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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
535 Put on his corselet of steel, and all the rest of his
armor, 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 pardon;
540 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 Saw him go forth to danger, perhaps to death, and he 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.
545 Then he arose from his bed, and heard what the peo
ple 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
550 Into a world unknown,- the corner-stone of a nation !
There with his boat was the Master, already a little
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
gether Into his narrow brain, till at last he was wholly bewil
dered. Nearer the boat stood Alden, with one foot placed on
the gun wale, One still firm on the rock, and talking at times with
the sailors, Seated erect on the thwarts, all ready and eager for starting
560 He too was eager to go, and thus put an end to his
anguish, 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
Priscilla Standing dejected among them, unconscious of all that was passing.
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, mysteri. ous instincts !
570 Strange is the life of man, and fatal or fated are mio
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!
580 Roll thyself up like a fist, to threaten and daunt me;
I heed not 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. Here for her sake will I stay, and like an invisible presence
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