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Open wide on her lap lay the well-worn psalmbook 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 ! 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 hearths of the living, It is the will of the Lord ; and his mercy enSuddenly ceased; for Priscilla, aroused by his step on the threshold, Rose as he entered, and gave him her hand, in signal of welcome, Saying, “I knew it was you, when I heard your step in the passage; For I was thinking of you, as I sat there singing and spinning.” Awkward and dumb with delight, that a thought of him had been mingled Thus in the sacred psalm, that came from the heart of the maiden, Silent before her he stood, and gave her the flowers for an answer, Finding no words for his thought. He remembered that day in the winter, After the first great snow, when he broke a path from the village, Reeling and plunging along through the drifts
dureth for ever !”
So he entered the house: and the hum of the wheel and the singing
Stamping the snow from his feet as he entered the house, and Priscilla Laughed at his Snowy locks, and gave him a seat by the fireside, Grateful and pleased to know he had thought of her in the snow-storm. Had he but spoken then I perhaps not in vain had he spoken ; Now it was all too late ; the golden moment had vanished So he stood there abashed, and gave her the
flowers for an answer.
Then they sat down and talked of the birds
and the beautiful Spring-time,
Talked of their friends at home, and the May Flower that sailed on the morrow.
“I have been thinking all day,” said gently the Puritan maiden,
“Dreaming all night, and thinking all day, of the hedge-rows of England,
They are in blossom now, and the country is all like a garden; Thinking of lanes and fields, and the song of the lark and the linnet, Seeing the village street, and familiar faces of neighbors Going about as of old, and stopping to gossip together, And, at the end of the street, the village church, with the ivy Climbing the old gray tower, and the quiet graves in the churchyard. Kind are the people I live with, and dear to me my religion; Still my heart is so sad, that I wish myself back in Old England. You will say it is wrong, but I cannot help it: I almost Wish myself back in Old England, I feel so
lonely and wretched.”