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Fixed with a look so sad, so reproachful, imploring, and patient, That with a sudden revulsion his heart recoiled from its purpose, As from the verge of a crag, where one step more is destruction. Strange is the heart of man, with its quick, mysterious instincts Strange is the life of man, and fatal or fated are moments, Whereupon turn, as on hinges, the gates of the wall adamantine ! “Here I remain l’’ he exclaimed, as he looked at the heavens above him, Thanking the Lord whose breath had scattered the mist and the madness, Wherein, blind and lost, to death he was staggering headlong. “Yonder snow-white cloud, that floats in the
ether above me,
Seems like a hand that is pointing and beckoning over the ocean. There is another hand, that is not so spectral and ghost-like, Holding me, drawing me back, and clasping mine for protection. Float, 0 hand of cloud, and vanish away in the ether Roll thyself up like a fist, to threaten and daunt me; I heed not Either your warning or menace, or any omen of evil | There is no land so sacred, no air so pure and so wholesome, As is the air she breathes, and the soil that is pressed by her footsteps. Here for her sake will I stay, and like an invisible presence Hover around her for ever, protecting, support
ing her weakness;
Yes! as my foot was the first that stepped on this rock at the landing,
So, with the blessing of God, shall it be the last at the leaving !”
Meanwhile the Master alert, but with dignified air and important, Scanning with watchful eye the tide and the wind and the weather, Walked about on the sands; and the people crowded around him Saying a few last words, and enforcing his careful remembrance.’ Then, taking each by the hand, as if he were grasping a tiller, Into the boat he sprang, and in haste showed off to his vessel, Glad in his heart to get rid of all this worry and flurry, Glad to be gone from a land of sand and sick
ness and Sorrow,
Short allowance of victual, and plenty of nothing but Gospel ! Lost in the sound of the oars was the last farewell of the Pilgrims. O strong hearts and true ! not one went back in the May Flower No, not one looked back, who had set his hand
to this ploughing!
Soon were heard on board the shouts and songs of the sailors Heaving the windlass round, and hoisting the ponderous anchor. Then the yards were braced, and all sails set to the west-wind, Blowing steady and strong ; and the May Flower sailed from the harbor, Rounded the point of the Gurnet, and leaving far to the southward Island and cape of sand, and the Field of the
Took the wind on her quarter, and stood for the open Atlantic, Borne on the send of the sea, and the swelling
hearts of the Pilgrims.
Long in silence they watched the receding sail of the vessel, Much endeared to them all, as something living and human ; Then, as if filled with the spirit, and wrapt in a vision prophetic, Baring his hoary head, the excellent Elder of Plymouth Said, “Let us pray !” and they prayed, and thanked the Lord and took courage. Mournfully sobbed the waves at the base of the rock, and above them Bowed and whispered the wheat on the hill of death, and their kindred Seemed to awake in their graves, and to join
in the prayer that they uttered.