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One with the sanction of earth and one with the blessing of heaven. Simple and brief was the wedding, as that of Ruth and of Boaz. Softly the youth and the maiden repeated the words of betrothal, Taking each other for husband and wife in the Magistrate's presence, After the Puritan way, and the laudable custom of Holland. Fervently then, and devoutly, the excellent Elder of Plymouth Prayed for the hearth and the home, that were founded that day in affection, Speaking of life and of death, and imploring divine benedictions.
Lo! when the service was ended, a form ap
peared on the threshold,
Clad in armor of steel, a sombre and sorrowful figure!
Why does the bridegroom start and stare at the strange apparition?
Why does the bride turn pale, and hide her face on his shoulder?
Is it a phantom of air, La bodiless, spectral illusion ? Is it a ghost from the grave, that has come to forbid the betrothal P Long had it stood there unseen, a guest uninvited, unwelcomed; Over its clouded eyes there had passed at times an expression Softening the gloom and revealing the warm heart hidden beneath them, As when across the sky the driving rack of the rain-cloud Grows for a moment thin, and betrays the sun by its brightness. Once it had lifted its hand, and moved its lips, but was silent, As if an iron will has mastered the fleeting intention. But when were ended the troth and the prayer and the last benediction, Into the room it strode, and the people beheld with amazement Bodily there in his armor Miles Standish, the Captain of Plymouth! Grasping the bridegroom's hand, he said with emotion, “Forgive me!
I have been angry and hurt, too long have I cherished the feeling;
I have been cruel and hard, but now, thank God! Mine is the same hot blood that leaped in the veins of Hugh Standish, Sensitive, swift to resent, but as swift in atoning for error. Never so much as now was Miles Standish the friend of John Alden.” Thereupon answered the bridegroom: “Let all be forgotten between us, All save the dear, old friendship, and that shall grow older and dearer!” Then the Captain advanced, and, bowing, saluted Priscilla, Gravely, and after the manner of old-fashioned gentry in England, Something of camp and of court, of town and of country, commingled, Wishing her joy of her wedding, and loudly lauding her husband. Then he said with a smile: “I should have remembered the adage, If you would be well served, you must serve yourself; and moreover, No man can gather cherries in Kent at the season of Christmas!”
it is ended.
Great was the people's amazement, and greater yet their rejoicing, Thus to behold once more the sun-burnt face of their Captain, Whom they had mourned as dead; and they gathered and crowded about him, Eager to see him and hear him, forgetful of bride and of bridegroom, Questioning, answering, laughing, and each interrupting the other, Till the good Captain declared, being quite overpowered and bewildered, He had rather by far break into an Indian encampment, Than come again to a wedding to which he had not been invited.
Meanwhile the bridegroom went forth and
stood with the bride at the doorway,
Breathing the perfumed air of that warm and beautiful morning.
Touched with autumnal tints, but lonely and sad in the sunshine,
Lay extended before them the land of toil and privation;