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So through the Plymouth woods John Alden

went on his errand; Crossing the brook at the ford, where it brawled

over pebble and shallow, Gathering still, as he went, the May-flowers

blooming around him, Fragrant, filling the air with a strange and won

derful sweetness Children lost in the woods, and covered with

leaves in their slumber. "Puritan flowers,” he said, “and the type of

Puritan maidens, Modest and simple and sweet, the very type of

Priscilla ! So I will take them to her; to Priscilla the May

flower of Plymouth, Modest and simple and sweet, as a parting gift

will I take them; Breathing their silent farewells, as they fade and

wither and perish, Soon to be thrown away as is the heart of the

giver.” So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went

on his errand; Came to an open space, and saw the disk of the

ocean,

Sailless, sombre, and cold with the comfortless

breath of the east wind; Saw the new-built house, and people at work in

a meadow;

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Heard, as he drew near the door, the musical

voice of Priscilla Singing the hundredth Psalm, the grand old

Puritan anthem,

Music that Luther sang to the sacred words of

the Psalmist, Full of the breath of the Lord, consoling and com

forting many. Then, as he opened the door, he beheld the form

of the maiden Seated beside her wheel, and the carded wool like

a snow-drift Piled at her knee, her white hands feeding the

ravenous spindle, While with her foot on the treadle she guided the

wheel in its motion. Open wide on her lap lay the well-worn psalm

book of Ainsworth, Printed in Amsterdam, the words and the music

together, Rough-hewn, angular notes, like stones in the

wall of a churchyard, Darkened and overhung by the running vine of

the verses. Such was the book from whose

pages

she
sang

the old Puritan anthem, She, the Puritan girl, in the solitude of the

forest, Making the humble house and the modest apparel

of home-spun

Beautiful with her beauty, and rich with the

wealth of her being !

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Over him rushed, like a wind that is keen and cold

and relentless.

Thoughts of what might have been, and the

weight and woe of his errand; All the dreams that had faded, and all the hopes

that had vanished, All his life henceforth a dreary and tenantless

mansion, Haunted by vain regrets, and pallid, sorrowful

faces. Still he said to himself, and almost fiercely he

said it, “Let not him that putteth his hand to the plough

look backwards; Though the ploughshare cut through the flowers

of life to its fountains, Though it pass o'er the graves of the dead and

the hearts of the living, It is the will of the Lord, and his mercy endureth

for ever!”

So he entered the house: and the hum of the

wheel and the singing Suddenly ceased; for Priscilla, aroused by his

step on the threshold, Rose as he entered, and gave him her hand, in

signal of welcome,

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