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Fixed were her eyes upon his, as if she divined his
intention, 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!
570 Strange is the life of man, and fatal or fated are mo
ments, Whereupon turn, as on hinges, the gates of the wall
adamantine! 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
Seems like a hand that is pointing, and beckoning over
the ocean. There is another hand, that is not so spectral and
Holding me, drawing me back, and clasping mine for
protection. Float, o hand of cloud, and vanish away in the ether!
582 Roll thyself up like a fist, to threaten and daunt me:
I heed not
by her footsteps.
Here for her sake will I stay, and like an invisible 11.
585 Hover around her forever, protecting, supporting 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
Meanwhile the Master alert, but with dignified air
and important, Scanning with watchful eye the tide and the wind and the weather,
590 Walked about on the sands, and the people crowded
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. O strong hearts and true! not one went back in the
Mayflower! 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 ponder
ous 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
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 vis
ion prophetic, Baring his hoary head, the excellent Elder of Plym
outh Said, “Let us pray!” and they prayed, and thanked
the Lord and took courage.
805 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.
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
Gleamed the departing sail, like a marble slab in a
graveyard; Buried beneath it lay forever all hope of escaping. Lo! 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.