Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub
[graphic]
[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

N the Old Colony days, in Plymouth the land of the Pilgrims,

To and fro in a room of his simple and primitive dwelling,

Clad in doublet and hose, and boots of Cordovan leather,

Strode, with a martial air, Miles Standish the Puritan Captain.

Buried in thought he seemed, with his hands behind him, and pausing

Ever and anon to behold his glittering weapons of warfare,

Hanging in shining array along the walls of the chamber,

[ocr errors]

Cutlass and corselet of steel, and his trusty sword of Damascus,

Curved at the point and inscribed with its mystical Arabic sentence,

While underneath, in a corner, were fowlingpiece, musket, and matchlock.

Short of stature he was, but strongly built and athletic,

Broad in the shoulders, deep-chested, with muscles and sinews of iron;

Brown as a nut was his face, but his russet beard was already

Flaked with patches of snow, as hedges sometimes in November.

Near him was seated John Alden, his friend, and household companion,

Writing with diligent speed at a table of pine by the window;

Fair-haired, azure-eyed, with delicate Saxon complexion,

Having the dew of his youth, and the beauty thereof, as the captives

Whom Saint Gregory saw, and exclaimed, Not Angles, but Angels."

[ocr errors]

Youngest of all was he of the men who came in the May Flower.

Suddenly breaking the silence, the diligent scribe interrupting,

Spake, in the pride of his heart, Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth.

"Look at these arms," he said, "the warlike weapons that hang here

Burnished and bright and clean, as if for parade or inspection!

This is the sword of Damascus I fought with in Flanders; this breastplate,

Well I remember the day! once saved my life in a skirmish;

Here in front you can see the very dint of the bullet

Fired point-blank at my heart by a Spanish arcabucero.

Had it not been of sheer steel, the forgotten bones of Miles Standish

Would at this moment be mould, in their grave in the Flemish morasses."

Thereupon answered John Alden, but looked not up from his writing:

"Truly the breath of the Lord hath slackened the speed of the bullet;

He in his mercy preserved you, to be our shield and our weapon!"

Still the Captain continued, unheeding the words of the stripling:

"See, how bright they are burnished, as if in an arsenal hanging;

That is because I have done it myself, and not left it to others.

Serve yourself, would you be well served, is an excellent adage;

So I take care of my arms, as you of your pens and your inkhorn.

Then, too, there are my soldiers, my great, invincible army,

Twelve men, all equipped, having each his rest and his matchlock,

Eighteen shillings a month, together with diet and pillage,

And, like Cæsar, I know the name of each of my soldiers!"

This he said with a smile, that danced in his eyes, as the sunbeams

Dance on the waves of the sea, and vanish again in a moment.

Alden laughed as he wrote, and still the Captain continued:

[ocr errors]

'Look! you can see from this window my brazen howitzer planted

High on the roof of the church, a preacher who speaks to the purpose,

Steady, straightforward, and strong, with irresistible logic,

Orthodox, flashing conviction right into the hearts of the heathen.

« ПредишнаНапред »