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Loosely against her masts was hanging and flapping her canvas, Rent by so many gales, and patched by the hands of the sailors. Suddenly from her side, as the sun rose over the Ocean, Darted a puff of smoke, and floated seaward; anon rang Loud over field and forest the cannon's roar, and the echoes Heard and repeated the sound, the signal-gun of departure! Ah! but with louder echoes replied the hearts of the people! Meekly, in voices subdued, the chapter was read from the Bible, Meekly the prayer was begun, but ended in fervent entreaty! Then from their houses in haste came forth the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Men and women and children, all hurrying down to the sea-shore, Eager, with tearful eyes, to say farewell to the Mayflower, Homeward bound o'er the sea, and leaving them here in the desert.
Foremost among them was Alden. All night he had lain without slumber, Turning and tossing about in the heat and unrest of his fever. He had beheld Miles Standish, who came back late from the council, Stalking into the room, and heard him mutter and murmur, Sometimes it seemed a prayer, and sometimes it sounded like swearing. Once he had come to the bed, and stood there a moment in silence; Then he had turned away, and said: “I will not awake him; Let him sleep on, it is best; for what is the use of more talking!” Then he extinguished the light, and threw himself down on his pallet, Dressed as he was, and ready to start at the break of the morning, Covered himself with the cloak he had worn in his campaigns in Flanders, Slept as a soldier sleeps in his bivouac, ready for action. But with the dawn he arose; in the twilight Alden beheld him
Put on his corslet of steel, and all the rest of his armor, Buckle about his waist his trusty blade of DamasCuS, Take from the corner his musket, and so strode out of the chamber. Often the heart of the youth had burned and yearned to embrace him, Often his lips had essayed to speak, imploring for pardon; All the old friendship came back, with its tender and grateful emotions; But his pride overmastered the nobler nature within him, Pride, and the sense of his wrong, and the burning fire of the insult. So he beheld his friend departing in anger, but spake not, Saw him go forth to danger, perhaps to death, and he spake not! Then he arose from his bed, and heard what the people were saying, Joined in the talk at the door, with Stephen and Richard and Gilbert, 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 cornerstone 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, One still firm on the rock, and talking at times with the sailors, 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,
Thinking to fly from despair, that swifter than keel is or canvas,
Thinking to drown in the sea the ghost that would rise and pursue him.
But as he gazed on the crowd, he beheld the form of Priscilla
Standing dejected among them, unconscious of all that was passing.
Fixed were her eyes upon his, as if she divined his intention,