breath of the east-wind,
Forest and meadow and hill, and the steel-blue rim of the
Lying silent and sad, in the afternoon shadows and sunshine. Over his countenance flitted a shadow like those on the
Gloom intermingled with light; and his voice was subdued with emotion,
Tenderness, pity, regret, as after a pause he proceeded: 60 "Yonder there, on the hill by the sea, lies buried Rose Standish; 2
Beautiful rose of love, that bloomed for me by the wayside! She was the first to die of all who came in the Mayflower! Green above her is growing the field of wheat we have sown
Better to hide from the Indian scouts the graves of our people,
Lest they should count them and see how many already have perished!"
Sadly his face he averted, and strode up and down, and was thoughtful.
Fixed to the opposite wall was a shelf of books, and among them
1 Sachem, great chief; sagamore, chief of lesser rank; pow-wow, one claiming skill in the use of herbs and charms.
• The young wife of Miles Standish. She died February 8, 1621.
Prominent three, distinguished alike for bulk and for binding;
Barriffe's Artillery Guide,1 and the Commentaries of Cæ
Out of the Latin translated by Arthur Goldinge 2 of London, And, as if guarded by these, between them was standing the Bible.
Musing a moment before them, Miles Standish paused, as if doubtful
Which of the three he should choose for his consolation and
Whether the wars of the Hebrews, the famous campaigns of the Romans,
Or the Artillery practice, designed for belligerent Christians. Finally down from its shelf he dragged the ponderous
Seated himself at the window, and opened the book, and in silence
Turned o'er the well-worn leaves, where thumb-marks thick on the margin,
Like the trample of feet, proclaimed the battle was hot
Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the
Busily writing epistles important, to go by the Mayflower,
Ready to sail on the morrow, or next day at latest, God
Homeward bound with the tidings of all that terrible
1 The writer of this book was a Puritan, and to a title page of half a score of lines subjoined a text from the Psalms suited to the tone of the book.
2 A writer and translator of the sixteenth century.
Letters written by Alden, and full of the name of Priscilla,1
Full of the name and the fame of the Puritan maiden Priscilla!
LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP
Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling,
Or an occasional sigh from the laboring heart of the Cap
Reading the marvellous words and achievements of Julius
After a while he exclaimed, as he smote with his hand, palm
Heavily on the page: "A wonderful man was this Cæsar! You are a writer, and I am a fighter, but here is a fellow Who could both write and fight, and in both was equally skilful!"
Straightway answered and spake John Alden, the comely, the youthful:
"Yes, he was equally skilled, as you say, with his pen and
Somewhere have I read, but where I forget, he could dic
Seven letters at once, at the same time writing his memoirs." "Truly," continued the Captain, not heeding or hearing the other,
"Truly a wonderful man was Caius Julius Cæsar!
1 Priscilla Mullins was one of the Pilgrims. Her father, mother, and brother were with her on the Mayflower, but died during the first winter.