Графични страници
PDF файл
[ocr errors]

Battered and blackened and worn by all the storms of the winter.

Loosely against her masts was hanging and flapping

her canvas,


Rent by so many gales, and patched by the hands of the sailors.

Suddenly from her side, as the sun rose over the


Darted a puff of smoke, and floated seaward; anon


Loud over field and forest the cannon's roar, and the echoes

Heard and repeated the sound, the signal-gun of de



Ah! but with louder echoes replied the hearts of the


Meekly, in voices subdued, the chapter was read from the Bible,

Meekly the prayer was begun, but ended in fervent entreaty !

Then from their houses in haste came forth the Pilgrims of Plymouth,

Men and women and children, all hurrying down to the



Eager, with tearful eyes, to say farewell to the May



Homeward bound o'er the sea, and leaving them here in the desert.

Foremost among them was Alden. All night he had lain without slumber,

Turning and tossing about in the heat and unrest of his fever.

He had beheld Miles Standish, who came back late from the council,


Stalking into the room, and heard him mutter and


Sometimes it seemed a prayer, and sometimes it sounded like swearing.

Once he had come to the bed, and stood there a moment in silence;

Then he had turned away, and said: "I will not awake him;

Let him sleep on, it is best; for what is the use of more talking!"


Then he extinguished the light, and threw himself down on his pallet,

Dressed as he was, and ready to start at the break of the morning,

522 Desert: is Plymouth county a desert? What would be a better word? See if it will fit into the line.

Covered himself with the cloak he had worn in his campaigns in Flanders,

Slept as a soldier sleeps in his bivouac, ready for action.

But with the dawn he arose; in the twilight Alden beheld him


Put on his corselet of steel, and all the rest of his


Buckle about his waist his trusty blade of Damascus, Take from the corner his musket, and so stride out of the chamber.

Often the heart of the youth had burned and yearned to embrace him,

Often his lips had essayed to speak, imploring for



All the old friendship came back with its tender and grateful emotions;

But his pride overmastered the nobler nature within him,

Pride, and the sense of his wrong, and the burning fire of the insult.

So he beheld his friend departing in anger, but spake not,

534 Bivouac: a soldier often has to sleep on the field of battle wrapped only in his cloak, ready for action at a moment's notice. This is called bivouacking.

Saw him go forth to danger, perhaps to death, and he spake not!


Then he arose from his bed, and heard what the people were saying,

Joined in the talk at the door, with Stephen and Richard and Gilbert,

Joined in the morning prayer, and in the reading of Scripture,

And, with the others, in haste went hurrying down to the sea-shore,

Down to the Plymouth Rock, that had been to their feet as a doorstep

Into a world unknown,

550 the corner-stone of a nation!

There with his boat was the Master, already a little impatient

547 Stephen, Richard, Gilbert: these are first names of some of the colonists.

550 Plymouth Rock: the famous rock may still be seen at Plymouth. Years ago when the town felt obliged to build out a new wharf which threatened to cover the rock, an effort was made to remove the cherished landmark. The upper part was broken off and is preserved at the Museum of the Pilgrim Society. The rest of the boulder remains in its place some paces back from the water, enclosed, and surmounted with a granite canopy in which are preserved a few bones of the first settlers disinterred from the old burying lot.

561 Why is it called the corner-stone of a nation?

Lest he should lose the tide, or the wind might shift to the eastward,

Square-built, hearty, and strong, with an odor of ocean about him,

Speaking with this one and that, and cramming letters and parcels


Into his pockets capacious, and messages mingled to


Into his narrow brain, till at last he was wholly bewildered.

Nearer the boat stood Alden, with one foot placed on the gunwale,

One still firm on the rock, and talking at times with the sailors,

Seated erect on the thwarts, all ready and eager for



He too was eager to go, and thus put an end to his


Thinking to fly from despair, that swifter than keel is

or canvas,

Thinking to drown in the sea the ghost that would rise and pursue him.

But as he gazed on the crowd, he beheld the form of


Standing dejected among them, unconscious of all that

was passing.


« ПредишнаНапред »