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Then, as he opened the door, he beheld the form of the maiden

Seated beside her wheel, and the carded wool like a snow-drift

Piled at her knee, her white hands feeding the ravenous spindle,

While with her foot on the treadle she guided the wheel in its motion.


Open wide on her lap lay the well-worn psalm-book of


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


228 Wheel: what sort of wheel is this? Can you give a description of it? Where did she get the wool?

229 Ravenous: why is the spindle called ravenous?

281 Ainsworth: a saintly leader and teacher among the Puritans. He was forced to remove to Holland, and there occupied his life with writings on the different books of the Bible. He died about 1622.

233, 234 A good description of a page of the hymn book. The art of printing was introduced in 1454. The use of such an art grows slowly, so that after the lapse of a century and a half the printing was still rough.

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 homespun

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 man


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,

287, 238 Compare these lines from Herbert's "Elixir".

"Who sweeps a room as by Thy laws

Makes that and the action fine."

245 Look up Luke ix. 62.


Though it pass o'er the graves of the dead and th hearths of the living,

It is the will of the Lord; and his mercy endureth for ever!"

So he entered the house; and the hum of the wheel and the singing

Suddenly 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,

247 Look up Psalm cxxxvi.

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Reeling and plunging along through the drifts that encumbered the doorway,

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 snowstorm.

Had he but spoken then! perhaps not in vain had he spoken;

Now it was all too late; the golden moment had van


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 Springtime;

Talked of their friends at home, and the Mayflower 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,

269 Hedge-rows: the hedge-rows of England are celebrated. Every visitor to England remembers them. They serve instead of fences to divide the fields, and in the spring are a tangle of running vines, and are full of blossoms.

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


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 al


Wish myself back in Old England, I feel so lonely and wretched."

Thereupon answered the youth: "Indeed I do not

condemn you;


Stouter hearts than a woman's have quailed in this terrible winter.

270-275 A beautiful description of an English village.

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