Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Let there be nothing between us save war, and

implacable hatred ! ”

So spake the Captain of Plymouth, and

strode about in the chamber, Chafing and choking with rage ; like cords

were the veins on his temples. But in the midst of his anger a man appeared

at the doorway, Bringing in uttermost haste a message of ur

gent importance, Rumors of danger and war and hostile incur

sions of Indians ! Straightway the Captain paused, and, without

further question or parley, Took from the nail on the wall his sword with

its scabbard of iron, Buckled the belt round his waist, and, frown

ing fiercely, departed. Alden was left alone. le heard the clank of

the scabbard

Growing fainter and fainter, and dying away

in the distance. Then he arose from his seat, and looked forth

into the darkness, Felt the cool air blow on his cheek, that was

hot with the insult, Lifted his eyes to the heavens, and, folding his

hands as in childhood, Prayed in the silence of night to the Father

who seeth in secret.

Meanwhile the choleric Captain strode wrath

ful away to the council, Found it already assembled, impatiently wait

ing his coming; Men in the middle of life, austere and grave in

deportment, Only one of them old, the hill that was nearest

to heaven, Covered with snow, but erect, the excellent

Elder of Plymouth.

God had sifted three kingdoms to find the

wheat for this planting, Then had sifted the wheat, as the living seed of

a nation ; So say the chronicles old, and such is the faith

of the people! Near them was standing an Indian, in attitude

stern and defiant, Naked down to the waist, and grim and fero

cious in aspect; While on the table before them was lying un

opened a Bible, Ponderous, bound in leather, brass-studded,

printed in Holland, And beside it outstretched the skin of a rattle

snake glittered, Filled, like a quiver, with arrows; a signal and

challenge of warfare, Brought by the Indian, and speaking with

arrowy tongues of defiance.

This Miles Standish beheld, as he entered, and

heard them debating What were an answer befitting the hostile mes

sage and menace, Talking of this and of that, contriving, suggest

ing, objecting; One voice only for peace, and that the voice of

the Elder, Judging it wise and well that some at least

were converted, Rather than any were slain, for this was but

Christian behavior! Then outspake Miles Standish, the stalwart

Captain of Plymouth, Muttering deep in his throat, for his voice was

husky with anger, “ What! do you mean to make war with milk

and the water of roses ? Is it to shoot red squirrels you have your how

itzer planted

There on the roof of the church, or is it to

shoot red devils ?

Truly the only tongue that is understood by a

savage Must be the tongue of fire that speaks from the

mouth of the cannon!' Thereupon answered and said the excellent

Elder of Plymouth, Somewhat amazed and alarmed at this irrev

erent language: “ Not so thought Saint Paul, nor yet the other

Apostles ; Not from the cannon's mouth were the tongues

of fire they spake with !” But unheeded fell this mild rebuke on the

Captain, Who had advanced to the table, and thus con

tinued discoursing : “Leave this matter to me, for to me by right

it pertaineth.

« ПредишнаНапред »