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Fixed were her eyes upon his, as if she divined his intention, I
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 ! 57o
Strange is the life of man, and fatal or fated are moments,
Whereupon turn, as on hinges, the gates of the wall.
N0‘ Here I remain!” 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. ' 575
“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
Roll thyself up like a fist, to threaten and daunt me.-
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.
‘Herc for her sake will I stay, and like' an invisible I
presence 585 Hover around her forever, protecting, supporting her weakness;
Yes! as my foot'was the first that stepped on this
leaving ! ”
Meanwhile the Master alert, but with dignified air and important, Scanning with watchful eye the tide and the wind and the weather, , 59o Walked about on the sands, and the people crowded around him
Saying a few last words, and enforcing his careful re membrance.
Then, taking each by the hand, as if he were grasping a tiller,
Into the boat he sprang, and in haste shoved off to his vessel, 594
Glad in his heart to get rid of all this worry and flurry,
Glad to be gone from a land of sand and sickness 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.
0 strong hearts and true! not one went back in the
Mayflower! No, not one looked back, who had set his hand to this ploughing! 60o
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 Mayflower sailed from the harbor,
Rounded the point of the Gurnet, and leaving far to the southward 605
Island and cape of sand, and the Field of the First Encounter,
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, I
Much endeared to them all, as something living and human; 610
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.
605 Gurnet: a sandy spit of land enclosing the northern part of Plymouth Bay. It was named from a similar cape in England.
606 Island: Clark Island in Plymouth Bay.
Cape of sand: it probably means Cape Cod.
Field of the First Encounter: the place on Cape Cod where they had their first strife with the Indians. See the sketch of the Pilgrims in the preface.
611 Filled with the spirit: look up Ephesians v. 18.
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 615
Seemed to awake in their graves, and to join in the
prayer that they uttered.
Sun-illumined and white, on the eastern verge of the ocean
Gleamed the departing sail, like a marble slab in a graveyard;
Buried beneath it lay forever all hope of escaping.
L0! as they turned to depart, they saw the form' of an Indian, 620
Watching them from the hill; but while they spake with each other,
Pointing with outstretched hands, and saying, “Look!” he had vanished.
So they returned to their homes; but Alden lingered a little,
Musing alone on the shore, and watching the wash of the billows
Round the base of the rock, and the sparkle and flash
of the sunshine, 625 Like the spirit of God, moving visibly over the waters.
626 Spirit of God: look up Genesis i. 2.