Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Hanging in shining array along the walls of the chamber,

Cutlass and corselet of steel, and his trusty sword of Damascus,

Curved at the point and inscribed with its mystical Arabic sentence,

While underneath, in a corner, were fowling piece, musket, and matchlock.

Short of stature he was, but strongly built and athletic,

Broad in the shoulders, deep-chested, with muscles and sinews of iron;

Brown as a nut was his face, but his russet beard was already

Flaked with patches of snow, as hedges sometimes in November.
Near him was seated John Alden, his friend and household companion,
Writing with diligent speed at a table of pine by the window;
Fair-haired, azure-eyed, with delicate Saxon complexion,
Having the dew of his youth, and the beauty thereof, as the captives
Whom Saint Gregory saw, and exclaimed, “Not Angles, but Angels.”

Youngest of all was he of the men who came in the Mayflower.

Suddenly breaking the silence, the diligent scribe interrupting, Spake, in the pride of his heart, Miles Standish, the Captain of Plymouth. "Look at these arms,” he said, “the warlike weapons that hang here Burnished and bright and clean, as if for parade or inspection!

[graphic]

This is the sword of Damascus I fought with in Flanders; 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.

Had it not been of sheer steel, the forgotten bones of Miles Standish

Would at this moment be mold, in their grave in the Flemish morasses.”

Thereupon answered John Alden, but looked not up from his writing: “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 stripling:
“See, how bright they are burnished, as if in an arsenal hanging;
That is because I have done it myself, and not left it to others.
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. Then, too, there are my soldiers, my great invincible army, Twelve men, all equipped, having each his rest and his matchlock, Eighteen shillings a month, together with diet and pillage,

And, like Cæsar, I know the name of each of my

soldiers !"

This he said with a smile, that danced in his eyes, as the sunbeams

Dance on the waves of the sea, and vanish again in a moment.

Alden laughed as he wrote, and still the Captain continued:

“Look! you can see from this window my brazen howitzer planted

High on the roof of the church, a preacher who speaks to the purpose,

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;

Let them come, if they like, and the sooner they try it the better,

Let them come, if they like, be it sagamore, sachem, or pow-wow,
Aspinet, Samoset, Corbitant, Squanto, or Tokamahamon!"

Long at the window he stood, and wistfully gazed on the landscape, 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 ocean,

Lying silent and sad, in the afternoon shadows and sunshine.

Over his countenance flitted a shadow like those on the landscape,

Gloom intermingled with light; and his voice was subdued with emotion,

Tenderness, pity, regret, as after a pause he proceeded: “Yonder there, on the hill by the sea, lies buried Rose Standish;

« ПредишнаНапред »