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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, that had been to their feet as a door-step
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 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,
Seated erect on the thwarts, all ready and eager for starting.
He, too, was eager to go, and thus put an end to his anguish,
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 destruction.
Strange is the heart of man, with its quick, mysterious instincts!
Strange is the life of man, and fatal or fated are moments,
"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 headlong. “Yonder snow-white cloud, that floats in the ether above me,
Secmis 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 protection.
Float, О hand of cloud, and vanish away in the ether!
Either your warning or menace, or any omen of evil!
There is no land so sacred, no air so pure and so wholesome,
Hover around her for ever, protecting, supporting her weakness ;